In the contemporary USA there is a serious subculture that mixes together gun owners, actors and historians. They call themselves the reenactors. These historical period actors represent the aficionados of old military costumes, weapons, and martial movements. They regularly follow the sacred dates of battle memorials. Other tasks include interpreting for museum exhibitions and extras for historical episodes on cable TV. They do reenactments at historical sites, while replaying personal battle accounts. They truly do live the history and experience the combat flutters – even without the dead and mangled human bodies lying around them.
Across this United States, there are thousands of local historical societies doing their parts for regional memory. There also thousands of mini-museums, which feature glass cases of local artifacts and human stories. There also exist live nostalgia sites, and especially in the West and in the South, featuring dudes and gals dressed up in historical costumes. Along the ‘done up’ stage, tourists can see the period furniture, walk in the local stores, and visit the bars and restaurants. They can also watch the dressed-up people ‘doing their stuff the old way.’ We should not forget the medieval lore of Renaissance Festivals too. No other nation on Earth has so many museums – and museums for every imaginable taste inside of our tiny Earth universe.
Museums were actually a new invention to the human condition. Museums were not part of the large urban dynamic until the late 1700s, eighteenth-century. People hadn’t the need for museums during most of human history. Life, art, conflict, love and death were all around them. They just didn’t need a special space in order to experience their lives. The actuality of living worked fine – filled with surprises, sublime joy and tragedies.
The official founder of museums was none other than the ego-maniac dictator of the French Empire, (1798-1815), Napoleon Bonaparte. Like a good state thug, he just stole the grand art works of Italy, especially some of the more famous paintings, after his army had invaded the country. His army transported them to Paris, and then placed most of them inside an old Royal Palace in Paris, called the Louvre. Now every major and minor city across the world – has its very own, sacred ‘museum’ space. Bad habits are certainly addictive. But the irony of ironies, art mausoleums of the dead, commonly called, ‘museums,’ have become synonymous with modern, high culture.
Returning to the American reenactors, they generally prefer particular reenactments. Their favorites are two wars in US history: the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. How many reenactments does one see representing the War of 1812 or the Mexican War? There is a definite reason for the reenactors’ preferences.
They prefer these two wars because they exemplified the good side to American culture: the right to complete and total personal freedom, and the cultural action of honor to defend such rights. The reenactors don’t just act and play for the sake of historical posterity; they also reenact because contemporary Amerikan culture represents the direct opposite of true freedom – and the fight for one’s honor to defend it. Only small sections of the American South still give obeisance to the cultural value of honor.
American culture has always had a terrible link to cruelty, but over a hundred years ago, true liberty and the defense of honor made the American a respected world citizen, violently birthed out of a newly created republic. Americans shared these values with most of the nations of the world. Nowadays unfortunately, only the day-to-day cruelty remains.
Global monopoly capitalism, state-public-coerced schooling, corporate media-advertising-Hollywood garbage, the prison-gulag, ‘legal’ institutional powers, the ultimate police-gang state, and the military-spy-industrial-war complex have all done their insidious parts in transforming American society into a low and diseased culture. Due to this terribly diseased state of Amerikan Imperial culture, the Empire is rotting from the inside. The terrible news is that the sociopaths that hold and manage political power in the States – also know this.
Actual American culture features the horrible diseases of immaturity, boredom, indiscretion and ignorance, mostly due to Amerikan public schooling and the corporate media TV-Hollywood junta. Watching the momentous crap on American cable television, from reality TV shows, to making money shows, to TV shopping channels, can convince even the most patriotic observer on the actual cultural rot.
The other current diseases in the culture represent gluttony, fear-distrust, frustration, and explosive anger: all of which come from extreme monopoly capitalism. Mention leads to the obesity epidemic, the fast food nightmare found in every town and city in the States, the overuse of psychotropic medications that lead to mass shootings, and the street hustling and petty crime that plague most of America’s cities.
The most life threatening disease found inside the culture is cowardice. This mortal killer comes from decades of succumbing to the authoritarian police, militarized surveillance state.
The word ‘culture’ originally comes from the word, agriculture. Just like people use the earth to create foods, cooking and the arts of the table, culture owes its first connections to the holy earth. The most durable cultures have always been the societies that have used the earth for their daily benefits, and yet they have also respected the earth and taken care of it. They understood the balance between use and abuse. Their religious practices always referred back to the earth. We can think on the Native nations in the Americas before the arrival of the European invaders.
Yet, culture can also exist outside of any connection to the earth due to the human ability to mentally create, through both imaginative fantasy and the adoption of complex language structures and vocabularies. With the rise of monotheistic religions on the world stage, such as Christianity and Islam, human cultures created new arts, sciences, idioms and civil societies. These cultural changes help explain Modern Europe’s obsessions with its modern fighting words, such as language, class, people, race and nation. As long as there exists the concept of ‘Europe,’ these fighting terms will not go away any time soon.
