Bill Hicks used to have this bit about how if you watched cable news all day, you’d think the entire world was burning down. Tune in to CNN, he said, and it was nothing but “WAR. FAMINE. DEATH. AIDS. WAR. FAMINE. DEATH. AIDS.” But when you looked outside the door it was all birds chirping and sunshine.
The bit worked because, for most of the people listening to Hicks, life was pretty easy. It was America in the late 80s and early 90s. Things were pretty good here. The most upsetting thing we had to deal with was OJ Simpson’s relationship philosophy and Bill Clinton’s rapey philandering. The cable news stations were just figuring out that fear generated better ratings. It was the beginning of the “if it bleeds, it leads” era of news reporting. Now we are in the “let’s make them bleed so we have a lead” infotainment era.
The thing is, the world really is all about WAR, FAMINE, DEATH, and AIDS. Most of the planet is a festering slum and it got that way by feeding the appetites of the first world.
The world as it is seems objectively worse than it was while Hicks was alive. The news barely even reports on the physical manifestations of the Four Horsemen. They’re a given. Now our media performs an elaborate, ritualistic dance of blame placement. Of course we dropped a cancer causing missile on some brown people, but who among us is to blame? It’s not my guy. No fucking way.
When the news shouts “WAR. FAMINE. DEATH. AIDS.” I still look out my window, but now I see slums at my doorstep. I step over trash and needles and primates with poor impulse control. Police helicopters circle over what are effectively bands of child soldiers. Wealthy technocrats invent new ways to wall off reality from their gilded hoodies. Newspeak gurus and their design thinking cronies homogenize our culture with clean surfaces, calls to action, and the promise of doing nothing we don’t want.
All the things open border opponents fear coming into this country are simply the natural state of the world under the rule of man creeping into the world’s largest gated community. The rich and powerful are right to fear the assault of peasant cultures. It is rapidly becoming the time of guillotines and the blades of the poor are hungry for the blood of the rich.
An ahistorical occurrence is that so many middle class minded people believe that accumulating debt is a substitute for wealth. They are slowly becoming aware their lives are precariously close to ending up in gutters if they can’t pay their ever increasing bills. The cost of goods rises and the value of most kinds of labor is dropping. The fix is in and the future is dark for anyone aging out of the workforce or committing to narrow fields of expertise.
If the kind of work you do can be automated, good fucking luck. The robots are here and they don’t ask for $15 an hour. Chances are the technician who will repair the robot that took your shitty job won’t even make $15 an hour. It’ll probably be cheaper to replace the robot anyway; sending the old unit to Africa to have its plastic bones picked clean of precious conflict minerals to be recycled into the next generation of disruptive appliances.
The people who invent this shit will be well compensated until the second world wakes up to the fact that it too can make versatile solutions for modern living. As it says in the Old Testament, and also GZA’s masterful Liquid Swords, “the first shall be last, the last shall be first.”
Ok, so it’s clear we’re living in a planet of slums, the poor are at the gates, our luxuries have poisoned the world, and the last of us will be buried in trash. What now? Most religions and political theories are an attempt to address these type of issues, but we’ve tried pretty much everything at this point. I’m not sure there’s much left to do except put the chairs up on the table and turn the lights off.
Humpday. Am I right?