666 varieties of instant coffee

A 1971 Earth Day comic strip written and illustrated by Walt Kelly, featuring Pogo and PorkypineIn this mad world of 2012, there's a lot being said and written about "them". They are poisoning the water. Destroying the global financial system. Making my children fat. They. The ones who are polluting and plundering and propagandizing.

Who is they? Financial Institutions. Pharmaceutical companies. Agribusiness. Arms manufacturers. The Military. Government. The evil ones destroying the world. The bad guys. The others.*

Pretty disparate group, if not dissolute! There are at least two things they have in common: They all seek to perpetuate themselves, to thrive or at least survive.

And they all operate through people: employees, shareholders, soldiers, comrades, colleagues etc.

But is it the evil banks who are destroying the world's financial system? Or is it the people who own the banks? Or the regulators? Or the legislators?

Or is it the people who elect the people who write the laws that help the people who regulate the banks, which are owned and run and staffed by people. Like you and me. Presumably.

Or put it another way.

We put our personal values on hold when we check into work every morning. We are part of things at work we wouldn't be part of in our personal life. Then we go home in the evening and watch the news on the idiot box and make doleful remarks about the sad state of the world.

But hypocrisy begins at home, with the SUV in the garage. Or at the Supermarket, forlornly wandering about the 666 varieties of instant coffee.

It's them: Big Advertising. They force us to consume. Through their lies.

But again, who is they? Is it the copywriters, the people who conceive and write the lies? Or the Creative Directors? Ad Agency CEOs? Clients? Shareholders? Media Proprietors? Or the people who believe the lies? Or the people who swallow the lies, knowing them to be false?

Them is us. You are me. Googoogoojoob.

* The faceless ones: They say you should drink eight glasses of water a day. They say you should get counselling after trauma. They say butter is bad/good for you.


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Bruce Thompson said...

Coffee with a few shakes of cardamom makes delicious bitter Arabic coffee. Add cinnamon to the mix and you have chai. Cinnamon and cardamom with green tea equals the traditional Indian chai that sells for a fortune to we lazy Westerners. Seems to me everyone is out to make a buck from coffee addicts. The British fought wars over tea and opium understanding that caffeine and opium addicts gave them power and strength as an Empire. Targeting caffeine addicts, like people with gambling, drug and alcohol, and sex addiction is a sure way for corporations to make money. Sad but true...the Devil wears a silk tie...and Prada.

masterymistery said...

Hi Bruce! Thanks for your comments. Yes, being a coffee addict and self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur (god that's hard to spell!) I'm well placed to talk about hypocrisy! And on that note, I think I'll go and have another cuppa...

Antares said...

My friend Jenny Daneels sent me a copy of David Abram's The Spell of the Sensuous which brilliantly dicusses the advent of alphanumeric symbols and the rapid spread of literacy. Eventually that got us all trapped in the semantic universe and anthropocentrism! Recommended read :-)

masterymistery said...

Sounds like a must-read, Antares, thank you. The small facility I have with language includes at least a partial realisation that the sharper the tool, the greater the risk that one will hurt oneself! We need words to tell us about the danger of words. Cheers, S

mgeorge said...

In some "conservative" places where shops are closed on weekends (not that this is a bad idea in itself), caffeitated "energy" drinks are still sold (in addition to cigarettes). This is because the younger generation shows dangerous signs of not wanting to smoke.

The problem is not the specific industry or consumption. It is
- the imperative that capital must grow.
- the dogma that more is better.
- supression of news of alternative sucesses such as low and sustainable consumption, off-the-grid homes and the dramatic revival of arid lands.
- personal mental insecurity.

masterymistery said...

mgeorge, listing your bullet points above from 1 to 4:

* 2 is given as the reason for 1

*3 is required so that people believe 2 is true

4 is handy as a psychological prop for 3

But 1 is a beauty: the dogma/mantra of growth at all costs.

Reading your comment, a striking metaphor occurred to me:

From physics, Guth's "Inflation" is used to explain the observable universe's relative apparent homogeneity in statistical terms in relation to the distribution of matter and other aspects.

Inflation "resolves" many of the difficulties of the big bang theory, including issues related to the distribution of matter. / macro structure of the universe.

But back to the metaphor, which links economics and physics:

In economics, "growth at all costs" is supposed to help ensure the gap between haves and have nots remains relatively stable, ie growth is how we maintain relative homogeneity of wealth distribution.

In physics, Inflation is believed to help explain how we maintain relative homogeneity of matter distribution. (and also to explain gaps between have and have not galaxies)

Or something ... still needs some work!

Thanks for your comments.

Cheers, MM

mgeorge said...

MM, trickle-down economics (that the rich will pass on their growing wealth) is a sick joke. The heroic Prof. Joseph Siglitz just reiterated this.

My main point is that most of the underlying instability arises from the nature of capital. Economists are merely spouting what is helpful to their masters, and politicial specimens implement the dogma. You see this clearly in the diametrically opposing minority opinions of judges (who produce their decisions together with their colleagues but do not get their way).

In this Alice-in-Wonderland madness, it was refreshing to see a documentary on San Franciso, where people are taking practical, sane steps collectively and individually to build a better world.

masterymistery said...

mgeorge, I'd like to watch that documentary: can you send url?

mgeorge said...

MM, it was on TV - maybe National Geographic. The series is Waterfront Cities.