Democracy, cola, and tobacco

THE SYSTEM AND DECEIT

The System does not lie to us, it deceives us. But deceit is more dangerous than lies, for while the erroneousness of the lie can be, or be made, obviously apparent, deceit takes on a mask of seeming honesty.

When we are deceived, we look at an object and think we can recognise in it what we are told it is, even though, in reality it is something else.

For example: if democratic societies are defined by how widespread the system of suffrage is, then, in a place where every adult over eighteen is allowed to vote in elections, it seems right to suppose that their system is a democratic one. Nevertheless, it may well be that many or all of the elected governors belong to parties that have been bought by interest groups, corporations, or wealthy individuals through campaign funds, favours and/or bribes in order to ensure that government policy favours their own agendas. In this case, the idea of democracy is being deceived, because the importance of the vote, that lies in its empowering of public opinion, is undermined. This situation, where it exists, is most definitely not democratic, and democracy in this case is a deceitful concept.

But if we have been deceived over matters like the very structures that envelope and drive our lives, how should we act when the deceit has been revealed?

In a logical, authentically democratic society, if political parties needed funds and raised those funds through donations given by billionaires, then transparency of interests would have to be a central feature of all campaigns, in which parties would reveal their sponsors and publish all agreements that had been made between them. This would be done in order to give the voters a clear idea of who they should be voting for, because, without that transparency, the democratic process is very muddy indeed.

In a logical, authentically democratic society, governments would most likely be made up of independents who campaigned without donations from corporations and billionaires. The fact that this does not happen, indicates how effective the deceit is within the System.

Democracy is so successful at deceiving us because it tells us over and over again that what we have, and what we are living in is a democracy, even though, in any authentic sense of the word, it is not.

In fact, the lie is so ingrained that those who see through the deceit have to be advocates of a new term whenever they speak of democracy, and hence we now have the concept of Real Democracy  as opposed to the normal kind of democracy which is not democracy at all. In a sense, the deceiving System has bought the patent for democracy and it has used it in whatever way it can for its own benefits.

So, democracy exists even though it is not democracy. Then where is the real democracy? Might it exist?

DEMOCRACY AND THE COLA ALLEGORY

To tackle this allegorically, let us imagine that some other brand of Cola were the real invention of a popular drink called Coka Cola, but never bought the patent. This fictitious company had developed a delicious drink from the African kola nut that they produced to a modest market and called it Koca Kola, which was exactly the same as the Coke that we can buy and drink in our none-allegorical time and space. Then, in the fable, a larger company comes along, with lots more capital, and decides to produce a very similar, but inferior product, at the same time buying a patent for it under the name of Coka Cola. Through aggressive marketing Coka Cola are able to convince consumers that the authentic Cola is Coka Cola, which they claim is a totally original drink for which there can be no substitute. The campaign was so constant and ubiquitous that people who tasted the original Koca Kola would even associate what they used to love with this copy (despite its inferiority). Koca Kola of course, eventually disappeared, although, perhaps, they might have tried producing it again under another name, as Pepsis, for example, but the consumers had already been programmed to see anything other than the product bearing the patent Coka Cola as a pseudo-thing, a not the real thing. Coka Cola had claimed that status for itself.  

In a sense, the same has happened with democracy. It is an idea produced by marketing and the social-democrat liberal parties have taken out a virtual patent on it. Nevertheless, once the deception is uncovered, the System immediately looks different. The unmasking of any deception, in fact, is a profound experience, alike to a revelation, and may be a disturbing enlightenment for the one who sees the deceit. The experience may isolate the enlightened one from all the others who just fail to perceive it. The revelation often becomes an obsession and the masking process that takes place to obfuscate the true aspect of the System, might very well take on the form of a sinister, well-concealed conspiracy. Being enlightened therefore is partly a blessing, but mainly a curse. Perceiving the deceitful nature of the System may be not unlike the experience of sighting a UFO or seeing a ghost.

