Sunday, August 20, 2017

Selective Outrage

As I mentioned in my last post, I was overcome by depression on Election Night. But my despair lifted after a few days. Then I began to wonder: Why had it been so easy for me to recover from my politically-induced anxiety? I hadn’t made a reasoned argument against fearing for the future of the Republic. Was I simply enjoying my privilege as a member of one of America’s most secure demographics: white, middle-class males?

I had to do some self-analysis and political analysis. I’m not someone who can just feel good and leave it at that. I have to know if I should feel good and, if so, why. (Maybe it’s a Catholic thing.)

It took a while to remember that, to me, all our presidents have been mass murderers (mainly through war or “humanitarian intervention,” but also by way of domestic policies that coddle the rich and throw everyone else under the bus). I forgot because I’ve had to repress my belief that America is an empire to maintain my middle-class lifestyle. The spiritual dissonance of believing that the U.S. is basically a huge Machine of Death, while being a cog in that machine (i.e., working in the corporate world), was too much to bear.

When seen in this light, having a sexual predator in the White House isn’t a big deal. From my perspective (and the perspective of most of the world), every president has a mountain of corpses to his credit. Trump’s sexual harassment and (alleged) assaults are like a bit of rubbish sprinkled on top of his (small, but growing) corpse-mountain. It’s not a good look, but, ultimately, the difference is cosmetic.

I think the main reason for Liberals’ distress is the fact that they’ve bought into the personalization of politics. In recent decades, the Mainstream Media (or “MSM”) have taught us to believe that political candidates should primarily be judged by their personalities rather than their policies. This technique is meant to distract us from real political issues. It’s also an effective way for the MSM to tar-and-feather candidates the Establishment doesn’t like and flatter those they do.

And, boy, do they hate Trump. I doubt any politician in American history has been vilified by the press as thoroughly as he. Granted, he deserves it. He seems to be a despicable human being. But a politician’s personal morality has no bearing on their public policies. Trump can’t wipe out an Afghan wedding party with a vulgar tweet or deny millions of people health insurance by raping a woman. Only government policies can do that.

Considering the many reprehensible people who’ve served in public office throughout American history and escaped serious media scrutiny, it seems unlikely that Trump would’ve attracted this barrage of condemnation if he hadn’t threatened the Establishment through his policy positions. The truth is he actually has taken some meaningfully subversive stands, although you wouldn’t know it from the media coverage.

He repeatedly bashed the decision to invade Iraq. He even criticized Dubya for letting 9/11 happen on his watch, a perfectly reasonable critique that no one in Washington has dared to broach. These positions are so repugnant to the Mainstream that he was booed by the studio audience in televised Republican debates for advancing them. Most important of all, his opposition to “free trade” agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and NAFTA was one of the few consistent stances in his campaign.

These are ideas that threaten the Establishment’s hold on power, because they undermine the geopolitical and economic foundations of the American Empire, and they’re popular. Therefore, the MSM must ignore them and focus on his truly wacky beliefs. His 2012 presidential campaign was built on his membership in the “birther” community, a right-wing cadre of conspiracy theorists who question the validity of Obama’s U.S. citizenship. This and other absurd convictions provide plenty of fodder for mainstream mockery.

The MSM has also latched onto the Russian interference story with a death-grip. Despite a continuing paucity of evidence, each new revelation is treated as the final nail in the coffin of the Trump Administration. They would much rather blame Trump’s election on the Russkies than on the glaring unpopularity of Hillary’s record and platform. (The claim that the 2016 Democratic platform was “the most progressive platform in American history” surely set FDR’s and LBJ’s corpses spinning, never mind McGovern.) Hillary is the living embodiment of the Washington Consensus, and her loss represented a stunning rejection of their agenda.

The MSM are clearly trying to drive Trump from office. This is a noble effort on its face, but their standards for what constitutes “unpresidential” behavior seem shallow and self-serving. They want to paint Trump as a vulgar puppet in a Russian plot, thereby preserving the status quo and providing propaganda support for the continuing US/NATO military buildup along Russia’s western border.

Trump should be toppled, but the best reasons to do so are for his intensifying the policies established by his predecessors and cherished by the Establishment: killing people overseas and oppressing the most vulnerable at home. Of course, removing Trump on that basis would weaken the Powers That Be, and the MSM won’t do that. After all, if they helped overturn the status quo, who would sign their paychecks?

