The tens of thousands of American deaths from drug overdoses are a measure of the hopeless desperation left behind by the soul-starving socio-economic system of late-stage capitalism, writes poet Phil Rockstroh.
By Phil Rockstroh
According to a nationwide study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a greater number of U.S. Americans died (approximately 65,000) from drug overdoses last year than were killed during the course of the Vietnam War.
All part and parcel of capitalism’s war against life itself. The emotional and physical pain, anxiety, and depression inflicted by the trauma inherent to a system sustained by perpetual exploitation has proven to be too much for a sizeable number of human beings to endure thus their need to self-medicate.
The root of addiction is trauma. The soul of the nation is a casualty of war. There is not an Arlington Cemetery for these fallen, no hagiographic ceremonies will be performed over their graves nor statues erected in memoriam. Their ghosts will howl through the long, dark night of national denial. Listen to their wailing. It is an imprecatory prayer. A curse and augury … that admonishes, our fate and the fate of the nation will converge … as the nation will stagger, keening in lament, to the abyss.
The solution: Within each of us swells a deathless song. Powerful. Resonate. Piercing. A song, miraculous of influence, plangent with the force to seize back your soul from the death-besotted spirit of the age. Let it rise from within you. Notice: how flocks of empire’s death birds scatter like ashes in the wind.
Yet it will not be possible to navigate around the cultural deathscape; we must walk through it and chronicle its serial affronts to our humanity: “You have to see that the buildings are anorexic, you have to see that the language is schizogenic, that ‘normalcy’ is manic, and medicine and business are paranoid.” — James Hillman
Try this: Simply stand in the isle of a corporate, Big Box chain store or in the parking lot of a strip mall that squats, hideous, on some soul-defying, U.S. Interstate highway and allow yourself to feel the emptiness and desperation extant. The tormented landscape, besieged by an ad hoc assemblage of late capitalist structures, emporiums of usurped longing, reflects the desperate, rapacious nature of late capitalist imperium.
Compounding the pathos, the forces in play impose a colonizing effect upon the mind; therefore, a large percent of the afflicted have lost the ability to detect the hyper-entropic system’s ravaging effects. Stranded among the commercial come-ons and hyper-authoritarianism inherent to late stage capitalism’s imperium of death, the human psyche, like the biosphere of our planet, subjected, at present, to humankind-wrought ecocide, has begun to display the terrible beauty of a nightmare.
Internal weather has grown increasingly chaotic: the earth’s oceans and seas are rising; wildfires rage; drought scorches the earth. And conditions will grow increasingly inhospitable in regard to the flourishing of inner life, personal and collective thus will continue, and at accelerating rates, to be reflected in the web of phenomena we know as human culture.
The Decimated Working Class
Growing up in a working-class social milieu, as I did, I am confronted, more and more, by the news of the large number of men I grew up with who are dying in their 50s. As of late, when I contemplate the fact, I am forced to pause and seek solitude because my eyes become scalded with tears. I’ve known, over the years, hundreds of human beings, born into and ensnared by the crime against humanity known as poverty, broken by the culture of greed and social degradation, and blamed by the clueless and the callous for the tragic trajectory in which impersonal fate and the wounding culture, by no fault of their own, has placed them.
Thus arrive: Tears of rage; tears of outrage. Tears unloosed by passion and tempered by compassion … fall. If poverty was not so profitable for the greed-head elite, both punitive-minded conservatives and affluence-ensconced liberals alike, the situation would be addressed and rectified. The cause of the reprehensible situation, it should go without saying, is not the fault of the poor but the poverty of spirit at the core of capitalism.
Truth is the system, a hierarchy of ghouls, is maintained by harvesting the corpses of the powerless, by means of imperial slaughter and domestic, economic exploitation. Deep down, we know it. The system’s psychopathic beneficiaries, in particular, are aware of the reality. In fact, their desiccated hearts require being irrigated by blood. From the evidence of their actions, it appears they revel in the knowledge of the damage they incur. They appear to believe they will enter the golden dominion of heaven by climbing a mountain of corpses. It is time we dragged them back down to earth and subjected them to our earth-borne fury.
Or so goes my own (powerless) revelry. Of course, we the powerless, at this point, have been left with scant little but a dreaming heart. When we allow heartless power to subdue and usurp our longings, we languish. Thus many die of a broken spirit. The world itself can appear to be depleted of mercy. In turn, all too many begin to mirror the malevolence of the upper castes thereby losing their own measure of mercy.
Hostility directed at the poor is the shopworn, demagogic sleight-of-hand trick used to distract from realities such as: Every McMansion and high-end luxury high-rise constructed creates multitudes of the homeless. Every low pay, no benefits, no future Mcjob serves to decimate an individual, heart and spirit. Moreover the beneficiaries of the system promote the lie that shame should be the exclusive dominion of those broken by their system, a system, which is, in essence, a form of government-sanctioned gangsterism, by which they, the ruthless few, and they alone, benefit.
As a result, in an age of denial and duplicity, change tends to arrive violently. Reactionary, racist soreheads, brandishing Tiki torches, construct an ambulatory klavern in the hateful night. Maledictory tweets rise and roil the imperial air like a nimbus of locust. Unmoored from their sense of humanity by lashing angst and alienation, gunmen, in acts of warped libido, raise assault rifles and kill with no more connection to the strangers they slaughter than do stateside-deployed pilots of the empire’s predator drones.
A Needed Paradigm Shift
We human beings, as a species, have arrived at a profound point of demarcation: paradigm shift or perish. Yet, and the fact is mortifying in its implications, there is not a sign of the emergence, even an incipient one, of a viable resistance to the present order. Weekend marches and boutique protests might promote (ephemeral) feelings of affinity and jack the adrenal systems of participants. But the events have proven woefully inefficacious in regard to the rising and raging tides of adversity we face.
