STATE OF THE COUNTERCULTURE UNION – c/o Dr. Ryan Bartek (1.27.10)
Tonight President Barack Obama gives The State of the Union address. This is not only the most important speech of his career, but the most significant SOTU moment of my generational demographic. As Americans, we’ve hit a pivotal moment of change. I believe that we are entering a period comparable only to the 1960’s, but confronting all the issues the 60’s dodged in a completely reversed spectrum.
Instead of Nixon, we have Obama. Instead of MLK, we have Sarah Palin. Instead of social revolution, we get the digital revolution. Instead of minority rights, we confront gay rights. The atheist/agnostic movement is coming out of the closet, and the 9/11 Truth Movement is entering mainstream consciousness. Above all, the largest emerging issue will be Neo-Gulf War Syndrome (i.e. the after-effects of Depleted Uranium Munitions). All those Iraq/Afghanistan vets are going to be coming home with radiation poisoning/genetic mutation, multi-form cancer, and an endless rate of “flipper babies” & stillborn children…
As an underground politician of sorts, every overground political season jettisons my tendency to act or feel as if I’m running for office. Despite being a social/cultural radical, there is no hypocrisy in admitting there is a theoretical way a government should be run and openly voting for its inch-by-inch manifestation.
A change in leadership does not alter the machine, yet one must recognize that progression is gradual and that mankind by nature is a herd animal. Never have the Stalin’s of world history been able to eradicate social/familial tradition through some “revolutionary society.” Positive idealism is honorable, but one cannot negate brutal reality. And while I certainly would love to see every American drop out of the mainstream mold and fanatically create some radical new foundation, I know very well that what is desirable for me is not right for society. Thus, I remain a “paradoxical villain” -- as if The Joker were openly voting for Harvey Dent, as it were…
Therefore I openly admit that while American “institutional culture” rightfully deserves extremist subversion – as well as the prevailing cannibalistic economic, political, media, “justice” & educational system – I am essentially a pragmatic realist. Thus, I officially endorse a centrist, moderate government -- because that is what is sane, and that which is effective.
As I noted, a change in leadership does not change the system. This is the issue with Barack Obama. Before any critique ensues, let it be said that I met this man in person amidst a somber moment, far away from the campaign trail or any media hype. Before I even realized it was him, my preternatural sense hit like a lightning rod. Most people are of such a low “vibrational level” I don’t even notice them, because sometimes you can just “feel” a spirit via internal radar.
This guy was like a nuclear power plant, and every fiber of his aura truly good. Had I only the media to rely on and my intense distrust of politicians, I’d most likely be decrying him today. However I knew immediately this was a guy I could trust, and had he been some local nobody, we’d probably be hanging out right now smoking ganja on a sofa, watching A-Team reruns.
Back to the point. As a pragmatic centrist, Obama has successfully opened the Pandora’s Box on every major political shift -- yet I, of course, would have done far more, far radically and already been assassinated by now. What is needed to save the American economy is a manifold approach of proven effectiveness – chiefly a low-ball variant of European Democratic Socialism combined with a fairly regulated Free Market Economy. Obama knows this, the euro-intelligentsia know this, but 300+ years of American Bureaucracy & Apple Pie Tradition won’t allow it. As a result, this “Recession” will last the rest of our adult primes, and won’t be getting much better, especially if the GOP takes over in the coming elections. For extremely decimating real-time figures, visit --http://cohort11.americanobserver.net/latoyaegwuekwe/multimediafinal.html
Mussolini might have been a monster, but never forget that the “Corporate State” was the only economic model in the world that actually beat The Great Depression. Not because of the half-ass, partially erected “Corporate State” [which was more a propaganda front then anything] -- but because the entire economy was in fact a massive public works project (FDR’s New Deal was modeled primarily after Fascist Italy). Many of these methods can be utilized again while entirely expunging the Fascist ethos. Yet how do you explain that to a terrorized majority of Reagan Revolutionaries & Die-Hard Evangelicals?
