The newsreel is rolling, words are at an all-time cheap. The more they are talking, the less it means to me.
Culture is a plot to hide this fact from you…that there are doorways out of ordinary reality into worlds impossible to describe and too strange to suppose.
Commonplace dialog in politics, academia, and news-media feels like it’s missing something; leaving out rudimentary areas of investigation that have become taboo for polite society to question. Those aforementioned groups occasionally cite problems as “systemic,” but when it comes to defining what that means exactly or asking what alternatives there might be to the present system there is a collective hush that speaks loudly to tacit boundaries in place.
Instead the solution-set primarily discussed is limited to what amounts to band-aids for gaping wounds, or symptomatic responses that serve primarily to pander to a particular issue or crowd that often are a bridge too far themselves for the powers that be. The so called pundits of all flavors tend to stay in the safe intellectual territory usually defined by those who use leverage to become an authority; e.g., nation states, corporations and such. The authority will define what is in the acceptable limits of conversation while typically journalists and academics reactively talk along predefined lines.
Like take, for instance, Biden’s attempt at student debt relief. There was no participative democratic inquiry as to what to do about the ungodly sums of student loan debt accrued. Rather power offered what amounts to a conciliatory gesture to address the issue mostly all by itself. The proposed band-aid only applies to some, and it only removes a portion of the debt, and ends up being even less comprehensive than initially proposed.
The plan also entirely ignored larger issues that no one with a significant voice in the public sphere brings up. Like, why is academia allowed to price gouge people for rather flimsy educations in the first place? Especially when many large universities are extraordinarily wealthy having multiple streams of income and receive large donations along with federal and state funding? Or why aren’t corporations footing the bill for training people, which they once commonly did, but as it is, universities are effectively charging the masses an eye watering premium to be better tools for corporate use. Expanding out, there are even larger issues to delve into around the legitimacy of capitalism, or how debt sure seems like it’s just rebranded indentured servitude, or how arguably these educational systems serve as instruments of domestication for the human mind that may be doing more harm than good.
However, the typical reaction to dissenting ideas in public dialogue, even if they are ideas that are obvious solutions and quite workable, is that if it’s not aligned with status quo thoughts stemming from central power it’s shunned, mocked, and thrown out with laughable disdain. Sadly, it’s often journalists, so called experts, and academics who are at the vanguard of contempt against all that color outside the lines of the discussion offered by those in power.
I feel compelled to note that bringing up Biden has nothing to do with partisanship, merely an example of how power defines what is pragmatic conversation in public dialogue and how punditry fails to be anything other than a babbling reactionary.
What’s at the Forefront of Public Ignorance?
I believe the crux of the ignored conversation is a simple straight forward questioning of good faith. Are these nation states, corporations, and other contemporary social hierarchies of power benevolent entities as they claim to be, or are they primarily self-serving with wildly different agendas than what they sell to the masses? If they prove to be the latter, then the tone of public debate will have to shift from trying to tweak a system, to suggesting forms of radical change to the status quo, because if the status quo is at fundamental odds with peace or unable to bring forth meaningful conversation that actually reflects the will of the people, then another way of being must be found or the real felt quality of life will never improve.
What is evident is that those that have power always tout their supposed accomplishments and how they are going to offer plenty of hope and change, how they are going to make everything great or build something better, and yet nearly the exact same type of system remains that has always been there despite the empty promises of politicians, which is a top down society where money buys a voice and hence power. A society with conspicuous inequality that manages to always find some method of segregation that amounts to awarding a few with incredible luxuries while others struggle to find food and housing, and even when such things are bountiful the basics of life will are withheld, arguably so that those at the top of the hierarchy can control the behavior of those beneath them in the hierarchy. Without manufacturing desperation or the fear of being desperate, centralized power would find it difficult to hold their system together, so it seems desperation is a built-in feature in our socioeconomic system that allows for people to be more easily manipulated.
Our collective problems are not recent developments either, they are long standing. If you read the writings of radicals from a hundred years ago, for instance, take anarchists Alexander Berkman or his close friend Emma Goldman, it’s evident that society was grappling with eerily similar problems in their time and if you push back further in the writings of dissidents of western society, you’ll find the same kind of critiques. Showing that those who have ruled in the past use the same basic methods of oppression they use now, like a magician the powers that be merely use sleight of hand in semantics to rebrand old world barbarism to hide the fact that systemic forces which govern our lives today are just as intransigent and ravenously opportunistic as the rulers of old.
