“Yeah, like [in] a church. Church of the Good Hustler.”
– Fast Eddie Felson (Paul Newman) in The Hustler
At the end of Henrik Ibsen’s classic play, A Doll’s House, Nora, the aggrieved wife, leaves her husband’s house and all the illusions that sustained its marriage of lies. She chooses freedom over fantasy. She will no longer be played with like a doll but will try to become a free woman – a singular one. “There is another task I must undertake first. I must try and educate myself,” she tells her husband Torvald, a man completely incapable of understanding the social programming that has made him society’s slave.
When Nora closes the doll’s house door behind her, the sound is like a hammer blow of freedom. For anyone who has seen the play, even when knowing the outcome in advance, that sound is profound. It keeps echoing. It interrogates one’s conscience.
The echo asks: Do you live inside America’s doll house where a vast tapestry of lies, bad faith, and cheap grace keep you caged in comfort, as you repeat the habits that have been drilled into you?
In this doll’s house of propaganda into which America has been converted, a great many of our basic assumptions are totally illusory.
Americans who voted for either Trump or Biden in the 2020 election are like Torvald clones. They refuse to open that door so they might close it behind them. They live in the doll’s house – all 146+ million of them. Like Torvald, they are comforted. They are programmed and propagandized, embracing the illusion that the electoral system is not structured and controlled to make sure no significant change can occur, no matter who is president. It is a sad reality promoted as democracy.
They will prattle on and give all sorts of reasons why they voted, and for whom, and how if you don’t vote you have no right to bitch, and how it’s this sacred right to vote that makes democracy great, blah blah blah. It’s all sheer nonsense. For the U.S.A. is not a democracy; it is an oligarchy run by the wealthy for the wealthy.
This is not a big secret. Everybody knows this is true; knows the electoral system is sheer show business with the presidential extravaganza drawing the big money from corporate lobbyists, investment bankers, credit card companies, lawyers, business and hedge fund executives, Silicon Valley honchos, think tanks, Wall Street gamblers, millionaires, billionaires, et. al. Biden and Trump spent over 3 billion dollars on the election. They are owned by the money people.
Both are old men with long, shameful histories. A quick inquiry will show how the rich have profited immensely from their tenures in office. There is not one hint that they could change and have a miraculous conversion while in future office, like JFK. Neither has the guts or the intelligence. They are nowhere men who fear the fate that John Kennedy faced squarely when he turned against the CIA and the war machine. They join the craven company of Johnson, Ford, Carter, Reagan G.H.W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama. They all got the message that was sent from the streets of Dallas in 1963: You don’t want to die, do you?
Ask yourself: Has the power of the oligarchic, permanent warfare state with its propaganda and spy networks, its vast intelligence apparatus, increased or decreased in the past half century? Who is winning the battle, the people or the ruling elites? The answer is obvious.
It matters not at all whether the president has been Trump or Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush, Barack Obama or George H. W. Bush, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, or Jimmy Carter. The power of the national security state has grown under them all and everyone is left to moan and groan and wonder why.
All the while, the doll’s house has become more and more sophisticated and powerful. It is now essentially an electronic prison that is being “Built Back Better.” The new Cold War now being waged against Russia and China is a bi-partisan affair, as is the confidence game played by the secret government intended to create a fractured consciousness in the population through their corporate mass-media stenographers. Trump and his followers on one side of the coin; liberal Democrats on the other.
Only those backed by the wealthy power brokers get elected in the U.S.A. Then when elected, it’s payback time. Palms are greased. Everybody knows this is true. It’s called corruption. So why would anyone, who opposes a corrupt political oligarchy, vote, unless they were casting a vote of conscience for a doomed third-party candidate?
Leonard Cohen told it true with “Everybody Knows”:
Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died
And yet everybody who voted for the two men backed by the super-rich owners of the country knew what they were doing, unless they live under a rock and come out every four years to vote. Perhaps they were out buying stuffing for the Thanksgiving turkey, so they can give thanks for the farce (stuffing: Latin: farcire ).