True, I am this wool-dyed anarcho-counterculture radical that is completely against military aggression, imperialism, etc – but we must recognize that Afghanistan is where the problem is, and it must be confronted. As much as I detest authority and violence, I acknowledge that the “War on Terror” is essential – but it’s not a conventional ground war. It must remain a wide-ranging police effort, conducted through SWAT/ surveillance.
As a Head of State, it is Obama’s duty to flex military muscle where needed. Al Qaeda must be destroyed (as well as, you know, whoever actually rigged the demolition of WTC I/II & VII). Unfortunately we’re stuck with bitter realities that do not coalesce will with our idealism. We acknowledge that we are of Dystopian stock, and our language is hope through cynicism. So what is the alternative? The only one we have – individually live as prime examples of the world we wish to manifest, even if to some extent our hands must remain partially unclean…
Obama wants to be the People’s President, and I’m astounded to hear an American president rail against Wall Street so aggressively. Never has a president been this transparent. Has anyone reading this actually been to the official site www.WhiteHouse.Gov ??? Everything the man has done, day by day, has been posted to the public – the downloadable/viewable document of every piece of legislation. Again, a first for a TV President, and setting the bar for all future presidencies to come.
In my sincerest view, I deeply believe Obama is a genuinely decent human being that won power by fluke, and is now beleaguered by all the seemingly hypocritical themes I’ve entailed above. This is a man that busted his ass to get through college and got into politics to try and help. He spent most his free time as a social worker in South Side Chicago, single-handedly manufacturing one of the highest recidivism-killing rates of that areas history. He was not created by a “power elite” base, and above all he is the first president EVER to have no direct ties to Skull & Bones. Unless he turns this propaganda war around (which he already seems to have lost), he’ll be a lame duck in the history books.
Obama “gets it,” but the problem is Americans do not. Americans receive the majority of their information from AP/Reuters or Fox News but they do not understand that Fox News is not a news channel but a propaganda source niche-marketed to appeal to an angry right-wing base. Democrats/Independents could be arguing to legalize oxygen, and because they are the opposite side, Fox would be against it.
Obama needs to speak down to the American public like the frightened, ignorant children they are, and give them sustained slogans & sound bytes. He needs to directly say “I am not a Marxist Lunatic” or “No one wants to live in the Soviet Union, let alone myself.” He needs to directly confront the most ridiculous accusations, not keep playing this “plain folks” Uncle Tom card. Or maybe he’ll just snap and start ranting & screaming at Americans for being so fucking stupid about virtually everything.
Which brings us to Health Care Reform. It can be argued that it should be done this way or that way, but what cannot be argued is that nothing should change. Not only are we the laughing stock of the world (ranking #37, just above Slovenia), but millions are dying as a result each year. There is something seriously wrong when I’ll be charged a felony for concealing penicillin without documentation, and when every insurance company has a “pre-existing condition” clause-moderating taskforce that just hovers over data-mining caches like vultures scheming for the smallest legality. It’s depressing and shameful.
How can one not look at the conditions of pre-Union factory capitalism and not be able to apply it to the medical field? What’s more insulting to you -- working 12 brutal hours a day for bread and soup, or randomly getting mauled by a pitbull and waking up 3 days later with a $45,000 tab? Having some basic form of socialized medicine available to every American is just as important as women being allowed to vote or black people not being slaves. And I don’t respect this ass-ugly “illegal alien” card the GOP’s playing. “Oh you’re bleeding to death in the ER room? Oh you’re Mexican? No ID? Fuck you, go die in the street.”
Instead of MLK, we get the first major anti-feminist female politician Sarah Palin marching through the streets with a legion of mullet evangelicals. These Nascar people are actually taking it to the level of Obama’s blown up mugshot with a scribbled Hilter ‘stash. They never bothered to even read the health legislation or grasp how it would work, and like always they were immediately cowed into complacency & fear through sound byte repetition. What’s new is different and what’s different is therefore scary, and even if what we have on our hands is the apocalypse at least we’ve seen The Road Warrior 12 dozen times and have an idea what to expect.
