"Fire is motion / Work is repetition / This is my document / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all defenses."

- Cap'N Jazz, "Oh Messy Life," Analphabetapolothology

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Colin Powell at Miami University and the culture of materialism

from a pro-peace/ending the occupation in Iraq listserv:

"Colin Powell's second visit to Miami University, bookending the Bush administration, brought to us a message that recalls Indiana Jones: Fortune and Glory.

Though Powell's speech laid out a sports metaphor that on its surface seemed positive, underlying the entire talk was a pervasive message that money rules. By means of setting up an introduction of 9.11, Powell spoke of a materialism, vanity and power. He told the story of how upon retiring, for the second time, he didn't know what to do with himself so he bought a car. This was met with much laughter from the audience. He then told us about how he was considered by Time magazine to be aging gracefully--more laughter. Lastly, he said that when asked what he misses most about being Secretary of State he answers--"My own plane."

This story was filled with kings, dignitaries, red carpets, bands playing for him, "adoring crowds," and so on. These three stories seemed to me to be the most powerful of the night. They were distractions from real issues that he could have addressed while at the same time established the importance of money--buying cars, having planes--and looking good. Fortune and Glory. I imagine some might object to my criticism that Powell was being funny, entertaining, but I think such criticism only makes the point stronger. He distracted people from real stories about what it's like to be a General or Secretary of State, the difficulties, the rewards, the work, the decisions, and narrowed all of his experience down to possessions--the things he got out of it.

Later, when Powell outlined the four major issues he sees the US facing, I could not help remembering the earlier stories. So, when he said that government left us--his "young friends"--with some positives, that countries are on playing fields rather than battlefields, he was less than inspiring. The four games being played, according to Powell are 1) economics--we need to strengthen the economy to bring people out of poverty; 2) energy--we need energy to build up economics; 3) environment--careful use of the energy needed to build the economy; 3) education--better k-12 education in order to build the economy. Why aren't those things exciting? Because they're burdened with greed. Those stories about corvettes, Time and airplanes defined Powell's issues. Everything was about what you can get. He ended his speech by telling a story about how he gets free hot dogs from foreigners. It could have made you cry to hear him tell of the sheer pleasure these foreign hot dog vendors get from simply being in America. And Powell, who was paid how much to speak to his young friends, doesn't give up six bucks to help this person? His speech, however, let's us leave feeling that we too can achieve like he did, we can get things, but mostly we should be happy to be Americans."

- Aaren Yandrich

oh YUCK. now i am extremely glad i didn't go to see this Tuesday night. i had made up my mind to go and help my friends protest against the war, was gonna walk across the bitter desolate expanse that is the frozen landscape of the Miami campus to go sit in a stadium full of self-entitled yuppie brats and listen to this jingoist garbage??! thank god insane sinus pressure and debilitating nausea intervened!

i think my pure unadulterated hatred for American jingoism and its close cousin rabid consumerism would have exploded my head and splattered my mucus membranes all over Colin Powell's face. so much for glory, eh?

seriously tho, to hear that he came to Miami to give a speech about the beauty of American capitalism, to urge the (already) materialistic Miami student populace to join him in drooling over and jacking off to the ideas of fast cars, oil, money, youth, power, and fame without shame or conscience, makes me wish i hadn't been too sick that night to go over there and punch him in the neck and groin. what kind of message is he sending to our college students if the only thing he urges them to aspire to is the accumulation of ever more material wealth and wasted potential?

oh, it just makes me so angry. this is exactly the kind of perverted political philosophy i am putting to shame in my senior thesis, but what good is it if the leaders of our nation - and the future leaders, too - are too busy gawking at themselves in mirrors to see that everything is completely fucked?
an image capture from American Psycho - a satire deriding the American corporatism and materialism of the 80s, a fitting analogy that was just too easy to pass up.

Colin Powell and his ethos of Fortune and Glory are a disease and a cancer, and he's only bound to flip that Corvette and pin himself under it.

-stephanie

1 comment:

remaerdyad said...

I am both glad and sad to read about your mucus. Although am a bit confused btween phlem keeping you away from dribling trite as oposed to it runing like ghostbusting slime off of his face...

Me share you the 'chorus' to one of my soon-to-be-#1-hit-pop-songs from way last year, cutely entitled, I Would Just Like To Write A Song About The United States Of America Going And Fucking Itself, Thank You, based on the Team America anthem:
America... fuck you. Fuck you. (repeat)

(-:

Lotsa movie references going on here... But swear I am so sick deriding capitalism I cant do it anymore. Fosters too much cynicism? Me thinking, "does merica still think it has the most powerful industrial base in the world for the past few decades?"

History, fuck ya. Comin again to save the motherfucking day, ya.

In lighter news, this when god bill gates with christ hero bono at his left and godess wifey at the right (saviour of the world) uses the glory of monopoly as a block on which to intelectualize into existence something he calls, creative capitalism. Cant help but think he is realy making a cryptic reference to the dot-com's of the web2.0 community...

ceau