See? Look, when the light over the podium hits him just right! You missed it? You couldn’t see that horrid face under the human mask? Are you blind?
There are creatures among us, hate to break it to you. They look like us, they move like we do, they even eat and drink our food, but they aren’t human…they can’t be; no real person could say and do the things they do.
We call them ‘politicians.’
I got to thinking about this recently while watching a favorite old science fiction film, I Married a Monster from Outer Space…the inspiration for the title of this piece. It’s not as well known as its contemporary, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but I’ve got a soft spot for it. It doesn’t boast the best acting and its special effects are primitive by today’s standards, but it has its moments. The film’s plot is a recurrent one we’ve seen many times in movies; aliens have come to Earth either to take over or steal our resources (in ‘Monster’ they’re after Earth women to breed with since all of theirs have died) and dupe the locals by assuming human guise, in this case by occupying their bodies. How this is done isn’t made clear, but we know the facade isn’t perfect: on the night of their honeymoon, Bill The Alien is standing on the balcony of their apartment watching as a thunderstorm approaches. His human bride, Marge, is elsewhere, so luckily for her (or perhaps unluckily) she misses the unpleasant sight of Bill’s ugly alien visage becoming suddenly visible as lightning flashes nearby. What makes this scene exceptionally creepy, of course, is that we know he’s about to join Marge in the bedroom to consummate their marriage. No dialogue directly states this, but in typical Fifties style, it’s discreetly made clear what’s about to happen.
Later in the film, we find that the offworlders are absorbing more men of the town, using them to seal it off from snooping outsiders. They barricade the roads with co-opted maintenance workers, control the individual members of the populace with co-opted police, and their operatives ensure that no long distance telephone calls can be made, incoming or outgoing. “All the lines are busy,” the faceless operators repeat endlessly.
What a useful metaphor for politicians, their bureaucratic apparatchiks, and their muscled enforcers in uniform! True, I’ll grudgingly admit that there aren’t really any aliens (though some folks persist in believing there are), but they sure do act like the Andromedans in the movie; marauding control freaks who care little for any humans or even animals that get in the way of their designs, casually killing whenever the urge is upon them.
In our time, the politicians have much loftier ambitions. They claim the monopoly on force, both domestically and abroad. With the myriad of taxes on every human activity or transaction, it’s clear they believe they are the owners of all of the fruits of our labors, save whatever fraction of our earnings they deem it acceptable for us to keep. Not content with simply laying claim to our money, we’re often told what we can and can’t spend those earnings on. We must obtain permission from our masters to use our own property as we see fit, and if some agency doesn’t agree with our choice of action, well, that’s just too bad. The politicians dictate to us what sorts of fixtures we are allowed to have in our homes (the ‘low-flow’ toilet requirement being one notorious example), and even the humble incandescent light bulb can’t escape their clutching fingers. I could go on almost endlessly, the politicians in their endless hubris have a Plan for micromanaging every aspect of our lives, from the cars we drive to the food we eat, but there’s no need to catalog them all. It’s abundantly clear to anyone with even a shred of ability to think independently that ‘freedom’ in the United States is now considered a quaint and outmoded concept.
In some cases the hubris of those whose hands are upon the levers of power can be frightening. A prime example of this is evidenced by a quote from Ron Suskind, writing for the New York Times Magazine in October 2004, relates a statement from a senior adviser to George W. Bush: “The aide said that guys like me were ‘in what we call the reality-based community,’ which he defined as people who ‘believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.’ I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ‘That’s not the way the world really works anymore,’ he continued. ‘We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.’”
How on earth did this situation come about? While there are any number of specific reasons, I believe it boils down to a combination of just a few significant factors.
First, we as a nation are seeing the results of more than a century of mandatory public schooling. It has failed, many say, pointing to the vast numbers of young peoples unable to read, write, or understand basic mathematics. We observe with sorrow their vacuousness, their nihilism, their lack of motivation and wonder where the spirit that once made this country great at one time has gone.
What we’re overlooking is the fact that most of those ills are evidence that the compulsory education inflicted on people for all these years is working exactly as it was designed: to stamp out good little worker bees assembly-line fashion who’ll toil away their lives, never questioning their place and always doing as they’re told.
