We Need A Cultural Revolution

That's right. I said it. Why do we need a cultural revolution in the United States? Despite being (supposedly) the most advanced, richest country on the planet, we still hold on to ham-fisted puritanical and capitalist attitudes with regards to human relationships (Especially romantic/sexual relationships, as clearly demonstrated by the recent circus put on by our reality TV government with the help of corporate media outlets).

After being subjected to constant exploitation and alienation from our labor, ourselves and each other for centuries, it's safe to say the time is ripe for such a revolution.

Some may say that FDR's New Deal was a revolution of sorts, but this is not the case. Despite allowing workers to have some say in the work place and the rise in living standards that followed, the measures were temporary at best. The prevailing puritanical and capitalist attitudes with regards to human interaction still remained. Class stratification, apartheid and imperialism still remain the order of the day.

Now, I know some are thinking "But what about the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts?" or, "What about Affirmative Action?" Put simply, all it did was give a few people of color a chance to participate in and legitimize our empire's continued plunder while their bretheren still got the shaft. We weren't the first to think of affirmative action, either. In fact, libertarian goddess Ayn Rand was a recipient of affirmative action herself under the bolshevik government.

One should also not forget Social Security and Medicare's apartheid origins. Farm hands and domestic workers (most of which were people of color) were excluded from receiving both until the 1980s despite the fact that they were paying into it.

The 1980s was also the decade the capitalists decided to roll back the token concessions given to workers. After all, the Soviet Union was near death after the US capitalists goaded them to intervene in revolutionary Afghanistan (We trained the Mujahideen to put down the revolutionary forces there, leading to said forces to petition the Soviets for aid), so effectively speaking, there was nothing to challenge capitalist hegemony, especially after Gorbachev and Yeltsin sold off the Communist International for a slice of cheap pizza.

The rollbacks have left us without a country, completely alienated in every sense. Everything has been reduced to little more than a transaction, a purchase (a libertarian's wet dream). A vote. A meager offering in the megachurch collection plate while the preacher tells the congregation everything is their fault. This is one of many reasons a genuine cultural revolution is needed.

What would this look like? All one would have to do is take a look at revolutionary China after Chiang Kai-shek and the American-backed nationalists were expelled and before that, they were dealing with an opium epidemic brought on by the British East India Company. Initially they had problems during the Great Leap Forward. They tried to work within a prevailing meritocratic attitude that had persisted for almost as long as China herself.

Suffice it to say, when the Chinese Communist Party initially took over, they saw everything they opposed in a different light. They peasantry they initially supported and who had supported them had been greatly ignored while urban areas saw vast improvement. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the area of education. There was an obsession with passing exam after exam. This usually led to positions as government officials if folks managed to make it to the college level.

Meanwhile, in rural areas, education was practically nonexistent, and because the peasants were largely illiterate, they had no way to fight for their own rights for the simple fact they knew not how. This led to many problems and tragedies, as the village leaders were still obsessed with pleasing superiors and the peasants were always taught to keep their head down. It also didn't help that many rural areas were dealing with massive drought and flood events which led to mass mobilization by the villagers in rural counties (It is also likely that this is where most western demographers get their massively exaggerated death figures).

The failures in the Great Leap Forward were what led to the Cultural Revolution. With said revolution came massive improvements in industrialization, farming, rural education and the like in an effort to abolish the class system that had been in place for so long.

That isn't to say Mao Zedong didn't face opposition in his own party. Deng Xiaoping had largely opposed Mao from the start, though he did go along with the policies of the Leap and the Cultural Revolution, if only for his own personal gain. After Mao died, Deng took over and rolled back the changes made during the Cultural Revolution, beginning with the improvements in rural education because according to China's Ronald Reagan, rural schools weren't "real schools". And so, with that, the restoration of capitalism in China began, with China and her people being worse off for it.

If we are to have a cultural revolution of our own, we can't repeat the failures of The New Deal or Great Society because they never went far enough to abolish the underlying cultural attitudes that led to the failures of both in the first place.

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dkmich's picture

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"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

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Pluto's Republic's picture

I think if there ever is any sort of revolution in the US, it will be a cultural one.

I read an essay this week that seems to support your view. It certainly is a useful lens through which to regard the current state of the United States. It discusses where the extremely weird "Pledge of Allegiance" came from, the pledge all of us were forced to recite at least 3,000 times to soften-up our brains for further programming.

The origins of the pledge trace to the late 19th century, the product of an expansionist American project. In 1891, the family magazine Youth’s Companion asked 35-year-old Francis Bellamy, a former pastor of Boston’s Bethany Baptist Church, to fashion a patriotic program for schools around the country to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s “arrival in America” by “raising the U.S. Flag over every public school from the Atlantic to the Pacific.”

In just 23 lean words, Bellamy attempted to capture the “underlying spirit” of the American Republic. In so doing he wrote his way into the history books: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands — one Nation indivisible — with liberty and justice for all.”

While the language contained in the pledge is not overtly nativist or xenophobic, the spirt that animated its creation was steeped in this sort of bigotry.

