We’re Mad As Hell — And Fighting Each Other

Peter Finch in “Network”

W.J. Astore

In the movie “Network” from 1976, a TV news anchor played by Peter Finch builds a mass following by promising to kill himself on the air while declaring that “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this anymore!”  The network execs are all too happy to encourage him – as long as his outrage is good for ratings and doesn’t threaten the system.  But when Finch starts to step on corporate agendas, he has the riot act read to him by Ned Beatty, who explains “There is no America.  There is no democracy” and that “The world is a college of corporations.”  A visibly shaken Finch realizes he’s in over his head.

I’ve always liked that catchphrase from the movie, for we the people should be as mad as hell, and we should refuse to take it.  We should act.  But what’s interesting is how our anger is redirected before we can act.    

We’re not supposed to be mad at the oligarchs – that “college of corporations” – who own it all and who push all the buttons. No — our anger is supposed to be tribal. We’re supposed to hate Republicans, or Democrats, or anti-vaxxers, or Trump supporters, or someone — someone ultimately like us, without much power. The anger is ginned up to encourage us to punch down while keeping us disunited.

Being mad can be good if the anger is channeled against the exploiters; it’s not good when it’s exploited by the powerful to keep us divided and weak.

America’s two-party system is designed to deflect anger away from the moneyed interests and toward each other.  What we need is a new political party that truly represents the people rather than the oligarchs.  Neither major party, Republican or Democrat, seems reformable.  Both are captured by moneyed interests.  After all, if money is speech, who can yell louder: you and me, or Lockheed Martin and Amazon? Even the “anti-establishment” voices in either major party have largely been neutralized. Or they get sicced on the enemy of the day, whether it’s evil woke Democrats or evil unwoke Trumpers.

Hence nothing really changes … and that’s the point.

America needs an anti-imperial party, a “Come home, America” party, a party that puts domestic needs first as it works to downsize the military and dismantle the empire.  Yet, in the spirit of Orwell’s 1984 and the Two Minutes’ Hate, Americans are always kept hating some putative enemy.  Russia!  Radical Islamic Terror!  China!  Immigrants at the gate!  Maybe even an enemy within.  We’re kept divided, distracted — and downtrodden

If we continue to be at war with each other while punching down, we’ll never turn righteous anger against the right people.  We’ll never effect meaningful change.

It’s said that power never concedes anything without a demand.  Why do we demand so much from the powerless and so little from the powerful?  Isn’t it high time we reversed that?

39 thoughts on “We’re Mad As Hell — And Fighting Each Other

  1. Bill, long suffering political junkies have been saying for years that if a populist candidate ran as a third party
    – with an anti-war platform, reducing military spending, anti-imperialism, Universal single payer healthcare, writing off student deb, increasing the minimum wage, and reigning in Wall Street – that Party would would win in a landslide victory. Because that’s what the vast majority of American people want.

    I never happens because the American system is rigged against third parties. And I can’t see that changing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “Rigged” is right. Can it be unrigged? I think it can be, but only with enormous effort. It all starts with recognizing how rigged it is — and not allowing our energy to be diverted in conflicts that only serve to tire us.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Who would have thought that a socialist playwright in the mid-70s would have the foresight to accurately predict the course of the world 50 years later? He just didn’t know that the “college of corporations” would operate under the name of “World Economic Forum”.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What I see unfolding with the Revelation of recent news events, is the beginning of the spirit of these letters taking over America and the World,
    And the Nations were angry, and your wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that you should give reward to your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear your name, small and great; and should destroy them which destroy the earth.
    Revelation 11:18

    Therefore rejoice, you heavens, and you that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time.
    Revelation 12:12

    Everyone can see anger and wrath on the increase, especially in the US, but who can discern
    WHICH WRATH IS WHICH?

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  4. First lockdowns broke the supply-chain, but the majority were afraid and obedient, so few objected.
    Next, every semblance of authority became circumspect while every interest claimed a monopoly on the elusive and often illusory truth, often while “following the science”.
    Then the employees decided they didn’t want to participate anymore, and GloboCap said, “this isn’t good”.
    Later, the channels that had been constructed over a century, via propaganda & public relations, to maintain some influence over perception and the subsequent options pursued, were realigned in unexpected ways.
    Lastly, the people who had the most to lose said, “what have we done” and by then nearly everyone was thinking, if not saying, “so glad we don’t have to deal with those people anymore.”

    Don’t start nothin’, won’t be nothin’.

