It is better simply to believe that those who run things know best and will tell you everything you need to know. Once Donald Trump manages to get the WALL built, in spite of the obstruction of even people in his own party, the problems we face here in divided America will all be over. That and locking up Hillary Clinton, and Ilhan Omar, and several other very nasty and divisive women and their “male” enablers. Done and done, everyone will be happy, except, of course, for the haters, who are NEVER happy no matter what.
Seriously, every oppressor, (every overbearing asshole, for that matter) in history has first controlled the conversation by removing any “inconvenient truth” from it. This is the very first lesson in Authoritarian 101, remove anything harmful to authority from the conversation. Look, if you can eliminate fact-based “dissent” that takes care of most of the problem. Simple. Just make them shut up, criminalize them, lock ’em up. Don’t allow books like Dark Money, Democracy in Chains, Dirty Wars, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, How Fascism Works, A People’s History of the United States, to be published. If they already exist, take them off the shelves and burn them, quietly, secretly, just get them out of circulation. Make examples of a few of the leaders, the more grotesque the example the better, and the rest will fall into line. Most people are not heroes.
I once read sections of Frederick Douglass’ autobiography (Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave) to my class of third graders in Harlem. They were shocked, had never heard any of this shit. Couldn’t believe blacks allowed themselves to be treated that way. They were outraged. One tough kid, speaking for everyone, said if he’d been there in Africa he would have killed the slave kidnappers. The class agreed. I had him and the five other toughest kids stand up and come to the front of the room to play the Africans. I then chose two of the smallest, most timid kids in the class and cast them as the Europeans intent on collecting slaves. The class was relishing the confrontation that would set history straight.
As they were about to begin I said, as if in afterthought, “oh, wait, you’ll need these,” and handed each of the frightened Europeans a rolled up piece of paper. “Those are your guns,” I told the class. The two slavers smiled. The Africans wanted their guns but I told them in those days Africans didn’t have guns. Then they stood fifteen feet apart and began acting. The hideous truth became clear as soon as the first African stepped up to tell the slavers to fuck off. The room got very quiet as a supremely disquieting light went on overhead.
Without this obvious detail of gun vs. strength and courage alone you can build a whole story about the docility and inferiority of a people who “allow” themselves to be enslaved. And killed, literally by the millions, during the long, cramped, stinking voyage from the life you knew to a life as a piece of property in the service of some god-fearing “white” person’s limitless wealth. The Middle Passage, as the infamous trans-Atlantic voyage is called.
The suppression of important factual detail is essential for any narrative that justifies brutal inequality, persecution, tyranny. In your personal life, notice how anyone who has ever sought to exploit you will always pressure you not to reveal the shameful details to anybody. If you tell somebody, you’re some kind of rat, unmanly, a cowardly weasel who can’t simply be sodomized and take it like a choir boy. My brother-in-law reminded me of this several times over the years.
In our neoliberal order only monetary profit has real value, increasing personal wealth is the only overarching goal. As our recent liberal presidents have all done, you can support the civil rights of homosexuals, the rights of all minorities to be free from discrimination, the right of a woman or girl to seek an abortion if she needs one, the right of every child to have a free, quality public education and also the right to live in a nontoxic environment and work at a safe workplace, the right not to be randomly mowed down by a maniac with a military assault rifle. All these things are generally considered “liberal” positions and things that most Democratic (or “Democrat”) politicians support. At the same time, as a neoliberal, you back policies and laws that make things easier for the wealthiest, and for those powerful, eternal, real-life vampires, corporations, to do what they do best: “create wealth”.
The only fly in this otherwise soothing ointment is that horrific systemic inequality flows from these practices. If a small group owns almost everything, there is a gigantic group that will have to make do with almost nothing. Call it the “free market” if you like, and forget the whiners who complain that those who pay the biggest price have nothing to say about the quality of the freedom they receive.
There was a worldwide effort, started around the year 2000, the Millennial Development Goals, for the wealthy countries to greatly reduce poverty and hunger in the “underdeveloped world” by 2020 (if memory serves). It turns out that all of the aid the wealthiest countries provide to the “Third World” (the global south) amounts to a tiny percentage of what is extracted from their governments every year just to pay the interest on the debt owed to the wealthy creditor nations for “development” loans. Everybody wins under this global system, except for the one or two, or three, billion worldwide who live short, miserable, insecure lives of want, including unbearable hunger.
The numbers did not look good for greatly reducing the metrics of poverty by the specified date. So really smart people began tweaking the metrics (as American lawyers tortuously tweaked the definition of “torture” a few years back). It turns out hunger numbers can be reduced by an impressive margin, with the stroke of a pen, if you define hunger as “severe and persistent malnutrition, less than 1,200 calories a day, that persists for more than a year.” Heh, you see what we did? If you get a good meal every ten or eleven months, problem solved. We have now lifted a billion people out of hunger! Have a blessed day and please continue your charitable giving.
The devilish details of this worldwide anti-poverty program are set out in an early chapter of a troubling book (sent to me by a friend) called The Divide: Global Inequality from Conquest to Free Markets, by Jason Hickel. I don’t have the book with me at the moment, so that quote about hunger, although true in essence, was pulled out of the memory hole. The caloric number may be off, but the money shot is that hunger, as defined by these do-gooders and for purposes of creating a more uplifting narrative of success, must be persistent and last for at least a year to make the cut as something wealthier people need to feel any urgency to do anything about.
Hickel states that the amount of food discarded daily in wealthy countries would, if somehow put into the hands of the starving, immediately solve the world hunger problem. World food scarcity is not the result of actual scarcity, but of institutionalized not really giving a fuck about literally billions of starving people you will never see. Go figure.
I am constantly reminded of this suppression of information needed to make informed, moral decisions, having grown up in a family where certain truths were never mentioned. Thirteen years before I was born, in the region the family came from, everyone was murdered. Our entire family, outside of five or six who came to the United States before the restrictive immigration law of 1924, slaughtered. Not something that could ever be discussed because… oh, just shut up! A father who was always angry, it turns out, had good reason to be disturbed, he’d been despised and whipped in the face since infancy by the violent little mother who called him “Sonny”. He should have sought help, but he didn’t need to whine to some shrink like he predicted his children would. End of fucking story.
Do you want to live in a world where you’re not allowed to know any unsettling background on anything that ever happened, anything that is happening now, anything that will happen in the future? If you do, rejoice, there is nothing to think about!