A Partisanship Of The Heart: Interior Measures Towards A Re-Visioning Of Capitalism’s Imperium Of Death

by Phil Rockstroh

Picture credit: The Jetstream Journal

According to a nationwide study [https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/drug-overdose-data.htm] conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a greater number of U.S. Americans died (approximately 65,000) from drug overdoses last year than were killed during the course of the Vietnam War.
All part and parcel of capitalism’s war against life itself. The emotional and physical pain, anxiety, and depression inflicted by the trauma inherent to a system sustained by perpetual exploitation has proven to be too much for a sizeable number of human beings to endure thus their need to self-medicate.
The root of addiction is trauma. The soul of the nation is a casualty of war. There is not an Arlington Cemetery for these fallen, no hagiographic ceremonies will be performed over their graves nor statues erected in memoriam. Their ghosts will howl through the long, dark night of national denial. Listen to their wailing. It is an imprecatory prayer. A curse and augury … that admonishes, our fate and the fate of the nation will converge … as the nation will stagger, keening in lament, to the abyss.
The solution: Within each of us swells a deathless song. Powerful. Resonate. Piercing. A song, miraculous of influence, plangent with the force to seize back your soul from the death-besotted spirit of the age. Let it rise from within you. Notice: how flocks of empire’s death birds scatter like ashes in the wind.
Yet it will not be possible to navigate around the cultural deathscape; we must walk through it and chronicle its serial affronts to our humanity:

You have to see that the buildings are anorexic, you have to see that the language is schizogenic, that ‘normalcy’ is manic, and medicine and business are paranoid.” James Hillman

Try this: Simply stand in the isle of a corporate, Big Box chain store or in the parking lot of a strip mall that squats, hideous, on some soul-defying, U.S. Interstate highway and allow yourself to feel the emptiness and desperation extant. The tormented landscape, besieged by an ad hoc assemblage of late capitalist structures, emporiums of usurped longing, reflects the desperate, rapacious nature of late capitalist imperium.
Compounding the pathos, the forces in play impose a colonizing effect upon the mind; therefore, a large percent of the afflicted have lost the ability to detect the hyper-entropic system’s ravaging effects. Stranded among the commercial come-ons and hyper-authoritarianism inherent to late stage capitalism’s imperium of death, the human psyche, like the biosphere of our planet, subjected, at present, to humankind-wrought ecocide, has begun to display the terrible beauty of a nightmare.
Internal weather has grown increasingly chaotic: the earth’s oceans and seas are rising; wildfires rage; drought scorches the earth. And conditions will grow increasingly inhospitable in regard to the flourishing of inner life, personal and collective thus will continue, and at accelerating rates, to be reflected in the web of phenomena we know as human culture.

The Decimated Working Class

Growing up in a working-class social milieu, as I did, I am confronted, more and more, by the news of the large number of men I grew up with who are dying in their 50s. As of late, when I contemplate the fact, I am forced to pause and seek solitude because my eyes become scalded with tears. I’ve known, over the years, hundreds of human beings, born into and ensnared by the crime against humanity known as poverty, broken by the culture of greed and social degradation, and blamed by the clueless and the callous for the tragic trajectory in which impersonal fate and the wounding culture, by no fault of their own, has placed them.
Thus arrive: Tears of rage; tears of outrage. Tears unloosed by passion and tempered by compassion … fall. If poverty was not so profitable for the greed-head elite, both punitive-minded conservatives and affluence-ensconced liberals alike, the situation would be addressed and rectified. The cause of the reprehensible situation, it should go without saying, is not the fault of the poor but the poverty of spirit at the core of capitalism.
Truth is the system, a hierarchy of ghouls, is maintained by harvesting the corpses of the powerless, by means of imperial slaughter and domestic, economic exploitation. Deep down, we know it. The system’s psychopathic beneficiaries, in particular, are aware of the reality. In fact, their desiccated hearts require being irrigated by blood. From the evidence of their actions, it appears they revel in the knowledge of the damage they incur. They appear to believe they will enter the golden dominion of heaven by climbing a mountain of corpses. It is time we dragged them back down to earth and subjected them to our earth-borne fury.
Or so goes my own (powerless) revelry. Of course, we the powerless, at this point, have been left with scant little but a dreaming heart. When we allow heartless power to subdue and usurp our longings, we languish. Thus many die of a broken spirit. The world itself can appear to be depleted of mercy. In turn, all too many begin to mirror the malevolence of the upper castes thereby losing their own measure of mercy.
Hostility directed at the poor is the shopworn, demagogic sleight-of-hand trick used to distract from realities such as: Every McMansion and high-end luxury high-rise constructed creates multitudes of the homeless. Every low pay, no benefits, no future Mcjob serves to decimate an individual, heart and spirit. Moreover the beneficiaries of the system promote the lie that shame should be the exclusive dominion of those broken by their system, a system, which is, in essence, a form of government-sanctioned gangsterism, by which they, the ruthless few, and they alone, benefit.
As a result, in an age of denial and duplicity, change tends to arrive violently. Reactionary, racist soreheads, brandishing Tiki torches, construct an ambulatory klavern in the hateful night. Maledictory tweets rise and roil the imperial air like a nimbus of locust. Unmoored from their sense of humanity by lashing angst and alienation, gunmen, in acts of warped libido, raise assault rifles and kill with no more connection to the strangers they slaughter than do stateside-deployed pilots of the empire’s predator drones.

