"The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth." Morpheous, from “The Matrix”
There is an unnerving article posted by Tom Engelhardt on Smirking Chimp.com. He writes of how exponentially the military-industrial complex has grown since President Eisenhower delivered his farewell warning speech and how the Pentagon has woven itself into our lives at almost every turn. Engelhardt features the list compiled by Nick Turse in his book, “The Complex – How the Military Invades our Everyday Lives.” It is incredibly extensive. The premise is about a hypothetical Boomer and the products he uses that have Pentagon connections. I include about a third of it:
“…In go his (DoD supplier) Bausch and Lomb contact lenses and down goes a Zantac (from DoD contractor GlaxoSmithKline) for his ulcer. Heading back to the bedroom, he finds Donna finished with her workout and making the bed -- with the TV news on -- and lends her a hand. (Their headboard was purchased from Thomasville Furniture, the mattress from Sears, the pillows were made by Harris Pillow Supply, all Pentagon contractors.) They exchange grim glances as, on their Samsung set (another DoD contractor) the Today Show chronicles the latest in chaos in
Continuing, “…Looking at the situation in 1970, almost 10 years after Eisenhower's farewell speech, Sidney Lens, a journalist and expert on
In fact, the Pentagon payroll is a veritable who's who of the top companies in the world: IBM; Time-Warner; Ford and General Motors; Microsoft; NBC and its parent company, General Electric; Hilton and Marriott; Columbia TriStar Films and its parent company, Sony; Pfizer; Sara Lee; Procter & Gamble; M&M Mars and Hershey; Nestlé; ESPN and its parent company, Walt Disney; Bank of America; and Johnson & Johnson among many other big-name firms. But the difference between now and then isn't only in scale. As this list suggests, Pentagon spending is reaching into previously neglected areas of American life: entertainment, popular consumer brands, sports. This penetration translates into a remarkable variety of forms of interaction with the public.
Rick and Donna's home is full of the fruits of this incursion. As they putter around in their kitchen, getting ready for the day ahead, they move from the wall cabinets (purchased at DoD contractor Lowe's Home Center) to the refrigerator (from defense contractor Maytag), choosing their breakfast from a cavalcade of products made by Pentagon contractors. These companies that, quite literally, feed the Pentagon's war machine, are the same firms that fill the shelves of
Today, just about every supermarket staple -- from Ballpark Franks (Sara Lee) and Eggo waffles (Kelloggs) to Jell-O (Kraft) and Coffee Mate (Nestle) -- has ties to the Pentagon. The same holds for many household appliances. In Rick and Donna's dining room, a small Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner buzzes around the floor. Rick thought it would be cute to have the little mechanical device trolling around the house making their hectic lives just a tad easier. Little did he know that Roomba's manufacturer, iRobot, takes in U.S. tax dollars ($51 million of them from the DoD in 2006, more than a quarter of the company's revenue) and turns them into PackBots, tactical robots used by U.S. troops occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, and Warrior X700s -- 250-pound semiautonomous robots armed with heavy weapons such as machine guns, that may be deployed in Iraq this year.
In addition to selling millions of Roombas to civilian consumers, the company uses government tax dollars to make money on the civilian side of its business. According to the company's December 2006 annual report (which listed as its "Research Support Agencies" the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency [DARPA], the U.S. Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command, and the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center), government funding "allows iRobot to accelerate the development of multiple technologies." Yet iRobot retains "ownership of patents and know-how and [is] generally free to develop other commercial products, including consumer and industrial products, utilizing the technologies developed during these projects." It's a very sweet deal. And iRobot is hardly alone.
Entering the Digital World with Guns Blazing
Sitting on the dining room table is Rick's HP (Hewlett-Packard) notebook computer. HP is another company that has grown its civilian know-how with generous military contracts, like the multiyear, multimillion-dollar deal it signed in 2005 with DARPA to "develop technologies to improve the performance of mission-critical computer networks used during combat and other vital operations." A spokesman for the company noted, "Our work for DARPA is aimed at significantly improving the performance of the Internet.... If we can successfully create new approaches to the way Internet traffic is detected and routed, we may start seeing the Internet used as the de facto communications and information network in areas where it previously would've been thought too risky." Success would certainly translate into more lucrative civilian work, as well.
