The Election of the Inhumanoids
One of the most iconic images of late 20th century science fiction movies is the scene in Independence Day where a huge alien mother ship that has been hovering over the White House obliterates the building, and presumably all that it stands for, in one shattering blast of pure energy. One of the most beautiful features of this picture is that it is so unnecessary: the control of our world is already in the hands of a power that is divorced from, if not totally inimical to, humanity. I don’t mean “humanity” simply as a DNA strand, but rather humanity as a system of ethical values that doesn’t stop at the boundaries of our skin.
The approach of the season of horror (I’m speaking not of Halloween, but of the upcoming November election cycle) brings this topic to the forefront. It is horrible because we are overwhelmed by the realization that our cherished idol of the elective process is generally hollow in a world where the candidates are pre-selected and, apart from the make-up called campaign promises, very much the same. Choosing among them, almost always a matter of the least of many evils, reminds me of a wonderful episode of the Three Stooges where the boys find themselves in a medieval dungeon. They are given the irrelevant choice of how their execution will take place: do they choose to have their heads chopped off or be burned at the stake? Moe and Larry, like so many of us, try to apply micro-ethics in this situation and opt for decapitation as the quicker alternative. However, Curly shows that choice is absurd in such a dilemma by selecting immolation because “a hot steak is better than a cold chop.” We are all about to be asked, both next month and more importantly next November, whether we prefer to have our heads chopped off or be burned at the stake.
Of course, I exaggerate (as do the Stooges and all others who engage in satire as the only permitted form of anarchy). We have an array of far more numerous equally disgusting paths to the same outcome. On the ends of the political spectrum there are even two extreme candidates tolerated because the system finds it easier to let them deplete their bank accounts rather than simply suppressing them. These are Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul. The former advocates a new approach to government in which collective concerns would corral the unbridled forces of corporate capitalism and transnational financialization. The latter advocates reaching the same ends through the resurrection of individual control of the economy in a discrete nation-state. Neither will win the election, so bleak days lie ahead, but some of us can try, like Platon Karatayev in War and Peace, to try to find one decent potato in the bottom of the rotten sack to get us through to the next day of our forced march to oblivion.
One issue the Inhumanoids will stay away from is immigration reform. After all, it would only call attention to their own alien aspects. Since they represent financial imperatives that are fundamentally non-human and non-humane, they cannot even appeal to a human ethnic voter base. Oh, Trump can play his little jingoistic charade. Everybody expects it now. It resembles the guys in the second Battlestar Galactica that were always spouting off about the Cylon menace while they were trying to take over the ship themselves. Can Trump be a closet Cylon? Or Carson? Or Hillary? I don’t think Cruz is one – he’s more of a Cylon wannabe. He has something of the Renfield in him, groveling around the Kochs and the Adelmans and asking when he will be allowed to feast on creatures with blood, instead of spiders and roaches. Yes, his could be a truly Gothic presidency.
One of the Inhumanoids will control the country after 2016. Whether that face sports the almost atomic shine of Ted Cruz’s cheeks, the surrealistically tyrannical hairdo of Donald Trump (reminds me oddly of the Harkonnens in Dune), the creepy mock-submissive expression of Ben Carson or the deceptively grandmotherly visage of Hillary (is Baba Yaga underneath it all?), it will simply provide a mask for the Big Money that will steer our Republic over the bounding economic seas. Whoever it is will obediently sign the checks for all the cost-plus contracts the Pentagon can dream up, even if it involves installing an Iphone on every square foot of the ocean floor to monitor the fish in case they are communicating with ISIL. Whoever it is will obediently look at all the photos of OMDs dished up by the CIA, DIA, DEA, or other alphabet soup entity and agree that we should invade somewhere. (Invade? No, that’s no good – liberate? Democratize? Pacify? Get Publicity to come up with a new brand!) Corporate financialized capitalism is content to give the orders and stay out of sight as much as possible. It will not even provide an obvious clue to its influence, like Ahab’s leg stumping over the deck of the Pequod at night. We, the motley crew of America, will not even have that much awareness of the maniacal obsessions that guide our destiny.
In the meantime, we suckers are treated to the Punch and Judy Show, the campaign debates. It is true that the Democratic Party seems to have canceled its act in the show, but the Republicans have more than made up for it by multiplying the candidates to such a degree that they won’t even all fit on the same stage. Psychologists have recently determined that an overabundance of selections actually makes it more difficult for an individual to achieve a desirable solution, and this campaign season certainly proves their point. This is a show that is guaranteed to make the audience take notice, though the choreography and props allow only for limited permutations: Punch can grab the bat and hit Judy or Judy can grab the bat and hit Punch. Who will score the most points this time? – Rubio? Mario? Carly Fiorino? Princess Daisy? Ironically, the most foolish puppet is the public, who dutifully assemble every so often (and even pay money) to have their intelligence insulted in this manner.
Denouement: there will be a “winner” because there has to be a winner and the winner will take all and deliver it like a rolled-up newspaper to the feet of its plutocratic master. On that bloody morning after the 2016 elections, the best an individual human, a Mensch, can hope for is to be the one tin soldier that walks away. Not like the movies. They offer hope, albeit in the form of myth. Villains, kaiju, those Mysterians with their funny noses, are always defeated. In Independence Day, there was Bill Pullman to pull us up by our bootstraps and declare that humans had won because they had made a smoking mess out of… pretty much everything. Hey, wait a minute, didn’t he start out as Lone Starr in Spaceballs? Let’s see… he saves the galaxy by exploding a vacuum cleaner, marrying a Druish princess and blowing Rick Moranis to the Planet of the Apes, which is really the Dead Zone on Earth of the Future. It’s all abundantly clear. Why can’t the campaign debates provide something as coherent or as entertaining? We’re supposed to get bread and circuses, promised to us two millennia ago, and this isn’t much of a circus. And what about the bread? Oh, it’s called Soylent Green? Available at bargain prices like Obamacare. And come January 2017, it will come in a brand new wrapper named…?????