The experience is a revelation and you will certainly find others who have had the same experience, but it is still not something that you should admit to in any circle of friends or acquaintances. It is better to keep it to yourself or within closed circles that understand you, and you must not let yourself believe that your life-changing epiphany will change the world.

However, enlightenment will always gnaw into the enlightened one and such ruminating may well create deep psychological problems for those who bottle up the revelation.

Of course, this plays into the hands of the deceiver, and makes deceit easier. When one lies from a position of authority, then one is always running the risk that your deceit will eventually be discovered by someone. The great deceitful one also knows that his or her deception will affect millions or perhaps even hundreds of millions of individuals but that, in order to believe the one who sees the deception, the enlightened one will have to convince millions of other individuals the truth of their revelation that we live in a lie. And the difficulty of ever achieving the revelation, puts the gambling stakes well in the deceiver’s favour.

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Now, remember we are talking about deceit and not about lies. If democracy were a lie, we would be able to take it before a court of law and expose it because it is quite obviously wrong. But how do you condemn something that seems to be what it says it is? And then again, who really cares? If Coka Cola is not the authentically real thing … who cares? Coka Cola (or the Coke of the real Coca-Cola narrative ) is still the drink that everyone has grown to enjoy. So, what is the fuss about?

Well, as long as everyone is happy with the taste of Coka Cola nothing matters. But what if it was discovered that there are elements in this drink that are detrimental to our health, or that the ingredients are totally addictive, or that studies came out revealing a relationship between Coka Cola addiction and violent crime … in these cases people might start to understand that they were deceived and that part of that deceit contained outright lies. In this case, yes, the need to reveal the truth and unmask the deceit may well snowball into a massive anti-cola campaign.

TOBACCO

 

An actual example of this kind of deceit may be seen if we examine the tobacco industry. The fact that such a noxious product could actually be sold to so many (and still is, despite the campaigns to uncover its deceitfulness) is mind-boggling. The advertising campaigns for tobacco must be the most successful ever made, not only do they sell us a product we definitely do not need, they actually sell us something that no one should ever want.

Of course, tobacco is not really like democracy because the deception used by its manufacturers is so replete with obvious lies that it can hardly be termed deceit. The tobacco industry’s success is better described with the term seduction, but it is in this seduction that we actually find the dishonesty, for it is a deceitful seduction. Tobacco is a filthy great marketing success, and embedded in that unscrupulous marketing is the perverted inveiglement that permeates our whole System.

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The System and its democracy-deceit is not addictive, but it is a monopoly that seems to be the best thing on offer. So seemingly good that, like Coca-Cola against Pepsi, the opposition has to seem to offer something that is very similar to the original product, if not the same, to have any success at competing with it. The system is not addictive, it is simply an omnipresent monopoly. It is the System and it cannot be questioned because it is Democracy. Yet here lies its weakness as well: because the Democracy of the System is deceitful. Like tobacco, the seduction is not harmless because it is through its deception that poverty, corruption, violent crimes, health abuse and wars are allowed to be perpetuated.

*     *     *

The System = Democracy – is really a false equation.

The System ≈ Democracy – would be more acceptable, but the more we examine the deceit the more obvious the falseness in the equation is.

Other equations come to mind like:

The System ≈ (democracy + oligarchy);

or

The System ≈ (democracy + plutocracy);

or even that we have to remove democracy from the equation altogether.

In any case, the equation always has unequal values. If the value of the System is 10, then A is always smaller than B. So, to be accurate we would have to say:

S = D + O (when D is always smaller than O);

or

S = D + P (when D is always smaller than P).

If we really believe in democracy, we need to be able to elect governments that are truly anchored to the will of the people and totally divorced from the power of wealthy interest groups. If not, all democratic notions are pure hypocrisy.  

