Philip K. Dick on the Need to Confront Reality

W.J. Astore

Climate Change and Nuclear War Aren’t Going Away

A friend sent along an article on Philip K. Dick, the science fiction author whose works have been turned into Hollywood films like “Blade Runner” and “Minority Report.” Dick had this to say about societal trends toward narrative construction and information control:

“We live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations. We are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives. I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing.”

Dick wrote this in the 1970s. If he were writing today, I’m guessing he’d add that he distrusted their motives as well as their power.

Philip K. Dick

False narratives and pseudo-realities are everywhere. Today at TomDispatch, Noam Chomsky highlights the false narrative that global warming simply doesn’t exist, or that it does exist but that it’s a completely natural process that humans can do nothing about. This is perhaps the most dangerous false narrative we face today. That we can simply ignore humanity’s impact on nature—which is convenient for those profiting from the exploitation of the earth’s resources, such as fossil fuels.

Another pseudo-reality we face is that America’s national security is constantly threatened by “near-peer” rivals bent on our destruction. This “reality” drives colossal military spending as next year’s Pentagon budget soars toward $900 billion. A related “reality” is that the world is made safer by more thermonuclear warheads and weapons, a false narrative that the Pentagon is betting on to the tune of $2 trillion over the next thirty years.

Why generate this pseudo-reality? Because the Pentagon gains power and corporations profit greatly. Meanwhile, regular working folk, whose lives could be improved and empowered by a $2 trillion investment in their health and well-being, are left to struggle and suffer. They are, in a word, disempowered.

I remain at a loss how Joe Sixpack’s life is made better by B-21 stealth bombers, Sentinel ICBMs, and Columbia-class nuclear-missile-firing submarines.

With Donald Trump’s peccadilloes once again dominating the news cycle, essential stories about climate change and Armageddon-enabling nuclear weapons are mostly ignored. We are encouraged to take sides, for or against, an aging con man and his payola to a porn star and a Playboy bunny; we are told this is a matter of grave national concern requiring wall-to-wall media coverage, even as natural disasters exacerbated by climate change surge around us and even as nuclear war grows ever more possible.

Time to face reality, America. As Dick also wrote, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” Those nuclear weapons aren’t going away, nor is the threat of climate change.

7 thoughts on “Philip K. Dick on the Need to Confront Reality

  1. We fight over who owns the trees while the forest burns around us. I wish I had something more to say on the matter, but it is all just so depressing.

    Perhaps it’s better to just go outside and enjoy some sunshine while we still can.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Don’t let it’s “ability” to depress You get You down, Just Another Vet.

    Just remember that the only reason it depresses You to the point of shutting off thought, word, and/or deed is because You permit it to do so and then let it get away with it.

    It has proven itself to be a Very effective strategy in shutting off the thoughts, words, and deeds of a significant number of Americans for quite some time now. At least since the Pandemic, if not the 2008 financial “¢rise$,” if not 9/11.


  3. The Realities that America needs to face ~ and that Americans need to confront, acknowledge, accept, and either act upon or simply meekly accept ~ are:

    That the American Empire has entered the “Decline” phase that all empires eventually reach on their way to the “Fall” phase.
    That as that Decline unravels into Fall, America is transitioning from being merely a Flailing Nation-State to a Failing Nation-State.
    That as that transition from Flailer to Failure unfolds, America’s system of government and governance is becoming increasingly authoritarian enroute to eventually totalitarian as the Ruling Political Class seeks to shield itself from the effects of the Decline and Fall of their empire.

    Another Reality that Americans need to confront and either do something about or simply meekly accept is the fact that their government ~ and its politicians, bureaucrats, and anointed appointees ~ LIES to them about virtually everything.

    Especially when it comes to getting into new wars [Hot and Cold}, having so-called financial “¢rise$,” and anything else that ultimately leads to the increase in political, economic, social, and cultural power and its attendant wealth by that government’s owners and operators, America’s Ruling Political Class.

    And it, of course, is very ably aided and dutifully abetted in marketing and selling those Lies as Mis-, Dis-, and/or Mal-Information to the American People [and the World] by America’s Media, main stream, blogosphere, and/or social.


