Guns, Media, and Money

The United States was built upon five things that are biting us hard in the ass right now:

Guns, Media and Money

1. A literally religious mythology of divine favor.
2. A culture founded entirely upon buying and selling goods.
3. A revolution conducted by eloquent idealists who also owned slaves.
4. The slavery and genocide of everyone who dared to get in the way of the first three elements.
5. A conflux of mass media, technology and literacy unknown in the world until that point.

That mass-media – from broadsides to newspapers to TV to the internet – has sold Americans the impression that we are the biggest, best, and brightest thing ever to appear beneath the sun. There’s just enough truth in our mythology to seem credible, and so people who really should know better still believe the nonsense we’ve been – and continue to be – taught about American exceptionalism.

Thanks to the death-by-plague of the majority of people who would have opposed us, America has grown up in a land of phenomenal space and resources, with few neighboring nations to hinder the nation’s expansion. The nations that did oppose U.S. expansion were hindered by ocean passages, superior technology, infighting, and often a combination of the three. The sheer SIZE of the U.S. territories also make us damned near impossible to conquer – hell, we learned as much when we went to war with ourselves. And so, the U.S. grew up in virtual isolation, having the upper hand in negotiations with rival powers that we could either outlast (the European nations), outgun (the Native American nations), or outspend (both).

The U.S. was also one of the first cultures to support mass literacy, regardless of class… as long as you were white and male, anyway. And our expansion coincided with the birth and spread of mass-publication technology in the 1800s – a technology that helped to spread our myths and teach our kids that those lies were true. Propaganda, then, became our religion… and our business, too. From Jefferson to Hearst to Disney to Fox (ironically, a foreign-owned corporation), no one – not even Nazi Germany, who copped our best tricks – has been better at selling the propaganda of national identity than us.

All of the Americas were “settled” (read: conquered) by Europe as a business venture, first and foremost. Anything went, as long as it made money for Spain, England, France, Portugal, or Holland. Slavery? Sure. Genocide? Fine by me! All American nations – not merely the U.S. – were forged with commerce as the highest priority. And because we all had enough distance between us and our European “masters,” we were all able to eventually either rebel and declare ourselves independent, or else play the Good Kids (Canada) and get the best of both worlds.

In all of this, guns, media and money have played decisive roles. And no one has ever embraced guns, media and money the way the United States has done.

We claim to be “a Christian nation,” but guns, media and money have always been the United States’ true god. To us, our “freedom” involves unfettered worship and indulgence of them all.

And the saddest part about that? We truly could be greater than we ever thought was possible… but there are still far too many people who are emotionally and financially invested in our anger, ignorance, division, and fear.

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About Satyr

Award-winning fantasy author, game-designer, and all 'round creative malcontent. Creator of a whole bunch of stuff, most notably the series Mage: The Ascension, Deliria: Faerie Tales for a New Millennium, and Powerchords: Music, Magic & Urban Fantasy. Lives in Seattle. Hates shoes. Loves cats. Dances a lot.
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3 Responses to Guns, Media, and Money

  1. Kesare Sauvage says:

    Hello. I had a question about your 1996 Mage : Cult of Ecstasy source book if you don’t mind. Bruce Baugh thought you could help me.
    In the source book is an example story of the mage meeting a mysterious, vibrant, barefoot woman that nobody else seems to see and shows up now and then. I assumed that she was the Mage’s (I forget the word) her Awakened Spirit Self though it was never said? But someone from White Wolf commented once that most people had it wrong, so all these years I’ve wondered, if not her then who was it?

    Good story though either way. 🙂

    • Satyr says:

      Hola, Kesare!

      First off, thank you. I’m glad you enjoy that book. It remains among my favorites, and is one of the most personal books I have written thus far.

      And yes, Aria is Cassies’s Avatar (her Awakened self), who in this case takes the form of the person she will become in the future… the person she is at the end of that story. (The giveaway is Cassie’s realization about “An Aria. Now I understand.”)

      I figured that making Cassie’s Avatar assume the form of the archetypal “future self taking to her younger self in the past” would be an appropriate choice for a mage whose group specializes in prophecy and Time magick.

      I don’t know who might have said differently, either at White Wolf or otherwise, but as the author of the book I can say decisively that anyone who says otherwise is incorrect.

      By the way, Aria reappears in Mage 20th Anniversary and its forthcoming sourcebook Gods, Monsters & Familiar Strangers.

      Cheers! 🙂

  2. Satyr says:

    Also, the game system for having an avatar like Aria can be found in the Merit: Manifest Avatar. I created that one specifically so there would be an in-game way to have that kind of Avatar-based character in your game.

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