People are led to believe that something else magical happened when European Enlightenment took hold in the 17th century; however, upon further review it was actually only a great enlightenment for power, who learned a critical lesson that it’s easier to sell people the idea they are free to keep them docile and confused than it is to rule via direct fear and threat, which is prone to causing more direct uprisings. Power now works through various forms of leverage. They’ll use whatever is convenient at any moment to get the results that are beneficial to those at the top of the hierarchy. It’s applied game theory, which intelligence agencies openly employ as noted by game theory expert Dr. Bruce Bueno de Mesquita who himself has assisted the CIA and is the exact kind of academic I’m referring to here in this writing that simply ignores other ways of cooperating together as possibilities, which leaves him with a rather naive childlike outlook believing the US is innately a force for good that just occasionally gets some things wrong here and there.
The fact that the US is applying game theory means they have agendas and are playing a contrived game of one-upmanship with the rest of the planet, that is unless one is to believe it’s all just for defensive purposes. This doesn’t seem to be the case, though, considering the CIA has overthrown leadership of other sovereign countries, meddled in people’s lives all over the world, tortured and every other horror imaginable to the degree that it’s nearly impossible to rest on the idea that they are simply playing a defensive game. They are able to get away with all that because of power imbalances economically and militarily that create the leverage they need to continue with their wretched ways.
The Problems With Asking Others to Think for Us
Sage Ramana Maharshi often spoke of the value of self inquiry and quieting the mind so we can become more open in a state of flow; freeing ourselves of prejudices and limiting narratives. I’d argue that without the ability to see what the mind is doing that we are little more than grim bio-computers running programs we’ve been behaviorally conditioned to learn. While running our programs there is no real choice, only a limited selection of rote reactions.
Journalists and academics have been designated as our collective self inquiry for the entire global civilization, and the overlay of a socioeconomic system is our bewildering nattering ego based mind running a program from the past. The problem that arises here is that the ego has hired a portion of the ego to inquire about the legitimacy of the agendas of our socioeconomic system.
Turns out that the majority of academics and journalists aren’t immune from aspects of careerism, which is little more than creating an egoic identity through their work. So if asking particular questions are socially frowned upon or will negatively impact the ego they’ve been working so hard to construct, they’ll usually refrain from doing so and hold in an avoidance pattern sticking to doing what’s comfortable or culturally acceptable. They might point out problems that might need to be fixed, but rarely will they argue towards ideas that could impinge on their own agendas or might threaten the larger system that has given them a special status.
So it should come as no surprise that you’ll probably never see the New York Times run an article questioning if a monetary system can ever produce a balanced peaceful society living in symbiosis with nature. A valid question since over a couple thousand years in western “civilization” every monetary system looks a lot more of a tool to control the actions of the majority of the population than a system that is freeing us to live better lives, not to mention how nearly every western society that has used the dark art of monetary exchange has also caused ecological havoc to the environment often leading to their collapse, could be a coincidence, but it does seem that when the world is reduced through an abstract lens seen through profit craven eyes that there are major implications that go along with it.
Money, after all, directly translates into people doing things for you in a slavish manner often doing things they wouldn’t ordinarily do but are simply doing so to earn money, which makes the bulk of us liars who must go to these jobs. We all know lawyers are paid to lie, and look at the social distrust they spawn. How many sales people believe everything they are telling their prospective customers? How many politicians lie for fundraising? How many people are in jobs that will offer a polite smile while internally feeling undulating waves of quiet desperation wishing they could say how they really feel to their employers or clients?
Money and capitalism as a whole make us all liars of sorts. And this is the society we want? One based on rewarding people for telling lies? A bunch of insincere liars trying to get ahead of one another while chasing cheap thrills and useless luxuries that result in heinous externalities. In many jobs people amount to servants for those who hold currency. They clean their toilets, cook their meals, and chauffeur them around. The end goal of what is termed success in this materialistic capitalist society is to sit around like a demanding turd only moving for the sake of recreation or to diddle the lower class on private jets, and their primary job is simply managing their money, writing checks, and telling someone what to do for it. This is the useless life so many lie, manipulate, and even murder to obtain.
What we have long given up is real community where there are strong social bonds. We’ve given up the bulk of our free time to be in a labor camp called employment by polite society, but it’s stuff you better do or else you’ll be cut off from food and housing resources. We’ve given up having a say and letting real human intelligence and creativity emerge that’s not coerced. We’ve given up seeing nature during the day to be in some dreary building, given up being close to our loved ones so we can mingle among acquaintances in high pressure situations where we embarrassingly ingratiate ourselves to people we’d rather tell to screw off.
Is it so hard to question for a moment that the money system may be completely contrived and controlled by a small in-group that is vying for power and control, just like happens in any social hierarchy? Is it not possible that our entire western based civilization is simply based on a cheap form of opportunism?
