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.

*     *     *

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.

*    *     *

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.  

Human Resurrection (1)

 

Resurrectionbw

In our previous post, Humanity (nothing or something?), we discussed the non-existence of humanity and the interest that the System has in perpetuating that void. The System knows that once societies perceive humanity as a liberating potential, the foundation of their carefully constructed paradigm begins to crumble. Once we understand the advantages reaped by the System through its ability to belittle humanity, civilisation itself starts to be seen as something insidious. The truth is that our civilisations have been constructed with their backs turned to human fulfilment in favour of the greed of its elite castes and classes. Nevertheless, a mere knowledge of human perdition does open a door to a revelation: an awareness that inspires a need for revolutionary action on a complete, global, human scale.

To make humanity something real, we have to turn everything around so that our doors and windows can open onto an authentically human vista.

The most significant area that needs to be overturned in this great revaluation of Humanity, needs to be the economy – our anti-human economy.

The economy, and its life-blood, money, is a system of facilitating and controlling exchange and a means of measuring the worth of the commodities that are being moved around in that exchange. This is fair enough, for things to happen and progress to be made, exchange of goods and skills are necessary. But the biggest drawback of the economy is not this mechanism of exchange in itself, but the fact that the mechanism has become a life-support system for societies. Only by being within the system called the Economy will you be allowed to find fulfilment. In fact, stepping out of the system is practically a death sentence. We need to be in the system to survive. This is because the economy-concept is based on a premise that all of us should have something to exchange that others will want to receive, and that this something to exchange is readily available to be exchanged every day. Of course, not everyone has the means for manufacturing sellable goods, but everyone does have basic labour skills, and so, those who cannot manufacture can only survive by doing the actual manufacturing for those who have the technologies to do it. What this system does is oblige those who do not have readily available goods to barter, to barter their time and labour.

It is not a new system, it has worked over millennia, becoming more and more complex and creating societies all over the planet in which a few benefit enormously from the exchange whilst the vast majority must struggle to make enough to survive. For the vast majority of human beings, life-fulfilment is measured in the fact that they are surviving and little else. The System, seen from a human point-of-view, is a segregating one, creating dissensions and antagonisms; exploitation and war. Exchange has become a fundamental ingredient for survival. But, does it have to be like this?

GO TO PART TWO: https://pauladkin.wordpress.com/2020/02/27/human-resurrection-2/

The Abstract and the Conditional versus the Casserole of Duties

Casserole_EXPS_THN16_15969_D06_22_2b

All human activity and progress has come from our ability to conceptualise reality abstractly and conditionally. The future is not built on dreams, but on the idea of what is possible; of what we could do if …

Nevertheless, despite all the conditional possibilities thrown at us every day in a civilisation driven by publicity campaigns, contemporary society offers little room to let our minds wander into the now dangerous realm of the abstract.

The contemporary human condition is full of the obligations of the here and now: family responsibilities; work obligations; needs to find work; to buy; to pay one’s debts. Obligations that have their own spaces, but which seep into the other spaces, constantly mixing and creating a thick stew of obligations. And it is this casserole of duties that we come to call the System. A thick-stew system that gives us less and less space in which to look for the abstract and conditional.

In the casserole of duties, life is enclosed in the actual. Whenever gaps appear, they are quickly plugged by consumer needs or the indoctrinations of the games used by the System to divert thoughts that may start to wander, fixing them by immersing them in the actuality of the game, so that when the current match finishes the arrival of the next great sporting event is already immanent.

Everything is designed to promote the here-and-now and inhibit the conditional, and, by so doing, foster the real and the factual, extinguishing our thoughts until we are left empty of possibilities and full of the actual.

The modern man and woman is full of the System, and the irony is that our very social complexity in the System alienates us from our humanity.

While we are full of the System, we have no room to progress as humans; no room to discover our vital, creative potential within the future potentials of all imagined conditionals.

Organisation: A Human Obsession

Capitalism1

Human beings are obsessed by the way we are organised. We are obsessed by the family, the state, our religions; we live in a gossip loving, envious society that above all loves money … All these factors exert strong organisational fields over our lives. But while it is relatively simple, for some, to stop flag-waving and escape from the grip of their local church, or stop watching reality shows and disappear from their family radar, it seems impossible to remove ourselves from the gravitational force of money.

Money is the perfect form of organisation, itself perfected by the control methodologies implemented through the organisation of the great organiser – the economy.

We are a social-animal species. We are born vulnerable and dependent on those who can nourish and protect us. Until, in theory, we leave the nest, but the independence we imagine we gain in our maturity is a myth that is never truly obtained, because we never free ourselves from the obsession we have with that which is always organising us; an obsession which leads to blind faith, and that is the worst loss of freedom. The way we are organised is the way things are: we sense that; we implicitly believe it; but does that mean that we cannot change it? Is the way things are, the way things have to be?

