Oh dear, am I spreading “communist” propaganda again? Well, I’m just shocked to my very foundation…
So let’s begin with our semi-subversive dialogue, shall we? During the McCarthy era, poor ol’ Charlie Chaplin was accused of being a communist in this self-proclaimed “free” country. After he left the US for a visit to his native Europe, he wasn’t allowed back in the US where, though not a citizen, he had resided for many years (and had become established as a world-renowned comedian.) The US government decided not to renew the international star’s visa, so he remained in Europe.
Yet Chaplin was immensely popular all over the world. Even the Germans loved him–much to Hitler’s dismay. Americans loved him too, so it wasn’t our decision to kick him out of the country. It was a decision made by those in power, the people who truly run this country. But not us. We the people, as we’re only beginning now to realize, don’t have any say whatsoever in how this country is run. (Voting makes no difference at all. They, the ones who truly run this country, decide who’s gonna win the election then they give us two “choices,” both of whom will cater to big corporations and big money interests, regardless of what lies they tell us when they pretend to debate each other.) By the way, this ‘two choices’ psychology is often used by parents when dealing with small children going through a rebellious stage. Instead of saying eat your vegetables, for example, it’s more effective to say, “Honey, do you want to eat your carrots or your peas first?” That way, the child has the illusion of choice when the parent is actually coercing the child to do something.
Watch the above clip and you’ll see that in this film, made nearly a hundred years ago, a character resembling Henry Ford (the Donald Trump of his day) watches his employees from afar. He keeps his employees under surveillance and, like Big Brother, his face appears on a screen so that he can order his employees around from the comfort of his own home, or coffin, or wherever he resides. What’s bizarre is that most employers today do use surveillance cameras to spy on their employees from afar, though they don’t usually let their employees see them. It’s completely one-sided. They can watch us but we can’t watch them. (They also listen to our phone conversations and read our e-mails, of course.)
How could Chaplin have predicted this? Probably because this desire for control and domination has existed on the part of the wealthy and powerful throughout history and all over the world. Really, it’s nothing new. It’s just new to us Americans who’ve been led to believe that our country’s different from all of the others. And sadly, many Americans know very little of their own history or political system–this ignorance making it even easier to brainwash us into believing whatever the rulers want us to believe. We live in a free country, right? Fascism could never come to the USA ’cause we’re different… Right?
Yeah right. I have news for you, my fellow Americans. We’re all humans. And in spite of what the New Agers claim (they believe all humans are basically divine, that we’re going to become enlightened and live in utopia soon, was supposed to happen in 2012, now it’s a whole year later, blah, blah, blah), we humans are flawed. The New Agers are wrong. We make mistakes. We’re not perfect. Sorry, but we aren’t, never have been, never will be. Sometimes we’re even cruel and heartless, even when we don’t have to be. We are capable of abusing each other, and even ourselves. We’ll always have problems–racism, sexism, classism, poverty, social injustice, war, crime, plain old unfairness. This doesn’t mean we should just accept it and allow it but that we need to be ever vigilant over those in power. We need accountability, checks and balances, over those in power. Power corrupts us humans. None of us is above that. We can eliminate capitalism and replace it with something else, but we’ll find flaws in that new system too.
We’re a work in progress, all of us. We’ll never be finished. We just need to keep trying. We need to keep educated. We need to know our history and understand each other. We need to study the liberal arts. Yes the liberal arts! There’s a reason why those in power are attacking the liberal arts, my friend. Those who study the liberal arts learn about human psychology. They’ll study sociology and political science and learn how people tend to behave in group situations and how governments and societies form. We can learn a lot from other societies on how to develop a better society of our own. They’ll study literature and history and notice that humans keep making the same mistakes over and over again because of “human nature.” How do humans react when they’re given social safety nets? Does it really make people lazy when we help them? Do most people really stop working when they know they can collect a welfare check? Does providing free health care to poor people make poor people lazy or does it empower them by giving them a chance to remain healthy and eligible to work? Liberal Arts majors tend to think, to philosophize, to ask why we’re all here and how can we make things better. How can we not repeat the mistakes of history? Well, we might want to start by studying history at least a little bit. Yep, the liberal arts types are more likely to recognize tyranny right away, even in its very early stages. (The average schmuck doesn’t notice until the police knock on his/her door and drag everyone out of the house screaming. Think of the Germans who “didn’t know” what Hitler was doing, including his own personal secretary. This is NOT an attack on Germans either. Many of my own ancestors hailed from Germany. We are all “Germans” in a sense, and that is the point I’m trying to make, that we all have this tendency to ignore what we think we would just rather not know.) But those who study psychology, sociology, history, political science and literature are trained to read, to analyze, to essentially think. That’s why disdain for the arts is one of the early warning signs of fascism.
Now back to Chaplin.
Chaplin’s boss even goes so far as to test out a contraption that controls Chaplin’s eating so that he is forced to eat his lunch more efficiently and can get back to work sooner. No need to enjoy lunch. Just hurry up and get that over with so you can get back to work.
More communist propaganda? Or just a prediction of times to come? I think the current solution here in the US is to eliminate the lunch break altogether. How many employees still get lunch breaks here in the US anyway? A few I suppose. And think of all the work that isn’t getting done while those stupid humans eat their bloody lunches. (Drone, anyone?) Sheesh!
Yes, any business owner is going to try to get more work out of his/her employees. Efficiency is the key. Any business owner will be attracted to this idea. Again, we need to be aware of human psychology and how people tend to behave toward each other in certain situations. Then we need to ask ourselves, is this the kind of society we want to live in? Is this how we want to live and work? If not, then we need to regulate businesses or find some way to discourage them from enforcing this type of efficiency on their employees.
And, as the folks in the Stop Watching Us campaign say, I think it’s time we watch the watchers.
You know, I’d like to watch them, keep an eye on them, put them under a microscope too…because, after all, if they aren’t doing anything wrong then they don’t have anything to worry about either, right?
And if violating privacy keeps us safe, then why is it that we’re not allowed to conduct criminal background checks on potential employers so that we can decide whether or not we’ll trust them to pay us? Or so we can report them to credit bureaus if they don’t pay us on time or don’t pay us fairly? Why can’t we background check our landlords and report them to credit bureaus if they raise our rent too often or charge us illegal fees in addition to our rent? Why can’t we ask the police officer for his/her ID at a traffic stop? (Theoretically, we can ask for a badge number but the cop can retaliate by writing up a traffic ticket–or worse!) People have attempted to videotape the police and gotten arrested for it.
People, it doesn’t have to be this:
We could choose this instead:
Because in the end, we can choose what kind of world we want to live in…