Flat cars, box cars, ore cars, car cars
Empty or full of our past and future
Going South.
Empty or full of our bleak future,
Coming up!

There is much, by his choice, for this homeless person to do. Riding along from camp to town on his bicycle, Victor let his mind wander. Unregulated, he thinks about everything. He neither avoids nor obscesses on his dismal economic situation. He's not one to hide from reality but it's easy to ignore the view on a road he's travelled often. Though he never tires of Sonoran Desert-scape much of it is occluded by orderly, though individually beautiful pecan trees in commercial groves. Besides it's easier to attend to road hazards and traffic when daydreaming than it is when gawking about. His fantasy world is less preposessing than real distractions. He made it that way in order to feel more in control of his thoughts. Everyone needs some control.

... How to refocus? Obviously we need a common cause. If wages, salaries and real buying power (not plastic credit) continue falling, with more people underemployed, unemployed or in service sector jobs, ninety five percent of the population will likely be starving in a couple of years. But if we wait we'll be too weak to fight. It's appropriate to target the wealthy to act upon. (Challengers to that assertion must identify their home planet and register as resident aliens before I'll yield the floor. Thralls should awaken now!) However only a demagogue, like Hitler, would build power by isolating a particular group. The common cause is, none the less the exploited vs. the exploiters.
However across all group boundries the distribution of good and evil in individuals conforms to the same normal curve that everything else does. We need another determinate beside wealth to isolate the common enemy. My theoretical research indicates that discriminator must be provided by members of the target group themselves. When we present our ultimatum we will note who supports and who resists or obstructs our demands. We'll also note but not negate, those who don't commit themselves. Punitive action for the latter will be postponed until after the war. In the discrimination process we must, unfortunatly, identify the true believers who support the status quo. I hate the thought of a witchhunt!
True believers are individuals, and I use that term very loosly, whose natural loyalties should be with the rebellion, but due to some mental deficiency caused, no doubt, by the dis-nurturing of our culture, have been unable to break the shell of foolishness society employs to "protect" us. They require enlightenment. So lighten up fools!
The ruling gangsters include most CEO's and managers, and their lackey politicians, judges, academics and generals. The managers are a class that was invented at the time labor movements first began to evolve. Their de facto purpose is to divide and control the masses. They are the group that are cut off from the rest and thereby deplete our numbers. Unfortunately most of the upper middle class and many of the middle class will need to be labled reactionary and therefore declared enemies. This probably won't shrink our recruiting pool appreciably since the middle class will continue suffer from severe downsizing and a McDonald's janitor is a more likely enlistee than an engineer or middle manager. All praise to the service economy, you may serve us in ways you didn't plan.
If there is time before unnatural calamities like stock market crashes strike, I hope many of the overseer class may be saved through reeducation. Of course, throughout written history the truth has been consistently repressed, distorted and/or perverted by those in power. Any education that serves not the purposes of the masters, is undone (usually along with it's doer)...