Our Big Brother

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It seems easy enough to see the difference between the totalitarianism of a Stalinist or Gestapo political regime and the freedom-loving airs of the way-of-life enjoyed in Western democracies. Nevertheless, it would be pure naivety to assume that the liberal or social democratic systems are devoid of controls, and the fact that we don’t feel the sense that we are being brainwashed in a democratic system probably indicates that we are more ideologically driven than we dare to suspect. Big Brother doesn’t need dictatorships to imprint its pernicious ideology into the souls of its slaves, in fact it functions better under the veil of a seemingly democratic environment. In fact, our world of left-right politics is just another stage for Big Brother to perform in; a perfect stage perhaps to achieve its fundamentally oligarchical, plutocratic and megalomaniacal objectives.

Let’s look at this from the perspective of what is today’s biggest political, economic and ethical issue: the climate emergency. Because of its existential significance, disputing the veracity of climate change predictions is, at least potentially, deeply divisive in society and consensus needs to be reached, not only at the nation-state level but also globally, if an ecological disaster is to be avoided.

Given the high-stakes at risk here, reaching such a consensus would be the most logical outcome, especially in the democratic world where power is supposedly controlled by the popular mandates decided on polling days. Nevertheless, despite decades of warnings from scientists of the catastrophic future that is unfolding if radical action is not taken, political and economic change has been slow to come about, if at all, even in, if not especially in, the world’s largest and most solid democracies like the USA, Great Britain or Australia. In may cases it seems that the vast majority of franchised people are voting contrary to their own interests. But how can that be?

Because of this, it must be assumed that democracy itself is not functioning as it should. The divide between believers and non-believers in the climate emergency is to a great extent ideological, with most denial coming from the right-wing of the spectrum. Some of this is economy-ideology driven, with denialists tending to be libertarian opponents to state-interventions, who have little sympathy for the poor and an aversion to welfare. Another part of it, though, is found buried in evangelistic communities where beliefs and desires for the End of Days and its promise of spiritual salvation for believers, make the idea of an ecosystem collapse irrelevant, if not desirable. For both of these groups, the climate emergency scenario is a left-wing conspiracy, despite the fact that is ratified by objective scientific data.

The thought-control; the turning of a blind eye to the scientific facts in order to only believe the more comfortable counter arguments, may be laziness or a need to maintain one’s sanity by staying in the ideological zone, or it might be the result of a certain kind of brainwashing that is more usually attributed to totalitarian systems rather than democracies. Climate denialists’ construction of an alternative reality by cutting and pasting fragments of the whole picture, is a very similar practice to those carried out by the perverted logic of the followers of Stalin and Hitler, or Kim Jong-un. Of course, the Western democracies are not the same as totalitarian states. In democracy, different ideological angles are made visible, and the ruling ideology makes allowances for the other side of the argument to be expressed. But if we examine the bubble on each side of the spectrum, there are Stalinist tendencies on both sides. Through the power of ideology, democracy simply becomes a bicephalous Big Brother, even if the only thing it really hides is its own Big Brother nature. And this is because, to properly function and be effective, Big Brother has no need to hide anything else.

Governments and Ultimate Significance

Parliament

Governments are supposed to organise us, but … organise us to do what? To be able to answer this question democratically and function as effectively as possible in favour of the demos, the elected government would have to know the ultimate significance of what everybody knows and does, as well as the potentials behind what each one of us would like to do.

The paradox behind this fact is that no demos would ever want their government to know exactly what they know and do, or, perhaps, even what they would really like to do.

What this paradox means therefore, is that real democracy is an impossibility. Nevertheless, we have systems that call themselves democratic, and we are told that these systems are designed for our welfare, or for our security. But these claims are also paradoxical, because such justifications only make sense for a society that has already reached and understood its ultimate significance … which takes us back to the first paradox, and in this way the great leviathan of government swallows it tail twice.

To resolve these paradoxes, the demos needs to be able to have the faith that a democratic government that knew what we want, know and do, would be able to channel this perfect knowledge of its citizens into a collective, truly purposeful project directed towards real fulfilment.