(In addition, monopolist, internet corporations, such as Google, Facebook and Twitter, at the behest of U.S. governmental forces, are further marginalizing the already almost vaporous left by means of presence-abridging algorithms of leftist websites and outright censorship of social media content. Dissenting voices are being ghosted into oblivion.)
An aura of bleakness prevails. Hope seems a fool’s palliative. The victims of drug overdoses and, in general, the large and rising, without precedent, untimely deaths of middle-aged, laboring-class people should be regarded as canaries in the coal mines of the late-stage capitalist order, an augury of calamities that loom due to the exponentially increasing harm being inflicted upon both humanity and environmental forces crucial to sustaining the continued viability of the human race.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” C.G. Jung
Although it does not have to be the case. If reality is met head-on, if empire, external and its inner analog, is renounced and challenged, then a liberation staged by the heart’s partisans can begin, thereby freeing up a great amount of acreage — a fructifying landscape — wherein both the earth’s ecosystem and the architecture of human desire can begin to co-exist and cross-pollinate thus a crucial re-visioning of oneself and the culture can begin.
Phil Rockstroh is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living, now, in Munich, Germany. He may be contacted: [email protected] and at FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/phil.rockstroh
Nice thoughts; stilted prose.
The crapitalist system of the US has nothing to do with free market capitalism.
It is a welfare system for the 0.1%, the banksters who cry like babies for a free handout, and are allowed to loot trillions from the public treasury by their bought and paid for political whores in Washington.
The remaining 99.9% are reduced to opiod self medicating, with 530,000 dying from gun violence since 2000.
‘Capitalism can be a useful tool or a weapon of unabashed human exploitation. Which it will be depends entirely on the way it is regulated. Capitalism itself contain no ethical values. Those who use it decide by their actions whether it is a force of good or evil.’
– John Ralston Saul
“Capitalism itself contain no ethical values”
somewhat pretentious way too overly adorned in wordy drama the fragile frayed threads of lost wandering academia
Thank you for this insightful article which connects all the dots about our our physical, social & soul crushing systems.
I’ve been frustrated at the attempts to blame Big Pharma, Doctors and others as the main causes of this recent pandemic of drug related deaths. They are part of the cause, but the larger cause is “the way of life” in the US, our social, political & economic systems of injustice which have brought ruin to so many peoples lives.
We need to totally reform our election process, take money out of our elections and create uniform, fair, accessible and transparent elections across the country. Rank Vote so we all can vote our conscience versus voting for the “lesser of 2 evils”. No ads or commercials allowed, accessible debates on-line and on the airwaves, accessible by all devices and free and easy for all to view and or listen. Vetting of our candidates for experience, trustworthiness, work history and intention as a political candidate –
Someone once said, anyone who runs for office because they want it so bad should not be able to run at all.
Someone who is running as a service to their community knowing it’s hard work and they are dedicated to truly serving their community are the candidates we want – what we mostly see with our current corrupted system are the worst types of personalities, the bottom of the barrel, those who serve their needs 1st for profit and power. Lets make our election process difficult for these people to run!
Colleen, your comments about our political system are on the mark, but my thought how do we get the people to care. Perhaps the prescription in within yours, to give people a sense that their vote matters is an incentive to participate. It leaves the question of whether even a reformed system will do that and that is a challenge.
Along with election reform is the diversification of the media, of something like the antitrust movement in the late nineteenth and early twentieth to break the system down and do whatever else to create diversity. The media is now a very formidable barrier to election reform, owned by the rich and powerful and with an election system now a major source of profits..
We are all worn out Phil
We are world weary
We are saturated in way too much soft porn from mainstream advertising
“When will it end?” we yearn
“When will it all just go away?”
Phil, it is too complicated to unpick
The hard drive needs to be wiped clean
& ………… we need to forget we ever existed.
Lest it reboot a repeat performance
The planet will never survive another onslaught Phil
We need to vanish so that the earth can heal itself
What did you say about the deaths ?
Tens of thousands of Americans die from drug overdose ……………
it’s not just you guys
It’s us also
The universe is sick of us & maybe steps have been taken to alleviate the situation … ?
There has to be some other place in the universe where we can relocate
Without THEM Phil
It has to be without THEM
More deaths equals more money. Prime example of desperate capitalist
Capitalism is not a disease. Drug addiction is. Trying to intertwine and find a causal relationship is bizarre.
Capitalism is a disease – one of the most lethal.
Mike K. You need to do a little, really tiny bit of thinking. Just a tiny bit. Capitalism is the basis of World Wide political economic system. All trade. All production. All distribution. All energy platforms. All medical care. It is the Value/ Exchange paradigm that we 7+ billion humans depend upon to allocate resources so we can survive as a species. There are no alternative models anywhere. Mike K grow up.
There is a difference between capitalism and crapitalism.
What we have is nowhere remotely approaching free market capitalism.
Call it crony capitalism of the worst kind. Call it crapitalism. Call it parasitic financial capitalism. Call it a looting kleptocracy. Call it rent seeking. Call it socialism for the rich. Call it what you want. Call it fried chicken if you like. But don’t call it free market capitalism.
In free market capitalism, the 0.01% bankster elite don’t go running to their bought and paid for political whores, crying like babies for a handout, till they are allowed to loot the public treasury of trillions.
In free market capitalism, farmers growing sugar beet and cotton don’t become civil servants working for a 60% and 70% subsidy handout.
In free market capitalism, deadbeat corporations like Boeing don’t get to avoid paying a cent in tax for 15 years by paying off their tame political whores.
