Our Values Aboard
The Death Train Of Empire
By Phil Rockstroh
13 October, 2006
life within an empire consists of the deceitful leading the disengaged.
Although when the artifice shielding a nation’s populace from
the ruthlessness of their leaders begins to fall away, hysteria and
displaced rage rises in the land. Ergo, in the American empire, we’re
witnessing these demented days of congressional boy love and despotic
Day after day, the pace at
which insane tidings arrive quickens: it’s as if we’ve become
passengers on a high-speed train, commandeered by lunatics, that only
stops at insane asylums in order to board more lunatics ... Naturally,
it follows that the train has gone runaway, careening down the buckling
tracks, blue spark spraying from its steel wheels, while any approaching
curve becomes a threat to derail the whole hurdling madhouse.
For many years, these episodes
of mass psychosis have been gaining velocity. Empires are inherently
bughouse crazy, because, by their very nature, they grow conservative
to the point of becoming totalitarian. After a time, the singular raison
d'être of this form of pathological conservatism is to fiercely
cling to the things it has gained through expansionist practices and
policies. In addition, it must find ways to rationalize the brutal and
deceitful means required to sustain itself.
Accordingly, when its imperial
ambitions are thwarted, rage and hysteria will seize both its elites
and hoi polloi alike. The ensuing scene is similar to an inmate riot
in the cafeteria of an insane asylum when the traditional Saturday night
dessert of chocolate pudding has been withheld.
At this point, in the brutish
life of an empire, the term conservative becomes a misnomer. What exactly
is being conserved by policies of expansive militarism and environmental
and imperialistic plundering? That is -- other than conserving policies
of expansive militarism and environmental and imperialistic plundering?
To claim this is conservatism is analogous to claiming that an army
of rampaging fire ants are, only, at times, prone to becoming a little
excited about their property rights. Since when is a rampage regarded
as a worldview?
We have endured an era reeking
with the miasmal runoff of “conservative values” spewed
by these toxic totalitarians, as, all the while, they have employed
classic Orwellian Newspeak as a means of perfuming its stench, thereby
terming their brazen acts of exploitation – freedom, and calling
their smash-and-grab economic looting -- free enterprise.
Yet, the conservative mind
is obsessed with the notion that life could … should -- must!
-- be returned to the values of a simpler, purer past. Perhaps, this
is a compensatory fantasy, an attempt to escape the enervating machinations
of their own rationalizing minds: a desperate coping device that allows
these scheming cartels of aging frat boys to be in deep denial of the
ruthless desires of their own rapacious ids. Among their pathological
wishes is: the compulsion to slip the entire planet a date rape drug
then, along with their frat house brothers, molest her.
Indeed, it’s unnerving
to realize: we are being ruled by a collection of totalitarian, frat
rat, date-rapists endowed with the introspective capacities of rampaging
For the conservative (oxymoron
alert) imagination it’s a psychological imperative to believe
in the possibility of returning to a more moral past (even if this Helicon
land never has nor ever will exist). This variety of cognitive dissidence,
roiling the minds of those at the head of our one party, corporate state,
in combination with the rapid dissemination of spurious information
and contrived imagery ubiquitous in the mass media, has suffused contemporary
life with an unreal quality. Within this bubble, we’ve become
benumbed; consequences become diffuse; history and political acts carry
no more weight for us than a television commercial for chewing gum or
Although in diametric opposition
to our weightless misapprehensions: To live in these times is to be
subject to the madness of an era wherein those possessing personality
profiles matching those of Grand Inquisitor Tomás de Torquemada
have been given access to high-tech surveillance devices, the plunder-prone
European imperialists have global communication satellites at their
disposal, and Genghis Khan has the means to solicit the duplicitous
talents behind public relation and advertising firms to re-brand his
If the corporate media had
existed in Khan's era, it doesn't strain credulity to imagine the 13th
century's equivalent of CNN's Kyra Phillips – who, during the
invasion of Iraq, asked the attending physician of an Iraqi child who
had lost three limbs and suffered the loss of his entire family as a
result of the so-called Shock and Awe bombing campaign: "Doctor,
does he understand why this war took place? Has he talked about Operation
Iraqi Freedom and the meaning? Does he understand it?" -- This
is tantamount to asking the orphaned children of lands sacked by the
Mongol hordes -- if they understood the glory of the Great Khan's Operation
It’s small wonder the
conservative keepers of the present order insist that the world must
be returned to what it was ... But, inevitably, when these fervent desires
are thwarted, the desire grows into an endless feedback loop of aggression,
accompanied by more self-justifying lies -- thereby creating the self-resonating
circuitry of thwarted triumphalism and perpetual paranoia that passes
for the belief system of the contemporary conservative … As, all
the while, the feedback loop continues to build in pitch and intensity,
growing ever more insistent that the world be changed back to what it
never was to begin with ... and then, again, being thwarted by reality
... then, exponentially, building in pitch and intensity ... rinse and
repeat ... ad infinitum ... ad nauseam ...
