August 2, 2013 Friday
I just signed a petition from a MoveOn member requesting Texas Governor Rick Perry to require all foods that contain “genetically modified” material to be properly labeled. Do I care all that much about “Franken-foods”? No, not really. Later I’ll tell you why.
Recently I’ve decided to sign every petition I get, across the board. I used to be very paranoid about to whom I gave what information. I signed one petition and suddenly the floodgates were open. I started getting inundated with all kinds of requests. Somebody in the lefty liberal camp (as opposed to the righty liberal camp) realized my email address had a predilection for progressive issues and now I get email bombed. Every. Single. Fucking. Day. Once I even asked to be removed from their lists. I unsubscribed from all lists. “Just stop sending me so much crap!” These long drawn out maudlin emails begging for money in tiny print: ‘please support our cause’ kind of things. It didn’t matter. They found a chink in the shield wall, and now I get around 15 emails a day from strangers begging to sign this or donate that. To hell with it. I give up.
I don’t care who sends me what. I’ll sign. Why not? Gun control. Condemn Rush Limbaugh. More social security benefits for the elderly. Reduce student loan rates. If it’s part of a progressive agenda, I sign. Plain and simple. I am fairly certain it does very little good. Yesterday I read an article on Alternet by Larry McNeil giving some tips on how to become a more effective leader in a progressive organization. He has one section that offers some clarity for all of us deeply invested in liberal progressive agendas: “And let’s be clear,” Larry writes, “The present constellation of progressive organizations is like a pea-shooter against the organizational juggernaut of the venal .01%.”
It’s statements like that that I love. I wallow in hard truths that rub my face in the abyss. Seriously. Ever wonder why Occupy Wall Street failed? Ever wonder why to this day no one has ever been indicted much less convicted for all of the crimes committed by the immoral greedy piggies on Wall Street that created this round of financial chaos? It’s a fixed game. Voting is a waste of time. Right. Left. They all kowtow to Wall Street and let’s be honest: war is still a huge money-maker. Later in that article McNeil states:
The only reason we haven’t become permanent footstools is because of the political gifts of the crazy right-wing, e.g. Romney’s “47%,” “fetal masturbation,” “self-deportation,” the attacks on Planned Parenthood, and the gifts that keep on giving, like Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Senator Ted Cruz, and Governor Rick Perry.
The blunders of the powers-that-be allow the rest of us to exist. In essence. Nothing ever changes. A safe bet would to be to retreat into solipsistic fetishism, something I think that most if not all academics do. They call it research. Retreat into research, into history, become a spectator as the comedian George Carlin once advised when asked how he staved off cynicism or pessimism about the whole corrupt enchilada.
Me? I just keep signing those petitions. I hope that it makes someone happy over there in the land of the deluded. It’s the least an exile like me can do I figure.
If the righteous right got a clue, they would send me their own plaintive requests and I would sign. “Dear Sir, we need more money to continue hour[sic] lobbying for your gun rights. We’re hear [sic] to protect your 2nd Amendment Rights.” Or: “Please support our cause as we strive to protect woman from murdering their own babies. In addition, we have earmarked a portion of all donations to promote the death penalty.”
Sure, I’ll sign. Why not?
Nihilism. Apathy. Apathetic nihilism. Nihilistic apathy. I don’t know. I feel decidedly impuissant. The inability to make any significant authentic changes makes me feel feckless. I don’t want to end up like that unreliable narrator from Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground. Pathetic, marginalized, insane. Sadly, most everyone misinterprets or plain misunderstands Dostoevsky’s Underground Man. Most have never even read the second part of that short book (hell, most confuse the character with the author). Today’s readers take him for an antihero when really he represents (to the author) the pernicious outcome of the ideas then in vogue with the main social thinkers in Russia. What is to be done? I try my best to disabuse my fellow fellows from such incorrect notions, but most still consider the Underground Man a rebel, someone to be emulated. Hardly. One might as well try to emulate Gollum. My precious! Everyone has their thing: for “the man in the mouse hole” it was rational egoism; for Smeagol it was the One Ring of power; for me, it’s the overarching paradigm of economy.
My sad negative state stems of course from the overwhelming sense of powerlessness. At least Sisyphus was doing something. The procrastination of meaningless activity must have offered some comfort. Could he fool himself during his massive exertions that he was getting somewhere? Did his mind drift into the moment? Did he feel the sweat rolling down into his stinging eyes? Did he revel in the feel of his hands, strong and roughened, on the outsized boulder? The perpetual pumping of his thighs as he angled the sharp-edged rock up the hill?
Or was he every moment sickened and poisoned by the foreknowledge that once he approached the summit the blasted stone would come crashing down?
When I read Senator Ron Wyden’s comments on the NSA spying of, well, everyone under the Sun, I realized that growing feeling that ‘nothing matters’ was confirmed. We are powerless. It doesn’t matter how much security I try to employ online for my computer. It’s no longer hirsute sallow hackers getting into my stuff and ripping me off, identity theft, etc. et al ad nauseam. It’s the US (and “let’s be clear” to be sure the Chinese) government. The only reason (I remind my beloved Zoe) that I exist is because the powers-that-be have determined that I am not a threat. Otherwise I would be languishing in either a Chinese re-education camp or in that Cuban-based American Hostel for Hostiles, Guantanamo.
