Debt, right? 5,000 years, maybe, or...longer?
Our elections are corrupt. Too much money is in politics. We don't have democracies, we have "representative republics," where positions are decided based on popularity contests. And those popularity contests are dependent on money--so much money that everyone but the previously wealthy is weaned out of the process before it begins. And even within that world, elaborate, entrenched "party" machinery controls who gets positioned for what; who is allowed to collect donations, who may say what without getting drummed out of politics forever.
Our leaders are corrupt. There isn't even an illusionary separation between public office and kickbacks, anymore. Our leaders openly own stock in corporations that are directly affected by the policies upon which they vote, legislate, execute, or judge. Obama owns Oracle and Microsoft and Halliburton, and he doesn't even care that we know. Feinstein owns Costco and Sam's Club, Apple and General Electric, Target and Honeywell, and business is good. Military officers procure billions of dollars in spending for defense contractors, then "retire" into high-paying executive positions with those same defense contractors.
Our schools are corrupt. Our housing markets are corrupt. Banks lie, cheat, and steal, working together with "academic" firms and "employer" firms to dupe entire generations into fake "job training loan" programs, while simultaneously protected by and funded by government regulators. Professional licensing schools control life-sustaining and pain-relieving drugs and surgical procedures to corner the market on life for humans as well as animals, shattering decades of young peoples' lives on the slim promise of something like security. Everything has the mantra "free market" until it's time for the government to use taxpayer money to "bail out" the most sophisticated, wealthy, and powerful causers of the problems, and imprison the poor to make examples of them. Hundreds of colleges lie to teenagers about middle class lifestyles, raping away billions in suffering-defined, non-dischargeable debts.
Our entire system of exchange, markets, and money is corrupt. We go to war, massacring thousands, then millions, and more, based on flimsy lies that we don't even have to work very hard at. Even when we know, we don't care enough to do anything other than quietly complain on the internet. And while we complain, we know in our bleeding little hearts that, however much we care, that caring represents a quantity significantly smaller than how much we care about a 0.5% sales tax increase in our municipality.
We make brazen grabs for natural resources that have belonged to others for centuries, lying to ourselves and the rest of the world as though anyone's actually falling for it. Our entire monetary system is based upon a privately-owned elite bank, the "Federal Reserve," that can inflate and deflate the currency for the country, and for the world. The same people run the "International Monetary Fund," using armies and nuclear weapons to threaten poor nations to agree to repay "debt" based upon funneling taxes to private corporations with total effective control over governments.
Basic stuff, right? No matter which thread you pull, no matter where you follow the trail, it leads to "The Fed," or some form thereof. The wars are driven by financial elites; recessions are spawned and sustained; billions of people go hungry and disenfranchised; the resources of entire continents are controlled by liars and thieves. Elections here and there are paid for by the imaginary billions of dollars that go to media elites, who are groomed and puppetmastered by the tiny number of media megacorps that decide which "issues" will be permitted brief, sound-byte-ish public attention for...et cetera.
We get it, right? If we're here, we probably understand that, at least, there is something slightly screwy about what we're doing here. I'm not saying I "like" or "agree with" every link this one may have thrown into the prose up there, so don't get distracted. Right here, right now, we're going to assume that you've figured out there might just be something a little wrong about western militaries, universities, and central banks, and how they control what happens on most of this planet. Try to fix anything--war, poverty, oppression, democracy, freedom, whatever--and you keep ending up back at the network of transnational financial elites that control all our politicians, companies, and all the powerful fictional entities that govern this world of ours, for better or for worse.
Consider, now, two fundamentally different ways of viewing the world. The first one is material; materialism; realism, five-sense perception-based. This is the idea that the things we can sense right now--feel; touch; experiment--and the things we can imagine--guess; write; comic; speculate--are everything. Ever. It's an arrogance, by definition. It's a stilling; a murder; a universal spaying with cold, rusty blades.