Despite our obsession with organisation, we also need to believe in the anti-organisation concept of freedom. Most Westerners cringe at the idea of loss of freedom. Freedom is a symbol that all human beings should aspire to. But why? If we are so obsessed with organising our lives according to the way things are, and freedom represents that which is not the way things are, why do we place so much importance on this anti-organisation concept.

Certainly, if one lives under the singular-will organisation of a dictatorship, one can dream of the liberating effects that an organisation like the one we call democracy offers. But what happens when you discover that the free world of liberal democracies doesn’t actually offer you real freedom at all? Where does one go from there? Must we surrender to blind faith, and console ourselves with the absurd, illogical belief that the organisation that controls us actually allows us to be independent and free?

The real problem lies in the fact that we never truly organise ourselves: our lives are always organised for us; within a paradigm built in order to organise most of us in a way that allows us to be exploited for its own purposes. No matter how free we think we are in this world of unlimited possibilities, for the vast majority of us, our relationship is a submissive one, determined by the power that organises us. And yet, do you ever ask yourself why we are organised in this way; or how this organisation came to be taken for granted in the first place?

True, we are a social-animal and freedom from organisation is impossible. Nevertheless, it is possible to break free and escape the nest, just as some of us really do break free from the organisation of the family. Organisation can work for everyone, in a way that allows each one of us the power to develop our talents to the fullest. We don’t have to be organised and moulded according to the will of that seemingly random, abstract force we call the economy. Yet, for a liberating organisational force to be possible, we first have to deeply question the reasons why we have been organised in this anti-liberating way in the first place. In order to see the way out, we first have to understand why we really do need to escape.

THE SYSTEM AS LANGUAGE

trojan-horse

The System doesn’t merely speak to us: it itself is structured as a language with its own grammar and logic that we all now misinterpret as being “reality” or “the way things are” and “the way things must always be”. The language of civilisation is its gift to us that tells us that the System itself is ours.

But the gift is a Trojan Horse, as soon as we accept it we are enslaved to them. Once we have accepted the gift we must close our eyes to the consequences, because the truth is that our truth is an unbearable one. It is the worst of all truths: the most shameful side; the originator of all our problems, woes and stupidities; the reason why we are doomed to the cruellest separation from what we really are. It is the tremendous wall between what the System wants us to be and our humanity.

The Way Out of the Bubble

Bubble-Bursting

In order to effectively criticise, the critic needs to have an alternative to the operating model. Herein lies the great impotence of the bipartisan system. Criticism is carried out in a basically sterile way, concentrating on the usual way that organisation is carried out. In other words, criticism is infected with Habitus[i]. This infection prevents criticism from attacking the structures of the System itself, and makes it impossible for it to offer any real alternatives to the bubble it floats in. Any real alternative has to begin with pulling down the house, but this is such a radical step that hardly anyone, except the most extreme groups, would be prepared to advocate it. “How could we possibly survive without the body that we occupy?” think the Leviathan’s parasites.

The idea is scary and it sounds impossible. Scary and impossible enough to dissuade any serious thought from forming in that direction. Nevertheless, as more and more people find themselves being fooled and lied to by the System, or become direct victims of its imperialistic and dictatorial reality, the need for demolition becomes ever more apparent.

But once one decides that we need to escape, the great paradox embedded in Systemology raises its ugly head. We need to get out of the System, but we need the System to survive. We cannot escape the bubble we are imprisoned in without bursting it. If we do we will surely die, won’t we? Psychologically then, in order for us to be strong enough to burst the bubble we need to have assurances that the atmosphere outside of the bubble will not be toxic for us. The first question leading us to liberation from the System must therefore be: What kind of atmosphere will exist outside of the System?

Criticism on its own, without the assurance of an atmosphere within which the alternative may be liveable, is always ineffective. Just as alternatives that offer solutions within the System itself are basically impotent and therefore also ineffective.

To see through the masks and the Habitus created by the System we need to analyse the ineradicable evils of that System – its necessary evils, so often blamed on human nature – and explain why those necessary evils are not necessary at all.

The will to change will come out of the need to change, which will become more and more apparent as the consumer-will society falls into deeper and deeper conflict with the atmosphere that sustains it. The consciousness allowing us to break the bubble will be a deeper consciousness of the greater bubble of the world that encloses the System’s bubble of economy. By breaking the economic bubble we don’t die of suffocation, quite the contrary, we expose our lungs to clean air and breathe freely again for the first time.

[i] See our entry on Habitus: https://pauladkin.wordpress.com/2015/02/28/habitus/

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.

NEUROSIS: OUR PARODIXICAL REALITY

woody615

The power and meaningfulness of paradox is embedded in the unity of its own greatest contradiction: Paradox is something that reveals and conceals at the same time. But this could also be a definition of reality itself. Reality is something that reveals and conceals and hence, reality has a paradoxical nature.

