Manuel Valenzuela: The Plunge into the Abyss (2)
The System: Capitalism and its Role in American
Society’s Plunge into the Abyss. Part II of III.
American Nightmare and Drill Sergeant Syndrome
By Manuel Valenzuela
Contributing Editor Axis Of Logic
Apr 27, 2004, 17:03
The American Nightmare
Social classes are today an illusion designed to create the impression that upward mobility, even in this age of capitalistic exploitation, can be easily achieved. The American Dream is one such instrument of deception that, while at one time a functioning reality, now assures those who exploit of the hard and ceaseless work of those seeking to escape their lifetime subjugation. For decades the utopian idea of the American Dream has captivated the masses. Indeed, it is the psychological cog that runs the American capitalistic engine, making hundreds of millions nothing more than obedient producers and consumers whose enslavement is the backbone of the effervescent and continually expanding economy.
The American Dream is the slogan to strive for, the mantra to hum in our misconceived perception of upward mobility even as we delve further into our predetermined caste. It is our battle hymn as we march merrily to work, eager to jump into the next stage of our caste-filled lives. The Dream, implanted from birth through television and culture, has become ingrained in our hypnotized minds as we seek to emulate the perfection we see on the screen. We have become Pavlovian dogs drooling at the fiction we think is within our grasp. Yet the fantasy we desperately crave and the reality we want to escape are mutually exclusive, never attaining the former and never evading the latter.
The American Dream is the nightmare we cannot seem to wake up from; it is the mirage that grips us until death. In its potential most everyone has been made to believe in; in its promise our minds seem to dwell, unable to escape the wonderment of its hollow assurances. Espoused as the greatness of the American nation, the Dream is but a vacant fantasy for hundreds of millions that cannot, and unfortunately will not ever escape the destiny of their creation nor the predicament of their environments.
Perfected over the last century, the Dream is but that most perfect marketing tool designed to capture those who seek better lives. Espousing the greatness of escaping the caste we have been born into, inculcating into our minds the benefits of a better life, it dictates that our lives become the stress-inducing calling of a drill sergeant. It dictates that we become marching grunts and soldier ants, never ceasing in our commitment to work tirelessly for ourselves, the state and especially the capitalists enriching themselves through their exploitation of our energies and at the expense of our lives and happiness.
By exploiting our emotions, fantasies and dreams, not to mention the greed and materialism capitalism unearths in our minds, the purveyors of the Dream foster in us a sense that what we see is attainable and what we were born into escapable. Like black widows capitalists and exploiters wait for us to become trapped in the web of lies they market, only then striking us down with their venomous poison running through our veins. Our primitive wants and needs become the tools the capitalists use in pushing us towards greater productivity and consumption. We are pursuing that most noble of American institutions, we are told. The American Dream is within our grasp, if only we work harder and consumer more.
The American Dream furthers the enslavement of the poor and working class, entrapping them further into the bowels of exploitation. It advances the enrichment of the oligarchs and capitalists, allowing them increased production through lower wages. Belief in the Dream pushes us toward commitments of greater working hours and harder sacrifice. It fosters the abandonment of individuality and happiness, forcing us to choose our jobs over our lives, our career over our family. But, we are told, if we sacrifice long enough, if we work hard enough, if we give our last breath of air and our last vestige of energy we will move up in the hierarchy, only to realize after years of servitude the futility of it all and the untenable fiction we were led to believe.
In the end we become aware that the Dream has become the nightmare, that our energy has been drained, not for our pleasure and happiness, but for the bulging pockets of the capitalist exploiters. Before we realize where time has taken us, the vigor of youth has given way to the frailty of age and the wisdom of experience opens our eyes to the enslavement we have lived in for dozens of years.
Through the years our masters treat us like the slaves we have become, discarded unappreciated and expendable. If we do not cater to the capitalist demands an entire assembly line of worker ants eagerly awaits to take our place. To our capitalist masters, we are nothing but entities without human emotions or feelings, without lives and families, robotic automatons waiting for the final guillotine to end our working days. They shed not a tear when our Dream becomes a nightmare. We have become complacent and submissive thanks to the tortured lashings of a life working excessive hours, sacrificing our greater good for that of the capitalists, dominated by frustrations and the ever-present demon of exploitation extending its many tentacles over our feudal lives.
Society has deemed it so, for capitalism needs exploiter and exploited, oppressor and oppressed, master and slave. The divergence of polar opposites gives capitalism its nectar and nourishment to continue the vicious circle of perpetually unhindered inequality that keeps the difference between poverty and wealth from ever disappearing from our conscious. Capitalism breathes, lives and thrives through the creation of the pyramid of exploitation, where the few at the top enrich themselves at the expense of the many at the bottom. The charade called the American Dream is the illusion needed to continue our exploitation.
