rollerball
Ladies and Gentlemen, Our Corporate Anthem

1975… My, how the years slip past so quickly.

Remember when this movie was an interesting science-fiction film?  A good yarn about one man taking-on the crushing corporate power in ‘the future’ (as 2018 was regarded back then) , ‘Rollerball’ was one of the seminal movies of my college years.

Long before it was obvious that nations were dissolving under the power of corporate money, we dozed under the dream-myth of ‘rights’ and ‘freedoms’ that we learned as children and still then believed.

Even though the cannon-fire echoes of Vietnam still echoed in our ears, we believed that as a country we had things ‘right’ and everything would work out ‘better’.  After all, we were raised during the post-WWII years of good employment and job security, home mortgages that were affordable, a ‘new’ used-car once in a while.

At least many of us were living in that dream-world.  We were the lucky ones.  ‘Poverty’. we were taught, was something that happened in ‘other’ countries, ‘poor’ countries – countries where freedoms were limited and uneducated populations were exploited by a small class of wealthy, unscrupulous rulers and controllers aided by evil-minions.

Well, welcome to late-2013.

Times today are a little different than they were in 1975.  In the intervening 39-ish years, corporations have been granted ‘personhood’ by supposedly bright judges.  The impoverished 3rd-world countries are now exploited by corporations seeking lower costs, exporting manufacturing jobs overseas or importing low-wage overseas workers to make up for artificial ‘job shortages’ in the professional world.  Corporate money controls our very government from top to bottom, creating laws and court rulings favorable to The Corporation at great cost to our personal freedom and liberty.

In the meantime, as Rollerball so exquisitely illustrates, the people residing in the formerly ‘free’ countries are distracted by an entertaining gladiator-game full of action, violence, the occasional death or gruesome mash-up – as the crowds cheer wildly for ‘their side’.

Threatened by one man, Jonathan E. (James Caan), the corporations (as personified by the brilliant John Houseman) realize they must crush his independence publicly and violently.  People are starting to wake up and realize they’re being played.  This is the one thing corporate power fears – what if one person, or several people, or a lot of people suddenly wake up to realize they are being played?

The message here is that individuals are not powerless in the face of overwhelming adversity.  Each one of you has the power to make a change.  You do not have to be a Jonathan E., or a Martin Luther King, Jr., or a Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi – each of those men, and many others like them throughout history, were able to make changes because they had first one, and then two, and finally many other people who supported them in whatever capacity they could.

Read.  Write.  Speak.  Listen.  Participate however you can, at whatever level you can.  There is much to be done, and the feeling of incapacity can be paralyzing to us as individuals.

But that is the fallacy – we are not individuals!  As you have seen many times over the years, no matter how ‘far out’ you think you might be you consistently see other people out there with you.  Your ideas are not alone, and neither are you!

Don’t expect things to change all at once.  Prepare for disappointments and setbacks.  Expect the long haul.  But always keep true to your inner voice – follow it where it leads you.

In the end, even if you do not see all of the change you desire, you have still done your part.  And like tossing a rock into a still pond, you can never know how your ripples will help move another.  And another.  And another…

You do make a difference.

Remember, the corporations have to win – we, the ‘little people’, only have to not-lose!

54
Leave a Comment

Please Login to comment
13 Comment threads
41 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
19 Comment authors
Quick Brown DogAquarius 1027Fergie1Beatlexagrippa Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Aquarius 1027
Member
Aquarius 1027

Great article, RF Dude! The early 70’s were my college years as well. Your eloquent description of that time reflects the intensity of change that has occurred. While busy raising kids and working, I had not observed as much of the corporate activity. Yet the 300% increase in college tuition for my kids was a huge wake-up call to the financial structures in our country. The more recent legislative assaults on education, as well as other right wing agendas, have only served to increase my political participation in whatever way I could to counter these destructive corporative forces. – Yes, my friend, an individual can indeed make a difference. 🙂

Report this comment

agrippa
Member
agrippa

If you want to have an effect, it is important to understand that politics is local. Candidates for state legislatures and HoR Reps are decided at the local election. Many of the candidates are promoted from city, county and school boards. The primary election is controlled at the local level.
GOTV is at the local level.

Money, of course, comes from higher up the ladder. The higher Party leaders parcel out the money to each district; which means if the Party ‘cannot win’ the seat, the candidate does not get much money. That is what made Dean’s ’50 state’ strategy so important.

Report this comment

PocketWatch
Member

To paraphrase something I saw in the movie Cloud Atlas (which I heartily recommend)…

Man to son-in-law defying him: “You are just a drop in a limitless ocean!”
Son-in-law: “What is an ocean but limitless drops of water?”

