Our agencies prevent us from having agency.
“Once immersed in a coercive system, we act without conscious control.” Douglas Rushkoff “Coercion: Why we do what They say.”
I happened across an important and excellent story this morning by Elle C. that everyone should read. Perhaps it’s just me and my cynicism toward human intentionality, but throughout the article, I couldn’t help seeing in terms of Coercion and These Truths. While listening to the latter, and hearing about the manipulations that pollsters and polls have applied to the American public, I have been inspired to look for some of the quotes of past politicians that are quoted. It is surprising to find that the ones vilified by historians often turn out to be a gold mine of wisdom presented as evil by the merchants of death and profits. Today’s pivot man turns out to be the gardener.
“The American people should be made aware of the trend toward monopolization of the great public information vehicles and the concentration of more and more power over public opinion in fewer and fewer hands.”
— Spiro T. Agnew
History has not been kind to Agnew because, well, he was busted for tax-dodging (see “Trump”) and because “Nixon” and the creation of the artificial divide among Americans over guns and abortion (Republicans sacrificed reasonably liberal white men in exchange for church ladies with powerful networks).
Meanwhile…I do tend to go off on tangents, the failure of Americans to fight COVID as a disease was overridden by the coercion of the media to fight COVID as a political issue and the result is going to be (at least) a million dead bodies piled on the ashes of democracy.
The corporatized intentionality of our systems of information have overwhelmed any sense of how to initiate actions that are logical and reasoned. Every decision has become the unthinking, autonomous reaction of Price A vs. Price B, with no consideration of the long term costs to other people or future people.
Spiro Agnew saw it coming. His insights were taken only as the media of the time presented them: as anti-liberal, racist and selfish white male authority. Yet, his attack on the media resulted in changes to the trend of competitive shouting.
Technological progress follows the money, unfortunately. Once the recession of the 70s and early 80s subsided under Reagan, and then Clinton deregulated banks, the explosion of stock inflation (401K coercion to invest in the stock market casino) drove power back to the Bloody Murder Media system. AM radio channels were opened up for massive profits (have you ever listened to Rush Limbaugh for 3 hours on a tractor that only has AM radio? It’s 3 hours of commercials interspersed with a repetitive loop of Limbaugh saying “eat the liberals”).
How is anyone capable of thought after that kind of brain programming? For all of you NPR listeners out there: you’re no fucking different. It’s not the content, it’s the format,
“Our thoughts; on your thoughts; on our thoughts.”-Parks and Rec.
How does the ‘enlightened’ liberal ever exit their bubble to understand the exploited people they donate money for, let alone the people that they exploit from their home office marketing and copywriting chairs? Most liberals don’t understand that the biggest privilege they have is the time to be a liberal (reality has a liberal bias: IF you have the time/money to think).
You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him think. They need time for that. The more we allow the media to hype things (steal our time and attention), the less people can think and actually have their own reasoned intentions.
It takes a pillage.
“In the networks’ endless pursuit of controversy, we should ask what is the end value … to enlighten or to profit? What is the end result … to inform or to confuse? How does the ongoing exploration for more action, more excitements, more drama, serve our national search for internal peace and stability?”
— Spiro T. Agnew