Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cry Havoc

What if they held a war and no one came? As interesting as that question is, what’s more interesting is: What if they held a war and only one side came?

Well, that’s exactly what’s been happening under our noses for the last couple of hundred years. Only one side decided to show up to this war, and the sneaky bastards have been doing an excellent job of keeping the rest of us distracted with other things. The wars on Communism, Immorality, Drugs, Terrorism, Poverty, &c all served their purpose of misdirection. Like a good magician, they kept the ball moving under the cups and we were none the wiser.

This war has been for control of government, because government is the closest thing to absolute power that exists. Whoever controls government, controls the world. The side in this war that was smart enough to send in troops is Big Business. Which makes sense, they’ve spent a lot of time and energy building those businesses and heaven fore fend that something as silly as competition might tear that all down. Nope, best get Big Government in with the power to prop them up.

This isn’t to say that Big Business is one big organism working together for a common goal. No, Big Businesses hate each other almost as much as they hate us. That’s probably been the only thing keeping them from taking over completely; the fact that they’re constantly fighting with each other. But that doesn’t mean that we have any real power within the system, just that there seems to be enough space in the cracks to occasionally catch crumbs falling from the tables (I prefer my metaphors shaken, not stirred).

It’s time to admit the sad truth: We lost. It’s over. They won.

What to do about it? That’s a good question, and by “good question” I mean it has no easy answers. The “patriots” among us would say that we need to vote and be involved and run for office and all that other crap. Why is that crap? Because it’s not going to do a thing. We’re an occupied people, and the occupiers aren’t going to allow a system that could lead to their ouster. Far from it, the system is designed to give the appearance of “power to the people” while actually providing none. Voting is the new opiate of the masses. It’s easy to deny that the war is lost, or indeed that there even was a war. It’s easy because it’s less painful. Well, as painful as it is, we need to get past it, grieve, and start working on solutions.

Now, before I talk solutions, let me first say that I know this is all hyperbolical, but I’m illustrating a point. There really isn’t a secret cabal of people in smoky back rooms pulling everyone’s strings. There are cabals, and there are smoky back rooms, and there are strings to be pulled, but these are all over the place in different hands and they’re mostly metaphorical. It’s easy to claim that there’s a small “them” opposed to a big “us,” but that’s oversimplified. The fact is that “them” is the system itself, and not individuals. It’s sloppy, messy, fractured, and incoherent. You could kill a secret back room cabal with a single well placed bomb. The “system” though has no such weaknesses, it’s not a single entity. The “system” is all of us. We’ve seen our enemy, and the enemy is us.

But the truth is that “the people” really don’t have any power in government. At the local level, the people do have some power, but it diminishes as the government gets larger. The reason for this is quite simple: Power breeds power. The more influence an organisation has, the more power they can get, which leads to more power to gain power, ad infinitum. The organisations which have both the motive and resources to start this snowball going is the large corporations. Government has been moulded and twisted in order to serve their interests, and it has been done very stealthily. You should need no more proof than the recent bail-out from the US Congress. There hasn’t been a much more ideal situation for the government to listen to the people. A vast majority opposing the bill, a looming election with several seats at risk, and still government chose to use our money to pay off business people who took stupid risks.

So, what’s the solution? The first step in recovery is to admit, as I said before, that the war is over and we lost. Democracy is a failed experiment. It failed the Romans, it failed the Athenians, and it has now failed us. The second step is to recognise that there is an alternative. This is probably the most difficult step, because we’ve been indoctrinated from an early age that democracy is the pinnacle of human society, and all we need to do is tweak it. Just elect the “right” people and everything will work out well (since there’s a lot of people lining up to go through the meat-grinder of politics in order to help you, yup, that list is massive). Democracy is not an end in itself, it’s only a step in our evolution. Innovation builds on prior advances, and the same is true here. Democracy will lead to something better. One of the best places to start understanding this alternative is a book called “Healing Our World: The Other Piece of the Puzzle” by Dr. Mary Ruwart (available for free online). It lays out the alternative much better than I ever could. We need to learn that not only is the alternative better, but it’s actually possible.

The third step is the scariest, because it contains no guarantees. It’s to simply align our lives with the alternative and if we live free eventually our institutions will follow. As Ghandi famously said, “If one takes care of the means, the end will take care of itself.” We are the means, so let’s take care of that. Really, that’s all we can do.

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