One of the hardest lessons of modern civilization is the fact that most people are proles. I don’t mean this in the Marxist sense (though Marxism is often sold to them this way), but rather in the sense that these people consume culture rather than contribute to it. They see an attack like that on the office of Charlie Hebdo as an “outrage.” Then they hold protests, candlelight vigils, promote hashtags and talk a lot about “praying for the victims.”
But they don’t actually DO anything. They’ll never write an original post. They won’t take a critical look at the relationships between Islam and the West. They definitely won’t fight. Their outrage becomes meaningless, and is soon forgotten. They say “We Are Charlie Hebdo.” But they aren’t.
Everything for the proles is in pre-packaged doses. The other day, meandering through the grocery store in search of something for lunch, I came across a bag of cut apples. The apples within were less fresh (there was a bit of rot around the edges) and about twice the price of the non-cut apples. I watched two people skip the fresh apples for the packaged ones.
In a sense, this is what happens with news, with “outrage” or a thousand other matters of daily life. For a moment, the prole is probably genuinely sympathetic with the victims of the attack. But that same prole will go with the pre-packaged methods of expression. Hold up a sign on the street corner. Join a march. Hashtag the hell out of Twitter or talk about prayer. Never will it occur to him to do anything productive, because the unproductive actions will generate just as much positive feeling in him for less effort. You will see no original thoughts on solving the problem. He won’t call his political representatives nor run for office himself. He won’t even pen an original blog post (but may crib pithy quotes from others).
Doing something requires a level of effort on the part of the prole, and like the shoppers skipping fresh apples for pre-cut rotten ones, that effort is just a bit too much for them. Better to go with the canned solution. So much of modern life in the Western world can be described this way. Pre-packaged politicians, windy gasbags saying the same tired tripe every other speechwriter in history has used before. Television shows and movies, packaged with shiny special effects and sexy actresses, but lacking in meaning or story. Go to any modern musical concert. Sensational packaging. Limited content.
Beyonce sings “Girls, we run this motha (yeah!).” Compare that to the Operatic ballads of old.
Look at the proles themselves. They dress in a mish-mash of labels, logos and pop-culture references. They are the sum of a series of pre-packaged messages about identity.
And so the fresh apples rot, perhaps then to be cut, packaged and sold to an idiot wearing Nike shoes, carting around a Gucci bag with an iPhone 6 sticking prominently out of the top, its screen filled with the latest hashtag outrages. They aren’t Charlie Hebdo. Neither am I, but at least a month from now I will remember it. The proles will be outraged by some other event they will do absolutely nothing about.
Cross-posted at League of Outlaw Bloggers