Monday, September 30, 2013

Radio

Listening to the Mike Malloy show from 9:00 to midnight almost every day.  The voice transmitted through the air into the otherwise silent personal space of whatever room I happen to be holed up in, fending off the impressions of the world outside.

Malloy is playing the songs of the seventies group, America, in between segments of his show.  Even though I recognize and remember almost all the songs, listening to them now is like hearing them for the first time.  The chords sound simpler, and the construction of the songs is much clearer than it was when I listened to them in the past, on the [car] radio.  But as clear and comprehensible as the America songs are, I don't like them now any more than I did then.

So Malloy talks about the right wingers like he always does, a singular voice penetrating the barriers of space and buildings to talk to the Truthseekers about the reality behind the political headlines and the tv newscasts.  His animate, energized persona materializes right beside me, behind his torrential voice, rising and falling, shouting and whispering, laughing and cursing, and holding mind and matter captive with sound!

He's many hundreds of miles away in his home studio outside of Atlanta.  But his voice--in between the music and commercial breaks--is in my room, talking to me as clearly and comprehensibly as an America song plays on my iPhone.  But this time he's talking about something of paramount urgency for everyone:  the new IPCC report on climate change.


Apparently the new findings are that by approximately 2040, we'll pass the final output of CO2 that represents the maximum volume allowable if we're to keep the warming below 3.6 degrees Farenheit.

This is coming through the radio after 10:30 PM on Friday night.

When I first discovered radio I was still sharing a room with Ed.  I heard from Dan Baker that if you put a transistor radio under your pillow, you could hear it really well, but nobody else could.  I was in fourth grade, the last year of my unqualified academic ascent--even though I got caught smoking that year and that changed my life forever--when I listened to the Dave Clark Five and the Beatles after nine o'clock on a school night with the lights out and my head comfortably suspended on the music and voices coming through my pillow, I discovered that communication opened the doors to a reality beyond Ed's and my little bedroom.

There was a world, a universe beyond the world under my parents' roof, even beyond the fences surrounding our school yard.  It was a world created by my imagination, listening to radio.  But it was a world of music, romance, hip speak,   It was a world of connections, where we all understood each other and the universe made sense.  It was a world we were all in together.

Before the flight of the Apollo rocket, nobody knew exactly what the world looked like when one took in the whole thing from a distance.  We had drawings, artists' conceptions, but no accurate photos.


We had the maps drawn in our minds from the information we understood to be true.

Likewise, The Wizard of Oz, Rupert Murdoch has materialized in living rooms and assemblies all across America by his control of Fox, The Journal, and the Mail, not to mention his worldwide media empire.  So when his listeners and his readers speak about the world as they perceive it, it's his world, his cosmos, his reality they're speaking into existence.

His is the voice of Mr. Kurtz, controlling the ignorant through fear.  He's supplanting their minds.  That's why one wants to own a media empire, after all.



Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sunshine Daydream

At the end of the Vietnam War--not quite the end, 1971--I was 15 that November, my cousin had finished his basic training in Jersey and was getting ready to ship out.

He'd been coming to Norristown most weekends to stay at our place and get off the base.  Of course, we played pool and basketball all weekend, as often as possible, and listened to music, smoked cigarets, got stoned and fell in love.

The girls from the neighborhood used to come and hang around and watch us play ball in the driveway.  Sometimes we had pick up games of eight or ten guys.

I brought the phonograph down and plugged it in in the garage.  We played ball and listened to Dylan and the Grateful Dead.

Rich was my cousin, Edwin's, best friend at Basic the year before, and he would come with Edwin to our place most weekends.  That was in 1970.  He had a car:  the Blue Flash.  I was too young to drive the Flash then, but the next summer I was staying with Rich's folks on their farm in Washington and I finally got to drive it.  The brakes were so tight you could only wiggle your toe.  If you pressed down on the pedal normally, the Flash would stop short, like a bullet hitting an armor-plated tank, and the driver would fly into the windshield if he didn't have seat belt on.

Rich had left the car at home by then because he went off to Vietnam.  That's how I got to drive it at his parents' farm.  I was only 15, but out in central Washington in the early seventies, everybody on a farm drove, whether they were old enough or not.

