Saturday, May 24, 2014

The United State is a Dystopia

Kudos to all the great dystopia movies blockbuster films that have been coming out recently. But the spate of dystopia films is just reflecting the wider fact that the United States itself is quickly becoming a dystopia.  I remember seeing Blade Runner back in the day and thinking, wow, what an awful future.  But in many respects the present reality is even worse than Blade Runner.  The current state of affairs goes something like this:

The air, water, soil, and food in the United States are toxic as fuck.

The reason they are toxic as fuck is because we have 80,000 untested chemicals in circulation (in our air, water, soil, manufactured goods, and food) -- and no precautionary principle to require companies to prove that they are safe.  Newborn babies already have over 200 toxic chemicals in their system from the moment they emerge from the womb (and toxic chemicals administered during childbirth don't help matters).

Target, Home Depot, and Walmart are happy to sell us these toxic chemicals and toxic food because it is extremely profitable.  They sell them to us with the promise that they will make us happier.

Companies that generate toxic waste are located in poor communities of color. When people in poor communities of color then suffer the ill effects of this exposure, they are blamed for their bad moral choices.

The result of this toxic stew is an explosion of autism spectrum disorders including aspergers, autoimmune disorders, obesity, chronic illness, learning disabilities, and a rapid increase in a range of mental illnesses.

These chronic illnesses are treated with more toxic chemicals that never cure the problem and keep people in a perpetuate state of dependence on more drugs. Mental illness is treated with toxic chemicals that work no better than a placebo and often have the side effect of homicidal rage.

These mentally ill people, their symptoms inflamed by these drugs, have access to an unlimited quantity of guns.  The reason they have access to an unlimited quantity of guns is that gun manufacturers created and generously fund an astroturf terrorist organization made up of paranoid, racist, men on the margins of society that lobby members of Congress to insure unlimited access to these guns (or they will lose their jobs in the next election).

These mentally ill people, then go on mass killing sprees. Weekly. So many massacres that the news can't even catch up.  So many massacres that they no longer make the front page of the New York Times. So many mass shootings that the population (except those in the immediate vicinity) registers no emotion and changes the channel.

Those who would point out that this all starts with the pursuit of profit over people are silenced in elite academic institutions by professors, many with aspergers type disorders themselves, who teach that profit is the only thing that matters. Those who would point out that it starts with toxic chemicals in our environment are silenced in elite academic institutions by science professors who claim that they cannot prove any connection. Professors who question the system cannot get hired and if they do get hired they cannot get promoted.  Those who don't attend elite academic institutions are increasingly taught by people making less than minimum wage who are just struggling to get by and not in a position to question the system (and unable to meet the enormous academic needs of students who have been exposed to this toxic stew).  If you don't attend higher ed you many never get a job in this economy.  If you do attend higher ed your debts may be so high that you may never be able to pay it off in this economy.

Social media comes in and commodifies social interaction just as capitalism earlier commodified nature.  Twitter at 140 character is only good for posting links, shouting at people, and apparently stalking. FB promises connection will always be free and then limits connection so that you have to pay to promote.  The number one song in the summer of 2011 was a catchy little ditty (with whistling in the chorus) about shooting up a school.  The number one movie in 2012 and 2013 is a series about teenagers who have to kill each other in order to survive.

This is an incomplete sketch.  But the cycle is something like profit, toxicity, personal dysfunction, profit driven solution exacerbates the problem, societal dysfunction, repeat.

Yes, I get that the only sane response is to unplug, go to a farmers market, have a conversation in person, and detoxify as much as possible from all the madness. But I think it's worth pointing out, from time to time, the insanity of our present moment.

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