Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Corporation and a Contemporary Black Culture of Oppression

There were less than two dozen black boys at my private high school of 260. In my college Freshman class of 450, there are barely that many. Inequality in education is apparent across the United States; the black youth has an essentially nonexistent presence in private educational institutions, while they overwhelm the public – if they seek a higher education at all. Many go through life without a high school diploma, let alone a college degree. They consistently occupy lower-wage jobs in urban areas, while in rural areas, when present at all, their unemployment rates are a multiple higher. They have less opportunity, even through affirmative action programs, even though they receive more federal aid than virtually any other demographic. So what is the problem?

Simply put, the problem is a debilitating cultural mindset. African-American culture – a type of new pop-culture – has evolved in the United States in the shadow of corporate oppression. The two main icons of this culture are, not surprisingly, rappers and basketball players; those who “got rich quick,” and those who are representing the black struggle against this oppressive system. Ironically, those same acclaimed black men and women are an integral part of the unconscious discrimination and continued oppression of the black people in the United States, for they became what they were expected to become. Ask any white guy on the street, “What are the characteristics of African-Americans?” He will answer, in so many words, “Well, their natural rhythm and their athletic ability, of course.” Hence, the stereotypes. When a subculture – a culture that is not followed by the majority – is stereotyped, the stereotype becomes a psychological ball and chain on the mindsets of the stereotyped people.

Many blacks who succeed in the rap industry and as basketball “stars” deserve what they earn; they are rewarded for their efforts. Yet the message they send is still a troubling message. Black Americans are not fighting against their oppression by dropping out of high school to become rappers. They are not pushing back at the gross inequalities in this system by buying into the same styles as wealthy black “role models.” They are merely destroying their own chances of success, while simultaneously benefiting those who oppress them, perpetuating a system in which they are the disadvantaged. How many black CEO’s are there? The percentage – the actual number, even – is insignificantly small.

In essence, however, what African Americans are submitting to is a corporate culture controlled by rich, white men. The ego of big business grows with its power. Corporations believe they can command the black demographic through a pop-culture they themselves created. Government institutions are nothing as long as these corporations are given free reign over the American public and our culture itself. To begin the path to reform and true equality, we must curb their unlimited power over all people – African-Americans especially. Only then will black people be able to create and realize the incredible possibilities of their potential futures without interference from falsehoods and oppressive cultural ideas. They will break free of the shadows and move into the light and be truly free, once and for all.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Return of the Dadams

Have no fear! After an incredibly lengthy hiatus, I have returned in full-force to the strange internet phenomenon known as blogging. It may take a some small amount of time to recover my apparently lost sense of communication with fellow bloggers, but all will be well soon enough, I assure you. I look forward to having you all read my opinionated rants once again!


Sunday, May 22, 2005

Religion in Politics

What exactly is your "religion" doing in American politics?

Why is your belief in "God" interfering in the political process?

What makes people think that Christianity has any place in politics? Christianity is a religion (and not a very nice one, at that - look at the history of the Church), and the values of "God" should never coincide with the values of the State. Or... should they?

The problem is not that people's religious values are heavily influencing politics (both personal and national). The problem is that these values have obtained influence in the wrong way and they have been implemented in the wrong way. Values based upon "God" should hold no sway in the minds of any individual; a metaphysical being that may or may not exist should not have so much control over a political machine that encompasses countless individuals of different religious beliefs. But the arguments of those anti-choice and anti-gay marriage individuals are what bother me - for they're arguments based upon Church doctrine and religion, not upon logic, practicality, or society itself, as political beliefs should be. Separation of Church and State was perhaps the most important decision made at the founding of this nation, and it should stay that way.

This is not to say that Catholics and Christians as a whole should not hold political sway. They live in this country; of course they should have power. They vote and they push their agenda through their Representatives and Congressmen and try to change the nation. That's acceptable.

But it's not acceptable for these beliefs to be pushed through on a religious or doctrinal base. Religious doctrine has no place in politics. What about all the people who don't agree with the doctrine? Plenty of religions contained within the United States differ in doctrine to extremes. And what about the people who don't agree with the perception of "God?" What about those who don't believe in "God" at all?

Religion consists of so many different bases that it's impossible to implement it without alienating massive numbers of other people.

Individual politics, however, have a common base: society. People wanting to change society through logic and practicality. It's all based upon a perception of society. Not a perception of "God" or religion. A compromise can always be made in politics. Not in religion - there are simply too many bases of argument that lead to metaphysical concepts behind different perceptions.

Arguments in politics cannot be based upon metaphysical concepts behind different perceptions, because metaphysical arguments (and metaphysics itself) have (or may have) nothing to do with actuality whatsoever. Politics is the real and the tangible; not the incorporeal and metaphysical.