 

THE ROLE OF RELIGION IN DEMOCRACY

Religion has traditionally been an escape vessel for political leaders: if the ultimate significance is a religious one, beyond our control, except by ensuring that the religious idea is allowed absolute freedom of expression, then government can concentrate on fulfilling its four-year programme without worrying about the inconvenience of its own ultimate significance.

What this succeeds in doing is to create the removal of politics from any truly purposeful organisation. When the long term is ignored, so is authentic fulfilment. The result is a general feeling of dissatisfaction and pointlessness and a retreat into hedonisms and living the day to day. If there is money around, it creates decadence. If there is not, it creates the struggle for daily survival.

 

ENLIGHTENED GOVERNMENT

But how can we ever get over the first paradox. The idea of the enlightened government is terrifying. Traditional enlightenment and power has been a terrible, often tragic, combination for societies, and they usually add up to dictatorial dogmas enforced by megalomaniacal leaders. We need enlightened government, but we fear it will only bring about oppression and tragedy.

Nevertheless, once we start analysing the ultimate significance we are proposing and the ideologies that have created past dictatorships, we find there is a fundamental difference. Traditionally, ideologies have been initiated by and for a social group, or class, race or culture. The failure of these ideologies as enlightenment has been their intrinsic nature of pitching us against them.

What we are discovering now is that the struggle between us and them has got nothing to do with the current crises except in the fact that it must be overcome. The only way that our great universal problems can be superseded is by humanity coming together and making the ultimate leap towards ultimate significance which can only come through a real identification with what each one of us really is … a member of the human race. From the human race point of view, sovereignty is a constant distraction away from the ultimate significance.

AUTHENTIC REALITY

But whether we can offer an authentic ultimate significance for social action or not, the shadow of power still hangs over the reality of all social organisation. And the form of that shadow is that governmental power is, really, the power to create reality.

Our argument is, that authentic reality which is that which offers an ultimate significance for all human knowledge, activity and desires, can only be measured from a holistically human point of view. Power on the other hand, has been traditionally self-interested, serving the needs and desires of certain factions and using lies and persuasion to convince societies that their regimes are working for them. Or, if not, that they have no other choice but to work for the regime that wields ultimate power over their lives.

Patriotism, Fascism, and the Death of Democracy

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Our Civilisation of Wealth has used very different kinds of political ideologies to sustain itself but its ugliest version is undoubtedly Fascism. That a vulgar and fascistic, personality-cult leader has now become President of the USA is shocking, but not so surprising if we consider that the fascism has always been there in a latent form.

The Great War against Fascism of 1939-45, that we call the Second World War, did not actually defeat fascism. Yes, it defeated Hitler and Mussolini and the personality cult regime in Japan, but it did not defeat fascism. It did not defeat fascism because it did nothing to eradicate the patriotic pride of the national states. There were victors and losers in the war: one way of perpetuating the patriotic spirit defeat another manifestation of those sentiments; in the Second World War “democratic” fascism defeated “authoritarian” fascism with the help of the national-socialist regime of Joseph Stalin.   

Authoritarian fascism is best defined by the term National Socialism and the key word in fascism is National. The patriotic spirit behind the democratic forces that defeated Hitler were nationalistic and therefore fascistic forces. All forms of wall building and border defining ideologies are inherently nestling fascist frameworks. All nationalism and patriotic feelings are essentially fascist sentiments. Even the great bridge building ventures since World War II, like the European Union and Globalisation have always clung on to the maintenance of state sovereignty, and by doing this we have maintained the roots of fascism under every progressive tree.

