Back in the 1950s when the propaganda concerned Russia and Communism, I wondered sometimes what it would be like living in a country where the people were not "free," compared to living in USA where we are "free." Then I grew up. I now see that living not-free is the same as living free. We have "rights protected" in court, after the fact, and in the uncertainty of the poker game that court in America is. And now we have Sandra Day O'Connor, the retired Supreme Court justice, saying her vote to put in the loser of the 2000 election, because she was placed on the court by a Reaganista republican administration, doing her duty, was a mistake. No shit. My first thought when I saw it was a word I never use, never think, but there it was: Thanks byatch! It was the right tone for my meaning, gangsta. I wonder if she thought she was endearing herself to "the people" by fessing up to her error as a human being. She made my assessment of her as a public figure fall even further than it did when she committed her public act of sedition. Thanks for 9/11, the Patriot Act, destroying the Iraqi people for Halliburton, and then the Afghani people. And most of all, thank you for the Depression among the American working poor and all of rural America for the last 13 years. For many years, before that shameless betrayal of the American people (who are paying you very well, even now in your retirement), I believed that what I believed was important and I had recourse in our land of freedom. I believed we voted our "representatives" into office, and they represented us, just like it says in the text books.
Free. What the hell is free? In the 1980s Reagan arranged a deal with Russia to let go Russians who wanted to emigrate to America for freedom. Very big propaganda deal. Russians leaving the shackles of Communism to come to America for freedom. Not much later, they went back to Russia because life in America was dead; no headlines, a back pages deal, hardly worth mention by corporate press. What's so great about freedom when 30,000 people a year are killed by guns? No telling how many are killed by other means, as well as unknown. The land of the free the murder capital of the world. Free to kill. It doesn't strike me very free when you're harassed constantly by cops without recourse for being black. Taught in school about freedom and how fortunate we are to live in a democracy and have freedom, like nobody else in the world is "free," was parallel church where somebody who had never heard of Jesus goes to hell for eternity. Policy. It's terrible when you're not an insider. Outsiders go to hell. And what's so great about freedom when we have a prison population that is so far out of range with the rest of the world? Even the countries we think of as hopelessly nowhere. We live under the draconian mandatory sentencing of the Reagan Junta, and a legal system that gets its kicks out of putting people in prison and labeling people criminals after they're arrested the first time.
People from outside our American working class culture don't know the sly workings of the laboring class where everybody needs more money just to get by. The working class is where you find the people who end up in prison for being shut out of the economy. People with brilliant minds are born into every society. Somebody with a fast, retentive mind born into the working class, shut out of making enough money to live on, going through school with only hopelessness for a future, you're not very motivated. Education for the sake of itself appeals to a very small percentage of children. It's hard to create initiative for oneself without motivation of some sort, hope. I used to know a guy with a very sharp mind who took to interstate fixing stolen cars with new serial numbers, paint and whatever else they did to sell them. He made good money and had his barely paying job on the side. He got his kicks having the Law snapping at his heels. It turned him on to "outsmart" the law. It worked for awhile. This was a guy if born into the upper middle class could have been a Wall St exec never caught for making great big money on the misfortunes of others. By his example, I remind the younger people I know that they might think they can outsmart the sheriff or the town cops, but there is a rule of thumb in this world: the one with the most advanced technology wins. It works out that way, the Colt 45 for example.
The Law has access to technology a tough guy just out of high school driving a used pickup and listening to Korn never heard of. An entire profession, millions of careers, waiting for the next Senior class to let out. Get drunk, get high, talk big, but don't act on it if you want to challenge an institution that has the backup of SBI, FBI, millions of computers, an entire educational system. You go up against the Law, you get caught. That's why the prison system has become a for-profit business. The prison system is kept going by an economy based in cheap labor. Is that freedom? I don't mean the prison. I mean living in the laboring class in an economy that is based in keeping the labor cheap and the Law tight. What used to be called sweat-shops are now common Asian and African and Latin American factories where some of the people are so poor they'll work more for a lot less than in American sweatshops. The American corporate board looks at a fire that killed hundreds of people working in sweatshops as something insurance will handle. Population control. It will make them have to hire a media-image damage-control consultant out of California for a few million. What a bother. The lawyers will take care of it. Let's have another snort. Then it's no big deal. On to the next Bopal. This cannot sanely be called freedom. It can only be called freedom in advertising with beaches, palm trees and beer at a resort to lure the unawares. The Kiss Of The Spider Woman Lodge. Yes, that's Sonia Braga, in person, at the desk.
In my head I hear Patti Smith shouting, OUTSIDE OF SOCIETY! THAT'S WHERE I WANNA BE! And Lenny Kaye's guitar--rock and roll! Something parents forget when their kids are teenagers, rock and roll is about freedom. It's about breaking loose from the binding chains of a society (parenting) that locks down the human spirit in the worship of Mammon. I don't mean to wax Biblical, but there it is. We bury our dead Egyptian style, living our lives going to church talking about the spirit is important, the body just a shell, and have so many laws and regulations about burying the dead that put money in a string of corporate profits, we can't afford to die. The burden of those expenses go onto the heirs. Heirs to what? He worked in factories. It is illegal to be buried simply in a white shroud without a box, the dirt shoveled in on the corpse. Why is that illegal if to dust our bodies return? This is the world our human spirit grows up into, and by late teens it is so confusing a kid doesn't know what to do but crank up the volume. Norway known for its hard metal bands, makes me wonder about Norwegian Protestantism. My guess is that it is more stifling than Kansas Protestantism of a Swedish mind. The music the kids are needing is subliminal expression of their exploding volcanoes within, having to learn how to go against their human nature, and everything they learned in school, to enter the adult world where Happy Planet does not apply. What kinda job? Uh. I dunno. They pay enough to put gas in yer car at Burger King. And then make a living. Get married--two can live cheaper than one--Not. Then the incredible expense of having a baby when you need to buy cheap hot dogs to have the money to pay the rent on the trailer.