February 27, 2010
The Tea Party Has A Point
Not about politics. Those folks default to racism and conspiracy theories. They have a point about how they feel, which is how a lot of us feel. We are surrounded by a creeping dullness. A lack of traction with the outside world. How do we touch others? How do we have power?
Simple acts of living have lost the feeling of social power. We know that the corporations have kept us in a state of consumer passivity for a long time. For many millions - since Ronald Reagan. But like the climate change that Consumerism causes, it’s hard to measure the exact damage. We know what we feel. We know we can’t “breathe free.” We know we can’t “speak free.” We feel an exhausting interloper in even our most everyday experience. It is the market -- whispering, screaming, selling, then fading to Muzak and white noise.
Our community becomes very spacey. You can live somewhere all your life and find yourself surrounded by products – you might quickly become an utterly un-selfed consumer like a game-show contestant or a tourist. Products are not psychologically neutral. You can turn off the TV and head for the hills, but the hills are alive with fluorescent and bug-eyed tchochkes leaping from the walls of shopping centers that came out of nowhere.
The Tea Party blames Washington. Well, American politicians believe in Consumerism as our primary economy and culture. If the retail grosses are edging upward, then all’s right with the world. The electeds can say “I feel your pain” when the teleprompter tells them to, but our current existential crisis isn’t something they grok. The politicians aren’t nearly as bright as the marketers. They’ll be taken aback by the hunger riots coming soon. I’m referring to the hunger for meaning, for community intimacy, for the satisfaction of our social souls.
The big grand concepts of democracy, America and freedom – are not usually traced down to the lost minutes of ordinary people. THEY MUST START THERE. Amen? That is also where we suffer in this bizarro “built environment” of Consumerism, which comes into our down time as pavement, invisible toxins and billboards. Down in the details of our lives, ho-humming between one errand and the next, we feel an essential disconnect. We don’t have words to describe it. And, it doesn’t get described by anyone. Ordinary experience? That’s not the news, ordinary life. It’s not “Fit To Print.” For public commentators it’s like trying to squeeze the dark matter of the universe into a Twitter feed.
Accumulations of powerlessness in our ordinary living escape like hot gasses, like the acting out of the Tea Party and survivalists and liberals dying while imitating Indians in sweat spas – we have apocalyptic zealotry of many a weird stripe. There is a lot of this splintering off into colonies of the instantly righteous. The marketing officials in corporations are studying us carefully. They know it’s not just the weirdos. This is happening to all of us. We’re a sleeping monster.
Next week’s message: “The Monster Awakes”