Yes, we're back on it again. Markets. Sciences. Severed eyeballs. The less easy, less popular, embarrassing garters beneath the court dances by which we've ritualized all the rest of our dissents. Cry, cry again; cry for your terra, by whatever number, to think that the same things that troubled you in your birthing blanket are still here, now, as you tell the hospice workers what you'd like from the kitchens for your maybe-last supper. Tell a little joke about whether or not you'll even "make it," of course--just to show how good-natured and accepting you are. And actually, there's a chocolate cake every day! Takes the edge off dying. A slice of chilled chocolate cake with a side of legalized pot on slow-release; who fears the absence of afterlife, anyway? The body just has a way of shutting down. All the old episodes of Bewitched, streamed constantly to your bedroom, and sure, it's not exactly elegant, but everyone here is so nice, so experienced, so good-hearted, that when you talk about what comes next, you can almost believe--in those few magical, special moments--in the delusions that there's some kind of life after death.
We're back on it again. Yes, I can still upset you. No, it's even worse than that. Wait'll you find out. Your own beeping electronic monitor awaits.
Two Ways, Deeper
The humane and profitable corporate management of transition got us off the subject. Return. Contemplate the mindset of the "I know everything": if your perceptions can reveal all, and that's all there is (until your you-blessed progeny develop some new gadget that expands it further), then that is--sic--all there is. This. What you can see, feel, hear, touch, taste, fuck, and cry over. It's a random blurb. It's the elevation of the five chartable senses above all others. We dismiss instinct as electronics; we disbelieve in our sense of grace because it's housed in something our machines can't currently track, because we can cut apart cadavers and find taste buds on tongues, but, like so many inquisitionists burning people who believed in "germs" because they didn't have good microscopes, we don't believe in it.
Two ways. The random grabbery of sensations: one. The belief that what current gadgets can reveal is everything, which justifiably sucks despite cute babies and moving symphonies. Let me quote Mr. Payne, whom this one has criticized before (here):
US society is but a formalized version of nature, red in tooth and claw (sorry about the corny phrase yet it is fairly accurate). Leadership and competition are always emphasized as we grow up. We are relentlessly bombarded with the glories of leadership and competition from our earliest youth and on into adulthood. Basically we are brainwashed to believe that leadership and competition are good and wholesome, and that leaders are to be held in awe. You hear it from all quarters, for example, so and so is a real leader while this other so and so isn’t much of a leader, this from people who are intelligent and perceptive, yet not quite perceptive enough to realize that they have been brainwashed by our culture. Yes, I know, some people bridle at the mention of the word ‘culture’, yet culture does exist and does exert a profound impact on our world view of reality, whatever reality may actually be.
But is what is touted as team spirit really about team spirit? Or is it something else. Here in the US we compete for everything. We compete for status, wealth, and recognition. Cooperation is relegated to cooperation with those that can help us achieve status, wealth, and recognition. Other than that it is a cutthroat society where it’s everyone for themselves, and if you can’t cut it, why then you end up homeless, penniless, and an outcast from society. You will be told that it’s your own fault that you are, in the vernacular, a loser. ‘Loser’ is an interesting word for it reflects the military/organized sport mentality that has been drilled into our brains since childhood.
-Rob Payne, still stuck in eternal high school here.
And a similar sentiment from Im Exil, buried deep in the comments here:
Hindsight, as they say, is always 20/20. When I started graduate school in the fall of 2001, I was just shy of thirty-six and a white male heterosexual upper-middle-class Ivy League git. Under such "privileged" circumstances, I really ought to have known better, but, as the Germans say, "Aus Schaden wird man klug"--you wise up from harm. In retrospect, I am stunned at my own obtuseness and naivete throughout. I began grad school (M.A., History) at a third-rate, large, urban state university, with intention of shifting to a better one for the Ph.D., a leap I eventually made, but after another year I finally quit (see my comments elsewhere).
