When Gil Scott-Heron released the iconic song it was a cry for racial justice. But it was far deeper than that. Because Scott-Heron spoke the truth that media was subordinate to power.
That’s why he knew the revolution he spoke of would never be on television, the most powerful form of media in the world at the time. Controlled by very few because technology had not transformed communication, corporate media crafted whatever narratives it and those it was subordinate to wanted.
And those narratives are always sick, divisive and foremost fake.
Today social media companies are supposed to act as democratized distribution platforms for images, thoughts, and information from one end of the world to the other. And those in power now realize just how hard it is to maintain narratives in a world where they can be debunked in real time by millions of people.
They lost major battles like Brexit, the 2016 U.S. Presidential election and others and have retrenched in the most predictable way all tyrants do, they censor, stop, remove, and bury anything that challenges what they want you to know.
But they’ve gone much farther than that. And after decades of honing narratives about uprisings against foreign leaders whose main crime was to defy the U.S. and/or European halls of power centered around fake money, fake wealth and, most importantly, fake news, they’ve turned that expertise on us in ways that are truly terrifying.
We live in a world today so suffused with fake news, misinformation, disinformation and purposeful confusion it’s worse than being in The Matrix. There, Cypher reminded us, the steak tasted good and the women were hot. He went back to sleep. For us:
The difference is we aren’t asleep. This isn’t The Matrix anymore. We jacked out of that nightmare to find a world even worse than we thought and now we’re crazy from being sleep deprived.
So now we’re a nation of noradrenaline-addicted, cortizol-drenched doom porn addicts as we realize there’s no one competent in charge and our neighbors are a bunch of whiny Karens.
Except that they aren’t wholly incompetent. What’s clear to me watching the riots spring up all around America over the dreadful murder of George Floyd is that hijacking this event is the distraction. Turning it into a racial issue with agent provocateurs starting trouble and creating images they want us to see and keep us fighting amongst ourselves is the goal.
Where is any of the looting, the brick-throwing, the arson, the mayhem intended to go but to destabilize and unmoor an already angry, anxiety-ridden, soon-to-be-desperate American lower and middle classes into even greater tribal behavior.
You know the violence and the rioting is the goal because the real revolution, the one where Black Lives Matters organizers tell Antifa, with police at their backs, to go home and stay out of their communities.
That’s the revolution the U.S. needs, the one where we see red and blue, black and white, left and right, masked and unmasked stop talking at each other and talking to each other.
Because when we do that, we break through the façade we see on our screens every day. The fake world fades when communication is achieved. Every peaceful gathering of people grieving an unfair and undeserved death should be celebrated one hundred times more than the any scene of looting, rioting and beating.
It’s too bad that everyone involved at a leadership level these riots actually want the chaos, so therefore, the only response from civil society is a civil war.
Sad to say, but President Trump’s threat to shut down Twitter would almost be welcome at this point.
Because Twitter’s primary function is for people to engage in the lowest form of communication. It just allows people to hive themselves off in their echo chambers and their Ivory Tower of virtue signaling and moral superiority without real consequence.
But I know that’s the wrong response because like it or not Twitter, Facebook and the rest of the new Tyrants of Silicon Valley’s Ministry of Truth still can’t control everything. Real truth seeps out and eventually people will simply tune out, turn on or drop the connection.
George Floyd’s death is a result of the U.S. turning slowly into a police state governed by nihilism and adrift spiritually and emotionally. That’s the story no one is covering. That’s the conversation we’re not having in America right now.
And before we can have that conversation an entire generation of kids fed a toxic brew of warmed-over communism with its inherent envy at those who have earned and an unearned sense of entitlement will have to learn the hard way that they are just pawns in an even bigger game of power.
Because if they win this war against ‘white privilege’ and ‘racial inequity’ and ‘property’ they are the useful idiots of the same people they think they are fighting against.
Like Dr. King I have a dream where people actually have that conversation about race, wealth and power. Because if we did, we just might focus all that anger and frustration where it needs to go.
That’s the source of the real revolution that not only needs to happen but without a doubt prove Gil Scott-Heron wrong.