Monday, October 03, 2011

Art With Meaning

I kind of like this latest wrinkle in the Popular People's Liberation Front of Judea:
Protesters speaking out against corporate greed and other issues in New York City are dressing as corporate zombies and greeting Wall Street workers as they head into the office.
Patrick Bruner, a spokesman for the group, says Occupy Wall Street demonstrators are being urged to dress in business wear with white faces and blood, and will march while eating monopoly money. He says financial workers should see them "reflecting the metaphor of their actions."

It is, of course, a most excellent point to make with respect to the people who are responsible for the mess we are in, and have been for thirty-odd years.

See, it's not just the CEOs of Citibank or Goldman Sachs who bear sole responsibility for this mess, although they bear a massive amount of it. And it's not the heads of the trading desks, or the quants who developed the new casino games of derivatives, or the floor brokers who cynically sent grandma to the poor house.

Altho they too bear a large amount of the responsibility.

It's really all of us: from the people who believed a home was a speculative investment to the secretaries who took dictation from the aforementioned asshats and pleaded for a bigger bonus, to the guy who charged $2 for a soda that cost him 50 cents.

Indeed, anyone who's found a way to game the capitalist system for a few pennies, or a few million. Blame doled out on a proportionate scale.

It's the people who nodded quietly during Wall Street when Gordon Gecko intoned "Greed is good." It's people who cheer (or boo) an athlete who makes a quarter billion dollars a year playing a kid's game. It's people who believe a miniscule, incremental tax hike on genetically lucky Americans is a bad thing because, there but for God's hatred, go I; I could be earning that $10 million compensation package. Stupid parents.

The responsibility lies with people who believe the only measure of a nation's net worth is its monetary wealth, not the well-being of its citizens and those who aspire to citizenship. It lies with people who believe that big government is an obstacle but that big business only has our best interests at heart.

The responsibility lies with churches and sinners, with black and white, with men and women. We sit by and cheer those who would lead us into the abyss, all the while believing the abyss is a bad thing.

It lies with all of us who remain willfully ignorant of the world around us, from the high schooler who can't find England on a globe to the bloggers who deny climate change to the people who somehow believe we can emerge from this financial crisis a better nation.

Maybe eventually, but it will require a massive alteration in the perspective of the American people who remain inundated on a daily basis with urges to "Buy! Buy!! BUY!!!!"

We are all insane. We think working for fifty years enriching someone else then spending the last decades or even years of our lives in futile pursuit of something called "relaxation," while sweating out whether we can stretch our life savings out far enough, and "oh what if I get really sick?" is a full life.

That may have been true, when we made things, and created things, and could find a truth in our work, once upon a time.

But once upon a time only works in fairy tales.

Now we are drones, and even if we do still create some value in this world, its been snapped up, marketed, massaged, and cheapened all in the name of "maximizing profit." And yet, we get up every morning, put on the same damned uniform, be it an actual uniform, overalls, a suit and a tie, or "business casual" (an oxymoron, that). We travel the same road most traveled to find our places in the interchangable corporate cogs, and sit in our cubicle farms, poking our heads up like prairie dogs when something unusual happens (usually, someone runs out of creamer for the coffee.)

We are all zombies on this bus.