In free market capitalism, vampire healthcare/ drug monopolies aren’t allowed to charge $5,000 for an ambulance journey to hospital.
mark, wait a second there.. I agree with you in large measure. I never mentioned NADA about no Free Market Capitalism. I was referring to the system that we use today. A system of exchange where money or some equivalent thereof up to and including bitcoin, is used to trade for all things. The driving forceof this system of exchange is short term profits for , from want of a better term, Capitalists. There is nothing free or fair about it. I agree with you there .
mike k – the disease part is when the system deteriorates into oligarchy; when powerless people become commodities;
the problem really, IMO, is that no other formal rigid system works because humans are incapable (due to our incompetence, and various weaknesses like greed and fear) of designing anything better.
what so called “capitalism” allows is for decision making to be done person by person instead of having each person having to function as a bot in an imperfect “system”. As each individual makes choices, the theory goes, not all those “choices” will be good or bad, but they will contribute to an evolving satisfactory balanced functioning network of economic activity,
The problem we now have is that most of us are at the mercy of a corrupt Congress and the corrupting powerful oligarchs who dictate federal policies and rules that benefit them and hurt others.
Take the financial meltdown of 2008 – it was created by the massive deregulation of protections put in place after the Great Depression. So banks were able to create what I’ll call “doomed to implode” financial schemes that put millions of people out of their homes.
Working people on a modest salary were given mortgages as first time buyers on homes that their salaries could not support. This was accomplished by offering TEASER RATES – below market floating interest rates, like say, 1% – that they could afford for the 6 months those rates were in place. They weren’t told that the mortgage balance on their home that started at say $200,000 which was affordable at 1% interest rate, would be rising to say maybe $250,000 in order to pay off the lender who should have been receiving a market rate of say, 4%.
After the original 6 months the home owner was to find that the affordable house had become an albatross and had say a mortgage balance of $250,000 and they’d have to start paying 7% on this loan for 30 years. Their salary could not afford that, so the banks foreclosed – enter our treasury secretary Mr. Munchkin and his predatory bank, which made a killing foreclosing on a large group of so called “sub-prime” mortgages.
That scheme was criminal and it was not clear from the beginning how this would play out because the short sighted banks did;t care to examine exactly how this would all play out.
If we had had regulations in place, these homeowners would have had the whole mechanism explained to them. They would have not opted to take a TEASER RATE and then be foreclosed on. The rules would have required the banks to see to it that the mortgage terms were affordable.
They didn’tt care about that because the changing rules (deregulations) allowed them to write the mortgages and then sell them off to the big banks so they no longer cared if the homeowners could make their monthly payments or not (like they would have if the mortgages stayed with them and were part of their assets).
You can blame Reagan and Clinton and the Congresses under both for allowing this to take place.
The banks need to be tightly regulated – at least those that have access to government insured deposits.
Now, if we had an honest president and an honest Congress and we had, for example, Glass Steagall protections where lending banks could not pull these kind of stunts all this would not have happened.
We need strong, functioning regulations that protect people from predatory lending practices, protect the environment, protect peoples’ rights and serve us all.
I guess what I’m saying is that within a well functioning market system through regulations and strong institutions, we can do our best to control predatory practices. Right now, we do not have this and are at a low point.
Certain things should operate under very highly regulated conditions and work better that way – e.g. utilities; internet, mass transit and so on….guidelines are set that serve everyone.
It’s more that rules are in place as to what cannot be done because they create systemic failure and hurt everyone….
sorry, this is a rather half assed effort to make an argument that, given that human beings are too incompetent to design a perfect system and can be greedy and self serving, it’s best to have a system that has boundaries and within that system to allow for individual choices to be made within those guidelines as opposed to have a directorate from above trying to control everything…..
The financial system always fails and robs the ordinary working man.
In the UK we have had one scandal after another, but nothing ever changes.
The endowment mortgage scandal.
The private pensions scandal.
The payment protection scandal.
The interest rate manipulation scandal.
The business loans scandal.
The 2008 bankster/ financial terrorist bailout which doubled the national debt in 5 years.
Exactly right, Mike K. It’s socialism or barbarism; that’s our choice.
Come on!! There will always be outside circumstances to blame behaviors on or to excuse it. The bottom line is these drug addicts do it because they want to. Evidenced by the number of deaths per year. People who know the risks and still wish to beat the odds are not rational. Now, you could blame it on their addiction, which is partly true, but they volunteered for the addiction through various channels. But also remember, before you get addicted you have to ride the boat for awhile. You don’t get addicted overnight.
The concept of “doctor-prescribed painkiller” appears to be a fuzzy one to you.
This is a reminder that a safe option to the opiates has been demonstrated to work as well or better in some people. Locate a pair of over-the-counter acetaminophen and ibuprofen tablets, cut them in half, and and take a half of each one.
I agree the problems are there (economic uncertainty and feelings of isolation, lack of meaning, etc.) I disagree the answer is ending capitalism. I think having a basic income could help the economic uncertainty part of it, and help with the “meaning” part of it also in terms of freeing people up to pursue passions when freed of working just for basic survival. But I think basic income can co-exist with a free market economy as many libertarian thinkers (like Charles Murray) have said. The feelings of isolation, an so forth that go into addiction cannot be solved easily by government but maybe locally more can be done to foster better feelings of community, like what the libraries did a century ago. No easy answers but I think the answers can fit into a free market framework. Because what is the alternative? North Korea? No thanks. This is, like it or not, the Francis Fukuyama “end of history” – there is no alternative to “late capitalism” other than try to make it more humane with things like basic income, subsidized housing, help with health care, etc.
WHEN HAS THERE EVER BEEN A “FREE” MARKET?
I assume this is the same Charles Murray who co-authored the book Darkies R Dumb?
So I got just a little suspicious.
What do we get for that Great Deal for the Rich?
