Here are some of the remarks that may turn off readers:
- "This financialization of our consciousness under American-style capitalism has become all we know."
- "Corporations are, of course, deathless and faceless machines and have no soul or human emotions. That we look to them for so much makes us a corporate cult and makes corporations a fetish of our culture."
- "Yet you and I are not unique in the least. Despite the American yada-yada about individualism, you are not special. Nor am I."
- "The fact is, you will seldom, if ever, make any significant material or lifestyle choices of your own in your entire life."
- "We are all replaceable parts in the machinery of a capitalist economy."
- "Citizenship has been reduced to simple consumer-group consciousness. Consequently, even though Americans are only 6 percent of the planet's population, we use 36 percent of the planet's resources. And we interpret that experience as normal and desirable and as evidence of being the most-advanced nation in the world. Despite that our lives have been reduced to a mere marketing demographic."
Certainly, there is a germ of truth in all these points. But constructive criticism requires some connection with the listener beyond utter debasement of his or her culture.
The last point, about American's consuming more than our share of the planet's resources, is one serious point I want to address. I dare say that this statistic is losing its luster as far as I'm concerned. News flash:
SHANGHAI (AP) — Preliminary figures show auto sales in China reached about 1.03 million in March, exceeding U.S. sales for the third month in a row, state media reports said Wednesday. Associated Press
Are we getting better because our share of world consumption is going down?
Bageant's point is that the whole world is going to capitalist hell, but he offers not even a glimmer of an alternative. The best he can do is suggest that we might be better off moving to Belize and living as simple peasants. This happens to be what he has done, and his smug superiority really turns me off. He doesn't provide a solution; rather he congratulates himself on having moved outside of American society, and suggests that we will all be happier, and the world will be a better place, if we do the same. That may be true, but I doubt it, and it's not going to happen.
Rather than attacking all of society, I suggest that the battle be more focused. Perhaps we could start by dealing with environmental issues, including threats posed by modern weaponry such as nuclear bombs. One doesn't have to buy all the generalizations about how we're all pawns in the capitalist game to believe that it makes sense to protect the environment. Even our corporate masters do not want to destroy the environment. After all, a healthy environment is necessary to sustain a healthy corporation.
I'm intrigued by the idea of treating environmental debates as a kind of warfare. What if we applied the principles of warfare, as outlined by Sun Tzu in The Art of War to fighting political battles over how to preserve the environment? A winning strategy will require sound planning and coordinated effort.
Look at the recent Iraq War. Bush failed because he didn't unite the country (USA) behind him in this war. His team belittled moderates and didn't listen to opponents. The worst mistake we can make in fighting our environmental foes is to rant and rave and say that you are either with us or against us.
At least, that how I see it right now...