Psychologically, it becomes
all too much for the conservative mind to bear; therefore, the attempt
is made to cope by means of displacing one's anger, as well as, projecting
one’s hidden desires upon the people of distant countries and
scorned groups within the culture. In short order, the war drums thunder;
the flesh of the era’s designated witches hiss from the flames
of public burnings; and pathetic sorts such as pedophile Mark Foley
must carry all of our darkness.
These are examples of the
epic cognitive dissonance borne by self-destructing empires. Ergo, if
the zeitgeist were personified and was granted a thought process mirroring
the belief system of contemporary conservatism, the poor bastard would
have to be provided with massive doses of anti-psychotic medication
to be prevented from roaming the streets raving (or, at least, as in
the case of Rush Limbaugh, Oxycontin to sustain his ravings on rightwing
Or: Provided with employment
as the engineer of this rattling death train of a runaway empire. And
what of us -- the passengers aboard the train -- what instructions have
the madmen manning the locomotive given us, during the harrowing course
of this doomed ride: They have advised us to hold on tight to our values.
Insanely, a frightening number of credulous sorts seem to have accepted
their instructions; accordingly, they're desperately gripping the armrests
and handrails of the train’s passenger compartments, in the thrall
of a mass delusion that such actions might keep them personally out
of harm's way, as well as serve to hold the careening train itself on
Then what are a few of these
much-vaunted values that we so ardently believe will save and sustain
us? First off, as recent events have revealed, we Americans are a people
who are united in our firm and abiding conviction that pedophilia is
This might lead one to the
conclusion: If only we had collectively engaged in online, sexually
innuendo-larded chatter with Iraqi teenagers -- instead of killing them
– we might be able to workup some moral outrage at ourselves.
In our madness, our values inform us that the lives of well over half
a million Iraqis have no value. Obviously, sans our sacred values, we
Americans would most certainly become a nation of morally suspect people.
Although, in an era where
the culturally defining myths of fundamentalist Christianity and corporate
consumerism mix, merge, and envelope us -- we do hold sacred the following
value: We believe that incessant self-promotion and successful salesmanship
is close to godliness. Ken Lay died for our sins of self-doubt. He slipped
the surly bonds of this earth and his soul rose to paradise where he
will spend eternity, close to our father, the cosmic CEO. Kenny boy
is now so close to The Lord he can hear The All-Mighty count his money.
For God so loved the world: He bought the company.
Here and now: on earth, as
it is in heaven, the values of present day conservatism inform us sinners
we must, without question, embody a godly consumer's credo: "I
am what I buy; ergo, the facade I show to the world is who I am. Perhaps,
if I begin to believe this shimmering lie deeply enough – possessed
of a saint’s abiding conviction -- then it will become an abiding
In addition, in our secular
dealings, we must endeavor to become socially and agreeably dumb; this
credo -- the ascendant and defining credo of our age is: "The less
you know the smarter you are." Let me explain (very slowly for
those reading this without moving their lips and who are unable to wrap
their big, snobby, reason-bound brains around the concept): Time, in
the corporate era, is more valuable than intelligence; so it follows
-- anyone who would waste valuable time pursuing mere knowledge is stupid;
therefore -- stupid is the new smart. Got it, stupid?
In addition, one is expected,
at all times, in speech and bearing to render oneself non-threatening
to the bullying corporatist and religious order -- or join the ranks
of the bullies and cheer them on. There is an added bonus in this choice:
You get to call your hate, fear and bigotry -- "values."
Our values are as precious
to us as life itself. Accordingly, one and all can see how precious
life is to us by the realities of our present day healthcare system.
Also, our values include honest, hard work. Many of us value work to
such a profound degree that the ruling class corporatists have allowed
us to hold down two or even three, low-wage, zero-benefits jobs so that
we can vainly attempt to make ends meet. What sorts of values are these?
Who has the time to answer such a frivolous question -- we have to get
back to work.
But we the people of The
United States know this much: There are people, very bad people, in
this world, who want to destroy our values. And there are consequences
for this. For example, the people of Iraq are suffering so badly due
to the fact that their belief in their false god has made them a callous
and cruel people. So much so, that it leaves them indifferent to the
suffering of us Americans who feel a deep sense of betrayal due to their
cruel rejection of our charitable desire to share our values with them.
Therefore, we're left with
little choice but to bring on our faith-based indifference to their
suffering. Where would the people of Iraq be without our values?
As an empire grows grotesque,
its populace mirrors its ugliness in mind and action. Yet, in this era
of authoritarian corporate rule, just below the level of our conscious
understandings, we’re aware of the sad fact that all this nonsensical
palaver about values is simply a desperate gambit to keep reality at
Why is it so difficult to
face facts? Perhaps, because, in an age when we’ve lost any semblance
of economic independence and have forsaken so many of our rights and
liberties – what do we have left to call our own? What we're left
with are our values.
So what exactly are values
anyway? Values are what the clergy and the corporatists allow us to
keep for ourselves -- after they've made off with all the valuables.
a self-described auto-didactic, gasbag monologist, is a poet, lyricist
and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted at:
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