Wednesday, 1 January 2014

The Chameleon Hegemony

Recently there was a discussion about political and economic systems, where one contributor suggested a dictatorially enforced meritocracy. Good idea, in theory, but when pressed for details - done so because I'd really like to know if this system is viable but, not seeing how, hoped he had a piece of the puzzle that I do not - he danced haphazardly and contradictingly around, trying to split the hair between political and economic, and ended up deleting his contributions.

I reflected on this and came to the following realisations. We were discussing systems, which are about exercising power. He is talking about a type of enforceable merit, but actually, we already have that system. It is masterfully obfuscated and cunningly concealed, anyone could miss it. Indeed, almost everybody has been missing it for millenia, and those who do not miss it are, traditionally, murdered. And their martyrdom is merely another tendril of the hegemony. Politicians are another such tendril. They are put there to give us the illusion we have freedom of choice. We don't, and our votes, therefore, don't actually count. What is really going on is the same imbalanced, top-heavy wealth and power distribution that has existed since the last true egalitarian society - gatherer-hunters - before hydro-agricultural civilisations sprung up and generated the first conditions that enabled a resource to be leveraged for power. This resource was (and still, for the most part, is) food, stockpiled in granaries, guarded by priests wielding divine and civic authority, and men wielding weapons - martial authority. These temporal and spiritual powers are the original good cop, bad cop, and symbiotic, complementary teammates. The rise of hydro-agricultural civilisation is when the priests and warriors started the great ponzi scheme that has kept the masses in line and under their thumb for six to ten thousand years - it sprung up independently among dozens of peoples in far removed geographic locations across the globe. It is no co-incidence that this is when the first scriptures were written; these are foundational to the first system of control - organised religion.

And their founding fathers are geniuses.

Ancient Rome added to this by adding civic virtue, the beautiful maxim 'bread and circuses,' and (cultural) assimilation to the mix. The latter is incidentally the great strength of the English language and the reason why it is the world's language now. Assimilation is also something the next great control system got right. The Catholic Church, a mighty engine of tyranny, held true and iron-fisted power, for 1500 years. Then the enlightenment, industrial revolution, etc. They lost their foothold and market-domineering plutocrats took their place.

They have been operating in a very subtle and elegant manner for centuries; in fact they are the same kinds of people as the Church's founding fathers, or any truly great Roman Emperor, General or statesman. They throw all manner of distractions in our way, in fact even encourage some of these distractions to rise up and try to fill the power vacuum that they have lulled us into believing still exists - Christianity didn't lose its absolute power all that long ago, you know. While there is such cultural confusion in its decline, there is no such ambiguity in the location of the power and wealth. We just don't know it yet because we're too busy watching Dancing with the Stars, hating Craig Thompson, and getting our knickers in a knot over Feminism and the Climate Change Crusade. Yes, we're still thinking in such base and debauchedly idealistic terms as those who answered Urban II's call to reclaim the Holy Land from the Infidel.

The 1% are geniuses.

So nothing really has changed since recorded history (Hydro-Agricultural Civilisation) began. The question is, why? Obvious answer, because people have needed to be controlled. Recall, if you have seen it, the conversation between Lady Olenna Tyrell and Tyrion Lannister in Season 3 of Game of Thrones. I am paraphrasing it a tad:

"Lord Tyrion, while it is true that the people crave food and water to survive, what is more pertinent is that they also crave distraction. If we do not provide them with distractions, they will invent their own, and almost all of those involve them tearing us to pieces. We do not want that, and so, my family will pay for the Royal Wedding."

Do people need to be controlled? This would seem to suggest that we do. Most of what I observe and experience in the world, from the dark corners of Australia to China and the Internet and much in between, agrees that yes, we do. These 'so-called civilised people' will indeed eat each other, dropping their polite face at the first sign of trouble. And don't tell me I'm wrong unless you've been in a riot or a natural disaster or a place where people can only feed their kids every other day.

So we're arguing about what colour we should paint the walls while there's an Elephant in the room that's deciding for us, and painting the walls red with the blood it's been leeching, siphoning off of, our individual and collective potential, dignity, wealth and power. Nobody seems to notice or care. That is probably why nothing important has changed for six thousand years. Only now we're faced with an ultimatum - change or die. Evolution or extinction. Embrace divinity or the dirt.

Why are we facing an ultimatum? Because all empires fall, you just have to know where to push. Every city state before Rome fell, which is why the Middle East is a desert. Rome fell and it took over a millenium before the world recovered. These have all been local and regional collapses. But every time history repeats itself the stakes increase. We are now facing a global one. We are pushing, and soon we will topple, the pillars of civilisation, which will result in the utter annihilation of the capacity of the planet to support any and all human life.

The question now is, are we capable of looking in the mirror and being honest about who we are? And if so, do we want to stay that way, or change?

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