Monday, July 10, 2017

Behind the Curtain

Like most people on the Left, I was despondent on Election Night. Head in hands, I tried to make sense of it all, tried to convince myself that it wasn’t as bad as it seemed. I tried to believe that our country hadn’t been taken over by Fascists. It took a few days, but I eventually snapped out of it.

The weekend after the election I went on Twitter to try and help build a new Democratic Party. I replied to a few Hillary supporters (whom I will hereafter refer to as “Liberals”), saying that we needed a party that actually stood for something and wasn’t just Republican Lite. Their responses were instructive. One said I was “clearly delusional.” Another said my comment was a sign of “latent misogyny.”

So, to recap, my substantive critique of Hillary’s candidacy was brushed aside as either sexist or totally out-to-lunch. I quickly realized what should’ve been obvious beforehand: Social media platforms aren’t the ideal venue for constructive political debate. But, in defense of my opponents, they appeared to be women, and I am a white, middle-class man. They had much more to fear from a Trump presidency than I did.

Trump quickly justified their fears by adopting the misogynist policies of a typical Republican administration, limiting access to abortion at home and abroad and showing zero interest in addressing the gender wage gap. He has even outdone the GOP establishment in terms of racism and xenophobia by issuing a travel ban against seven Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East. Once again, two traditionally marginalized groups, women and people of color (POC), are being sacrificed to “make America great again.”

But the mainstream media’s (MSM) response to this has been far more hostile than their reaction to similar policies instituted by George W. Bush and Barack Obama during their presidencies. And Liberals’ immediate loathing of President Trump outstripped even their disdain of Dubya following the 2000 election debacle. There’s plenty of criticism of his policies, but this is nearly drowned out by the chorus of outrage at his behavior. What really seems to have people up in arms is Trump’s boorishness, which is considered “unbecoming of the Office of the President of the United States of America.”

For this reason, it’s been hard for me to take much of the “Resistance” seriously. The main criticism of Trump is a matter of style, not substance. Beneath the crass surface, there remains significant continuity between the Trump and Obama Administrations (just as there was significant continuity between Obama and his predecessor).

Trump has merely escalated Obama’s wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Somalia, most of which he inherited from Dubya and did little to nothing in eight years to end or diminish. Denying entry to the Homeland to dozens or hundreds of people from these countries seems like small potatoes compared to killing thousands of their countrymen and -women each year.

Trump has also continued the tradition of handing control of the economy to the Captains of Wall Street, especially those from Goldman Sachs. We can surely expect a positively Obama-like deference to the High Priests of Finance, whom the previous administration spared from prosecution for the egregious acts of fraud and malfeasance that precipitated the Great Recession.

Given her record, there was every reason to believe that Hillary would sustain these policies. At least with Trump there’s a chance (albeit tiny and shrinking by the day) he’ll chart a different course for the country. Even if you’re a woman or POC, the issues on which mainstream Democrats and Republicans actually differ (abortion, LGBTQ rights) are minor compared to those on which they agree (economics, foreign policy).

As much as the MSM would like us to believe that everything was fine until Trump came along, things haven’t changed that much since he took office. We haven’t been taken over by Fascists. Trump has spouted a lot of vile invective reminiscent of Hitler and Mussolini, but he bears a much closer resemblance to the Wizard of Oz, a seasoned showman who draws our attention away from the real action. If you pull back the curtain, you’ll find the same Wizards of Wall Street who got us into this mess in the first place.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

The Superdelegate Sham

As a "Bernie Bro," I was feeling rather down-in-the-dumps after Super Tuesday, even though Bernie did much better than many polls were predicting. (A Star Tribune/Mason-Dixon poll in January had Hillary winning Minnesota by 34%. Bernie won by 23.4%. They should probably check their methodology.) Websites kept showing Hillary with over 1,000 delegates and Bernie with 400-something. I figured it was over.

Until I saw the front page of the aforementioned Star Tribune (or "Strib") later that week. They showed Hillary with fewer than 600 delegates and Bernie still with 400+. That perked me up considerably. Unlike all those other media outlets, the Strib only showed "pledged" delegates, leaving out the "superdelegates" and actually noting their absence. The websites I checked made no mention of superdelegates, just throwing them in, willy-nilly, with the pledged delegates.