A Needed Paradigm Shift

We human beings, as a species, have arrived at a profound point of demarcation: paradigm shift or perish. Yet, and the fact is mortifying in its implications, there is not a sign of the emergence, even an incipient one, of a viable resistance to the present order. Weekend marches and boutique protests might promote (ephemeral) feelings of affinity and jack the adrenal systems of participants. But the events have proven woefully inefficacious in regard to the rising and raging tides of adversity we face.
(In addition, monopolist, internet corporations, such as Google, Facebook and Twitter, at the behest of U.S. governmental forces, are further marginalizing the already almost vaporous left by means of presence-abridging algorithms of leftist websites and outright censorship of social media content. Dissenting voices are being ghosted into oblivion.)
An aura of bleakness prevails. Hope seems a fool’s palliative. The victims of drug overdoses and, in general, the large and rising, without precedent, untimely deaths of middle-aged, laboring-class people should be regarded as canaries in the coal mines of the late-stage capitalist order, an augury of calamities that loom due to the exponentially increasing harm being inflicted upon both humanity and environmental forces crucial to sustaining the continued viability of the human race.

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” C.G. Jung


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Ross Hendry
Ross Hendry
Dec 1, 2017 9:55 AM

Good quote from Carl Jung.
Humanity desperately does need to make the unconscious conscious. God is dead but the resulting frenetic materialism is proving a deeply unsatisfactory substitute. We have an inner repressed need for a spiritual outlook on life that needs to be made more conscious, to fill the void left by the decline in adherence to religion.

John Allen aka Ol' Hippy
John Allen aka Ol' Hippy
Nov 28, 2017 8:23 PM

There is never any mention on how many deaths are attributable to cigarettes. They still kill around 250 thousand people a year(USA). That’s more than gun deaths and all other drug related deaths COMBINED including alcohol related deaths, yet they are still legal(USA). Capitalism kills many people a year all around the world in many forms yet it still is regarded as the ONLY way for things to run economies and nations. It’s murdering Earth and her children. Will humans halt the destruction in time to save mankind?…..

Harry Stotle
Harry Stotle
Nov 28, 2017 9:36 AM

‘The victims of drug overdoses and, in general, the large and rising, without precedent, untimely deaths of middle-aged, laboring-class people should be regarded as canaries in the coal mines of the late-stage capitalist order’ – well its true that American have not been helped by either their for-profit health care system or the official response to the crises (criminalising even more people for petty drug use).
The US is the worlds leading opiate prescriber, “consider the amount of standard daily doses of opioids consumed in Japan. And then double it. And then double it again. And then double it again. And then double it again. And then double it a fifth time. That would make Japan No. 2 in the world, behind the United States.”
While street drugs are also readily available despite America’s love affair with ‘the war on drugs’.
Inadvertent use of polypharmacy (opiate + benzo, or other combinations) allied to the ready availibilty of the dangerous drug that killed Prince has only increased risk further.
Some good stuff from Carl Hart in analysing the relationship between opiates, health outcomes, and the criminal justice system including utter dismay at the response from Jeff Sessions who is likely to make a bad situation even worse.

Its hard to see how people with drug problems in America, especially poor people will find much solace in a country so in thrall to health care profits and high rates of incarceration.

Nov 27, 2017 7:30 PM

I think you need to consider the probability that the 3%, and especially the 1% of the 3%, are entirely sanguine about letting the other 97% perish. They have already scenario planned it in all likelihood…..
I see no evidence that all of humankind will perish. The ueber rich have scenario-planned nuclear holocaust and where to live to survive it. They are quite happy replacing the 97% with robots…..
It is the 97% who need to address their own mortality.

Erik K
Erik K
Nov 28, 2017 3:42 AM
Reply to  rtj1211

The consequences of climate change will eventually claim the wealthy also. I think all humans will be extinct within 5 years or so, depending on just how soon and how fast the Arctic ‘methane bomb’ goes off.