We are all just drops in the ocean, but together we can be much more.

Do what you can, when you can.

Report this comment

Fergie1
Member
Fergie1

PocketWatch, well that takes me back a hundred years or so!
In 1967, I was doing a project at College in SF. Naturally I ended up at the DrogsStore in Haight Ashbury in SF for my project for a Communications class. The age of Flower Power! Of course I met some fascinating people for my ‘interview’. But one in particular actually said, and I DO quote:

“We are all drops in the ocean and some of those drop sparkle, some DO sparkle.”

It’s a comment that I never forgot as a young college student in the heyday of ’67/68. That was quite a time in SF!

Report this comment

PocketWatch
Member

I’m an old retreaded hippie myself, so I can relate, Fergie.

One I don’t forget is “With every evil you do, and every kindness you commit, you forge your own future.”

Also, “Never trust anyone over 30!” – This one I tend to ignore these days…. 😉

Report this comment

Fergie1
Member
Fergie1

Hey PocketWatch nice to meet a fellow ‘traveler’ from the halcyon days of free spirits! Truly fun, interesting and colorful times!

Liked your quote but sometimes evil has a way of visiting you no matter how kind you are.

I’ve shed the “never trust anyone over 30” mantra just last week! Only kidding! Yeh, it’s been a while since that was relevant to me! LOL.

Report this comment

Quick Brown Dog
Member
Quick Brown Dog

I’m a 17-year-old Millennial — and I tend not to trust anyone UNDER 30. Actually, make that 60. I don’t trust the young folks not to post my picture or say something not so nice about me on some stupid social MEdia website (because that’s really what all those sites are about, shameless self-promotion and narcissism and ME ME ME) with their iWhatevers. (Talk about being left to your own “devices.”)

I get along much better with people who didn’t grow up with all this Twitface crap and as such tend to have minimal use for it. Nobody needs to see pictures of what you just did in the toilet, and it certainly isn’t worth getting into a car crash to comment on a photo of Justin Bieber’s latest BM. Older folks seem to understand that a lot more than people of my generation. I started college early and have actually had other students ask me if I’m from “Pennsylvania farmland” (meaning am I Amish because I don’t use social media or have a cell phone or email address)! Meanwhile the CE (continuing ed.) students who are there to study so they can get a good job, and not so they can socialize and party, they don’t really care. Most of them don’t see the point of Failbook either.

My parents are in their 60s (though they weren’t really “of the ’60s” in terms of sex/drugs/rock-n-roll) and have never used a computer. They don’t even know how to operate cable TV. Unfortunately, I have an aunt who is closer to 70 and she just a couple years ago figured out how to switch it on (cable TV, not the computer). She got cable around the time of the DTV “transition” when they were telling everyone that you had to get cable otherwise you couldn’t watch TV anymore. ‘Course, the only station that’s ever on at her house is Fart Noise. Needless to say, I don’t necessarily get along with everyone over 60. 😉

Report this comment

KillgoreTrout
Member

PocketWatch, I forget who said this, but I always thought it was good advice…”You can become the ocean, or be sea-sick everyday.”

Report this comment

KillgoreTrout
Member

I think it may have been Leonard Cohen.

Report this comment

Greta42
Member
Greta42

Congratulations on a well written first article RF! The topic of course is compelling – corporatism and its overtaking of government and legislators to accomplish its own greedy goals. We only have to look at the ALEC agenda to see it in action – and the sad thing is that in many states the rightwing has implanted themselves in elected state offices in order to carry out their plans.

We do all bear the responsibility to speak up and show up – especially for the primaries and then the elections! It amazes me that so few can determine candidates (20% in many cases) because others don’t bother to vote in the primaries. Perhaps many feel it’s a lost cause but I think many don’t pay attention to ‘politics’ at that level and only react after the harm is done. We need to re-engage people in order to wage a battle worthy of us.

Thanks again.

Report this comment

confuseddemocrat
Member

Interesting post. What I find interesting is that Americans are in a state of denial or may be some have given up. I believe that the grass root supporters of the Tea Party are really reacting to the structural changes that you have described. However, rather than looking at the institutions and political parties, they have turned towards scapegoating particularly against minorities who they see as exploiting the safety nets and the cause of poverty. But if you can get a TPer out of their Obama-derangement-brown folks paranoia and just get them to talk about what truly angers them, they will tell you that they are against the increasing destruction of the American middle class, the big corporations which are destroying communities and exporting jobs as well as intrusive government. Ironically, these are the same grievances expressed by many progressives and the OWS.

