I grew up in the sixties. In the beginning of that decade, the “future” was a fantastically hopeful concept. It contained the promise of amazing technological advances; a push-button world of flying cars and robot servants, where automation would save us from the drudgery of work, where science would overcome the scourge of disease and where the biggest obstacles facing the world’s happy, healthy people would be how to occupy their ever expanding leisure time…
That utopian vision of the future was perhaps most fully – and fancifully – portrayed in the 1964 New York World’s Fair. For two magical summers the New York World’s Fair had 50 million visitors believing that the benevolent efforts of our scientists, our corporations and, of course(!), our government were leading us to a very much better world. This early sixties version of the American Dream was a confident, cocky vision where no problems seemed beyond the reach of our intellect and expanding technological brilliance. We seemed, surely, to be on the precipice of a new golden age…
In retrospect, it all seems a bit naive… doesn’t it?
Here was this rose tinted, technologically infused, space-age vision for the future, brought to us by none other than our good friends at General Motors, General Electric, Ford Motor Company, Westinghouse, RCA, Johnson Wax and Kodak. When you look now at the corporate-themed pavilions of the fair, it’s hard not to see this as an elaborately staged PR campaign for America’s then world-leading corporations. “Stick with us,” they told the fawning American public. “And we will take you to a world of peace, and understanding, and wonder!”
But it hasn’t really turned out that way for the American people. We never really got to experience the utopia that we were promised. Assassinations and civil rights clashes exposed a dark side of our culture. The Vietnam War created social upheaval, pitting the young against the Establishment. And ultimately the corporate/financial takeover of our economy and government led to a social order where the interests of International Banks and Multinational Corporations and the Military Industrial Complex began to shape and dominate every aspect of our social, economic and political order.
The subliminal message of the 1964 World’s Fair was that the prospects of average American people were inextricably tied to that of American Corporations. This was most succinctly expressed by Eisenhower’s nominee for Secretary of Defense Charles Wilson who famously stated, “What’s good for the country is good for General Motors and vice versa.” And even though this statement has achieved a certain infamy as the ultimate in corporate arrogance it contained a kernel of intuitive truth, one which resonated through our capitalist culture. After all, simple reasoning suggests that the increasing success and profitability of American corporations leads inevitably to more jobs, better salaries, better standards of living for American people… right?
Would that it were so.
We Americans are not particularly brilliant economists… and we are horrible educated regarding the ugly sides of our own economic history. We are blithely unaware, for example, of the outrageous exploitation suffered by workers in the 1800’s and early 1900’s – a time when what was good for Industrialists and Robber Barrons was decidedly not good for average working joes. This was a time when businesses routinely cheated and robbed consumers, corrupted government and in general practiced predatory, unscrupulous practices in a relentless pursuit of massive wealth.
We forget how monstrous corporations often behave when they are left to their own devices.
After the close of the 1964 World’s Fair, American corporations embarked on a new age of Public Relations – which the founder of PR, Edward Bernays described as “an applied social science which manages and manipulates the public opinion by the use of sociology, mass psychology and similar disciplines.” Over the past 50 years we have been subjected to a vast PR campaign inundating us with PR Propaganda designed to plant in our minds a wide array of pro-corporate ideals and values.
We have been duped into accepting a collection of corporate-oriented agendas like: Globalization, Deregulation, Privatization. These corporate agendas – asserted by Democrat and Republican administrations alike – are the direct reasons for most of the salary stagnation, unemployment and lower standard of living being experienced by the American working and middle classes.
When we talk about corporations today, we’re increasingly talking about multi-national entities – extra-national institutions with no allegiance to America and no sense of fraternity or responsibility to the American people. These globalist institutions have one – and only one – concern; delivering profits and return on investment for their wealthy Establishment owners. If that means – as it has – 20 million Americans losing their jobs as the American economy was run through a financial chop shop with it’s pieces sold off and it’s jobs exported to low cost third world locales… well that’s just business. If it means that our un-regulated banking system engages in predatory lending practices to support an elaborate ponzi scheme causing millions to lose their homes while they get bailed out… well, that’s too bad.
As for the rest of us. We’re the ones hurt by the dismantling of our industrial base and the off-shoring of our jobs. We’re the ones who have had to shoulder the burdens of evaded, off-shored tax revenues and suffer the collapse of infrastructure and the diminishment of services. We’re the ones who have seen the disappearance of retirement benefits, the escalation of health care costs, the skyrocketing educational costs, and the pernicious effects of predatory credit and debt.
They Future: as proposed by corporate America in the 1960’s was a fraud and a con. It presented a false premise whereby corporations “guided by the public good” would usher in a new world of peace and prosperity. The hard reality that we have experienced in the interim has been something much darker, where the deliberately hidden interests of ruthless corporations combined with their relentless pursuit of profit at all cost, has delivered us into a world of insecurity, terror, surveillance, and endless war.
Today, the future ain’t what is used to be because we have failed to see the way in which our government has been taken over by corporate, banking and dynastic wealth. We have believed – in spite of all evidence to the contrary – that these criminals in our government, in our banks and in our corporate boardrooms care about us. We persist in believing that they have our interests at heart, even as they promote policies which dismantle our freedoms, impoverish and enslave us.
If we ever expect to recapture a hopeful, optimistic future for ourselves and our children we will first have to free our minds from the false programming of the corporate/banking/political establishment. We need to recognize the ways they have co-opted and controlled our political class. And ultimately, we will need to tear down their pay-to-play election system and replace it with one freed from their financial control and better able to convey and represent the will of the American people.
The refusal of the American people to vote in this election would be a powerful step toward taking down this system.