Victor often muses like this, about the possible future of humanity. Or about his own future. It's part of his planning process. His fantasies tend to be more positive than his projections. Especially if they unfold at his desert campsite north of the Cerro Colorado Mountains. Everything looks better from 50 miles away, though there are things about human society he can't get far enough away from. Contrary to his preference, today he's on his way to Tucson do do some work on the internet and try to make some connections. He thinks the internet is wonderful, it's cities, too many rats in the same cage, he dislikes. He's not normal.
Yet different states of mind bring forth thoughts of philosophy and morality; especially as they apply to human culture. One of his favorite philosophical fantasies proposes an alternative culture with a system of morality based on sustaining life on the planet Earth. For that system he "uncreated" the world. Recreating it, he opts for a simpler system than most wish to maintain. His model posits a Universe that is, always was and always will be. Whether contracting or expanding is irrelavent to the life it may contain during the midst of an eight to ten billion (or more) year cycle. The life exists in virtually closed star/planetary system(s). There may or may not be some I/O associated with star systems but for the day to day purposes of life it is negligible.
As stated, this culture would base morality on the continuing ability of life to survive on this planet. An act of an individual is rewarded if it supports the life principle and condemned if it tends to inhibit life. The same rule applies to a given human culture as a whole. Of course right to lifers and population control groups would be at war over the interpretation and application of the principle. "Divide and conquer", said the original J.C. (Julius Caesar). It's as basic, along with divert and distract, to the control of populations, as it is to warfare. There may be real solutions, but one that can be obscured solves nothing.
He goes on like this. Victor's fantasies often consist of such abstract summaries rather than imaginary theatre. He's either too intelligent or too lazy to ellaborate on them. It's not that he isn't susceptable to fantasizing a more heroic part for himself so much as the abbreviated form allows him to pack more waste into less time.
In the "Post Modern Era" no one, not even the homeless, have enough time to do everything they need or want. Perhaps the time savers of his personal lifestyle can be emulated without aspiring to his economic status. I know no one would set out to achieve homelessness, but suspect many more will reach it anyway. He worries about the path humanity follows. He is concerned about the place he is in. And what can he do about it?
At this point I'm going to interrupt this summary of Victor's musings for a question. "Victor, what I have just recorded seems to be rambling. Can you please clean up your thoughts a little?"
"Clean up your own head you arrogant fool! I'll think what I damn please! At the moment it pleases me to think there is hope for humanity. But not much while the superstitious belief in outside intervention prevails. Even less if the majority continues to hide from awareness of the trendy decline in their real income. And the expectation the politicians will do something is astoundingly insane. I wish instead of criticism you would help me try to communicate my observations more clearly. What the hell are you good for?"
He's deranged but there's no point in telling him so. No more than there is in speaking out against the corporate cultured complacency of the middle class. He isn't sure he can do anything either but he has a vision to follow. He'll start by clarifiing the basic understanding of how the big system works. How does our economy provide for our survival? Who gets the most benefit? Those sorts of things. Someone needs to think about them, most people are too busy just trying to survive to to think about anything beyond their immediate problems. If they do find time to sit and reflect there is always some ready distraction or diversion to protect the cultivated outlook. Like the Y2k bug was exaggerated to the point it was merely a hoax. Possibly it was designed to take our attention from our degenerating quality of life. UFOs and such only keep a few nuts busy. Y2k was a plausable threat to the security of the contemporary lifestyle that distracted the middle class from the declining standard of living, among other things. The leaders lost so much when they lost fear of Russian nuclear power. But of course we will always be able to attend to the problems of others. Advice is easy to give and it doesn't cost anything. Just seeing someone worse off than ourselve takes our minds off our troubles an gives us a feeling of superiority and well being.

