Rollerball                 

You must see or revisit Norman Jewison’s 1975 film Rollerball, starring James Caan as superstar player Jonathan E. In it, we see a world no longer made up of countries, but of corporations that control every bit of life for the people. There are no longer wars, just a complacent populace who ‘go along to get along.’ A very select few are chosen by the corporations to become executives, giving them elite status. It seems everyone loves the violent sport Rollerball which is like our current NFL football on steroids.

Jonathan E. is their Michael Jordan or Lebron James super player who is revered worldwide, even by the fans of opposing teams. He has everything a man could wish to have: a fine sprawling ranch, with servants and horses, and gorgeous female companions chosen for him by the Energy corporation that rules Houston and the surrounding areas.

Yet, even someone as popular and valued as he must sacrifice, such as when the corporation took away his wife and gave her to an executive. There is a scene in the film, when the highest corporation board decides they want Jonathan E. to retire due to the fear that his popularity has become too great. A man like that becomes too influential, thus too dangerous to control.They send his ex wife, whom he still pines for, to visit him at his ranch to get him to agree to retire without any complications. They go for a walk and he expresses reservations about doing this. He tells her of his newfound epiphany about their  society. He knows now that the corporations long ago offered them all the choice between freedom and comfort . . . and the masses chose the latter. Her brief answer becomes the gist of the whole film: “Comfort IS freedom.” And that is what we have here in 21st Century Amerika for many of our fellow citizens. The ‘Good German’ lives on.

To study Nazi Germany in the 1930s allows us to see how the German public, to a great degree, was either apathetic or voluntarily blind as to what their regime was doing. Kristallnact was not an event that went unseen or even unheard about by multitudes of German citizens.

When the Wehrmacht invaded The Soviet Union along with the SS death squads, word did leak out through many soldiers of what had transpired. Even the most heinous of all crimes committed by the Nazis, the death camps, a.k.a. Concentration Camps, was not totally kept from the populace as many revisionists have always alleged. When tons of human hair and millions of personal effects were shipped back to companies in Germany, surely word got out.

We can and we should forgive the many Germans who did care about the terrible wrongs of their government at that time. Why? Well, it was a police state and dissent was stomped out rather brutally. Not everyone can be as heroic as Sophie Scholl and her brother and friends, who formed The White Rose. Their flyers opposing the Nazi regime and Hitler was done so at risk of being arrested, tortured and finally beheaded…. and so they were. Yet, there is this terrible pain that gnaws at this writer. That being the pain of realizing how many out there just do NOT give a shit unless something is happening to them or to one of their own!

The late and great New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, who Oliver Stone centered his fine film JFK on, understood so much more than many of his peers in the 1960s. Years after his defeat in the case against Clay Shaw and others for the assassination of JFK Garrison wrote, “What worries me deeply is that we in America are in great danger of slowly evolving into a proto-fascist state. It will be a different kind of fascist state from the one of the Germans; theirs grew out of depression and promised bread and work, while ours is based on power and on the inability to put human goals and human conscience above the dictates of the state. Its origins can be traced to the tremendous war machine we’ve built since 1945, the ‘Military Industrial Complex’ that Eisenhower vainly warned us against, which now dominates every aspect of our lives . . . In a very real and terrifying sense, our government IS the CIA and the Pentagon, with Congress reduced to a ‘debating society’ . . .

Cassius had said it most succinctly: “The fault dear Brutus is not in our stars but in ourselves.”

Please not that I wrote this piece originally in 2015. How more powerful it all is now seven years later. Time to wake up fellow Americans!!!

Philip A Farruggio is regular columnist on It’s the Empire… stupid website. He is also frequently posted on Nation of Change, Countercurrents., Smirking Chimp and Independent Australia sites. He is the son and grandson of Brooklyn NYC longshoremen and a graduate of Brooklyn College, class of 1974. Since the 2000 election debacle Philip has written over 400 columns on the Military Industrial Empire and other facets of life in an upside down America. He is also host of the ‘ It’s the Empire… Stupid ‘ radio show, co produced by Chuck Gregory. Philip can be reached at paf1222@bellsouth.net.


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