Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Perverse Society: The Illusion of Freedom in the Market Economy

We may want to believe we are free...but the truth is we are not.

The culture of debt and addiction to which we belong ensures that we are forced into bondage, in order to ensure our very survival.

Those of us who can "afford" higher education must usually go into debt to do so. Those who cannot have their options forever limited by their lack of education into a life of servitude.

In either case, the very things we depend on for our survival can and are denied us, unless we yield to the will of our masters.

How many times have you been told "If you don't like your job you can always quit"? How many times have you thought about quitting, and then realized that you simply could not afford to do so?

You have rent or a mortgage to pay. You have to buy food. You have to pay utilities. You likely owe a great deal of money to one or more credit card companies, who are charging you an obscene amount of interest for the privilege of going into debt with them. They make their money off those interest rates, because most people work so very hard for not nearly enough money, so all anyone can afford to do is pay the minimum monthly balance, thereby ensuring their debt load increases.

Do you own a car? Outright, or are you still paying it down? More debt, and more expenses: license fees, registration, insurance...gasoline...gas prices keep going up and up and up...the gas companies tell us it's more expensive to import and refine crude oil, and they are making billions upon billions of dollars of RECORD profit, every year. Do not believe their lies. They are raising the cost of fuel in order to inflate their coffers.

There is, supposedly, a worldwide food shortage right now. Why? Because so many farmers were "encouraged" to grow crops for ethanol production that not enough food crops were produced. What lies. Every year in the United States, Canada and Western Europe farmers are paid subsidies to let grain ROT in silos, because it is more cost-effective to do that than to put that grain on the market. The "food crisis" was invented to do one thing: to make people reject Ethanol, which is a legitimate and viable alternative to the oil monopolies stranglehold on our society.

If people reject ethanol, demand for fossil fuel will increase, which the fuel companies will be able to use as justify increasing the price of gasoline.

Higher gasoline prices mean higher costs for the transport and manufacture of goods, which translates to higher prices overall. Higher prices overall mean you have less earning power. Less earning power makes you a slave.

Has your salary been indexed to the cost of living? In other words, is your employer raising your salary to match the price you must pay for your drive into work, the food you eat, the clothes on your back and all the other necessities one must buy to even eke out a subsistence existence? I didn't think so.

So, while everything else gets more expensive, you aren't earning enough to keep up. This increases your debt, which in turn increases your dependence on your job for your very survival.

You are a slave.

You are not free to quit unless you have another job lined up. You can't line up another job without going on interviews. :You can't go interview elsewhere, because prospective employers expect you to be available for interview during the day, which is likely when you're at work. Is your boss going to give you time off to go on a job interview? I didn't think so. Can you just call in sick whenever you have a job interview elsewhere? No...I didn't think so either. And if your employer finds out you're shopping around for another job, will they do anything to keep you, or punish your disloyalty by terminating your employment?

So, then, how can you claim to be free? You spend eight hours a day in service to others, laboring under their yoke. Whatever earnings you have are taken from you to pay your debts. What little you have left over after paying for the necessities goes into savings--if you're lucky--so that you can hopefully one day stop working. And if that is the case, you must hope that you die before the money runs out.

You are not free. The supposedly free society that you live in is designed to give you the illusion of freedom, while keeping you completely controlled.

This is known as trickle-up economics. Follow the money. It always flows from your pockets, away from you and towards corporations, financial institutions and then into the hands of greedy pigs who already have more than their fair share of the wealth.

Now, how are you supposed to break free? How are you supposed to liberate yourself?

Well, what happens when you don't pay your bills? The accounts go into collection. And what happens if you default on accounts in collection? Your credit rating is affected.

All your credit rating truly determines is how much deeper in debt creditors are willing to let you get.

So, do you want to know how to break free? Stop paying your bills. Not the utilities, not the rent. The frivolities. The car; let them repossess it. The credit cards? Stop paying them and watch your income go up. Take public transit, buy what you can afford, save up for the things you want, and prioritize rent, food and utilities. You stop paying the frivolous debts and you'll have money enough. You stop paying the frivolous debts and your economic slave masters will lose their power over you.