It's time for a break, Victor pedals into the lot beside the little store in Suarita. He crosses his right leg over the bike and, standing on the left pedal coasts up to the air and water station near the two gas pumps which are situated off the S.E. corner of the store. There is a carport facing the road on the eastern, front side of the store. He likes to sit there some times and watch the people who get gas. Often someone will want to talk. It's a shady spot in the afternoons and not visable from inside the store whose entrance is on the N.E. corner, closest to the crossroad.
The Suarita Road goes East from the intersection across the Nogales spur of the Southern Pacific Railroad. West, the road goes to the copper mine on the other side of I-19. The road it crosses here is the [Tucson-]Nogales Highway. Even in Tucson he often camps near that road. It follows the railroad until it turns into S. 6th Ave. on the South side of Tucson. Near the tracks and low lying areas by the washes are the only place his kind are tolerated by the Tucson police. And those are swept regularly. He wonders where he's expected to live. Or if he's expected to die to help relieve the problem.
The traffic on the railroad is mostly freight and that mostly copper ore going to Mexico. Copper ingots, farm produce and new "American" cars come back. With all the jobs going to NAFTA or overseas who will be able to buy those new cars a year or two from now? Would the unemployment numbers be so low if they counted those whose unemployment insurance had run out as they did before about 1982? Would more people work if you could live on minimum wage? A moot point as far as Victor is concerned. Even convenience stores, in desparate need of a fool to catch night time bullets, give him the abreviated interview. He's tried day labor and found that futile too. If he's going to starve he'll starve with dignity.
Pride is not the reason he doesn't often ask the locals here for money. The place is a good rest stop on his biweekly (on average) commute. There's free air for his tires and water for his bottles. It's hard to carry enough water for a 50 miles of cycling in Arizona. If the bike breaks or the weather forces him to camp along the way he needs enough for cooking and coffee too. So, to preserve his welcome here, he doesn't ask for money from the local resident looking over his rig. In Tucson he'd never miss an opportunity. like that.
"Quite an outfit you got there" he says, sincerely trying to be friendly but patronizing and condescending none the less, "you goin' far". The emphasis on the question and the nodding head as it's asked show he's afraid Victor might stay a while in the area. What's worse, as far as Victor is concerned, is that his tone indicates he knows everything there is to know about this sort of person and has loads of good advice with which to exercise his officiousness. It irritates Victor but he's able to mask it well. The game is easier to play when you know it's all pretense and posturing; when you pity but don't respect it. Victor turns the underestimate to his advantage or at least to a way to get rid of the fool.
"Yeah, I never go anywhere without carrying what I need to survive." God what an idiot is what Victor is thinking. Vic wonders what TV show his personality comes from? Probably the Walton's. A transplant to the rural zone with a job in the city. Thinks he's gone back to nature. Victor pats his hard flat stomach and ventures, "I can't always load everything I need because I don't always have it but the weight loss is so gradual I hardly notice."
The gambit only rarely results in an offer of cash but it will certainly bring this tedious process to a climax more quickly. The expected happens fast. "Why don't you get a job?"
A curt remark would end this farce but Vic hasn't had time to check his tires yet. As he reaches for the pressure gauge he realizes he has an opportunity to mess with the citizen's complacency. An amusing but ultimately pointless pastime since TV debugs faulty routines so fast an addict will probably reset to normality within 5 minutes using the memory resident program even if he dumps the core in the first place. "My job is on that last train going South to Mexico, yours may be coming back.", says Victor with a little laugh that belies the seriousness of the remark. The puzzled expression answers a ton. "The jobs I can live on have left the country and what comes back is a prophecy."
What the jerk understands is that Victor isn't playing the role of the inferior as he should. It makes the fool think this reject must be an alcoholic, maybe a commie. I told you fault tolerant programming by television is superb. You gotta respect it as a technical accomplishment. "What are you trying to say?"
"I'm saying, that my work is documenting the un-American activities of large corporations and informing the public of the danger to our way of life. It's a good job but it doesn't pay much." Undoubtedly the jackass is now convinced Victor is a conspiracy theorist. But, a well trained specimen, he hasn't run out of conditioned responses. "If you don't like it here why don't you go somewhere else?"
Victor's preparation for episodes of this nature was made in a somewhat different than normal manner. You can judge it's quality if you like. "I was born on this planet, where else can I go?"
"You can go to Russia if you think it's better over there!"
"Why should I choose between bad and worse? What if I lived on a planet where 5% of the human population owned 95% of everything and the 95% had to work to keep the 5% in luxury. If they refused to be slaves the resources needed to live are withheld and they die. Further, a three fourths of the slaves believe themselves to be free but are allowed to survive only if they continue to work for the ruling elite. Should the thralls or virtual slaves who are maintaining the illusion of freedom tolerate their servitude because they are better off than the other slaves?" The good citizen just snorts and walks away without further comment.
"Victor! You didn't have to be so negative. How is that going to help?"
"Don't know, but that doesn't mean I have to accept that unconsciously prerecorded bullshit! And I can't and won't forgive a transgression that hasn't even entered the awareness of the sinner. Forgiveness requires some remorse and at least a desire not to sin again. The thralls don't even know who they are or what they are supposed to want unless they see it on television. How can I accept or forgive that kind of crap?"
"What's all this talk about sin, Vic, you're not a religious person?"
"That doesn't mean I don't believe that the concept of sin isn't a good metaphore to describe what people are doing when they surrender their ability to think and their free wills. Especially if they abandon their control over their own survival while they are at it. Just because a thing has been happening for eight thousand years doesn't mean it's right or that it should be allowed to continue.
"But I will try to be a little more winning in the future." Victor doesn't think there is a conspiracy to enslave or exterminate. He thinks the enslavement was accomplished so long ago it's all old habit. New twists don't spread by intrigue, with the masters it's just monkey see monkey do and too few have even thought enough about it to qualify it as intelligent, deliberate malice. He's worried though, about what solution they may finally arrive at with respect to the superfluous dismembers of society, including himself.
Victor's ready and he jumps on his bike. It's best to move on quickly after an encounter like that. His new acquaintences too often remember, as soon as they near a phone, that all homeless people are threat to steal, pillage and rape. In the post modern era, the force of stories in the oral tradition, like UFOs and alligators in the sewers of you name the city, coupled with the "educational" power of television, are compelling. Vic doesn't need the hassle of police/security paranoia.

