Saturday, April 26, 2008

Turn Off, Unplug, Drop Out

from freeacre

"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 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 Iraq. "Thank god we never supported this war," Rick says, thinking of the antiwar rally Donna and he attended even before the invasion was launched. NBC, which produces the Today Show, is owned by General Electric, the 14th-largest defense contractor in the United States, to the tune of $2.3 billion from the DoD in 2006, and has worked on such weapons systems as the UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters and F/A-18 Hornet multimission fighter/attack aircraft, both in use in Iraq.”

Continuing, “…Looking at the situation in 1970, almost 10 years after Eisenhower's farewell speech, Sidney Lens, a journalist and expert on U.S. militarism, noted that there were 22,000 prime contractors doing business with the U.S. Department of Defense. Today, the number of prime contractors tops 47,000 with subcontractors reaching well over the 100,000 mark, making for one massive conglomerate touching nearly every sector of society, from top computer manufacturer Dell (the 50th-largest DoD contractor in 2006) to oil giant ExxonMobil (the 30th) to package-shipping titan FedEx (the 26th).

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 America's kitchens.

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 U.S. military's Humvee -- but he believes that, in this world, you can't be squeaky-clean perfect. But Hummer isn't the half of it.

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 America's 69th-largest defense contractor in 2004, with DoD contracts worth nearly $357 million.

…"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 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.



RAS said...

Good article Freeacre.
Not to nitpick, but Luther didn't nail his articles to his own door, but to the door of the local Catholic parish (and then had to go into hiding). Somehow I think the response would be the same (or worse) if you tried to nail a copy of your declaration of independence to the door of the Pentagon. I'd like to see someone do it, though. ;-)

Vive le freedome!

Dave said...

I wholeheartedly agree: stop being a tool and a victim of the corporate-military-government fascist system. I quoted Timothy Leary in one of my essays, who said, "turn on, tune in, drop out." Of course, there are certain things we need that are only available from the fascist establishment, but we should keep such acquisitions to a minimum.

This morning I read an outstanding essay titled "An Alternative Agriculture is Possible" ( ). It closely echoes my own philosophy and strategy for "checking out" of the corrupt system in which we find ourselves today. We can create a revolution by doing nothing at all other than finding ways to support ourselves outside of the fascist system. Withdrawing our support from the system will result in its demise. However, I'm not so naive as to believe that “they” will simply roll over and die in response to our efforts to withdraw. No, they will likely resort to criminalizing our efforts to withdraw! For example, they can make it illegal to grow vegetables in our yards without a permit, and such a permit will be costly to obtain. If this sounds far-fetched, consider that in Zimbabwe, Mugabe banned urban vegetable gardens! And as a last resort, they can always force us to labor for them, but if things get that bad then the end will be near.

Nevertheless, my conviction that I’m doing the right thing - “checking out,” moving to a rural area, growing my own food, drastically cutting my income so I can eliminate my income taxes - has been reinforced by the above-mentioned essay. I just wish more people would open their eyes to such possibilities, to “think outside the box.” So many people seem unhappy, but then they just keep on doing the same things that have led to their unhappiness! What’s that popular definition of insanity? Doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results? Instead of being introspective and honest, people paper over their unhappiness by purchasing more technological gadgets and imbibing more mind- and soul-numbing pharmaceuticals.

I only hope that one day, the enlightened people who write and read essays such as these will serve as role models for those who haven’t yet “arrived.”


RAS said...

I gave part of the Earth Day service at church today. (A very liberal UU church)I think I may have made some people think, and I know I pissed some of them off. *chuckle*

If anyone wants to read it, its posted at my blog.

Anonymous said...

If you're not pissing off some people then you'd just be blowing smoke. The world needs some wake up, shake up before it implodes which could be any moment now.
The technology and the "matrix" is so far advanced up our asses I fear there is no hope whatsoever but i still think fool-heartedly about things changing, what a fool i am. It is so sweltering here today in the southland i might hop through the hose and drink a few margaritas just to keep my head from exploding about all this. mrsp

mrs p said...