At the large urban state university's history department, I recall being very "impressed" with the prevalence of Ivy League or similar Ph.D. pedigrees among the faculty. The history department had plenty of Columbia, Yale, Harvard, Chicago and even Oxford graduates. I had absolutely no understanding of the economics of modern university administration that had brought about this phenomenon. At the time, I thought, "Well, perhaps this isn't the most prestigious university, but look, they do have faculty with very impressive credentials, so it will be an auspicious start for me." I was probably better informed than most, and all of this was already thirteen years ago; the statistics today are far grimmer. Small wonder, then, that universities by now are widely perceived as having duped and bilked a gullible public desperate for credentials--for external validation, as it were--that will prevent its children from falling out of the middle class, as I did long ago. With hindsight, I recognize that when it comes to economic survival, it is a matter of hard skills--and lots of them--that ultimately count. To those blog readers under 25: YOU ARE IN COMPETITION WITH EVERY OTHER HUMAN BEING ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH: DO NOT FORGET THAT FOR ONE MINUTE. If you can speak Russian, Mandarin or Arabic, but none of the other contenders for the position can; if you can solve this or that computer "issue"; if you can fix the engine, increase sales revenue, make some nagging annoyance go away (legally), convince skeptics to change their minds and to open their wallets--you will have a job. Otherwise you will die.
We know this unhappiness. This is capitalism. This is the lie of "the market." This is Hobbes. This is modern Darwinism, fascism, pop-science, debt-based evolution. When we're afraid, we tell ourselves, "It would be nice if Other Stuff, but this is all it really is, so we just have to make the best we can." That conclusion--the "Primacy of Our Senses" conclusion--creates the pop sciences; the eugenics, the capitalism, the genetically-engineered superbabies of the impotent rich, and the ultimate contest for money. It creates the thousands of years of layered debt obligations that have stymied the sciences, the arts; that have created the medieval and modern superstates that conquered worlds based on notions of genetic superiority, and imposed austerity and "debt repayment" schemes of various kinds on post-genocidal populations of inferior people.
This is the way it has to be. If--if, and only if--random mutation.
In reality, though--in real human history, and in our present--we have seen that these things are not true. We have come to realize that, like the Fed, the IMF, and Bono, the blazing white lies of greed and power are just global extortion rackets. Let me tell you a story about the other ways you can conceive of the world: a story about the real Earth, and its real humanity; a planet where artificially measured, immortal, mathematical debt and power relations are resisted. Resisted, and resisted well and thoroughly, over thousands of years, beginning with dark people from the dark continent.
Africa--real, black, cradle-of-life, cradle-of-civilization Africa--has spawned three gigantic rebellions against the creditor lords. All of these rebellions were eventually subordinated, whitened, and bought out by the lords of war and debt. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam represented successive economic theories, far more powerful than the white-written "Wealth of Nations" or "Das Kapital," which repudiated "debt" as an organizing force behind society. The other thing these rebellions share in common is that they were destroyed by racism: their African creators were vilified or marginalized, paler people (then completely white people) co-opted their banners, and rentier economies absorbed all of them in order to alleviate the threat they offered. Now, to look at the cultural factions that bear their names, you'll see as much disgusting racism and hypocrisy as at a U.N. meeting, and the revolutions have been so perverted and neutered that their current forms are, to anti-debt rebellion, as Obama is to change or Rowling is to art. But these things did happen, and there is a lot to learn from them.
Because of the wretchedness of the corporatized, eerily Caucasusized nature of the bought-out brands as we see them today, it's pretty difficult to look back. This one is with you on that. But it's worth it. We will see, when we look at the various "prophets," that anti-debt rebellions are not too academic or lofty for people to understand or act upon. Instead, we'll see that billions of people have been consistently able to rebel against corrupt financial warlords--our current submission, and the submissions of the past, should not be read as proof that we can never save ourselves, nor fix this world. The ways that these complex economic messages motivated billions of human beings to resist financial warlords may be, in fact, our best Earthly model for effecting positive change--and in finally admitting to ourselves what we've done to Africans and their message.
Continued in Part 10.