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  5. I don’t think your main thesis can be disputed, Bill. But neither do I see a way to bridge the divide between center-left & progressives, versus right-wingers. Thomas Edsall published a commentary in the NY Times yesterday outlining the different traits of each group, and essentially, he worded the post so as to imply that both sets of views are valid, including a phrase about, “perceptions of reality.” As one might guess, Edsall caught some [justified, imho] flak for false equivalence and both-sides-ism.

    And this touches on your last essay’s discussion of truth. How can those who live according to facts—Biden won the 2020 election, climate change exists and is escalating, COVID-19 is real—relate to/work with those who are utterly convinced that TFG won in a landslide, global warming is a Chinese hoax, and there’s no such thing as a virus that’s killing people? There’s no middle ground between reality and fantasy.

    Granted, the GOP, Faux News, OAN, Qanon, et. al. are creating, disseminating, and flogging all the lies, but the situation on the ground is that a huge segment of the population has bought into all the brain rot. Albeit manufactured, the divide is real. There’s no way for citizens to work together against the college of corporations absent a massive, successful deprogramming effort aimed at those who aren’t living in the fact-based community.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, Denise. Hard to build a bridge when saboteurs keep undermining all efforts to build one.

      If we can’t agree on basic truths, it’s truly impossible to have a functioning democracy. I guess that’s why we don’t have one. Certain entities prefer oligarchy/plutocracy, and that’s what we have.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. again, my unbridled thanx, WJA. quick solution: boycott corp-dom. we need to launch a campaign that encourages the vulgate to:

    stand back, take a coup d’oeil around their digs, assess how much crapola and polluting shit they can do w/out, yet maintain a satisfactory and fulfilled life; resist the malls and amazon; turnoff the airwaves, twitter, facebook, and instagram; jettison their TV’s and other electronic drugs; chuck their shop-till-you-drop disease; entertain themselves by viewing the magic of mother nature… the floral and faunal hypaethrals, the star-studded welkin, seas, tidepools, water courses, mountains, and sand dunes…; and REFUSE TO BUY ANYTHING MORE THAN CORE-COMESTIBLES!

    of course, such declaratives from us will be dismissed w/ the corp-dom’s disdainful epithet: “go back to your prelapsarian lairs and bury your arenicolous heads in the mud!”

    in the mental dystopia of our uber-consuming populace, ‘progress’ is king and a synonym for greed. our esurience will never be reined-in until our planet’s diminishing resources finally scream “enough!” and we are shamefacedly, ignominiously compelled to transform how we live.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. we won’t, denise, but mama-nature will, and there will be no choice about it, no nay or yay from the frog-bog. if there are any frog-bogs left of any persuasion, the occupants will carry on deluding themselves that they occupy a demo-bog whose resources will persist beyond the backside of time. it will be a ‘fait accompli’ before most even realize they are on a fast-train to an oblivion where millions of other species have already arrived, gratis our species. however, am sanguine still, b/c mama-nature will move on inexorably from said-terminus, affording opportunities that will give rise to the requisite space, time, and energy cycles for neoteric life forms to establish niches, habitats, homes, and nesting eceses that we can only apprehend in our imaginations……

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Completely agree with your analysis Jeanie.

          After reading a lot of history I find it is important to know where one is on the historical trajectory of a culture / nation. America is like Rome in the years 300 – 400. Everything is in decay and everyone knows it, and every one is anticipating the final defeat that will mean the end of the empire.

          The smart people moved out of Rome and to the country. They put big walls around their villas and a moat. They then hired a bunch of thugs that were good with a sword to protect them. The Roman citizens who were running out of bread and circuses flocked to one of these castles and sold themselves as serfs. The middle ages had begun!

          The decay of the environment is one more indicator that things are going in the wrong direction. It certainly is a mirror that can not be ignored because Mother Nature doesn’t lie.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yes, goid point—we have climate change to contend with, on top of all the political woes. Can’t help but think that that addition burden will hasten the end of our empire.

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          2. as you so eruditely and eloquently elucubrate, wm. scott, the tattered nostrum that ‘history repeats itself’ prevails anon and unfettered. craven poltroon that i am, i’m relieved my lifelong anti-war clishmaclavers and octogenarian status manumit me to wave goodbye, exculpable, except for bringing bairns and grand bairns into the pertinacious war-mongering, climate catastrophes, and resource depletions for which they are not responsible nor can be held accountable.

