Manuel Valenzuela: The Plunge into the Abyss (1)
The System: Capitalism and its Role in American Society’s Plunge into the Abyss. Part I of III.
By Manuel Valenzuela
Contributing Editor Axis Of Logic
Apr 26, 2004
Breaths of Freedom
For one brief moment of life, when light enters our eyes for the very first time, we can claim to be the embodiment of innocence and human goodness, the essence of human perfection. It is also the only moment in our lives we can claim to be free.
In birth awakens the wonderment of humanity, the hope of civilization and the positive energy of our future. In birth are we all born unclothed, unmarked and uncorrupted, and, for at least a second, engendered with the same promises of ability and opportunity theoretically endowed to us all. The promise of a new tomorrow lives in the curious smile and ever-innocent eyes of tiny humans born in the today.
At birth new life has breathed freely for the first time, no longer attached to the love and nutrition of a mother. With the severing of the umbilical chord a virgin child becomes an entity upon the world, individual and independent, resplendent in energy and captivating in perfection. The promise of a new day is captured in the beauty of new life. At no other moment is the greatness of humankind magnified so bright, flashing before the world the vast potential of Man, the end result of our existence at its most perfect moment of splendor. The awakening of hope is displayed by the opening of eyes seeing the world for the very first time.
The fusing together of man and woman, at our moment of pure animal instinct and brilliant human union transcends society’s demons to form an intertwined tango of symphonious attachment that spawns the continuation of the human species. For millions of years we have procreated, spreading our seed to all corners of the only home we know, hoping to improve on the gains of previous generations, hoping to make better the lives of our future civilization.
At birth the radiance of freedom is exhibited by the first gasp for air a newborn takes. It is at that moment that the human condition is at its most free, before the constraints of society are enabled or the corrosive tentacles of the caste one is born into are put in motion. It is at that moment that humanity is nearest perfection, combining innocence and goodness before the evils of civilization are thrust upon newborn life.
With the first few breaths a newborn’s freedom will be proclaimed to the world, before American society begins to submerge yet another victim into the cesspool of capitalistic exploitation that, from cradle to grave, enslaves a citizen and defines his or her existence. It is the minor escape from our capitalistic destiny, manifested in the form of our first gasps for oxygen that is the purest form of freedom, allowing us to hope that a better world is indeed possible.
Yet these moments of true freedom are measured in seconds, for the human condition called capitalism descends like an invisible spirit to lay claim to incarnations of purity and hope. From the near moment of birth, you see, mechanisms in American society entrap our most precious creations, enveloping them with razor sharp claws that both blind and scar on a long, arduous journey through time and space.
Realities begin to emerge that even immediately after our birth we are destined to be unequal in future, destiny and opportunity. The unbridled potential might be the same for two newborns born to different mothers, yet American society, in its present capitalistic form, assures that for the coming decades two similar children possessing the same abilities and talents will in most likelihood diverge into polar opposites. The American caste system assures us of this most troublesome truth.
Survival of the fittest has ceased to exist in human civilization. Our concrete jungles function using an entirely different set of rules than those of nature. Today, fates are determined based on survival of the richest, the luckiest and the less exploited, on the collective successes or failures of family and ancestors, the prosperous or deprived conditions of the environment we live in and on the genetic and ethnic predisposition of a newborn that labels and stereotypes during the course of an entire lifetime.
The system that has been created at the hands of capitalism is altering our society for the worse. It is a system whose inherent goal is the exploitation of the masses for the benefit of the few. They system is robbing us of our individuality, our happiness and freedom. An evolved form of enslavement is its end result, packaged and marketed as an enlightened instrument of human evolution. In reality, however, it is transforming our lives for the worst, sending us spiraling backwards in time to the days of feudalism and enslavement. The system is at work.
Our society is not what we think it to be, it remains hidden in a charade of smoking mirrors. Reality is being concealed, the fiction espoused, and our eyes have been made blind to the truth of our existence and the existence of the lie we continue to live.
Evolution in Time and Space
Human civilization has escaped the laws of nature but the laws of nature have yet to escape us. Implanted in us remain the many vestiges of our animal selves, deeply entrenched in both our psyches and the human condition. Modern man we might claim to be, yet the reality of our existence differs to the contrary. We are made to believe that our species has evolved past the primitiveness of our ancestors and that sophisticated beings we have become. Evolution, however, does not listen to the self-aggrandizing diatribes of our delusional selves. On the contrary, it plays under its own laws, no matter what the rulers of the planet do or think. We can control most everything on this planet, except our own mental, psychological and physical evolution.
In a planet billions of years old, human existence is but a mere hiccup in the life of Earth. Encompassing a split second in the twenty-four hour time-clock of Earth’s long history, human habitation in this home of ours is infinitesimal, insignificant really. A few million years of ape-like appearance and intelligence living in Africa was followed by a few hundred thousand years of tribal meandering of the planet. It has only been the last 10,000 years, out of a few million of human existence that has encompassed what we know today as civilization.
