Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/11/12/death-oligarchy
Great analysis and article, Chris. The only possible path to sanity is through Enlightenment. Only if a critical mass can awaken and become informed of how things really work. In order for this to happen people need to learn how to fend off the great distractions that keep them from knowing themselves. Absent self knowledge, all is folly. If only I could tweet Emerson’s Self Reliance to everyone–140 characters at a time…
I love Hedges, but every major article he writes he just gets gloomier and gloomier. I know it’s all true and his intention is to really show the public exactly how bad it is. If we elect another Trump character AFTER Trump he will no doubt be smarter and therefore more dangerous. I believe we are getting closer and closer to a political oblivion as we are also with the climate. With either we don’t have much time before it becomes irreversible.
Greed in fact spreads through all socioeconomic classes and is the fuel which helps keep the Oligarchs in power. Masses of people are convinced they too can live the lifestyles of the rich and famous were it not for Government taxes, migrants taking their jobs , “terrorists” in the Middle East , programs like SNAP and the like. This group always looks down to those poorer than them as the reasons they are not yet billionaires.
This deflection has been going on ever since the concept of accruing personal private wealth became embedded in society.
When a group of middle class folk in a “nice clean neighborhood” protest the construction of low cost housing for the poor in their neighborhood because “property values will drop” they are displaying greed. When people support City Councils that make it illegal by way of fine or jail for people to sleep on park benches or on sidewalks , they are displaying greed and the lack of compassion.
Virtually every war ever fought is sparked by the Oligarchy and the desire of one group to take the “possessions” of another. The masses go along because they are promised a cut. When they do not get that promised cut another war started and another group is blamed.
There a reason the very first followers of Jesus and those early Buddhists disavowed possessions and the acquiring of more stuff. They concluded that it inhibited inner growth. It turned ones heart to stone. It divorced you from the better part of ones own nature and ,as can be seen each day with the breakdown of Natural systems outside the self , it would lead to chaos and conflict.
How do We the People make the Oligarchs succumb to the will of the masses?
Do we cry, and scream and stomp our feet and make a lot of noise?
Hasn’t worked so far.
There’s really only one thing that we can do which will bring change, as it has in our past history.
The world has changed since that time and most people are content to not ‘rock the boat.’
It’s a shame.
True that. I’ll admit to the hypocrisy of appreciating our good old stove and functional automatic dishwasher. Without some of that, I’d have no time to read sages like Suspira in CD. Meanwhile, we’re just starting to see some folks throwing in the towel, giving up on California. This November or next.
At one point, I became adept and fascinated with work in programming languages (your phrase “turned one’s heart to stone” brings this to mind). At the level I was working, a confluence of structural and procedural flow absolutely dominates the imagination. In the shower, debugging my last snippet mentally to track down the origin of some surprise. Fast asleep, dreaming of algorithms and data structures.
In my experience, there’s something emotionally dangerous about immersion in that realm. With something else all-absorbing like mastering Bach violin literature, there remains a vital connection to some pumping human heart. In the realm of those constructing cyber-reality, we get the feeling it has something to do with, or even supercedes, physical reality. We acquire the habit of relating to all of creation, to our fellow creations, as machines.
Maybe it is that people don’t know how they themselves can rock the boat. If one has a family, a job, a place in their community etc. then that person may want things to change for the better but they aren’t ready to drop everything they have just to go ‘join Che’s revolutionaries up in the mountains’ either. In history people acted the same way up until things got so bad (as in famine) or that they wanted to keep what they had like during our revolution (notwithstanding that our revolution was in great part stimulated by avarice in the colonists wholesale taking of Native American lands by breaking the treaties that were preventing westward settlements which the English had tried to prevent). Oppression breeds revolution and the fact remains that as yet, most of us are not oppressed here in America. Thus fascism sneaks up on us bit by bit without ever stepping too far at any one time. It may very well be that if ever fascism comes to America it will only happen as long as we are not oppressed. As long as we have 200 channels on cable TV and our supermarkets stay choked with an astounding abundance (and waste) of food, as long as we drive to work in sleek cars and can enjoy Black Fridays and all the rest… our freedoms can disappear right in front of our noses without the kind of opposition that you imply.
The essence of revolt is rebellion but you can always rebel without having to stage a revolt. The Rebel has always been a hero in fiction because people secretly want to rebel themselves in our society. Foment rebellion brother… it’s in the heart of everyone but revolution … not so much.
Critiquing a failed model I’ll call dedo mocracy (dedo for ‘finger’ as in fingers taking) which could be failing primarily because the thieves at the top live in denial of all but naked, blind desire, requires stepping outside of the model, or as Hedges begins to do, getting into the nitty-gritty of its foundations.
In addition, as has been noted for years, we are also being faced with the aggregated -and ongoing aggregating - consequences of the above at increasingly compounding rates. The exponential function is not abstract wording of a paragraph in a math book!