Out there in Washington wasn't anything like Norristown.  The houses were all miles apart.  It never rained.  The boys I hung out with were all older than me.  And it was really hard to mingle with girls.

Rich's parents had a couple of quarterhorses and I got to ride them out over the open desert and range land  once or twice with Rich's sister.

Some nights we'd sleep out in the desert, and get high, too.  The stars were unbelievable:  a present eternity full of diamonds.

In those days, when I stayed at somebody else's place, like Rich's parents' place in Washington, I had to listen to their music.  I couldn't carry my record collection around with me to other people's houses.  After all, they were letting me stay there as a sort of favor to my parents or me, and it wouldn't be right to bring my own music and expect to be able to play it on their stereo, as if I owned the place.  Nobody in Washington listened to the Grateful Dead or Dylan the two summers I stayed out there.  Even that second summer when Rich came back, we didn't listen to the same music.  He was a little different then, too, anyway, and liked to go off to Wenatchee and visit his girlfriend instead of hanging around with us on the farm.

Looking back on it, it's hard to believe Rich's parents put up with me that second summer.  I was starting to lose my marbles.  Somebody had some whacky weed and I got so high I didn't come down for three days.  I was never the same.   My head got completely tied up in knots.  I thought  everybody was talking in code, and I was the only one who didn't understand the true meaning of everything.  Actually, that was true, in a way.  It just had a very powerful impact on every simple human interaction I was having then.  I wasn't really able to open up to anybody in Washington and everything in my 15 year old brain just sort of stewed.

The stew had been simmering back in Norristown, too.  It's just that I hadn't grasped the code switching.  I was a little dumbfounded about how I was living on a farm in Washington and everything seemed different than living in Norristown, Pennsylvania, a rust belt mill town.

It was as if that whole sky load of diamonds just plowed over my face and dug up a furrow with my body all the way across the desert, and I didn't know what planet I was on after that.  And I didn't know that I didn't know.  I was just twisting and tumbling from contorted moment to confusing conversation to mysterious revelation, and it all happened on one hundred degree dry heat days between the bathroom, the kitchen and the water that came all the way from Coulee Dam in a canal to a pump at the edge of the yard, to spray on the desert and grow stuff.

"Look here," farmer Brim had said when I'd first shown up there.  He scraped about 6 or 8 inches of sand from the ground with his hand.  I squatted down next to him.

"You see," he said while he held his hand in the gully he'd just dug.  Underneath that sand, there's soil, good soil.  You can grow anything here if you just have water."

What is "public takeover?"

Name It and claim It

George Gerbner said the public was created by the newspapers:  an audience that previously didn't exist as a group, but had diverse traditions, stories, and beliefs.

The mass media generated the public through the phenomenon of "news," along with a set of messages and stories.



In cultivation theory, Gerbner instructs us that, 
The primary proposition of cultivation theory states that the more time people spend "living" in the television world, the more likely they are to believe social reality portrayed on television.  Cultivation leaves people with a misperception of what is true in our world.
The rise of the "public" is the story of the descent of civilization.  Having evolved through time to the point of nominal self-government, the public consciousness was usurped at the time of the industrial revolution by capitalist forces, who brought media under their control through advertising.

This gave the mass media owners--the corporations--vast power in shaping the public consciousness.  For the first time in history, the stories of civilization were told, not by the parents, the school, the church or the community, but by the media conglomerates.  These had "nothing to tell, but everything to sell."

This effectively places a child born into our society and culture into a position of identification with a  consciousness masterminded by a tiny group of very powerful people in a handful of institutions:  media conglomerates, multinational corporations, the Pentagon, and, to a lesser extent, the church and the government along with other institutions that have some ability--through media control--to shape the public consciousness.

Unfortunately, these institutions have an interest in manipulating the public into serving the institutions' needs, not the needs of the public.

