A few hours after posting the previous post, I was driving home. The radio station was playing a short set that had a sort of tropical/beach theme. Beach Boys ‘Kokomo’; Jimmy Buffett’s ‘Margaritaville’; Paul Simon’s ‘You Can Call Me Al’. That last song might not fit, but the horn and flute sections give it a nice Latino/tropical effect. Good tunes to sing to. But where did I get off ranting about the implied badness of being a citizen of The United States of Bananaland? Or any Bananaland?
What’s it really mean to live in a Bananaland? The American media coined the banana republic term, way back when political incorrectness was not. Hell, United Fruit designed, built, and maintains that political-economic system even today. Back then, they (corporations and the media) promoted it as supporting the growth of democracy. Which we now see as a contradiction – after the media liberalized and UFC did not. But back to looking for the upside of living in and being an active participant in a banana republic.
Let’s look at some basic requirements. First, a ruling Kleptocracy. We’ve got that in spades. Have had it since the country’s inception. Second, a tool of force – the military and police, to crack down on dissenters. Currently merging their planning and tactics, brought back from the Insurgent Wars (Infidel Wars? Ignoramus Wars?). They exist, but are used very sparingly, comparatively speaking. Third, a beaten down population that doesn’t question the elite, due to fear of reprisals. Fourth, bread and circuses. Keep the proles fed and entertained. The sheep won’t notice or care about the doings of the leadership. Fifth, control the message and monitor dissenting opinion. Check and doublecheck. You could breakdown this further, but for this blog, we can move forward.
For the little guy, how does the first requirement affect him? See the fourth requirement. Provide a dream where sheep can aspire to be anything they want to be. Add some verbal encouragement now and then, which doesn’t cost anything. Various media methods promote the meme, but most folk end up either in a cube or cleaning floors. Then there’s the ‘connected’, maybe a couple hundred thousand throughout ‘merica. You can strive to enter those ranks – it’s not a static entity. All you have to do is assimilate the basic rules of the kleptocracy. You work the system, the system works you.
The next group is separate but the same. Martial types can be kleptocrats and vice versa. Consider this group as the outer ring of a regime. Protect the leaders, provide themselves a taste of the pot, manage the proles. Sometimes promoted to the inner group, but most likely returning to prole status on retirement.
Third, the proles. Most folk just want to live and let live. But those 1%ers live to feed off of the rest. As recently as the early 1900’s the method of prole control was more blatant. Moving away from the agricultural base, people ceded control of their independence to a higher authority, in exchange for a better way of life. Truth, the people did get a different existence, less physical toil, more subservience to the central government. This bleeds over to the next segment, actually the next two segments.
Put people in a specific situation, they’ll act in a certain way. Taxes and / or legislation to confuse them, market controls supporting or not supporting a special interest group, and media spin on the stories to sway opinions.
The paranoid amongst us would be grabbing all the aluminum available and be weaving hats right now. But, having only limited experience in this lifetime, haven’t all formal civilizations been this way? If the answer to that is yes, then is my argument a circular one?
Don’t like ending without a good answer. So instead, I leave you with a link to a video over at The Atlantic. Maybe that’ll provide an answer.