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Twizzlers and the Deep State

Call it the Deep State. Call it the professional bureaucracy. However you name it, many of the centers of power in the United States, a nominal democracy, are occupied by people who were never elected to their positions and who can't be voted out.

No mention of the Deep State can be found in the Constitution, but it be would wrong to say that it is a perversion of the intention of the nation's founders. They were wary of democracy, believing that the multitudes could be seduced by a demagogue and that democracy could give way to tyranny. Elections and the appearance of democracy they provide are good for the national morale, but the counter-democratic forces at work in the Deep State provide the stability and continuity of purpose needed to manage a nuclear-armed, imperial state.

There are worse threats to our freedom than the CIA and NSA. The red plastic wrapper on a package of Twizzlers never fails to capture my attention, and I have no power to remove them from my environment. They will always be there at the grocery store, right next to the checkout.

I know that I don't need high fructose corn syrup in my veins. I know that it will actively undue the benefits I work so hard for in the gym. The Twizzlers are ever present, and I can no more vote them out of the grocery store than I can vote the directors of privately-funded but influential Washington think tanks out of their positions, and ever-present Twizzler packages present a more obvious curtailment of my ability to live the life I want to live than do the secret proceedings taking place at the Kaiser Family Foundation or the Council on Foreign Relations

Without self-control, we are not free. Being able to do whatever we want is not freedom if we do not choose the things that we want. Corporations spend millions of dollars figuring out how to bypass our thinking brains and appeal directly to our fundamental drives.

We don't get to choose when the advertisements come at us. We don't choose which junk food and alcohol options are presented to us at what time. The sellers of products know the routine patterns of our lives. They know when our defenses are likely to be lowered. And they know whom to pay off to make sure that their products appear before us at just the right moment.

Advertisers are constantly probing for weaknesses in our impulse control. Consumer society depends on the advertisers winning that battle a good deal of the time. For those who resist, their will is strengthened. For those who succumb, they have less spirit with which to fight the next battle of temptation vs impulse control.

A friend of the C-Realm wrote, "What we need is a bit of freedom right where we are at work, at home, in society; freedom from arbitrary intrusion and control by more powerful people and institutions."

Work is the place where we most need some measure of autonomy in order to take any satisfaction in our labors, and it is the place that technological monitoring allows employers to manage our actions second by second, making work a living hell. And when the lack of autonomy drives us to seek refuge in some act of self-soothing, there are probably Twizzlers or Red Vines in the vending machine in the break room.

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August 2018


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