Google search produced this: Median monthly gross residential rent in the United States was $959 in 2015 Multiple that by 12 months/year = $11,508 in rent.
Subtracting = $1492. Assume expenditure of $2/meal. 365 x 3 x $2 = 2190.
We’re into negative country without even considering medical outlays, utilities and telephone, clothing, transportation.
Murray = Low Life Libertarian Bastard.
One who shills for the rich people, and has made a fine living doing so.
“Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.”
? Augustine of Hippo
Thank you Chris Hedges, on:
I note my comment is awaiting moderation. I am assuming because of my vulgar description of posterior. I am inserting the new word. Gave me a chance to moderate a little, myself.
I agree with Dr. Ibrahim Soudy’s remark, it’s not capitalism but greed. Capitalism has the virtue of individual freedom and all the energy that releases. But it lacks and we lack moral standards which include prohibitions against greed and the inherent desire to acquire far beyond your needs. So much discussion about the evils in society the trying to blame them all on capitalism. Eliminating capitalism is not going to create a new morality, and the new system might be worse.
What is clear to everyone that our society is really screwed up. I have family members who are really dysfunctional. Most people have family members that are dysfunctional and we look admiringly at the few who are not and think, how did they do that Dysfunction is rampant. Addiction, which is an outcome, is rampant. And I think most of us, as we examine our lives, know why but we really don’t want to change or speak out about what we see.
Top that all with our silly leaders who want us to believe we are wonderful, or at least keep telling us we are wonderful to keep their backsides in power. The rigged political system where only people who think like them can even get to run for political office, let alone get elected removes any hope that things are likely to get better. The answer, of course, is to tear down the rigging, but I think we are much too satisfied with our lives to engage in such a painful process. There is the World Series, the Oscar nights, the Super Bowl, and who can forget Shock and Awe in Baghdad, to look forward to and we don’t like having to give any of them up So the world’s screwed up. Blame it on capitalism, corrupt politicians, but most of all blame it on somebody else.
Thank you, Phil. The terrible tragedy that is taking place in the US now is so serious that it requires a poet to fully grasp it.
Drugs are not the problem. If they were the problem cigarettes would have been banned years ago. They kill over 250 thousand people a year in the US. That’s more than opiates, alcohol, gun deaths, and various other drugs COMBINED. Yet the profit vultures continue to farm tobacco, with government subsidies, and sell this toxin world wide. The problem for the majority of Americans, and I’ll just use Americans, is living within a system based in exploitation of people first as labor and then Earth as a supplier of resources treated as an infinite supply with no consideration of future consequences. This system has just about run its course and now within its death throes are the people whose lives have been used up and desperate find solace in chemical, visual distraction, sports hysteria, and other self medicating enterprises to make it through another day. I don’t have any firm answers for the future but what we have now is clearly not working and hasn’t been for quite a while. The ecocide will take over soon and shortsighted humans won’t be able to halt the process because if it were so they would have changed course many years ago, around 1945 went the first atomic weapons were used. I wish you all well and wish I could have helped change the course of history, the weak never really could.
“The Florida Project”
A little off topic, but not totally. If you want to see the best movie of 2017, get out and see the brand new film “The Florida Project.” It’s almost solely playing at indie theaters right now, but if you look hard enough you may find it at a multiplex near you.
The Florida Project depicts life for poor kids living in a transient motel on the outskirts of Disney World. Watch the trailer if you get time. I left the theater tearing up.
I agree with Dr. Ibrahim Soudy’s remark, it’s not capitalism but greed. Capitalism has the virtue of individual freedom and all the energy that releases. But it lacks and we lack moral standards which include prohibitions against greed and the inherent desire to acquire far beyond your needs. So much discussion about the evils in society the trying to blame them all on capitalism. Eliminating capitalism is not going to create a new morality, and the new system could be worse.
What is clear to everyone that our society is really screwed up. I have family members who are really screwed up. Most people have families that are really screwed up and we look admiringly at the few who are not and think, how did they do that Dysfunction is rampant. And I think most of us, as we examine our lives, know why but we really don’t want to change or speak out about what we see.
Top that all with our silly leaders who want us to believe we are wonderful, or at least keep telling us we are wonderful to keep their asses in power. The rigged political system where only people who think like them can even get to run for political office, let alone get elected removes any hope that things are likely to get better. The answer, of course, is to tear down the rigging, but I think we are much to satisfied with our lives to engage in such a painful process. There is the World Series, the Oscar nights, the Super Bowl to look forward to and I don’t like having to give any of them up So the world’s screwed up. Blame it on capitalism, corrupt politicians, but most of all blame it on somebody else.
To borrow a phrase from Woody Allen’s “Hannah and Her Sisters” when the artist Frederick (played by Max Von Sydow) says – “if Jesus came back and saw what was being done in his name he’d never stop throwing up”
The so-called “father of Capitalism – Adam Smith – would also never stop throwing up if he came back and saw what’s going on with our perversion of that “Capitalism”. I have not read his entire tome “The Wealth of Nations” but I read enough to believe that he had a strong moral code and would highly disapprove of the exploitative, race to the bottom, predatory, destabilizing, gambling with public funds (banks using insured deposits to place bets – they keep the winnings and stick the taxpayers with the losses.)
I am sick and tired of the Cold War ideology and fear mongering over the lies that “Communism” is such a threat to everyone that they get us to agree to waging endless wars killing millions. There’s nothing to fear because Adam Smith was right to some extent – “the invisible hand” of a so called “free” economy is better than the disasters created by top down, inevitably poorly thought through Master Planning (Soviet Style – probably not what Marx had in mind) that winds up serving the planners (after all, we’re a greedy bunch).
What we have now, with our race to the bottom, corrupt system, is totally unsustainable and stupid and grossly unfair and unjust.