The problem of fascism is that, once the National State establishes its power it needs to extend its boundaries if it wishes to keep progressing. The fascist state is always a little empire, and the Fatherland Empire will always want to expand into neighbouring Fatherlands. The same expansionist need is also an essential part of neo-liberal capitalist growth. However, the capitalist powers that defeated Hitler, knew that they did not need the muscle of dictatorship to perpetuate itself and its growth, in fact, they understood that tyranny was counterproductive to expansion. Fascism had to be subtler, and democracy was a far more efficient machine for allowing the rich to get richer and for Wealth to legitimise itself. Civilian upstarts like Hitler, or military reactionaries like Franco were themselves a bigger threat to Wealth than the pseudo-freely elected parliamentary systems. Control from the unquestionable legitimacy of the ballot-box, contained within an easily controllable patriotic ambience, is the apotheosis of power that Wealth needs to maintain itself.

In theory, Democracy should be the system that favours the masses, but by restricting it within the patriotic bubble this is hardly ever the case. The seemingly illogical results of the Brexit referendum, the Colombian peace referendum, or the seemingly impossible election of a fascist president in the emblem of the Free World that has been the USA, seems to indicate that the democratic process no longer works. But, really, veiled with the mask of patriotism, democracy has always been an easily manipulated motor for the National Socialisms that pull the strings.

As for the United States, where democracy is so widely revered, a heavy paradox has always lain over that system; for an idea of politics favouring the masses is associated there with the “evils” of socialism, that most Americans think is an un-democratic process. By rejecting socialism, the Americans reject the role of the people in democracy. When the will of the people rejects the power of the people, then the situation lies in an essential paradox that is profoundly absurd and invites dangerously ridiculous solutions like authoritarian fascism.         

DADDY DEMOCRACY IS NOT THE FATHER WE THOUGHT HE WAS

alienation democracy – Bing images

There is a general feeling of alienation between the electorate and the political echelons in most of the so called democratic world, and it is important to remind ourselves that this alienation, which is real, is taking place precisely when our democracies have applauded the downfall of most of the world’s dictatorships. So, how can this be? If the world is more democratic than ever, how can it be that people are feeling alienated from the political system? The situation should be the opposite. Could it be that the accuser, now left with hardly anyone else to accuse, is now revealed for what he truly is and always was? That the accusations were smoke-screens in order to cover up his own guilt? Aren’t we now like the child who discovers indications that our perfect father is not so perfect after all: we don’t go out and openly discredit him, although deep down we would like to; we don’t run away or disown him, although we are tempted to; we start to rebel and stand up to his authority, but we don’t really believe we can change him … do we?

What we have now is quite a unique scenario. Perhaps for the first time in history, we find ourselves having to turn our backs on that which we never really had. We thought we were free, but it was a lie. So, what should we do? Try and recreate that which never was? Try and create in a real way that which we thought we had but never really did? But, how could we ever trust them again?

Once innocence is lost, it’s impossible to return there again.

Globalisation and The Death of Democracy

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One of the aims of globalisation was to separate politics from economics, and yet in practice it has merely reduced the political to a slave-status, servicing the dictatorship of the global marketplace. The Economy, the economic world and its institutions, are not chosen by the people – the polis is for politics. Given free rein, the market will transcend politics, creating its own cultures that are totally at the mercy of Wealth. The creation of global, macro-economics is, therefore, an immaculate fraud against democracy and freedom. The logic of the fraud being that: in order to create a firm and unquestionable dictatorship, the people should firstly be given the illusion of democracy by allowing them to vote for their local and state governments while, at the same time, shackling those same governments to the dictates of the world market place. As such, no matter who the people elect for their governors, it can have no effect on the will of the market. What pushes wealth unto the wealthy is the economy, not the parliaments, and the polis are never asked to vote for any of globalisation’s economic institutions, even though the World Bank and the IMF are the real forces shaping our lives.

Without control of the economy, the life-blood of the State (money) is also pushed out of the realm of political control. The politicians try to put on a brave face, but even the neo-liberal parties are made to look like helpless buffoons before their electorates when the power that really runs the economy (Wealth) decides to get tough and make sure everything is flowing completely in its own favour. Local anger is vented at the local government – the economic regime is too abstract, or too distant. After all, how can it govern us if we didn’t vote for it?