After our first few gasps of air our freedom is relinquished and the assembly line of slaves welcomes in a new energy. Those born in wealth and power go on to become the future exploiters of the lower castes, becoming masters destined to rule those born into the lower strata of society. Those born to be exploitable entities, on the other hand, must suffer the consequences of a society that in their childhood prepares them for enslavement, indigence and inequality. This is the reality of the American Dream, a cruel fiction espousing wealth, mobility and happiness but offering only lies, torture and subjugation.
We are born, luckily or not, into a series of castes, from those untouchables at the bottom to those of privilege at the top, each determining our role in a capitalistic society that engulfs our every inhalation of oxygen and assures that the vast majority will forever be relegated to the chains of enslavement. Thus the necessity of the Dream, of the idea of upward mobility that very few get to ever experience. As long as the fiction of the Dream lives in the hearts and minds of Man, the nightmare will be shielded from ever seeing light. As long as the fantasy that is the Dream lives it will envelope society, making us blind to the dungeons of our workplace and deaf to the shackles dragging behind our feet.
Through the brainwashing of our minds the illusion of what we believe we are is enforced, yet the reality of our circumstance contradicts our dreams and lives. In the end the dream we believe to be living disappears with the awakening of our long slumber of escapism. By then, however, age has overtaken us, our bodies are now fragile and the sands of time have claimed the vivacity of youth as the pulsating energy we once possessed has been usurped by our capitalist masters.
The Drill Sergeant Syndrome
It is only natural that a society enamored with violence, its military and the wars, death and destruction it spawns would ultimately espouse a drill sergeant mentality in the functioning mechanisms of daily life. With capitalism acting as drill instructor, shouting commands and demanding obedience from it hundreds of millions of grunts, American society has been conditioned to function in an unsustainable, fast-paced lifestyle that is giving rise to a myriad of psychological, emotional and physical problems amongst the citizenry.
The purposeful manipulation of an entire society in order to make it perform at exceeding levels of rapidity has in the last few decades produced the world’s most powerful economy. Yet hidden in dark closets of silence are the ramifications of embarking on such a fast-paced excursion. At the sacrifice of people’s lives the economy thrives, and to a greater extent the capitalists that run it, having created an engine run on human blood, sweat and tears.
This smooth running machine depends on an exaggerated level of production and consumption that has affected the poor and working classes in severe ways. From birth the masses are conditioned that in order to partake in American society, one must sacrifice life, energy and happiness by joining a non-stop, rapid-paced, never resting, unchallenged and unquestioned way of life. With capitalism yelling commands and exerting control over our minds and lives, we grow up knowing only that which has been implanted into our thoughts by a society that has lost all attention span and curiosity, having been trained to think in terms of fifteen second sound bites, flashing visual imagery, channel surfing and Hollywood endings.
Through television children are blitzkrieged and inundated with stimuli that causes drastic changes in our developing primate brain. Images bombard the mind, fiction moves at the speed of sound, and in the sponge-like capacity of the child’s brain a sense emerges that real life is a consequence of the fantasy being watched. The Dream produced on television thus transcends the screen and becomes a compartmentalized image of reality in the young and innocent brain.
As children turn into working adults, the conditioning already deeply entrenched, the idea of a fast-paced, breakneck speed way-of-life becomes second nature. The transformation of innocent child to subservient and unknowing slave has commenced. The robbing of mind and individual thought has been achieved after years of constant propaganda bombardment. With television and society shouting instructions those graduating into the real world become automaton robots whose fluid movements resonate the guiding principles of factory machines. The time to enrich our masters has arrived; the time to become subservient workers is upon us.
Yet what our masters do not want us to know is that with our ever-growing productive lifetimes still more working days can be engendered from our trapped energies. Living more and more each decade, our productivity continues to increase as we remain in the labor market for a protracted number of years. This only benefits the greed-mongering capitalists that squeeze every last ounce of energy from our bodies, milking us for everything we’ve got. Yet if 60 is the new 40, shouldn’t 30 be the new 20? Our working lifetime formula still retains the ingredients of those created 30 years ago, when those aged 60 were considered old and those aged 20 were seen as being in the prime of their working lives. Why when we are living so long today are our young still under command of those beliefs of yesterday while our wise are now entrapped to the new formulas of today?
America’s drill sergeant syndrome pushes us straight into the workforce. No time is given to see the world or understand its complexities. No permission is granted to pursue a voyage of self-discovery or to take advantage of the vivacity of youth to embark on a most monumental and necessary expedition. We only live once, after all, and our youthful energy is not everlasting. Instead, society calls us to arms, pointing us down the road of marching ants and worker bees, automatons and slaves. Drill sergeant syndrome commands us to work, oftentimes for the remainder of our still-energized lives. And so we abandon the world of the unexplored for the world of the slave.
Waking up in the morning, our switches turned on, we robotically perform our daily routines. The engine begins heating up, programmed to never question the reason behind its actions nor the inherent struggle to fight our conditioned minds. As we leave our front doors and garages, escaping the feudal cookie cutter homes we have been provided, we enter the ever-clogged arteries of the capitalistic beast. Rush hour is upon us. Our fast-paced life has been recycled for yet another day. The drill sergeant syndrome once more rises over the horizon like a hypnotizing beam to guide us on our way.
