Saturday, December 7, 2013

PR as a Selfie

Nelson Mandela is dead.   And in remembering him, a lot of people choose to forget.


They forget the real person, what he stood for and what happened in the end when released from prison, he became president of South Africa and oversaw the transition of a divided nation of   -- rich and poor,   separate from birth by law and race-- to a supposedly freer nation --rich and poor still separate from birth --not by law or race --just by the cruelty of economic circumstance. Now, black and white can mix freely -- if they have the money. 

Post image for South Africa’s untold tragedy of neoliberal apartheid
The world sheds its tears -- all kinds of tears -- as people compete to show fashionable grief--  that they are relevant and informed and open-minded and tolerant, in all the usual ways. The tears are virtual-- rather than real. 

To go with our designer T shirts, we must have designer emotions.

Most of the world does not lament passing of the man all. After all, it was quite happy to let him rot in a prison cell for thirty years --he, who could have been Assange, Manning, Snowden of his day,  --except for his maintaining steadfastly the option of armed insurrection  Mandela is largely mourned as an icon --created by culture and the media. Just click on the icon and watch alternative history play.

Yes, Mandela as just an opportunity for a Selfie. His eulogists -- David Cameron and Obama, for example, don't give a shit.  If Mandela had remained a Freedom Fighter, he probably would have been droned or assassinated by a Seal Team.

Fortunately for Mandela he be became a Facebook Hero.  And his death, an opportunity for self-congratulation.  There is nothing too sad, even the death of a man, that it cannot be commodified.

So the outpouring we see has nothing to do with Mandela -- certainly nothing at all to do with his principles and values -- certainly nothing to do with what he suffered for. It has everything to do with us --and our need to look good. As I said, it is a giganormous Selfie.

facebook fakebook Our Sad Future Online: Fake Likes, Fake Friends, Fake Fans
Oh, how terrible,  you say and  you post your feelings to the 2,345 people who have “friended you”, of which you have actually met 14 -- along with a  photo of this morning’s eggs and bacon and the new brown shoes you bought yesterday.  I am so sad-- and shall I wear blue or brown?

Mandela?  Who was he?  Yesterday’s terrorist, friend of Fidel and Gaddafi and Arafat?

,,,we would countenance no loss of life. But if sabotage did not produce the results we wanted, we were prepared to move on to the next stage: guerrilla war and terrorism.

Was Mandela instead a  peacemaker who forgave murderers and torturers to buy the friendship of conglomerates that rapping not just Africa but the rest of the world?     No matter -- the man's's dead.  So it's time for a happy outpouring of sorrow. We live in an Age of Irony, in which Morality is confused with banal Normality.

Cartoon: potential terrorist! (medium) by ademmm tagged terror,america,iraq,war,usa,soldier

Implicit in this outpouring of fake emotion is a denial of collective shame – that so many people are too stupid and lazy to turn off the TV and do something – like thinking.

Of course, you cannot think when you are asleep.

Some people go through their entire lives asleep. It has been that way for some time.

Until recently people went to school, studied, dated married, worked, had kids, too vacations, grew old and died, completely asleep  --clutching their remotes desperately  so they can reach out to the TV, as once people reached out a friend or lover.

But we have evolved. .  While we still spend our lives in dreamland, our cellphones have become our technological umbilicals to virtuality, a wider virtuality, true -- and one with the potential to be something else -- but mostly a way to forget the sometimes jarring reality of things and people.

Banality, said Hannah Arendt, echoing her lover Heidegger, is the source of evil.   Banality is  , somnolence, sloth,  uncritical belief -- forgetfulness.  We open our eyes --only when our immediate survival is threatened – and then it is usually too late.

There are two groups of people, lost to this kind of normapathy. .

There are those who just don't give a fuck.  As in:  apartheid?  WTF?  That was in Africa, dude. We were AOK where we are, and like apartheid  was before anyway. Before?

Before what? What has changed?  Things like racism and apartheid and the like do not die -- they reincarnate in different forms, with different names, which is why we have had so many genocides, why the fascism that epitomized by Nazism appears also in colonialism, corporatism, Zionism, Americanism and endless list of 'isms".

The WTF group don't see this endless struggle.  Or maybe they -- but WTF.

In contrast, however, there is another group of normapaths.   These are those, mostly centrists, wo give lip service to all the progressive ideas -- in polls  -- because they want to look good, which means keeping up with traffic on the ideological Mainstreet.   .  It's that Selfie thing again.

These are the  people  are in favor of compromise -- decriminalizing marijuana but not legalizing it  --educational reform and charter schools, too -- equality without redistribution of wealth -- a two-state solution in Palestine -- with Gaza and the WestBank as bantustans.

In polls, these people support the labeling of GMO foods but vote against it in referendums -- if they vote at all.  These are the people that gave us George Bush instead of Nader, Obama instead of Kucinich.

The "center" is banal.  It wants to look 'progressive' because it wants to be 'in', not 'out', like people who don't own smartphones.  If Tea Party and their like are crazy, the Center through sins of omission are subtly evil.

 Looking back over time. Mandela stayed in prison a long, long time because so many people simply didn't care, really.    

 No guilt

Yes, but we have a life, you say.  We have to care about that, too.   A good point, yes.

Because in a few years, that life of yours will be threatened.

 The world’s population is increasing beyond its limits -- and with it inequality and the abuses of power. On the horizon is total destruction of the environment, presaged by war, famine, and disease, endangering humankind as a species. The more comfortable you are now – the more risk you face later. And when you die -- in the Great Dying sure to come --  who will shed tears for you – there will be no one left to cry -- not even to affect the kind of faux grief so many express for Mandela.

 If you truly mourn Mandela,   mourn the revolutionary -- and mourn yourself and your children and their children, too. .

Mourn your comfy couch, our TV,  time at the mall, TV and cheap gasoline, Desperate Housewives, the Superbowl-- and all the things you use to remain oblivious.

If  we truly mourn Mandela, we should feel mourn the children killed in Yemen and Pakistan by American bombs. We should mourn the innocents killed by Israeli bullets.  We should mourn the innocents killed by police on our own streets. We should mourn the death of democratic process.    The sadness we feel should fuel anger.

Mandela stayed in jail a long time.  Likewise, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange.   Snowden will stay in exile.   Our society loathes men and women of principle.  .


So if you are one of those who see the death of Mandela as an opportunity for a Selfie -- please un-friend me.  And I don't want to see photos of your breakfast either.

No comments:

Post a Comment