The Rich Are Getting Louder and the Eventual Victory of Quiet
While the world thrashes and flounders in injustice, the rich are loud in order to conceal their contribution to it all.
The most obvious example is Donald Trump – rich white man flaunting his racism, sexism, and imperialism in a dull-witted display to entertain and distract from the fact that he has no intention of even trying to do something vaguely beneficial to the 99% of US voters, yet still wants their votes (and their money spent on his narcissistic products).
Those of us not living in the US do get the impression that presidential nominees – not even candidates yet – spend more time and money on electoral campaigning than they would on actually working were they to win the race. Or at least it would be close. The more than a year and hundreds of millions spent is insanity, and well more than the month spent in Venezuela for example.
But political theater is their tried and tested tool for avoiding the important issues, with this scream- about-nothing dynamic used by corporations themselves, seeing them spend irrational amounts on advertising. Monsanto for example, spent in 2014 in Colorado Dupont, 22 times more than those supporting mandatory food labeling ahead of a November 4 vote on the issue, according to state campaign records. Companies have more power to be heard even if they have no intelligent arguments as to why it is better not to tell consumers what is in their food.
The rich own the words and they take up most of the space in the media, using their loud words to convince us to buy what we don’t need, and even what is bad for us. Coca-cola, in an exponential fight for market share with Pepsi, a company that produces exactly the same thing, has made a yearly commitment of roughly US$3.5 billion for advertising.
Loud and quiet:
Some things were very loud: bomb years, the taste of love when mixed with work stress, politician insult tennis, the billboard advertising invasion of public space, the rich and famous parading on red carpets in screaming diamond jewelry, the chainsaw murder of old forests, the overproduction of useless plastic goods, the overproduction of tedious television-waste, the high fences of the world brutally policing borders, the ricochet of police gunshots penetrating protesters and fleeing Black people, the Christmas commotion justifying mad consumerism…
And some things were quiet: the slow and colorful growth of imagination, a soul given to struggle without ceremony, a movement fighting for each breath – insisting, stories being planted among the calendar days, whispered hugs of solidarity, something new understood, the blanket warmth of sunsets, eyelid kisses, stars and whales, poetry, the subtle courage of years of hard unrewarded work, and breath.
The real heroes didn’t need superman capes. They didn’t need to advertise with loud blinking blue lights that they had done one small thing. That’s not why the agricultural workers and activists and volunteer teachers and night shift nurses and refugees and unpaid journalists and community builders and imprisoned poets did it. One day, the humble would drown out the loud-egos.
The space given to the loudness of those who are artists at escaping actual work is a dynamic reflected in our own daily lives. Exploited groups such as lower class workers, women, non-whites, migrants, and so on frequently face many more hurdles and are taken less seriously than their loud, dominant, white male counterparts. In the job world, being bossy, rude, boasting and “confident” are traits that are often rewarded and seen as signs of leadership over actual experience in the field or collaborating with peers.
When I was about 22 and had been a member of socialist and activist groups for four years and had a degree in politics, with distinction, my father – an engineer and someone who has never been interested in current affairs and politics, told me that socialism or communism meant no one owned anything. I tried to explain that it was about democratically deciding what was produced, but he insisted. It felt like then that no amount of experience would convince him to take me seriously – and it has felt like that in countless life moments since. He treated my mum like that every day for 17 years, and many other domestic and other types of relationships suffer similar abusive dynamics.
The ultimate prize of course though for being loud and not taking others seriously goes to Fox News and its bigoted talkers in suits interviewing, in this case, Reza Aslan, a man with a PHD and 20 years studying religions.
“You’re Muslim, so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?”
“To be clear, I’m a scholar of religions, with four degrees, including one in the new testament and fluency in biblical Greek who has been studying the origins of Christianity for two decades…”
“It still begs the question, why would you be interested in the founder of Christianity?”
“Because it is my job as an academic, I am a professor of religion …”
The origins of social media and internet comment abuse:
The rich and privileged were bitter and nasty and the poor and abused were joyful. It was one of those things where the privileged (and those who craved being like them) passed their time with racist attacks and sexist slurs and any sort of unoriginal hate they could slam down the throats of the others.
Meanwhile, the poor fought and campaigned and created and slammed poetry and danced down night time and invented colorful dishes and amazed with street food inventions and painted the world fascinating. Why was it like this? Because the rich and powerful only had their privileges to lose. But the abused had a world to gain, and that meant a future to dream of.