During this long journey of human life, we have become the rulers of the planet, slowly transforming a once pristine land into our scarred home. We have left behind nature for the cities. We have forgotten where we come from, not understanding who and what we really are. Instead, we have created our own set of rules living in artificial environments of concrete jungles and steel-glass canyons. A species that for millions of years thrived in and according to nature has in the last 10,000 years planted itself in our new ecosystem: the city. Nature has become but a distant memory to the human condition, taken for granted and exploited for our own purposes.
As such, society’s understanding of the human condition has ceased to exist, becoming an island onto itself, absorbed in self-adulation and pompous coronation, claiming superiority to all living things. Yet in arrogant delusion our animal selves remain, no matter how mighty we make ourselves out to be, no matter what our religions and leaders say. We are the ape of yesteryear and the mammal that no matter how hard it tries, cannot escape its reality.
Evolution on Earth does not transpire at the same level as our fast paced world of today. Indeed, organisms evolve in epochs, over tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of years. Evolution is not a quick fix approach to solving an organism’s problems. Meticulous and protracted, the evolution of a species, both physically and mentally, cannot be achieved in centuries or decades. As much as we would like to believe, the human condition is not beyond the animal world it has – when compared to the long history of the planet – only recently escaped.
Many of our behaviors and emotions remain the same today as they were millennia ago. The only thing that has changed is civilization, technology, our vast numbers and the understanding of the world that surrounds us. Only now, through evolutionary psychology, are we beginning to understand who and what we are, our behavior and our animal selves. Human evolution has not changed much in hundreds of thousands of years. Our brain size has not shifted, our physical selves remain the same. Animal instincts and behaviors, societies and psychology, hierarchies and necessities have remained stable for a very long time. Our animal urges and needs have not deviated much since we became discernible human beings, capable of thought and advanced intelligence.
It can be argued that our civilization, society and technologies have superceded our capacity to evolve alongside them. In our quest to advance the cause of humankind we forgot that evolution does not work as fast as we would like. We would need to allow mankind’s evolution hundreds of thousands of years in order to catch up to today’s civilization, society and technologies. Sadly, we are seeing the effects of this failure in our most advanced societies.
Today’s world moves at the speed of light, bombarding us with a hydra of stimuli and environments humans had up to now never been confronted with before. Our civilization is advancing at breakneck speed, surpassing our psychological ability to keep up. Our psychology has not evolved for hundreds of thousands of years; we remain what we think ourselves not to be.
Never has the human mind and body been subjected to the kinds of stresses and stimuli we face on an hourly basis thanks to our society. Take, for example, the imposition of the television into our lives. It is now being found that television might be one of the leading contributing factors in attention deficit disorder in children. Scientists have found a direct correlation between television watching in toddlers up to two years old and increased propensities towards ADD. Why is this so? It turns out that television presents the young and developing brain with rapid successions of stimuli, bombarding the mind with a plethora of images, sounds and movement that affects the developing processes of the brain.
Never before had the developing human brain been subjected to something remotely close to the television, and today we can see the effects of this technology on our children. Evolution has not caught up to our ever sophisticated technologies and ever-stressful civilization. We have changed the rules of the human condition without fully understanding its ramifications on us. The consequences of our actions are beginning to be felt the more we understand who and what we truly are and the more we subject ourselves and our children to mechanisms our evolution cannot keep up with.
The degrading effects of our capitalistic society, with its stresses, frustrations and exploitations, are thus having a tremendous effect on the human condition, especially in brain development, psychology and physical disease.
The Caste System
Social classes have always existed in human societies, yet to accurately portray what has occurred in America over the last 200 years, a much more realistic term must be borrowed from other societies.
The caste system, a much more accurate semantic exploration into our reality, has been unleashed onto our collective experiences, helping to seal our fates and cement our futures through the immovable concrete barriers of our present capitalistic society. Through castes we are defined, living our role in the exploitative society we inhabit. Mechanisms at work help keep us in place, from cradle to grave, subjecting us to the consequences of our birth and the socioeconomic conditions of our parents and grandparents.
American society has in many instances become a nation of castes, much like those in India, though less transparent. Capitalism has separated the haves from the have nots, the lucky from the condemned and the perpetually wealthy from the eternally indigent. The castes we are born into as a result of the life circumstances of our parents and ancestors helps determine the order we will take in the hierarchical chain of exploitation. Few are born lucky; most are born with tremendous obstacles at their feet. These barriers, placed by capitalism and its society onto much of the citizenry, make it almost impossible for the masses to ever escape the chains of bondage clenching their bodies.
Other factors such as the macabre effects of slavery and the introduction of immigrants have also led to the establishment of castes. Slavery set back the black population 200 years, sending its society into the perpetual abyss of enslavement. While many in the white population enjoyed the fruits of free labor, enriching themselves and their progeny for generations to come, blacks became pack mules, not even considered full human beings. Many white companies flourished thanks to slavery, building themselves into prominence riding on the backs of generations of slaves.