But what about your credit rating? Why do you need it? You don't. Let your credit rating be ruined. Imagine this: If everyone stopped paying their credit card bills, their student loans, their car loans...if everyone just stopped for one month, for two months...the economy would collapse, because it isn't industry or hard work that runs our society, it is debt and dependency.

Start a revolution: Get three friends to stop paying their credit card bills. Get each of them to get three friends to stop paying those bills. If everyone who was in debt stopped paying their debts for 120 days, the financial world would be shaken to its foundations. Credit ratings will become useless and, deprived of their only source of revenue, the creditors will die, like parasitic leeches deprived of the lifeblood of their victims.

And then what? Well, the oil conglomerates and the financial institutions are the pillars of control. One cannot exist without the other. The oil companies rely on our dependence on their product, they rely on us to be in their debt. But if we use public transit, if we refuse to pay their ransom for gasoline, if we find alternative sources of heating our homes, such as space heaters, warm clothing and more blankets on the bed, what then? They will fall.

Alternative fuels like ethanol, alcohol based fuels, hydrogen fuel cells and other renewable fuel sources are dangerous to these parasites. And if we start turning to the alternatives, if we turn our backs on the fossil fuels and the financial institutions, they will have no further power over us, as we will have no further need for them.

No, it would not be easy. No, it would not be pleasant. But the path to freedom is not an easy one. The road to liberty is littered with the carnage caused by those who fight against those yearning to be free. There will be unemployment as the credit and oil-sponsored industries collapse. But in times of such collective destitution, there comes change. We have been conditioned to look out for ourselves, when we should be looking out for one another. If everyone worked towards helping everyone else, we would all prosper.

In this new war for freedom, money has been the weapon of choice used to keep us enslaved. Now it is time for us to use that weapon against our masters. Deny them the power they have over us, by denying them those goddamn pieces of paper that they have taught us to believe have any real importance. Crush them by using those same pieces of paper to starve them.

It is time to break free.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Society is Still update on the Perverse Society Essays

In honour of the upcoming May Day I will be posting a new essay for The Perverse Society series.

The article will be about the illusion of freedom in our society.

Stay tuned.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Status Report...

My bad for not updating sooner...I've been really busy, working on The Darkness and the Stars, which is the follow-up to The Unearthing, as well as work for CONFRONT Magazine, and an ongoing writing project.

As to The Unearthing, it would appear that I've achieved peak downloads, at around 1500. I don't have the exact number yet, but it seems that it's maxed out, at least as far as its current phase of promotion is concerned. I've had to take time away from promoting the novel, because there are only so many hours in a day, and every time I focus solely on one project, everything else suffers. Right now I just really need to work on other writing--maybe I'll throw up some sample chapters here--and give the promotion of The Unearthing a rest, for a while.

Interestingly, Rap artist Pangtastic! has permalinked The Unearthing on his site, which I think is really cool. Now if I could only figure out some way of cross-promoting the novel with Hip-Hop...I wonder if a retelling-in-rap of the story would sell?

The time away from focusing on The Unearthing will hopefully give my brain's book marketing center a chance to recuperate and maybe come up with a fresh idea or two. I'm open to suggestions if anyone has any ideas.

That's it for this post; just wanted to keep you apprised. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Always another way...

A year ago, I was about ready to pack it in and quit writing. After everything I'd been going through after losing my job at Bell, the failure of The Unearthing to sell and everything else that was going on, well, I pretty much feared my writing was worthless.

...I know I know, this is not a new statement from me, and I've repeated this little story more than it driving the point home...just keep reading...

Everything prose-related I tried to write turned to shit. I couldn't look back on anything I had written and had been planning to rewrite just stared back at me like an impossible mountain of text. Besides music reviews and the occasional article for CONFRONT Magazine and even more occasional posts here, I wasn't writing anything.

It's easy, as a writer, as an independent author, to get discouraged. Big publishing is a closed ecosystem and it's very hard to break into. Smaller presses don't have the budget to run many titles, and self-publishing has all kinds of ridiculous and oftentimes unwarranted stigmas attached to it. And when you're responsible for your own marketing, well, then it gets even harder to accomplish anything, isn't it?

