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The American bell jar

Dragging the American Bell Jar Back from the Brink

I’ve been addicted to the news for all of my adult life. When the Internet made available newspapers from all over the world my addiction became acute. The more newspapers you read, the more points of view you get, and the more indignant you become. You’re like those minnows we used to catch in wire cage traps when we were kids. They could find the big hole to get in, but were unable to find the little hole to get out.

After years of indignation I began to wonder, “Aren’t there other people out there like me who are horrified by what they read in the papers? Don’t they feel impotent, frustrated, blocked? They don’t know what to do, but they feel an driving urge to do something, just as I do. Then I started taking notes, taking names. At last I was doing something, a drop in the ocean. Still, it was a start.

So here it is, in blog form, some rambling, some ranting some raving, some research… In all it’s a documented, sincere effort to shed some light on the issues from an outsider’s point of view, a longtime American exile’s vantage point which is outside what I refer to as “the American bell jar.”

Among other things, this blog is an effort to alert the Americans themselves to what has been done to them, little by little over the past 40 years. Powerful interests have been relentlessly dragging the bell jar to the right. The people inside can’t be expected to perceive that. They think it’s normal in there, because that’s what they’ve known all their lives; they’ve grown up there. The changes have been incremental. But now the Americans find themselves in a limit situation, dehumanized, abnormal by civilized world standards. Yet they blithely get on with their lives, thinking—or pretending to think–that everything is hunky punky. But it’s not hunky punky. It’s grave and getting graver.

It is the experiences I had when I arrived in Spain to live at the end of the 60’s which set my thoughts about the United States in stark relief. I found here a lifestyle which was driven not by profit motives nor dog-eat-dog competitiveness, but by innocence, humanity, solidarity, generosity, all of those qualities which one finds among poor people and which evaporate like the morning dew when exposed to the First World’s sumptuous celebration of Me.

So what do I have to offer my ex compatriots? Nothing more than a sincere outsider’s view of what’s happened to them over the past 40 years, and where they stand at this juncture. I’m convinced that the majority of them do not see clearly what they’re up against for the reasons that I have explained. The bell jar has been dragged inexorably to the right.

The American people have been dragged to the point where they accept as normal a set of values which the civilized world considers positively aberrant. Are they aware of this? Who knows. In any case, and at the risk of being considered gauche, shouldn’t somebody make them realize that their deodorant is failing? That, I submit, is the first step in dragging the American bell jar back from the brink.

5 Responses

  1. Great blog Mike! Keep up the good work! 🙂

  2. Thanks Caoimhin, and congratulations on your shortlisting for the Irish bloggers prize.

  3. Dear Mike.
    The year is 1968/69 the place is Calle de Carabeo,Nerja, Spain. It sure is 40 years from now and suddenly I caught myself swearing my most preferable american oath, often used. Nice to know some foreign languages to swear at. And I thought, hmm where the hell did I learn that kind of things? Mike Booth and his friend Elly, mainly Mike Booth. My ass… or.. Fuck my ass…they are both useably whenever I want to kick myself, you know where.Nice to see how well you have followed your track in journalism, keeping an eye towards your home country from where you are,and with that outlook commend what is happening there.
    Best regards from one 68`viking who is still just a viking. Thomas

  4. […] on the same subjects by the mainstream media.” – Who is Pepe Escobar, anyway? – Mike Booth, The Gringo […]

  5. Karl Marx lives!!!! Who’d a thunk it………

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