By Michael Krieger
Or take the right to vote. In principle, it is a great privilege. In practice, as recent history has repeatedly shown, the right to vote, by itself, is no guarantee of liberty. Therefore, if you wish to avoid dictatorship by referendum, break up modern society’s merely functional collectives into self-governing, voluntarily co-operating groups, capable of functioning outside the bureaucratic systems of Big Business and Big Government.
-Aldous Huxley, in Brave New World Revisited (1958)
The single event that changed my life more than any other was TARP, aka the banker bailout. The unfairness, extreme greed and selfishness with which the status quo bailed out financial criminals while leaving the public high and dry changed me forever. When it comes to shaping American history, it is equal in importance to the attacks of 9/11.
As someone who grew up privileged, I never really questioned the criminality of the status quo system. Like so many others who are beneficiaries of the way things are, there’s not much incentive to look behind the curtain. Nevertheless, the banker bailouts shook me to my core and opened my mind in ways that no other event could. At the time, I was happily earning a very large income at a young age while doing absolutely nothing to benefit society. As such, I couldn’t contemplate why government officials were putting so much money and energy into bailing out people like me, while ignoring everyone else. It felt irrational, unethical and dirty. I wrote about all this for over a year while still working in the financial sector, before concluding that it was time to part ways in early 2010. Even back then, I was incessantly warning that tremendous anger from the banker bailouts would ultimately bubble to the surface and create the sort of backdrop in which authoritarians, demagogues and fascists thrive.
The following years have felt like a tremendous rollercoaster ride. My emotions have vacillated significantly from pessimism to optimism, and now reside in a bizarre state in which the two inhabit an uncomfortable coexistence. I’ve previously defined the monumental struggle of our time as: Liberty and Decentralization vs. Authoritarianism and Centralization. For example, I noted in the post, The Comcast/Time Warner Merger and the War Between Centralization and Decentralization:
Until recent years, the struggle between the forces of “centralization” and “decentralization” was more of a full on slaughter-fest than an actually battle or war. As Americans sat there blissfully asleep for decades, every facet of our lives has been carefully consolidated into the hands of a smaller and smaller group of corporations, and hence individual executives. This trend is undeniable in everything from food, banking, media and everything in between.
Myself and many others saw the financial crisis of 2008 as a gigantic wakeup call. The disasters caused by powerful financial institutions and the greedy people that ran them should have been used as a rallying cry to break these institutions up. To recognize the dangers of too much power in one particular place. This is especially important in something as crucial as banking. However, as we are all painfully aware, this is not what happened. Rather, the institutions were bailed out, the industry consolidated even more than it was before, and the perpetrators of the crisis emerged from it even more wealthy and powerful.
My personal focus on this website has been to expose the unique dangers presented by centralization in the financial industry and the monetary system. However, many others are dedicated to the equally important and disturbing trends in other industries.
In the years since the financial crisis, there have been many positive signs which have inspired in me a long-term optimistic view. One of the most encouraging events of this time period has been the creation and success of the crypto-currency network Bitcoin. Some of the smartest minds on the planet are now dedicated full time to pursuing Bitcoin-related projects, and its mere existence has inspired millions across the globe and opened minds to the unbridled explosion of human creativity that emerges from decentralized systems.
Unfortunately, the 2016 Presidential season and the related violence and divisiveness has made me considerably more pessimistic about the near-term. In that regard, this post was inspired by something I read earlier today from John Whitehead of the Rutherford institute. [Posted here earlier today: There Will Be No Second American Revolution]
“A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty.”—James Madison
You may read the above and think he’s being overly negative, but as someone who spends all his time analyzing what’s happening, I think his assessment of the situation is 100% accurate. The American public is by and large being successfully manipulated into cheering on its own slavery, as it remains focused on why other Americans are the enemy instead of seeing the status quo system as the rightful problem.
To hammer the point home, let’s revisit a passage from my recent post, If Senseless Violence Continues, America Will Be a Total Police State in No Time:
While we don’t know who the police murderers in Dallas were, or their motivations, we do know one thing. Their actions will unquestionably have several very counterproductive and dangerous outcomes.