I remember when I lived in Europe, a few Europeans had stated to me that America had no culture. Compared to their thousands of years of conflict and history, American culture did not come close to the high levels of Europe. However, every subgroup, region, city, society, club and clique has a culture, even if it is a superficial or weak one. The difference in cultures relate to the various cultural levels, whether high or low. There do exist hierarchies of cultures. And cultures, like the earth and people, can get infections diseases – and even epidemics. This is the current, unfortunate state of the Amerikan Imperial culture.
A very good way to measure the general culture level, within a particular place or region, regards local festivals and celebrations.
One summer, I attended an annual festival in a small, western American town. The weather was beautiful and I was looking forward to feeling the magic of the small town west. What I received instead was lots of boredom, fear of controls and ignorance about the actual history of the region. I didn’t learn anything new; although, there were lots of vendors trying to get me to spend a lot of money.
I heard there was a night concert downtown, so I walked around the downtown area, and found out there was no concert at all. Apparently, the town politicians mandated no loud music after sundown in the fear of attracting people drinking alcohol and having fun. The next day, I walked around the downtown area again, and all I saw were stands, either selling local junk trinkets or genetically modified laced greasy, fast food. I also spotted the traveling carnival rides. Almost all the locals walking around were either fat or obese.
The rides were mostly nausea producing machines, meaning they moved round and round and round, while the rest of the carnival structures featured ‘carnival games,’ or really scam productions to steal people’s money, like throwing a heavy ball into a small, tilted basket, all in order to receive cheap and bogus prizes. Even if the person wanted to just walk around the carnival, they still had to pay up front for just entering the festival zone. On one side street off the Main drag, I observed that there were more police walking around than actual locals. I was so scared of the police presence that I left the area.
I returned again, the next day, to experience the town’s premier music concert. I walked to the park off the main drag. As I stepped toward the park’s entrance, a security staff guy then approached me and told me that I had to pay a good amount of money in order to enter. He also said that I could only buy their overpriced alcohol from the inside vendors, and that they had to search both my body and personal bag for pre-entry. If I got too drunk, then the police would have to arrest me.
I was so shocked about ‘the rules’ that I waked away. I also noticed a heavy local police presence around the park entrance. As I looked over from the outside, the band arrived on stage, and when they started playing, the music was absolutely horrible. The band played Country music cover songs, with a background player for other instruments, such as piano, banjo or accordion, and the musicians used music stands, so they could sing the lyrics. I also noticed that the crowd was sparse and almost nobody danced, except for a few older couples. This so-called festival had a theme related to the town’s history, and yet, I learned nothing from this event. The festival was a bust – and so was the town.
This town was dying like so many other towns out in the American west, and it failed to reinvent itself in order to bring in more tourist dollars. That terrible festival represented the same terrible level of general culture found in the town.
No matter what the local politicians cook up in their deceitful minds, if the local town possesses a low culture, then the place is on the path of dying badly. During that particular festival, I experienced more fear, boredom, disgust and ignorance than anything else. I had really experienced some of America’s mortal cultural diseases.
This is the reason culture is so important to people around the world. Culture represents the totality of our body expressions, values, productions, actions, words and contradictions. Culture, like the planets around the suns, and the moons around the planets, revolves around our difficult lives. We all possess, live and create culture. And culture always goes through movement and changes, just like the universe. Finally, culture also has ties to conflict and resistance.
For example, during an annual religious festival, in the year 1580, in the town of Romans, France, the local people moved into revolt mode. The party started off with some hard-drinking and soon transformed into a liberating revolution!
In contemporary Amerika, some urban hipsters, intolerant leftists, rich liberals and other pathetic snobs like to focus their disgust on to the Revolutionary War and Civil War reenactors. Yet, it is truly their hypocritical, cowardly and low cultural lives that make most people gasp. As long as people breathe, they will create culture. The ones that move culture into resistance will create the highest and most powerful one. Meanwhile in the Amerikan Empire, the sociopaths holding power watch in fear.
As we Anarchists lose tolerance for the repetitive boredom, ignorance, and media fear campaigns vomiting out of the crap television programs, corporate radio broadcasts, and Hollywood movies – we can create alternatives spaces using similar visual mediums. As we perceive the endless public signs and billboards that advertise useless crap, threaten us, attack and harass our daily lives, we can avoid their public spaces and take alternative routes, poster or paint over them, or even take the small signs down. If a state or corporate-funded cultural space wants to rob us so they can make a cheap profit, then we can set up an another space open to marginalized forms of artistic expression – whether on a deserted sidewalk, in a basement or in a public park. The culture of resistance always breathes new life into the general revolution – and offers a marvelous and new sense of freedom.
We Anarchists have made the first steps in resistance and freedom just through our rejection of such a corrupt system. We understand the truth on both life and death, and we see through the sociopaths’ methods of social control and their criminality.
Movement and deep activity are what we are after.