Practice your religion all you want; but get your religious arguments and beliefs out of American politics before it destroys the nation.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

A Brief Discussion of Anarchism

Before I return to my attack upon consumerism, I'd like to stray from the topic just a bit and discuss anarchism.

Anarchism is really an idea from which people reach their own anarchist conclusions. There are many different kinds of anarchists; anarcho-primitivists, anarcho-communists, anarcho-syndicalists, anarcha-feminists, eco-anarchists, etc. They all differ in the manner of anarchist non-society, but they all have one belief in common: "imposed authority is undesirable and unnecessary." (Wikipedia)

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of anarchism today is how it has apparently grown internationally as part of the "anti-war, anti-capitalist, and anti-globalisation movements," three ideas that I myself support. It is also heavily present in the punk culture of the United States and Great Britain - a culture which, ironically, is controlled by the music and fashion industries - it's a false culture. And true punk ideology? That died out years ago when the industries invaded counter-culture and education. It's very rare to find a young 'anarchist' who actually knows what he/she is talking about on any level; usually they just mouth off their ridiculous anti-state mantras, hoping to be noticed in a mass of counter-culture conformists.

But let us dismiss these young anarchists - for they know not what they do. The mature anarchists are what interest me. How could someone with such experience and such maturity have such naive political opinions? Ah, but what gives me the right to criticise anarchism as "naive?" I'll tell you.

Authority (a poor word to use, if you ask me) is the most necessary element of society. People cannot be expected to act justly and virtuously on their own, for human nature tends to lean towards acts of self-preservation, not community. The purpose of acting justly and virtuously, then, would be to preserve society - to keep it in working order. But why must society and the State exist at all, then? Because they are part of the natural order of human development. Perhaps anarchism worked back in the prehistoric ages, when there was no real technology and there world wasn't as populated and people didn't know anything. Yes - that's what a lot of anarchists use for an argument. Pitiful, isn't it? Human development, cultural development, and technological development all led to the inevitable creation of the state. It doesn't matter how it first came into existence; perhaps one person said to himself, "If I could control all these people, that would make my life a lot easier!" Most likely the State was born out of small communities which later evolved into what government is today. The real point is, societies controlled by the State are natural; people need to be protected from other people and people need to be protected from themselves. If there was no technology then sure, anarchism might work. If there were only 500 people in the world then sure, anarchism might work. But even then, the human mind would be advanced enough that it would be impossible to rely upon the goodwill and virtue of each particular individual.

The State will always exist because it is impossible for it not to exist. You cannot rely upon individuals to always act in accord with a particular political philosophy or political system - especially in this day and age, when anarchism would be technologically, geographically, and culturally impossible.

While I may support some of the beliefs of these older anarchists, I strongly disagree with them at the most basic ideological level - and thus am unable to find a basic common ground of argument with them, leading me to opposing them.

I have a lot of problems with modern anarchists though, because they don't realize what nonsense they're spouting - they're not "counter-culture," they're the products of the industries. And once all the old anarchists are gone, hopefully fake anarchism will die out soon afterwards, and the better parts of the philosophy will live on in more effective political philosophies. That way, you don't have to worry about a bunch of people marching down the road at 1:00 AM and smashing your windows with bricks, much like anarchists are inclined to do. Perhaps the only good aspect of these modern anarchists is that they will blindly follow anything anti-authority - which means they will fight against corporations, something that's always nice.

Anarchists are people who have no respect for the State. They try to deny something completely fundamental in human development. Hopefully, some day, they'll realise it - for the sake of us all. The modern movements which they involve themselves in are good in and of themselves, but anarchists push them too far and expect too much. Anarchism does have redeeming values; they just need to be taken at face value and not at a deeper, more ideological value - that's when you start getting into the foolishness that embodies the entire anarchist ideal.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Consumerism - Destroying Culture?

Now that you all know and hopefully recognize the massive role that consumerism plays in the progression of culture (and plastic pop-culture), I can discuss just in what ways consumerism is destroying true culture (progression of culture) and the American roots.

But first, let me just say that American culture is not the only culture in peril from this consumerist monster. All the other cultures contained withing the United States - Hispanic, Oriental, European, Middle Eastern, Native American, African - all of these other cultures are threatened, too. "Cultural particularism," a term used by Christopher Lasch, is something I happen to support on a very basic level. Each sect of people within a country must have their own culture; a combination, perhaps, of the culture of their own country and the culture of ours. For culture breeds strong community and communal standards; not always a good thing, but from this community and these standards come heroism - the drive to succeed, the drive to act virtuously, and the drive to be true to yourself and your community and, in turn, everybody else. On an international level, cultural particularism creates warfare. But on a national level, it births healthy competition and a concept of personal heroism - sometimes with violence, but violent intolerance is solved through education (or law). All these different cultures then make up the country in which we now live; a country of magnificent cultural diversity and intercultural relations.