Democracy melts away. There is no democracy at all. We didn’t vote for those who make decisions now. We all live in one huge global dictatorship.

It does not matter what the international financing institutions do or might do, whatever is done is carried out without any democratic mandate. Yet, they can do whatever they like. And though they may assure themselves that they are acting responsibly they are still acting without our blessings, and operating behind our backs.

A Diachronic reminder about Freedom and Democracy

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In linguistics, a diachronic study concerns itself with the evolution words. How does a word’s meaning change over time?

Freedom and Democracy were hoisted up onto a golden pedestal and worshipped, but, like all things that are worshipped, the true significance of their adoration is painted over with interested reasons and appropriations of the original meaning. The success of falsehood lies in an ability to manipulate language so that words maintain the power of their original definition whilst actually meaning something quite different – something that the manipulators want it to mean. Ideologies have manipulated words like Freedom and Democracy in order to create a belief that some original moral purpose is being maintained whilst in truth it has been completely undermined.

The truth, however, can always be found by re-evoking that original meaning of the word. By so doing, one can drill into falsehood by resurrecting the etymological measure in order to calculate the perversity of the reasons contained in its deformation.

PUSHING THE BRICK FROM THE WALL: EDUCATION IN THE PRAGMATIC DREAM

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Pragmatism stands opposed to all Utopias. In place of aspirations for something better and other dreams of human progress, it offers and breeds its own Pragmatic Dream. A fabricated fantasy that is accepted by individuals in the System even though this pragmatism itself does nothing to provide substantial advantages for the majority of the individuals dreaming it, or even protect them. Inculcated with a fear of Utopias, the hopeful individual must depend on the Pragmatic Dream to drive them forward. Even when, in the case of excluded sectors of society like the unemployed or the homeless, where that dream is obviously restricted or even prohibited, the pragmatic ideal will create a self-flagellating tolerance of the oppressors.

Our tolerance of it is needed by the System in order to hold it up. Without it, the Pragmatic Dream System would be unable to maintain its so-called democratic veil. Once it loses the tacit support of any sector, the democratic mask of the system quickly peels away as draconian measures are implemented. Once support wanes, freedoms are reduced and the Pragmatic Dream devolves away from its only good argument into an obviously bad argument, trying to sustain itself through pragmatic acceptance and a fear of bad alternatives.

However, for pragmatism, essentially, all real alternatives are necessarily bad. According to pragmatic ideology, the alternative to the system is the anti-system: chaos and anarchy. Utopias are impossible things from the pragmatic point-of-view, and any alternative to the Pragmatic Dream is a castle in the air. Of course, what this kind of thinking does is stifle political creativity. “The least worse of all systems is the only possible system,” says pragmatism. There is only one possible narrative: our dictatorship.

Underlying the Pragmatic Dream’s power is an unquestioning belief in its legitimacy, what it calls “democracy” – the legitimacy won through the ballot box. However, in actual fact, it is this tacit acceptance of the Pragmatic Dream that sustains not a democracy but a dictatorial system. Bipartisanism seeps through the system’s pragmatism to create a single idea working in favour of power, rendering the democracies of pragmatism to something that is hardly democratic at all. Politics succumbs to economics and the influence of corporations makes the Pragmatic Dream a plutocratic paradise.

When we look beyond the paradigm what we must be focussed on is what can be gained by doing so, and also what will be lost. This double-pronged question must be asked by anyone who wants to achieve something. Through each acquisition and ascension, there must be a sacrifice, and perhaps there can be no greater fear in humanity than throwing it all away for a futile dream.

However, it is precisely this paradox, that is both intellectual and sentimental, that sustains the Pragmatic Dream system. Pragmatism means the end will justify the means. What this really means in the context of the Pragmatic Dream is that that which will be acquired by my efforts will surpass what has been sacrificed to achieve it. Of course, in reality, most of the time one does not realise what one is losing until it has all gone – this is the moral message in Citizen Kane and his infatuation with Rosebud.