Behind the Pledge was a panicked desire to define who the real Americans were against the rising tide of immigrants in the early 20th century. Bellamy was tapping into the majority Anglo view of the times. They were fine with the mostly white immigrants from northern and western Europe, who seemed as industrious as native-born Americans. But the Anglos recoiled at the darker immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, who were less likely to speak English and more likely to be Catholic or Jewish. Such immigrants were considered not fully white and thus virtually unassimilable. Bellamy lamented that “we cannot be the dumping ground of Europe and bloom like a flower garden.” To him, “every dull-witted and fanatical immigrant” granted citizenship threatened the American republic.

Bellamy’s pledge was written to advance the goal of assimilation by mobilizing the masses to support American cultural "doctrines” on order to ward off internal enemies hostile to “true Americanism.”

Thus, the Pledge of Allegiance was born and became a power tool of the Establishment Class.

The creation and proliferation of the pledge, in part, served as a way to consolidate white Anglo-Saxon American culture that the white mainstream would perceive as under siege — the very culture that had built the American republic. Essentially, Americans are brainwashed to follow anyone who nails a US flag to a stick and hoists it overhead. It's almost comical, in a Monte Python sort of way.

Although the pledge did not become a mandatory part of the school day until the 1930s, it exemplifies the ways in which culture works in moments of moral panic (or under the spell of government induced hoaxes) to secure the nation’s territorial and ideological borders.

In a similar way, the 1954 addition of the words “under God” to the pledge constituted a salvo against another outside menace — godless Communism.

The nativism of the 1890s that birthed the Pledge of Allegiance is still with us today. At a time when the president of the United States demands restrictive immigration laws in the wake of terrorist attacks and promises to build a “great wall” between the United States and Mexico to curb the flow of Mexican migrants whom he has categorically branded criminals and rapists, we would do well to learn from our history of race-based moral panics and compulsory patriotism.

I would think that the battleground for this cultural revolution is largely located in our own minds. At least half of the US population is probably unreachable in this regard.

Sorry if this is too far OT.

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The Aspie Corner's picture

@Pluto's Republic

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Modern education is little more than toeing the line for the capitalist pigs.

@Pluto's Republic The flag salute used to be uncannily like the Nazi salute. They changed right quick to hand over heart before WW2, but now, I'm wondering if they won't change back.....

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bellamy_salute

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divineorder's picture

Maybe it has already begun? A little humour...

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

The Aspie Corner's picture

@divineorder Besides, it's hard for us to ruin anything when the capitalists have been doing it themselves so they can make even more money off of the problems they cause.

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Modern education is little more than toeing the line for the capitalist pigs.

divineorder's picture

@The Aspie Corner @The Aspie Corner

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

The Aspie Corner's picture

@divineorder These vultures never stop, do they.

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Modern education is little more than toeing the line for the capitalist pigs.

Just about the time we're entering young adulthood and full of life, we're bombarded with the importance of preparing to be a successful drone. We mortgage our future on the chance we could make a "good living", and if unsuccessful at least we'll be an educated low level drone, cheap and useful. We get to participate in choosing which pro business anti worker faction that will rule us. We're free, for as long as the leash will let us be. We have no value beyond our usefulness to whatever entity is paying us, and we're taught to believe this with all our heart. By middle age when we have a family and responsibilities we're devalued, left to blame ourselves for our perceived failings, wonder if it's punishment for some unknowable transgression. And we die, fully consumed with the astronomical costs of illness and dying, our souls in anguish. In between we buy a bunch of crap that amuses us. or enhances our value to our bosses, and makes living a little more bearable. I don't think we have much of a culture right now.

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GreyWolf's picture

... by a fellow I follow over at Medium.

What America Should Do Now (But Won’t)
Four Things a Broken Society Won’t Do to Fix Itself

Here's an archive mirror in case you've read three articles there this month

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@GreyWolf It's gone one way, so far out of balance that the points the author makes is the only way out. The question is how to stop playing their game and make them play ours.

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The Aspie Corner's picture

@GreyWolf always tells me to 'think positive' and 'ignore people who don't give a shit about us'.

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Modern education is little more than toeing the line for the capitalist pigs.

thanatokephaloides's picture

@The Aspie Corner

Yup. This is why I get angry when my mother-in-law always tells me to 'think positive' and 'ignore people who don't give a shit about us'.

Ranks right up there with "Never mention anything that's wrong by name". As if refusal to talk about these problems will make them cease to exist.

The "Cultural Revolution" we need in this country is a de-Puritanizing one. We need to evict that "diseased piece of Apocrypha" (to use Sir Thomas Overbury's term) from the driver's seat of the USA.

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"I say enough! If Israel wants to be the only superpower in the Middle East then they can put their own asses on the line and do it themselves. I want to continue to eat."
-- snoopydawg

The Aspie Corner's picture

@thanatokephaloides It's the home of Hermaeus Mora, and all the knowledge you can stomach.

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Modern education is little more than toeing the line for the capitalist pigs.

thanatokephaloides's picture

@The Aspie Corner

Now, now. Apocrypha isn't *that* bad. It's the home of Hermaeus Mora, and all the knowledge you can stomach.

Mora and his home are obviously healthy Apocrypha. Smile

Puritanism is a disease. (Overton's point in his day, and mine in ours.)

Wink

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"I say enough! If Israel wants to be the only superpower in the Middle East then they can put their own asses on the line and do it themselves. I want to continue to eat."
-- snoopydawg