Back when I was a teenager, I remember being eager to reach the legal age at which I could take the examination for a learner’s driving license. It wasn’t that I really thought I’d be driving, but I wanted the license just the same. It signified some rite of passage to me, I guess. License to go and be free.
A friend was kind enough to give me his copy of the ‘Driver Handbook’ published by the ‘Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ (read: road hogs) to help me study for the required exam. One of the first things I remember reading were the words “In the state of Florida, driving is a PRIVILEGE.” The words sort of jumped right off the page and blind-sided me (almost as unnerving as the way in which Florida Highway Troopers (read: stormtroopers) would suddenly appear, riding your rear bumper, their blue lights a blazing). Before even delineating how one attains this privilege, the handbook launched into a list of how said privileges could be taken away. Words like ‘suspended’, ‘revoked’ & ‘incarceration’ seemed menacing … purposely so.
I’m sure you will agree that teenagers quickly catch on to what the word privilege means, especially because they are always being threatened with having theirs taken away. It does seem fairly sadistic to teach children the value of ‘liberty’ by robbing it of them every now and then. It’s even more perverse when the exercise has less to do with education and more to do simply with authoritarian ‘control’.
Reeling, as if I’d been slapped in the face for attention grabbing purposes, I remember wondering sardonically if walking was a privilege, too. It was then that it occurred to me that in fact there were laws preventing me from walking where I wanted, for example down the center of a highway, or main street … in fact, any street for that matter. Other signs began to flash in my mind: “No Loitering”, “Keep Off The Grass”, “No Dogs Allowed”, etc. I thought it amazing that not only couldn’t I walk freely where I wanted, but I couldn’t even stand still in some places, either! In defiance and deference to my name, I vowed to jaywalk whenever possible.
Relatedly, this past weekend in Chicago, masses of ‘concerned citizens’ gathered to protest the NATO G8 Summit. As a tweet by @Clownbloq read, “There once was an economic plummet, so the rich held an Illinois summit….” Chicago law enforcement officials also gathered en masse with batons in hand, apparently to quell the tide of convening protesters and to ensure that a handful of government heads(read: deaf and blind) remain insulated from the concerns, cries and pleas of their own constituents.
More and more, I see our reality as becoming some dystopic Orwellian vision. We’ve allowed government and Big Business to run rampant, impinging first on our sensibilities and dignity, and then finally trampling on our rights and liberties. We claim a ‘Bill of Rights’, ensuring us freedoms of speech, press, petition and assembly, but over time, some of these freedoms become perverted (read: main stream media), others declared by authorities as ‘unlawful’, when convenient (read: oink oink).
Self Service Brain Washing
In life, we often allow ourselves the luxury of not having to think for ourselves. We tend to waive this basic human liberty so that we can better focus our energies on ‘getting on with life’. We assign protectors to oversee our interests and protect us from the other riff-raff that may threaten our peaceful denial. In time, however, we wake from our stupor to find ourselves bound and shackled by various ideological constraints … unfortunately of our own design and making. Yes, we are partially to blame for our own short-sightedness. It begs the question, what were we thinking?
In truth, we devised systems of government to ensure our ‘way of life’ and right to enjoy it. Yet, we gave them power over us to protect us … not enslave us. Remember, ‘to protect and serve’? That’s sort of gone out the window with our privacy rights.
Meanwhile, in the name of materialism and the pursuit of happiness we plied commercial interests with money to keep us distracted. And, missing the sleight of hand brain washing tactics the mass media wields , we allowed these interests to grow and usurp the attention and loyalties of government (read: our duly elected officials). Once we were “we the people’ … now we’re just consumers, an economically challenged evolutionary aberration of worker, grunt, serf, peon, etc. Six of one, half a dozen of the other. A weed by any other name is still a weed. Know what I mean? I think you do.
There was a time when moral prudism was an excuse for censorship. Today, it almost seems ludicrous to say that the main stream media is being controlled, when it is in fact a wholly owned subsidiary of elite multinational interests, aka ‘Big Business’. And wouldn’t you know it, just when independent journalism seems to be making strides via the Internet, the ‘powers that be’ have stuck their feet out to trip up its progress via legislative acts like SOPA, ACTA and PIPA.
At some point, as in any science fiction yarn, you have to figure that people will rise up and decide to take back their squandered power and liberty. Across the globe, people (read: indignant citizens, the 99%, ‘spring’) have begun to wake up and demand social and economic equality. In the US, the ‘Occupied’ movements, beginning with ‘Occupy Wall Street’ and its various regional kindred spirits have braved the wrath and indignation of, for lack of a better term, ‘the establishment’. Sure, I say ‘establishment’, you say ‘fascists’, I say the 1%, you say the man. Let’s call the whole thing off. The system is obviously broke.
Off the sidewalks and into the streets
All weekend, I’ve watched the Occupy Chicago proceedings here in Greece (don’t get me started, read: Catastroika), thanks to live streams and the efforts of independent and objective journalists such as Tim Pool (twitter: @timcast) and Luke Rudkowski (twitter: @Lukewearechange) … who themselves were raided in their car by the Chicago Police Department and detained (read: handcuffed) briefly on the suspicion of … being someone else. Yeah right. As Judd Jugmonger might say, the authorities were all over them “like white on rice”. Indeed, don’t squirt on my leg and tell me it’s raining.
As an American living in Greece, I have each foot mired in different cesspools of sorts (read: different piles of the crap). I get to be a victim of the Troika inspired and EU enforced economic austerity measures that have proven to do nothing more than stifle growth and productivity and choke the life out of Greek society. I also get to sit idly by while my own country falls deeper and deeper into economic debauchery, cultural decline and ‘pay as you go’ existential servitude (read: slavery) to Wall Street and the ‘powers that be’ (read: fascism does Goldman-Sachs does Ronald McDonald does JP Morgan does NeoCons does lobbyist-ass-kissing politicians, et al.).
So basically, I get to enjoy the worst of both worlds. Oh, as an extra bonus, I also have to put up with being a victim of anti-American sentiment here in Greece ala’ guilt by association, even when I wear my ‘We Are Anonymous’ t-shirt around town and sing protest songs.
What can I do? I mean what can I do? There’s certainly a lot more I can say, and I will in time. If you’ve read this blog, you know that now and then I’ve ranted about government ineptitude, big business conspiracy and even the elite, so you might think this post is par for the course. It’s not.
Jim Morrison once remarked, “I’m interested in anything about revolt, disorder, chaos, especially activity that appears to have no meaning. It seems to me to be the road toward freedom.” Maybe it’s the artist in me that yearns to be free. In my opinion, freedom, unlike driving is not a privilege; it’s a birthright … and one I intend to enjoy and fight for.
By the way, in the 18 years I’ve lived in Greece, I have not driven at all. In fact, I don’t even own a car nor have I ever applied for a Greek driver’s license. Nevertheless, when I do get back to the ‘States, my renewed Florida driver’s license will claim I’m a ‘safe driver’. Go figure.
Related Reading (Links):
- Chicago Police Targeting Livestreamers and Journalists
- An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Overthrowing the Corporate Elites
- Communique 4 // MSM has pie on their faces //
- Chicago police accused of planting evidence in ‘Molotov cocktail’ plot:
- Catastroika Website:
- How to Identify an Agent Provocateur
- Occupy Resources
- Citizen Journalism at it’s finest: Teacher Dude’s Grill and BBQ