Report this comment

OppositionResearch
Member

A perfect example is right here:

http://www.chuckharder.com/

I used to listen to far right Chuck Harder some 18 years ago. When talking about multinational corporations and outsourcing, he sounds exactly like us.

But, as Harder’s website shows, it includes *classic* examples of scapegoating social aid recipients, immigrants, and “Communists” rather than the real villains. It is a *classic* example of playing to prejudice and resentment while the real bandits of America make a clean getaway.

Scarcity and hard times, whether natural or, ahem, artificially created, intensifies the “every man for himself” behavior that enriches the hyper-capitalist right.

Diabolical how it all fits together…. and exasperating when it doesn’t — as in Chuck Harder’s site.

Report this comment

confuseddemocrat
Member

Thank you Opposition-Research for that link. It was quite illuminating. I do feel that many of the AM radio shills do not believe the vitriol and minutia that they are peddling. The upper 1% and the Republicans realize that the majority of interests and grievances of the TPers and the Progressives are the same. They know that if both groups were to ever coalesce, it would be the end to political dominance of the GOP (and possibly even the democrats). So it is actually in the interests of the GOP and the 1% to keep Americans divided among racial, religious and socioeconomic lines. It is working beautifully……

Report this comment

Nirek
Member

Confused, TPers can’t see that their grievances are parallel to ours. They can’t see that we are against BIG multinational corporations. They can’t see past the color barrier.

Report this comment

Quick Brown Dog
Member
Quick Brown Dog

Not just color, but ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation — especially that last one. They’re basically 17th-century Puritans with 21st-century technology, and it galls them that anyone should be proud to identify themselves by who they are drawn to (horrors!) have sex with. In a perfect (GOTP) world, nobody would be drawn to have sex with anybody! They wouldn’t even know what sex is!*

*Except that it’s something husbands compel their wives to do to spread their seed and ensure that the LORD’S MOST PERFECT BEING — themselves — gets replicated ad infinitum. But any mention of the mechanics behind it and you’re guilty of obscenity. No, sex is just something that wives, and only wives,** have to do for their husbands BECAUSE GOD SAID SO.

(Also, it has to be when the husband wants it, because if the wife ever asks, she must be a prostitute and should be burned at the stake. RUSH SAYETH SHE ASKETH FOR IT.)

**Well, it doesn’t have to be wives; it can be mistresses, because that’s not adultery. Adultery only happens if a wife strays from the planta — er, marriage. But GOD SAYETH THE MAN IS ENTITLED TO AS MANY CONCUBINES AS HE SO CHOOSETH. In fact, a man doesn’t even have to get married to have sex; he just can’t get married to, or have sex with, another man. He can have sex with an unmarried woman, but an unmarried woman cannot have sex at all, including with an unmarried man. Or any woman.

(Ow, my head hurts… logical deficiency fail…)

Report this comment

confuseddemocrat
Member

I agree hence the downward spiral. However, democrats have been horrible populists. I think the goal of progressives should be to re-master the language of “populism”. The democratic party candidates simply don’t seem to be able to speak in those terms and offer policies to counteract the corporatism which is destroying our society. I have yet to see a house advertisement or senate advertisement by a democratic party candidate highlighting the repeated votes of incumbent gopers who support bills that gives tax credits to job exporters. Where are the ads highlighting gop opposition to the raising of minimum wages or the ads showing how gopers support bills that would allow banks and brokers to risk your money without full disclosure and would protect them from fraud charges? These are issues that cross party affiliations.

Report this comment

Nirek
Member

CD, this is why my Senator Bernie Sanders is the best of all 100! He is independent and caucuses with the lesser evil (Democrats). If we could clone him we might have an effective government. IMHO

Report this comment

confuseddemocrat
Member

nirek, you are lucky. We have mark warner, who is wishy washy. But he is better than the alternative.

Report this comment

ClassicalGas
Member
ClassicalGas

Yes, the language. George Lakoff speaks to this. There are a lot of issues that cross party lines, and this is the big one.

One of the questions in my mind is why – why is it that the Democratic party fails so badly in this area. Is it a lack of will or is it a lack of commitment to the principles? Or, is it the money?

We can talk one-on-one to the people in our areas, but until there’s serious buy-in from our candidates we’re not going to get very far.

I think it’s time to put a lot of pressure on those candidates to walk the walk. The alternative, in my mind, is to work towards a progressive third party. Win, lose or draw, the presence of a strong progressive movement cannot help but drag the political spectrum to the left. The Right has succeeded because the only alternative – as they’ve been told – is the “elites” on the “radical left”.