If I didn't have friends and loved ones who encouraged me (and by "encouraged" I mean refused to tolerate my wallowing in self-pity and kicking my ass about it until I decided to do something to change my lot) I would have given up. Giving up would have quite literally killed a very significant part of what makes me who I am.

I did a lot of soul searching. I reevaluated much of my writing. I decided to scrap a lot of it. I decided to keep other things, and I decided that it was time to change not just my approach to this whole venture, but what was truly important to me, about writing.

First and foremost, I have sincerely learned that there is only one person that I should be writing for: myself. Any dreams and ambitions beyond that are fine, but the truth is unless I am writing something that I feel is worthwhile, unless I feel that I am writing something that I am enjoying, there is no reason to write it, at all.

Yes of course, as a writer I don't want my work to remain anonymous. I desire an audience, readers. But as all the traditional paths to literary success were barred to me, I had to find my own path.

I started researching ways to drum up readership for my weblog. I stumbled across a lot of information about ebooks and electronic publishing--much of which I'd previously covered and forgotten about. I decided that if I really wanted readers, e-publishing The Unearthing was the only way to go.

According to the stats I've collected from the various download sites hosting or linking to The Unearthing, there have been a total of 1329 unique downloads.

I'm not making any money off this book. I'm certainly not becoming famous, and the downloads themselves aren't proof of the quality or lack thereof of my work, the calibre of my writing or any such thing. The downloads mean only one thing: there are people who are interested enough in my work to read it. Some of those people have even favourably rated The Unearthing on the download sites.

If I'd have quit, if I'd have given up I would have truly failed as a writer. I certainly wouldn't have 1300-plus readers, which is a very small audience at the moment. It is, nevertheless, more than I had a year ago when I was sitting on my ass feeling sorry for myself.

I started regaining my momentum with the e-release of The Unearthing, and now other projects have revived themselves: I've begun rewriting a novel I'd left by the wayside.

Another one of my novels is also now being considered for publication by a small Canadian press. I'll be the first to admit that in this very real real world, the short odds are against it getting accepted and published, but the fact that I'm putting stuff out there again is what's important. I'm also in the running to become a story writer for a video game company.

Write what you want to read and let the universe take care of itself, to paraphrase J. Michael Straczynski.

I've said that I want other independent authors, other aspiring writers to be able to learn from my experience. My experience includes many, many mistakes, which, I think, I've freely admitted to. One of those mistakes, undoubtedly the biggest one I made was almost giving up. That would have been a failure, and an absolute failure on my part.

So, don't give up. I don't give a shit how many rejection slips you have. I don't care if people are reading your stuff and telling you it's garbage. They might very well be right, but you can do something to change that: go to your local college, university or adult-education center and take a writing course; take several if need be. If your writing is bad, you can fix it. The fact that you can write anything at all already sets you apart from the majority of people, who don't really have the time or the interest to foster their creative impulses. So, keep at it.

If you're fed up of getting rejection slips and form letters from publishers and agents, change the scenario. Look at self-publishing. Look at e-publishing. Look at other alternatives, look at every possible way of getting your work out there that you can imagine. The Internet is one giant reference guide (and pornography store). Use it. If self- or e-publishing isn't for you, well, then find another way...there is always another way.

I am going to continue writing these chronicles. I am going to continue posting about my successes and failures in the world of writing and publishing. Why? Because if only for myself, it gives me a record to look over, to chart my progress, to be reminded of my mistakes and to commemorate my successes.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again:

My name is Steve Karmazenuk, and I am a writer.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Completely off topic...

And obviously, I'm behind the times on this one, but I absolutely love this video

Quick Update

It's been a busy time of late, mainly with non-writing related stuff, although I've been doing some writing for a new novel on an almost-daily basis for a few weeks now. Nothing I'm ready or willing to talk about, but only because of how extremely controversial the project will be when I unleash it.

However, in the interests of keeping my fellow writers updated, I'm now up to approximately 1000 downloads of The Unearthing. I say approximately, because some of the numbers are a little soft, because of how some of the sites track things. It's an imperfect world, but to be able to say that I have a potential current audience of a thousand people or more, not counting where The Unearthing is syindicated over at Readers and Writers' Blog, it just really blows me away.