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counterculture in capitalism

of trust and trustees

‘when a richman’s son becomes a hippie his father opens up a health food store for him.’ (un-american dreams and dissent)

candles or tee-shirts with the words of whatever protests in the current vogue. one of the basics of the success for operating the business is to create the product based idea. just look at the picture of candles above. whoever had invented the candlelight vigil, whether in the street in front of a prison or pentagon has created a never ending thriving business. as the caption in the second picture aptly suggests; just choose your flavor, be it war resistance, women’s rights, abolishing death penalty, or countering the norm of the day.

the civil war of the u. s.; is said to have fought brother against brother, both desiring to outdo each other in the socioeconomic uplift. beyond that, they did not hate each other or deny the blood link. the same is true of the mainstream culture and the counter culture; the american business for profit or not for profit; those who promote violence and the peaceniks, whether church promoted or ideology promoted. they are merely two sides of the coin that sustains both. in the modern world, unlike gandhi’s time, it costs to organize for protest, whether marching with placards or candles or wearing a certain colour clothes. the non profits are there to meet these costs. it’s like a two way cutting saw (the saw of kashi (banaras, varansi) that cuts in both the front and back strokes, instead of the regular saw that cuts only one way. the capitalist counterculture profits the business both ways; it enables the business the tax break for donation for the protests and also sells the protest paraphernalia. and the added interest is the free publicity in national public broadcasting as: “the funding for this programme is provided by”, for which again there is tax write off.

the storybook pictures about the bad big wolf, later on becomes the mean witch progressing into ‘them’ – the jews, the muslims, the commies or whatever. it is reflected and promoted in words in stories; there can be no standard form of story, whether a child story or adult literature unless there is an evil character to be fought and killed. the god and satan; the cowboys and indians of the westerns now fight the bad guys with bombs riding the supersonic jets. the hired guns are now the paid allied forces.

look at the labor union leaders, the church officials from pope and archbishop down to preachers, and the nonprofit executives. there is not even a whiff of semblance between what they profess and how they live. this is the same with the governmental set up. the president, his staff, the congress and congress staff, all earn a pay check that the low wrung blue collar worker does not earn in a year. and this does not include the perks, like free travels, medical care and such.

this difference is embossed in the coin itself. the two sides of the coin are different. one side is the prominently portrayed image of the ruler called president, but the other side has no image of the ruled. the coin itself is symbolic equal of the precious metals, such as gold and silver that were bartered with in past. in their elemental form they do not contain, nor need symbolic descriptions. likewise, that in its elemental form any work needs no mention of the doer. the electricity lights the room all the same even if its user knew not the name of its inventor. but then, in the commerce invented arrangement of the value of labour, it is not in the work, but who does it determines the value. the same is true in the field of education, where though the content is the same in the texts, like the 2+ 2= 4, in ivy league the value of 4 is bold 4. in countries like thailand, that has officially declared westernized, a western degree holder earns four times the pay of the local degreed person doing the same job in the same work place, both doing the same thing.

thus, the non western countries’ protesting of the western ills gets ignored until it is protested in the western cities, protesting in the commerce controlled form used by the full blooded westerners. it is almost, as if nothing bad has been happening anywhere until the western counterculture says so using the commercially available means and methods of protesting.

death is death no matter where it happens, how it happens, and yet, a death caused by the act of a human person changes meaning, or even is ignored altogether. it all depends upon the prevalent cultural norm that is both the race based and status based. any act of violence committed to a coloured skin person by the white skinned person is almost a nonevent, while it is done by a coloured person to a white person triggers protests. the arabs using the u.s. means and methods killed some 3000 persons and injured more in new york. in its reactionary wake the u.s. went to war with arab countries not involved with the incident in new york. just as the perceptive senses are influenced by the economic consequences, its reaction, too, is controlled by the economic considerations. thus though the arabs involved in the twin tower incidence were reported to be from saudi arabia, a war with the oil producing ally would cause more economic problems. it is as if the previous president bill clinton had the premonition about the next president’s wits, that the u.s. media described to be dull. so bill clinton wrote, as if for the next the president, “it’s economics, stupid!” and war may be a killer, but it generates business for president down to the grave diggers. in one of the old westerns a mortician tells the local sheriff that his bringing the outlaws alive to stand trial has ruined the funeral business, so he has to go to another place where there is business for him.

warring is a protest, too, much the same as a gandhian form of nonviolent protest. what is different in the two is in the ulterior motive. thus, a person who makes oodles of money by means that are harmful to others, and then donates some of the profits to charitable cause is doing that not for common good, but to make oneself appear as do-gooder.

once one gets used to the conflicting interests within oneself caused by not living up to one’s own understanding of right and wrong, the discomfort becomes more manageable with the distractions. from then on, one may view one’s own idealized acts as one of the periodic motions of life, like sex, that though pleasing cannot be a constant function of life. one of gandhi’s observations in this regards was, that ‘there is no holiay or vacation in true vocation.’ it is no different from the very way of life. one does not do things to please or displease others, but simply that is how life is lived.

and life as it is lived in the modern world, particularly in the west, from president down to the street dweller, every motion is so planned like that of actors on the stage, that it leaves no room for individual or collective spontaneous change; even the bad guys are part of the play in which the counterculture can perform in a precise way. it is a life lived on the stage, in which, at the end of their individual roles go home for rest and recreation offered by the very commerce sector that determines all forms of functions of life, the american way of life.

how do you live? do you ever feel that any of your interaction, whether professional or spontaneous brings about an out of the blue response? if it does not, then perhaps you, too, are merely acting out your part in which you are not expecting to hear or see anything that you have not heard or seen before. it is why despite the candlelight vigil, the killing goes on. it will not change anything until even a minor actor refuses to speak his line and does things un prescribed.

sometime
when you have just returned
from your last engagement, very late
at night
and you are not tired and sleepy,
but you can't find anything to be busy with
in order to avoid feeling alone.
and therefore you are all alone,
in the silent, cold dark night;
it's then that you are well aware,
that the place you just left
was a stage
and persons the actors
who spoke to you
their lines of the scripted dialogue, as you spoke your lines to them.
you also realize
that they, too, are feeling what you do.
and very much like you
they, too, have washed off their makeup
to go to bed without the residue of the pretences,
to wake up feeling fresh.
and you will wake up feeling fresh.
but the question you are aware you will face
is the same you always do in the morning,
and as you are aware, it's not in the script,
no scripted answer will do.


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