Today I’d like to briefly address how our so called free society isn’t free at all, and how the dogma of the free market economy is one of the greatest feats of “doublespeak” in human history.
I’ll illustrate this with a beautiful quote from Frank Herbert’s science fiction masterpiece Dune. Never before and never since have I read a story so rich with philosophic themes and so much understanding of the “human condition”, in the guise of an exciting space-opera. If you’ve never experienced this novel, do yourself a huge favor and go read it; I’ve done so 4 times already 😉
In the first two books we’re witness to the rise of our protagonist, Paul Atreides, to become the sole ruler of the known universe, approximately 10,000 years after the Butlerian Jihad, who knows how many years counting from today. His rule is born out of the fact that he can see the future, or rather all possible futures. His prescience is being described as seeing all possible futures converging in the present, and he becomes so adept at it that he’s even able to see after his eyes were completely removed from his head. With empty eye-sockets he was able to see everything, just by virtue of his prescient vision.
Through this absolute ruler we are introduced to a universe where religion and politics have become the same thing. We see what the consequences are when there’s no privacy left because the ruling power has the absolute information-monopoly; the Emperor knows everything about everyone. He is the police-state incarnate. From the second book, Dune Messiah:
“The convoluted wordings of legalism grew up around the necessity to hide from ourselves the violence we intend toward each other. Between depriving a man from one hour from his life, and depriving him of his life, there exists only a difference of degree; you have done violence to him, consumed his energy. Elaborate euphemisms may conceal your intent to kill, but behind any use of power over another the ultimate assumption remains: I feed on your energy.” – Addenda to Orders in Council – The Emperor, Paul Muad’dib (Dune Messiah)
Read that again, and again, until the gravitas of the words’ meaning crushes you under the realization that they describe our current “free” society. Upon first reading you might think the writer talks about the criminal justice system in which those who are deemed to have stepped outside the boundaries of what’s lawfully permitted, are punished by depriving them their freedom for a period of time. “Legalism” refers to doctrines which state that salvation comes from adherence to the law.
But this leaves us questioning the last sentence: “I feed on your energy”. What does the criminal justice system have to do with feeding on one’s energy? Nothing. This is not how “law” should be interpreted, and if you would do so in the presence of the Emperor, he’d squash you without a second thought for exhibiting such primitive ignorance. Paul Muad’dib has the knowledge of all his forefathers and sees millennia into the future; his experience with the rising and falling tides of human cultural and spiritual evolution, spans uncountable generations, his time isn’t measured in days or years, but in era’s.
Every era and every culture has it’s own dominating dogma’s, and that’s what the Emperor is talking about here. And these dogma’s are like unwritten laws that act like ironclad rules by which we are ruled by the ruling classes. The truths we accept without a second thought are the real laws that govern the masses. In the past the prevailing dogma was the belief in God; our daily lives were directed by the gospel as spread by whatever dominant church. In the west this meant that a small elite of religious leaders were able to to legitimize their lofty positions by having received “the grace of God”, or having spoken to the Heavenly Father to spread His word among the unworthy.
Our western monotheistic religions have ingrained in our very souls that it’s okay, praiseworthy even to live a life of poverty, to share what little you have with the church; that’s what a good believer’s supposed to do. And this is okay because we shall receive our rewards in the afterlife, where God has made room for all those who live by His word. “You keep them ignorant, and I’ll keep them poor”, said the Duke to the Bishop… This is how politics and the dogma of the day conspire to direct the masses’ energy, our labor, toward the coffers of the elite. The beauty of this scheme is that the victims, the 99% of back then, didn’t feel any of the injustice done to them. It was just the way things were, almost nobody questioned the rules laid out by The Gospel, they were like the laws of nature.
So, what’s today’s prevailing dogma? Well, churches have been replaced by stock-exchanges, priests by economists and the Bible by capitalism. It’s the idea that free, rational individuals can freely trade goods and services on a free market. Freedom of individuals, freedom of trade and freedom of money, held together by the politics of a free democracy. Wow, that’s so much freedom that one might be excused for actually believing that anything has changed since the days of the church, that the free market economy actually promote’s individual freedom made possible by a surplus of material wealth, which is the modern-day replacement of heaven. Like the eternity in blissful heaven was promised in exchange for a pious and obedient life, the modern-day priests promise a life of luxury and freedom as long as you work hard. Everyone can live the American Dream by working an honest job.
The written and unwritten rules of capitalism are the laws that direct the masses now. The basis for this highly idealistic economic model is the fantasy that says we’re all rational individuals who make rational choices in order to maximize our personal wealth. It says that as long as we’re all greedy enough, somehow a natural equilibrium would take hold in which wealth is distributed in such a way that everyone get’s what they deserve. This highly irrational belief is so strong embedded in our cultural consciousness that a saying like “greed is good, greed works” actually has many of us convinced of the benevolence of capitalism. It’s this core belief that has us making subconscious excuses for the enormous wealth of some individuals displayed right next to unbearable poverty and starving children. Rational people would call such a system nothing short of immoral. But we’re not rational people and our rulers, the infamous 1%, know this very well.
Bill Gates donated more than 40 billion dollar to charities some years back and I literally got sick, seeing the adulation thrown toward his person by the sheeple. All manufacturers of electronic devices, and all who depend upon those devices for their income, rely heavily on minerals found primarily on the continent of Africa. Now here’s a man who has benefited from a system that rewards the greedy accumulation of wealth into the hands of a few, a system that has systematically sucked all of the riches from the richest continent on Earth into the “civilized world”, donating billions to aid the poor people on that continent. And the masses applaud him for this facade of magnanimous selflessness… We even believe that to do good, you first have to be rich. Be greedy first, so you can be a good Samaritan later.
Capitalism is rarely questioned. Yes, we do discuss it’s apparent injustices and say things like “isn’t it unfortunate, that such poverty exists next to such filthy wealth”. But there’s nothing unfortunate about it; there’s a causal relation between the two and the lofty promises of the free market economy “grew up around the necessity to hide from ourselves the violence we intend toward each other”. So the system itself is almost never questioned. We are inherently evil, that’s what we’re being told. In the Bible it was the “Original Sin” that condemned us to the belief that all humanity was born in sin since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. Now it is capitalism that condemns us to the belief that all being human equates being greedy and selfish. It’s just the way things are. It’s like a law of nature. Those who climbed to the absolute pinnacle of materialistic success, are our spiritual leaders who have an army of economist priests to spread the promise of freedom for all who abide by the rules of the free market economy. And they smile all the way to the bank, secretly thinking: “I feed on your energy.”