When blacks were made free they had to overcome barriers of discrimination, racism, poverty, lack of education and integration into an already established white society. In essence, millions of blacks had to start from scratch, and only in the last decade are the fruits of their struggle starting to filter in a still mostly white society. Poverty has kept the black community down, destined to never eclipse the glass ceiling placed at its head, banished to reservations called ghettos and urban jungles from which there is no escape, no employment and no education.
Whites arrived in America and were allowed to build up a society that evolved for centuries. They were allowed, through the passage of time, to makes mistakes and exploit land and labor. White society took possession of all the lands of the indigenous populations, enriching itself through the mechanisms of free land, free labor and free society, itself free of racism, discrimination and those hindrances that constantly push back black advancements. Blacks have only tasted so-called freedom for 140 years, though they still struggle to escape the caste the effects of slavery has had on them.
Unable to escape their urban reservations, the masses in the black community seem condemned to the caste thrust upon them by the years of subjugation, oppression and exploitation at the hands of the white majority. Without adequate and equal education, access to a semblance of fulfilling jobs, equality in standards of living and the unhindered right to escape their perpetual chains those living in urban squalor will be unable to call freedom into their lives. Equal access to American society, free of the many barriers that have historically been used to curtail assimilation is needed for blacks to say they are on equal footing with their white counterparts.
The above example of the black caste is but one of many that grip American society. The convergence of a child’s family income level with the dastardly quality of education combined with corrosive environmental factors associated with lower castes help create exploitable slaves, gushing out of the conveyor belt of capitalistic opportunism, that are purposefully oppressed for purposes of transforming blue-eyed babies into blue collar workers.
When education is dismal and blatantly unequal in many parts of the country, completely different than those of rich neighborhoods, a child’s future becomes his worst nightmare, but a capitalist’s dream come true. While many children enjoying the great schooling wealth provides will go on to higher education, trained to become the exploiters and oppressors of the lower castes, those clustered with the masses will be squeezed of once vibrant energies, their hopes and dreams squashed through the corrosive cancers of negligent and appalling levels of education. It is these many that will in most likelihood become the slaves of the past and the automatons of the future, exploited for their energy and labor, subjugated by capitalists to continue the vicious cycle of exploitation passed down from generation to generation.
In the wealthiest nation on the face of the planet a seemingly sinister mechanism is at play. It is the vastly different levels of education afforded to our children. Based on where a child lives and on the socioeconomic status of her family, her education will in large measure determine her future. If it wasn’t so obvious, one could argue that what is taking place is the deliberate dumbing down of schools through financial and moral bankruptcy for purposes of making worker bees out of vast segments of the population.
Those in power know that education equals liberation, that knowledge is power. Yet they also know that in order to continue expanding their wealth and power, the masses need to become the exploitable entities that have historically enriched the capitalists’ ancestors. They know that in order to achieve this, the masses must be subjugated and controlled, kept under ball and chain, never being allowed to escape the grip of indigence or the ignorance of enslavement. It is for this reason that the sorry state of education is today nothing but a sinister ploy to oppress and dominate the masses. The calculated dumbing down of education continues the downward spiral of the masses. It keeps us from advancing, from prospering and from knowing what is being done to us and our children.
This vicious circle of exploitation begins at birth and continues into childhood, conditioning the mind and the body for the eventual enslavement of human energy. As adults, our energy drained of hope and dreams, we seem to accept our fates as the slave of the few elite capitalists. Years of conditioning breaks our back as the figurative whips lashing our bodies take its demoralizing toll. From cradle to grave, the caste system prospering thanks to capitalism is succeeding in making us the disposable pack mules of the elite. And through our submissive acquiescence to this feudal apparatus of personal destruction we allow it to continue, to be passed down to our progeny as the system gains momentum, energy and power. With each passing year the system grows, becoming an unstoppable monolithic entity whose life is enhanced through the absorption of our energy and spirit.
Capitalism has made the system perverse and eviscerating. At our and our progeny’s expense the system grows, mutating in power, enhancing the wealth of the few elite, making us exploitable and easily replaceable slaves. After all, an entire assembly line of workers continues to be procreated, slowly programmed through years of environmental conditioning to accept their fates as the machines, mules and eventual slaves of our corporate and capitalistic masters.
The evils inherent in our capitalistic society make it so. The inescapable conundrum hundreds of millions find themselves trapped in is the ultimate devastator of lives, condemning before birth, conditioning during childhood and exploiting for life. The system is at work, forming castes and ruining lives, making us believe in the virtue of an American Dream that has over the years turned into our nightmare.
The System: Capitalism and its Role in American Society’s Plunge into the Abyss. Part II of III.
The American Nightmare and Drill Sergeant Syndrome
© Copyright 2004 by AxisofLogic.com
Manuel Valenzuela, 29, is social critic and commentator, activist, writer and author of Echoes in the Wind, a novel to be published in Spring of 2004. His articles appear weekly on axisoflogic.com where he is also contributing editor. Mr. Valenzuela welcomes comments and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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