I’m not a “planner” lol, but what we surely need should include a level playing field with transparency, enforceable rules of the road to prevent cheating and provide stability, and for all to have access to the life sustaining needs like education, healthcare, shelter, food…
A system that gives everyone the opportunity to fulfill themselves, working in cooperative efforts and have decision making come from the ground up BECAUSE the yahoos at the top have no clue, continually make terrible mistakes, and if they have enough power will start to exploit anyone they can get away with.
Right now, too big to fail banks have access to insured deposits and use them to gamble recklessly. As Paul Volker pointed out – the only innovation over the last few decades that he’s seen from the banks is the ATM machine. But these banks have the power to treat everyone, everything as a commodity and they find a way through market schemes to skim up to 30% off the labor of others.
That is not something that Adam Smith would have seen as a productive use of capital – more a perversion of it.
We have huge companies that own the politicians and set policy to make money for themselves even if it means endless wars and throwing people out of their homes. That’s perverse and destabilizing to the whole damn system.
I’m not sure that we NEED continual growth as it is now viewed. What we need is a way for every person to be able to sustain themselves through cooperation. And for people who have the experience and knowledge on how something works to help the rest of us understand which policies might best solve problems on issues that affect everyone.
Hillary Clinton did her best her whole life to pander to TPTB because she believed that would get her somewhere. She did not use whatever intellect she may have to instead try to work for policies that she may have been able to understand as civic minded.
When what she believed was HER TIME arrived, she got unlucky – TPTB had fucked up so badly with their endless wars and financial destabilization, that people decided they couldn’t take it anymore, and she got pummeled by the undertow of the backlash…..
couldn’t happen to a……….
When someone civic minded shows up – like Bernie Sanders – who Noam Chomsky called a decent honest New Deal democrat, the Hilary Clintons and Donald Trumps and even Barack Obama during the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, call him a socialist, “horrors” (although Chomsky says Sanders is not a socialist). They hope to stir up Cold War fears to serve the real powers that be who own everything and (most of whom) think they’re “entitled” like in Animal Farm.
These politically ambitious people believe that civic minded policies are for losers because they don’t feed the beast.
It’s unacceptable to say out loud that some of the largest corporations and some of the richest families, with their own interests at heart, are the ones that demand reckless policies to serve what they think is their short term benefit, even if it destabilizes the world and kills people.
We don’t have a free market – we have a corrupt predatory market place that serves a very few with many, many hangers on who spout the propaganda. To the extent we have socialism – even Communism – Soviet Style – our biggest example is our huge military – taxpayer funded behemoth with top down strict regimen which mindlessly puts our soldiers in harm’s way to serve the financial interests of the Imperialist/Colonialist handful of people with a seat at the table in Washington DC.
We’re fed some garbage about how the people in countries with natural resources are tribal or primitive or don’t know how to live so we need to bring them into modernity by invading them. We protect the “Ministry of Oil” in Bagdad but let the museums and hospitals and stores and homes get looted. And we stir up sectarian violence, kill and wound hundreds of thousands of them and many of our own.
Too bad since TBTB have had their way here at home and created a mess, and they’ve had their way on foreign policy and created a mess, they just don’t have credibility any more.
At least that should inspire (hopefully) many young people to think that they can do better (and surely they can) and run for office, bringing with them their own life experiences at the hands of those who have been in power and failed them.
Dear Phil, what a pleasure to read your powerful insights and articulate article on “Denying the emporium of death”. If you get time to read these comments (who does these days?) I hope you will consider my thoughts which this article engendered. You mention late-stage capitalism from some accusatory position. I wonder if there is any lesson to be learnt from its trajectory, or if like all other social/political systems and empires, they all have successful shelf life of about two centuries, give or take a century. Think Inca, Greek, Roman, Viking, Moors, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, French, British and now the USA. Feudalism, communism, socialism, fascism, all follow stages of energy, from poverty, to patriotism, optimism, wealth, entitlement, contentment and finally apathy. You mention today’s poor in the US, and the forces aimed at them, and some you know dying in their fifties. Go back one century, then two and then more. That age of dying was 40, then 30, then 20. And care of the poor was far worse. I suggest humbly with layman study of this human situation, that only if population growth can be reversed, and education improved, and if we can invest in the best of humanity and not its worst, thus harnessing Darwinian principles, will things ever improve. Otherwise, might this be as good as it gets ?
It is indeed hard to find grounds for hope in these uniquely dangerous and depressing times. But I highly recommend the approach taken by the likes of Anodea Judith, as beautifully set forth in “The Global Heart Awakens”. Let’s hang in there, hold fast to that which is good, and see what happens.
In a society without higher meaning, without love, but which constantly hassles you to run faster on the money-or-else treadmill – drug highs will be very popular. We need a whole new culture – bandaids won’t cure cancer.
That’s deep. OMG. Have you ever had cancer? I’m certain that you could just love it out of your body .Hey, What’s your favorite TV Show? Wow, Isn’t it cool that Charlie Rose finally got fired. He used to live with a cousin of mine 30 years ago,,,it was cool to act like him then and he was famous and the lefties loved him. ..but it is way shallow now.
Please moderate any criticism and make clear statements; wandering can bring valid criticism.
Sorry Anon, deserved that ,I apologize, you too Mike K. Remember the movie, the cartoon, The Point (Theme song Harry Nilsson’s Me and My Arrow). Anon, but Alas, as poor Oblio, the only round-headed person in the Pointed Village eventually found out, There is no point.
The tidal wave of opioid deaths is largely due to the admixture of street drugs with Fentanyl, which is an incredibly strong synthetic narcotic. With therapeutic levels measured in micrograms (millionths of a gram), it is easy to see how a tiny mistake in Fentanyl dosage can have deadly results.