Do I think their oversight was a coincidence? Not at all. The mainstream media are absurdly biased in the current Democratic presidential race, just as they are biased on most topics. Yahoo! had an informative piece this weekend entitled "Bernie Sanders' tax plan is hopeless." I didn't bother to read that, but I did check out their explanation of superdelegates.

It was part of Katie Couric's "Now I Get It" series, which sounds about as enlightening as a G.I. Joe PSA. This installment justified my contempt. The author, whose name (Kaye Foley) induced me to read the article, writes that superdelegates are Democratic "elected officials, like members of Congress, notable members of the party, like President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, and members of the Democratic National Committee."

Foley goes on to explain the origin of superdelegates: "The system was developed in the early 1980s as a way for party leaders to provide some guidance to voters when it came to nominating candidates who could hold their own against Republicans in the general election." Well, that's awfully nice of them! I'm glad there are people in charge of the party who know better than us plebeians.

With a bit more research on Wikipedia (which should also be taken with a grain of salt), I discovered the Democrats created superdelegates in the 80's after the party rank-and-file disobeyed orders in the 70's, nominating George McGovern and Jimmy Carter (twice!). Superdelegates are the prevailing cooler heads who make sure we don't go Fruit Loops again and nominate any more cuckoo-for-Cocoa-Puffs candidates.

Now, this may seem like a silly question, but have superdelegates ever overturned the will of the Democratic voters?  Apparently not: "...since superdelegates were created, the votes they cast have never actually changed the course of a presidential race." Well, that's a relief! It's good to know they're there, just in case, but I'd hate to think we all caucused and primaried for nothing!

If I may snap back out of character now, I'd like to politely disagree with my fellow Foley. Judging by my reaction to those unlabeled delegate counts, it's a safe bet that the superdelegates have influenced the Democratic presidential race many times. Maybe they haven't directly determined who the nominee will be, but their mere presence in the delegate tallies (especially when unnoted) has an effect on how people think about the race. If I were a "Bernie Bro" in a state with an upcoming primary, I might assume his campaign is doomed and stay home.

It seems a bit ironic that the Democrats have the less democratic nominating process. Shouldn't we be more democratic than the Republicans instead of less? Granted, the GOP may not be around much longer, but this is one area in which they have us beaten.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Ascetic Aesthetics

As I gazed upon Bernie Sanders’ rumpled visage at Roy Wilkins Auditorium, I was struck by something: his utter average-ness. He didn’t look like he’d been chosen by God to lead us to the Promised Land. There was no heavenly corona surrounding a beatific head, no transcendent beauty to mark him as one of God’s elect, no soaring oratory that would lead one to believe he was channeling a higher power. At best, he looked like he might have “bingo.”

He’s no JFK or Reagan or Obama, i.e., a slick, handsome marionette to distract us while the Establishment foists its agenda upon us. He just seemed like a regular guy who happened to be in the right place at the right time. Apparently, Fate has chosen this Average Joe to take his turn across the stage of History. (Not Fate, really, just kitchen-sink dramas, the frustrations of the working class and the petty bourgeoisie.)

Bernie is an apt representative of the ascetic aesthetics of the Left. If you’ve ever attended a Leftist demonstration, you know what I’m talking about: the repetitive chants, the draining anger or sadness, the thrift-store decorations. It’s as if your loyalty to the cause is being tested instead of reinforced. Are you committed enough to stick around through all this anti-entertainment?

Noam Chomsky openly rejects any attempt to polish his coma-inducing delivery. He has said that he doesn’t want to convince people with rhetoric and theatrics, only the facts. We’re not supposed to be swayed by flashy gimmicks; the truth of the message should shine through.

I’ve often (inwardly) bemoaned this resistance to refinement. But it may have finally come into vogue. We may be witnessing the triumph of substance over style. Of course, this victory is limited in scope and likely to be brief, but we shouldn’t let that discourage us. En masse, people seem to be turning away from the slick, polished mainstream candidates and turning toward the straight-shootin’, rough-around-the-edges “outsiders.”

Bernie’s average-looking-ness defies the strictly stage-managed, unattainably attractive world of television. He sticks out like a sore thumb amidst all that spray-tanned, muscle-toned, teeth-bleached sound stage fauna. His unkempt, white hair and inability to transport his audience via transcendent public speaking skills (a la Obama) brand him a “radical” as much as his platform (which most Americans support, actually). 

