July 1, 2015
People knew early on that George Carlin was an anti-establishment comic. He hosted the very first broadcast of Saturday Night Live and turned what could have been a family-friendly monologue into a searing indictment of American culture.
Bill Hicks followed in the same tradition, eschewing the easy laugh in order to rip apart our national myths and expose the often sickening charade of democracy we see in popular culture and mainstream media. Between these two, we get what is undoubtedly the most important social satire since Mark Twain.
89 percent of the American public distrusts the government. Unfortunately, much of that distrust is either faked or suppressed. Just wait for the next major geopolitical or domestic scandal to pop up and then see how many of your friends actually question the official narrative that the government shoves down our throats with the help of mainstream media.
Below is a highlight reel of these two counter-culture heroes’ best deconstructions of the American Dream:
Government Does Not Exist for the People: Freedom Is An Illusion
George Carlin states his view on the government plainly:
“I have certain rules I live by. My first rule: I don’t believe anything the government tells me.”
Bill Hicks eviscerated the government every time he got the chance, always in the most sarcastic, incendiary way he could. Take this rant, for instance:
“Go back to bed, America. Your government has figured out how it all transpired. Go back to bed, America. Your government is in control again. Here. Here’s American Gladiators. Watch this, shut up. Go back to bed, America. Here is American Gladiators. Here is 56 channels of it! Watch these pituitary retards bang their fucking skulls together and congratulate you on living in the land of freedom. Here you go, America! You are free to do what we tell you! You are free to do what we tell you!”
Despite poor video quality, this clip regarding Ronald Reagan and George H.W Bush is absolutely priceless:
George Carlin wasn’t just opposed to broad ideas of government. He thought the entire two-party political system was corrupt to the core:
“The word bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out.”
TPP and the War on Terror come to mind, two issues on which the Democrats and Republicans have been willing to hold hands. Carlin further said,
“The owners of this country don’t want [education]. I’m talking about the real owners now, the big wealthy business interests that control all things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians, they’re put there to give you the illusion that you have freedom of choice…you don’t.”
In a different rant, Carlin expanded a bit more humorously on the illusion of choice:
“The things that matter in this country have been reduced in choice, there are two political parties, there are a handful insurance companies, there are six or seven information centers, but if you want a bagel there are 23 flavors. Because you have the illusion of choice.”
At a book signing, he was once asked by a fan whether he thought 9/11 was an inside job. He replied kindly and thoughtfully: “I always question consensus reality.” When the same questioner asked if he would support a new investigation, he replied, “They don’t investigate themselves in this country….the people in charge do what they want, and they will always do what they want.”
The Drug War Is An Abomination
While the extent of their own personal drug use isn’t entirely relevant here, we do know that both Carlin and Hicks experimented with recreational drugs including marijuana, psychedelics, and others. Their outspoken, cynical stance on the criminalization of drugs—particularly marijuana—is well-documented.
George Carlin’s critique of the oppressive Drug War was scathing:
“Fuck the drug war. Dropping acid was a profound turning point for me, a seminal experience. I make no apologies for it. More people should do acid. It should be sold over the counter.”
Bill Hicks asked a pertinent question during one of his bits:
“Why is marijuana against the law? It grows naturally upon our planet. Doesn’t the idea of making nature against the law seem to you a bit . . . unnatural?”
Hicks had another message about government/media drug propaganda:
“They lie about marijuana. Tell you pot-smoking makes you unmotivated. Lie! When you’re high, you can do everything you normally do, just as well. You just realize that it’s not worth the fucking effort. There is a difference.”
In a different rant, he elaborated:
“About drugs, about alcohol, about pornography and smoking and everything else. What business is it of yours what I do, read, buy, see, say, think, who I fuck, what I take into my body – as long as I do not harm another human being on this planet?”
Why is their outrage justified? In 2013, a startling statistic surfaced: 1 in every 110 people in the country is incarcerated for marijuana possession. Blacks are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana-related offenses. Meanwhile, the nation spends billions per year—approximately, $15 billion at the federal level and $25 billion at the state and local level—perpetuating the War on Drugs.
These days, more people than ever understand the injustice of non-violent drug convictions and it is increasingly commonplace to hear trenchant sociopolitical critiques. However, in the 1970s and 80s, when Carlin and Hicks first held the mic, the government unrelentingly bombarded the American people with Drug War propaganda, making their dissent at the time all the more notable.
Corporatocracy Is Distorting Reality
The two comics’ rebellion against the propagandistic horse manure of American nationalism and the “American Dream” also extends to the rise in privatization of the national banks, corporatism, and the ubiquitous consumer marketing that imbues virtually every nook and cranny of our society.
Carlin was non-apologetic and steadfast in his assessment:
“When fascism comes to America, it will not be in brown and black shirts. It will not be with jack-boots. It will be Nike sneakers and Smiley shirts. Germany lost the Second World War. Fascism won it. Believe me, my friend.”
Never one to shy away from the reality of certain conspiracy theories, George Carlin did a whole bit about how the Rothschild family controls America. Carlin’s startling monologue, which was recorded only a few short years before his death, includes an indictment of the near-total control the banks now exert over the country. He went on to describe how the big banks and wealthy financial elites control us. The clip is powerful enough to include in full:
Similarly, Bill Hicks expressed overwhelming disgust with corporate America, particularly corporate marketing. In one of his better-known and more epic rants, Hicks made it very clear how he felt about marketers:
This video has been removed from YouTube by Warner Bros under a copyrights violation claim
His bits tended to culminate in philosophical polemics about the disparity between reality and the horrorshow fed to us by a culture-manufacturing corporate machine. He once opined:
“Folks, it’s time to evolve. That’s why we’re troubled. You know why our institutions are failing us, the church, the state, everything’s failing? It’s because, um – they’re no longer relevant. We’re supposed to keep evolving. Evolution did not end with us growing opposable thumbs. You do know that, right?”
Possibly his best known bit delves into the existential absurdity of human society itself:
“Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves. Here’s Tom with the Weather!”
Bill Hicks was also fearless when it came to discussing the manufactured, brutal reality modern neo-liberal globalism has bestowed us:
“This is where we are at right now, as a whole. No one is left out of the loop. We are experiencing a reality based on a thin veneer of lies and illusions. A world where greed is our God and wisdom is sin, where division is key and unity is fantasy, where the ego-driven cleverness of the mind is praised, rather than the intelligence of the heart.”
George Carlin waxed philosophical at times, too. His most powerful material, however, broke down the way our nation’s power structures, including the corporate media, keep us divided:
“That’s all the media and the politicians are ever talking about—the things that separate us, things that make us different from one another. That’s the way the ruling class operates in any society. They try to divide the rest of the people. They keep the lower and the middle classes fighting with each other so that they, the rich, can run off with all the fucking money!”
George Carlin and Bill Hicks were two of the most revolutionary satirists of the last hundred years, using ingeniously acerbic humor to take on the corrupt power structures controlling this nation and to deconstruct the fictitious “American Dream.”