The culture of deception exists all around us. For Christopher Hedges, “the culture of illusion is the culture of death.” Is the U.S. such a place? In the supposed “land of the free” how often in the culture does one speak freely, let alone speaking so that “the truth” thunders mightily? The censor is always around. We are all socialized, consciously and unconsciously, in the techniques of self-repression, conformity and self-censorship in order to survive, especially on the job. And one’s job is life itself. “Telling the truth” there about oppression is risky in circumstances where the powerful can injure or silence you. In an inverted totalitarian age where corporations control the culture’s agenda and citizen passivity is deftly enforced, workers know that they must keep quiet on the job since going against the hierarchy and telling the truth about corruption, inequality, labor conditions, occupational and environmental hazards and class exploitation can get one demoted, fired or worse. Outside of work one loses the ability to tell the truth publicly as well, since one’s place of employment is always potentially watching, especially in cyberspace. Even journalists, teachers and activists are at risk. Telling the truth frankly about capitalism and government secrets can have serious consequences as Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and alleged leaker Army Specialist Bradley Manning know well. But there are several avenues to let the truth be known outside of a direct challenge to authority. In anthropology these are known as the “weapons of the weak.” One of the most profound of these weapons is art.
- Brian McKenna