The Kool-Aid System

The politicians, the rich, the oligarchs have drunk the Kool-aid of the present neoliberal system. The system is killing itself and it can’t stop. The present economic/political system is trapped in a destructive degenerating downward feedback loop that is concentrating all the wealth in fewer and fewer people and making the remaining 99% of the people poorer and poorer. The wealth is hoarded for the supposed benefit of the few. It is not used, or invested, for the benefit of the whole system, all of the people.

What is the future of such a feedback loop? Can it go on until one person owns everything? Then effectively nobody would own anything. The property system will have been destroyed. The idea of property, of ownership, will have morphed into an absurdity. The 99% will have to rent everything they need.

The system is destroying itself. Why is it doing this? Because the system is epistemically closed. It refuses to look outside itself for ways to change or improve itself. It believes it is the one-and-only-true-way. It is blind to reality. It refuses to see what it is doing to itself and to humanity. This is the kool-aid that is killing it.

Those of us who can see that the system is failing, is destroying itself must do something. We must convince those invested in the system, those whose well-being depends on the continued functioning of the system that the present course is leading to disaster or at least prolonged degeneration and misery for billions of people. But wait! Whose well-being depends on the continued functioning of the system? That’s all of us. The system feeds us — in so far as we are fed. So we can’t just let it collapse. And it would not make sense to try to destroy it. We must change it, carefully, step-by-step, so that the distribution of human necessities to all people is more just. This step-by-step process could take a long time with many steps, and perhaps many steps that have to be reversed, or maybe much progress could be made relatively quickly.

The present system is very complicated. It is not at all easy to understand how it works. Actually nobody understands how it works completely, or even very well how it works. Individual people understand their jobs, more or less. And both in their jobs and outside their jobs they must interact with the rest of the system which they do not understand very well. Our present educational systems teach people, train people mostly for specific jobs. The system might operate better and could be changed for the better if more people could educate themselves to better understand how our various systems and subsystems work so that they could work in government or corporate positions to operate, monitor, and suggest improvements for the systems they have become experts in.

At present there are many subsystems that people are expected to use and make decisions about that they do not understand at all, or very little, or poorly. And they do not understand the consequences of their use of these systems. Here are some examples. Most people do not understand compound interest. Yet they are expected to use credit cards, get mortgages for a house, buy a car on credit. Most people have no clue how our various governments work or even what they do or are supposed to do, or actually do, yet they are supposed to vote for their representatives, and all the various government officials. They must decide between candidates some of whom want to raise taxes, lower taxes, regulate banks and corporations, deregulate banks and corporations, start a war, stop a war, acquire weapons, sell weapons to foreign countries, etc. And I don’t just mean ordinary people don’t understand these things. Most politicians, most of our experts do not understand these things. Politicians do not understand banking so how can they decide which regulations there should be? They can’t. Worse, most bankers, most traders, most people who work in the financial industry do not understand how the whole system works! They may all, or most of them, know how to make money in their area of specialization — mortgage originators, brokers, appraisers, financial consultants, traders, inventors of so-called securities, lawyers, judges, building contractors, academics, economists, and even federal reserve chairmen. None of them understands how the whole system works. They are surprised when the system crashes. Or the few who do see a crash coming act surprised or they do not know for sure when or if a crash is coming. The only ones who are right in their predictions are those few who always predict that a crash is just around the corner. They are exactly right, just like the stopped clock that has the correct time twice a day, when the crash occurs.  So for a start, if we want a system that works well for people, either we must simplify the systems we create, the systems we allow ourselves to evolve into, or, people must educate themselves so as to understand and properly use more complex systems. If we want to have complex systems we will need to assure that people educate themselves as to how to use them. A well operating system needs to assure that all the parts have the information necessary to interact with the rest of the system. If we continue to have a money-and-pay-for-work system we need to pay people to educate themselves.

Whose minds do we have to change? Since the rich right now, the oligarchs, have such overwhelming influence on the media and all three branches of the US government does this mean we have to change their minds first? Not necessarily. But it might be easier. Or do we have to change the academics minds first, the scientists, those who can first understand that the present system is drastically inefficient, nonfunctional with respect to satisfying everyone’s basic human needs?

The neoliberal revolution changed the minds of business owners first, the rich, then academics and politicians, then judges. When did they change the minds of media owners and journalists? When did they change the minds of religious leaders? It may be painful and discouraging to think through the process, looking at all the steps that the neoliberal revolution went through to attain its present dominance. But it is important to do so since this is one of the more recent revolutions, it is nonviolent in its methods (though not in its results). Its actions being recent history can be analyzed in detail, and finally, we might want to emulate its methods. We can debate whether war is one of its methods. If war is, then of course its methods are violent. But its direct methods of changing minds in the US (and some other countries) — through direct spreading of its memes to the uninformed rich through conferences, seminars, informal discussions, then through the establishment of think tanks, then through the infiltration of academia, then through lobbying and campaign contributions to politicians, and finally to its present practice of completely buying and paying for congresspersons, the president, government officials at all levels — these methods are non-violent. None of this is violent in itself. And by now, the ideas of this ideology, its memes have been spread to and accepted by most of the population in the US and other developed countries and to developing countries like China and India. So we need a worldwide counter-revolution that must be at least as non-violent as the original.

Since money, especially in the form of buying and owning the media and governments and government politicians and officials, is the root of all this at present, maybe the most feasible way is to change the minds of enough rich to displace this destructive neoliberalism ideology.  How do we change enough of their minds? Not all of them are as stupid as the media propagandists would suggest. They could see and understand the flaws in the present system. But are they all too busy doing their thing of making ever more money to have time to think about or do anything about the present deteriorating system?

How to organize the revolution? How about a revolution corporation. Even a for-profit or non-profit. The purpose would be to spread the goals and methods of the revolution. How does the Revolution Corporation (RevCorp) make money? Donations of course. But also services like sales of informational materials, teaching, training, instructional services to those who can pay, free to those who cannot. One big advantage would be to use the present system to change the system. This would have the advantage of showing we are serious, that we don’t want to destroy, that we want to work within the law, that we are not inherently against markets or whatever the latest buzzword is even though we want drastic changes. We could even go public at some point. It would give us more power since corporations have more power than individuals. We would do all (or most) of the things that think tanks do, although we must do much more. We would not pretend to be “objective” with no program. Our program would be to develop and promote — spread — the goals of the revolution. Our messages — the information, the memes we spread — will be as truthful and science based as we can make them and we will at all times clearly state our goals and methods, and of course our methods and messages will be consistent with and based on our goals. We will give grants and have other relationships to other groups, individuals, organizations for work toward our revolutionary goals.

There are multiple ways to organize the revolution. It need not be, and almost surely will not be in the form of a single organization. Most likely it will be in the form of zillions of individuals in many, many organizations all with the basic goals of social justice. Social justice covers most everything we need. Surely peace and maximal individual freedom are parts of social justice too.