What Will It Take to Break Our Trance?
By Doug Page
November 11, 2009 "Dissident Voice" -- We are rapidly returning to the uncivilized Law of the Jungle. We will soon live in a world where brute force rules. It is not only the disabled, widows, children and orphans who are vulnerable to the cruelties of this jungle. We all are. We have been brainwashed with incessant slogans like “Get the government off your back,” and “Keep more of your own money… oppose all tax increases.” Our dominant, false ideology tells us that every function of government must be privatized, so that governmental functions can be performed with business-like efficiency. (We are not told that the real reason for privatizing is to give capitalists yet another opportunity for making short term profit.) The very concept that we humans might work and cooperate together to protect ourselves from Jungle dangers and to meet our common needs is shunned as “socialism,” as if that were something evil. The capitalists have brainwashed themselves, and they have brainwashed us. They along with the rest of us hope and assume that the common good will somehow automatically take care of itself, if they think about the common good at all. Each capitalist must be concerned only with his own private profit and cannot be concerned with the common good lest some competitor captures his profit making opportunity. We are a nation of millions of brainwashed individualists, living, working, and acting under false perceptions of reality as if we were all “Manchurian Candidates.” We have forgotten that government is the only effective institution that we have to protect us from the brute force of the Law of the Jungle. If we do not very quickly awaken from our trance, and act together in a cooperative human community, millions of us will perish.
Ironically, most wealthy capitalists will themselves be destroyed in this looming Jungle.
Capitalists need government almost as badly as we do, but they will not admit it. As Adam Smith taught long ago, capitalism and capitalists can survive only with a rule of law controlling private property rights and business promises, a government to enforce those laws, and a certain level of morality. He cannot be concerned with the common good lest some competitor captures his profit. Capitalist ideology thus prohibits capitalists from protecting their own common good. As we see from the daily news, no capitalist will speak out in support of regulation of Wall Street. Capitalists say that they will discipline themselves, but they have not, can not and do not.
We ordinary citizens and voters cling to an illusory idealistic assumption that we retain the right to govern ourselves, and that if we only work hard enough in the political process, we can change things through the ballot box. We cling to this false deadly assumption despite the vast accumulation of evidence that our political process is totally dominated and controlled by approximately 5000 very wealthy individuals acting through their ownership of their corporations and their mainstream advertising agencies, TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines. Thus in these desperate times, our government has given Trillions of our tax dollars to the big banks of the wealthy without any conditions, while our government has given little or nothing to create jobs for us. This money controlled government can afford to give Trillions to the wealthy, but this government cannot afford to provide VA hospitals and medical care for everybody. We citizens and voters are kept quiet and non-rebellious because of our own brainwashed state, fueled by our addiction to consumer goods, electronic gadgets, computers and TV.
Part of the trance and delusion is maintained by liberals. My definition of a “liberal” is one who vaguely wants a civilizing government and to make things right, but only if it does not deprive him of his standard of living. Thus a liberal will protest wealth inequality, the corruption of our elected leaders by money, imperialism, wars abroad, torture, rendition, and civilian collateral damage, but a liberal will not rebel, stop work, strike, picket, vigil or boycott. A liberal knows at some level that his material well being depends ultimately on these very evils that he protests against, specifically including torture. A liberal, like a conservative capitalist, cannot face the fact that he himself is in a dangerous suicidal trance. So he does not challenge the trance either.
Even under the best of circumstances, we have limited time and interest in governing ourselves. Our civic impulse is in very short supply. We see this in the low voter turnout and in the superficial slogans that lead many voters make up their minds. We see it also in political parties, local governments, charities, clubs and unions where aggressive individuals rise to power, and the ordinary person does not bother to attend meetings or to vote.
The blunt truth is that we are now ruthlessly governed by these few wealthy individuals who have accumulated their vast fortunes. One might almost say that we are “ungoverned,” but of course we are taxed to benefit these rulers, and to pay for their losses on their risky financial investments. The government is operated and controlled by and for these few wealthy individuals. For all practical purposes, it is if we are ruled by a selfish greedy king who rules us and taxes us for his own pleasure and his own benefit. This “king” has his royalist earls, dukes, nobles and toadies in the form of Presidents, Senators, elected officials, journalists, college professors and economists who fawn around him. These toadies tell the “king” what he wants to hear (however insane and stupid) hoping for his favor and crumbs from his table. President Obama himself is such a toady to the “king.” Obama’s economic advisors, former Harvard President Larry Summers and University of California Professor Christina Romer are perfect examples of such fawning advisors to the “king.” They study and report only what the “king” wants to hear.
The truth is that our capitalism and our self governing democracy are beyond repair or reform. Both are terminal, and dysfunctional. Our material well being is rapidly falling, and it will fall much further. Our trance prevents us from dealing with the death throes of capitalism, with the few wealthy individuals who control democracy with their wealth, with diminishing reserves of oil and gas, and with deadly global warming. This is not to say that we will find it easy to make changes even if we become aware of our trance. We will have to attend meetings and vote. We will have to accept a lower standard of living because of the depletion of oil and live like Cubans. Other civilizations in the past have fallen into dark ages because those in power did not recognize the falsity of their political-economic-cultural ideas, and did not take corrective action in time. Millions of us are destined to starve and those who do survive will be serfs allowed to grow a little food on the estates of the very rich. This is inevitable, unless we awaken and face the truth very soon.
Doug Page is a retired lawyer for unions, a former Democratic politician, and a life long observer of government, unions and business. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org