Economy & Finance Neoliberalism Privilege Ungagged Writing

Rise Up and Abandon the Creeping Meatball

Chuck Hamilton


Remember what Jean Shepherd said about creeping meatballism being the passive acquiescence of people who surrender to the demands of the consumer culture and collaborate in their own manipulation? In the Great Satan back in the 1960s, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, and three of their friends founded the counterculture-oriented Youth International Party whose slogan was “Rise up and abandon the creeping meatball”. It’s in the yippie spirit, in fact, that I’m now referring to America as the Great Satan, certainly not out of any respect for that chicken-fucker Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who coined the term. Uncle Sam may be the more common nickname, but in that guise America is the uncle comes to your bedroom at your parents’ house at night with its trousers unzipped.

I remember a story I heard on the radio (remember those), on National Public Radio, I think, about a couple who had this pet chimpanzee, a female they’d named Jane. There came a point when they couldn’t care for her anymore, and thinking she should be with her own kind, they gave her over to the local zoo. The first time they came to visit her, she became extremely excited, especially when they gave her a bunch of treats. They came again and did the same, failing to notice the agitation from the other chimps. When they returned the third time, Jane wouldn’t come near them, and had clearly been beaten. Asking the zookeeper what happened, he explained that they should have brought enough for all of the group.

There’s a quote going around falsely attributed to Jody Foster that was actually a computer-generated meme. Maybe machines are not as stupid as we thought. The quote goes, “Attacking the rich is not envy; it is self-defense. The hoarding of wealth is the cause of poverty. The rich aren’t just indifferent to poverty: they create it and maintain it.” That’s the end of the so-called quote, but if it had continued, the computer would’ve added that they maintain it through the power of the political state and informal means of social control such as the creation of patriotism and making the poor ashamed of the poverty inflicted upon them in order to maintain the wealth of the few, as if it is somehow their fault rather than the wankers and cunts who have thrust it upon them.

Another meme I’ve seen in relation to the suffering visited upon Greece by the European Union which should make one have second thoughts about that body, that just because Brexiters were so obnoxiously bigoted does not mean the EU is a good thing anymore than Donald Trump makes Hillary Clinton a good thing or Donald Cameron and Theresa May make Tony Blair a good thing. This meme, describing the chain of events leading to the crash of 2007 and the ongoing Great Recession, quite accurately describes austerity.

It goes like this: Rich people cause economic crisis. Rich people demand bail out from state for causing the crisis. Rich people do better than ever before. Rich people demand austerity, which is a fancy word for cutting services for the non-rich, to pay for bailing out rich people. Rich people blame poor people for the crisis they themselves have created, and become angry that poor people think they deserve better, calling for more sacrifice…sacrifice from the poor, that is.

So, the answer to the age-old question of why is there so much poverty in the world, as answered by a computer no less, is that there is poverty because there is wealth. Wealth is, in fact, is the sole cause of poverty. Without a greedy few amassing hoards of resources out of the reach of the rest of humanity, there would be more than enough for all. The needs of the many should outweigh the greed of the avaricious few.

Much is made of the divide between the basement dwellers who supported Bernie Sanders and the deplorables who support Donald Trump. The truth is that both sets of us are driven by the same underlying motivation; less and less available for the many as the few, the 1%, hoard more and more to themselves. Like the grassroots of the Occupy movement vis-à-vis the rank-and-file of the Tea Party movement in its early days. The differences are superficial and ephemeral, just like the illusory divide between grassroots supporters of Brexit and grassroots opposers of Brexit. The more we buy into this division which is as artificial as any national border, the more we collaborate in our own manipulation and allow the meatball to creep on until it rolls over us like a boulder. We can’t abandon the creeping meatball unless we first rise up and demand what all of us deserve, a cooperative commonwealth of the many, by the many, and for the many, even the then formerly wealthy whose hoards have been more fairly distributed.

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