Monday, June 16, 2014

The Age Of Anxiety


Ah yes, the Age of Anxiety! The times in which modern Fascism and Totalitarianism made their melodramatic debut on the historical stage (and their refusal to go away...as they merely transform and masquerade as something less identifiable or less unpalatable). The age of the Atom, the Age of Information, the Age of World Wars...the Age of Grotesque Materialism, Unmitigated Greed, Institutionalized Racketeering, Glorified Moral Bankruptcy and Wholesale Looting of Nations.
Does this sketch of the world you find yourself in ring true? If so, or even if not; perhaps you disagree and think everything is coming up roses...still read on. We are here and it is now...this much is indisputable and may be the only thing one can actually fully know. But how did we get here, to this lamentable yet reversible condition? Why can we not purge ourselves of the self defeating delusions and and failed ruinous notions of the past?



Before actually looking at the times we exist in, it's important to understand a few facts about the history of mankind leading up to our Age Of Anxiety. No matter how far back you look, human history is the story of one group of people or another attempting to set themselves up as superior to others and come up with a plethora of bogus reasons why they should dominate the others. Whether it's the "divine right" of Pharaohs in ancient Egypt, self-regarding thuggery of ancient Romans, the glorified warlords of medieval and absolutist Europe, or assorted Shahs, Caliphs, Sultans, Imams, Popes, Spurious Holy This or That Alliances, Tzars, Robber Barons, or other types of Grand Poohbahs; it's all the same in the end as in nearly every urbanized society throughout human history some group of people have tried to constitute themselves as an aristocracy. These people, their allies, sycophants, and apologists have been the scourge of humanity since time immemorial. The 20th and 21st centuries however have provided tools and technology to the would be Pharaoh that dwarf the potential of any previous despotic oligarchical nightmare.


  By the year 1939, liberal democracies in Britain, France, Scandinavia and Switzerland were realities. Unfortunately, elsewhere across the continent, assorted dictators  had also imposed their ugly mugs into the picture (Photo Bombed the process so to speak). Dictatorship seemed to be the wave of the future. Many people were resigned to accept this,while others were looking for ways to 'get in on it'. It also seemed to be the wave of the present. After all, didn't Mussolini proclaim that this century would be a century of the right? Of Fascism?



This is what disturbed such writers as Arthur Koestler (1905-1983), Yevgeny Zamyatin (1884-1937), Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), Karel Capek (1890-1938) and George Orwell (1903-1950). This was an antephialtic world in which human dignity, individuality, and the innate value of a human being was trampled under by the might of  totalitarianism. These early modern totalitarian states rejected liberal values of human dignity and fairness. They exercised total control over all aspects of the lives of subjects. Totalitarianism in these states became a new religion...a system of  required beliefs...a political religion for the Age of Anxiety.


   It goes without saying that the governments of Europe had been conservative and anti-democratic throughout their long histories. The leaders, whether monarchs or autocrats WERE the government, and by their very nature, prevented any incidence of social or political change that might endanger the existing social order that they benefited from. There have been enlightened monarchs, but few so enlightened as to have removed themselves from the sinews of power. Before the 19th century these monarchs all legitimized their rule by recourse to the divine right theory of kingship, an idea which  appeared in Europe during medieval times. In France, you may recall;  this was the case until the late 18th century when French revolutionaries decided to end the Bourbon 'divine' claim to the throne by cutting off the head of Louis XVI. Of course, France ended up with Napoleon who ironically also claimed the divine right of kingship. The difference was merely that this divine right emanated from Napoleon himself. One might say "the same shit, different shitter". And one would be correct. After all, the would be Pharaoh will simply rule by whatever mechanism of ascension to a throne is available. It could be divine, military, or economic...it could be using the political rhetoric of the left or right,  it doesn't matter...some people insist on being crowned. Where's my crown? I want my crown!. It's a type of sociopath really, isn't it?

  In contrast to these dictatorships,  a country such as England, on the other hand, underwent twenty years of civil war in the 17th century as well as the Glorious Revolution of 1688 which had produced a constitutional monarchy.

