I Think It’s Worse Than You Think

For anyone who hasn’t read my writing or blog posts before, I want to come right out and identify myself as very much left of centre on most issues. There are a few issues I am surprisingly conservative about, but on the whole, I’m pink, edging towards red.

But in recent years, I’ve grown more pragmatic. I live as a guest in a country that does not ascribe to the multi-party democratic model. In the past, I had strong opinions about the basic fairness and balance inherent in the tensions that were the nature of multi-party systems. As much as I longed for left-leaning governments to be elected, I always valued a strong opposition that would curtail the excesses of whatever ideology dominated the moment. I have seen the stupid, wasteful excesses of the left just as I’ve seen the cruel social Darwinism of the right. I grew up in Spain under Franco. I lived through the decimation of the unions by Thatcher and the rise of the dogma that greed is good under Reagan, and then Clinton. I recognize the historic totalitarian danger inherent in modernism’s great social projects, and the grey, hollow limbo of postmodern disengagement with everything but the superficial.

But I have come to believe that what was once a great battle of ideas – essentially the schism between the supremacy of the individual good vs the good of the majority – is moot. Because I believe that there is a critical mass of individuals in the world who have no ideology at all except their own accumulation of wealth and power. They are not conservatives with traditional social values. They have no values at all. They reject the notion of value entirely except as it pertains to their personal and immediate benefit. And there are enough of them that they have, with the application of their great wealth and power, made a mockery of all ideologies. They will support whichever ideological faction ensures the growth of more of what they have.

It could be called CEOism. But, really, it is a type of modern feudalism.

If you do anything, make anything, help to service or support anything, you are not one of these people. Whether you are a farmer, or a teacher, or a lawyer or a plumber, it doesn’t matter. If your living depends on receiving a wage for doing something, then you are not one of these feudal lords and you never will be.

These people, these Feudalists, see themselves as CEOs. They do only two things: they choose and cause things to be done by other people. They make money with money. Although at one time, they might have been overpaid bankers, traders, or heads of corporations, they have amassed such wealth that now it is their money that makes money. And it makes more money in a year than you will ever make in a lifetime. They will pass it on to their children. They will determine who gets into power by dint of controlling the messages and agendas of political parties. They don’t care which party, they have no underlying set of values. They will support whichever party will allow them to continue to amass the most wealth and power and global influence. They will buy the influence of Republican senators,  but they will just as easily buy the influence of a Democrat, buy the approbation of the NAACP, or a strong union. Anyone who will remember to whom they owe favours is fair game. And we have all been trained very well repay favours.

But most important of all… it is in their interest to make sure the left-right battle is kept at a fevered pitch. They will fund whoever will keep the rhetoric and vitriol going.

Because as long as we are busy insulting each other, we are all distracted from the fact that they are decimating our systems of government. Slowly, quietly, underhandedly they are shifting power away from representational legislators and legal bodies, and into the hands of corporate interests that have become so crucial to our living, our healthcare, our education, our infrastructures, our social programs, our foreign influences, that we cannot afford for them to fail. Until we are pawns, regardless of our political leanings or our governmental structures.

Here’s the irony. The only thing that is going to save us is altruism. Whether left or right, if you believe that winning is more important than the basic structure of the system of governance itself, we are lost. And that, I’m sad to say, is a very archaic ideal.

I’m not sure that we know how to give up our immediate benefit for the long-term survival of a reasonably fair and humane way of life, for a society we find ethically tolerable, of whatever political stripe. I worry that we have lost our ability to suffer, even for a moment, for an ideal of any kind.

I’m not romanticizing the past. Money always played a part in politics. People always lusted for power beyond the realm of ethics, but never before was it acceptable to admit it.

I watched Anderson Cooper’s interview with Donald Sterling. Beyond the reprehensible racism he could not even recognize as his own, was a monstrous assuredness of his entitlement. I know a lot of people dismiss him as an old, racist bastard, but I don’t think that’s the case. I think there are an incredible number of very rich men and women just like him. Perhaps they don’t exhibit his racism, but they have the same complete absence of basic values. They have the same utter obliviousness to the way the world really is, and about what is fundamentally right and wrong. What is right is very simply what is good for them. That IS their ideology. The only one they possess.

These people are the enemy of anyone who believes in any system that acknowledges the fundamental value of a human being, their efforts, their labour, their right to happiness.  And all the prurient rhetoric, whether coming from the Republicans or the Democrats or Labour or the Conservatives… it’s all a distraction, and it is a distraction the new feudal lords are banking on, literally.