I would be lying if I didn’t say that the following may be somewhat pessimistic. It may even sound not unlike the rantings of a youth. However how can one be certain of an idea without first testing it?
From my dealings with the devoted (religious, alternative medicine and secular rejecters of science alike) I understand that the implied answer to my question above is not universal. That said…
We often hear of our power; that is our consumer power, our political power, our people power – all of which we sway with our wallets, our ballot forms and our numbers in turn. But what truth is there in it?
I suspect, not a lot.
Take firstly the political power. Democracy is clearly a failing process under the weight of interest dollars. In the US and to a lesser extent Australia and elsewhere, a successful candidate requires funding and such funding does not come from the general voter, but the wealthy. Funding a successful campaign thus leaves a candidate on some level owing to the funders.
This would seem to be the reason for the main parties of such countries tending to the right, without significant difference between them apart from extreme or central right objectives. The voter is frustrated that the political will simply does not speak for them.
Within Australia, it has been widely discussed, with contempt, how Gina Rinehart and fellows successfully undermined the mining tax, to ensure they did not return more to the commonwealth from their exploits of common resources.
How does the individual have political power where the candidates do not speak truly for them?
With consumer power, the situation is even more convoluted, due to the “middleman”. We are told that, if we do not like a product or agree with the company’s ethics, we would simply not buy the product.
Yet, in reality, we simply do not know where our money goes. With multi-national conglomerates, we may be deciding between two products ultimately owned by the same body, say Unilever.
Moreover, of the wealth generated from the product; production lines continually upgrade to automate the process as much as possible; where possible, the primary resources are sourced from third world producers whom accept lower returns. This all reduces overheads and in turn maximises company profits and shareholder returns. Yet the consumer is unaware of this erosion of local jobs and wealth creation, largely at their long-term expense.
How does the individual have consumer power where they are kept ignorant of movement of their money?
What did the Occupy Movement achieve? Sleepless nights, I imagine, for the activists. Some air time to a serious problem (growing inequality), for a short time, for certain.
How many of these people involved have now returned to their lives in which, as consumers and voters, they continue to support, unwittingly, the very cause of their unrest? Effectively most, if not all of them.
Wherever middle class suburbia has not grabbed hold, people tend to spend less time at home. This is largely in the poorer communities around the world today and most places prior to the industrial revolution.
These people work harder than most of us can even imagine and when they are not working, they sleep. On the chance opportunity they do neither, they se friends and family. The reason being that their homes are basic and uninteresting, lucky to have many dividing walls. While we visualise it completely different, the reality is that the vast majority of humanity have always been born into and died within the slums.
The wealthy individual today has become something else.
The home in which we live is designed almost exclusively for mental masturbation. The “disposable” technology and furniture all provide us with an oasis of mindless entertainment in which we sit for countless hours, even at the expense of interacting with those whom we claim to love most dearly. Each individual plugged into a different device, paying for additional channels, internet access or the newest game at not only a financial expense, but a social one as well.
In short, we have been made into money trees, fertilised in a bed of mind-numbing stupidity, completely separated from our direct environment, peers and community.
How does the individual form part of a meaningful movement of minds where we are forever working, if we are unlucky or embedded within an environment perpetually distracted if not?
I opened this by highlighting the possibility that my recent thoughts have left me pessimistic and that may be the cause for such reflection. However, I’m unconvinced of this because I simply cannot see where, in a modern affluent democratic country, the genuine rights and capacity for change exist for the individual. We choose to live, just like everyone else or not and the latter option isn’t a real option in itself.
In this, I conclude I have found reason for the eventual submission of all individuals. It becomes easier to enjoy the stimuli of ones little plot and bloom and fruit into yet another money tree for harvest.
However, I personally find it increasingly distasteful, if not shameful to the individual and am forced to lament. I do so not from restlessness, but a lingering hope that there is something uniquely noble and valuable within our species that we have yet to acquire and all I find in its absence is mediocre sentiment and foolish, ego-centric amusement.