Lindsay's Reviews > America: The Farewell Tour

America by Chris Hedges
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it was amazing

A book that may change the way you look at porn!

In a galaxy far, far away...okay, this galaxy, the Empire lumbered along bringing with it: great joy and prosperity to all.

Well, actually, the Empire may be fracturing, crumbling before our eyes, with all of us complicit and distracted by the noise filling our craniums daily.

It’s 5 AM. I’m riding the elevator down from my home on the tenth floor. My eyes are drawn to the video screen above the keypad. “A family home in a province 1,000 miles away caught on fire. The 3-children inside perished.” I don’t know them. They are the first thing pumped into my brain. Am I supposed to carry the grief of their loved ones through the day—passing it along to everyone I meet?

I walk the last few blocks to work. I’m forced to stop on several occasions to avoid being walked into by pedestrians enamoured by their phones. I don’t exist to them.

America: The Farewell Tour is a deep dive into the fracturing of an Empire that is losing its way. Could the end be nigh? Could the top rung be knocked down, shattered, left tattered for the next generations to suffer through the mess we’ve brought upon ourselves?

I think the answer, is: PROBABLY.

I think our heads have collectively been buried in the sand for a long time.

America: The Farewell Tour is a terrifying, intimate, compelling, eye-popping, stimulating, deeply-upsetting, depression-inducing, and uplifting look, about how we got to where we are; and where we likely may be heading, with an olive branch stretching down to us, with a fragile path to soften the unavoidable blow.

Where are we?

LET’S (the next word needs to be put to rest—the last time used, here) UNPACK.

“Some rich man came and raped the land. Nobody caught him.”

• The Last Resort: The Eagles

"People, I have a dream to sell you. You can be whatever you want to be. Believe me. We are all created equal. I will show you the way. Just follow me."

"Why are you snickering, rich man?"

INDUSTRY

We industrialized. We began making things. Everything. The rich men sat at the top. Everyone else worked for them. Sure, the work sucked, but nobody (other countries) was making things. We didn’t mind the rich getting fat off our labour—we had good lives. Moreover, we could afford to buy the things we produced.

And, then, the rich men wanted more. We did as well, but the wealthy resisted us reaching into their pockets, so, they looked for others to do labour for less. Why pay Timmy in Indiana $25 per hour + health benefits when I can pay (insert name of a worker from another country, here) 25 cents per hour with horrid working conditions to produce the same products?

You don’t have to answer.

Sure, Timmy might be pissed at the worker in the other country, but he sure likes buying the products for less. In the meantime, the rich build massive shopping centres for the Timmy’s of the world to consume foreign-made goods.

A decade slips by, another decade slips by; American wages stagnate. Sports + celebrity + drugs + booze + shiny things, distract us, numb us, dumb us down, we don’t want to look, the sand hole for our head becomes appealing.

For a few people, the distraction stops working. They look. They realize WTF—I think we’re being played. The dream starts to fracture. However, it is only a few who open their eyes—most people prefer to live in ignorant bliss.

The rich men get fatter.

Hey, you can keep your job if—if—we can shred your wages—and, who needs health benefits?

Industrialized America implodes.

Timmy’s outrage is misguidedly directed at (insert name of a worker from another country, here).

Religion gets involved. Without agenda. Snicker. The zealots want power. Some religions worship wealth, ignoring the “potentially” mortal sins of political leaders by justifying “God wouldn’t reward sinners with wealth.”

Communities collapse, we need more distractions.

DRUGS

"Have a little taste, Timmy; this will numb your ills."

Timmy likes to be numbed. Timmy begins to chase numb. The pharmaceutical industry sees opportunity. And, suddenly, America’s drug problem trips out of the ghettos into every town.

"Build a wall, and we will be saved. The only reason I popped a pill in the first place is (insert name of a nefarious foreigner who handed me the glass of water to wash it down, here). I’m not responsible for…me. I like to blame."

And, with the building of the wall, the complexities of addiction flutter away into nevermore.

Timmy hurts his knee working his wage-decreasing, soon-to-be-eliminated job. A doctor prescribes painkillers. Timmy can’t afford the healthcare. That’s okay. An illegal immigrant is willing to sell him something to ease his pain. What’s that; the illegal immigrant is Caucasian, and he was born in Omaha. Crap.

The rich men have a solution. Toss as many people they can in prison. That will fix the problem. It will also serve another purpose: cheap American Labour. Not to mention, labour likely to show up daily because they have nowhere else to go.

If you are lucky enough to escape prison, pop another pill, and drown yourself in the realities of reality television + the release of cheering for your favourite teams.

A LITTLE SECRET

Drugs used to be a ghetto-related race problem. However, with the shattering of the industrialized American model, everyone can participate as more fall from middle class to poor. Oh yeah, the little secret: the rich men don’t care: the only colour they see is GREEN.

Another decade blasts by as the “American Dream” starts to splinter apart. For those of us who aren’t too addled in addiction, who can still find the strength to climb, we don't realize the rung we’re reaching for no longer exists because our brothers and sisters are desperately holding onto it as they spiral downward.

"Don’t worry people. We’ve got your back. We’re increasing the military budget to protect you from those who’ve done this to you. Look over there—them."

WORK

In many cities, the cost of living indoors has skyrocketed. There may be work, for many (half of Americans), menial at best, and living close to where you work becomes increasingly unattainable. The next thing you know, if your poor, you face commuting most of your days away to serve the wealthy, too tired and beat down to resist, or ask (demand) for more, a more that doesn’t exist.

