Our Disease 16

     The Disease

There had been a big debate between the nations most popular political commentator. The first was a right-wing pundit by the name of Sean Reilly. The second was a politically moderate- or someone who merely upholds ‘sane’ positions as she would refer to it- by the name of Anna Snyder, who also happened to be Harry mother’s.
It had been filmed the previous night, the mother and son were watching it, each eating a bucket full of buttery popcorn. Popular consensus- though this naturally depended on which media you were watching- said that she had annihilated Reilly’s every argument.
”The question is who can we trust? The businessman or the politician,” said Reilly behind the right side of the debate table, ”and all it depends individually off course. But I would argue, that a country is a business, American is a corporation and it needs a good CEO. That’s what the president should be, a good CEO. A traditional politician thinks in nations and peoples but that’s not how the world works. There was a time when we needed politicians, but that time has long ended. There’s a new vision of America. A politician will sell you dreams, a business will teach you how the world really works.”
”The world works that way because we gave them the freedom to do this. This freedom needs to end.”
”That’s left-wing extremism!” balled Reilly ”you want to go back a regulated market, where government forces pick-pocket hard working Americans or ‘job creators’, so they can continuing financing a corrupt system. It’s my money. Why should I give those people my money I worked so hard for!”
”Now let’s settle down,” said the moderator who sat in the middle of the table.
”I’m not asking for a socialist-utopia,” said Anna, sipping from her glass of water, I’m asking for a regulated market, because this supposed invisible hand, you and your disciples are all so keen about, has a tendency to fill the pockets of the rich. It’s not just you. This is not your country. This is our country. We made you and you made us.”
”I made myself.”
”Your daddy and mommy did help you didn’t they?”
Sean looked at her furiously, then sighed, ”This is the modern world. We can’t go back anymore. Reagan started something beautiful. And we have to finish it.
”Look at the world your disciples have created. Look at this century of deregulation. This Americana penned by Ayn Rand, inspiring the Trumps of this world, the winners and loser mentality. It’s a rigged system, it’s rigged because this is what you always wanted. It lapses toward authoritarianism when it’s necessary. There’s the denial about what we are doing to this planet of ours. Our place on this world, our continued dominance precipitated the sixth-extinction. So many beautiful animals had to pay the price for our wants and needs. We didn’t treat our fellow humans any better. Just look at the epidemic of unemployment caused by automation and yet still, even with little cost to themselves, they fight over universal income. The job creators who refused to give the people health-insurance. The robots of this world get better care than the poor.”
Sean sighed, he knew he’d lost, and he seemed tired, ”’It’s always the same. We are the dumb ones. The left are the smart ones. If you had been in charge the world wouldn’t look much better.
”Like the left has always been the rational party. Like you were going to make the world a better place…”
”Again, I’m not a left-winger, just because I uphold certain left-wing positions just as I uphold right-wing positions. We just have a different definition or to be frank, you are just polemicizing this debate because that’s how you’ve always won. Not by reason, but by playing on your base. I don’t do that. I win and lose so many fans of mine because sometimes I turn to the right and sometimes to the left. I don’t compromise my reason but that’s my business; the academic, scholarly, journalistic fashion. You are in the pundit business, things have to be one side. Things have to be in two. You don’t give a crap about reason…”
Sean’s face turned red as he started mumbling, trying to find the words. Harry and mother were laughing loudly. She was sitting in a big lazy chair, her son lay on a comfortable couch.
”Can you believe the Breitbart poll has him winning by over eighty percents?” said Harry, who then shoved popcorn in his mouth, ”the gullibility of these people is hilarious.”
”Yes,” said Anna, who couldn’t see the humor in this, her smile decreasing, ”it doesn’t matter what I say to them. They got to them, they got them for good. For a century they’ve been told not to trust us. To distrusts journalists, historians and human rights workers. They indoctrinate in schools and churches. We will never reach them again…”
”Fuck em” said Harry, who didn’t pick up the hint of melancholy in his mother’s voice, ”it’s tiresome debating these people. If they can’t accept certain fundamental truths what hope is there? Eventually you just gotta spread the good word, no matter who it offends.”
”Well Harry, that’s where I came from. Those are my people.”
”You’re better than them.”
Anna didn’t say anything, but after a while, she got up and left the room. When Harry realized she was gone, he called out for her.
”I’m on the balcony.”
Harry got up, went to the balcony. They were on the top floor of a high-rise apartment, in a reasonably affluent neighborhood in New York. She was staring out into the starry night. The sounds of movement below, faint voices. Harry stood next to her, gentle brushed her shoulder.
”Mom, you okay?”
”I’m okay, just the futility of what I do gets to sometimes.”
”Oh mom, you’re just making a living. You’re not supposed to change the world.”
”You tell yourself that, it’s just a business. But you get to a point where you think, that maybe you can make a difference. Things have to mean something.”
”I’m not much of a believer mom. The age of true believers have long gone.”
”I don’t want you to become like them, Harry. I want you to be better than them.”
”I believe in the good things mom, I just don’t believe this world is one of them. It’s too much history. Every moral experiment, ends with people doing what’s good for themselves. Man is a selfish animal, there’s nothing else to it.”
Anna kept looking into the starry sky, she singled out one star, imagined going down with it. We all fade into stardust.
”This world is stacked with good people but something is holding them back. There’s a sickness, a disease. It’s been spreading for so long now. The people that spread them, these mind-viruses don’t even know it. It takes so long to break the chain of history and so many new monsters are build in that momentum. There’s so many bugs in our system. The bugs are everywhere.”
”Mom, did you take your medication?”
Anna didn’t say anything for a while, she felt herself slipping into a dark place. A voice inside asked for her to snap out of it: you are with your son. He’s leaving tomorrow. Make it a nice time.
”Let’s finish watching the debate,” said Anna, turning around and hugging her son. ”You’re such a good boy you know that?”
”Oh mom. If I am, it’s your fault. I would be nothing without you.”
She held him, a bit longer than usual. It worried Harry, but when she stopped and kissed his cheek and smiled at him, she seemed like was normal again.