The author’s larger criticisms are well founded. The fundamental reality of any addictive disorder is that the substance or the behavior is merely the most obvious symptom, not the problem. The problem is the illusion in the addict’s mind that something is lacking internally that can only be filled with something external, something jolting, and right now. Capitalism perfectly mirrors the classic model of addiction: too much is never enough, and no evildoing is off limits in the endless pursuit of the “more” which never fills the interior emptiness. Instant gratification is the devil’s false promise of our consumerists society. “Never enough” is as much the relentless mantra of a Donald Trump or a Hillary Clinton as it is of a street junkie or a Skid Row drunk.
As for regulation to be the salvation of capitalism, the very selectively quoted Adam Smith wrote in “Wealth of Nations”, “Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defence of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all.” You cannot reform this kind of system, which is founded on enabling the proverbial foxes to guard the henhouse.
Although the author of this article doesn’t refer to the opioid epidemic in this country, I’m assuming that’s what he is writing about. Although there are opioid drugs like heroin that fall into this category, and are illegal, there are others that are freely and overly prescribed by doctors. They are potent drugs and have a high risk of addiction and overdose, and have a sedative affect on a part of the brain which regulates breathing and in high enough doses can cause respiratory failure and death. A cousin’s daughter was on these drugs for years, and they were prescribed by her doctor for pain, even though she knew she had an addictive personality. She died young. So now, the medical profession has become the supplier of these drugs, which are deemed legal. Life has often been a bitch for people, but these drugs were not available in the way they are now. Doctors have been a significant contributor to these problems, these deaths, and fortunately are finally recognizing it. Unfortunately doctors in this country treat illness with drugs and little attention is paid to alternative treatments. They have been for some time the pharmaceutical industry’s whores, so to speak. It’s also my experience they don’t familiarize themselves with the side affects of the drugs they supply.
You may not have meant that to be “literal”, but it is my quite uninformed belief that you’re exactly right. Without having done a speck of research, I’m going to predict some kind of payments for the increased numbers of prescriptions.
I don’t think most doctors think of themselves as pharmaceutical whores, or don’t even know they’re operating in that fashion, but they are pill pushers, and their encouraged to be just that. When you watch TV which for me is not often, all I see is drug pushing. There’s a pill for everything. I’ve been to lectures and heard doctors poo poo vitamin supplements, or alternative forms of treatment. If you’re depressed pop a pill, never suggesting meditation, yoga, or psychological counseling. We’re also not into prevention. High cholesterol, take a pill, and those meds have lots of side affects, and they may mention lose weight, exercise and change your diet but it’s not emphasized. All those fast food joints that made their way to other countries are now experiencing problems with obesity and diabetes. I teach, and years ago it was healthy food, now it’s fast food, and the kids double up, and they didn’t do that before. Everything revolves around the all mighty buck, and the consequences are of no concern. I’m sure the pharmaceutical industry will come up with something new.
I hope you’re right, but I’m growing more and more cynical as time passes. Just made a search for “kickback” “schemes” and found these tried and true methods.
I can think of quite a few more schemes, and I’m not even in the business! With some caution and care, some of them would be darned near undetectable.
I have read of kickback schemes to doctors for prescribing new drugs, involving discounts in other areas, and cases of direct payments as well.
“You have asked me what I would do and what I would not do. I will tell you what I will do and what I will not do. I will not serve that in which I no longer believe whether it call itself my home, my fatherland or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defence the only arms I allow myself to use — silence, exile, and cunning…You made me confess the fears that I have. But I will tell you also what I do not fear. I do not fear to be alone or to be spurned for another or to leave whatever I have to leave. And I am not afraid to make a mistake, even a great mistake, a lifelong mistake and perhaps as long as eternity too.”
? James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
I read that book when I was still impressionable. I wonder can I still sue for damages? On the other hand the ” refuseniks” helped to bring down the Soviet Union. Men like Sakharov and Solzhenitsyn did have an impact in bringing down the “Evil Empire” . On the other other hand if the Soviet Union had not fallen would their refusal be any less valid since they no longer could compel themselves to conform to the self negating diktat of Moscow ( How Existential) . Unfortunately things, even paradigms, change at their own pace. It isn’t up to intellectuals or politicians and policy. I took courses in college that examined paradigm shift in Philosophy of Science. The views ofKuhn and Lakatos were focused upon regarding what prompts change ( The Michelson-Morley Experiments as they related to the shift in Physics from Newtonian Physics to Relativity, Electro-Magnetism, whateever) , in a causal sense. Paul Karl Feyerabend was the Professor . Change> there’s the rub>
The Soviet Union was a BAD system. BAD systems FAIL. Their/it’s failure was inevitable, just as is the US’s.
Unless a collection of people can truly live sustainably* AND protect themselves from outside forces, NO ONE is going to have a FAIL-SAFE system.
* Perpetual growth on a finite planet is mathematically a sure failure. I refuse to try and discuss what would most have to exist, a means of population regulation (one would only hope that it would exist in a purely equal environment rather than by the diktats of a ruling elite).
Thought your prior comment was as shallow as it could get, but you surprise me with one of even lesser depth.
When I think of myself, I believe that most of these dead are consciously committed.
Balance suicide (Bilanzsuizid) are the only logical response of human beings to the growing pain and despair.
A humanistic way out of this death culture in which we live and in which human life is no longer worth anything.
Only like nature itself, used as a thing to exploit. A cheap slave.
It’s better to leave before the soul is dead.
It is significant, after all, that the response of politics and the media is just as inhumane as it has made this system so inhuman that so many people feel such great suffering pressure.