The Crisis in Society and Public Consciousness

Between the Great Depression and the Great Recession of 2008, the public advanced greatly in terms of material wealth.  The institutions of power, however, also enhanced their grip on the power over the consciousness of the public.
  • By the time of the economic crash of 2008, however, it had become clear that the status quo, financially, environmentally, militarily, medically, agriculturally, and especially in terms of media control, was driving the human race off course from shared health and prosperity.  Instead, the systems that brought about the 2008 collapse were aggressively propped up by the entrenched powers;
  • Through revelations about banking fraud we learned how the regulating bodies in government had been captured by the Wall Street operators.
  • In spite of massive bank bailouts we continued to see record home foreclosures and no meaningful restructuring of the home mortgage market.
  • We saw through the failure of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars how the public had been manipulated through our mass media into believing in the necessity for these expensive misadventures that benefitted a few but destroyed the lives and livelihoods of very many.
  • We learned through whistleblowers in the Justice Department, the CIA, the NSA and the Pentagon how the colossal National Security Apparatus set up ostensibly to protect us from terrorism, was instead infringing more and more on our civil rights while greatly enriching a few wealthy special interests, and, at the same time, taking funds that were badly needed for health, education, and environmental protection.
  • We saw how, in spite of a clear mandate to institute a national health plan that would provide every citizen with basic medical care, which could easily and simply have been done by simply expanding the Medicare Program, insurance and pharmaceutical companies diverted the process and prevented meaningful, comprehensive reforms.
  • We saw billionaire-funded astroturf political groups support candidates who began rolling back the rights and Constitutionally protected freedoms of the common people.
  • We saw energy and food corporate behemoths like BP and Monsanto exploit the country and the world's natural resources for obscene profits at the world's expense, all the while endangering our fragile environment.
In every one of these cases we saw the complicity of government:  the legislature, the executive, and especially the courts, acting unequivocally on behalf of the wealthy special interests -- multinational corporations, behind the influence of the mass media they control -- and against the best interests of the people of the United States and of the world.

Occupy Wall Street

In the fall of 2011 this disillusion boiled over into the Occupy Wall Street events.  The anti-social policies of government, industry and the military could no longer be concealed from public consciousness by a slick veneer of media razzle dazzle.

For a moment nuclei of genuine public discourse coalesced in protest of the false narrative that had brought the world and the nation to ruin.  Dialogue and democracy were suddenly rediscovered by discrete groups of mostly young and disaffected Americans drawing together to create a new narrative based on American ideals of freedom, democracy and self-determination.

On September 17, 2011, a group of protesters demonstrating in lower Manhattan against the bank bailouts from the collapse of the housing markets and the evaporation of the institutions holding derivatives and collateral default swaps, and against economic inequality in the United States, were driven away from Chase Plaza by the police.  The protesters then gathered in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan.  Through media coverage and internet connections, a movement soon spread similar gatherings to dozens--if not hundreds--of other towns and cities in the U.S.

Occupiers took up residence in prominent public spaces and held daily business meetings.  The meetings operated on a consensus model in which strict democratic procedures were observed in all self-governing decisions by the occupiers.  Simultaneously, the occupiers conducted regular public demonstrations demanding redress of political grievances, including solutions to the growing economic and political inequality in America.  The protests focused on the injustice of housing foreclosures by banks and mortgage lenders that had lost trillions of dollars of investors' capital and that had been saved from insolvency by government bailouts.  The protesters demanded the banks face criminal prosecution and penalties.

The occupy culture of inclusive democratic decision making and sharing of possessions and resources for the common welfare of all the occupiers was supported by folkloristic expression in music, art, and other performances.  The demonstrations and activities of many, if not most, of the occupations were "streamed live" over the internet, and the movement's activities gained wide exposure from these broadcasts.  Additionally, occupations utilized the internet for dynamic planning and information sharing to expand their message of democracy and economic justice.  The inclusivity of the occupy movement was sustained in this way, and drew great recognition and support from the wider general population.

Though sustained by a communal sharing of resources, and enjoying significant popular support, the strident and often disruptive political activity of the occupiers led public officials to crack down on their encampments and protests.  In Oakland, occupiers organized a Longshoreman strike that shut down the Port.  In Atlanta, student occupiers instituted a moratorium on repayment of student loans.  New York, Los Angeles and other cities experienced almost daily mass protests that disrupted a wide spectrum of civil, and especially economic, life.

Finally, the FBI counterterrorism unit conducted secret coordinating conferences to plan nationwide dispersal of the occupations.  The occupy movement lost momentum with the onset of Autumn.  By January of 2012 most occupy sites had been cleared of protesters and many occupiers had been jailed.  Police began using coordinated preemptive tactics against the mass economic and political activity.  With a few notable exceptions, the movement all but disintegrated by the winter of 2012.  It therefore had little or no direct bearing upon the Presidential election of that year.