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  7. In the Presidential Election of 1788, there were twelve (count ’em: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12) candidates on the ballot. The idea that the “two-party system” is the apex of democracy and that we are joined at the hip to it is, in the words of former King Records Owner/President Syd Nathan, “a lotta buncha crap.”
    (Worth Mentioning: Washington’s Vice-President, John Adams, was VP not because he ran on the ticket as VP with Washington, but because he finished second in the balloting for President.)

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’ve written about the divide-and-conquer strategy used by the corporate state numerous times. Odd how effective it remains despite being about the most obvious thing ever. But then, human nature has rarely been able to resist base lures and attractions even when we know they’re ultimately bad for us. Inflaming the passions turns us all into either Hatfields or McCoys.

    To Denise’s point, James Howard Kunstler often remarks that calls for tolerance and multiculturalism have had the side effect of raising decidedly niche subcultures to the fore and destroying what used to be a common (though flawed) culture. Now that aficionados of the least common notions are on equal footing with the mainstream and are being fed by their own substreams of information, the siloing and self-reinforcement of bad ideas has no antidote.

    You called for a new political movement but failed to cite the one that already exists: the Movement for a People’s Party (MPP). https://peoplesparty.org/ Not sure if it will gain traction, but squashing true populism has been a successful endeavor throughout the past. Thomas Frank’s latest book is instructive.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good points, Brutus.

      It doesn’t help that “diversity” most often is reduced to gender and/or race. Diversity of views, or diversity tied to class and life experiences, is rarely considered. Thus we often get only optical diversity, e.g. Barack Obama or Kamala Harris, but with no meaningful critique of existing ideologies and power structures. Which is precisely why the system celebrates “diverse” leaders like Obama and Harris. Or even Hillary Clinton. She’s a woman! Well, I suppose that’s undeniable.

      I hope the People’s Party catches fire. I’m an independent and will look forward to voting for their candidates.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. we can only hope, brutus and dennis, that the MPP “will gain traction”. their clarion call to the electorate must rise into a higher register and become an obstreperous cacophony in order to drown out the screechy fear-mongering of repugs, demos, corp-dom, and doomsdayers. people like you, WJA-ers, tomdispatch-ers, counterpunch-ers, and JUST VISION-ers offer that hope.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Denise a third party, The Peoples Party, call it what you like, is a pipe dream. An unattainable and fanciful hope. A miracle indeed! LOL
        Even if such a party is birthed it will will never gain any traction because of America’s rigged two party political system.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Objectively, Dennis, I believe you’re right. But I’ll still fantasize that a Sanders-type grassroots effort, funded by all those tens of thousands of $27 donations, might yet have some success. I’ve voted Green in many elections, and that’s where my sympathies lie, but Greens have a reputation for being way out there [undeserved]. A People’s Party might have more appeal from the get-go.

          Liked by 1 person

    2. we can only hope, brutus… that the MPP “will gain traction”… their clarion call to the electorate must become an obstreperous cacophony in order to drown out the screechy fear-mongering of repugs, demos, corp-dom, and doomsdayers. people like you, tomdispatch-ers, counerpunch-ers, JUST VISION-ers, and WJA-ers offer that hope.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I see several problems. First, most people do not know facts and tend to judge based on a lack of knowledge.

    I will use globalization as that seems to be a popular whipping boy. Globalization is blamed for increasing inequality, but the facts suggest that globalization is a significant force for reducing poverty. Inequality is not caused by globalization. Globalization does bring about opportunities for those with power to increase inequality, but that is a different problem and requires different solutions.

    The recent leaks about how the rich use tax-havens sheds light on something important. The Paradise Papers, the Panama Papers, and more recently the Pandora Papers indicate that those with power and money evade laws that would otherwise reduce inequality. The problem is not globalization, it is the use power to circumvent laws that would enable globalization to be a equalizing force.

    Another factor is the focus on short-term gains to make investors happy. Again this drive economic forces in ways that increase inequality for the benefit of those who already have wealth. Not only rich people benefit from this focus, but pension funds and university endowments do as well.

    Rage is worse than useless when dealing with such a complex system. People who are enraged will generally be happy destroying something they don’t understand and making things worse. Like the rich person whose greed is destroying the society they rely on, the enraged populist is letting their rage destroy the society as well.

