Predatory capitalism is neither ethical nor humane.
However, egregious acts of truth telling won’t get you far in a culture that can neither identify nor understand what passes for transgression because many people are incapable of critical thinking.
Whether this offends you or not, Trump is the most honest representation America has ever had to date, embodying money-grubbing, profiteering, and self-aggrandizing bullshit down to a T. But the era of disinhibited greed he ushered in will continue to imperil democracy long after Inauguration Day.
Right now, it’s intensifying. The coronavirus, homelessness, and hunger are spreading at an alarming rate in the US while con artists rush to line their pockets with the proceeds of outrage and anger before the Trump-sponsored gravy train derails.
For a snapshot of society, look at your social media platform of choice.
Predatory capitalism is cancer.
Joe Biden’s election means the chemo of decency is working but there’s no such thing as overnight remission, not when it’s stage 4. As any oncologist will tell you, there’s no stage 5. Sometimes, you’re just chasing metastases around.
Whatever you do, they keep mushrooming in new places so you need a good dose of brain radiotherapy on top. And then your heart gives out, your brain turns to mush, and despite a stent you can barely function.
Trumpism is just one tumor, 2020 has x-ray vision, but the metastases are taking over American democracy and society at large.
The human idea of America needs to be egalitarian but it never has been.
But many Americans aren’t aware of how dehumanizing their culture is, nor how they perpetuate it. Unlike immigrants, they don’t always have basic knowledge of civics either. Can you name the three branches of government?
Does it matter?
The great differentiator with anything in America is whether something affects you directly, i.e. personally. Government, for many, is as much of an abstract as the plight of those they do not consider fully humans. The list is long, brown, queer, sick, indigenous, poor, female, undocumented, born foreign…
TFW your identity is an epithet is a meme to many, a reality to many more.
Our perceptions of one another are so misinformed we hear and see what we want to hear and see, even if that’s a cat that barks, even if it’s a tech company that pledges to change the world and ends up endangering human life and democracy, even if that’s an orange president, which, when put together, makes for one hell of a collective hallucination.
Are you hot? Can you breathe? No? Yes? Then it’s not corona, it’s just America.
But for those with money and white skin, disempowerment is part and parcel of Americanness.
And yet, Mr Trump still embodies who and what many Americans aspire to be, entitled to exposure and pay and power by virtue of being oneself, regardless of what one might contribute to the common good. Because there’s no such thing in the US, the only Western country that doesn’t consider health care a basic human right.
Me first. And screw you. Because someone’s misfortune is always someone else’s ticket to riches. Greed and grift aren’t partisan, they’re the American Dream according to Napoleon Hill or Paula White or preacher Kenneth Copeland who blew away the ‘rona on TV.
America was always a get-rich-quick scheme. These days, the gold rush is digital. We dodged a bullet a few weeks ago but we shouldn’t ignore those who wanted a second season of the greatest show on Earth, and the many more who publicly decry it yet co-opt the exact same communication tactics of self-aggrandizing repetition until lies begin to sound like facts to the unsuspecting, the desperate, and those incapable of critical thinking.
So what about the cognitive dissonance between what many thought would happen and what eventually did?
And what about America’s capacity to transcend what divides us without exacerbating said divide?
The stories we tell build the reality we live in.
Clearly, America needs better storytellers than greed and grift.
Clearly, America needs algorithms that elevate the values the majority chose and defended at the ballot box instead of affording disproportionate reach to anyone who games those algorithms serving up sensationalism, schadenfreude, and barefaced cupidity.
Clearly, words still and always will matter despite the forced redefinition of many of them, like honesty, currently embodied by Alex Jones, at least according to himself and his admirers.
Holding the line for decency avoided disaster but we still have much further to go until we live up to the egalitarian idea of America which, to date, has always been denied to many.
As we recently confirmed, we, the people, are the antidote. And it works.
But does it scale?
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