All things considered I believe this to be a highly pertinent line of questioning, yet academics and journalists won’t touch it.
How is it that something that seems so rife with problems, like the monetary system, can go almost unquestioned in public discourse in terms of asking if there are alternatives. Are these minds just closed or disinterested? In either case that’s a real problem in itself since authentic curiosity, meaning non-self serving motives with an open disposition, are major factors when it comes to intelligent decision making.
I have no particular talent. I am merely inquisitive.
The monetary system and what is called capitalism today was initiated and maintained by a group of people whose collective mindset appears to be sketchy based on how they treated people over thousands of years even though capitalism, itself, is said to be a recent invention, threads of it reach much further back in time.
When you control all the land and offer it at a premium to live there, that means those people must do some level of work which they owe to the system just to live on the land. And we call this “freedom,” and “free markets.” Working to live on the land where one can’t escape systems originating from centralized power and unable to live on your own terms smacks of feudalism. Coercion. A centralized authority planning your life for you.
People, in fact, are capable of forming complex voluntary communities living outside a centralized economic system with tighter communal bonds and drastically more fulfilling lives with more free time of their own. This has all happened before, and can happen again and be even better than before if we’d let it happen.
They got the remedy
But they won’t let it happen
A monetarily wealthy class is able subvert any idea of democracy when the money allows them to hire armies of people to represent their voice over a myriad of different mediums. Under this economic way of being representative democracy is a total sham, likely a sham wherever a central hierarchy is formed that is noncooperative as ours is, but especially in a two party system that is beholden to the donor-ship class, where payoffs and backroom deals are made daily; it’s a pay to play democracy in name only, that functions as a system of quid pro quo favors.
The mindset of the money changers can’t be ignored any longer. They formed their systems while also engaged in colonialism, genocide, imperialism, warfare, slavery, and basically any awful thing that gives them more of what they crave. So based on the emotional thrust of a competitive domination ownership society where prominent players in this game of deceit vie for global hegemonic rule there is little reason to think that such people with imperialist agendas who start wars under false pretenses are going to create an economic system that is fair and beneficial to the masses and every reason to think based on patterns long established that the economic system itself is nothing more than an evolution of chattel slavery, except in modernity they claim you’re free even though most people still end up working close to the same amount of hours they would have worked as serfs, slaves, and servants. The material accouterments have improved overall, yet all that makes us is a better treated servant class.
Thus, perhaps it’s a good idea to question if the monetary system isn’t just a ruse to control human behavior.
The same analysis can be applied to every part of the systems created by power; e.g., the military industrial complex, prisons, hierarchical government, the “educational” institutions, or the chosen paths of scientific research…there’s reason to question if it’s all just part of an overall system created as a method to corral people into spending their lives doing the activities organized power desires instead of people living truly free allowing them to organize their own communities without a parental oligarch meddling with their lives from hundreds if not thousands of miles away.
Big money from oligarchs fund both major corporate news media and academia, fuels political powers and allows for their message to be pumped through public dialogue while others who have significantly less financial resources have an extremely limited or no ability to voice their opinions. I know, that sounds very conspiratorial of me to say such things, but that’s just the way things work and given that the powers that be will militarily occupy a country like Iraq without any good reason for doing so, killing at least a million Iraqis in the process, then I think it’s fair to question authority’s intentions at every moment. Once someone is willing to kill massive amounts of people for selfish reasons there’s not much they wouldn’t be capable of doing.
Returning to my point on academia and journalism, corporate news media at times work hand in hand with the government, some getting first dibs at information and interviews with politicians if they agree not to ask questions that are inconvenient to power. Further, when news media have corporate sponsors they are very unlikely to bite the hand that is feeding them, hence remaining unbiased becomes an impossibility. Of course, let’s not forget that Noam Chomsky wrote a book with lead author, Edward S. Herman, entitled Manufacturing Consent detailing how news media is sold-out. Chomsky is an academic himself who is also sold-out in many ways, but he makes some astute observations regarding how media overall operates in complicity with the establishment.
Further, journalists and haughty academics are often considered to be essential parts of maintaining what is often referred to as “institutions of democracy.” A vague important sounding phrase that glazes completely over questioning if the system is democratic at all in the first place. The phrase is commonly used and rarely, if ever, does anyone define what those institutions are or what it is they are really doing.