In fact, he puts in stark relief TV’s growing obsession with physical beauty. Maybe I’m just getting older and more insecure about my looks and socioeconomic status, but the people on TV news seem to be getting prettier and prettier. Apparently, among women, only those who look like they’ve stepped out of the pages of Maxim can grasp the complexities of meteorology. (Luckily for us men, the physical/intellectual requirements aren’t as demanding.)

This may have something to do with the expanding gulf between reality and the version TV presents. As the medium becomes more vapid and detached from the everyday experience of the masses, the fa├žade becomes flashier to keep people glued to their sets in lieu of relevant information. Increasingly, the talking heads’ appearance reflects the content of their shows: vacuous, artificial, deceptive.

Of course, one could argue that TV has always been shallow and populated with gorgeously shallow people. Why have we chosen now to become disenchanted with these “pretty little liars?” I believe it’s because the number of formerly middle-class Americans in dire economic straits has reached critical mass. The flickering cube is no longer enough to distract us from our worsening plight. 

Perhaps the aspirational period of American politics has ended, and we’re entering a more grim, sober and, frankly, resentful period. We’re no longer dreaming of “movin’ on up” to the penthouse; we’re just hoping not to slide into the gutter. If so, I welcome the embrace of substance over style. But I worry about how ugly things could get.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Feeling the Bern

As part of my continuing support for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, I attended his rally at RiverCentre in downtown St. Paul last night. I drove there, which was not really in keeping with the environmental theme of the movement, but I had many accomplices in that heresy.

There were lines snaking through the skyway into RiverCentre. I parked several blocks away and walked to the eastern end of the center, next to the Ordway on Rice Park. The queue at that end wound around the corner and stretched west for about two blocks. 

In classic Minnesota style, I thought about asking if this was the Bernie line but didn’t. I just went to the end of the line and picked up from the conversations that it was, in fact, the Bernie line. Breaking out of my Minnesota habits, I spoke up when a girl behind me said she hoped Trump’s candidacy was just a media stunt. I said that was probably “wishful thinking,” although it did feel like a “terrible dream.”

The line lurched forward a few times, but, like the girl said, we didn’t know if anyone was in charge or if they would tell us whether the place was full and they had stopped letting people in. The girl was a college girl studying singing at McNally Smith. I answered her questions about how caucuses work, based solely on the Bernie campaign training session I’d attended a month before.

We eventually filtered in through the doors and headed for The Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium. People were streaming in to the main floor or climbing stairs to the balcony. A young woman in a lanyard and Bernie t-shirt briefly shouted instructions for us, which was the extent of the crowd control I saw. This was a very well-behaved Minnesota crowd though, so no draconian tactics were called for.

I went to the main floor and found, luckily, a lot of room to move around. There were tons of people sitting in the balcony. Somebody said this was the overflow room, which was pretty impressive. I’m horrible at guesstimating, but they said it was 5,000 in Roy Wilkins and 10,000 in the main hall. I can buy that.

It was already 7:45 by then, but before the stroke of 8 Bernie showed up in the Roy unexpectedly. A rock concert-like scream rose up from the mostly college-aged crowd, alerting us to his arrival. Keith Ellison took the stage, followed by Bernie and his wife. “This is the overflow?” Bernie asked incredulously to a roar of approval. He favored us with a few remarks before moving on to the main hall.

The official program started with a five-minute speech from a Somali-American college girl wearing a hijab. Then came a brief intro by Keith Ellison before we got to the main course.

There was nothing incendiary in Bernie’s speech (unless you belong to the Mainstream Media, or “MSM,” as I like to write). There was no palpable anger in the crowd, aside from the occasional, emphatic exhortation from a lone person punctuating some of Bernie’s more “radical” opinions. There were many smiles on the faces of the people there and laughter originating thence. 

Yet still, as Bernie launched into his spiel, I had a sense of foreboding, as if I were attending just another political rally, just another group session of yearning for someone to save us from ourselves. I couldn’t help but think: “This isn’t how it’s supposed to be. This isn’t how democracy works. We’re not supposed to wait for a savior to bring a preordained platform down from Sinai for us to rubber-stamp. He’s just a politician; he’s not an avatar of our hopes and dreams whose soaring oratory can lift us above this mortal coil to an astral plane.”

