Yesterday, I walked out of my building and saw a food line going all around the block. I felt a sting in my heart. I felt a feeling of disgust and buried grief so massive that I nearly threw up. A tiny group of corrupt, fork-tongued corporatchiks are stuffing their suspiciously evenly tanned faces—no trace of mask—while regular people are getting paler and the bread lines are getting longer. The comfy hypocrites who have never skipped a meal are pontificating about the benefits of lockdowns—more lockdowns for the peasants, please—and sending virtuous tweets about saving lives, while lives are ending, businesses are closing, my vibrant city is going rogue and anxious, and the people who can’t hide behind a screen are picking up the tab.
A scream of anger and grief.
The lies and the abuse by the corporatchiks are worse than Pravda.
Because I remember how Pravda reported the news, and I resent the resurrection of its reporting style in today’s allegedly democratic American media. This insults my senses tremendously. It shouldn’t be! It’s been established three decades ago that Pravda’s approach to reporting was lame and toxic, so who brought it back?!! I feel like I need to take a shower every time I accidentally intake it. The robo-tone! The exaggeration! The blatant propaganda! Yikes. It’s like a creepy time machine.
I grew up in Moscow at the ruins of the Soviet Union, in-between empires, in the middle of what at the time felt like a sacred collective song of freedom (and what in reality was the soundtrack of western corporations moving in and clearing up the space with fuzzy words). But even though Western multinationals were full of it and the local oligarchs were cruel, the people actually craved a liberation. After seventy years of marching to the lying algorithm, the people wanted honesty. Pravda with all its angular hype, its robotic outrage, and the absoluteness of its every sentence was unapologetically laughed out of the room by my peers who were hungry for spiritual and political freedom.
The act of laughing propaganda out of the room shaped me profoundly. I am liberal in the most primal, apolitical sense of it. I am an artist. I believe that people can choose to think whatever they please, and that the authorities should keep out of people’s faces based on the fact that the authorities are never honest. I believe in sovereignty and sincerity. I understand the low value and the high cost of the establishment manufactured notion of “public good.” I feel that sustainable solutions are spiritual in essence and come from training the senses to grasp complexity and wisdom—and that algorithmic fixes suck. I believe that every human being has a unique and important purpose, and that respect for every individual’s free will is a precondition for having a harmonious society. I also believe that the “collective” boot and the “commercial” boot are two faces of the same boot, just painted in different colors. Or maybe just left and right?
So let’s look at left and right.
As an immigrant, I have never internalized any side of the American political divide—both sides have always felt more or less the same to me—war-loving, money-minded, working for overlapping sets of corporate sponsors—but based on language, aesthetics and my overall demographics, I have been identifying as a “democrat.” The language and the symbols used by democrats appealed to me more than the other side. Plus, most of my friends are democrats. Plus, I have always felt sad and disappointed every time a “conservative” friend, in the middle of a perfectly interesting conversation, would suddenly break into an ideological rant, using vulgar, primitive words to describe their perceived enemy. I’d be, like, seriously man, I love you but my brain! Then inevitably, they would explain to me why my softness was incorrect, and how the enemies were plotting against America and needed to be squashed, etc. etc. And I would feel very, very lonely.
But in the past four years—and especially in the past few months—I have been living with a tremendous cognitive dissonance as “my people” have become more right wing than right-wingers themselves. I get along with people individually regardless of their politics–and there are always common grounds—but as far as ideology, the sense of sanity is gone.
Like, gone, completely out of the window, gone.
Let me be blunt: Russiagate was bad–but the pandemic narrative is from another planet. It’s like every aspiration of the dystopian surveillance state is now “public good,” no questions are allowed. How about no?
The science is crying in the corner while its effigy is weaponized–surreally–to justify whatever needs to be justified by the establishment on a given day. And stunningly, although the measures march in a lockstep with what’s been envisioned by tech billionaires for a while, and although the official narrative keeps changing every day except the part that urges us to be extremely afraid–in profitable ways–the educated folks don’t become extremely suspicious and even look down on the ones who do!! It is as if the senses have been murdered by abuse!
There is this world in which everything is relatively normal and logical, and the government, however corrupt, is mostly functional. In this world, the biggest and the most egregious problem is the horror that is Trump—and his evil international buddies. In this world, the deadliest virus of all times showed up and hit us hard, and the good people in the government are doing their damnest best to contain it and to save us, while Trump is being his usual unfitting, incompetent self—trying to kill us all with greed—and for that reason, we are doing horribly. So what we need to do is clench our teeth, don our masks, and vote him out—and then, life will be good again.
There is this world in which important leaders do not make disturbing pacts with important entrepreneurs to enrich themselves and their families. In this world, eugenics was an ugly fad, Hitler was an anomaly from another era, and if we lived in Germany back then, we would have surely spoken out because that situation was obviously different from today, unless we are talking Trump.
There is this world… except there isn’t. Just like there wasn’t a Germany in which the Führer was trying to build a better Europe. It’s our order-seeking brains projecting it while under a barrage of severe and ongoing emotional abuse.
Like frogs hanging out in a pan of warming water, we are supposed to listen to the experts and sheepishly obey.
Don’t wear mask. Wear a mask. Don’t touch other people. Don’t kiss when having sex, and don’t forget your mask. Don’t leave the house. But leave the house to protest racism. But don’t leave the house otherwise. Wait for the you know what. But the you know what is actually not going to be that effective so you’ll have to continue to social-distance and cover your face. For how long? Oh I don’t know. A couple of years? An eternity? You don’t want to kill the grandma, do you?
This is abuse.
Our feudal masters are not reacting to the pandemic. They are reacting exclusively to the color green—meaning money, not “sustainability,” although the latter is often used deceptively to invite more of the former into their pockets.
“Manifest Destiny” or “Great Reset,” the deceptive use of language is abysmal.
All throughout modern history, phrases like “public good” and “democracy” have been used by power addicts to fuel their coups and market grabs. Good language means nothing in the mouth of the establishment.
Talking about public good does not make anyone a liberal.
In fact, forcing one’s idea of public good upon others against their will makes anyone who tries it a totalitarian. Yes, including you, you scared goody two-shoes with a hammer.
I am sorry. But please. I am human, too.
This Earth is yours and mine, in equal measures. And liberty is not synonymous with making everyone convert to your religion, even if in your head, your religion is an epitome of public good.