    One way of channeling the rage in a productive manner would be to use people’s anger to demand that governments legislate and vigorously enforce laws that increase the amount of taxes paid by rich people and corporations. I usually disagree with articles in Foreign Affairs as they seem to advocate for the status quo, but this article from 2018 seems worth looking at
    https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2018-02-13/how-crack-down-tax-havens

    It may require a subscription but the author is Nicolas Shaxson and his most recent book is Shaxson, Nicholas, 2019, The Financial Curse: How Global Finance is Making us all Poorer. New York: Grove Press, pp. 376.

    It received a good review in the Journal of White Collar and Corporate Crime
    https://www.academia.edu/42822101/Shaxson_Nicholas_2019_The_Financial_Curse_How_Global_Finance_is_Making_us_all_Poorer_New_York_Grove_Press_pp_376/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, JPA. It’s so hard to do this when “corporate capture” is the term that defines the government today.

      Corporations are citizens, my friend, to cite the great Mitt Romney, and where money is speech, the rich ipso facto rule. Hence the plutocracy we have now.

      Meanwhile, incessant propaganda tells us to admire the rich and that they are already overtaxed. They are allegedly the makers and the rest of us are takers when the reverse is true.

      But, again, money is speech and the rich control the air waves and much of our culture, including education as indoctrination.

      Leave those self-made “masters of the universe” alone! We can’t allow Atlas to shrug or we’ll all die.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. I think a fundamental flaw in the economic theory is the acceptance of a particular hypothesis from the natural sciences, namely that species evolve via natural selection based on competition. Hence anything, such as regulation or taxation, that interferes with competition is destructive and will lead to less “fitness’.

        One can see this in the Republican opposition to the proposed global minimum tax as “anti-competitive and anti-US”.

        Now the theory of evolution based on natural selection due to competition among species is just a theory. And it is a theory that has increasing evidence against it. Another theory that seems more relevant in many cases is evolution based on natural selection due to cooperation among species and the environment.

        If cooperation is more of a driving force for evolution, then the current economic emphasis on unfettered competition is creating dinosaurs headed for extinction.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. w’/ unmitigated and unqualified assurances, jpa; cooperative enterprises and organized efforts have proved far more successful strategies amongst eusocial species in their evolutionary trajectories than chronic and ultimately destructive competition.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Yes — there’s more to life than constant competition. And the idea of survival of the fittest — “fitness” may mean the ability to cooperate, to come together, to sacrifice for a better future. It shouldn’t be about who is the most ruthless, the most selfish, the most determined to survive at the expense of everyone else.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Competition? Better? Smarter? Rich? Poor?

            Those labels don’t affect my life or self-worth because my Reality is established in this Faith
            “I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last,” from the last chapter in the Bible with Revelation of Jesus Christ.

            All of us come into this World Toothless, Dependant, Vulnerable, having to wear diapers, and most of us leave the same way.
            The Door to the Grave is the same for us all.

            The whole idea of the Common Era is God made Jews and Gentiles One, through Faith in Christ Jesus even though the Zionist Jews in Israel Today, still believing in the Old Testament, reject that idea.

            Wherefore the law (Torah, Bible, Quran) was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by Faith.
            But after that Faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
            For you are all the children of God by Faith in Christ Jesus.
            For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
            There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
            And if you be Christ’s, then are you Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
            Galatians 3

            The Promised Land is 1st a Spiritual Place.
            Jesus said to them, Did you never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
            Therefore say I to you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits of it.

            A Nation bringing forth the fruits of it has yet to appear in this Material World, but I believe CanaDa has the best chance.
            The Plains of Abraham is this Whole Earth, not just that small sliver of Land over which so much blood has been shed since Jesus walked through it during the Occupation of Palestine 2000 years ago.

            Outside of that continuous War over there, CanaDa is the only other place on Earth, whose founding struggle is rooted on The Plains of Abraham in Quebec. Naturally, those are Spiritual Signs.

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    2. That’s why Jesus said, ‘Hardly ever will a rich man enter the kingdom of heaven and it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
      James, the flesh brother of Jesus, writes, “Go to now, you rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.
      Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth eaten.
      Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. You have heaped treasure together for THE LAST DAYS.
      Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by FRAUD, cries: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord Almighty.

      The growing recognition of the growing “Economic Inequality” is that Spirit of the Times James wrote about some 1950 years ago.

      The Jewish Religious Establishment had to silence the Anointed Christ of God 2000 years ago for Preaching ALL the People of the World, not just Jews, will receive from that same Anointing of the Christ of God.