They have their reasons. Now the Biden people celebrate, just as Trump’s supporters did in 2016. I can hear fireworks going off as I write here in a town where 90% + voted for Biden and hate Trump with a passion more intense than what they ever could work up for a spurned lover or spouse. This is mass psychosis. It’s almost funny.
At least we have gotten rid of Trump, they say. No one can be worse. They think this is logic. Like Torvald, they cannot begin to understand why anyone would want to leave the doll’s house, how anyone could refuse to play a game in which the dice are loaded. They will deny they are in the doll’s house while knowing the dice are loaded and still roll the die, not caring that their choice – whether it’s Tweedledee or Tweedledum – will result in the death and impoverishment of so many, that being the end result of oligarchic rule at home and imperialism abroad.
Orwell called this Doublethink:
Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them…. To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies – all this is indispensably necessary.
And while in Nineteen Eighty-Four Doublethink is learned by all the Party members “and certainly by all who are intelligent as well as orthodox,” today in the U.S.A., it has been mastered even by the so-called unintelligent.
To live in the U.S.A. is to live in the Church of the Good Hustler.
People often ask: What can we do to make the country better? What is your alternative?
A child could answer that one: Don’t vote if you know that both contenders are backed by the super-rich elites, what some call the Deep State. Which of course they are. Everybody knows.
The so-called left and right argue constantly about whom to support. It’s a pseudo-debate constructed to allow people to think their vote counts; that the game isn’t rigged. It’s hammered into kids’ heads from an early age. Be grateful, give thanks that you live in a democracy where voting is allowed and your choice is as important as a billionaire’s such as Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, or Charles Koch. In the voting booth we are all equal.
Myths die hard. This one never does:
“Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams, will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.”
— Donald Trump, January 20, 2017.
“With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation. It’s time for America to unite. And to heal.”
— Joe Biden, November 7, 2020.
“Above all else, the time has come for us to renew our faith in ourselves and in America. In recent years, that faith has been challenged.”
— Richard Nixon, January 20, 1973.
Your voice – our faith – it’s time to unite and heal.
Ask the Vietnamese, the Iraqis, the Syrians, the Afghanis, the Libyans, the Palestinians, et al. They sing a different tune, one not heard In the Church of the Good Hustler.
After campaigning hard for the losing presidential candidate in 1972, I nearly choked when I heard Richard Nixon’s inaugural address in January 1973. Clinging to the American myth the previous year, I had campaigned for a genuine anti-war Democrat, Senator George McGovern. The war against Vietnam was still raging and Nixon, who had been first elected in 1968 as a “peace candidate,” succeeding the previous “peace candidate” Lyndon Baines Johnson, was nevertheless overwhelmingly elected, despite Watergate allegations appearing in the months preceding the election. Nixon won forty-nine states to McGovern’s one – Massachusetts, where I lived. It was a landslide. I felt sick, woke up, got up, and left the doll’s house.
“Propaganda is the true remedy for loneliness,” wrote the French sociologist Jacques Ellul in 1965 in Propaganda:
It corresponds to the need to share, to be a member of a community, to lose oneself in a group, to embrace a collective ideology that will end loneliness…. It also corresponds to deep and constant needs, more developed today, perhaps, than ever before: the need to believe and obey, to create and hear fables, to communicate in the language of myths.
In a country where loneliness is widespread, the will to believe and the power of positive thinking are far more powerful than the will to truth. Unlike Nora, who knew that when she left the doll’s house she was choosing the loneliness of the solitary soul, Americans prefer myths that induce them to act out of habit so they can lose themselves in the group.
This is so despite the fact that In the Church of the Good Hustler, when you play the game, you lose. We are all Americans and your vote counts and George Washington never told a lie.
27 thoughts on “Everybody Knows the Fight was Fixed”
Refusing to vote is surrender. How can that be rationally construed as disciplined resistance?