In the name of unlimited profit and self-exploitation at the expense of the weakest, dancing further around the Golden Calf…
Michel Foucault described this irrationality well in this death machine. In which smoking is forbidden, but because it is cheaper, more cars with diesel are sold…
Against this ever-growing social injustice, in which the top 20% take more and more of the 80% below, I see only the solution to the unconditional basic income. This relieves a lot of pain and suffering. Solves stress…
And in two generations, let’s have a look…
But takes 20 years anyway, until the politicians realize how much money you can save, if you don’t constantly put people in competition with yourself and first of all provide more security.
But without fear, people are also less likely to be blackmailed and exploitable….
The Talmud-ist faction/Zionist Hebrews,
whose dominion doth control Wealth,
And therefore, all communication as
thoughts in our heads, communicated
By Talmud recognitions/interpretations
re-formalized by Sigmund Freud/isms
He, the interminably insistent one/vs.
me, the trained obedient facilitator of
Insidiously Enhanced Interrogation
adopted from past human tortures
Their fears/ horrors from wild beasts
and new found land where u’might
Come to the end of wandering
and find the place of your own.
“Now, Faith is the
the evidence of
things not (yet) seen”
Phil might enjoy my new book, which offers one possible path to a meaningful future, such things being in very short supply nowadays:
At least it’s concrete.
Here is an article that looks at how the mortality rate for middle-aged Americans has risen substantially over the past two decades:
Striving to be a middle class, middle-aged white American has rarely been a harder task in our lifetime.
Wow, if I wrote this stuff it would surely be blocked. Is this nonsense relevant? Why a revolution ? Because Opiates are stronger than ever and readily available and the market is growing not shrinking? Counter intuitive. Sure , let’s declare a moratorium on late stage Capitalism , Global Liquidity, it is decadent after all, no more ad hoc rationalizations. But what would happen to hip hop music and multi-cultural-ism and fashion, Advertising and the TV and Print mediums. . What would people talk about besides where to eat and “Trump, isn’t he gross”? . Paradigm Shift de jour. No mas to junkies or prescription drug abuser.s No Mas. Just Quit. Like Cigarettes. Question? Why do all those rich and successful musicians, even poets with 180 IQ’s like Jim Morrison junk up. The Dead Beat list, Prince, Hendrix, Clapton, Coltrane, Keith Richards,.. the list is too long? Is it the fault of Capitalism or do they just like to get wasted and indulge their own ridiculousness? Personally, I never liked ups or downs. I have enough problems in between the extremes.
You used the word “revolution, but I believe that misrepresents what Mr. Rockstroh meant when he wrote this:
To me, that is about individuals going berserk with their suicidal automobiles and boxes of loaded “bump-stock” rifles.
In my opinion the author misreads what’s going on with the opiate epidemic. Instead of being a side-effect of the ravages of late capitalism, it’s a planned countermeasure. Super-Rich people like their present situation, and they also like their prospects of getting richer. Doing so means inflicting even more horrors on society to transfer whatever wealth which isn’t already in their pockets. So they have to “manage” the peasants. You’ve got to admit that unleashing the opiates wasn’t a bad strategy at all! Those other “ravages” like the shooters and car-rammers work nicely too – they serve to hammer home how helpless we are. Be very afraid, and consider the pills!
True story: not too long ago I went to a doctor with a chronic minor pain. I did NOT ask for any kind of pain relief – it was a minor one I wanted a “fix” for – but the doctor wrote me a prescription for an opiate! Refillable!! Having never heard of any “epidemic” or any other problem with these drugs at the time, I took one. Fortunately that pill reacted badly with me, turning me upside down, and I never took another. Later I’ve found that runs in the family – everybody I know of who has tried them hates the experience.
That these dangerous drugs are allowed to be prescribed with hardly any restraints isn’t an accident. The Powers that Be like it that way. Instead of plotting revolution, the peasants simply curl up and die.
Neat solution. The super rich get even richer with no real hazards to themselves.
We can expect some “pretend” concern and “pretend” solutions. One I’ve heard of is to force expensive drug tests on the addicts. This shows how “concerned” the medics are, and enriches THEIR paychecks.
How Doctors Are Getting Rich on Urine Tests for Opioid Patients
Want to turn that pain clinic into a real moneymaker? Open your own urine-testing lab and start billing Medicare.
Another possible reaction is to give the police even more powers. They could stop your vehicle at random checkpoints and make everybody in the car/truck pee in cups. Failure would men loss of the vehicle and fines and possible jail time.
Or it may be “necessary” to give the police even more no-warrant enter-your-house powers to search for evidence of your addiction. No telling what else they might find there. BDS materials. Hillary supporter. Trump supporter. I’d bet I’m breaking two dozen laws that I’ve never even heard of at this very moment. Since I live in Indiana, probably more than that.
An obviously very successful meducal business man told me the pharmaceutical/medical industry is the BIGEST FRAUD on the American people. During this conversation he twice said he was educated for the job he had, had to support his family — a wife and four children — so there was nothing he could do about it other than continue in his job. Quite a confession! In California I’ve met a number of people associated with this industry, even doctors, who say they never take drugs. Will not! That business man said his wife was like that. These views from people close to the industry need more exposure. Today I saw on the internet the comment that children who do not get vaccinated do not pose a risk to others.
I don’t even take aspirin although once every three of 4 years I will take Alka Selzer. Hey, it works.