It is certainly true of the reality propagated by the System. The System reveals and conceals. Watch the nightly news and that which is unveiled is at the same time concealing just as much information, if not more. In the same way, at the same time that we discover things we also repress our awareness of other things. Concentration opens our eyes to minute details by blurring the forms around it. This is not a contradiction but rather a paradoxical reality.

To find another example let us examine the psychological or psycho-pathological state of our society and consider the existence of neurosis. At the subjective level, neurosis is a removal of the individual’s narrative from public communication. However, on the social or macro-psychological level, it is the public communication that has become senseless to the individual. Alienation is the cause of neurosis and an alienating society will breed neurotics. Nevertheless, in the case of neurotic illness quite the opposite takes place: society sees the neurotic as ill and the neurotics will see that “illness” in themselves because the  society reflects it at them. But whose fault is it when someone feels disconnected from society: the fault of the neurotic or of the system that creates neurosis? In our System, it is a neurotic splitting of discourse from meaning that alienates the individual, not a particular moral weakness or infirm nervous system in the neurotics themselves. Nevertheless, the fact that society creates neurotics is not considered an important criticism of the structure of society itself. There are no political party agendas dedicated to the eradication of neurosis, because, in order to do such a thing a complete rethinking and restructuring of the fabric of society would be required. The existence of neurotics condemns the failures of society and yet the condemnation is covered up and loaded upon the victim. The truth concerning neurosis is therefore embedded in the mystification of its paradoxical nature and only by looking for the paradox that encloses the problem are we really able to see it.

It is the discovery of the paradox that allows for the unveiling of the real. Always search for the paradoxical nature of things, even when, or especially when, things seem perfectly straight forward.

Our Naked System

emperors_new_clothes_550

Marxist doctrine argues a need for an emerging working-class self-consciousness capable of comprehending the aggressive nature of the capitalist system in order to liberate itself from it. But reality now demands that we look beyond the confines of any ideologies and their separations—whether class, cultural, linguistic or territorial—in order to become conscious of how the system infects us all, and how it uses the separating forces inherent in all ideologies to perpetuate its own selfish interests.

 

The best way to bring the oppressors down is to reveal the true nature of their nakedness. Like the Emperor parading his new clothes, the system is really quite naked of principles once we allow ourselves to open our eyes to what it tells us is there but in reality is not there at all. And once that nakedness is seen the next brave act would be to confront the emperor with the awkward truth of his real, pathetic condition. We risk stirring the emperor’s rage, but perhaps his shame will be so great that he will abdicate.

 

The world-view of the system, despite its globalising, empirical apparel, cannot tolerate any singular world-view that would be antithetical to its philosophy of dynamism. For this reason it demands separation and seems to move in a constant direction to ensure that borders will remain in some form or other. From the worldview perspective of the ideology/identity system, separations evolve into relativisms that are tolerated because they can maintain the spirit of separation and not alienate ideologies from the global empire in its entirety. But, relativism is also a step on the downward ladder to scepticism and from there to pessimism, which is always a numbing energy that invites a depressive fall into unconsciousness.

 

Of course the system ultimately fails again. It engenders a lethargy rather than a dynamism. But what the system calls crisis is essential to its own metabolism, and with the collapse, and the great misery resulting from that collapse, the system itself, driven by renewed needs and a renewed grasp of reality, will be able to catapult itself back into the dynamism that capitalism demands. A dynamism fuelled by the fantasy of perpetuity: continual growth is impossible within the closed system that is the Earth. And this is the ridiculous nakedness of the system. A farce that is no longer funny anymore, it has become emphatically dangerous.

KNOWING THE LIE – CONSCIOUSNESS (1)

pinoceo

One cannot be free unless one has the power to change one’s circumstances in a positive way. One cannot change one’s circumstances unless one can see what needs to be changed. Consciousness is therefore an a priori necessity for freedom. Dictatorship can be achieved by simply making the people it oppresses unconscious of the reality that really dominates them.

Consciousness has to be an alert force, if it is not alert it cannot be consciousness. Its power lies in its ability to see through the veil of systemic mystification. Consciousness allows us the right to be critical, sceptical, or even cynical.

Of course consciousness can also be false. False consciousness lacks clarity as it is muddied by its own ideologies: ideologies that stem from identities. For consciousness to be clear it needs to transcend all ideology-mask identities.

False consciousness could also be called misguided consciousness – a consciousness looking for a reality which is simply just not there, and probably never will be, is a misguided one. Consciousness needs to see through the masks, but that does not mean it must cut through all still surfaces. The cutting open can have negative results if the process itself does nothing but churn already clear waters and makes them no longer transparent.

Can we say that reality should be that which needs to be? What about want it to be? If we accept the validity of both possibilities, which is stronger: want or needs? Desires must be subject to needs. Desires can only be gained when needs are satisfied. Likewise, in order to uncover reality and therefore find truth, consciousness must be guided by needs at first and desires only when those needs are satisfied or safeguarded. The first thing consciousness must look for is necessity.