      Obviously, it’s been only a vain repetition of The Lord’s Prayer these last 2000 years, or 2 Days in Spirit Time, “thy kingdom come, thy Will be done on Earth, as it is in heaven.”
      If the Christ says hardly ever will a rich man enter the kingdom of heaven, they are also a stumbling block to reaching “thy kingdom come” part of The Lord’s Prayer if those who claim to be his People, don’t learn how to change this World’s system of the rich, by the rich, for the rich. For the rest, let them eat cake!

      If the Majority of the People actually did the Will of God, except for the small minority who did these last 2000 years, the World as it is Today would not be.
      It would be a world without all the crime and violence, lying, cheating, stealing, killing and WARS. There would be Health, Peace, Prosperity and Security for all the People on Earth, Jew and Gentile.

      The “Religious Establishment” Today, is the same “Religious Establishment” that murdered Jesus in Jerusalem.

      The Spirit of Christ Today can see, most of the People of this World for all the Religiosity, has not changed much, since Jesus articulated the Reality,
      You hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
      This people draws close to me with their mouth, and honours me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
      But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

      As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
      Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
      To they that overcome, will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
      He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

      Like

  10. From the macro to the micro every system that man has interjected his presence into is weakened and failing.
    So the “enlightening oligarchs” have proven their worth to Creation by the reality of their fingerprints upon it. The grades are a failing report; and this judgement is certainly nothing to pump your fists and thump your chest in a triumphant pose. The rich and famous, powerful and mighty, are hollowed out expressions of the fakest kind; possessing ignorance of the highest order. As I read the post and understand the replies, it is evident that we obviously can identify the problems within our macro structures and yet; we struggle coming to conclusions about rectifying these extreme imbalances.
    I lately spend my time how many among us have taken the time to get into the science of the microscopic world that is just as damaged as our global macro societal structures. I suggest everyone take some time to open their understandings to the reports that are bleeding out of the science of toxicology. Since the ‘70’s I have been curious about the intersection of the natural world with the synthetic creations of the industrial revolution. It’s fascinating and yet frightening science and I’m not any expert; but when I read the studies coming from labs and listening to the admissions of the practitioners it isn’t a stretch of the imagination to grasp the troubled shape we are in. The vast majority of life forms have been severely impacted on a cellular level by man’s makeshift substitutes. Do you know anything about the nature of the heavy metal nano particles like mercury or aluminum, that famous saying, size matters, is most certainly applicable when you find out how unstable these elements become when they are reduced to the atomic level. How about the forever chemicals, the pesticides and fertilizers, the smelting and refining vapors? We are poisoned by these minutest of particulate matter; although we were told a whole different narrative while they continually showed up to intersect and enter our microbiome because they were “going to make life better”! We are eating them, breathing them, drinking them, taking them for cures. These “things” that have been so “miraculously” invented through the laboratories of the rich and famous are not what they appear to be; and we are all paying a handsome price for their follies; all while they enrich themselves at Creation’s expense. Believe me when I say that when you peal back the skin of most any biological life form you will see the tattoos of modern industry. I am not happy to speak of these things; but hey Halloween is up ahead at the crossroads; and if you are into that sort of thing, this information is guaranteed to scare the “Hell” out of you. The damaged corpses are all around us; and when you get behind the electron microscopy, there lies the most frightening ruination.
    Here’s the Scheer Post that briefly opens up this can of worms. I hope everyone gets curious about what has been done to the whole, by the minor few.

    https://scheerpost.com/2021/10/12/nearly-42000-sources-of-toxic-forever-chemicals-put-u-s-drinking-water-at-risk-study/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The needs of the MIC has pushed the gas pedal to the floor and raced the engines of our nations laboratories. They created this medium upon which we share our thoughts and it is already proving risky business exposing your cell structures to extended periods of engagement with the millimeter waves. But, what they have known and measured must never get in the way of their favorite mantra; and it’s a cruel one
      “profits over people”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. perhaps, utejack. nevertheless, this recent tedtalk offers a more sanguine perspective and prognostication for our species’ evolving altruism:

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    2. given there are now an obscene number of us ‘Homo sapiens sapiens’, utejack, i rejoice that every toxic molecule, whether synthesized in a lab or transmutated in the jungles, seas, rivers, lakes, sand dunes, or landfills in order to protect mother nature’s other species, is a triumph for our beleaguered planet. unfortunately, we persist in proliferating way beyond our threshold carrying capacity. so i exhort, ‘good riddance to malodorous rubbish”… the sooner the better. those species of prokaryotes and eukaryotes who have managed to endure, despite our depredations, are likely salivating at our imminent departure. we are long past our sell-by date.

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