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Among the Ciphers of a Declining Empire

Among Ciphers, Barn Burners and Confidence Artists: A Comb-Over Treatment for Declining Empire.

Like postmodernist architecture, in which the aesthetic criteria of a structure's exterior often possesses little correlation to its interior function, media age journalistic and political style exhibits a similar disparity between facade and content: The political content aired by mass media institutions and the cant of the governmental class are the political equivalent of the useless ornamental pediments, context-devoid cupolas, and empty atriums of postmodernist architecture.

It is not a coincidence that Donald Trump has been responsible for having erected some of the gaudiest, emptiest, architecturally dishonest structures, blotting the landscape, east of the Atlantic Ocean, west of the sands of Dubai.

Citizen Trump is a human analog of these characteristics: a man possessed of an extroverted, confident public persona that serves as cover for an interior emptiness. In fact, he is possessed of an unswerving self-regard (as extreme as it is inexplicable) that seems a form of derangement. 

From Sarah Palin to Barack Obama to Donald Trump, these personality types, minted and forged within the aggressive superficiality of the current era, are going to be as good as it gets. These are the varieties of ciphers, confidence artists and quislings who will front the present day corporate order of Botox Politics, the quintessence of an era that has conjoined the shallow and the grotesque in a marriage made in the witless limbo of the media hologram.

Born into wealth and privilege, Trump — this cross-hatched haired, reality television popinjay — is marketed as a man of the multitudes. Perhaps, he is: On one dismal level, he is the very emblem of the callow, infantilized, highchair tyrants spawned by the Viagra Capitalism of late U.S. empire.

Strange and amusing, in a grimly ironic way, unlike Trump, it is the political left, bereft of power in the structure of corporate oligarchy, who stands accused of being out of touch elitists. In a political culture as far down the rabbit hole as the one that exists, in the U.S., the surest way to be branded an elitist is to refuse to serve the elite.

All who are reading this article are, therefore, excused if the Bilderberg Group calls while you're in mid perusal of it…Rather, on second thought…let them wait; they'll just want you all the more for it.

President Obama, on the other hand, could never be accused of failing to serve his true constituents – the moneyed elite. Accordingly, insofar as coming to the aid of oppressed, suffering working people, he could be termed the anti-Tom "I'll be there” Joad.  He has not been present in body nor spirit for the less-than-privileged classes of the declining nation. Rather than serving contemporary versions of the downtrodden denizens depicted in The Grapes of Wrath — Obama has chosen to be of service to the high-flying connoisseurs of the fermented grapes of Château Mouton-Rothschild.

On almost every dispiriting occasion, Obama and the Democrats hit the mat without so much as trading punches with the Republican practitioners of the art of sucker punches and low blows.

Could the fight be rigged? I mean they work for the same corporate oligarchic bosses. One should be wary of betting on a match where a mobster owns both fighters.

Obama rah-rahs, nice liberal apple-polishers and crackpot pragmatist of the Church of Incrementalist Salvation — I will grant you this — the Republicans are a cult of doom. They are the two-legged, all thumbs, character-devoid embodiments of The Second Law Of Thermodynamics that arise when empires are in a death swoon. Yet Obama and the Democrats of Congress are quislings of corporate power, and thereby function as true to form characters playing out their roles within the entropy-ridden dynamics of failed states.

Have the Democrats even lifted a finger, whether in power or out, to fight corporate oligarchy? The only finger the players of the Democratic power establishment have lifted is to give the progressive left — The Finger. I say screw you back, you soul-dead ciphers — and the faux reform/hidden corporate class agenda Trojan Horse you rode in on.

Moreover, how have the policies of the Obama administration departed, in any real world way, from those of the Bush administration? Hence, we arrive at the painful, depressing crux of the matter and the cause of the denial befogging the minds and enervating the will of the liberal class: The dismal fact that under the present structure of corporate oligarchy, a functioning representational democracy cannot exist.

As for everyday citizens, neither going to the polls to vote, nor manning phone banks and licking envelopes at local party headquarters, nor canvassing to register new voters will change the nature of the national security state nor reform corporate hegemony nor end US imperium abroad…It just isn't going to happen.

Acknowledging to oneself the reality that under the present arrangements between the U.S. government and the corporate order — the aforementioned acts of citizen participation are exercises in futility, and that an individual is essentially powerless — can give rise to profound states of cognitive dissonance. In short, all the exasperation and concomitant scorn leveled by Democratic insiders and their apologists upon members of the marginalized and alienated left.