In fact, these quasi protectors of something we don’t actually have, democracy, aren’t even bold enough to investigate if this system is actually holding up to what was stated in the founding documents. The beginning of the Declaration of Independence is so radical there’s not a major media outlet even willing to measure our current condition against its words:
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—-That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…
The “consent of the governed” doesn’t sound like something our government cares about at all when it comes to every war fought, every act of taxation legislated, every handout to the military industrial complex, every country and segregated group meddled with for oligarchs’ own selfish gain. Further, how much of the population must agree for change to happen and how is that measured? Just because an election was held didn’t mean that any of those questions were put up for debate, or even functionally could be in this brand of pseudo-democracy. A sizable faction of people may want to be free of their system, but it doesn’t matter, they will be forced into the system that top down power demands regardless of how unjust that system is.
The Declaration of Independence then goes super radical and says that it’s the right of the people to alter or abolish government if it’s known they are not holding up the aforementioned values. However, just try creating a movement to abolish this beast and you’ll be labeled a terrorist, likely to be incarcerated for a long time as a result. There are no thresholds set for when or how the people could validly force their government to change. It simply states rebellion is valid in extremely vague terms that has no real teeth to it or allows for the people to have sufficient traction to implement such changes thus rendering it to be nothing more than a hollow gesture.
The constitution has the same vague wording throughout and the Bill of Rights is equally as useless as a rebuke to the demands of power, since power does what it wants via leverage and interprets words that best fits their agenda de jour. Each amendment has laws underneath that drastically changes the meaning of its logical antecedent making the entire thing a statement of rights that you have with a barrage of convenient exceptions allowing those in power to sidestep any constitutional right at their convenience.
Journalists and academia, these so called protectors of our democracy do offer some positives by exposing holes in the system; however, no matter how much evidence of corruption is found and how deep it runs, no matter how mendacious the lies told by power are, the validity of the entire system is rarely put into question. There are, of course, exceptions, but this is about the majority, and the majority are too afraid of saying anything that falls outside accepted avenues of thought often for fear of career or financial repercussions.
Also, it’s worth pointing out that you don’t even need to dig that deep in order to make valid arguments exposing the flaws of the socioeconomic system. The proof of a perpetually corrupt system of thought is right on the surface in how things work and the consistent end results, which are endless war, the promotion of greed (a concept many capitalists deny exists), and the forced poverty innate to a system that doesn’t pay out enough collectively through middle class labor to cover rents for the total population. Creating a game of musical chairs for the entire society where some will inevitably be homeless and likely to be forever in debt till their last days. Despite the cumbersome work hours many must adhere to in order to keep their jobs they somehow still owe something after decades of labor to the upper class, who have more than they could ever use.
The only way the majority can have access to land is by performing tasks for money and even then most will have to take on long term debt to pay a mortgage, and when that is done you still owe taxes on that land in perpetuity. It takes about thirty years of wage labor, or indentured servitude as it was once called, before you can live on land without huge payments made, but even then they can take it from you the second you don’t pay property taxes. Free access to land is the cornerstone of liberty and not a whisper of this sort of discussion is had by any major media outlet or academic institution.
You can spend your whole life working for something,
Just to have it taken away.
How is it that this way of being can be considered freedom when there are so many forced into doing things they’d rather not be doing simply because the economic system insists they prioritize money in their lives over all else. There are so many that would opt for a different way of living altogether but this system allows for no other choice. This relatively obvious line of question gains no traction, though, in mainstream discussions. In fact, discussions over alien invasions from outer space are taken more seriously than changing something that is completely under human control to do and that could instantly make lives more free, less stressful, and could potentially create a truly better felt quality of life than what is here now.
The most pertinent questions are often deemed to be impractical, yet if the system is never fundamentally questioned then how would we ever know if it’s broken beyond repair, or, in fact, if we’ve been sold on a system that is doing what it always intended and will never be honest with the people. Journalists and academics are unwittingly complicit with power when they are failing to ask any real questions regarding the feasibility of the system itself or dare to present radical alternatives as an option.
Corporate journalists seem to have plenty to say about a full range of asinine subjects. They’ll comment on what socialites are up to, discuss the president’s last sneeze, or endlessly speculate on who is going to run public office in a few years like it meant anything at all when there are so many larger areas of investigation commonly ignored yet deserving of consideration.
The academics will follow in nerd like fashion to critique journalism with their own pointless contributions about the trending banal subject of the day, like how the president’s sneeze was technically a cough and a sneeze at the same time followed by a fart and how it was misleading journalism to say otherwise. This is obviously on the satirical side, but the point here is that what is actually being addressed on the public stage is every bit as useless as debating the nature of bodily emissions from world leaders while failing to question the basic reason-for-being of a system that looks to be domination oriented and consistently lying to manipulate people for self serving egotistical purposes. There’s some serious questioning of the legitimacy of the whole thing that is somehow deemed irrelevant and out of the bounds of pragmatism to ask when they are some of the most important discussions to be had.
This content originally appeared on Dissident Voice and was authored by Jason Holland.