At the same time, however, the potential dissident who has very little or nothing to lose will be more likely to become an activist than the one who has plenty to lose. This is true even though the one who has possessions may be more conscious of the corruption and anti-democratic oppression perpetrated by the system. Nevertheless, the nothing-to-lose dissident has no resources to operate effectively and in order to find those means, he or she will have to let themselves be recruited into a group of activists led by an ideology which may well merely be looking for cannon-fodder in their own violent struggle.

In this sense, the victims remain victims no matter which side they join. They are the result of several millennia of violent hiccups that have exploited the needy with the same hypocrisy as the Pragmatic Dream has. This hypocrisy encourages most of the hopeless class to shun the intellectuals and their politics and reject any other dissidence other than the public display of their own wretchedness. The intellectual paradox that the system is favoured by rests in the fact that those who think about and denounce its evil are not the victims of that evil, and those who are its victims very rarely get a chance to think and talk about it. If the Pragmatic Dream is to be exposed and superseded by a more consciously necessary system (or non-system) then the victims must be given more cultural baggage or capital in order to visualise an escape for themselves. But, of course, that would be impossible within the Pragmatic Dream itself. That Dream depends on the existence of an apathetic class that is devoid of intellectual-culture baggage.

Neo-liberalism reacted against that kind of intellectual dissemination that was prevalent in schools and universities in the late 60s and 1970s and there has been a subtle undermining of the culturally creative and intellectually dynamic learning programmes since the 1980s. Now, we can most assuredly claim that universal education in the Western World is in a reactionary process of controlled segregation, anti-humanitarian specialisation and creative-thinking decline. It is this kind of education system that makes the Pragmatic Dream possible even though it offers no real progress for the masses that bolster it up. Pink Floyd summed it up perfectly: “All in all, we’re just another brick in the wall.” The only way to get us out of the wall is through self-education and through teaching what is learned by that autonomous learning independently, outside of the Pragmatic Dream itself. Such spaces beyond the wall exist and can be found. We are in such a space right now.

STANDING BEFORE A GOD: OUR SYSTEM-SUBJECT PARADOX

pro818_hand Our relationship with the spiritual is also paradoxical. Whilst we seem to be destined to be searching for some kind of relationship with the without, the other that is without is incapable of satisfactorily confirming itself to us. The only thing that seems capable of solving this paradox is the concept of faith, which boils down to a belief in that which is impossible to confirm. Yet this is not just a spiritual problem. It also describes our political and social condition. The Other can be a God, can be the Universe, can be the World, or it can be the politico-economic System that we are immersed in. It is the big Other from our perspective but it is also the Subject with a capital S, which is the subject that is always there even when we are no longer around. Each one of us is a small subject, subjected to the Subject, but what must our subjection entail, especially if what the Subject claims to offer is freedom for the individual. The Subject must be freedom loving because that is the only way that we subjects could really feel comfortable with it. But in the idea of freedom within the Subject/System there resides another paradox: the individual can only become free by subjecting oneself to the discipline of the System. And, of course, subjection is the opposite of freedom. So, how can this be? The Subject/System liberates by providing the liberating infrastructures that satisfy needs. Thus God or the Universe has given us the World. As for the social Subject/System, that provides protection from the hostile elements in the world that the Subject-God-Universe failed to eradicate for us. The individual in the System therefore can free him or herself of a need for shelter by obtaining a dwelling made possible by the System’s infrastructure. But, in order to earn that entitlement one must make sacrifices. In order to obtain things from the System we must subject ourselves to the System’s mechanism of reward (money) obtained through the sacrifice of production (work). The simple idea of rewards given according to sacrifice is the basis (the basic contracted form) of the System. What is expected of the individual subject is his or her subjection to this contract. The governance of the System is therefore expected to design a relationship in which the interchange of reward and sacrifice is ensured and perpetuated. Governance falls down when it is unable to satisfy this expectation. Democracy should ensure an equitable relationship or an equilibrium in the design of this relationship so that anyone who is prepared to sacrifice for the System will be rewarded accordingly. But when this relationship breaks down, or is not attainable or simply dysfunctional, who is to blame? The System-Governance-Subject or the individual-subjected-subject? From the subject’s point of view the result is either self-criticism (a masochistic guilt complex) or a critical condemnation of Governance (rebellion). In either case the individual/subject finds him or herself unable to grasp the Subject/System which has become absurd through its dysfunction. The result is a feeling of alienation and absurdity caused by a fundamental disconnection with the System it lives and breathes in, that comes about because the subject is not allowed to sacrifice itself to the master in a truly productive way. The rewards that are necessary for the individual’s survival are either given reluctantly or withheld completely. Confusion sets in: “What does the Subject/System want of me?”; “Why has it forsaken me?”; “What can I do to win back its love?” Freud tells us that the ego will rebel when the demand of the master becomes too much to bear. Nevertheless, the ideology inherent in identity not only keeps us in our place through the sense of belonging or being part of the group, it helps make the unbearable bearable by making the alternative to belonging seem even more unbearable. The Subject has given us the World, and we cannot survive without it. It is through Identity that the individual is dominated by the Master-ideology. Submerged in Identity the individual is pulled away from that which her or she is not. In this way Identity has a double-edged gravity that draws us into a reality and pulls us away at the same time. Drawing us into a reality we are pulled away from the reality. By creating sense for us, identity also makes nonsense of our true relationship to the world.