It’s our call, imho.

Report this comment

confuseddemocrat
Member

ClassicalGas (love the song btw) you ask what has happened to the Democratic party. I think Brian Schweitzer interview at the weekly standard sums it up quite nicely.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/podcast-hillarys-first-real-challenger-brian-schweitzer_770962.html

The Democratic party is corporatist party-lite. The cruel reality is the amount of money needed to mount a successful presidential campaign (1B), a successful house bid (1.4M) or a successful senate bid (8.5M) means that our politicians must court large donors and thus are beholden to the corporate sugar daddies. Since most sugar daddies view the social safety nets as hindrances to them attaining even more profits, politicians can not show too much support or populism and thus risk loss of patronage. Remember Wall Street backed Obama when they were losing their shirts in 2007-2008, but then switched allegiance to the Tea Party as soon as Wall Street reform was discussed in 2009. Democrats learned the lesson; hence, the muted/ non-existent populist talk by Democrats.

Report this comment

OppositionResearch
Member

“One of the questions in my mind is why – why is it that the Democratic party fails so badly in this area. Is it a lack of will or is it a lack of commitment to the principles? Or, is it the money?”

I think it is, in part, lack of practice and lack of experience.

With so few liberal or progressive voices in the mainstream broadcast and cable media, our pundits just don’t get enough practice at framing issues and fine-tuning the delivery. Preaching to an empty room only improves ones’ skills so much…

I’ve been forming some thoughts on countering Ayn Rand economics and ways to go about it. In short, Ayn Randians regard their doctrine as “inerrant.” It cannot possibly be wrong, and unfortunately their air of absolute certainty aids in the proliferation of their ideology and talking points.

That will probably be the subject of my first post.

Report this comment

ClassicalGas
Member
ClassicalGas

I’ll be interested to see what you come up with.

The modern Randians don’t seem to realize how far from some of her basic tenets they have wandered. Her absolute disdain for middlemen and religion, are two that come to mind immediately.

There’s a lot to work with.

Report this comment

Sabreen60
Member
Sabreen60

Excellent article.

It seems that so many have adopted the Ayn Rand philosophy of “self” first, last and always. That altruism is a dirty word. I think President Obama has tried to lead us away from that mentality. If you read his writing as far back as when he was in college, he has not changed. For him, I think, it’s about the individual – yes, but it’s also “I am my brothers/sisters keeper”. He has been trying to remind us that some things we must do together because they cannot be done by an individual, e.g, the Hoover dam; the interstate highway system and many more.

Report this comment

Quick Brown Dog
Member
Quick Brown Dog

He has been trying to remind us that some things we must do together because they cannot be done by an individual, e.g, the Hoover dam; the interstate highway system and many more.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. It wasn’t built by one person either.

Unfortunately, it might burn just as fast — especially if everyone is too into themselves to work together and stop it.

Report this comment

funksands
Member

RF, great piece. You are absolutely correct that we are not alone and it is never ‘one man’ against the ‘system’.

Unlike in the movies, most corporations aren’t malevolent entities that will stop at nothing to get what they want. They don’t have to be. They realized a while ago that the best and easiest path to profit was innovation through legislation. As long as our political system is captive to the corporate system, then corporations don’t need to find the path of least resistance to big profits, they simply need to CREATE that path in their own choosing.

Americans, cynical and disenfranchised as they are, have to layer by painstaking layer rebuild a new body of representatives that believe as they believe, that multi-national corporations, given that 40% of their earnings come from overseas, may not have the same goals as the nation’s. And as such should occupy a different spot than the top of the democratic totem pole.

Report this comment

OppositionResearch
Member

Nice work!

In my opinion, the prizes for the most incredibly (and inadvertently) prophetic films ever go to the following:

Despotism (1946) by Encyclopedia Britannica Films
https://archive.org/details/Despotis1946

The second half of this film has fully materialized in the United States, and the realization of the scenario depicted in the first half is well under way.

And,

Don’t Be A Sucker (1947) by the US War Department
https://archive.org/details/DontBeaS1947

That could be any number of today’s right wing talking heads or politicians on that soapbox…

Both of these films leave me with that “Oh, my God” after-effect.

Report this comment

KillgoreTrout
Member

Kudos RFdude. Well done. Many science fiction writers have been pretty accurate in predicting future times. As you can probably tell by my screen name, Kurt Vonnegut was one of favorites. He actually did more social commentary than actual science fiction, but he was pretty right on about many things, especially in his wonderful novel “Player Piano.”