Rich, ultra rich use Opiates. It’s nothing new ask the Chinese, Vietnamese , etc. . Rich families deal with addiction and overdose and suicide just as do the poor. Be glad you weren’t prescribed that anti depressant that has been a factor in so many suicides. You don’t have to take pain killers. I am reminded of one of my favorite lines from the fantasy world of film. Patrick Swayze in Roadhouse when he turns down an injection before being staple stitched, he says, ” Pain don’t hurt”. I do not visit Doctors at all except in the emergency room at times unfortunately. One more thing Cocaine is cheaper and abuse is more prevalent than in the heydays of Miami Vice. If you like to do Coke or Meth you should think that there’s an upside to having La Familia or an El Salvadorian associate of M-13 living in your neighborhood? Shall we blame Capitalism or Immigration Policy. PS I may have gone a little overboard by jumping to REVOLUTION but if you are talking Paradigm Shift away from Capitalism that reads like Regime Change on Steroids to me.
Shallow stuff dude.
These are certainly frustrating times but I find that they are both immensely interesting and mostly encouraging. One can sense the pressure as the propaganda machine continues to fail, but there is great hope in the very vulnerability of that phenomenon. Until recently, the practice of Empire seemed unstoppable but recently it has proven vulnerable most interestingly by a process of self destruction. It’s as if absurdity has finally overcome disinformation. I expect that soon we will be reading that propaganda is ultimately self defeating and we should have known that all along.
As we celebrate JFK’s 100th anniversary, I don’t think America has ever been closer to the actual truth as to what happened when he was assassinated and how it changed this Nation. And, once we discover that, we can finally get to work at trying to deal with the real and actual problems of mankind on a finite planet, quit warring, and appreciate what we do have. So, I have to say that the hope in Mr. Rockstroh’s essay is in the final paragraph… Thank you.
is Bob Van Noy how internet trolls work — insert an almost intelligent response but then reference a 50yr old conspiracy theory to try to nudge the site into the wacky category? JFK? Good Grief.
You should know how trolls work Harpo.
The people are learning of the lies of oligarchy in mass media, and the criminality of secret agencies.
The gang wars and bribery that comprise our ruin of democracy ever more visibly contradict its purposes.
The concluding hope of liberation by “re-visioning of oneself and the culture” without an action plan may be no more than inspiration, but that is worthwhile.
Thanks, Phil Rockstroh, for your, always poetic, elegies to the exploited victims of the insatiable predators.
It seems that “slavery” is the human end game when all the rules for a sustainable, fair and transparent economy are shredded.
That’s true for some ant species as well, isn’t it?
“If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever” – George Orwell.
“Capitalism” is NOT a problem…..”Capitalism without Conscience” is a problem………….because it is equal to G-R-E-E-D……
That’s where it always goes sans tough regulation. It is not feasible to rely on individual conscience when the system itself if forcing people in the other direction. Conscience is not as powerful as the herd instinct.
No one is really forced. Nearly everything that you perceive is but an interpretation in the mind.
Capitalism is just a system that is the best at facilitating growth, growth heavily dependent upon resource extraction. But make no mistake about it, as long as there are humans on this planet there WILL be resource extraction. As bad as capitalism is (or would be or claimed to be) the human population has been able to increase to a massive 7.5+ billion. Most people tend to miss the fact that the overwhelming number of this 7.5+ billion live on a paltry ration per day.
I’ve been searching for quite some time for the answer to the “growth” question/problem, without any real “solution” in sight. “Tough regulation” can also be used to suppress the common person; if you look at the maniacs in power you’ll see that that’s in essence what they are doing: they are, in effect, utilizing “regulations” (which is no more than dictates of law- either allowing or denying it’s still regulatory in basis- the “lack of regulation” that folks might be railing against is really about “regulation against the poor”). In the Dominican Republic they had rulers who “regulated” against deforestation, but it was more about regulation against others from getting in on the ruler’s market: in the long-run it was a benefit as there wasn’t total deforestation, unlike in neighboring Haiti.
You are right about Capitalism and conscience. But the real problem is that we have allowed the people who now own the system to skim the economy and squirrel away the takings, thereby removing most of the capital from the board. Sort of like the vulture capitalists, buying up a company, selling off the valuable parts and loading the left overs with debt and then closing the doors of said company.
As the author of this piece is saying, we , the vast majority of the citizens of these capitalist countries are allowing it. We need to withdraw that permission, by rule of law if possible by force if necessary. How long should you allow rats in your house to eat your food and, destroy the house you live in? There comes a time when you have to decide who can bennefit from your labour, and at that moment you will kill off the rats. it has happened over and over in history and it will happen again. The only problem this time is we have waited too long and the house has been destroyed to the point where it is falling down and no longer livable.
The system itself is “forcing” people to over consume, eat garbage food and drinks, become overweight/obese/fat, spend tons of time watching garbage TV and stupid movies!! Is that what you are saying?! “Herd Instinct”??!! Then you just admitted that people would rather live like animals and follow the herd!! I think many people do that BECAUSE it is escaping from taking responsibility for their own actions!!! They can simply blame it on someone else (the herd). I do not know about you but I strongly believe that “conscience” is what differentiate Humans from lower species which act purely on “herd instinct”…………Humans have a choice……………It is “FREEDOM TO CHOSE” but with that freedom comes a big price and that is RESPONSIBILITY…………..most people would rather follow the “herd”……………..No wonder there is so much misery in the world……………..
There is no such thing as capitalism with a conscience. Capitalism is designed to destroy conscience – and it is very effective in doing so.
Exactly. It is functioning precisely as planned. It is a myth that conscience will temper the cruelty of capitalism.
It is so true. Capitalism could work if oversight was included. Unfortunately greed has replaced sanity and lying is the truth… “it’s not a lie if you believe it”
Gabe, capitalism depends on greed. Sure, regulations would help, but the property relations inherent to capitalism will always lead to injustice.
UNREGULATED capitalism is the problem…
Sorry, Doc, but a Marxist understanding of capitalism reveals that it is always and necessarily exploitative of man and Nature. Ending capitalism would liberate millions from rents, interest, and restrictions on creativity.