The ingurgitation is nasty, panoramic. What people don’t understand is that these sort of social programs are such a small percentage of the annual budget – some 5%. Another 85%+ goes to the never-ending black hole of military expenditure. Nobody wants to pay for serious welfare leeches, but every one of those slobs combined barely equals the cost of keeping one of our 1,500 nuclear missiles ever-ready for launch. I mean, come on, can’t we get by just destroying all human life 100 times over rather then 6 million or so?
Yes, there was still debate to be had -- but instead of trying to sift through it rationally this legislation was rejected outright despite having the backing of every major medical group not tied to massive insurance companies. The House-backed Health Care Plan would have made pre-existing condition exemption illegal, would have forced insurance companies to supply 85 cents worth of treatment per dollar (compared to the free reign percentage now in play), saved 3 trillion dollars over the next 20 years, supplied health care to 90% of the population, and made every plan in America cheaper by default.
It would have offered the public not some monstrous government run health care system but the ability to independently buy into a public option like you can car insurance – i.e. the same health care plan EVERYONE in Congress/Senate has. $70 a month, done deal, and under this plan you had a 2 year grace period before you could choose to either keep it or sign off on it. But hooking it up that fat is, of course, “commie-antichrist” action – or just something so fantastical sounding it was bound to implode and make things worse.
So now all these people who for one second “got it” are running back to the Cheney mob after the smallest glitter of hope set in their eyes. It’s akin to the slave running back to his master two months after the Civil War because he knows nothing else. Again, the whole Mad Max thing…
***So here we are. I’ve been beaten back to the South on a Tropical Island, isolated like Napoleon post-Waterloo. America is caving in at every angle, and I’m surrounded by white sand and ocean, working the lowest job on the face of the planet for 15 hours a week at minimum wage, amazed that I have even this when the county I’m in is around 30-40% unemployment. When not emailing “THE BIG SHINY PRISON” to everyone on earth I ride around on a bike, cruising a tourist trap that has no tourists because no one has money to go on vacation. There are some Italians here and there, but they are slight and hording green…
I try not to cave into hopelessness, as are the vast majority of people in my predicament. It was always my contention that no matter how bad it got, one could always find a couch to rent and a full time job at some fast food chain. But now it’s to the point where grown men with college degrees are scrapping for part-time McDonalds jobs. This is not the future I envisioned.
Thus, like many, I come to sobering clarity. I graduated high school in 1999, and I’m pushing 30. I was told I would never amount to anything. My pre-ordained fate was to be some blue-collar auto-worker guy in Detroit, or droning it as a factory line-worker. I came from a struggling only mother/single child household, and I have very little blood family who are in far more dire shape then I – and all of them in Michigan, economically the worst place to be right now in the USA.
I left Detroit at the dawn of 2007 and went everywhere over the next 3 years. My plan from the outset was such – build as big a network as possible, and when I could go no more simply pick the best option and roll with it. As a result I met many new life-long friends along the way and had the adventure of a lifetime. But now as I roll up my sleeves to get back to work, I find the bottom has completely fallen out and I’ve fallen through the cracks with millions of Americans.
80% of everyone I know are destitute, on unemployment, hammered by debt, involuntarily working part time at best – coagulating in nests like apocalyptic tribes. A horrid amount have had to face the humiliation of moving back in with their parents, or even worse – forced to take care of their parents because they lost their homes and jobs. Everyone on Michigan is on unemployment, and its lifeline hangs by a thread. What happens when the funds dry up this year? What then? I feel like Princess Laia forced to watch her home planet blown up by The Death Star, but George Bush is cackling under that Vader helmet and Cheney is the hooded Palpatine on the throne.
There’s just no going back.
I wanted to be a journalist, to be an artist and writer of some repute, able to tour at will and travel frequently. I wanted to live in some capacity in every major city of the USA. I accomplished all these goals, and on the eve of my greatest professional triumph, the entire print industry died like the extinction of the dinosaurs. Now journalism students are being taught how to successfully employ pop-up ads through online Daily sites, as if this is all their career amounts to.