Another of my favorites is “Brave New World.” As shocking as it was, it was Huxley’s follow up book, “Brave New World Revisited,” that scared the pants off me. He has been proven quite right in his predictions, especially about media brain washing. And of course, there was the terrible predictions by George Orwell in 1984.

As some have said here, people will eventually say enough is enough. People can be pushed only so far before they are shaken out of complacency. More people need to realize that for a democracy to work, they have to take part. It’s not for bystanders.

Report this comment

funksands
Member

KT, try William Gibson’s “Neuromancer”. Great book written in 1984 that has turned out to pretty prophetic

Report this comment

KillgoreTrout
Member

Yeah funk I agree. I read it.

Report this comment

jjgravitas
Member
jjgravitas

I’m a big fan of William Gibson’s books. My favorite is “The Difference Engine” a steam-punk novel that posited the existence of computers in the mid-1800s, before electricity and before cinematography.

Report this comment

M Cubed
Member
M Cubed

Nicely written, RF Dude! You are so right on the money when you bring up this film–it is a perfect warning for our days. It was directed by Norman Jewison, who made the quirky but beautiful “Thomas Crown Affair” in 1968, then the mega-hit “Fiddler on the Roof” in 1971. Those two films gave him enough cache and freedom to absolutely rock the world with his next two films: “Jesus Christ Superstar” in 1973 and “Rollerball.” He struck out hard against politics, organized religion, and corporatism, and asked his audiences to really question their everyday lives. I was too young to see an R movie when “Rollerball” came out, but I remember the controversy surrounding it.
Jewison’s brilliance, as well as awesome scriptwriting and art direction have left us a terrific piece of art which will resonate today, and warn us what could happen.

Report this comment

Kalima
Admin

Hi RF Dude. You have written an excellent first post here at The Planet and thank you.

I was anazed because my hubby and I were discussing this very same subject last night, and I said that I firmly believe that one day there will be a global “revolution” against inequality. We only have to look at what has happened in the ME in the last few years, and is happening in parts of Europe against austerity, and Thailand against corruption as I type this. It will happen, but maybe not in my lifetime. People all over the world are waking up from a deep sleep of oppression and economic depression, and it’s only a matter of time. Oh, and corporations are not people, despite what your RW SC says. It was one of the most shameful rulings in the history of the court.

One day, enough will really be enough.

Welcome to The Planet.

Report this comment

Nirek
Member

RF Dude, great post. I especially like ” countries where freedoms were limited and uneducated populations were exploited by a small class of wealthy, unscrupulous rulers and controllers aided by evil-minions.” Because that seems to be what America is now.

My pet peeve is multinational corporations! By virtue of their “multinational-ness” they are NOT American “persons” or citizens. Therefore they should not receive status as American “persons”. So why are they considered “persons” and given the right to lobby and bribe Congressmen/women?

Report this comment

AdLib
Admin

Brilliant and effective post, RF Dude. Good science fiction extrapolates issues and trends in a way that appears prescient and Rollerball sure did that.

I too saw Rollerball in the theaters. That was an era of many science fiction films as cautionary tales (Westworld, Soylent Green, Logan’s Run, The Stepford Wives, etc.) and though they may feel somewhat dated when watched today, their basic stories and themes aren’t.

It does give one pause to think what a culture shock and how unacceptable many of the compromises we accept today would be to America of 1975. All Americans being spied on by their government, websites tracking your every move and trying to get their users to give up their personal information and privacy, the regularity of mass killings which can’t be addressed because of the money and power of gun manufactures and their lobby, the NRA.

Corporations as people? That alone could have been a 1970’s science fiction movie.

Your positive message is very appreciated. The people can and continually do overcome the powerful minority that tries to oppress them. There are victories all the time, some are small and others are big. There are losses too but they don’t negate the people’s ability to beat the corporate and wealthy forces arrayed against them in other cases.

We do have a President Obama, elected twice. We have the ACA, the end of DADT and the spread of marriage equality, we have states raising the minimum wage and boycotts and protests that force corporations to back down.

None of these things and many others could have happened without regular citizens coming together and believing they can change things.

Looking down the barrel of the corporate money and power canon can be unnerving but when enough people stand up to them and take the fuse out of their hands, they’re helpless against them.

It takes strength and principal to stand up against those who offer bargains and convenience to us in exchange for a worse future for ourselves but for those who see the big picture, there is no greater bargain than making sacrifices of time and energy today to win back one’s own and one’s children’s future.

Again, well done on your debut article here at The Planet. Looking forward to more!

Report this comment