april 5, 2011 by camille hayes
And yes, America, I’m looking at you. When I read last week about the mass demonstrations in Britain protesting the latest wave of public spending cuts by David Cameron’s Conservative government, at first I was heartened. “Good on them!” I thought cheerfully, but my exuberance was short-lived (and probably irrational). Because, as so often happens these days, my next thought was “What the hell is wrong with this country?” Here’s a nation where the richest 1% of the population controls 70% of the wealth and families routinely go without health care, yet portions of the middle class are actively abetting our jackweed oligarchs in attacking workers’ rights as we speak. Heads have rolled over lesser economic disparities than we’re currently sporting, so what’s with all the lethargy? Where’s that can-do spirit I’ve heard so much about? What does Britain have, in the way of righteous outrage, that we just can’t seem to muster?
One thing the British have over us is that they seem to actually understand what’s happening to them. Turns out that’s a pretty big advantage in democracies, when it comes to the voting and whatnot. They also have a national press corps that’s at least making a token effort to fulfill their journalistic mandates, by keeping them informed of what their government’s doing instead of just transcribing whatever preposterous spin their leader’s latest flack monkey is spouting from his word hole. Having accurate information, and the capacity to process it, are the building blocks of a successful republic, and also of not getting fucked over by every petty tyrant and billionaire megalomaniac who happens by.
We’re in a brave new era, citizens. The middle class is now being overtly (instead of furtively) hung out to dry, and we’re signing on in droves to assist in our own execution. Why? Because the ignorant are easily subdued, so it looks like the GOP was really on to something when they spent decades undermining the public education system. Now we’re all Cheeto-eating idiots, drunk on American exceptionalism and watermelon Four Loko, barely able to prize ourselves out of our Barcaloungers long enough to get the mail, let alone protect our long-term economic interests. We are the flaccid couch potatoes of democracy, and one can only hope that this moment in history is finally, at long last, our crescendo of crap; that things are now dreadful enough to stir our listless populace. Until then, there’s a party in the top 1%! You’re not invited, of course, but maybe they’ll let you watch.