American Museum of Industrial History
by Susan Sigandres
What is all this stuff I'm hearing about industrial pollution
and limitations of civil rights and abrogation of worker protection
by corporations? I remember my grandfather speaking of these
conditions that existed when he was a child and telling
me how far we've come. Now, all of a sudden, everyone's talking
about these things again, like they have anything to do with
the here and now. Listen, all that's in the past, over, done
But on second thought, it's too easy to disregard the past
as we look eagerly toward the future. We should remember where
we were so we know how we got to where we are. And we can
carry with us whatever lessons the past holds in the hope
they will be of some value to us as we move ever forward.
For this reason, I embarked upon a study of the era that most
recently drew to a close, the Industrial Age. And I found
a truly marvelous source of information -- a most wonderful
interactive exhibit in Washington DC.
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is not a seat of government at the
present time. Rather, it is the American Museum of Industrial
History. It houses a collection of relics from an age that
is past and whose creatures are daily proving themselves to
be obsolete. They are unable to adapt to a new world in which
they have far less control of the means to power and wealth
?- information -- and no elasticity of mind to comprehend
the pace and rhythm of the world's new momentum.
Inside this museum are the curiosities of the past era. There
are diverse and various displays. Listen to a Dick Cheney
or a Donald Rumsfeld to hear the creaking gears of rusty old
machines, kept around for sentimental reasons even though
they have long since been fully depreciated. Catch a whiff
of a Karen Hughes or an Andy Card and you can smell the stale
must of an ideology so outdated it has no salvage value. Rove
constantly recalculating the decline of the junta's goodwill.
And Paul O'Neill, clinging to his current assets, despite
the blatant conflict of interest with his government job,
lest he have nothing of value to call his own in the future.
Colin Powell, finally knows what "FIFO" means -- first in,
first outed. And poppy, well, he's trying to close out his
Just as we see stuffed remnants of long-dead animals in an
old-fashioned museum, the American Museum of Industrial Hiatory,
contains representative samples of the population in question.
The group is composed of animals called "corporate empire
builders," whose grand purposes in life include trying to
get us to watch their "news," take very long drives in our
cars so we burn fuel, or buy plastic trinkets and rubber shoes
made by impoverished laborers in sweatshops to our south or
across the sea.
No thank you. I prefer the marketplace of ideas. I'm busy
making connections through endlessly linked thoughts, dreams,
rants, reports, and visions. I really don't have the need
for too many trinkets or more than one pair of overpriced
sneakers. And I'd prefer not to passively sit in front of
the tube waiting to be spoon fed propaganda. I;d much rather
be active -- go to forums and speak to people from all over
the country and all over the world to find out what's happening.
I have a "pen pal" in Singapore and we have so much in common!
I'd rather hear what's on her mind than listen to some overpaid
mouthpiece I don't know and could care less about.
For some reason, the museum exhibits remind me of the end
of the Cretaceous Period, some 65 million years ago, when
the dinosaurs and other creatures followed the elephants in
search of water to sustain them. As we know, those long, futile
treks through a world grown alien ended in extinction for
Judging by that history, it's safe to say that these corporate
empire builders will end up extinct as well. It's also doubtful
they'll be passing along anything of immediate value to us.
This includes their spawn, judging by the happy idiot now
being served up as sustenance for the industrialist beasts
to feed upon in their desperate attempt to hang on. But --
brains will out over blood, smarts over scions.
And just to underscore how dangerous to survival limited
cognitive abilities are, consider that the corporatocracy
of the Industrial Age actually dispensed with the one thing
that might have saved them? Our loyalty. They discharged too
many rounds of employees, fired off too many people. We laborers
are all free agents now.
None of these "executives" means anything to us. We owe them
nothing but what they are willing to pay for. And we are certainly
not going to pledge allegiance to the legal fictions they
are charged with overseeing. Yet, from having worked in these
places, we know their operations, their weaknesses, their
strengths, their plans -- their secrets. And we take that
knowledge with us when we leave.
I urge everyone not to take the American Museum of Industrial
History for granted. It is really most appropriate for our
day and age because it's showing us events in real time. In
a very real sense, we are watching our own evolution.