I wouldn’t be the first commentator to reference the 1975 dystopian film “Rollerball” as regards the current state of affairs on the world stage. In fact, I’ve even written about it before. Most dystopian yarns have their basis in sage insight, so it should be no surprise that 35 years later, aspects of this particular one are coming to fruition in a sobering manner.
To refresh (or elucidate, if you’ve never seen the film), in “Rollerball,” the world is governed by the Energy Corporation, a megalithic corporate government that employs and provides for the needs of everyone on the planet. The implication is that no one wants for anything, but there is a discrete hierarchy among its people.
Toward maintaining control of a bored and restless society, the Energy Corporation keeps its citizens occupied with a culture of egocentrism, sex, drugs and hero worship, the latter being via the brutal sport of rollerball.
The intriguing parallel I find here isn’t necessarily the ominous and oppressive corporate or collectivist nature of the society, something which most of us address when analogizing these near-future nightmare cult films.
Instead, the nature of the sinister ruling class itself gives pause …
In “Rollerball,” the ruling elites, a cabal of multi-ethnic multinationals, are portrayed as corporate executives who confer and consult regarding their malevolent designs via secret video conference.
Yet, their modus operandi isn’t that of creatures of business; it’s that of politicians.
Since Americans have been taught that the evil political right is the advocate for big business, and the benevolent political left is the advocate for the common man, many wonder how – and why – these lines have blurred. As the economy stagnates and Americans suffer job losses, foreclosures and decimation of their retirement savings, these power players – executives and politicians of both parties – appear to be doing very well, and that baleful ruling elite actually appears to be coalescing.
It’s a confusing phenomenon, particularly if one is, like most Americans, only marginally versed in the ways of business and high finance. I mean – why would socialists and communists get in bed with big business, and vice-versa?
The answer is far less complicated than one might think, and this is that the corporate power players are cut from the same cloth as the politicians.
How can this be? Well, it’s like this: Progressive politicians, employing the tactic of fomenting class envy, legislated their way into a position of relative power over business – which operationally represented the common man far more than politicians ever could. Over time, business found itself in a position of having to appease them and soon saw them as peers. Executives began to cross over from corporations to government agencies effortlessly to grease the wheels for their particular industry. Bureaucrats began to flow in the opposite direction.
With very few exceptions, those now occupying the top echelons of corporate America are not people of vision, like an Andrew Carnegie or a Bill Gates. They are those such as Enron’s Kenneth Lay, or Fannie Mae’s Franklin Raines. Like Tom Wolfe’s Sherman McCoy from “The Bonfire of the Vanities,” scavenging golden crumbs cast aside by those who produce, they create nothing, living off of the efforts of the producers, and those in their employ.
Just like the progressive politicians I’ve previously decried in my columns, their worldview is steeped in Marxism. They would rather live in a society in which ruthlessness prevails, rather than a merit-based one, because they possess no merit.
In other terms, they’re like pampered military academy graduates who have never seen combat: They can command, by virtue of their rank, but they can’t do it well and don’t understand strategy.
Given the decline of character that occurred in America over decades, such as these no longer see themselves as citizens with a vested interest in the economy or the nation, let alone its people. They are sufficiently avaricious and narcissistic that they see themselves as gods among men, certainly worthy of being a ruling elite.
We may not be able to do anything about business ethics in corporate America in the short-term, since this is a reflection of the deterioration of our aggregate worldview. This took much time, and it will take time to correct. However, there is a lot we can do about the caliber of elected officials we have at the national level, and the proliferation of bureaucrats and bureaucracy. This, many of us are poised to do in November.
It is heartening to see many Americans, who for years believed that they had little to choose from among the political candidates who surfaced offering to represent them, actually deciding to become those candidates in the face of the grave danger that now faces us all. Praise luck or Providence, they have realized that with which I closed my recent book, which addresses the malignancy of race politics in America:
For all practical purposes, there are no races anymore. In America, there are freedom fighters and there are those who would enslave all of us, regardless of race – and it’s time to choose a side.