….Steven grabs his iPod MP3 player (from DoD contractor Apple Computer) and heads downstairs to leave with his father. On his way to the door, Rick goes to his bookshelf and scans a selection of progressive texts whose publishers just happen to be DoD contractors, including a reissue of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring (Houghton Mifflin), Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America by Lou Dubose and Molly Ivins (Random House), and Jon Stewart's America (The Book) (Warner Books), before choosing the Hugo Chavez-approved Hegemony or Survival by Noam Chomsky (ahem, Metropolitan Books from Macmillan publishers). As the last one out, Donna sets the ADT alarm system. (ADT took in more than $16 million from the Pentagon in 2006, while its parent company, Tyco International, cleaned up to the tune of over $187 million.)
The Pentagon on Wheels
Rick and Steven hop into the Saturn parked in the driveway. Rick is proud of his car choice -- after all, Saturn has such a people-friendly (even anti–Detroit establishment) vibe. Admittedly, he is aware that General Motors owns not only the Saturn but the Hummer brand -- the civilian version of the
How could Rick have known that, in 1999, GM formally entered the Army's COMBATT (Commercially Based Tactical Truck) vehicle development program? Or that GM actually had its own military division, General Motors Defense, when his Saturn was made? Nor could Rick have known that GM Defense formed a joint venture with defense giant General Dynamics to create the GM-GDLS Defense Group (which was awarded in excess of $1.5 billion in DoD contract dollars in 2005). Or that GM took in $87 million from the Pentagon in 2006. Or that, in 2007, GM entered into a 50-year lease agreement to build a $100 million test track on the U.S. Army's Yuma Proving Grounds. Or that the maker of his Saturn's tires, Goodyear, was
…"Do you have your cell phone?" Rick asks. Steven whips a Motorola from his pocket. (Motorola made almost $308 million from the Department of Defense in 2004, while the phone's service provider, Verizon, took home more than $128 million in DoD contracts, and $50 million more from the Department of Homeland Security, in 2006.)”
Well, you get the idea. We live in a horrific military-industrial stew of war machinery producing corporations. Their products are in our homes. Their facilities are in our neighborhoods. Much like the bombs hidden in mosques, our own military hides within our culture and uses us as protective shields.
But, it goes further than that. Every dollar that we spend on their products enriches and empowers them and tightens the noose around our necks. Becoming ensnared in their trap, we are complicit in their crimes against humanity and the planet. There will be a reckoning.
So, WAMFTD?? Be aware. Stop purchasing their shit. Turn Off the twisted media messages that barrage the airwaves, manipulating us to buy their crap. Unplug from the financial, pharmaceutical, electrical, and commercial matrix as much as you can.
Drop Out. Shun them. Go your own way, make friends, and cultivate peace in your life now. Don’t wait for the revolution to be declared by someone else. You would be waiting forever. It won’t be analyzed in the newspapers. It won’t come from contributing to the Democratic or the Republican parties. Katie Couric won’t be announcing it on T.V. It won’t be funded by the friendly corporations that back Public Broadcasting, either. It won’t be brought to you by MoveOn.org. or the good ladies at Code Pink. It will happen as individuals declare it for themselves and make it so in their own lives.
Take the red pill, and let the delusion that we need them fall away. Screw the corporations, the corporate class, and all their death-dealing bullshit. Write up a Declaration of Independence and sign it yourself. Post it on your door, like Martin Luther when he started the Protestant movement against the Church of Rome.
There is a better world that is ours to have when we decide we are ready. Remember the teachings of Stephen Gaskin, back in the day. He wrote, “What you put your attention into you get more of.” Let’s put our attention on Freedom. Let’s turn away from products that mask insecurity (trendy clothing, cosmetics, etc.), expensive automobiles… all the 10,000 things that the Buddha taught are only distractions. Let’s nurture some things instead. Grow food, raise animals, help out our neighbors, and commit random acts of kindness. Freedom and community and self-expression are our birthright. Compassion and right action and right livelihood are ours to cultivate. We were born into our lives to Be…not to Buy.
Sometimes I get overwhelmed and bummed out and fearful. But, then, I crawl back into the Here and Now and something good happens, and I start to get excited about how it can be. I hope it is the same for you as well.