The few who exhibit the ability to think creatively, the nonconformists, the misfit square pegs…in short, the very sort of people most likely to have the spirit and inherent smarts needed to be the innovators, the thinkers, the inventors and entrepreneurs we so desperately need to make our country prosperous and successful again…mostly have those qualities squashed out of them by the gnashing gears of the machine by the time they reach adolescence. The fraction remaining who survive this ordeal unscathed are routinely ushered into obscurity by the various traps the elites in control have set in their paths to ensure failure; the stifling hyperregulation, the taxes and the penalties…including prison…that await those with the the audacity to buck the tide. The Steve Jobs’, Sam Waltons and Oprah Winfreys of this world do sometimes miraculously succeed despite the system, but I have no doubt their numbers would be vastly increased were it not for the impediments foisted upon people that begin at the earliest ages.
As I’ve stated, the educational system in place was intentionally and very cynically designed long ago to produce these results, starting with the establishment of the Prussian education system of the nineteenth century, brought to this country by the Progressives of the early twentieth, and nurtured by the likes of Horace Mann and John Dewey. For those interested in a comprehensive view of this massive scheme, I suggest a thorough study of the writings of John Taylor Gatto, a preeminent scholar and at one time the most highly awarded public school teacher in New York, who had an epiphany around 1991 and abandoned the system, vowing that he no longer wished to “hurt kids to make a living.”
Second, as befell many other civilizations that have preceded our own, our success was also partially to blame for our own undoing. Simply put, we’ve gotten lazy and complacent. We’ve got our plasma TVs, American Idol to watch on them, and Ipads and Ipods for when we’re away from the house. Combine that with the lack of ability for creative thought and craving for instant gratification courtesy of the public school institutional training, and you get a whole lot of people turning into professional couch potatoes, docile and complacent. Between this and the fact that one in six Americans are now dependent on government assistance, it certainly seems we’re doing our best to copy the ‘bread and circuses’ policies of the failed Roman Empire. When you take into account the aforementioned inability of most people to think analytically thanks to our dumbed-down public education system, it seems unlikely that this situation will change except for the worse in the foreseeable future.
Third, and at least as troubling is the fear factor. We’ve already seen peaceful protesters, manhandled, assaulted and pepper sprayed by police. If history is any guide, the next step will be summary executions of those who step out of line. Hopefully there is sufficient residual morality of an older America remaining that this won’t become commonplace any time soon…but given the ever-increasing militarization of the nation’s police, it’s difficult to have much confidence behind that hope.
What gets me is how obvious it seems that these people, who the public trusts to act in its best interests, are so often behaving in ways that are inimical to those best interests. Watching them smiling woodenly, smirking, glad-handing their audiences at public appearances, I want to grab their supporters and demand to know how they can consent to these critters’ rule over us. Their insincerity, their smug assurance that their self-serving, destructive behavior will not only be able to run unchecked, but is encouraged by so many of my countrymen and -women, is downright maddening.
In another fun aliens-masquerading-as-humans film from 1988, They Live, the decidedly ugly aliens hide their identities from the humans by means of a mysterious beam, more efficient than the Andromedans’ need to take over bodies individually in I Married a Monster from Outer Space, that causes their appearance to mimic humans’. The genuine humans can defeat the beam by wearing special sunglasses, and the scene in which the protagonist dons a pair for the first time and sees himself surrounded by hideous aliens is a memorable one. Later, the band of human Good Guys manages to destroy the beam projector, ruining the aliens’ plan for global conquest by enabling all humans to finally see them properly, their horrified screams assuring their deliverance from the alien usurpers’ clutches.
I find this a splendid example demonstrating the concept described by the French philosopher Étienne de La Boétie in his work “The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude,” written in 1553, of the effect of the body of people nonviolently withdrawing their consent to a tyrant’s rule:
Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break in pieces.
I’m aware it’s a gross oversimplication of the situation we face, that it’s not possible to reduce the uncountable machinations and manipulations needed to convince a country to trust a despot or despots with the reins of power as we have to one easy factor, but I often find myself wishing for a couple of container loads full of those magic sunglasses to hand out…perhaps when the shrieking had died down we all might find we’d won a divorce from those evil entities we’ve allowed ourselves to be shackled to.
©2016 by Glenn Horowitz, republished from the original that appeared in the American Daily Herald 2011-2012