I wonder if I can embrace this absolute lack of civil rights? Is this how the average intelligent Chinese person feels? They grew up in this shit, with this relentless fear of the State. How did they cope? I don’t find the Chinese as a people, as a nation, particularly courageous. There were moments of courage, absolutely, and men and women of conscience with fire for blood, but on the whole, “historically speaking”, the 老百姓 lǎo bǎi xìng, the mass of people, have not demonstrated the type of courage we have seen in Egypt or even in Russia (who it seems to me are suffering a really bad case of mass delusion: they all think they are Putin. The worst case of vicarious czarism I’ve ever seen).
Maybe I should be like Zoe and prance naked in front of our windows. A single mother in Chinese society, she has suffered not a little from her narrow-minded, petty fellow citizens. She no longer cares what the rest of the neighborhood thinks and lets it all hang out. What’s the point? After her divorce they were never ever going to give her a fair deal. She was ostracized and made pariah. How do you think she wound up with a monster like me? One of the directors of her department has an apartment on the top floor looking down right into our bedroom window. Being close to penniless we cannot afford curtains. Need I say more? I live in a constant state of mortification. And I am an American. Or at least I think I am. That’s what my passport says in any event. Shouldn’t I have more dignity? Shouldn’t I display something extra for the world? Or what I mean to say is shouldn’t I display something a little less?
I hear Zoe’s voice in my head, her simple sweet child-like answer: dignity for me; display for me. She doesn’t worry about it, but I do. I fret and wring my hands. I swear I can feel gray blooming from the roots of my once chestnut-colored hair.
About GMOs or GMO foods: IF I lived in the States or more accurately WHEN I lived in the United States of Autocratic-Rule, I did care. I bought local. Belonged to the local farmers’ market co-op where you purchase x-amount of food from local farmers and you go pick up a bag of veggies and fruits from some volunteer in the neighborhood. Some of it was good; some so-so; none of it was ever bad. But, now I live in China.
Never mind genetically modified. I am grateful every day that dinner doesn’t kill us. Remember the bullshit urban legends about going trick-or-treating? Don’t eat the apples because someone might have stuck a razorblade inside it? Makes you sort of wince when you contemplate it. Well, this feeling pretty much accompanies every meal I eat. I think to myself or more usually I think out loud (to Zoe’s constant consternation) “What damage am I doing to my body now? What nasty bacteria am I ingesting that will cause violent vomiting, fire hose diarrhea, or a fit of cramps that locks up my body with Grand Mal seizures?
Food safety is an enormous issue here on the Mainland, an issue as large as, well, as large as China. Yet another sign of the end times. Yesterday I read another tidbit by Tom Philpott that to me indicates the world is indeed going to hell in a hand basket, aforementioned apocalypse to be ushered in by none other than the Middle Kingdom and the ‘Greatest Democracy on Earth’. I am sure Russia is glowing green with envy: By God! If anyone is going to shove this planet over the brink to destruction, it will be us! I’m sure Russia will do all it can to lend a hand in the extinction of the human race, but for now, the US and China are teaming up just grandly to insure the future elimination of our species (today I am human—tomorrow I may be something else). What was this piece of news that shocked me? Well, not shock, because I am getting jaded to all of these things. One of China’s pork producers is trying to buy one of America’s largest pork producers. And “make no mistake” Chinese love their pork! Pork and all things porcine seem to make the news here in China quite often, if anyone has been paying attention. But, for big China to reach out and have to buy more? To actually import pork? Something’s up.
It seems that there has been a little water war going on between the farmers and industries like coal mining. Actually, the people farming the land have no say in the battle. The local governments are literally moving people off farmland to allow for urbanization. Huge swathes of former farmland turned into condos and shopping malls. Of course, state mining companies strip the earth for whatever coal available. A massive amount of water is needed for the mining and processing of coal. Why coal? China uses coal to make electricity! Why do they need so much electricity? Well, 1.4 billion people for starters. Then, as China is one of the manufacturing giants of this planet, it needs massive amounts of coal, i.e., electricity for its factories to produce goods sold and bought in that wonderful paragon of representative democracy in the Western World—the US of A! They are partners in crime these two, the Dragon and the Eagle. When China ramps up its coal production so that every Californian and Bostonian can own an iPad or Playstation or whatever, Global warming will become “the good old days” that we will pine for: “Remember the good old days when we just had global warming? Now we have GLOBAL BAKING, GLOBAL FRYING, GLOBAL HOLY-SHIT-IT’S-FREAKING-HOT!”
As Tom Philpott points out, don’t curl your lip in disdain towards China. WE as a global people are nurturing this sad state of affairs. It’s useless to hate China anyway. They are the future. Why? Because once upon a time America was a dream about freedom. That’s over. Now, America is all about the bottom line. Show me the money. And China is studying how to be America. They long to be Americans. It’s true their dreams and values will be skewed and filtered through their idiosyncratic lenses, but the underpinning value system is coming from the current heavyweight champ. Identity theft on a grand national existential level. Imitation is a compliment and so on. So, who cares about global warming? Who cares about impoverished children? Human rights? Out the window! Safe food? Fuggeddabowtit!
Speaking as one of the few polar wolves left in existence, I am not happy about this situation. Hence my (mostly) blind signing of any petition that pops into my email box.
I do what I can.