A number of times in American history, the populace has glanced outside the duality struggles of content and briefly viewed the controlling symbols of context. Artists have glimpsed outside the duality and have allowed a large number of the ruled to see the rulers. And visionaries have also seen outside the duality. These are times when third parties in America have had their greatest impact.
But these times have been rare. Much more common has been the dominance of one of the symbols, equality or freedom, at the expense of the other. In the first half of the 20th century, the symbol of equality dominated America and the world in the form of mass communications, mass production, mass culture, totalitarian, communist, Fascist and Nazi political systems. As Erich Fromm observed, the overriding desire was to 'escape from freedom' during this period of time.
The second half of the 20th century, though, saw the decline of the equality symbol and the rise of the symbol of freedom. Much of the impetus for late capitalism and consumerism has been fired by this 'escape from equality' and a 'return to freedom.' This desire to escape from equality and return to freedom is behind the rise of postmodernism and relative narratives over meta-narratives. It is also responsible for a lack of standards of morality, for celebrity culture and Hollywood and the growth of the religious right and evangelical fundamentalists. It is also behind the growth of a segmented, niche marketplace full of numerous cable TV channels and the explosion of brands and consumer choice.
I thought it quite timely to be posing such questions of our current state in the world. Thinking in such terms individually to discern shit from shine-o-la excercises the muscle that has for too long now fallen into a state of atrophy. Too many, for too long, have allowed others, betters, more accomplished, more wealthy, more powerful, to present us public opininion 'free, courtesy of the house' for us to follow and display. Goods to purchase and appropriate social conduct all available for free marketing to You.
This market obediance has led us to the place and time that we find ourselves in today and that same programming is what me must undo collectively.
This would be a truly fruitful situation from which a productive counterculture could be a feasible reality; but if we're to make that future a reality, there is a lot of collective self-improvement to be done.