The cyber-radicals have won the digital war – but at what cost? While I’m idealistically slap-happy about this, it’s still a bummer. I always thought that print media would survive in some capacity, at least the important outlets. Well, we still have Terrorizer, Wizard & Rue Morgue right?
My plan was to do the Euro-sequel to “THE BIG SHINY PRISON” this year. Instead I’ve been fire-walled. It seemed reasonable to think one could amass 3 grand over 6 months. Instead I’ve been batted all over the country into yet another untenable position.
At this point I’m not thinking of Paris – I’m scrambling to create a foothold in Portland or Seattle. That’s where my life is, and all I want to do is go home, start a tiny local band & play a million shows. It’s not that I want to be some heating/cooling guy, but it seems my only workable option is tech-school training. I’m old, tired, and physically incapable of going back to the street in terms of Crust World. That era is gone, through I fear I may have no alternative.
So the bigger question to tackle, in general here, in re: to the whole “subliminally convincing myself I’m running for office” political season thing. The parallels exist between Obama and I in abstract ways, and in a sense I too feel that I ran a personal campaign at the same time. In the end I felt I was given a panoramic vote of confidence. When securely in action, while Obama attempted the Health Bill, I attempted my own “legislation” – chiefly “THE BIG SHINY PRISON.” Both of us tried valiantly to make it a reality, and both of us have failed because the forces of old ruling the castle.
The message is loud and clear – the vast majority of major metal/punk outlets have outright refused to run any press on this book. And this is not delusion, because I was in constant contact for a number of years with many enthusiastic parties promising all sorts of help the moment I let it loose. The second they do finally get it, they won’t even return an email.
I’m not stupid -- either people are appalled by the content in itself or simply the audacity to make myself the centerpiece of the narrative. They get the joke, but the jokes not funny – it’s slimy, dangerous, and sure to put “scary ideas” in people’s heads. “THE BIG SHINY PRISON” openly shits on every sacred scenester principle, because quite frankly someone needed to say it; someone had to go this far. But the real question is do they think I’m an asshole, or do they just outright fear it?
Still, it would be unfair to claim that all of this silence is caustic. Chances are most are in the middle of reading it. After all, it has only been circulating for 2 months, and when cropped out at 2x space/12 point font, it comes out to 600 something pages (without photos, mind you).
Time will tell. I just wish people would speak up rather then perpetuate a hushed silence. After emailing it to 10,000 people and tagging another 10,000, all I have to show is 1440 downloads and a handful of blog mentions. But its slow & steady, and it’s not going away. There’s something magical about dropping such a thing in the most economically devastating, arctic winter imaginable. Besides, how else would it get to its audience? A book for those who don’t read passed off in the blaze of the summer? Fuck no. The Death of the American Economy only aids my cause, since people have plenty of time on their hands.
In about 3 hours, Obama will speak. So I wish to end this abruptly. To anyone entrapped by identical hell – all those rebels & dreamers – here is what I say: There is strength in numbers, and that is why I advocate “subculture colonization.” This is not a dangerous or absurd notion, but rather a necessary ideal that will only contribute to the sustained organic growth of the counterculture movement. In short, my message is to quit duking it out in the middle of nowhere and just relocate to one of many major epicenters of activity.
I’ve traversed every corner of the nation and the future blueprint is as follows – Seattle/PDX in the Northwest, The Bay Area in California, Albuquerque/Austin in the Southwest, Denver in central, Tampa/Orlando in the tropics, either Chicago or Philly in the Midwest, and somewhere strategic in the Tri-State near NYC. Both Detroit and New Orleans have amazing scenes and the greatest potential for rebirth, but you might as well be walking into Mad Max.
If you ask me personally -- hands down – the Seattle/Portland Axis is where it’s at. All you have to do is show up with a backpack, a few bucks, know your etiquette and be ultra-social -- someone somewhere will grant you asylum, guaranteed. Just trust me -- once any serious artist/musician embeds themselves within Seattle/PDX culture, you’ll never look back…
And such is my rant… Thanks for listening.
- Dr. Ryan Bartek
Fictional Head of State; The Pan-Tribal Socialist International