Like millions of others, I tuned in for the 4th season of Orange is the New Black. I attribute this in part to my desperation to escape the bad writing and mediocre lemming-like offerings of corporate-sponsored network television. There’s no denying that the writers of this Netflix series are talented. They use the dialogue between characters to raise relevant social issues, and their character development skills are matched only by the writers of Breaking Bad, destined to be a classic. The power of their collective imaginations is most clearly demonstrated by the fact that despite the fact that many of the characters are black, there isn’t a single black writer in the group. But that’s not the only irony of this show.
By utilizing the catharsis theory, the characters in the series battle corruption so we don’t have to. By watching, we get to voice our agreement with every injustice that is pointed out. We are manipulated to feel the full extent of our rage against tyranny, and then be purged of that rage when the tables are turned and the corrupt sadists are exposed and forced to pay for their crimes. Once purged, we can continue to blind ourselves to our own participation in, and profit from, maintaining the corrupt system. Meanwhile, in real life, corruption and the sadistic abuse of power goes on, as unpunished as ever.
If you think that the stockholders of Netflix really care about social justice or improving the quality of human lives, consider the fact that Capital Research Global Investors, the single largest stockholder of Netflix, is also invested in Monsanto, Coca-Cola, and Halliburton. The Vanguard Group, the second largest corporate stockholder, is heavily invested in CCA, a for-profit prison corporation, as well as Exon Mobile, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Phillip Morris. Both corporations are also heavily invested in the for-profit health care and insurance industries, as well as big pharma.
The reality is that we are exactly like the multi-dimensional characters in the show who succumb to the temptation to abuse power for personal profit and pleasure. Most of us are like the character Linda, who never visits a prison to avoid knowing exactly what makes her life of privilege possible. Most of the atrocities committed in the world that necessitate the use of cathartic entertainment to avoid violent revolution are committed by collective agreement in the form of paying taxes, and making investments in retirement funds and 401Ks with the expectation of guaranteed returns. The brutal truth is that the only thing that can guarantee a return on an investment is brute force.
The lives of the majority of people in the world are fast becoming lives barely worth living. Those who are invested in maintaining and profiting from this corrupt system allow professionals to invest their funds for them so they won’t have to know the atrocities that their money is committing to guarantee their future profits. The primary message of #OITNB is that resistance to power, no matter how corrupt and sadistic, is futile. With the advent of nuclear weapons, drones, and germ warfare, it’s probably true that there will never be another successful violent revolution. The only kind of revolution that can possibly succeed is people refusing to contribute to, maintain, or profit from, the existing power structure.
If that which is good in humanity is to be preserved, every human must accept responsibility for knowing how their profits are made. Like government, Wall Street is merely a collective of individual investors. The history of the Stock Market demonstrates both the power of collective action and the potential for abuse of that power. The example of the Dutch East India Company demonstrates that the potential for continued abuse increases exponentially when private investment is backed by government force. It is the element of the use of government force that separates corrupt vulture capitalism from cooperative, mutually beneficial venture capitalism. Wall Street isn’t the enemy—the enemy is our own greed and the desire to elevate ourselves above others in status and privilege. The only kind of revolution that could possibly produce lasting positive change begins when people become willing to answer a single question publicly and honestly.
What’s in your portfolio?
Copyright © June, 2016 Andy Lee Parker
All rights reserved.