A companion blog, The Metacognition Project, has been created to focus specifically on metacognition and related consciousness processes. Newest essay on TMP: Goals and Problems, part two
Sunday, April 4, 2010
This Time ‘We’ Are The Indians
I have read many essays and papers looking for either that one essay filled with explanation, solution and hope or a constellation of essays and papers capable of compilation into those same virtues. There are many that nibble at the edges, but not one that is the Salk vaccine for our systemic polio. I know that there are hundreds of pure geniuses and thousands of really smart motivated people trying to answer the questions of our time, as well as trying to produce prescriptions for present and future actions.
If all this effort could be brought together, it should be possible to design a plan for how to effectively address the major, and even minor, issues of our time. Unless… unless we, the Great Many, are not what matter, but are more and more in the way of the future, in the way of ‘manifest destiny’ as seen by the plutocrats and oligarchs who increasingly rule this nation and world. We would be then the “aboriginal Americans” and our issues, our troubles would be being delivered by the corporate invaders. We seek solutions, but as in the conflict of the Indians and European settlers, what was good for the settlers was definitely not good for the Indians and vice versa. There was just no way to compromise the clash of ‘realities.’ That is more and more seeming to be the true design of our present difficulties: there is not a compromise position waiting as yet undiscovered, no solution that is eluding us.
Ultimately, the invaders took what they wanted. The Indians were given no satisfactory option; their last big push at solution to their dilemma was the Ghost Dance, a pure fantasy Indian fundamentalism based on the insanity that the invaders could be disappeared if ‘the people’ only acted correctly: the victims having only the power to use their helplessness, and so tried to remake the helplessness into a source of power. And we have seen what happens when we use our helplessness alone to stand against the press of mad power.
The present situation is, however, not at all the same in all ways. Even if the Great Many are to be the Indians and the people suckling on the Corporate Oligarchy are the Europeans (or the Borg of Star Trek), and it certainly is looking like that is the model, the only way for it to work is for the Great Many to believe that they are helpless. The Indians didn’t believed themselves helpless, even when ultimately they were. We often believe ourselves helpless when ultimately we are not!
I have no way of knowing (which is its own issue) whether the symphony of events making up the social presentation of life and “culture” comes from some coordinated plan or is just the economic process run amok, but it is clear that the flood of information into and onto the Great Many is: largely untrue, fear producing, emotionally addictive, power draining, action stopping and, did I say, untrue. A most flagrant example, clearly tipping the oligarchic hand for those able to listen, was the admonition to “go shopping” after the 9/11/2001 incidents. The (slightly) more subtle, “this changes everything,” really meant; ‘This makes it possible to be more open about the invasions and evasions of public rights and responsibilities that have been in progress for sometime.’
If we are to be the Indians, then we have to believe ourselves small and helpless, otherwise our great numbers and the fact that it is the Great Many that makes the whole thing go could at any moment overwhelm the corporate oligarchy. Think about it; what is the message from the media? Is it that each and everyone is powerful? Or is it that you will be crushed by the economy if you don’t have a credit score in the 700s? Is it that you should organize with like-minded people to live a fully satisfying life? Or is it that there are serial killers on every other street, gangs rule the neighborhoods, be afraid? Is it to use your resources wisely and live for the human and community pleasures of life? Or is it that ‘success’ is money, possessions and uncommitted sex with a hot bod, regardless of how you get them? And all attainable only by full admission and commitment to the individualist and materialist religion.
Another message is that the oligarchs are really us, that we have the same interests and that ‘we’ are to aspire to be ‘them.’ And since we have the same interests ‘we’, who are not them, should do what is good for the ‘we’, who are them. This is, of course, madness. If we are the same, then why are we to aspire to be them. Why would all of the variety of the Great Many want to live the narrow description of the corporate princelings?
But as I said, our present situation is not a few disorganized, weakly armed, bands of ‘us’ facing the ‘white eyes’ who are like the stars of the sky.’ There are about 300 million of ‘us’ and a few million of ‘them,’ the oligarchs. We are the stars of the sky. We also actually control everything. Rest assured that all but the most disinterested of the oligarchs know that (or rest disturbed!).
What we are, however, is disorganized: we have the wealth collectively, we have the numbers, we have the real levers of action; we do not have the education, we do not have the organization, we do not have the leadership and we lack many of the intermediate tools of organization, control and coercion. By this I mean that we don’t control police functions or many economic tools, our main power is the withholding of our support for the present order. If we do this individually, the effect is insignificant; done in large numbers the effect is devastatingly powerful.