Nov 27, 2017 7:16 PM

The Western psycho’s who call themselves leader’s ( I do not regard them as such, one must work on behalf of the people for that title) have made a great job of alienating us from each other. We have abandoned each other as we try to survive, feed, cloth children, pay endless bills, keep the Bailiff from the front door, the clamp from the car and twenty minutes with our kids in between jobs.
Such is the lack of the fight back, in a world where every spare piece of energy is spent making money for some greedy bastard to the detriment of our families, our mental and physical health, our communities and of course the living breathing now dying planet.
Our critical thinking abilities appear to have all but died, few question the dysfunctional highly abusive system of slavery the bulk of us live in. And the sad thing is that the ones who try to create awareness are ridiculed, regarded as being eccentric and unstable.
Maybe as a species we won’t make it, we’re just not bright enough.

Nov 27, 2017 5:24 PM

“… we, the powerless …” Unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains. Global capitalism is united hence powerful; whatever happened to global communism? And specifically, given your own “blue collar” antecedents, whatever happened to the American Communist Party? Do you expect tiny Cuba to do all the heavy lifting for the entire American continent?

Harry Stotle
Harry Stotle
Nov 27, 2017 7:55 PM
Reply to  vexarb

At the moment there are no indicators that a fresh political movement or ideological counter culture has gained sufficient traction to break the vice like grip of the US uber elite who have grown adept at controlling public discourse.
The forms of self-harm outlined by Phil Rockstroh, such as the growing death toll from drug overdose, is perhaps exemplified by the emergence of an absurd figure like Trump, disturbingly seen by some Americans as the answer to the post-Obama implosion.
Obama was a huge disappointment of course amplified by his grotesque successor, HRC confirming once and for all that democracy is dead in the US leaving the field open for the deep state to pursue their own nefarious agenda free from any meaningful internal or external constraints.
Now none of this is new – Dick Cheney, et al, having been laughing at those outside the bubble for years, while sinister forces orchestrate crime, after international crime, safe in the knowledge that any internal dissent can soon be marginalised by a corporately owned media, or legal system still unable to see the shame Guantanamo.
I mean who would be a whistle-blower in the US or how can people organise when many live hand to mouth terrified of an unforseen medical bill, or facing uncertainty or intimidation in workplace.
The deep state has been getting away with it for decades – few are brave enough to take them on while the spread of economic fear across the US has strengthend their position even further.

Nov 28, 2017 4:27 PM
Reply to  Harry Stotle

Harry Stotle, you are sadly correct in your analysis of the current desperate situation we face in the West. Here in the UK where I live it is not quite so critical just yet but we are not far behind. Unless Corbyn and the Labour Party manage to get their act very seriously together we face the same demise of our people under the sociopath Tory government, determined to take the people to hell in their quest to destroy the social fabric of our country and off shore any and all profits once meant for the upkeep and democracy that kept our society intact.

Norman Pilon
Norman Pilon
Nov 28, 2017 8:01 PM
Reply to  Harry Stotle

@Harry Stotle
Hi, Harry,

“At the moment there are no indicators that a fresh political movement or ideological counter culture has gained sufficient traction to break the vice like grip of the US uber elite who have grown adept at controlling public discourse.”

A political movement or ideological counterculture will not happen “by itself.”
Those, such as yourself, who see a need for such a movement and counterculture, must assume a very personal responsibility for it.
Such a movement and counterculture as you envision depend upon a requisite level of awareness.
Awareness, that is to say, an adequate understanding of any given aspects of reality, is not something that is spontaneously given to us, well, certainly not about complex and dynamic and multifaceted systems like societies.
We must struggle to achieve awareness through, on the one hand, a conscientious effort at the level of our personal reflection to discern the shape of our pre-conceptions or, if you will, the elements of our indoctrination and, on the other, entering into concerted and critical debates with others about our manifold and concrete contemporary and historical experiences, be they exchanges through the mediums of the spoken or printed word. Of course, this learning process must be continuous and ongoing: although one certainly comes to know more than one did, one never comes to know it all or completely in depth.
So assuming personal responsibility for the change you would envision entails at least the following two things: a)educating yourself since you are obviously in a position to do so, being both literate and having access to information, otherwise you wouldn’t be here, on the internet, perusing alternative media for alternate perspectives beyond the shuttered silos of the establishment approved and controlled narratives; and b) sharing your evolving countercultural perspectives with others who have not yet quite arrived wherever you might have, to try to entice them to even only, if that is all that is possible, a slightly higher level of consciousness about the true character of the society we live in.
The task, of course, is to dispel the establishment inculcated confusions and contradictions, to help clarify for our communities our common experiences within the context of our shared social and political reality.