In the 19th century, both the Industrial and French Revolutions created the forces of social change which monarchs, enlightened or not, could not safely ignore. A large middle class had emerged in the 18th century but had lacked political status. Now, in the 19th century, this large class of entrepreneurs, factory owners, civil servants, teachers, lawyers, doctors, merchants and other types of professionals wanted their voices heard by their governments and there were a lot of them. They were largely at least somewhat educated unlike the peasants of previous times who were much easier to frighten, manipulate, and fool into submission. The middle class became a force which had to be reckoned with and governments began to utilize their talents by creating large, but obedient bureaucracies. In this way, government seemed to reflect the interests of all when in actual fact, they represented the interests of the same sociopath assholes it always had. There was however the illusion of democracy and every once in a while a bone was thrown to the middle class to keep them believing in the illusion.  So European governments maintained order by giving the middle classes a stake in the welfare of the nation. Governments also built strong police forces and armies of loyal soldiers to protect itself largely.  Meanwhile of course in reality, the great mass of people, the "swinish multitude," remained completely unrepresented. Radicals were either imprisoned, murdered, or exiled because of their liberal, democratic, socialist, communist or anarchist inclinations. Despite these measures, and there were others as well, traditional authoritarian governments were not completely successful. Their power and their objectives were actually limited.  Why you ask?  Well these governments lacked modern communications and modern transportation. They lacked, in other words, the ability to totally control their subject populations. Not until the twentieth century -- thanks to improved technology -- would this change . In fact, true totalitarian regimes are limited only by the extent to which mass communications have been made a reality. And, of course, with mass communications comes "mass man", and the capability of total  and complete control.



In this latter Age of Anxiety, humanity faces it's greatest challenge as the would be dictators have learned they can't use the older more obvious methods of domination. The modern threat hides behind logos, holding companies, and is difficult to discern. It's obvious that a handful of multinational corporations have seized control of mass communication globally, well frankly every industry. But who actually owns these multinational cartels and monopolies? It's cloaked and difficult to discern but if you follow the tangled web to it's source you find that roughly 85 people own virtually everything. There is no way Orwell could have predicted that there would be larger economic entities than states...but today more than half of the largest 'economies' in the world are not in fact states at all. They are corporate entities that exist only in an abstract manner on paper. "Big Brother" is no political entity at all. States now are openly bought and sold and the corrupt purchase of government is open and in plain sight....it's institutionalized.  It is reversible for the same reason the aristocracies of the past had to relinquish some of their powers. It is reversible if middle class demands change...the poor are powerless and it's by design. But the middle class has power because it potentially might be smart enough to see through the trickery. It may not be demoralized and degraded enough yet to simply go along with the plans of the modern fascists hiding behind these corporate facades because it's easier than objecting. These modern fascists are well aware of this and are doing everything they can now to eliminate this middle class. So there is a time limit on the possibility of change. There is likely a tipping point where if this middle class shrinks in numbers enough they will lose what power they have to refuse this new branded corporate fascism. The salvation of mankind lies in this alone-  Only by analyzing this deception will it become possible to revive democracy. Democracy may be imperfect but of all the possible means of governance and organizing society man has invented, a manageable representative democracy is the only one that attempts in any way to limit obscene concentrations of power. All others promote it in one way or another. Fight the power. But understand where that power lies, that it's concentration is the problem... and above all else don't be conned into enabling these modern cosmetically altered brands of fascism.  To impose its order on society, the modern corporatist must destroy what we non fascists view as civilization. In particular in order to thrive it must destroy conscience, democracy, reason, and language. The goal, in the name of humanity, decency, and survival is to reverse this concentration of power. Don't believe the slogans...no one has the right, divine or through accumulation of wealth to dominate society. It's a crock! It's the big lie. We can end The Age of Anxiety in one of two ways. Either by waking up and refusing to allow this concentration of power just as Dr. Martin Luther King refused to stand by and accept racism, or by rolling over in submission....going out with a whimper. The choice dear reader is yours.







  


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