Twenty years later. Harry was on his computer, scrolling through pictures of his mother. There was an old one, where she stood next to the father he never knew. The one from his wedding, when she had been quite inebriated. There were many more. One in particular, probably one of the last pictures ever made for her, she looked so happy, on the beach looking into the blue sky of Hawaii. He never realized how beautiful she really was.
Her words came back to her, how ashamed he was. The decapitated boy kept appearing in his mind. Even though it was not his fault, he still blamed himself. It was his initial input that put his death into motion. It doesn’t matter if it wasn’t his plan, if it wasn’t for him, the boy might still have been alive.
Stone came back from the shower, a towel was covering his middle. He entered his room, saw his ‘friend’ scrolling through the pictures.
”She was a helluva woman,” said Stone who stood next to him now as Harry kept scrolling ”she could have been a game-changer, ”she was the most fearful enemies of people like me. Most people might had the wits but they didn’t have what she had. A fearlessness, this uncompromising nature.”
Harry refused a speak a word to him, he mindlessly scrolled to another. Stone noticed it but pretended he didn’t.
”Boy she hated me. She saw right me, that beautiful woman.”
Silence. Stone sighed, ”look you don’t need to worry. None of this will come back to you. The boy wasn’t from around here. Nobody, nobody that can cause any problems anyway, will look for him. You’re safe.”
Again silence. Stone continued: ”perhaps the show should have been PG-rated. Perhaps I went a little too Jihad on the kid, but I hope you can understand that I was merely helping her. It was the only way. It would have taken too long. You’re already in a fragile state. Who knows what could happen if they keep messing your head for another two weeks. It’s in your genes pall. You’re a smart guy, but like you’re mother, your prone to some extreme neuroticism.”
Still no word. Stone felt like punching him, ”I couldn’t do this without something from you Harry. I don’t need your money, but I wanted something. I wanted your innocence and you paid your debt. In time you will thank me. Don’t get any crazy ideas about reporting this, they won’t listen to you, you know that.”
Harry kept scrolling through pictures, he came across one with him and Sheryl in Amsterdam. Stone sighed, didn’t know what to say.
”Well, I’m gonna be away for a while. They really need me. I’ve been here longer than I was supposed to anyway. I’m not sure when I see you again. I will leave a number you can if they keep bothering you. Just say that you are a friend of me. These guys are good, the best. I will leave you some stuff that will keep you from sleep or will knock you down in a good sleep, whatever you prefer tonight. The next time we will see each other, everything will be back to normal” Stone patted Harry on the shoulder, ”don’t you worry about that.”
Stone headed out the door when he finally heard Harry’s voice: ”If you ever come here again Stone. I will kill you,” Stone turned around, faced Harry who was staring back at him, ”I don’t care what happens to me. But if you ever come to my house again I will fucking kill you.”
Stone looked into his eyes, he couldn’t be sure if he could do it or not.
”You’re show is on tomorrow right? I will be listening don’t you worry. I never miss a show.” Stone blinked and left the room.

