When I was a kid growing up in England, my Dad apprenticed me out to a farmer for a summer, within which I learned to herd and milk cows, hunt rabbits with ferrets, kill and dress a chicken and slop pigs, amongst other bucolic pastimes. The farmer had a prize pig, a huge sire, that carried the name “Sir Francis Bacon.” I was a bit young for the joke, but got it later–as was to become my style in many arenas.
On the farm I learned quite a bit about pigs and other large livestock, much of which I didn’t want to know, including the fact that even the “friendly” animals from Looney-Tunes could be dangerous. So I wasn’t much surprised the other day when I read about an Oregon farmer who was eaten by his pigs.
Actually, my thoughts ranged from fearful memories to dark laughter. But if you know anything about pigs, you’ll know that they’re omnivores, like we humans. And that this isn’t the first time pigs have turned the tables on humans.
Pigs, if you’ve never been near one in real life, aren’t animated film, comic strip and greeting-card-cute little creatures; they’re all about consuming, defecating and breeding, like, um, us –their genetic cousins. Scientifically speaking the difference between pig and person is just 2% of the genome. So we probably taste like bacon to them, too.
Pigs are astonishingly indifferent to us folk. They don’t give a wit about pain, suffering, poverty, disability, illness, education, plurality, hunger and so forth so long as it isn’t interfering with their feed or wallowing time. But pigs aren’t cruel. They’re just pigs. And if you keep them fed and don’t fall down in the pen, they’ll be ham, bacon, chops and BBQ before they get a chance to eat you. Their interest in the affairs of humans basically ends at the trough.
This makes them not much different than most politicians, –the pigs who dress up in dark suits and power ties and run for political office. Which, like the “family farm” is now largely corporate owned and operated. Think of it as the corporate pigsty.
But real pigs lack arrogance and hubris. Neither are they sociopathic. You could pass them off as members of the American ruling class and take them to a political fundraiser; just keep the lights down and the food coming. No one would be surprised by the grunts, snuffles and gorging. Even the foul odor would probably be attributed to elderly and incontinent human attendees. Political fundraisers are not repelled by much.
I like to think of the denizens of the corporate pigsty as Homo Sus, part human, part pig and like the real pig, missing a critical 2% of the genome. The 2% that gives us ethics, compassion, morality and humanity, among other things.
Their version of slop is money and power. You don’t have to be very bright to figure it out. Has a politician ever spoken to you when they didn’t want something? Then you haven’t the money or power to be worth their time.
Think of the speeches, ads and accusations thrown about in a campaign. No one gets a pass here. No one is “clean.” Clean doesn’t sell. Politics is a dirty business. The sides are divided by shared beliefs*. People are frightened and angry. Keeping us that way keeps them safe.
It really is “us” versus “them”. It’ll stay that way because there are billions of dollars at stake and that money can’t be allowed to fall into the wrong hands. They need us ignorant, and angry about the wrong things.
If we started thinking logically there would be heads on pikes near every statehouse, and gated communities would look like Aleppo. Corporate profit and commoditization wouldn’t be the driving forces in society.
F. Scott Fitzgerald was right, you see. Would you know how to open a Cayman Islands bank account? Write off flying a horse to London? Get people to “loan” you private jets and yachts? The rich are different from you and me.
There’s nothing wrong with being rich, nothing wrong with making money. If you can do it, kudos to you. But don’t tread on me.
Coax the value from the land, the air, the sea? Create the jobs that give our lives meaning? No you didn’t. Not all by yourself, not without shared sacrifice, not without decades of contribution by those who came before, not without a national infrastructure, property protection and a million other things you could never do for yourself. Most of these pig-people aren’t creators, they’re parasites who live off the creativity of others.
Listen to the Romney/Ryan Rovian Revival talk about the “useless eaters” when they think they’re off mic, the worthless 47%, the more than worthless 30%. That’s what they call us.
I’m reminded of Anne Richard’s famous description of George Bush Sr., “born on third base and thinks he hit a triple.” It’s how you can tell who the real pigs are in our society.
And it ain’t me, Babe.
*Just think about it. We’re every mother’s child of us stuck in this spacecraft that’s running out of fuel, water and air. All major religions share the same basic values. The predominant form of government is “democracy”. Is it all just “lip service”?