THE CHEATING GAME

cheating

It is obvious that the triumph of Western liberal democracy[i] and its subsequent process of Globalisation has done very little toward bringing humanity more closely together. Quite the opposite is true: we all seem to be drifting further and further apart. But, if it has failed with humanity, what has two centuries of liberal democracy achieved with the individual? How successful has it been in its attempts to forge a society of strong-selves? If we have failed with the whole, then surely we must have succeeded with the individuals who are the antithesis of the whole?

But again it is obvious that we haven’t? In Nietzsche’s terms, we have achieved neither the Human nor the Superman, just the Last Man. The pathetic Last Man, bumbling through a cheating-game world of relativity and conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories because, whether we accept them or not, they point an accusing finger at the basic fabric of the system, undermining all responsibilities and moralities with scepticism. How can one be morally responsible in a system which is inherently corrupt? The individual, rather than standing strong and finding a good position in the competitive world, finds him or herself immersed in a society of cheats. The system has now become a cheating-game and the strong-self has to be identified in such an environment as a morally irresponsible subject.

One can only be a strong, successful player in the cheating-game by being a good cheat. This of course makes all success seem suspicious. Eventually decisions need to be made in which “honesty” is needed, but… who can we trust anymore? A strong leader is obviously a good liar and a very good cheat. This kind of leader is useful at convincing us that we are happy in a world that in reality offers us very little… Useful that is until we start to understand the truth. And the simple truth is that we are being cheated.

The first great lie is freedom as individuality and its idea of the unfettered individual along with the creation of a passion for strong individuals. Freedom is now a term used to propagate the unfettering of power: freedom to dominate; freedom to manipulate. The second great lie is democracy itself. The lie of free choice. The lie of majority rule. The lie of the individual’s capacity for achievement in the system.

The only way to combat the lie is by establishing positive, human objectives. We must look beyond the individual and the tyranny of egos in order to establish goals that are out of the cheating game. Goals without any other reward except progress towards human fulfilment. Goals that would pull us out of the cheating-game into another game with real rules that we know will really protect us and protect the world we depend on for our survival. All the rest is petty bickering, which is inevitable when you’re playing the cheating-game.

[i] See Francis Fukuyama’s thesis THE END OF HISTORY AND THE LAST MAN http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_End_of_History_and_the_Last_Man