That’s okay, the costs of televisions have dropped significantly. What’s that, to have channels to watch I must pay an astronomical amount, that’s okay, can’t miss the game.

Beaten down, you skip paying the transit fare. You get caught. You’re ticketed. You’re now in the system. If you don’t pay the fine, your menial job might turn into day labour in a special camp.

PORN

There is not a single performer in the porn (sex-for-pay) industry who entered the industry chasing the American Dream. Desperation for survival is the gateway.

Argue if you’d like?

The broken become more broken and desperate only to eventually be chewed up and spat out when the curtain on their “careers” slam shut.

The more consumption, the more extreme and violent porn becomes. Consumers become desensitised. Consumers risk becoming predators unable to give intimacy.

Food for thought?

And, the porn wheel keeps spinning with curious American boys becoming exposed, and by the time they hit 12 or 13 years of age, normal to them…sorry girls, good luck.

The pimps of the industry profit, everyone else falls deeper into addiction.

As we pour more money into the military to protect us from the external enemies, with the opportunity of a good-paying job, guess what: walking lockstep with the pimps of porn are the recruiters of the military. Lucky for them, there is a gaggle of young men who are unable to see a future, ready to enlist. Even luckier, can you taste the sarcasm, these young men’s minds are filled with love and stability.

HATE

Now that we’re drug-addled, broke, unemployed, divorced, masturbating to… “ewe.”

"Hey, Timmy, my cable’s been cut, can I watch the game at your place? Thanks. Look at those idiots kneeling. Respect the flag, you (insert profanity-laced racial slur here)."

"I need someone to blame. I need someone to blame. I know — anyone who doesn’t look like me. This land is my land."

I feel deep sorrow for any of us stumbling around on this rock who believe “others” are the problems plaguing the world today.

America: The Farewell Tour highlights the horrific realities of the sickness of hate in glowing clarity.

Haters, do you really believe if there were only a few drops of water left: your Caucasian neighbour wouldn’t off you; because you're Caucasian?

I don’t care where the root of racism or hatred originates; you don’t have to participate.

If that makes me naïve, so be it.

"Hey, young unemployed guy with no prosperous future in sight: do you want to go mess up some people in a foreign land?"

"We’re we invited?"

"Silly question. Hey, what type of porn do you like?"

In a boardroom (probably fictitious) the powers that be see opportunity, and determine the best way to keep the impoverished, impoverished, is to point at others making them the ones to blame. And, oh yeah, make poverty a growing business. Desperation begets a fine, begets interest, begets another fine, begets more interest, begets—"hey, the people of colour did this to me," begets—

ESCAPE

"If only there were a way out. A way to jump back on the dream train. I know. I can win the jackpot. What do I have to lose?"

Spin, spin, spin, so close. Spin, spin, so close. Insert more money. This music is sure calming. I like it here. "Create heavy users. Was that subliminal?" Spin, spin, spin, so close. Insert more money.

"Hey, Timmy, did you buy a ticket for the Powerball? You never know? What do I have to lose?"

And, with another ticket purchased, the poorest of the poor, voluntarily pay the taxes corporations used to pay.

"How’s the wall coming along? Why does the second floor of your casino, say 14 on the elevator keypad?"

"Don’t worry. I’ve got your back. Let’s put more money in the military. "They’re" coming for our way of life. I’ll protect you."

"Hey, Timmy, did you ever notice there are no right angles in casinos? Why won’t they let us make decisions? And, Timmy, it’s the strangest thing, every time I’m breaking in the pain of loss, a cocktail server, magically appears."

SOLUTION

Check unfettered capitalism.

We are being played. The repetition of history suggests just before an Empire collapses it goes through a period of prosperity followed by stagnation and deindustrialization with new realities coming in the eroding of the middle class. Flailing Empires become ripe for divisiveness and addiction. They are often laced with, at times, morally debunked excess where many of the people are lost chasing their first highs brought on by the taste of money, sexual depravity, isolation, anger, a need to blame others; creating a fertile environment for those who have your “least interests” at heart, to gain control. Moreover, even though you fundamentally understand you’ve been grifted and divided for the sole purpose of feeding the addictions of the rich, you still slam another needle into your arm believing your next high will be the one allowing you to escape the madness.

If I had to pick one thing in this engrossing book that struck the chord the most for me, and I’ll paraphrase: Privatized Prisons: In many States, if the prisons don’t reach specific occupancy rates (90%) the State must pay the penalty to the Corporations that fund them.

“A rich man came and raped the land. Nobody caught him. Put up a bunch of ugly boxes, and Jesus people bought them.”

I almost forgot, I said the book is uplifting. It is! Chris suggests the importance of talking to each other, creating a sense of community. To stop hiding behind screens. To stop blaming.

America is a fantastic place, full of opportunity, and beauty. It’s up to us to soften the inevitability of change by merely talking to each other—if we do; if we say hi to our neighbours, then and only then, we might realise: there is no reason to hate.

Thank you, Chris, for painting the picture in such a concise way, humanizing the realities of what came before, and what may be on the horizon.

READ THIS BOOK!

www.lindsaywincherauk.com
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Reading Progress

December 14, 2018 – Started Reading
December 21, 2018 – Finished Reading
December 22, 2018 – Shelved

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