Good stuff. Why wasn’t this posted before the election?
Gotta give George Orwell alot of credit. He predicted our fate, flat out told us our fate, and we read the book, never thinking it would be our fate. Unreal, ain’t it?
Is the youtube version ok ?
If I step out of the dollhouse, what kind of community are you suggesting we form? The system may be rigged but what are the suggestions to change this?
Hello JB Hall…, you ask an excellent question and not easy to give an answer that can be applied quickly for quick results.
I think one possibility is for people to speak to each other, reveal your true self, develop trusting, caring, supportive relations and perhaps then develop ideas, build on those ideas, strategies and all the while this relationship and nurturing of relationships will flower.
The downside is, our fear, isolates us, alienates us, preventing trust, compassion, developing beyond the ordinariness of it all.
The common denominator of being human is sharing of basic emotions and fear being one needs to be faced head on. If a group of people can work on this together, gaining various perspectives, the process might be accelerated. There needs to be a start. I find this very difficult and since most people seem to be limiting themselves to responding to various authorities any authority but their own selves, neighbors, acquaintances…(not friends) simply shallow relationships. I wonder how many people truly know the person sitting across the dinner table from them. I think genuine, communications that can transcend any culture, religious group and so on is a start. We know there is more than just a smile that all humans have in common that can develop a ‘feeling’. That’s one quick thought.
Joseph has the right approach of how to implement change. There are people out there who have already implemented change. Here is something you might want to listen too. Anyone, feel free to listen to this online Radio station “Talkzone” where people are stepping out of the dollhouse and are trying to make a change towards the better and educate people to what our rights are and are fighting the very systems that are currently taking those rights away from us.
My sentiments exactly. Edward Curtin is public intellectual? Really?
How is his despondent message any less propaganda than what we get from the oligarchs and plutocrats?
I may not be as intellectual as he, but I understand that Gene Sharp’s research is valid and does suggest there is light at the end of the tunnel.
People might want to look up Sharp’s books, like How Nonviolent Struggle Works.
Here’s how I put it: Sustained, disruptive nonviolent struggle DOES work.
Wonderful Ed ! I regard Cohen as even more of an Oracle than Dylan.
“I’m guided by the beauty of our weapons.
I’m guided by those signals from the past.
First we take Manhattan……”
As I commented last time, “Everybody knows” but only 48% are ever angry about it.As frightful as it may seem, I think it is in the division that our hope lies.
We re about to face the entry of Tony Blinkin Michelle Flornoy and Susan Rice–bloodthirsty,craven ghouls–who will spread death as a matter of course.
Ed, the link above is to a pamphlet written in 1888, so it’s not that we’re in unknown territory. Also, José Saramago wrote two novels, “Blindness” and “Seeing” which I I reckon were inspired by Mirbeau (among other things).
Hello Steve and thank you…, Octave-Mirbeau…, it’s great and in fact, it’s a good ole’ fashion knee-slapper as well !
Glad you appreciated the link. The French version is even better.
500 years of dysfunction, fraud and violence…, yet, citizens still grant legitimacy, give energy to this degenerate condition. He/She votes for biden and then less than one week later is already complaining about biden. The same thing happened 4 years ago, 8 years ago, 12 years ago, 100 years ago, 4 years from now, 8 years from now…, a life time of self-deception…, GOOD GRIEF, isn’t it time to transcend this insanity, find ourselves, have real communities instead of towns and precincts?
“Propaganda is the true remedy for loneliness,” wrote the French sociologist Jacques Ellul in 1965 in Propaganda:
‘It corresponds to the need to share, to be a member of a community, to lose oneself in a group, to embrace a collective ideology that will end loneliness…. It also corresponds to deep and constant needs, more developed today, perhaps, than ever before: the need to believe and obey, to create and hear fables, to communicate in the language of myths.'”
You are the master of the perfect quote that makes your point Ed. Propaganda, the lies that binds. The lies and myths that are required to hold this stumbling beast upright as we gallop ever faster toward the cliff.
