But this time, I felt I had to say something. I needed to set him straight.
Outside of his pot-smoking, "stick it to the man" world of anarcho-punk, nobody else got it. Somehow I just didn't understand how I was merely a tool helping Big Business and The Government in their efforts to keep the free-thinking, morally justified poor man down.
I grabbed him by the lapels of his
"You're a slave!", The Kid hissed, "You're a slave controlled by the corporations."
"What the Hell are you talking about?" asked the man.
"The corporations, man! They own you!" The Kid continued, "They control what you listen to, what you buy, what you think, and they do it through the mass media."
"Uh huh," the man said, half-amused and half-skeptical.
"And you don't even realize it!" The Kid's venom flowed, "You're gorging at the trough of Consumerism, fattened up by the Capitalists until you can be sold for slaughter for their profit!"
"Uh huh," said the man again, skepticism turning to annoyance.
"They control the flow of information! They keep you sated, dumb, and dependent," continued The Kid's diatribe, "You can't live without their processed foods, their time-wasting 'entertainment products', their oil, and their cheap mass-produced electronic goods. Without a steady supply of their crap, you'd wither and die!"
"Listen, kid..." the man interrupted.
"Don't you 'Listen, kid' me," The Kid screamed, "I don't need no automaton talking down to me! Grow some balls and start thinking for yourself!"
The man turned away in disgust and walked away.
"Don't come crying to me," The Kid hollered after him, "to come bail you out when the world goes to Hell!"
That Kid was me. The man (as opposed to The Man) was anyone unfortunate enough to talk politics with me.
In the early 90s, I was a holy terror. I'd just hit my twenties, and had a profoundly negative world view... formed by the megabytes of poorly-spelled, gramatically atrocious Anarchy textfiles I'd read from BBSes and uucp/usenet groups at the time (home internet was still a couple of years away), and shaped by the same anarcho-punk music I listened to at the time. I was also (along with 400+ coworkers) laid off from my job at a local farm equipment manufacturer due to business climate and politics due to foreign ownership, which really didn't help my mindset.
In my (now-admittedly) warped view, both The Government and The People were simultaneously being controlled by The Corporations and played against each other. The People were kept in their place via the mass media, dulling our minds with vacuous TV, music, and movies, and fuelling the economy by keeping us hooked on cheap, mass-produced, disposable consumer goods. The Corporations used their Government lackeys to swat us back down should we stand up to them, and would lobby The Government to approve whichever unsafe practice or chemical they needed for whatever reason.
Yeah, I was that far-gone (and got worse when we got an internet account via the University of Manitoba). Thankfully, I stopped short of wearing a tinfoil hat and living in fear of foreign intelligence services.
But, we all have to grow up sometime. After finding a new job and being forced to take anger management courses after a series of... events, my world view did eventually soften. The world isn't quite so bad, and people aren't the mindless sheep the "enlightened few" make them out to be.
I relayed that message to my young counterpart from the intro to this post.
"Mindless sheep," I told him, "wouldn't have overthrown their dictators in the Arab Spring. They wouldn't be Occupying Wall Streets worldwide. They wouldn't be protesting Tar Sands and oil pipelines. Even the most, as you put it, brainwashed, among us know we have the power to change our situations. I have only to point to these recent examples."
"Huh," he said, as he began to realize.
"As for consumerism, have you ever heard the phrase Voting with your feet?" I asked, "Voting with your wallet?"
He nodded in the affirmative.
"After a while, people get sick of planned obsolescence. After replacing their broken DVD player for the nth time, people will begin to look at better quality models." I told him, "The same holds true with most consumer goods."
"And after getting so many defective goods back," I continued, "the retailers stop carrying them if they're no longer profitable."
"I see," he said.
"And as for your dreaded Conservatives?" I smiled, "They're only in power because, realistically, there wasn't anyone else to vote for... the other parties were either full of newly-appointed and inexperienced members, or were self-destructing."
It was sinking in, so I gave him the only piece of advice I'm qualified to give, "It's alright to fight, but know why you're fighting, and whom. Ignore the spin and commentary, focus on the issues. Get it?"
"Yes," he replied.
"I'm glad," I smiled, "but never stop questioning."
He smiled and walked away.
I smiled, knowing I've come full circle... in the immortal words of Johnny Rico, "We're the old men, Ace!"
Which reminds me, I vaguely remember planning a tongue-in-cheek series about the New World Order years ago... perhaps it's time I picked up where I left off..?