I’m feeling down in the dumps these days, and much of my mood is caused by following “the news.” When I do this, I see that on the national level we are represented by a people functioning as psychopathic ignoramuses, with very few exceptions. That’s what our political system does to virtually every person who goes to Washington. We’ve designed an electoral system almost guaranteed to repulse any honest and decent human being. I don’t like to think these thoughts, because letting these ideas soak into much will cause one to stop trying, and I truly despise the idea of not trying.
As I battle my own dark thoughts about America and its political “leaders,” I’m almost finished reading a 900-page collection of George Carlin’s writings titled An Orgy of George. I’m thinking that it might be healthier to let Carlin articulate my dark thoughts so that I can move on to more positive ideas (Carlin can also be upbeat and playful–If you’ve enjoyed his stand-up routines, you’ll enjoy much of this book). In other words, I have recently been engaging in a Carlin catharsis, and here are some of Carlin’s thoughts that seem the most sardonically vivid to me in these difficult times (the following passages, tiny passages from a huge book, are quotes):
If you want to know how fucked up the people in this country are, just look at television. Not the programs, not the news. The commercials. Just watch only the commercials for about a week, and you’ll see how fucked up the people in this country really are.
Think of how it all started: America was founded by slave owners who informed us, “All men are created equal.” All “men,” except Indians, niggers, and women. Remember, the Founders were a small group of unelected, white, male, land-holding slave owners who also, by the way, suggested their class be the only one allowed to vote. To my mind, that is what’s known as being stunningly–and embarrassingly–full of shit. And everybody bought it. All Americans bought it.
And those same Americans continue to show their ignorance with all this nonsense about wanting their politicians to be honest. What are these cretins thinking? Do they realize what they’re wishing for? If honesty were suddenly introduced into American life, everything would collapse. It would destroy this country, because our system is based on an intricate and delicately balanced system of lies.
When the United States is not invading some sovereign nation–or setting it on fire from the air, which is more fun for our simple-minded pilots-we’re usually busy “declaring war” on something here at home. Anything we don’t like about ourselves, we declare war on. We don’t do anything about it, we just declare war. “Declaring war” is our only public metaphor for problem solving. We have a war on crime, a war on poverty, a war on hate, a war on litter, a war on cancer, a war on violence, and Ronald Reagan’s ultimate joke, the war on drugs. More accurately, the war on the Constitution.
I don’t mind leaving my house as long as I don’t have to look at a lot of unattractive Americans in the process. Visors, logo hats, fat thighs, bare bellies, bad haircuts, halter tops, cheap sneakers, camcorders, and unattractive children wearing blank expressions. God, these people are ugly. I stay home a lot.
I think many years ago an advanced civilization intervened with us genetically and gave us just enough intelligence to develop dangerous technology but not enough to use it wisely. Then they said back to watch the fun. Kind of like a human zoo. And you know what? They’re getting their money’s worth.
People in Washington say it’s not the initial offense that gets you in trouble. It’s the cover-up. They say you should admit what you did, get the story out, and move on. What this overlooks is the fact that most of the time the cover-up works just fine, and nobody finds out anything. I would imagine that’s the rule rather than the exception. My advice: take a chance. Lie.
Drug dealers aren’t afraid to die. They’re already killing each other by the hundreds every day. Drive-bys, turf wars, gang killings. They’re not afraid to die. The death penalty means very little unless you use it on people who are afraid to die. Like the bankers who launder the drug money.… And I guarantee you one thing: you start nailing one white banker per week to a big wooden cross on national television, and you’re going to see that drug traffic began to slow down mighty fuckin’ quick. Why, you won’t even be able to buy drugs in schools and prisons anymore.
You know where the sanctity of life comes from? We made it up. You know why? Because we’re alive. Self-interest! Living people have a strong incentive to promote the idea that somehow life is sacred. You don’t see if Bing Crosby running around talking about that shit, do you? You don’t hear much from Mussolini on the subject. And what’s the latest from JFK? Not a God damned thing! … The only people who care about it are the living. So the whole thing grows out of a biased point of view. It’s a self-serving, man-made bullshit story; one of those things we tell ourselves in order to feel noble. “Life is sacred.” Makes us feel good.”
In the midst of all my bitching, you might’ve noticed that I never complain about politicians. I leave that to others. And there’s no shortage of volunteers; everyone complains about politicians. Everyone says they suck. But where do people think these politicians come from? They don’t fall out of sky; they don’t pass through a membrane from a separate reality. They come from American homes, American families, American schools, American churches, and American businesses. And their elected by American voters. This is what our system produces, folks. This is the best we can do. Let’s face it, we have very little to work with. Garbage in, garbage out. Ignorant citizens elect ignorant leaders, it’s as simple as that.… So maybe it’s not the politicians who suck; maybe it’s something else. Like the public. That would be nice realistic campaign slogan for somebody: “the public sucks. Elect me.” Put the blame where it belongs: on the people.
I don’t vote because I firmly believe that if you vote, you have no right to complain. I know some people like to twist that around and say, “If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain.” But where’s the logic in that? Think it through: if you vote, and you elect dishonest incompetent politicians, and they screw things up, then you’re responsible for what they’ve done. You voted them in. You caused the problem. You have no right to complain.
We are a war-like people. We can’t stand not to be fucking with someone. We couldn’t wait for the Cold War to end so we could climb into the big Arab sandbox and play with our nice new toys. We enjoy a war. And one reason we enjoy it is that we’re good at it. You know why were good at it? Because we get a lot of practice. This country is only 200 years old and already we’ve had 10 major wars. We average a major war every 20 years. So were good at it! And it’s just as well we are, because were not very good at anything else. Can’t build a decent car anymore. Can make a TV set, a cell phone, or a VCR. Got no steel industry left. No textiles. Can’t educate our young people. Can’t get healthcare to her old people. We can bomb the shit out of your country, all right. We can bomb the shit out of your country! Especially if your country is full of brown people.
My first rule: never believe anything anyone in authority says. None of them. Government, police, clergy, the corporate criminals. None of them. And neither do I believe anything am told by the media, who, in the case of the Gulf War, function as little more than unpaid employees of the Defense Department, and who, most of the time, operate as an unofficial public-relations agency for the government and industry.
I’ve noticed Americans have a problem with reality; they prefer to avoid the truth and not look it in the eye. I think it’s one of the consequences of being fat and prosperous and too comfortable. So naturally, as time has passed, and we’ve grown fatter and more prosperous, the problem has gotten worse.
Judging from the results of focus groups, polls and election returns that I’ve seen, and watching the advertising directed at Americans, I’d say the American people are a lot dumber than they’re given credit for. As one example, just look at the individuals they keep sending to the state houses and Washington to represent them. Look also at what they’ve done to their once beautiful country and its landscape.
Dear political activists: All your chanting, marching, voting, picketing, boycotting and letter writing will not change a thing; you will never right the wrongs of the world. The only thing your activity will compress is to make some of you feel better. Such activity makes power less people feel useful, and provides them the illusion that they’re making a difference. But it doesn’t work. Nothing changes. The powerful keep the power. That’s why they’re called the powerful.
I don’t want and this post on Carlin’s quotes, because I don’t believe in ending conversations on such strong negative notes. I will recite one more quote, then, spoken by Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird:
I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand,” he tells his children. “It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.