Our predicament as voters seems unresolvable.
It’s the same all around this precious besieged planet.
James Lovelock, through his Gaia hypothesis, has offered a solution.
It ain’t pretty.
I only saw Leonard Cohen perform live once. It was a magical experience.
He was gracious and giving for the entire show.
I’ve loved his words and music for almost fifty years. He has become a ‘mentor’ (along with several other singer- songwriters) for my passion of songwriting.
I miss him very much.
Voting started being fixed during the 1800’s, maybe sooner. Many countries over the years are having their elections manipulated by the Elite so they can have in place their puppets of choice. Currently every world leader is following their dictatorship.
The Elites call us a bunch of “Useless Eaterers.” I wonder if this is a coincidence, because during WW II the Holocaust victims where called Useless Eaters as well. Over 5 million victims died during the Holocaust, plus the citizins who lived under constant bombing, and additional victims who fought on both sides.
I know a 95 yr old woman who survived WW II and she said that the Covid-19 lockdown measures remind her of the beginning of the Holocaust. Holocaust victims where put to death by certain measures; lockdown, starvation, diseases, concentration camps, lethal Vaccinations, gas chambers, and being shot. We are currently facing lockdowns, concentration camps (e.g. Australia & New Zealand), and starvation throughout the world (food banks short supply).
Experts are predicting by the end o Dec 2020, more than 130 million people will die from starvation alone. People have already died from Covid-19 measures through lack of medical attention, food, separation in homecare facilities and suicide. Even our children are currently committing suicide from Covid-19 measures.
These Elected puppets by the Elite will continue to watch the world from their comforts of luxury estates.
This time around, as I’m wont to do, I voted for an unknown socialist candidate for president rather than vote for Biden or Trump or not vote at all. If enough principled nonvoters instead voted third party, wouldn’t a clearer message be sent? Isn’t an ethical refusal to vote easily sloughed off as apathy or satisfaction with the status quo? Hell, isn’t it theoretically possible that if enough voters saw what you see, then that socialist guy or some other third party candidate would now be assembling a transition team and forcing the bastards to line up potential assassins? With power and persistence, Ed, you write in protest of evil, and we love you for it. Why not also vote in protest and urge others to do the same? Silence, I fear, says little except to oneself.
If 100 + million didn’t vote, wouldn’t that be a more powerful message to delegitimize the process than a few millions votes for minor candidates? Every election there are votes for the minor candidates and it says: You can have your voice heard. I think not. Pax, Ed
I’m with Ed on this one. Not voting is a statement of nonsupport for a corrupt process. If you vote, you are saying that the process is legitimate, and that you accept the results of it. Any third party in this country which gains enough popular support to be a threat is infiltrated and redirected into a nonthreatening stance, often by providing money. Socialism certainly doesn’t scare the big players. Any system of central control will do for them. Australia and other nations have made voting mandatory because low voter turnout looks bad for a “democracy”.
Interesting point Eddy ! I live in Australia (since 1960). I’m a permanent resident but never a “Citizen”. This gives me the privilege of NOT voting !
Your writings are an oasis where those of us with a deep longing for honesty have the opportunity to quench our thirst. Thank you for being more than a mirage.
I attended a rally for McGovern with a group of my friends from high school in 1972. It was definitely the “end the war” rhetoric that appealed to us, and we were also crushed that this first experience in politics was such a negative. Would McGovern have actually done what he said? Possibly, since it was not too long until Nixon pulled out. But no doubt George was part of “the big club” as well, and it would have just been an illusion that he was different. I always imagine a new president attending a meeting where the Zapruder film is played on a loop in the background.
I eventually became uninterested in politics for some years, while raising a family, but defaulted to the Democratic party out of loyalty to my dad and sympathy for the working class. But of course, any support from the blue team for workers dissolved once they found out they could get more money from big business and banking than failing unions. It took me a long time to put enough together to understand that it was one bird with two wings.
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