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Tod A

What I'm ranting on about here is not free trade. I'm not anti-globalisation. C'mon, I read the bloody Economist, don't I? Socialist? Not sure. If you're talking about being in favor of socialized medicine or nationalized education, then yes, I am a socialist. If you're talking about lulling people into a grey assembly-line system of production and consumption with the illusion of choice, leading them ever forward toward a bland and more-productive future, I would call that 21st century capitalism.

What sickens me in this age of corporate sovereignty is the fast-encroaching homogenization of all products, places, and people. Sure, you are free to eat at McDonald's. You are also free to eat at Burger King, KFC or at whatever purveyor of mediocre, mass-produced meals that you want. The only problem is that, more and more, that's about ALL you've got to choose from. And it's all the same crap. I've witnessed the death of the "mom and pop" establishment, from diners in DesMoines to clothing stalls in Calcutta.

When I first started touring the US playing music about 20 years ago, you could still tell one place from another. Now you can drive clean across the country and see the same 20 logos hovering over every rest stop from sea to shining sea. And not content with the 'blandification' (if you'll permit my coinage) of our own country, we are rapidly exporting it to the rest of the world. Thousands of shopping malls, complete with Pizza Huts and Starbucks, are even now being constructed all across India. You can now buy a Big Mac in Bangkok or see Shrek 3 in Saigon. Hooray for the USA!

Soon there will be no point in traveling at all, except to see the ten or 20 pre-packaged tourist attractions that survive - all of them sterilized, mass-marketed, logo-spattered and crammed down your throat. Maybe we could save people the effort of traveling at all - I mean, it's dangerous out there! The world is full of terrorists who hate our guts! We could just make the whole thing into a ride, like at Disneyland, maybe call it something cute and catchy like Foreign World. If tourists can just cram their corpulent carcasses into some kind of "ride", then the whole world - along with its quaint people and their weird habits and strange ideas and extinct animals - can simply float past the consumers as they suck down supersized slurpies in air-conditioned comfort.

The white people I mean. Everyone else will be working behind the counter selling those slurpies, because their government couldn't be bothered to provide them with a decent education. People are much easier to control when kept ignorant; ask any dictator: bread and circuses. But why should I care, as long as I don't have to get my leg blown off fighting a war for the oil companies, or work on the corner selling cheeseburgers or crack cocaine? That's how it's supposed to be, right? The natural order of things?

Jake Witmer

Great writing! I don't know that i have the hatred for the portions of our fascist system that are actually fairly close to free trade that you do, though. You have to understand that people gravitate towards the crap, but even so, if I am free to buy a McDonald's hamburger, I am also free to buy resveratrol and well-made baigan bharta. Not so, under socialism (as perhaps both the economist and your recent trip to the kibbutz might indicate). All told though, you could make the worst philosophy in the world into art that a die-hard pro-free-trade capitalist can enjoy. So while I have another beer with FEAR, I hope you can enjoy the other side of the world.

Mark Lomas

Wow. 0145 and I have heaps to do tomorrow, but only a power cut will stop me reading everything you have posted here, just like only circumstance will stop me from collecting as much of you music as i can find. Started that book yet? Snap snap.

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