Society in decay In a society in decayp, politics become theater, politicians become buffoons or villains, and members of the audience become manipulated zombies. The elite hollow out the democratic system in order to serve the corporate state and military complex; they rule through created images and use media to spread propaganda. We watch protestations of entitlement and indignation when confronted by taxpayers when banks, financial institutions and corporations shovel out huge bonuses even as their enterprises go bankrupt. These thespians of government and industry exhibit empathy for the working class … those who work long hours for lower pay, reduced health care benefits and loss of pension plans … while behind the scenes, they scheme to weaken labor unions, resist health and safety laws, bring in low-wage immigrants to take over U.S. worker's jobs, and whisk their profits to off-shore bank accounts. They make promises to desperate families they know they will never keep. When the lights go on they read their lines with appropriate emotion. After the lights go off, they make sure large corporations have the hundreds of billions of dollars in losses they incurred playing casino capitalism repaid with taxpayer money. Our universities turn out corporate drones that chase after defense-related grants designed to kill and destroy, not heal and build. Our vocational factories produce workers trained to be obedient, punctual and acquiescent, not critical thinkers or active participants in the building process. Our humanities training, the discipline that shapes our ability to stand back and ask the broad moral questions of meaning and purpose, that challenges the validity of institutions, that empowers us to be self-reflective and self-critical of our learned cultural assumptions, have withered. Our press, which could produce intellectual and moral questioning, replaces critical thinking with carnival, problem solving with blaming and accusations, conflict resolution with war mongering, healthy mind, body and spirit with hedonistic indulgences, and community building with hate mongering. Instead of giving voice to critics who challenge outrageous bonus payment or bailout, media produces advertising propaganda in support of government and corporate greed. We indulge a cult of the self, elaborately constructed by the authors of our consumer society. We neglect compassion and care for the less fortunate, while pretending that the wealthy deserve their wealth and created it on their own without the help of others. We deny the value of labor while kneeling at the foot of money. Our families, educators, the media, and self-help gurus tell us to be "successful" and the means used to attain what we want do not matter. Success, defined in terms of money and power, is its own justification. Our capacity to exploit, dominate and manipulate becomes obvious as demonstrated by the heroes we hold up as examples. The moral decay of an individual terrifies and is dangerous. The decaying society, as revealed in economic collapse, terrifies and is as dangerous. The decaying society becomes theater with comedy and tragedy on stage. Joan Denoo Sunday, March 29, 2009