Tuesday, August 14, 2012

'They Live' Directed by John Carpenter

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

The release date of John Carpenter's film "They Live" is 1988 but seems more recent, more like a commentary on today's news than it is a commentary of 1980s paranoia. To be sure, there were many who warned of the dehumanizing effects of mass culture, political propaganda, political agendas --right or left!

The temptation to see allegory is not merely justified; it is, surely, the filmmakers intent. Like the much earlier "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" this message is political, a cautionary tale. While 'The Day the Earth Stood Still" deals with potential invasion, it is the alien's intent to warn us of ourselves. Klaato comes to earth with a warning, a warning about how we may destroy ourselves in a nuclear holocaust. But, he might just as well have had in mind our enslavement from without and, most ominously, from within. It the latter case, 'we' would have no one but ourselves to blame. Or as Shakespeare put it in 'Julius Caesar':
"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings."
--Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)
'The Invasion of the Body Snatchers' seems obvious in retrospect: the 'seed pods' were the American right wing, Republicans, narrow-minded bigots, authoritarians. They would enslave us from within. John Carpenter's 'They Live' is both allegory and warning. Carpenter has created 'aliens' who have disguised their origins and their 'evil' intentions. They cannot be detected without the use of special eye glasses. The viewer accepts this as a convenient plot device. Wisely, Carpenter does not slow down the action for lectures about how this kind of thing may be feasible. Nor does he reveal an agenda but through a well-crafted story --not lectures or soliloquies. It's a device which successfully moves both plot and action to a riveting and inevitable conclusion/climax.

'They Live' is not merely Sci-Fi. It's a horror film in which a dreadful future is the monster. And, like Frankenstein, the 'monster' is one of our own creation, in this case, the complicity of 'earthlings' with evil aliens. Unlike many Sci-Fi movies and literature, the aliens of 'They Live' do not appear to have anything profound or awe-inspiring in mind. Like many earthlings the ugly aliens, resembling death heads when seen with special shades, have, it seems, only the U.S. right/GOP agenda in mind, that is, rigging Wall Street, acquiring great wealth and power, usurping the media for purpose of mass mind control. So far --they differ little from the Republican party.
Here's another review which, likewise, spotted the political implications:
John Carpenter wrote and directed this science fiction thriller about a group of aliens who try to take over the world by disguising themselves as Young Republicans. Wrestler Roddy Piper stars as John Nada, a drifted who makes his way into an immense encampment for the homeless. There he stumbles upon a conspiracy concerning aliens who have hypnotized the populace through subliminal messages transmitted through television, magazines, posters, and movies. When Nada looks through special Ray-Bans developed by the resistance leaders, the aliens lose their clean-cut "Dan Quayle" looks and resemble crusty-looking reptiles. Nada joins the underground, teaming up with rebel-leader Frank (Keith David) to eradicate the lizard-like aliens from the body politic. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi
--They Live, Rotten Tomatoes
John Carpenter directed but, interestingly, wrote the screenplay under the pseudonym: Frank Armitage, the name of one of the characters in the movie. I have no idea why Carpenter chose to do this. In any case, the film (full movie below) is scary, challenging, and, if action is your cuppa tea, there is a memorable fight scene to end all fight scenes. Having failed to kill one another, the two characters are destined to be friends but we don't know that at the time. There is the possibility that one will kill the other. The audience is sure to find in each character traits with which he or she can identify.

Called part sci-fi, part horror, part dark comedy, it is, in fact, a cautionary tale. That it works on every level accounts for its enduring popularity.

Monday, August 13, 2012

How Citizens United Subverted the Rights of Real People and Created a Fascist State

by Len Hart, the Existentialist Cowboy

I've often written about the detailed and vivid account of A. Hitler's meeting with top German industrialists --Krupp, Thysen, I.G. Farben et al. It was in that meeting that German fascism was made real in terms of an agreement between the Reich and its 'fascist' sponsors, the huge corporations who would benefit from aggression, death and destruction.
The meeting may not have defined the word 'fascism' but it most certainly birthed a Nazi regime in which corporations were given and promised not only privileges but, most importantly, big juicy contracts.

From a lesser known source is another detailed description of the nature of Hitler's fascist partnership with big business:
"From now on, the government in Berlin will allocate large sums to industrialists so that each can establish a secure post-war foundation in foreign countries. Existing financial reserves in foreign countries must be placed at the disposal of the party in order that a strong German empire can be created after defeat. It is almost immediately required," he continued, "that the large factories in Germany establish small technical offices or research bureaus which will be absolutely independent and have no connection with the factory. The bureaus will receive plans and drawings of new weapons, as well as document which they will need to continue their research. These special offices are to be established in large cities where security is better, although some might be formed in small villages nears sources of hydroelectric power, where these party member can pretend to be studying the development of water resources for benefit of Allied investigators."

--Martin Bormann, Nazi in Exile, Paul Manning [PDF]
Some have said that the 'brand' of fascism now emerging in Western democracies, the U.S. in particular, is a completely new phenomenon. I disagree! The odious 'Citizen-United' decision, in which SCOTUS decreed that corporations were 'persons', is an open and odious declaration that a corporation may utilize its wealth, riches and privileges to enslave a population of 'real people' whose humanity is as self-evident as were the principles Thomas Jefferson had declared of 'real' persons in our own 'Declaration of Independence":
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...
Earlier, John Adams had written of the same concepts in somewhat different words:
All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.
Now, of course, we know that these rights extend to women as well. Surely --even our crooked court must understand that. Even so, the Roberts court cannot be trusted to defend the rights of men or women, or, indeed, the rights of REAL persons of any color, creed or sex. Our court cannot be trusted to uphold the law when it was respected. Nor does it recognize an even older and more venerable position: that governments derive their power, and rights of power from the peole who are ---alone --sovereign!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Gen. Smedley Butler: 'War is a Racket'

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

This is a well-known classic but cannot be repeated or posted often enough as millions still seem not have to 'gotten' the message: WAR IS A RACKET!

The author --Gen. Smedly Butler --should know. This is essential reading as was Former President Dwight Eisenhower's famous farewell warning of the growing power of the Military-Industrial Complex.
War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the many.

I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we’ll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.

I wouldn’t go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.

There isn’t a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its “finger men” to point out enemies, its “muscle men” to destroy enemies, its “brain men” to plan war preparations, and a “Big Boss” Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.

It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.

I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long.

I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.

--Gen. Smedley Butler, War is a Racket
General Butler was eminently qualified to write and speak as he did. He was the most decorated U.S. Marine in history '... and very nearly became Commandant of the Marine Corps.' By the time of his retirement, he had received 16 medals, five for heroism. He received the Brevet Medal and TWO Medals of Honor (April 22, 1914 – Mexican Campaign in Veracruz Mexico; and November 17, 1915 – Haiti Campaign), all for separate actions.