The Indians did not have this option, even though sometimes they tried to use it by refusing to be part of the reservation system, and so were simply allowed, in many cases, to die in foodless winter camps hounded by the army and the settlers; or were hunted down and killed in major and minor massacres. If the Great Many could decide to hold a general strike, it would not be like a few starving Indians refusing to be driven onto a reservation and easily ignored.
What would be required for the Great Many to regain control of their lives and destinies? That is what is at stake. That is what is missing. We would need what we do not have: knowledge of our real power, organization, leadership, some intermediate forms of power (mainly through organization that could use our collected wealth), a single important focusing common interest and the communication and courage to use our ultimate weapon: the in-mass refusal to give our support to the oligarchy.
The oligarchy has come to believe that the amassing of wealth and the manifestations of power seen in actions of those subordinate to them give them the advantages of the conqueror. We can see this displayed more and more everyday as it becomes increasingly impossible to hide flagrant assumptions and abuses of power: the granting of nearly unlimited personhood to corporations, the willful violation of antitrust laws in corporate mergers, the direct writing of legislation by the corporations intended to be regulated by those same laws, the seamless movement of members of the oligarchy between corporations and government, the obvious and unchallenged lying (obvious to those who read and remember) of just about everyone in power, the clear “ownership” of political leaders by corporate interests and on and on we could go .
The oligarchs are only in control because the Great Many have been doing as they are told, and believing what they are told. While I can find no rule in physics or psychology to support it, it seems to me that people will eventually reject identifiable lying even if there is nothing else to take its place. The people of the Soviet Union, in large numbers, came to understand that nothing they were told could be believed. This is both empowering and disempowering: empowering since it is not the lie that is acted on, but disempowering because the information necessary for action is not clear. As the Russian people became more and more demoralized, the Soviet Union became weaker and weaker – a hollow shell and eventually the international criminal enterprise it is today .
This is the direction in which the US is heading. While some might say that we are already there, I don’t think so quite yet, though we are close. If the population becomes less educated and less critical in their collective thinking, if laws and rules are passed and enforced that further limit popular organization and expression (the de facto impossibility of third parties, for example), we will be left with only the general refusal to give our work and skills to the corporate state as a means of expression.
There are many people who believe in God and Country, who have been conned into rooting for the home team, people who are being fooled by wedge issue strategies. Others continue to believe that they are just one lucky move away from becoming a junior associate princeling themselves. Still others would rather ‘go along to get along,’ ‘watching their Ps and Qs’ and generally clichéing their ‘making no waves’ way of life through life. As the dishonesty becomes unavoidable, confidence is shattered – like the standing buildings after a big earthquake, there is serious structural damage.
Whether the Great We realizes in time, that we must restore the oligarchs to their true role as our servants, will decide our fate. There is no question that they will not give up the status of princeling without a fight. All the complexity really does come down to the Indians (the people) versus the settlers (the oligarchs), but this time the people have all the power if they but realize it. Had the Indians been able, in the beginning, to organize the many different tribes, the invaders could have been pushed into the sea. But they were divided by many competing interests. In most cases the invaders’ numbers were bolstered by members of competing tribes; but having no loyalties, the invaders would then turn on their previous supporters using new helpers bought by some new disingenuous promise. This proceeded until the invaders had the power to frontally overwhelm all who rose against them.
Piecemeal controls have lost their possibility; the oligarchs too entrenched. Only a general strike can put the elites in their place and make clear who holds the ultimate power. And that tool is within our power. If we are lucky and have the right leaders, such a strike, properly followed up with political action, could reset the clock on the entropy of our democratic system; though it could also speed us along on our way to a criminal state. But, doing nothing will guarantee a victory for the corporate invaders and our enslavement on the national reservation that was also once our own land.
 Violation of Constitutional war powers of congress, bribery of public officials by lobbyists, ignoring clearly demonstrated public will in favor of corporate interests, supporting and profiting from the actual extortion and theft of public moneys in the various “bank bailouts,” executive branch threatening of independent agencies (especially in the Bush administration), weakening of usury and bankruptcy laws, removal of consumer and environmental protections, war crimes that violate both our own and international law and again this could go on and on.
 A national state-established criminal organization is one that exists for its own maintenance and parasitizes the captive population; there are and have been many such states.