People do react, as the Sourita man did, when confronted by an individual who is indifferent to societal power. Used to deference from all who are considered inferior sorts, a singularity like Victor, who relies on personal power of will for his sense of self worth, is an enigma and a perceived threat to those who subscribe to massmind notions of power and dignity. Genuine dignity seems impertinent to true believers. And why are most people foolishly pretentious? Because pretentiousness is all we have left after compromising with society in order to have permission to continue to live. Vic's existential non-identity is not yet strong enough to entertain so much compassion even though he understands his origin to be from that place.
Victor reflects on massmind as he pedals towards Tucson. What is it? Group dynamics, mobthink and "national mood" are names he's used or heard. Whatever you call the phenomena it has little to do with thought. At best it is a concurrent emotion or mood that moves a group in unity. There is a poverty of thought by the individuals who form the group and not much more by those who try to inspire the motive and control the motion. The "leaders" often get carried away themselves. Hitler's reign of terror is probably an example of what results when one believes ones own bullshit.
The cohesive force is the powerful instinct to conform. It's exact nature might be an interesting thing to study but, like gravity, you don't need to know it's cause to know it's there. The belief in and worship of individuality is a paradox, perhaps evidence of cultural schizophrenia or mass psychosis. While believing, "thinking", and doing exactly what everyone else does the individual simutaneously considers the self to be unique and even thoughtful. George Orwell says it better than I can. The concept of "doublethink" is the classic description but it obviously needs to be said over and over until someone catches on.
Control of mobthink has been the desire of all human cultures. Twentieth century psychologists and sociologists have made some progress but haven't perfected it as well as some notable historical figures such as Chenkis Kahn and Julius Caesar (with the aid of Pompey and Cassius of the first triumverate). The governments of Elizebeth I, William of Orange and Oliver Cromwell were also quite effective. But achieving total control without the use of terror is a recent accomplishment. Advertisers and politicians, with the help of psychologists, consider themselves to be adept at the manipulation of massmind while, ironically, their competition among themselves for control of the mob forces them to be the most conformist true believers therein. But blinders on the nominal leaders doesn't hamper the drivers, the ruling elite, in the guidance to our destiny.
The hands on the reigns, the hands of 5% of the population, haven't faltered in 6000 years. Even when they change hands we continue to pull their load. They live in luxury while we live in misery. They never tire of jerking us around just to keep us off balance and unable to get a good look at them. There is no conspiracy in this either. They even compete with one another but operate in perfect consensus with respect to the uses we are to be put to.
Most people know all this, at least intuitively. As teenagers and young adults we try to adopt ideals and principles to counter the travesty of ages. Most are so coopted and/or compromised by the time they are thirty they may as well have never known the truth.
But we must have some compassion for those who appear to have forgotten. It was do or die for them. Those who do not surrender have at best an uncomfortable life to live; except the rare few who are able to create an independent means of survival. Refusal to submit to the system often results in homelessness and premature death by exposure, malnutrition or related diseases. (By the way, alcoholism may be more often the result than the cause of the slide into homelessness.) There are few who would rather die than live in slavery. And so, though there is little security within the system, only constant fear, the majority submit to control to save their lives. Such is there hope. They choose to live enthralled, as true believers (the System requires true belief), and exorcise the memory of the choice they made [without conscious irony] lest it undermine their confidence, self worth and dignity.

"And you ask why I don't live here?
Honey, how come you don't move?"
(Bob Dylan, circa 1965)

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