  4. Apropos of the subject: namely, humanity’s ability to imagine — and imaginatively exploit — fanciful alternatives to everyday reality, the late actor Alan Rickman wrote the following heartfelt note of gratitude to J. K. Rowling, author of the ten-volume “Harry Potter” children’s fantasy (1997-2007):

    [begin quote]

    For Empire Magazine,
    April 26, 2011

    “I have just returned from the dubbing studio where I spoke into a microphone as Severus Snape for absolutely the last time. On the screen were some flashback shots of Daniel, Emma and Rupert from ten years ago. They were 12. I have also recently returned from New York, and while I was there, I saw Daniel singing and dancing (brilliantly) on Broadway. A lifetime seems to have passed in minutes.
    Three children have become adults since a phone call with Jo Rowling, containing one small clue, persuaded me that there was more to Snape than an unchanging costume, and that even though only three of the books were out at that time, she held the entire massive but delicate narrative in the surest of hands.
    It is an ancient need to be told stories. But the story needs a great storyteller. Thanks for all of it, Jo.” -- Alan Rickman

    [end quote]

    Personally, I have never read any of the Harry Potter novels, nor have I seen any of the films based upon them. The apparent subject matter simply does not appeal to me. Still, I very much admired Alan Rickman’s performances in Die Hard, Galaxy Quest, and Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd. A truly versatile actor and credit to his profession who ably demonstrated that even a great story requires a great interpreter to make the purely fanciful appear visibly real to an audience hungry for escape from merely mundane existence.

    Bon Voyage in your journey to Eternity, Alan Rickman. “By Grabthar’s Hammer, you shall be” remembered.


  5. Anybody who has any doubts that America has begun its transition from a merely Flailing Nation-State to a Failing Nation-State needs only to consider the following fact:

    That the leading candidates to be the next President of the United States are Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

    All the more reason to seriously doubt whether the United States will survive long enough to celebrate its 250th birthday on July 4, 2026, 1,184 days from today. Or if it does survive, that it will be in any condition or mood to celebrate anything.


  6. America’s Media likes to claim itself as the so-called “Fourth Branch” of the government, after the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Branches. The plain, simple, ugly fact of the matter is that the Fourth Branch of that government is the Federal Reserve System, and the Media is nothing but a bunch of errand and messenger boys and girls. Any who doubt this are invited to read the following. As Captain Willard put it in APOCALYPSE NOW, “The bullshit is so deep you need water wings just to stay afloat.” …:


    When current US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen served as chair of the Federal Reserve in 2017, she confidently predicted that there would not be another financial crisis “in our lifetimes”.

    Less than six years later, in March 2023, three US banks collapsed in just one week.

    Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank were the second- and third-largest banks to go under in US history. And after they crashed, the government immediately bailed out their wealthy depositors.

    Among the main beneficiaries of this bailout were billionaires and big corporations.

    The government’s Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insures US bank deposits up to $250,000 per customer.

    More than 93% of Silicon Valley Bank’s deposits and 90% of Signature Bank’s deposits exceeded this FDIC-insured limit.

    The average deposit at Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) was around $5 million.

    The 10 largest accounts at SVB, together, held a staggering $13.3 billion.

    Despite the fact that these billionaire accounts were thousands of times larger than the FDIC-insured limit, the US government paid all of the uninsured deposits.

    The oligarchs and huge corporations who knowingly held billions of dollars of uninsured funds in the banks were not forced to take a haircut; they didn’t lose a cent.

    Geopolitical Economy Report previously noted how the US Federal Reserve printed $300 billion in one week to stabilize the banking system. According to the Associated Press, $143 billion of that $300 billion was borrowed by FDIC-managed holding companies for SVB and Signature Bank and used to pay their uninsured depositors.

    On March 28, a hearing organized by the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs provided even more information about this scandal.

    In written testimony for the hearing, the chairman of the FDIC, Martin Gruenberg, revealed:

    “At SVB [Silicon Valley Bank], the depositors protected by the guarantee of uninsured depositors included not only small and mid-size business customers but also customers with very large account balances. The ten largest deposit accounts at SVB held $13.3 billion, in the aggregate.”

    The FDIC estimates that the cost to the DIF [Deposit Insurance Fund] of resolving SVB to be $20 billion. The FDIC estimates the cost of resolving Signature Bank to be $2.5 billion. Of the estimated loss amounts, approximately 88 percent, or $18 billion, is attributable to the cost of covering uninsured deposits at SVB while approximately two-thirds, or $1.6 billion, is attributable to the cost of covering uninsured deposits at Signature Bank.

    As journalist David Dayen noted, this means that more than $13 billion of the $18 billion (over 72%) that the US government paid to bail out uninsured Silicon Valley depositors went to these 10 huge billionaire accounts.

    Continued at


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