Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Long Run

The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you're inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save.

But until we do, these people are still a part of that system, and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.

Like Arthur Jensen's the-world-is-a-corporation speech in Network, Morpheus' observation was prophetic. Increasing numbers of people question the system that owns us. Some are tentative, curious. Others want direct confrontation. Most desire relief from uncertainty. It's still early and in flux. But it's happening.

Reaction has been predictable. Right wing megaphones drone about socialist threats. Commentators condescend, even when trying to "get" what the kids are doing.

On Bill Maher's Real Time, P.J. O'Rourke, who's played a conservative curmudgeon since his late-20s, finally acted his age, denouncing Wall Street protesters as unwashed bongo drummers who need haircuts. Former SNL cast member Victoria Jackson peppered protesters with inane questions -- a wince-inducing Michael Moore impression.

Overall, the consensus is: How much longer does this go on? When will these people go away?

I wonder about that, too. And I support the Occupiers. It helps that the protests attract military personnel, union workers, average people fed up with the status quo. This can only widen and deepen resistance. But where does it lead? What's the next stage?

Naturally, the Democrats try to usher protesters into their tent, co-optation their prized tactic. So far this has failed. Obama represents the owners, forcing his apologists to strain reality on the run. As the election nears, a good number of those bashing Wall Street will vote for its favored candidate.

Someone like Rick Perry will make this easier to swallow. But if Mitt Romney gets the nod, attempts to separate Obama from his GOP reflection may prove comic indeed (especially after the news that Romney's advisers helped Obama craft his health care "reform"). The key is that current momentum isn't lost amid partisan noise.

As many of my political friends have noted, it's stirring to see anti-corporate arguments becoming mainstream. For those who spent decades shouting from the margins, this upturn in consciousness made it all worthwhile.

And this is just in the States. Global awareness and action grows by the hour. Elites are nervous, but remain secure. There are countless millions who accept the system as it is, or feel too powerless to confront it. The latter have examples to inspire and follow. The former spin excuses for those indifferent to their lives. These people may be the hardest to reach.

Friend Jon Schwarz found tragic comedy in this. The 53 Percenters claim comfort in the Matrix. Inevitable. Thinking beyond immediate conditions takes effort when you're boxed in. Acting on desire instead of obedience requires leaps most people fear to make. Changing the world isn't easy. Or safe. Or necessarily probable. But the current system guarantees alienation and downward mobility.

The 53 Percenters acknowledge this, yet celebrate it as a virtue. To unplug is to realize that the spectacle is a lie. Welcome to the real world.