What if we were living in an exact repeat of political arguments 60 years ago? Spoiler Alert: WE ARE!
Technology is accelerating all around us, but our public policy debates are clearly going in circles. How fascinating that we could be out exploring the galaxy by now, yet here we are hashing out this junk yet again. Exhibit A: “Alice In Blunderland: A Fantasy for Every American Citizen” (1952)
Ever heard people calling for you to “Wake Up!” and railing against “big government’, “tax & spend” policies? Freaked out about scary alerts that the Federal government is threatening to control everything? Oh and did ya notice the attacks on public sector workers, dubious examples of government waste, equating regulation with anti-capitalism and, of course, questioning progressive taxes for the wealthy & corporations.
Well you can find them all in this anonymous 1952 political propaganda comic book.
“It’s Time For All Of Us To WAKE UP! ”
“Time to cut every cent of government waste and inefficiency”
“Time to clamp down on the ‘spend and tax’ spiral”
“Time to stop the growth of the overpowering Federal government”
“Time to bring government back home”
FUCK …. this is exactly like right now, in 2012.
Tea party patriots, fundamentalist conservatives, libertarians and Ron Paul supporters may (or may not) be surprised to see the exact language of today’s headlines. A few easy to remember memes, repeated as though they were unquestionable, targeted as a populist message, even though the policies advocated do little or nothing for the average American.
So the natural question arises: Who the fuck made this? We don’t really know. So another good question is: What group had something to gain by advocating these policies and designing this well-produced yet oddly anonymous comic? Again it’s not known, but I suspect it was NOT a grassroots movement by ‘We The people’ to make America into a more fair, diverse and free nation of economic opportunity … this suspicion is based on the only authorship reference given anywhere in the entire comic:
© 1952, Industrial Services, 295 Madison Ave. New York, NY.
The name “Industrial Services” in New York is intentionally vague enough, and is amusingly difficult to trace on Google. 295 Madison Ave is a large building, so even the address is just approximate, it would have been a suite within that building. Comic guide searches turn up *Only One Credit* to “Industrial Services”, “Alice In Blunderland” was the only publication “they” (whoever they were) put out under this name.
The Blunderland Experience:
In the comic Alice goes on a tour inside of “Government” and is guided through Blunderland and the tour is punctuated by a carefully selected series of “Fantastic Facts” which drive her to desperation. Not surprisingly, the “facts” are not supported by any references or citations. They are vague and leave much to the imagination and context of the presentation!
Let’s examine a few. The first “fantastic fact” we learn sets the tone for those that follow.
“There are 29 Federal Government agencies duplicating each other’s work in making loans … 28 handle welfare projects … 50 compile statistics … etc, etc.!”
Ok, of all the shit you can complain about with Federal Government services … these 3 things are what they highlight? Does this say anything about where they are coming from? A concern for reducing oversight on loan activity, a disdain for welfare projects and a dismissal of the usefulness of statistics. Hmmm. Ok, Here are two more “Facts” from this anonymous political comic.
“We now have a quantitative framework with marginal qualitative reallocations to formalize the procedure for the further refining and implementing of our objectives” – Actually this is the “easiest” sentence in an involved “explanation” made by a Federal controls agency official – as recently reported by the United Press.
Thousands of tons of obsolete, useless records and documents are kept in steel cabinets on costly office floors at maintenance charges of $29 per file a year when they might be stored in cardboard containers in warehouses at $2.15 a year – or better still, thrown away!
Okie-dokey, the complaints about technical language are clearly out of context and intended to create the impression that all government bureaucracies are a big pile of technical jargon with nothing to show for it. It also seems similar to the anti-intellectual, proud-to-be-ignorant trend in America, as exemplified by Fox News and the Bush II era of politics. This quote is probably real … but taken from a technical analysis using standard methodologies, which sound like greek, just like any technical jargon does. Even I can understand what is being said, which is ‘we figured out a solid way of self-testing to make sure we’re meeting goals”. On the 2nd point, the fascination with making public records easy to destroy and hard to access, or just tossing them out is quite interesting!!
Back To The Storyline
Alice, after expressing confusion about Blunderland (aka. Federal Government), is called unpatriotic and taken to court. Here she is pre-judged before a jury of the government workers we have been told are so horrible. Her mad-hatter tour guide turns out to also be her prosecutor. A rabbit reads the verdict: “We find the defendant Guilty of treason, unpatriotism, non-conformism, vandalism and – er – etcetera and (ahem) etcetera.”
Then the government workers attack her menacingly, with slight sexual overtones as a guy in prison stripes with a net says “She wouldn’t become a ‘stockpile stenographer’ ” and, given that this was 1952, I see very clear Racial Overtones with the skin color of the ‘Doormouse’ also attacking her!
Meanwhile chaos erupts with more calls of “traitor” and “non-conformist” from the courtroom mob. She awakes to find it was all a dream, but now she must TAKE ACTION! before it’s TOO LATE!
Take-Away Message To The Reader:
The entire government, Especially Federal is your biggest enemy. No positive aspects to Federal government are mentioned. Apparently they exist solely to take and waste your money. Everything that is a frustration in your life is somehow a result of Federal interference or the laziness of public employees. Statistical research about American society, racial, social & financial demographics are not necessary, or useful … merely an extravagance. As is record-keeping, nobody in the future wants to know what we were doing in 1952. Put them all in cardboard boxes in remote warehouses, so they are easy to burn all at once … or just throw them away.
Fuck … whatever, right?
So yeah, that’s weird …
I’d love to know more about who produced this comic and the memeology behind it. If you can figure it out, then post a comment with your research! My (self-consciously biased) intuition is that it’s a conservative think-tank or business investor consortium of some kind who funded this, and for basically the same purposes as most of the anti-fed rhetoric nowadays … to drive lunkheaed populist support for elitist goals, tie up the fed in legislation, and cut down on regulations and oversight so some few corporations can make mad profits!
Probably at the expense of the environment and the general welfare of the US citizen.
… Same old shit, different generation. Where’s my fucking escape spaceship?
Oh, not available in this “future”? Ok, I’ll settle for the ‘Satellite of Love’ for now.