We Shall Overcome

With the evaporation of the occupy movement, mainstream politics again monopolized the public's consciousness through the election of 2012.  In spite of massive infusions of cash for campaign television advertisements on behalf of the challenger, Mitt Romney, incumbent Barack Obama won a second term through superior organizing and mobilization of ordinary voters.

However, after the election, Congress remained gridlocked due to Obama's failure or unwillingness to force the Republicans to back his economic, environmental and health care plans.  Furthermore, the advent of drone strikes, a massive U.S. military buildup in the far East, the growth of extreme energy extraction in Canada and the United States, and the defeat of GMO labeling requirements added more frustration to the public's displeasure over the Administration's failure to meaningfully reform the nation's banking and finance system and implement meaningful change in the structure of Americas health insurance.

By the end of the summer of 2013, Americans had become engaged in underground politics.  Widespread disaffection with the major parties left "Independent" as the largest group of registered voters.  Instead of rallying around the government or their parties, Americans practice issue politics--organizing locally to effect change from the bottom-up by working on issues from gun control to health care, immigration to environmental protection.

The monopolization of mass media and political parties by billionaires and multi-national corporations can no longer be concealed from the masses of the population, who want meaningful, progressive change.  The people and the corporations are engaged in battles over food production and marketing, education, energy, home financing and the environment.  The public is finding common ground over issues that reach beyond party lines, and is building powerful grassroots coalitions around popular issues to subvert the domination of money and special interests.

Community Facts

I have begun to try to read the new Census Bureau statistics on the Economy, but I haven't made much progress yet.

From the description by Bernie Sanders in his floor speech in the Senate yesterday, the figures on the economy are bad.

Senator Sanders takes the time to elaborate on the contents of the Census Bureau report, especially insofar as it describes the growing economic inequality in the United States.  He points out that 400 people in the US now hold as much wealth as the combined 150 million of Americans in the bottom 50% of the economic chain.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

This is the official publictakeover blog, describing the inevitable public takeover of the world.  The public here meaning the people, and the natural entities over whom we have dominion, but not unnatural, fictitious, corporate, military, or political entities.

No.


The people shall have dominion--meaning the responsibility for and the power to care for the earth.  Any entity they create to have dominion over them is an abomination, a Baal, as it were.


Before the American Revolution, there were authorities that grew out of history into naturally established roles among the several continents, states, and populations.  But now that all are equal and charged equally with the preservation and nurture of the Creation, all are charged with mutual responsibility for all. 


Why is this natural?  Because of our naturally inseparable interconnection.  Physically, one can't claim autonomy.  As Whitman said, "...every atom belonging to you as good belongs to me."  But, beyond that, we are all strictly derived from the planet earth--all the elements comprising it--and none other.  Our bodies are, "living, animate pieces of the earth," according to Wendell Berry.  Every bit of food that nourishes us is of the earth.

"So what?" the skeptic retorts.  "Everything is from the earth--automobiles, televisions, skyscrapers.  That doesn't mean anything!"

But it does.  Consider how we're bombarded with the propaganda of individuality, survival of the fittest, striving to be number 1, and so forth.  Competition is great insofar as it supports development of one's individual qualities and capacities, but to complete the circle we must see our individuality as being included in a greater circle of life, a greater galaxy of being.

Our individual qualities are as much--or more--a reflection of the qualities and character of everyone around us, and everyone who came before us, as they are of us, individually.

For example, every word we use to frame our thoughts and understanding of the world and society we inhabit are handed to us by our predecessors and, to a lesser extent, our contemporaries.

And when we speak of someone as being honest or courageous, we're speaking of qualities we've learned by others' example, or others' description.  Our knowledge of these qualities is a fabrication of society, and of language itself.  The terms in which we understand ourselves are the terms our culture has given us to understand with.

So, even if we view ourselves as autonomous individuals, it is only because our consciousness is enmeshed in the shared vocabulary and experience of society, past as well as present.  Within that context we have a distinct identity:  a name, a body, family, but these are all features of the larger society and culture, including the words themselves, and the concepts they denote.