It also kinda felt like a late-era Roman emperor promising to keep the barbarian hordes at bay for a little while longer. We’ve listened as the Republicans’ rhetoric has become monstrous in its ignorance, violence and hatred. Perhaps we’re finally reaping the harvest grown from the seeds of death and destruction we’ve sown around the world. How much longer can we hold back the blood-dimmed tide?

My anxiety was eventually eased by Bernie’s repeated calls for a mass movement to enact his platform. As he kept saying, millions of us will have to “stand up” and “come together” to implement the social democratic (not technically “socialist”) policies he’s proposed. The Washington Consensus, funded by the wealthy and constantly reinforced by the MSM, considers these ideas radical and even dangerous, and the Establishment will fight tooth and nail to keep them off the table.

There was a big sign waving in front of the stage that had a painting of Bernie with fire for hair. It was a fitting tribute to this man whose hair often seems to be on fire. I'm sure that's central to his appeal in these days of fear, anger and economic insecurity. 

The crowd cheered and booed at the appropriate times, although we sometimes cheered for lines that sounded like boo lines, which I found a bit confusing. I clapped, “whoo”-ed and booed a fair amount; he was, after all, saying things I agree with. He went on for about an hour and managed to keep it pretty interesting without coming off like an “angry old man.” 

After it was over, we exited to the strains of David Bowie’s “Starman,” an apropos tribute to the recently deceased musician. It reinforced my perception of this as a typical political rally, but I was too encouraged by the happy college kids surrounding me and my fondness for the song to worry anymore. 

On the walk back to my car, I overheard a woman saying that she felt an opportunity to really engage people that night had been lost. I had to agree with her as 15,000 like-minded people returned to our daily routines. If we want this night to mean anything, we’d better take Bernie’s message to heart and stop treating politics like a spectator sport.

Friday, June 26, 2015

My Job Made Me Racist

There's a common assumption in our culture that immigration is always good. It is usually cast in a flattering light in the mainstream media and generally regarded as a boon to the economy as well as the culture. While I'd say the cultural effects of immigration are largely beneficial, the economic effects are often damaging. The problem is, in order to address these issues, one must first confront taboos central to our society.

In its currently popular neo-liberal Capitalist conception, the economy is believed to have the potential for infinite growth. The only obstacle to economic expansion is government regulation, according to this view. Ergo, immigration should have no effect on employment or wages, since the economy can always expand to provide everyone with good-paying jobs. Unfortunately, this belief no longer conforms with reality.

In reality, the U.S. economy has been shrinking for about a decade, and the discretionary income of most Americans has been in decline for four decades. Since the 70's, economic growth has been slowing. But government regulation has been almost completely captured by Big Business. The reason for our economic malaise is the depletion of natural resources, fossil fuels foremost among them.

This is an extremely difficult idea for most Westerners to wrap their head around. We've been trained to believe that Science and Technology can overcome any physical limits. But this is a fossil-fueled delusion. Coal, oil and natural gas provided us with a bonanza of energy that allowed us to think we had conquered Nature.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the U.S. economy grew by leaps and bounds, providing enough labor and wealth to keep Americans and the millions of immigrants pouring into the country each year employed and well-paid. This spectacular growth was subsidized by our prodigious deposits of hydrocarbons. Our technologies merely harnessed this one-time jackpot.

But, as fossil fuel reserves have dwindled, the price of those fuels has skyrocketed, and the pace of economic growth has slowed and, now, reversed. As a result, population growth and immigration are dividing a shrinking pie into smaller and smaller pieces. We of the middle and working classes are left to fight over scraps while the rich (thanks to government bailouts) get richer.

This has led many Americans to lash out against immigrants, demonizing the ethnic groups most closely associated with immigration. I fell victim to this impulse at my last corporate job. My employer brought in dozens (maybe hundreds) of people from India to work at their headquarters in downtown Minneapolis. I even shared a cubicle with an Indian guy. He was really nice, which was a good thing, because if he hadn't been I might've borne a monstrous grudge against him.

Even with our congenial daily interactions, I often resented the Indians' presence. The jobs they were doing were jobs that millions of unemployed Americans could've easily and happily done.

So why did the company contract with a foreign (presumably, Indian) company to bring in people from halfway across the world to perform tasks that hundreds, if not thousands of people in the Twin Cities could've done just as well? Because the employer can pay the Indians much less than they could pay Americans and treat them a lot worse. The Indians looked so happy to be there that I'm sure they would've put up with almost anything to keep those jobs and stay in the U.S.