“. . . how can people organize . . .”

People are already organized. They just don’t know it.
Outside of work, it’s true, people live, to so speak, in a state of atomization or a state of disorganization.
But as people who work, they cannot but interact and communicate with one another. Ordinary people are everywhere in contact with each other in their places of employment and interactions can be personal and trusting.
Where you work, therefore, is the place where you proselytize the truths of what you know.
Not in a spirit of confrontation, but respectfully and patiently and as cogently as you can, in informal moments, over a coffee, while having lunch, whatever . . .
No ‘revolution’ has ever happened that didn’t see the defection of ordinary people employed in the ranks of the institutions that are their places of employment, be they workshops or universities or even military bases, but especially military bases . . . Aren’t ordinary soldiers are the brothers and sisters of your co-workers, that is to say, do not they come from the same working class that you do? And they are every bit as much capable of learning as you are . . .
“Obama was a huge disappointment of course amplified by his grotesque successor, HRC confirming once and for all that democracy is dead in the US . . .”
Have you ever read this piece from Chris Harman? He makes a point about why neither the politics of reform nor electoral politics can lead to the change that we all know we need. It’s difficult not to agree with him.

Harry Stotle
Harry Stotle
Nov 28, 2017 10:18 PM
Reply to  Norman Pilon

Thanks for your post, Norman and the links to the Harman piece which I have started to absorb (I can see there are a number of other chapters).
I know this is a bit reductionist but what Harman is saying (amongst other things) is that the so-called democratic process is little more than an illusion which kids people into thinking they have a voice while the true bastion of power remains hidden, and since it is not subject to proper scrutiny more able to exploit human and material resources in pursuit of its own financial and geopolitical interests. Governments come and go, yet even left leaning governments, are all but neutered largely because the establishment’s power structures is deeply embedded and adroit at manipulating the odd dissenting voice.
I assume because members of this class live in a guilded environment they are either oblivious or simply indifferent to the enormous harms that arise because of economic consquences that go hand in hand with such an uneven distribution of wealth and capital (which may include the current spike in opiate related fatalities discussed in the OP)
Those brave enough to confront these furtive machinations, like Assange or Snowden soon pay a high personal price including character assassination by a complicit media, or threats from a legal system rigged to support the abuser rather than those being abused. Mass incarceration of poor people is the apotheosis of such legal failings.
Of course we could both go on like for hours talking like this until we reach the question that really matters, i.e. what to do about it?
The likes of Aaron Swartz before his untimely death offered fascinating insights into gateways controlling the flow of information – personally I think this is an important avenue and in no small measure contributed to Corbyns resurrection at the last election (because lefties understood the importance virtual platforms and organised themselves accordingly through groups like Momentum).

Surely informed choice is a precursor to refashioning dysfunctional power structures and the kind of dialogue or exchanges that flows from such discourse should be signposted as a means of critiquing the democratic sham the likes of Harman have already alluded to – after all its why some of us come to places like Off-G in the first place, if only to remind ourselves that there are a number of like minded souls.
We can’t rely on the likes of the Guardian to do it for us – we have to ge the info ourselves and put it out there.

Norman Pilon
Norman Pilon
Nov 28, 2017 8:21 PM
Reply to  Harry Stotle

Apologies, Harry. I left a reply for you, but under a comment posted by “betrayedplanet.”
And then on top of that, I muffed a link a piece by Chris Harman.
So let me fix that link to Harman’s piece:

Nov 28, 2017 9:01 AM
Reply to  vexarb

PS a propos Cuba, a coincidence from today’s Syrian Arab News Agency.
“Cuban official: Cuba will stand by Syria in reconstruction phase.
Havana, SANA- Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca, renewed his country’s support for Syria in all international circles, expressing pride of the Cuban people over the victories achieved by the Syrian Arab Army against terrorism.”
Where, among the hundreds of million souls in Anglo-America, are the groups doing likewise? “… we the powerless …” Pshah!

Harry Stotle
Harry Stotle
Nov 27, 2017 4:16 PM

There are too many people like Frankie Boyle’s grannie.

Brutally Remastered
Brutally Remastered
Nov 27, 2017 11:29 PM
Reply to  Harry Stotle

Thanks for including the great Frankie Boyle. The utterly pompous, pretentious, tedious and turgid prose of the article needs a face full
of battery acid.

Fair dinkum
Fair dinkum
Nov 28, 2017 12:36 AM

Phil and Frankie see the world from different points of view.
They are both right and both grasping at straws.
Change begins with the person reading these words. Only then, can the (r)evolution begin.

Nov 28, 2017 9:04 AM

@Brutally. Nobody “needs a face full of battery acid”. Not even for writing turgid prose.