cross posted at the demise
As this divided, infrastructurally decrepit, middle class obviated, finance industry indentured, environmentally forsaken, compassion suppressing, rich get richer, war is the only answer, private capital coddling country slides off the rails towards the only demise that its choices can afford it, inhabited as it is by government protectors of big business who scream about government overreach, pettifogging mouthpiece Nobel Peace Prize winners who describe their child victims as terrorists expecting that their ‘framing’ absolves them from war crime guilt, humanitarians who call for the cindering of civilians, government regulators who claim they have only the power to de-regulate industries, criminal enforcement entities who wink&grin with private business owners as they say they cannot prosecute crimes unless they are committed by poor people, American patriots whose vision of freedom is to be freed from contributing to the common good and freed to move tax payer bailout money to untaxable off-shore accounts, political party apologizers who gladly accept tens of thousands of deaths every year in America so they can assert that laws created by the insurance industry to protect it from being thrown on the ash heap of history are somehow helping our poor and sick to receive care, I look out my Midwestern window today to have revealed to my weary eyes, a clump of river birch trees accepting its fate of dying to the winter, its beautiful death-shroud of golden leaves quivering in the portent of a northerly breeze. I am inspired today to sing praise to the bull-shit callers, the question askers (and answer demanders), those who will not give in or up as the fresh face of modern US neo-fascism glares threateningly back, the whistle blowers, the debate goers, the seed sowers who call out the collateral victim mowers, the division growers and baby in the bathwater throwers – those who recognize these ‘heelots’ for what they are and know that standing firm is the only stance to take when “standing up”.
Robert Riskin wrote the screenplay for the classic American film “Meet John Doe”, based upon a story by Richard Connel and Robert Presnell. The Capra film was released in 1941, but really reflects the time period of America’s last depression. As many know, the story involves a scheme concocted by a jaded newspaper woman who has been fired when a new owner of her newspaper comes in to “clean house”. The reporter convinces ‘John Doe’, an innocent country boy, to pretend to threaten to commit suicide due to the economic misery and America’s political intransigence to remedy the suffering, which gives the recently fired reporter an exclusive story – saving her job. The scheme careens out of the control of the schemers when the concocted story ignites a massive popular movement among regular Americans who are seeking both relief from the crushing economic depression as well as answers from politicians and the captains of industry. In an interesting fictional parallel to an historic incident, America’s industrial magnates conspire to seize control of the movement and utilize the agitated populace to instigate a coup, taking over America and instituting a fascistic new government that is directed by rich business owners to protect private capital and subordinate America’s workers and neuter the nascent popular political movement.
I know readers will see in this story many parallels to our current times – with the obvious exception being the fact that, during the previous depression, Hollywood would allow such a piece of socialist agit-prop to hit the big screens across America (even with its softening sub-plots) – and I encourage readers who have not seen this film in a long time to seek it out and view it comparing its mise-en-scene with today’s messy scenes in the USA; but my intent of bringing up this wonderful film is to call attention to a scene where ‘the Colonel” (played beautifully by Walter Brennan) gives his soliloquy, expounding on freedom in (from) this modern world.
After agreeing to the scheme, the hoboing John Doe is fed a meal, given new cloths by his newspapermen handlers, and $50 “spending money”. All of which leads to the Colonel frustratedly expressing his philosophy to a room full of regular modern Americans, city folk to be sure – but regular folks, just like those country folks in the American hinterland: Read the rest of this entry →