The mainstream media world has become a muddled-mess lately. Muddled enough that the host of a reality T.V. show is now the leader of the free world. How the hell did that happen?
Was it the Russians and their new weapons of mass-confusion? Did the south rise again when we weren’t looking? Have fact and fiction come to some sort of a truce? Or maybe fiction sells better than fact now and newsman was tired of having to chose.
Whichever way you spin it, somethings not right with the way we understand the world. I mean Donald Trump is about to be president.. something’s gone wrong here.
But not if you’re a newscaster, then I suppose that man’s a god-send or rather someone you made into a God for the fun of it.
If a free and well informed media is the backbone of a democracy, ours could do with a chiropractor right now. For one thing the headline game seems to be getting very loose out there at the moment.
ffs.. How does that pass as news?
Maybe at this stage we’re too used to crying foul at all the nonsense and hyperbole. Too tired from long days for too little pay to sift through the rubble in search of the truth.
Or maybe our vision has become blurry because we’re giggling too much as this shit-show unfolds.
We may like to hold the moral high ground above a guy like Trump but I have never seen anything become so widely consumed in the media as we have taken to the president-elect. Aside from the $2 Billion+ free coverage D.J. received, everyone and their uncle knows, talks and has opinions about Trump.
We’ve made art, music, videos, articles, shows, films and endless memes about that orange man and the nonsense he spouts. To go on sheer quantity of production alone, I can say with a straight face that Trump is the greatest inspiration to our cultural minds of the modern age.
You may not like the thought of that orange blob as our modern muse but is it true? During that marathon of an election and ever since, how many times did the Donald hold your attention? How many memes of his nonsense did you laugh at?
How many hours of unpaid work have been spent on making those memes? Why did those people make them? How many conversations have you had about his “insane” ramblings? How many of his tweets have made headline news? How much time do you reckon you’ve given to Trump’s Orange-aura ever since he first declared Mexicans to be “Rapists” all those long months ago?..
I don’t mean to judge anyone for their indulgences, I too have my own favorite Trump meme and quote. Donald J is a fascinating mix of insanity and co-ordination but he’s also a distraction. He’s a distraction that averts our attention away from what’s really going wrong with the system. And in doing so he is a dangerously powerful distraction.
The sheer vast scale of the problems our species faces in this century is monumental. But our mainstream media doesn’t talk about how to solve those problems. They’re busy with other, far more important things..
So we don’t hear about the vast need to reinvent our cities, solve the refugee crisis, bridge the gap of social inequality or re-invent democracy. Let alone about the emerging techno-human civilization that could liberate all humanity from suffering while we reach for the stars beyond the Earth..
No, we don’t talk about any of those things like we should.
What we talk about is Trump.
We talk about him and his nonsense non-stop 24hrs a day and he knows it.
But there’s only so much accountability for the situation we find ourselves in that we can place at the Donald’s door. He’s as surprised as the rest of us at what just happened. And while Donald plays the role of the villain masterfully he isn’t the root cause of our problems. Mr. Tump is a symptom and the more time we focus solely on him, the worse those symptoms will get.
So where do we go from here? Where do our real problems really lie?
In my own reflection upon this pre-apocalyptic world I came to a place much closer to home. To last September, when in an interview on Ryan Tubridy’s “Late, Late show” our own demi-god president Michael D. Higgins shed some light on my confusion.
The president, a former economics professor and famous espouser of sanity trod a fine line on the Late, Late when he carefully criticized the use of “extreme market models” in addressing the issues facing Ireland. Indeed he could’ve come across as some sort of liberal, had he elaborated further on his comments about “a plurality of ideas” in the economy.
Higgins concluded that ordinary, decent, hard working people are hurting too bad for this economic model to make sense anymore and the president is not alone in that conclusion.
There is an ever-more chaotic housing crisis in country. A crisis that is now reaching breaking point, a fact that has not gone unnoticed by our civil servants. Master of the high court of Ireland Edmund Honohan has been cited on numerous occasions, imploring the government to assert it’s constitutional right to address the crisis. Mr. Honohan has gone on record with his frustration at ministers using false claims of their powerlessness and in doing so needlessly prolonging the crisis.
But alas Mr. Honohan and President Higgins calls for economic reason have fallen largely on deaf ears. In the days after his late, late appearance I searched for an article to sum up the president’s economics overtures only to find pieces about how adorable he was….
No surprise then that Michael D’s last remarks that night were aimed at the Irish media, alluding to a focus on scandal rather than substance.
Now Michael D may indeed be adorable and Trump is certainly entertaining but NONE OF THIS is getting to the root cause of the problem. All this is is fluff and fairy tales told to us so that we’ll click links, switch channels and improve ratings, all the while the problem gets worse..
But I don’t want to add to the collective circle-jerk that is western pessimism. So despite all this bullshit I do still believe in the future. I believe there are still enough sane voices out there that could get us out of this mess, if we can stretch our attention long enough to listen..
One such sane voice is former U.S. secretary of Labour, professor Robert Reich, who proposes a way we get to that future. Reich calls this force “countervailing power”.
Countervailing power is ordinary people organizing and acting with common purpose to counteract the influence of large corporate interests. Reich cites in his new Book Saving Capitalism the case of the American Legion, A veterans rights organization. Made up of the families, friends and communities that the soldiers fought for, the Legion pressured the American government to pass the G.I. bill. Ensuring the returning service men had a free education, subsidized mortgages and in turn laid the foundation for modern-day American might.
The trick in this model of people power is not so much to diminish the power of market mechanisms as it is to organize counter-power to force the money men to the bargaining table. And we will need to force them.
It doesn’t matter how good, bad or indifferent a person you are, if your business model is based upon bottom line principles that run to the beat of the share price index you cannot address the issues society faces on your own. At this point that much is glaringly clear.
So this would be the point where you come in.
As professor Reich points out “the free market” does not exist in some conceptual wild beyond the control of government. The government creates the free-market by setting the rules and dictating the state of play within it. The Government is in-turn created by it’s citizens, that’d be us.
Railing against government interference in the market simply means the rules are then set by those with no accountability. If you get rid of government in the free market, the free market runs out of (our)control.
Individual actors and interests pursue their own narrow-minded fiscal goals, which puts the entirety of the market in a constant state of crises and people end up homeless. This happens because individual actors are not designed to take charge of a beast as vastly complex as our markets(and world) have become. It simply can’t be done, but that hasn’t stopped certain assholes from trying. But to blame others for our own misfortune is to surrender to them the power to change our circumstances.
Calamities on the economic and societal scale we are talking about do not happen in a vacuum. The nature of democracy means we all play our part, willingly or not. You either know what you’re doing and don’t care about the consequences or you’ve become distracted. Dangerously distracted.
The question then falls to us, the fee-paying members of western democracy.
Do we have the courage to look and see what’s really going wrong? Are we brave enough to look past the orange man and at the route root causes of our problems? Because entertaining as this bullshit may-be, we’re running out of time to wake up to reality.