‘Stay Classy San Diego’ and Other Sordid Tales of the Pandemic

by on May 4, 2020 · 4 comments

in Health, San Diego, Under the Perfect Sun

By Jim Miller

The lunacy just keeps coming with the President’s corporate-funded brown shirts staging armed astroturf protests in Michigan and unarmed displays of batshit crazy elsewhere across the country, angrily agitating for an end to state governments’ oppressive attempts to keep more people from dying.  Doug Porter ably outlined some of the key aspects of these festivals of hysteria and hate last week in his blog , [Ed.: here on the OB Rag as well] but I think what we are seeing is a phenomenon that is both a transparent bit of obscene political theatre and a manifestation of a much deeper pathology.

Back in the beginning of 2018, I observed in this space that the previous year had been a time of “generalized rage,” as Noam Chomsky aptly puts it.  For Chomsky, the collapse of belief in American institutions of all sorts has produced a nihilistic disillusionment that has led to a generalized rage that effectively erodes all the bonds of solidarity that hold society together because this kind of unfocused, flailing anger is deeply corrosive, not just towards social and political institutions, but on human empathy itself.  The end result of this is a politics in the service of an ugly society driven only by the principle of selfishness.

I argued then that what we were seeing was generalized rage not only as a campaign tactic but as a governing strategy.  It’s not just about dividing and conquering in the service of oligarchy anymore as I wrote at the time:

[O]nce unleashed, the generalized rage now at play in the country transcends the economic.  In our fundamentally alienated, radically atomized social sphere where unseen trolls lurk and molest online and in other realms in the dark forest of our social Id, anything is possible.  In the universe of mean Tweets where real people recede and become targets like those in a violent video game, it’s easy to go for the kill.

I observed that a culture driven by this emotion had the ethics of the Vegas shooter, “Because when your operating principle is generalized rage, there are no limits, nobody to tell you what to do or who to care about.  There is nothing at your core.”  And that’s the way it feels now, but not just when you see wingnuts with guns demanding haircuts on TV.

I see the same kind of pathologically radicalized individualism when I walk by the newly opened golf course near my house in my mask in the midst of a pandemic and see middle aged white guys, unmasked, shaking hands and high-fiving while the “security” guy sits on his cart and stares at his phone.  And I’m sure that the twenty-some pairs of golfers (yes I counted as I walked by) that I saw blatantly ignoring social distancing rules were all married or roommates too, just like the crew of 30-somethings in the giant house party next door to my home as I write this column on Friday afternoon.

Then there’s the mayor of San Diego who can look at pictures of big crowds at the beaches clearly ignoring the health guidelines and cheer, “Stay classy, San Diego.”  Of course, that ridiculous statement was in the service of pushing to hastily re-open the city to start up the economy so we can return to “normal”—a world where hyper-consumerist values rule and our immediate gratification is what matters most, no matter the social, economic, or environmental costs.

It’s true that, if you believe the polls, most of us still want to do the right thing and follow the health guidelines to prevent a huge second surge of disease and death with the subsequent, even worse economic carnage it will cause. But there is a large swath of Americans across the country and right here in classy San Diego who will do whatever the fuck they want to — even if that means killing more people and further gutting the economic engine they kneel and pray to—just because they feel like it.

Because, you know, “freedom.”

And that kind of selfishness may not always be driven by rage, but it still reveals a blank nihilism that only people who are beyond alienation can manifest so clearly.

This easy American life knows no pity.

 

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar Christopher May 4, 2020 at 11:08 am

Absolutely this is a 100 percent serious situation. If we do not re-open safely there is fair chance things could get bad again. However if we do not re-open soon enough the chances are 100 percent the livelihood of millions of Americans will be damaged for years to come and the economy becoming an even greater disaster — which will make recovery so much worse if and when this happens again. The only other thing I will say is that once businesses re-open, you are NOT REQUIRED to patronize these businesses right away. If you still fear for yours and your loved ones’ safety, by all means, stay away and stay in. But for those of us who feel we can go out safely, and spend money at these businesses to help them back on their feet, please let us do so.

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Avatar Roy Batty May 5, 2020 at 8:00 am

Quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it? That’s what it is to be a slave.

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Avatar Geoff Page May 5, 2020 at 11:24 am

What? People live in fear all the time, what does that have to do with slavery? This pandemic is just one more thing to be afraid of to add to the long list of things people are already afraid of. But, unless you have personally have experienced slavery Roy Batty, I don’t see how you can possibly make that analogy. The only things that limit our free will are our own personal fears, slavery is a whole different thing.

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sealintheSelkirks sealintheSelkirks May 5, 2020 at 11:33 am

Where you been, Roy? We have always lived in fear in this country. Fear of the ‘other,’ fear of men with long hair, fear of women who speak their minds in public, fear of cops, fear of just about everything. It’s a species mindset I’m afraid. A very old part of our brain rules fear.

Economic slavery is just as real as the old-style USA slavery of Africans though it is a bit more subtle. But then the descendants of US slaves are locked up in ghettos with nowhere to go. Not much different after all.

But now… This is why the wealthy owners invented the term ‘middle class’ when there really are only two classes; the Owners and the workers. Divide and get the two parts fighting one another has always worked! And the owners are doing just fine. As a matter of fact, the owners like Bezos, Soros, Buffet, DeVos, Zuckerberg, Gates, etc etc are continuing to amass wealth during this Pandemic.

A Guaranteed Income Held Hostage: The Richest 5% Own Almost Two-Thirds of Our Nation’s Wealth

No, We’re Not All in This Together. How the Super-Rich Are Cheating America.
Unlike the farsighted and people-oriented decision-makers in other countries, America’s unregulated capitalist leaders have failed us, both in the past and in our current crisis.

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/04/27/no-were-not-all-together-how-super-rich-are-cheating-america

A cut:

The richest 5% have an average net worth of over $5 million. They came away with nearly $35 TRILLION dollars in the past ten years, mainly by waiting out the stock market, which has more than tripled in value since the recession. In the ten years from 2009 to 2019, the average member of America’s richest 5% more than doubled his/her wealth from $2.6 million to $5.4 million.
_________
Now a huge percentage of the ‘working class’ have a very real fear of being kicked out into the street and possibly starving to death because the wealthy who run this country don’t give a flying crap about anything but themselves. And they own EVERYTHING.

How’s that for fear?

sealintheSelkirks

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