Bumper to bumper, we are forced to endure a river of congestion, breathing in contaminated carbon emissions emanating from the highway saturated with vehicles. Oxygen has been replaced by poison; frustration and stress fill the air. These known carcinogens and catalysts to disease rising from the exhausts of our gas guzzling contraptions are diminishing our years. The stresses of the morning contribute to the lowering of our immune systems, the advanced aging of our bodies and the deteriorating condition of our minds. One and two hour commutes are the rule, not the exception, to be methodically endured morning and evening. We are sacrificing our lives for the benefit of our capitalist masters, sacrificing our precious time on Earth for their profits, power and wealth.
The drill sergeant syndrome affects us every second of every day. With capitalism calling forth commands from its minaret called society, we rush through our daily lives, working non-stop, shedding sweat, tears and blood for the meager wages we receive. Rushing to work, wolfing down disease-ridden fast food, sacrificing family, children, happiness and love for the benefits of our fast-paced society, we are meddling with a human evolution that has not had time to adapt to its changing circumstances. Our psychology cannot handle the speed of our existence, the stress of our experiences or the emotions of our frustrations. As such, the cycle of perpetuating anger and frustration keeps rolling down the mountain of capitalism like an exponentially growing snowball.
Ours has become a society in which time is of the essence, where to simply waste time is frowned upon. As a result, we are filling our bodies with ever abundant supplies of fast-food that are making America the most obese people the world has ever witnessed. Our reluctance to slow down from the always-on-the-move mentality has deviated us away from healthy, though time-consuming nutrition. Our inability to stop and breath is condemning our children to premature disease and prolonged obesity. The vicious cycle of velocity is being imputed onto them as they learn our behaviors.
At no other time in human history has a people consumed so much fattening food. Our bodies have not had time to evolve to this growing phenomenon, nor to the sedentary circumstances of our society where the car has supplanted our legs. Children have never been subjected to such unhealthy meals, and this results from our preoccupation with time, with moving at the speed of light, thereby ignoring our kids’ emotions, health and developing psychology.
The drill sergeant syndrome is transforming our minds and bodies. Living to work and not working to live has become our slogan. The concept of “mañana” (tomorrow) espoused by Mediterranean and Latin American societies that reduces the levels of stress and increases the attention to children is being ignored in America. Looked upon unfavorably by those entities brainwashing us clean, the concept demands a more relaxed lifestyle, devoted to happiness and life, not work and money.
Mañana entails the principle that everything will eventually get done, if not today then certainly tomorrow, that stress is corrosive and that life is to be enjoyed, not abandoned. Ignored in America due to the fact that production, time and work are not maximized or that the belief in not wasting time is not espoused, mañana is marginalized as a method of the lazy, the uninterested and the uninspired. Yet it is those cultures living its philosophy, not America, that can claim to live less stressful and healthier lives, warmer and relaxing societies, and increased levels of happiness.
Drill Sergeant Syndrome is slowly sending American society plunging down into the abyss. Our “Move it! Move it! Move it!” way of life, combined with the “Now! Now! Now!” mentality is altering the capacity of our slow evolving brains to deal with new environmental stresses. We must remember, this Syndrome is rather new, encompassing the last fifty years out of the several hundred thousand of homo sapien’s existence. Our dynamics are shifting, our bodies and minds are not evolving to increased stresses, pressures and environmental factors and the road to the abyss is getting much closer than we are ready to acknowledge.
The human condition demands that we corrupt our future through the sins of the past. It demands that the unstoppable momentum of the human snowball continues on its precipitous sojourn downward, granting the inheritance of all things wrong to those who through no fault of their own are burdened by the massive and ever-accumulating weight of preceding generations.
The drill sergeant syndrome and American nightmare that envelope our society are growing, not diminishing, becoming omnipresent and all-encompassing, capturing our lives and our essence, and entrapping our past and ensnarling our future. American society has been hijacked by capitalism, benefiting only the few at the top looking down at the decrepit view of a people controlled more and more in body, mind and spirit. We are being lied to, deceived and manipulated. The essence of our human existence is being occupied and oppressed by those trying to make automatons of the American public. American happiness is dissipating, giving rise to growing frustrations and resentments, remedied by the vast array of mind-altering drugs our masters kindly provide us so we can forget the reality of our existence and the defecation onto our lives.
The nebula hovering above our minds is slowly drowning us into the deep trenches of the abyss. Whether we swim back up and once more gasp the sweet, crisp air of freedom is entirely up to us.
Coming Thursday... The System, Part III of III: The Poisonous Tentacles of Capitalism; Symptoms of a Disease: Pill Popping for Happiness
© 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 email@example.com
Read Other Articles By Manuel Valenzuela: Manuel Valenzuela Archive