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Comic Strip of the Day: The Gelded Age

 

Non Sequitur leads us off with this concise history of Labor Day and how it almost worked and then pretty much fell apart, though he applies the principle that history is written by the victors, so it seems, on the surface, to have a happy ending.

I blame George Westinghouse, the son of a bitch who invented the air brake and ruined everything.

And Theseus, for killing the Minotaur.

Granted, they had help.

But anyone who sees inequality as a conspiracy is paranoid. It is a malignancy, yes, but it’s a result mostly of inertia and things that, once set in motion, just keep rolling along.

Which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fight it, but, before you can do that, you have to understand it.

And painting it as a conspiracy is just silly.  Nostradamus couldn’t have conspired to make this happen.

One of the best courses I ever took was a history of education that began with the Transcontinental Railroad, and the reason I liked it so much is that we had two or three sessions of wondering what in the hell the Transcontinental Railroad had to do with the history of education and then he pulled the Big Reveal, which not only made me rethink that topic but pretty much all of history.

I’ll have to encapsulate here, but, had James Watt’s little steam engine remained a replacement for horses pulling a wagon, we’d have been okay.

Once Westinghouse found a way to make a locomotive pull two dozen or more wagons over long distances at high speed, our entire culture collapsed in a furor of centralization. The Golden Spike was driven through our hearts.

When it became possible to make large amounts of stuff and get it to markets all across the continent and, eventually, around the world, we stopped living in small, manageable pods and began to gather in massive, impersonal cities.

Everything had been a Farmer’s Market, not just vegetables but candles and clothing and pots and pans, and it wasn’t that it was made by hand but that it was made by people rather than churned out by factories.

Out West, we suddenly had an entire industry devoted to getting beef to railheads and hence to Chicago, while, all along those rail lines, we gathered immigrants and other workers who were no longer blacksmiths or tailors but became cogs in a faceless system without a soul.

As for Theseus, his slaying of the Minotaur is symbolic of how a society dominated by hunters managed to collapse a well-functioning Minoan society that had balanced hunters and gatherers, and, a few thousand years after completing the process in Europe, colonists came here and, aided by the Industrial Revolution, spread west and destroyed the hunter/gatherer cultures there.

Leading to the current culture of apex predators, and I don’t know how you can reverse it.

Marx is right that the concentration of the means of production in the hands of a few powerful people is exploitive, but Orwell was also right in that most of the animals are too docile and tractable to resist the pigs who amass that power.

 

So today’s Retail is funny, not because Stuart is part of some grand conspiracy to oppress the masses — that’s paranoia — but because he sincerely believes that what he says is true and is the proper order of things.

That’s reality.

That’s also the core of privilege: Because the system has worked in his favor, he fails to see the benefit of a system that might be more balanced.

And Marla sees the flaws in the system in part because she is not at the top of the pecking order but also because — and there’s feminist theory to back this up — men tend to be hunters and women tend to be gatherers, which works well in a balanced society but falls apart in our predatory system.

If you examine, for example, the pre-industrial Lakota society, the men were out getting meat and protecting the group from outsiders, while the women kept everything organized and functioning, not just in terms of cooking and gardening but in managing the kinship ties and overall societal obligations of a matrilinear culture, which are the glue.

Minoan culture seems to have been more patriarchal, Iroquois culture was more matriarchal, but there was a balance at work that is absent from a society in which predators rather than mere hunters are dominant, and the gatherer task of organization functions only within the home unit and has become negligible as an overall influence on the culture.

 

And just as fish cannot understand the concept of being wet, we don’t understand the concept of being exploited, as demonstrated in today’s Win, Lose or Drew cartoon.

The resentment that might well be directed at those apex predators is, rather, misdirected because people see only the personal effort involved and don’t understand where it fits as an overall contribution to profit.

To put it on basic terms, when he can figure out a way to get 75,000 people to come pay to watch him toss pizzas while several million others watch on television, and when people flock to purchase over-priced Pizza Boy aprons with his name on them, then he’ll be right to expect Aaron Rodgers level money.

Meanwhile, the question he should be asking is whatever happened to a few guys from our town getting together and playing against a few guys from your town and everyone just having a few beers and hot dogs and watching from the bleachers?

I blame that fucking railroad, carting in elite players from halfway across the country.

And, by the way, Theseus turned out to be quite a hero who, after she helped him with her thread and was of no further use, stranded Ariadne on an island in the middle of the Mediterranean and then sailed home and “forgot” to swap out the black sails so that his father hurled himself off a cliff in despair, making him king.

Oh well, what the hell. A few more missions, maybe they’ll let us all go home.

 

Community Comments

#1 Mary McNeil
September/2/2018
@ 4:33 pm

Papa John is making several million while whining about having to pay for health care for the guys doing the actual tossing of his pizzas. At least Aaron Rodgers is out there where we can boo him when he screws up.

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