Tuesday, January 14, 2014
GAMDRUWEL, The Opium of the People / Gambling, Drugs and Social Welfare
I do have a point to make with modern relevance – at least in my opinion. So, stick with me. I’d like you to read a famous quote by Karl Marx and then pause and think about it. Does it relate in any way to our contemporary society? The underlined portion is the segment of the quote that most have heard before. But, think about the supporting phraseology.
"Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions."
Karl Marx, who died in 1883, was a brilliant German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian and Socialist.
I suppose you are immediately wondering if this is an attack on organized religion as most Americans understand it. However, in this affluent and often secular country, the United States, religion no longer fulfils the role of the people’s opium. In fact, religion may actually be an antidote, performing a service that is nearly the opposite of the Marx metaphor.
What institution commends virtues that made this country great such as family, integrity, work ethic, moral courage and self-reliance? Answer: modern day religion. You don’t have to be religious, or member of any particular faith, to recognize this. It is self-evident.
So, if this country is becoming more socialist or progressive as many have claimed, what would a modern socialist society utilize as the opium of the masses?
Let’s see. What would be needed would be something to placate the population, something that would help segments of the public forget they can’t find jobs, that the only means of adequate subsistence is some sort of public assistance, that their family is broken or never actually existed in any sort of recognizable form, that they are fearful of the future, and that their ‘day-to-day’ is at best a state of perpetual malaise, general hopelessness and low self-esteem.
I’ve got it! The government must popularize, even legitimize activities and practices that make life bearable for the ‘people,’ like those to whom Marx refers. Such as? Let me give you some examples:
1. Government facilitated, supported, and encouraged gambling at all levels: lotteries, casinos, sports bars, all varieties of gambling games from which the government will extract a significant cut. The downside is that it hurts the people the worst who have the least. But, a clever idea nonetheless. It extracts money from all the free-loaders out there who are getting government assistance in the form of welfare, unemployment, social security, etc. On the other hand, it gives the free-loaders some hope, infinitely small agreed, but something to hope for. ‘Let’s see, what would I do if I won the $400 million megabucks jackpot? I’m sure I would do many good things. I’d give to charities and help-out my friends and family. Yes, I’d do incredible, wonderful things with the money. In the meantime, however, I will stand on this corner smoking cigarettes, begging for money, and telling the gullible that I am a wounded war vet.'
2. How about legalizing the ‘less addictive’ mind altering drugs like marijuana and khat (Have you heard about khat? Its legalization is on the horizon.) When you’re down and out, at least the government will help you get ‘stoned.’ Cheaper drugs make voters compliant and less aware of their miserable status in life. The bonus is that the illegal drug use will filter down to our youth and future voters will simply fall in line. In other words ‘a win, win.’
3. How about establishing social welfare programs for a majority of the population? Young people will soon understand that there is no need to work. Why bother? Don’t be a chump! And, to insure the continued success of these vital welfare programs, let’s have feeble enforcement to fight fraud. After all, most of these dead-beats couldn’t put in an honest day’s work anyway. What you ask, who will pay for it? The answer is nobody seems to know. Currently, the Chinese are helping out. God bless them. We couldn’t do this without their support.
Now, I would like to somewhat alter and modernize the above stated quote by Karl Marx. But to do that I will need to invent a new word: GAMDRUWEL (shortened version of - gambling, illegal drugs, social welfare). Gamdruwel is a word I use to describe the points one through three. Now, here is how I would rewrite the words of Professor Marx:
Gamdruwel distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Gamdruwel is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of Gamdruwel as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness.