Vox UnPopuli

The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.  ~Albert Camus
Politics, Money and Culture

Politics, money and culture are intertwined in an immense Gordian knot. It is a condition that has become accepted as normal social currency. However, it is not normal, and the co-mingling has produced a force which exploits society's willingness to substitute pleasure and power for value and meaning. The arts are legitimately used to raise awareness and help resolve issues that affect society. But they are also used as tools for achieving crass political ends.

Politics (the act of influencing actions and policies for the purpose of gaining and keeping power) has become like something straight out of a Kurt Vonnegut novel. There's an uncanny resemblance to the writer's comically addled characters and absurd story lines. The line between reality and satire has become so blurred, it's sometimes difficult to tell which is which. It provides fertile soil for writers and entertainers, but otherwise creates confusion and disillusionment.

Culture (the mythology of a society expressed through the humanities and science) has become a debris field, contaminated by an unending stream of success-toting false prophets, and littered with victims of the insatiable appetite for money and power. Culture ought to be a beacon of truth, creating a vital mythology of place and time that speaks from and to the human soul. Politics/government can be used to either empower or hinder society's engagement with that truth. The present reality is a political pop-culture, an unhealthy form of toxic symbiosis, with each using the other as fodder for propaganda to further cynical purposes and mostly separate ends.

What the political pop-culture presents as truth is a fraud. It is culture and the arts in service to aggregated power. That same power props up and manipulates a pseudo-mythology based on fads, appetites and the lowest common denominator in social craving - all done to sell the latest non-essential or worthless superficiality. In reality, it is censorship. It represents the suppression and subversion of authentic self-expression.


Media Mania

Having a constitutionally guaranteed free press is supposed to mean having access to media which is not restricted by censorship in political, ideological or cultural matters. At its best, it would empower authentic self-expression by exposing the fraud created by those who pretend to hold the keys. But those same pretenders know that suppression of a free press is the most effective way to guarantee the effective use of propaganda.

Special interests work hard to prevent transparency in government. We know from history that governments which lack transparency are ripe for trouble. And our recent history has demonstrated a disturbing aversion to the disclosure of "secret" information (Edward Snowden). This begs the question - just what is "big media" ignoring or being inhibited from reporting?

Ironically, a seemingly simple idea like government of, by, and for the people will mean different things to different people. The Tea Party member in Kansas and the Democratic Socialist in New York have very different interpretations. Even as ideologies debate the definition of "person", Citizens United endows corporations with personhood, which further erodes the ideal of a representative government already under siege by special interests and big money. It's all good for the political pop-culture and its beneficiaries, but it is soul-killing in its effect on society as an organic system.

The appearance of what's called alternative media (not to be confused with the Alt-right), including citizen journalism and collaborative journalism, is one response to what some believe is the sell-out by big media outlets to the power brokers. The alternative media that I've seen, tend to be left leaning. Many are militantly iconoclastic with distinct axes to grind. Personally, I have found value in some of them, but absurdity as well.


Loosening the Knot

"Turn on, tune in, drop out" was a phrase popularized by Timothy Leary in the 1960's. He spoke about using psychedelic drugs to gain freedom from a sterile, conforming and ultimately fraudulent culture. I've been thinking about this phrase in connection with political pop-culture. I see a link, but in a nuanced (and a less drug-induced) way - and it may offer a way out of the conundrum.

By flipping the phrase to drop out, tune in, turn on, a pathway just might be revealed.

First, drop out of political pop-culture. Refuse to be seduced by the lure of an easy, mindless, synthetic and superficial approach to life's challenges. Take responsibility for becoming informed without leaving it to the talking heads (mainstream media).

Next, tune in to a more mindful, sustainable and authentic lifestyle. Nurture the Right side of the brain. Take responsibility for one's own physical, mental and spiritual well being. That includes community well being, as in neighborhood, town, state, country and planet.

Doing the first two things allows the freedom to turn on one's creative core. This emancipation opens one to experience joyful living from the soulful center, which is our unique and infinitely powerful birthright.

Individual and community mythologies would then be free to take form organically, without being shaped by the influence of political agencies whose only interest is in perpetuating themselves through their soul-stealing fraud.

Admittedly, this short summary presents a simplified solution to a complex challenge. It's a simple task that's difficult to do (like passing over the sharp edge of a razor). It requires nothing less than reprogramming oneself after a lifetime of relentless cultural (brainwashing) conditioning.

It requires letting go of long held cherished beliefs. It means realizing that we have been mislead by some of the people and institutions we trusted. It means learning to listen to one's own body, mind and spirit - and trusting the guidance of our innate wisdom - wisdom that transcends any perceived limitation.

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