If you're not pissing off some people then you'd just be blowing smoke. The world needs some wake up, shake up before it implodes which could be any moment now.
The technology and the "matrix" is so far advanced up our asses I fear there is no hope whatsoever but i still think fool-heartedly about things changing, what a fool i am. It is so sweltering here today in the southland i might hop through the hose and drink a few margaritas just to keep my head from exploding about all this. mrsp

Anonymous said...


Kudos on this post! Truly a great piece! I read it out loud to Oldensoul while she cooked dinner the other night. I want to reread it before I comment.

Here's something I think it is important we all read and be aware of.

If Fetzer is correct, you and Murph could be in harm's way. I know it's gardening season, but if you feel the need to take a quick vacation, come on over here for a while. I've been anticipating something like this all winter. Of course, if the fools goes nukular, we'll be directly downwind, so, what's worse?

Also on Rense, 'Can Scientists Peer Into the Future?' Read that, it's a lot cooler than it sounds. Wonder what the black boxes are doing this week?


freeacre said...

Oh, joy. Well, we have a "bug out" kit,and are willing to travel. Thanks for the heads up and the invite. It goes both ways, of course. My brother and his family live in the Seattle area. Hope this is not the "coastal event" that halfpasthuman has been predicting from the web bots.
(What do you think, Palooka?)
Of course, much the same thing was feared when they did the drill in Portland last year. Funny, though, I just noticed a piece of bomb shelter literature that had been Murph's parents'from the '50's. It sorta just showed up in our bedroom, can't think of why. Shows "what to do in case of nuclear fallout." Is that synchronisity or what?
As Samuel L. Jackson said in "Jurassic Park," "hold onto your butts!"
If I do die suddenly one of these days, I will be immensely grateful that I was able to live free for these last 4 years. I will consider myself luckier than most.

freeacre said...

Rockpicker, I can't find that second article on Rense - the "Can Scientists Peer into the Future?" I looked and looked...

freeacre said...

Jeez, sorry, I found it finally.

Anonymous said...


I like this article you have posted. It gives one a lot to think about. I think of how all things are now so intertwined that I do not see in any way that it can ever return to a much simpler way of being, short of a near total anihilation of the human species.

To my way of thinking we are a bad, baaaaaad animal. My sadness is that we as a species are capable of so much, a level of greatness limited pretty much only by our imagination, our ability to dream yet we are hindered by greed to have things, be they money, that new car that 4000 sq foot house, that cabin at the lake that latest fashion, well you get the picture. We are hindered by the need to dominate things, again be they people, animals and even nature itself. There is too much evil within the core of who we are as humans, so much so that when evil presents itself anew we take it as being the norm.

I think about all of this and I do think we humans as a totality need a reset. I just hope that the next time around this species will get it right.

I found it interesting that you use a quote from the Matrix. The first one was my favorite and was, in my mind any way very well crafted and thought provoking. Still i leave you with my favorite scene in the movie and I hope the link will work.

Maybe we are just a virus....



Anonymous said...

OK, so im a little late then never, but what the fuck, i know in this good crop circle i will be forgiven as one that is long on heart and short on keeping up with the current, having always swam against it,
this is from the last post and was about to throw it into the wind but thought 'what the hell,give it a spin,someone might git someum from it.
so here goes fellow water creatures.
will try to git someum more in keepin with the good post at hand which is most excellent freeacre, pisses me off but the truth is good to swallow if its cooked just right, and you do good cookin my sister.

Now your talking my friend, this is the quintessential path that this one has found as a constant prod to investigate, it is a most complex story is it not? And just what is it that we mean by the word freedom,? the word is not the thing is it?
being born in a place called independence, kansas may or may not have had an influence on the behavior or this one but my father was absolutely a man that was told what to do by no one, but would lend a helping hand at the drop of a hat for no reason other then that it was within his nature to do so. this is something that i have tried to emulate as well with various degrees of success. because the old adage that the road to hell is paved with '' good intentions '' is absolutely true in some cases. plus helping others must be tempered with having the helped to become dependent upon you and giving up their own spirit provided talents, i have seen this much in this earth spin.
another old thought more then likely know by everyone here is this, '' give a man a fish and you feed him for one day, teach him to fish and you feed him for life'' or something to that effect.

