An expansive reading of history suggests that all sorts of things are happening at any given time. Political and social leaders direct their followers to support whatever causes they espouse. Popular movements interpenetrate, canceling and reinforcing one another like the crisscrossing waves on the open sea. And in the shadows, people and groups quietly encourage some behaviors while deprecating others, and nudge promising individuals into positions of power or influence, while studiously cultivating a cloak of invisibility. If learning from history wasn't so important to our survival, interpreting it could be as entertaining as picking out shapes in the clouds.
The world we live in is necessarily concrete. Yet we pick our way amongst non-physical entities, such as political parties, issue clusters and propaganda-filled media as if they were as substantial as the glass, brick and steel office blocks that house the activities of a set of equally non-physical entities called corporations, organizations and governments.
Our paths through life are constrained by the existence of these structures, and we align ourselves with some of them to make our days less stressful. Subscribe to a political party, interest group or religious community, and you get to ride inside their worldview, where their narrative helps you to make sense of the world, and to enmesh yourself in a community of fellow travelers. It can be very comforting.
It can also be numbing, to the delight of those who would strip you of the individual sovereignty that Thomas Jefferson wrote about in the Declaration of Independence. Those non-corporeal entities may seem solid enough, but the illusion is built from the borrowed sovereignty of those in their thrall. Their solidity is, in truth, your own turned against you.
I posit that the slide towards fascism, which Naomi Wolf has warned us about, could not have been accomplished without the cooperation of both major political parties, and that of other sorts of organization as well. This is not to say that well-meaning individuals on both sides of the political aisle were knowingly complicit. Rather, it is that the parties themselves have both been used, individually or in concert, to further objectives which neither one is fully aligned with. I suggest that the slope down which we are sliding required elements of both Democratic and Republican worldviews to construct, and that whoever is ultimately responsible for the path we are on has been stage-managing the surface conflict between these two major political parties for some time now.
We have, in recent months, been made aware of other bits of stage-management, such as that performed by the plunge protection team to stabilize the markets and prop up corporations deemed too big to fail. The existence of such an agency, regardless of who is behind them, belies the claims about there actually being a "-free market," which in turn undermines all of the comforting fantasies we have been told about how that market operates, and how we might benefit from participation in it. The fact that this has been revealed may well have contributed to the much larger collapse of the financial system that was built on top of that non-existent foundation.
Were enough of us to recognize that the two seemingly impregnable major political parties were likewise fabricated on falsehoods, and that behind the greasepaint was a two-headed corporatist monolith intent on wringing all of the wealth from every corner of the world, we might see the collapse of that charade as well. But to do so would require us to change how we view the world, to step out from behind the Democratic and Republican costumes which have been laboriously fabricated for us to wear, to discard the narratives with which they control what we see and how we think, and to look clearly at one another for the first time in our lives as nothing more than citizens of a nation that has been stolen from all of us.
Lest you get complacent and seek refuge within the formal cognitive garden of your chosen or inherited religion, I must remind you that many of them have engaged in the exact same sort of manipulation. We, all of us, have been used as pawns in the power struggles carried out in the name of communities of many different kinds. We're fed nationalism to cultivate antagonism against other nations. We're fed religious fervor to breed anger against those with different customs and beliefs. We're fed marketing hype to set those who prefer computers that help us with "-Wizards" against those that do the same thing with "-Assistants."
But we do not have to play their game. We do not have to accept the roles that they ask us to fill, the ideas they want is to think, or the actions they wish us to take. We can, instead, see one another as equals, and refuse to submit to the empty threats they are certain to deluge us with. It is the people who have power. Not elected or appointed leaders and managers; not those who attempt to tell us what to think, see or do; and not the legal fictions of corporations masquerading as people and insisting on the rights that Jefferson wrote were the birthright of those who actually do live and breathe.
What we are seeing around us right now is the desperate act of a juggernaut in fear for its life. The global financial collapse we are threatened with is the biggest bundle of fear they can contrive to scare us with, but what is at risk is the continued existence of the system that has stolen our sovereignty in every aspect of our lives. Were it to collapse, people would continue to exist. Life would be different--there is no question of that. But the result of the calamity would be the chance to start over, to do things differently.
I, for one, think that this game has gone on for far too long. Let's clear the boards and find something more personally productive to do with our planet. I say, let it collapse.