1. Further divide the country in general.
2. Further the already wide distrust between the police and the general public.
3. Increase the likelihood of more violence, and the eventual imposition of a total police state in America.
Either the people who committed the murders had the above goals in mind, or they were just stupid, violent criminals who didn’t have the meager sophistication necessary to understand the extremely negative implications of their actions.
Unfortunately for us, the horrible massacres that occurred in Dallas are exactly the sort of thing that the status quo wants to see. It further divides the public and it creates a justification for more militarization of the police, more surveillance and less civil liberties. Guess who’s going to be most negatively impacted by all of that? Black people, poor people, and the disenfranchised generally.
Anyone who thinks senseless violence will solve the issues of oppression in America doesn’t understand America or the status quo. Executing police in a premeditated manner gives the establishment credibility, and solidifies its support amongst the silent majority as well as the upper classes. The marginalized cannot win a battle if that’s the case. Period, end of story. If you think otherwise, you’re in for a rude awakening.
It’s been eight years since the financial crisis and look at our choices for President. An ego-maniac with authoritarian tendencies and zero respect for civil liberties/the Constitution and a neocon, war criminal, Wall Street-owned corporatist in liberal sheep’s clothing. Unfortunately, this is how far we’ve progressed politically in the near decade since the status quo bailed out the privileged and crushed everyone else.
So what does this mean? It means we are in for a very real struggle in the near-term. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are unabashed authoritarians who worship at the altar of state power and centralization. If I’m right and the real battle of our time is between decentralization/liberty and centralization/authoritarianism, neither one of these candidates offer anything for us in the freedom camp. Unless some sort of miracle occurs, the next President will be someone who strongly believes in the centralization of power and will push with all of his or her might to further aggregate power in the office of the executive and in themselves. The negative macro trends will continue.
All that said, I don’t want to end this post on a negative note. I think the real thing that’s missing from the equation is too many good, talented people are doing nothing. I’m not trying to be judgmental here. I personally had the ability and resources to quit my job and do what I do. I didn’t have a family at the time and didn’t have to provide for anyone else. That’s not the point. You don’t have to do what I did to make a difference and influence people. You don’t have to quit your job and fight the status quo with every breath you take. Life doesn’t need to be seen as an all or nothing endeavor in everything you do. Nevertheless, I think it’s important to consider the following (as an aside, I try to ask myself these questions all the time).
Think about your everyday life. What are you doing to push forward the decentralization of power and unite people? How are you being potentially divisive in life, and how can you bring people together as opposed to tearing others down? If you were brought up privileged and financially well off, you arguably have a greater responsibility to society. What are you doing to give back? Is it sufficient? Is what you do for a living accretive or extractive to society? What are you doing to make the world a better place than you found it? If nothing, why not?
While there are plenty of fortunate people out there doing jobs merely to chase cash and stroke their ego, the vast majority of people genuinely have major financial commitments and therefore have no choice but to stay in spiritless, soul-sucking jobs. I get that. For people in the former group, I ask you to consider the fact that you have one life to live and this battle is an existential one. If you can dedicate your talents and creativity to something positive, consider doing so. If you are in the latter group, I understand that providing for your family is of the utmost importance, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make meaningful contributions in smaller ways, even if it’s as simple as trying to be less divisive and more self-reflective. As Gandhi noted:
“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”
But even this is not enough. We need to heed the words of Huxley in 1958:
“If you wish to avoid dictatorship by referendum, break up modern society’s merely functional collectives into self-governing, voluntarily co-operating groups, capable of functioning outside the bureaucratic systems of Big Business and Big Government.”
We can’t rely on politicians and we can’t rely on hope. We need to rely on the power of our own actions coming together to ultimately make the world a better place. The window of opportunity is now and the world needs you. All of you.
For more on what I believe to be the monumental battle of our time, see:
SOURCE with thanks http://www.themoderngnostic.com/?p=79392
Doreen Ann Agostino
all rights reserved