Anyway to this one freedom to me is the absolute freedom from FEAR, i am talking about psychological fear not the fear of avoiding a poisonous snake, this is where the game is at as far as this one is concerned and is far above all else that has been encountered because without understanding this subject and going beyond it there is little else that actually means a fuck to me.
This has been the undertaking for many years to just unravel the many roots of this abomination, and the road is not as safe as one might imagine,because for one thing as freedom is allowed to surface and be expressed it is also sometimes encapsulated with a certain unawareness of the consequences of its impact upon others,until finding yourself sometimes ostracized from the vary people that were considered to be your friends.
slaves hate those that express freedom, the vulgarity inherent in the mind-less ones manifesting itself in innumerable avenues can get you killed, and fastest it seems by those that profess toleration ( another word of abomination ).( to tolerate,) what a shitty concept that one is.

so the quest, how just exactly is one to free oneself from the bondage of ones own mind.?? because is not this the only bondage that really means a fucking thing?
i have been in federal prison for growing marijuana and that is really an experience, that while not recommended is nevertheless one way to really experience what is going on within the mind as a prisoner of its own making.
eventually it became no more then voluntarily entering a monastery with its various disciplines except without the armed guards to ensure proper behavior.

ok ''we are our own worst enemy'' right,? absolutely, hell resides between the ears and the answer to that riddle has been the search for eons by those afflicted with that particular itch of unavoidable pain to know the reasons why.
the old one says that the art of listening to the innermost thoughts that surface without the voice of judgement is the treasure that ought to be sought in the beginning, and that this requires a certain degree of intent above all else and if the itch is great enough the intent will manifest and the path will open up to one, slowly at first but as the trash of judgement is gently set aside the beauty of discovery will see you out of the corner of ones own eyes as an expression of love and compassion, this is our birthright, this is our journey,this is our salvation,and this is the gift that the great spirit, wankan tankan has given that we shall know each other as each other,and that our love for one another be the recipe for happiness in the coming darkness of humankind.

i honor all that attend this sacred council as reunited tribal members regardless of heritage or circumstances of birth.
may the peace of the mysterious one light your path also.
mf the night we have many frogs among us and that is a good thing as far as they seem to be a kind of canary in the mine sort of warning device, thats funny huh? bug thinks this is embarrassing to the frogs to be called devices, i agree.
they are lovely in the waning moon and the warm nights of late though and and forgiveness is in the air.

Anonymous said...

Cool, Freeacre,

Sometimes it's kinda hard drop out -especially when you do need things, but, I buy almost everything I need via e-bay, believe it or not. Why pay new retail when you can get used for half the price -or less.

YES!! -my favorite scene from "The Matrix" is that "virus" scene, Ely. I mean, we humans just gotta be the scurge of the Earth. Flipped on PBS last week and started watching this show hosted by Edward Norton about how humans are fucking-up the waters of the world. Totally depressing. And what do I see each and everyday in Morman HQ? Mom and Dad taking their clan of 7 kids to Walmart in the SUV/BFT. Makes me want to puke.

Those people who take furtility drugs and have 5 babies =quintuplets? They should be locked-up.

Later -


freeacre said...

ras, what is your other blogsite called again? I know the "welcometo myworld," but I forgot the other one.

Thanks, everyone, for your insights.

We do seem to be a flawed species. But, one of my other favorite quotes from a movie is from "Starman," where he says, "Do you know what I love about your species? You are at your best when things are the worst."

murph said...


Seems that everybody pretty much agrees with the last two posts.

It is true that withdrawing from our society is next to impossible for most of us. To live within this society there are huge demands placed upon us that cost money, time and energy to satisfy those demands. I have lived where the population over all was so poor they couldn't afford insurance on their old beaters they drove to work. When they were caught without the insurance, they were just SOL. Nobody had insurance on what they did own, couldn't pay the high premiums.

About the only way I know of to get out of this entrapment society we are in is to live in the wilds, and that not only is tough, but nearly impossible these days considering nearly every square foot of land is owned by someone or some government agency and squatters are not loved at all by any of them.