Now, what happens if you allow the market to gain control of culture through luxuries and advertising? All of these particular cultures - every single one of them - will become market-guided... or they will cease to exist as separate entities. All cultures will either turn "plastic" (market-guided, false cultures), or they will all become absorbed into one enormous cultural entity in which cultural particularism would cease to exist and all people would become slaves to the consumerist industry.

That's what consumerism does. But how?

As I already mentioned in my previous post, consumerism pervades all; especially in this Age of Information. It's essentially impossible to survive in this society and be separate from consumerist interference in your life; all of us give into it in some way. Of course, some of this can be passed off as personal choice; but the incessant pushing by the industries is still present underneath it all.

But consumerism is not just direct advertising and sales pitches; oh no. As you walk around outside you can see the product of consumerism - it's everywhere. People are walking advertisements; they wear shirts with "American Eagle" printed in huge letters on the front, or they wear LiveStrong bracelets which are impossible to miss, or they have their white headphones in their ears (always symbolic of an iPod, no?). One cannot ignore it, for it exists everywhere.

But it doesn't stop there. Consumerism has invaded education, too: the PSP is a perfect example. A small, hand-held device that you can play amazing video games on - I wonder what people will do with that? Maybe they'll take it into school and play on it during class! Cellphones are the same - games and text messaging further the mobile industries always. And then there are the vending machines. Most schools don't even bother with hot lunches; they just buy vending machines, further giving the snack food industry a handle on kids everywhere. Even in school you can't avoid feeling consumerism's cold touch. It interferes in classes (directly or indirectly), and it ends in the devaluation of the educational experience - something absolutely essential to culture and cultural particularism... and tolerance.

And now we come to the most important of the areas affected by consumerism: the home. This is the family I'm talking about - perhaps the most important element of culture (along with education). For a good family preserves culture through past experiences and maybe just a little tradition thrown in there. But families have "consumerized." They buy 'stuff' for themselves and for their kids; they listen to what the media tells them that they need - and they buy it. They buy clothes and toys and cellphones and TV's and endless amounts of luxury goods, hardly paying a second thought to it. They buy what "plastic" culture tells them to buy; they're completely saturated in it because of what they watch and where they go and what they listen to. And they can't help it, because it's everywhere. And the consumerism that takes over the family destroys the family, for it becomes a family of money-producers and buyers; not a family of nurturing, caring, and responsibility. Spending madness has gripped families nationwide; and we don't know how to stop it.

This is not a part of American culture; it is a COUP of American culture. The quick-and-quiet takeover of true culture by plastic culture. It is destroying true culture and cultural particularism - something which ends in the ultimate destruction of personal and national heroism. Something which ends with the dissolution of all cultures within the United States into one plastic culture, one "mass-media" culture.

There has to be something we can do, before we all become fool peons, slaves to the very markets which we allowed to run rampant across all of the cultures within our nation and corrupt the very core of society; to corrupt that which makes a good society, and that which makes that good society work.

What can we do?

More later.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Consumerism - Commanding Culture?

Consumerism, as many of you have probably noticed, has been mentioned by yours truly in several previous posts. But what really is consumerism? The concept of it was really birthed in the 17th and 18th centuries by "classical liberals" like Adam Smith and his advocation of the free market and indefinite expansion of the economy in order to keep up with humankind's insatiable yearning for more 'stuff.' Men like Smith advocated a "free market;" something that the New Right does today. But consumerism is something separate now... something different.

Dictionary.com gives us three definitions of "consumerism:"

1. The movement seeking to protect and inform consumers by requiring such practices as honest packaging and advertising, product guarantees, and improved safety standards.
2. The theory that a progressively greater consumption of goods is economically beneficial.
3. Attachment to materialistic values or possessions.

The second is essentially what I just spoke of; the first is innate under capitalistic economic progress. The third definition is the one that I really wish to focus on, for it exemplifies the manner in which the economy has grown out of control - perhaps even into its own identity.

Consumerism really took off after World War II; people were home from the war, they wanted to settle down and have kids (who love their 'stuff'), and - most importantly - they had money from all the saving that their families had done due to purchasing restrictions. With the aid of a developing mass-media and ultra-industrialized business, the economy boomed with people buying their 'stuff.' That boom has really continued up through this very day; and it threatens to overwhelm us, even as we continue to feed it with our lives.

