Our Culture Undermines Us

In the Q&A last Saturday, a woman asked the exasperating eternal question, “Why do people act and vote against their own interests?” Everybody wants to know that.

The answer is that the entire culture, set up and controlled by the employers, is working against us. They own virtually all the advertising industry, the publishers, the movies, the news sources, the schools, the concert halls — everything that hits us intellectually and emotionally. And it’s constantly!

“Society is everywhere in conspiracy against the manhood [and womanhood] of each of its members.” — Thoreau


Artists fight back in coffee houses with limited audiences. They do even better on the internet. There’s a “union song playlist” on YouTube, (click here) for instance.

Democracy has a way of inserting itself even in commercial cultural enterprises. The movies, for example, have to sell tickets, so they can’t constantly preach against everything we believe. I enjoy writing reviews because there are some good things said in movies like “The Free State of Jones” (click here) where the main character explains that his band of Mississippi guerrillas are not exactly fighting for the North in the Civil War. He says they’re fighting against the wealthy, and that’s not the same thing.

Of the world of art and culture, I believe my favorite area is the daily newspaper comics. I can imagine that the cartoonists try hard to stay neutral on the issues, but they have to cultivate an honest audience; consequently democracy sneaks in again. “Dilbert,” which always shows management as idiots, is my favorite of course. Recently, “Non Sequiter” showed St Peter working the handle on a trap door that sent Republican politicians immediately Down Below. “Doonesbury,” of course, punishes greedy politicians mercilessly.

My own radio show, “Workers Beat” on KNON radio (click here) is an exception to the rule. But the rule remains that the bosses control almost everything that influences us.

–Gene Lantz

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