I knew an 80+ yr old man in Arkansas. Never had owned a car, never been out of the county. Lived in a tent that people in the area would let him pitch somewhere. I have communicated with people who live in the city for $2500-$3000 per year, and they get that by working odd jobs when they need something. Usually small mobile communes of people that move around, a couple steps ahead of the law, dumpster dive for food and things they can sell. I got to admit that style of living doesn't appeal much to me. Getting old enough now that going out in the wilds and trying to stay alive isn't my thing either.

Getting out from under is by degrees and always partial. But, it sure looks like all of us are going to be doing that to some amount not too far down the road.

RAS said...

My blog is

You can also click on the link on my comments to get to my profile and link to blog from there.

Murph, from where I sit, living in the wild wouldn't be such a bad thing, as long as one wasn't alone. At least I wouldn't have the city on my back to keep my lawn at 2 inches (and no more!) tall!

Btw, I've decided that when I do move I will look at places north even though I just *hate* the cold. My primary considereation is going to be land prices -I want to be somewhere I can afford to buy an acre or more of my own. Land around here is ridiculous and getting worse.

Anonymous said...

The old ones say, the east side of the spine of Turtle Island is a safe place.

MF, good to hear from you, bro'. I was getting concerned. How's the greenhouse coming along?

Yesterday, the Chinese elm was abuzz with yellowed pantalooned honey bees. Today, it's too cold.

Hey, what's shaking in Reno?


freeacre said...

Just got word from our friend in Belgium as to why he has not been able to attend the council for many weeks now. His wife suffered a massive stroke and has had brain surgery that is going to be very challenging to recover from. So far, however, she is surpassing the expectations of her doctors and is able to recognize the family and is getting stronger. So we need to send them our very best and hold a place for him at the campfire and in our hearts.

Anonymous said...


You must have caught wind of my vibe today. I was thinking about you while digging in the garden.

I am so sorry to hear about your lady's trouble, and I will be sending you both good wishes for a successful surgery and a speedy recovery.

Oldensoul will be adding her energies too, when she finds out.

Keep faith. Stay positive.



Anonymous said...

SATS, so very sorry to hear of your beautiful wife's afflction,know that those that frequent this sacred council will have you in their hearts and minds and send the energy of healing and love to you and your faamily,may she get well soon and recover all that seems to be lost our brother.
we love and miss your essence and hold a place for your return,

Anonymous said...

From Belgium,

Thank you.

RAS said...

I'm sorry about your wife, SATS. I hope she gets well soon.

Rockpicker -huh?

More tales from the land of craziness (er, I mean Alabama): A woman south of here with about 5 teenage sons had too much garbage to fit in one can one night, so she leaned a bunch of empty pizza boxes against the can. Her neighbors complained, she was written up and forced -forced! -to rent a second garbage can for another $15 a month. But it doesn't get there. Later on, there was a week when the lid of one trash can wouldn't close all the way due again, to pizza boxes from a party or something. Her neighbors complained and this time she was issued a citation and a court date. She missed the court date (because, it must be noted, she had to take her sister, who is sick with brain cancer, out of town for special treatments) so what happened? The court issued a warrant for her arrest. She was arrested, held at the county courthouse for several hours -chained to a metal table -and only released after posting a $500 bond. For an unclosed trash can.
WTF HAS HAPPENED TO THIS COUNTRY? Am I the only sane person left? I feel like I'm on the Planet of the Apes. Where the hell is Scotty when I really need to be beamed up?

murph said...


Bet that woman was living where there was a home owners association. I wouldn't live in one of those oppressive dumps if they paid me. Fellow I know here is restricted on what color and type of tarp he can cover stuff outside with during the winter. I lived briefly where the car you drove could get you booted out if you parked in the parking lot. My old clunkers didn't make the cut.

freeacre said...

Headlines say that unemployment went up 68% last month. Musta made 'em happy 'cuz the stock market went up 189 points. And, we're bailing out the banksters while the D.C. Madam was facing 55 years in prison, so she killed herself. What a world.

On a lighter note, I let it out of the bag that it is May Day today. Told the poultry about Emma Goldman and stuff. I guess they got all inspired, because when I went out again, they had plastered a bunch of new anarchist literature all over the hen house and spray painted slogans, like "Hen Power," "Expect Resistance" and "screw Monsanto" on the walls. Wonder what the neighbors will think about THAT? HA!