When a mainstream liberal sort deigns to tell me, I need to acquire a more "positive attitude" — which, in tone and intent, amounts to a kind of passive-aggressive douche-rocketry — I reply: I (or anyone else for that matter) can evince all the winning qualities and uplifting attitudes in the human lexicon of emotive experience — positive, upbeat, giddy, elated, ecstatic — we can be as happy as a bliss-besotted idiot, with a love of all things shiny, who happens upon a cache of gleaning stainless steel cutlery — We can become so aglow with positive energy that rays of sunshine will coruscate from out of our every orifice — yet still, our attitudes and actions would have little to no effect on the status quo.

As far as reforming the hopelessly corporate money-compromised Democratic Party from within…that constitutes, merely, polishing the brass railings on the Titanic, because Democrats have shown, over the years and with increasing regularity, whose interests they serve.

Perhaps, instead, progressives should deploy a tactical retreat and allow the damage incurred by Disaster Capitalism (that now even includes the obscene manipulation of global food prices) to create so much pain by way of Republican rule that the toxic agendas of the oligarchs cannot be papered over by sham elections that bring (at best) "incremental" change, while the juggernaut of the corporate/national security state hurtles forward unchecked and unabated.

In the long run, it might prove propitious (in a "cruel to be kind" turn of affairs) if the nature of corporate state control shifted from the soft totalitarianism of the present to a more overt form of hardliner rule. This way, the self-serving authoritarian powers begot by big money interests will be drawn into the open…will have to reveal and define themselves and their agendas; they would no longer be able to hide (Koch Brothers style) within the loose-knit, yet proto-fascist in nature, structure  of the corporate state.

Indications augur that regardless of the pain inflicted and protests proffered, the dismal criteria of this strategy will be made manifest: The berserker cult from the Chicago School of Economics will not quit until the reforms, from the Progressive and New Deal eras, responsible for creating the US middle class and affording dignity to the laboring classes, are burned to ash and blown from collective memory.

Incongruously, it is this criminal cartel who has the ear of the white underclass, while, concurrently having them by the throat…as, all the while, they ply them with the poisoned pills of Disaster Capitalism, managing to bamboozle them into calling the toxic concoction ingested the sweet fruit of liberty.

Yet, because of their privilege-engendered insularity, the Democratic Party elite are bereft of a credible counter-narrative. Moreover, President Obama, in deed and action, has governed like an alumnus in good standing of the Chicago School of Economics.

This is the modus operandi of present day U.S. duopoly: Democratic Party, corporate tools, faux reformers follow rightwing death cults. Hence, little of importance changes for the big money interests who own both major parties.

President Obama has proven he can give a stem-twister of a speech. But what he has displayed, time and time again, is the damning extent of his insincerity. Obama's job is to create pretty clouds of obscuring smoke — while the right plays the role of crazed barn-burners — as the oligarchs make off with more and more of the people's loot.

This is what is so pathetic about the present day Democratic Party whose political platform seems to be: We deliver nothing, but broken promises, and we continually betray our base — but those other guys, those rightwing Republican bogeymen — they keep their wicked promises. They are mean, ruthless and crazy. And did we mention, you should be afraid — be very afraid…BOO!

This is the method by which mainstream Democrats work reluctant progressives into a dither. The ploy operates by the same devices Republican Party strategists game the base-born bigots of their political base, by raising the fearsome specters of child-recruiting gay pedophiles, in alliance with Islamic Caliphate plotters, all of whom, at the behest of dirty hippie socialists, have designs to redistribute their lawn furniture, outdoor grilling equipment, and pool toys to dark and dusky sorts.

What is amazing, since there is no formal plot in place, is how close and perfect to type almost all involved act out their roles. Ergo, we ordinary citizens can play our roles as extras as well; we can go to the polls and vote for either of these two wings of The Money Party who serve the kleptocratic class and military industrial/national security state, and thereby co-sign it all and give the fraud a patina of legitimacy.

This is the dim and diminished social and political milieu that gave rise to Donald Trump. Trump, son of inherited wealth, who had his own "reality" show (watched by folks who apparently have no notion of the concept) is the embodiment of our era; he mirrors the lamentable zeitgeist of the U.S.

The troubles of the U.S. are many and spreading. As a nation, our prospects at home and prestige abroad are thinning. Apropos, Donald Trump is the man of this empty hour — just the manqué of the moment to give the problems that are besetting the nation a comb-over treatment.

Trump wears the gruesome visage of empire's end, and his style of blustering ignorance serves as perfect marching music for the country's ongoing, blind strut towards the abyss, now unnervingly close, yawning before us.

Phil Rockstroh is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted at: phil@philrockstroh.com. Visit Phil's website or at FaceBook.

Image: Damian Brandon / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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