In his dreams, he was in the playground again. Crispin was sitting on a swing, wearing a red raincoat. When he saw Harry walking toward him, he quickly jumped off.
”I’m not supposed to talk to you.”
”Why not?”
”They say you won’t listen anyway,” Crispin shivered in the cold rain.
”I’m listening now.”
”Nobody listens. Everybody’s always in their own world. You were supposed to be better than that.”
”I’m trying…”
”It doesn’t matter. You can’t do it. Maybe you never will.”
”You don’t believe in me.”
”You don’t believe in yourself.”
Harry was wiping his wet face. The rain just kept pouring. There was an explosion in thesky. A lighting bolt.
”Is it my fault? Is the death of the kid my fault?”
”Why do you ask me? You won’t listen anyway. You made up my mind.”
”Just tell me.”
”You never forgive yourself, that’s your problem. You keep putting it all on you. You’re just like your mother…”
”Is she here? Can I talk to her?”
”I told you, you won’t listen anyway. I have to go before I get into trouble.”
”Please, I’m all alone out there. I don’t want to go back.”
”We are all waiting. We will always be waiting for you. But we can’t push it too far. The work is up to you…”
Crispin turned to and ran away, Harry was about to run after him, when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He had a feeling who it was and he began to tremble.  When he turned around to see if it was him, he woke up.

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Blame it on the Deep State

The Russian trolls are getting to people. Fake News is like a parasite of the brain, it latches onto the subject’s preconceived notions of the world, its natural distrust for Western authorities and makes the subject share it to his friends and families. The message is clear: ”we are all being duped people. This is the truth. Don’t trust the mainstream media. This is what’s really going on.”
The establishment did this to themselves but perhaps, it was inevitable. We enraged the demons long ago and these demons will always be there. The more we fight them, the more fire we leave behind. The fire always comes back.
Globalization was never going to make us like each other better. It’s too hard to understand the world, the people and ourselves too. The more information we receive, the more we realize that it’s far more complicated than we had initially suspected. So we simplify. We seek a comforting reality. We find the kind of news that reflects our world view. Leaders come around and tell us what we believe. Their colorful language makes them seem different. Maybe this guy is different. Maybe this guy is telling the truth.
Putin saw this happening long ago. Maybe the credit should go wider. Russian history is full of managing popular opinion. A former KGB-man, someone who spied on his people and considers himself a patriot, knows very well that the truth is too painful. The truth can ruin everything. Gorbachov can tell you this: just look at what perestroika and glasnost did! It opened borders and gave people the right to question the history of their glorified empire. No. A populist, a leader with authoritarian knows the golden rule: you close borders, you demonize the enemy and you get the journalists in line. Journalists are a pesky sort. Make sure the people hate them. Tell them they work for the establishment, that they write fake news.
Another one that’s popular today is the DEEP STATE. The opposition-this time Robert Mueler and his legal team- within the government is secretly trying to get Trump impeached. They are all using it. Not sure who started it. Perhaps it was Roger Stone. I sort of like Roger Stone. I mean I don’t like him as a person, he’s basically everything that’s revolting about humanity, but he’s upfront with it. There’s a genuineness about him. He’s pure evil and he knows it and he doesn’t care. He’s an entertaining sort of demon.
Even Newt Gingrich mentioned The DEEP STATE. This useless and irrelevant tub of lard says the president cannot obstruct justice- except if he received a blowjob, something that enraged Gingrich when he tried to get Clinton impeached. There’s also Sean Hannity, a man with such a hard-on for Trump that he wouldn’t be surprised if he was writing fan-fiction about him.
All of these supposedly respectable people have been infected by the Russian Troll. It could very well that the Trump support is just a niche market, but especially in the case of Hannity, they seem like true believers. There’s just something about about his charms, that they just can’t resist.
Watching Trump’s cabinet taking turns sucking Trump’s dick (metaphorically speaking) was painful. How could it ever get this far? I know they all have some financial stake in the game but I don’t think I could do this. Maybe if my girlfriend was taking hostage and I was forced to do this to save my life, then maybe, maybe I would consider it. But I don’t understand how they could do this and not immediately watch their mouth with soap. They had to have been high when they did this. Maybe it’s like a game of who can suck up to him the most. It was like a staged scene of Russian propaganda. Did Trump really think this was convincing to the American people? Well since many of his voters actually think he’s a Christian, I guess it could.
Meanwhile Putin is smiling, high-fifing Pepe the Troll. The divide in America was so great, it made it easy for his Russian Trolls. The infection is spreading meanwhile. Even in Holland, the message board is full of Putin supporters. There are educated people who say that perhaps Putin’s vision of the world isn’t quite so bad.
And anybody who’ve seen a glimpse of Putin’s world, knows why I’m scared. This is a world where facts are subjective, we don’t know who to trust, we don’t know if this event or that event was planned by the state, perhaps even the opposition is bankrolled by the state. Everything is a joke, nothing means anything anymore. People turned mad by the state, hunting for opposition leaders- or maybe those mad killers are bankrolled by the government? The most shameful history is warped into something glorious. The heroes could be the villains and the villains are the only ones we can trust.
Many people have been fooled by the Russian troll’s narrative. This Free Press reveals our shortcomings and in turn could instigate our own kind of perestroika and glasnost, but in reverse: close borders and a suppression of dissent. This story has been told before. It’s nothing new. Institutions can fall easily, it’s only as strong as its people. If just takes enough fools on election day.

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Art by Ralph Steadman