As people spend more and more time watching TV and following mass-media (which has developed to such a high level that it is odd to find a household in which there is no television or computer), more and more people care less about their own personal views, and more about what to buy, what to eat, where to go, and what show is coming on next. Television is a luxury; but it is one that has corrupted countless minds, turning perfectly decent people into mindless pop-culture drones; they like what the TV tells them to like. In addition to "culture" having become "media-ified," TV (and all other tools of communication) have become portals for big business and corporations to put forth advertisements and further their own businesses. But advertising is okay, right? Sure. But this has gotten out of control. No longer will people listen to practical descriptions of a product; no longer will companies offer truly honest evaluations to the possible buyers. Buyers are fooled by scientific language and people who sound like they know what they're talking about; a man dressed like a scientist is just as good as an actual scientist, right? Especially on TV! Nobody on TV could ever lie to you, right?

Rather silly, if you think about it. People watch these ads and absorb them; they play over and over and over and over again, ingraining themselves in the viewer's brain. It's impossible to count how many people I know that can give me the motto for every car company or sing the Cingular or Verizon phone tune that accompanies the respective advertisements. Ridiculous!

Products of luxury (i.e. things we buy with excess money after obtaining our necessities for life in present society) have become something people crave - but only if the companies tell us to crave them, and what exactly they tell us to crave. Nowadays the corporations are always one step ahead of pop-culture (a culture that they themselves created), feeding "ideas" to the youth and starting new trends that aren't really unique at all. What they've really done - through constant advertising and constant "innovation" - is create a society full of mindless slaves to a plastic pop-culture; a culture not really born of individuals, but born of companies; and it has taken over the minds of the youth.

I'll go into more detail in my next post; and I'll try and set out some solutions to this problem. But consumerism is so ingrained in American culture that it's essentially impossible to annihilate completely - perhaps, though, that's a good thing. For the economy, of course.

I apologize for not updating as frequently as I usually do. I'm in the "end-of-school" month, and have AP exams and then real exams. I'll try to keep up as best I can, however.

More later.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Ideal of Egalitarianism

Many people complain about the concept of an "egalitarian" or "equal" society. First off, let me just say that these two things are not the same. 'Egalitarian' is a much more specific term than 'equal.' When one uses the term 'equal,' it can encompass all forms of equality - and, let's face it, not all people are equal. But the point of egalitarianism is to provide equal political, economic, social, and civil rights to all people within a State system. Of course, egalitarianism exists on some level in American society; each and every citizen of the United States is guaranteed equality under the law, with the exception of time periods during which the president has suspended habeas corpus (more recently, the PATRIOT Act is also an exception to this rule - something that should be curtailed). Egalitarianism, however, does not exist at the level it should. Discrimination still occurs; social inequality is very common; and obviously economic inequality exists at an outstanding level. Theoretically, all people should be temporally equal (I think all people would agree to this statement on a theoretical level) - but this, as we know, is a virtual impossibility in today's society. Egalitarianism exists as a theory to be used in while striving for this 'perfect' society.

But what problems do people have with egalitarianism? It is a great ideal; that is impossible to deny.

Perhaps their disagreement exists as a matter of pure belief. Maybe these people do not believe in an equal society - maybe these people believe that people are meant to be in constant social conflict; that all humans do not deserve to be equal in any way, and that it is only by race or money that the social level of a person should be determined. I do not believe that this particular disagreement is held by very many, for it's rather ridiculous. I shall then reserve this disagreement for the religious, political, economic, and social extremists.

Perhaps their disagreement comes in the form of confusing 'egalitarianism' with 'equality.' As I stated earlier, people are not equal - each single person is an individual, and each has their own merit and abilities. There is not way to correct mental, psychological, or spiritual inequality. Yet egalitarianism is an attempt to bridge the other gaps of inequality - we're all human beings, and we should be as equal as possible; that means equal in political, economic, social, and civil rights. Or at least as close to equality in those areas as possible. Thus I will reserve this disagreement for those unlearned or ignorant among us - the number of which is discomfortingly large.

Most likely their disagreement lies in the fact that the ideal of egalitarianism is just that - an ideal. It seems that it will never be fully actualized; that it will always be a figment of the Progressive or Liberal imagination. I must ask though...

So what?

Should a great ideal be abandoned - should all work towards that ultimate goal be halted, merely because it is an ideal? Certainly not. The point of an ideal is something to strive for - and to improve things as much as possible while moving towards that ideal; and getting as close as possible. And this can only be done through mass effort on the part of the people. There are always advances that can be made in society concerning the general, temporal equality of the people - this will never change, especially since humanity and society in general constantly evolves and grows through Progress.

We must work towards national - then international - egalitarianism, and we must work to the best of our ability to ensure all a stable economic, social, and political basis - and access to their very rights as humans, as defined by modern society. Don't give up on an ideal just because it is an ideal; that is, perhaps, one of the most foolish mistakes one could possibly make.