In other words, the aggregates grow and do so at increasing speed. These in turn have spin-off implications (say… machinations of Dimon and his ilk then cause the FED to spew exponential fiat to assuage the chompers of the bubble gum and string being used to plug the leaky hull of the failed model, which impacts bonds, which impacts employers, which impacts employees, which… the knot is becoming Gordian.
Study alternatives. They are out there. From Public Banking to Organic Agroecology and Education - there is no limit. This is liberty, we work for it.
When the #! hits the fan, unplug it, compost the #! and shake hands with your neighbors, attend meetings of City Hall and the structures that animate society.
Not only that, we can home in fairly precisely on the specific exponential function of most things which matter: doubling every 40 years.
Everything gets four times as bad over a moderately long human lifespan of 80 years. Most consequentially: CO2 emissions, global temperature anomaly, ocean acidification, sea-level rise, more or less steadily doubling every 40 years, when you take a look at the numbers.
As I see it, the major impediment to the masses recognizing a urgent need to revolt, is the two major political parties that exist in Washington DC. The sole purpose of these two parties is to keep the nation divided, one hating the other as has been orchestrated for many years.
The hatred they have bred amongst the masses has provided a smokescreen for them to protect their Oligarchy benefactors and keep the power in their hands.
This could continue indefinitely, as they create new ways to amass all of the wealth, and keep us pacified with a minimum of freedoms.
Until someone, or a group of very strong individuals, use a platform to reach all Americans and make them understand that unless they renounce the lies of the parties in Washington DC, and join a new political party, made up of simple yet qualified Americans, who are dedicated to those masses first, and then the Business and Military second, until that time the Corporate state will reign.
There will be blood from the sacrifices of those who help create this new representation, of that I have no doubt. The power in Washington will not give it up easily.
However, once the masses see the difference in their new representatives, once they see the backlash from the parties who served the corporations who robbed the masses of their wealth, their devotion to their newfound political party, will be complete.
I have no illusions that this transformation of our political system will come in my lifetime. Like you say, as long as we have 200 channels on cable TV, and supermarkets chock full of goodies, most will be complacent about the future of their children and grandchildren.
I am simply a tired old timer, tired of the hate regurgitated 24/7 on virtually all of the media.
I never had any kids of my own, but I’d still be ready at a moments notice, to fight for the kids in this country so that they do not have to live their entire lives as slaves to the Oligarchy.
You are correct. One thing. And when it begins it will be widespread, chaotic, often misdirected and totally confusing.
I am simply a tired old timer, tired of the hate regurgitated 24/7 on virtually all of the media.
Donald J. Trump is the eee-pitomization of the hedonistic oligarch — narcissistic to the point of being
a psychotic sociopath.
I could even give up the microwave and cook over a wood fire (there are plenty of trees in my neighborhood) but, not having the wherewithal to grow – much less hunt for or gather – my own food, I’ll admit to being totally dependent on being able to drive to my local market once a week and bring home food that can be preserved for a few days in the refrigerator or for a week or two in the freezer. Those few dishes etc. that I use each day soak overnight in the sink and are then rinsed & air-dried for use the next day; I haven’t used the dishwasher more than two or three times in the past twenty years — on those rare occasions when I’ve had several guests for dinner.
IIRC, it was a famine brought on by several years of drought – and by the government’s inability (or unwillingness) to do anything to prevent mass starvation – that led to the revolution and current civil war in Syria. I wonder what will happen when several years of drought in California and floods in the midwest bring about a famine (well, a moderate food shortage, anyway) in the United States . . .
Hedges gloom is based on reality. IMHO, we have already passed the ‘tipping point’ of both political and climate disaster.
but who do you ‘enlighten’ the intellectually lazy and willfully ignorant?
Deprogramming is going to be one of civilization’s greatest challenges if it is to survive/reemerge.
Billionaires are a problem but politicians who are so willing to serve their interests may actually be a bigger problem. We need people who are incorruptable and look out for the interests of everyone in a nation. That is the real problem today. We also need elected officials who do their work and know what their constituents want - not officials who wait on highly paid lobbyists to come in and tell them what they should do and ever write the laws. It is one thing to have so many billionaires but I think they have been allowed to accumulate wealth and power by our government - its low taxes for the richest, its failure to enforce anti-trust laws.
Lobbyists and Billionaire influence over politicians must never be a part of any progressive political party formed to stand up to the divisive nature of the Duopoly.
This, would most likely be a major reason most Americans would drop their political affiliations to the Duopoly before joining a new People First political party.
The Democratic and Republican Establishments will never drop their total Allegiance to the Military Industrial Machine. Never.
We, as a people must not settle for a system of governance that limits us to two corporate/military first options.
Unless we are happy as a people to continue to lose freedoms and pay for other’s lavish lifestyles.
There are also millions of attorneys, accountants and others only so willing to do anything to prop up the tax-evasion, monopolization system in place today. Things need to change drastically.