Early on, my Indian cube-mate was regularly berated by his American boss. It wasn't vicious, but it's not something that the American employees would've tolerated. In fact, the two Americans in the cube across the aisle from us were bothered by his treatment. They mentioned bringing it up with their boss, and they may have, because his supervisor lightened up thereafter.

My cube-mate told me that he lived with the other Indian workers in a complex of apartment buildings in a nearby suburb. The accommodations sounded somewhat austere, but that's just conjecture (like most of this essay). His wife, child and mother eventually joined him, and his wife gave birth to a second child. He seemed quite happy, but even the life of an overworked, underpaid corporate drone in the U.S. must've been a big improvement over his life back home.

He was seeking U.S. citizenship, and I didn't begrudge him that, but I still resent the company's decision to bring in workers from abroad to do jobs for which there are, literally, millions of qualified, unemployed Americans. That's just greed, pure and simple, and it's not benefiting anyone but the company's executives (and, apparently, the Indians). The Americans who, in a previous era, would've done those jobs are either unemployed or working worse jobs for less money.

Sadly, raising any objections to immigration is a sure way to invite opprobrium from academia and the mainstream. South Park has featured stereotypically stupid redneck characters who insist with vehemence that immigrants are "takin' our jobs," their charge becoming angrier, louder and less coherent with each repetition. This is the main counter-argument, that any opposition to immigration must arise from xenophobia, racism and bigotry.

That's a difficult stumbling-block to overcome. It effectively ends any attempt at debate. Accusing Americans of racism is a sure way to piss us off. The discussions that follow such an accusation rarely rise above the level of name-calling.

The truth is that, so far, it's been easy for the middle class to dismiss the working class's objections to immigration on the grounds that "they're takin' our jobs." That's because the immigrants were only taking blue-collar jobs before. Now they're taking white-collar jobs, and I doubt the middle class will find as much humor in the rednecks' status anxiety as South Park did.

So what's the answer? Send all the immigrants home? No, but I would eliminate the economic policies that make job-offshoring and worker-importation attractive to American companies. How about withholding public subsidies for corporations that engage in these practices? We could actively penalize those firms, but, given our likely resource-constrained future, I favor a conservative approach.

There are many trade policies that could be altered or repealed to level the labor playing field. For instance, we could demand that corporations importing products to the U.S. meet the same labor and environmental standards to which we hold corporations operating within our borders. That would repatriate millions of jobs overnight.

These are the same policies that have impoverished the Third World, shipping their wealth to the First World for our enjoyment. It's only now that many of us formerly affluent Westerners are being adversely affected by those policies. By hiding the rationale behind "free trade" deals, the elite has mostly succeeded in pitting workers from different countries against each other.

But we workers are all on the same team. To paraphrase Marx, we need to unite and reform the system that has indentured us. I say "reform" in the hope that there's still time to save the system. Things may seem bad now, but a true revolution usually makes things much worse.* For historical examples, see the French and Russian Revolutions.

(*I don't consider the American Revolution a true revolution. I'd call it an evolution.)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Unlearning

I think my true education began when my formal education ended. Ever since then it seems like I've been unlearning, peeling off the layers of prejudice, conventional wisdom and preconceptions draped over me by my upbringing, school and the mass media that fill the void where our culture used to be. I often feel I would've been better off left to my own devices and the common sense God (or the Universe) gave me.

I can't escape the feeling of having been duped. I jumped through all the academic hoops and was slotted into a corporate dead end. Success in school is predicated on uncritically accepting the views of your teachers. I integrated their opinions into my paradigm with little revision or examination. I usually took their words at face value. Their beliefs and the curriculum were nearly gospel to me. I'd been raised, consciously or not, to believe in the infallibility of the public school curriculum.

Questions didn't arise until I had my bachelor's degree, and, after 5 years of working as a corporate clerk, I still couldn't get the rewarding job I'd been led to believe was waiting at the end of the academic rainbow.

So much education is directed toward overturning common sense in the interest of the oligarchy. As our common culture has faded, this propaganda has become more effective. The middle class is thoroughly brainwashed, having forgotten our working-class roots and the struggle against the elite that was required for us to become bourgeois.