What Will It Take to Break Our Trance?

We are rapidly returning to the uncivilized Law of the Jungle. We will soon live in a world where brute force rules. It is not only the disabled, widows, children and orphans who are vulnerable to the cruelties of this jungle. We all are. We have been brainwashed with incessant slogans like “Get the government off your back,” and “Keep more of your own money… oppose all tax increases.” Our dominant, false ideology tells us that every function of government must be privatized, so that governmental functions can be performed with business-like efficiency. (We are not told that the real reason for privatizing is to give capitalists yet another opportunity for making short term profit.) The very concept that we humans might work and cooperate together to protect ourselves from Jungle dangers and to meet our common needs is shunned as “socialism,” as if that were something evil. The capitalists have brainwashed themselves, and they have brainwashed us. They along with the rest of us hope and assume that the common good will somehow automatically take care of itself, if they think about the common good at all. Each capitalist must be concerned only with his own private profit and cannot be concerned with the common good lest some competitor captures his profit making opportunity. We are a nation of millions of brainwashed individualists, living, working, and acting under false perceptions of reality as if we were all “Manchurian Candidates.” We have forgotten that government is the only effective institution that we have to protect us from the brute force of the Law of the Jungle. If we do not very quickly awaken from our trance, and act together in a cooperative human community, millions of us will perish.

Ironically, most wealthy capitalists will themselves be destroyed in this looming Jungle.

Capitalists need government almost as badly as we do, but they will not admit it. As Adam Smith taught long ago, capitalism and capitalists can survive only with a rule of law controlling private property rights and business promises, a government to enforce those laws, and a certain level of morality. He cannot be concerned with the common good lest some competitor captures his profit. Capitalist ideology thus prohibits capitalists from protecting their own common good. As we see from the daily news, no capitalist will speak out in support of regulation of Wall Street. Capitalists say that they will discipline themselves, but they have not, can not and do not.

We ordinary citizens and voters cling to an illusory idealistic assumption that we retain the right to govern ourselves, and that if we only work hard enough in the political process, we can change things through the ballot box. We cling to this false deadly assumption despite the vast accumulation of evidence that our political process is totally dominated and controlled by approximately 5000 very wealthy individuals acting through their ownership of their corporations and their mainstream advertising agencies, TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines. Thus in these desperate times, our government has given Trillions of our tax dollars to the big banks of the wealthy without any conditions, while our government has given little or nothing to create jobs for us. This money controlled government can afford to give Trillions to the wealthy, but this government cannot afford to provide VA hospitals and medical care for everybody. We citizens and voters are kept quiet and non-rebellious because of our own brainwashed state, fueled by our addiction to consumer goods, electronic gadgets, computers and TV.

Part of the trance and delusion is maintained by liberals. My definition of a “liberal” is one who vaguely wants a civilizing government and to make things right, but only if it does not deprive him of his standard of living. Thus a liberal will protest wealth inequality, the corruption of our elected leaders by money, imperialism, wars abroad, torture, rendition, and civilian collateral damage, but a liberal will not rebel, stop work, strike, picket, vigil or boycott. A liberal knows at some level that his material well being depends ultimately on these very evils that he protests against, specifically including torture. A liberal, like a conservative capitalist, cannot face the fact that he himself is in a dangerous suicidal trance. So he does not challenge the trance either.

Even under the best of circumstances, we have limited time and interest in governing ourselves. Our civic impulse is in very short supply. We see this in the low voter turnout and in the superficial slogans that lead many voters make up their minds. We see it also in political parties, local governments, charities, clubs and unions where aggressive individuals rise to power, and the ordinary person does not bother to attend meetings or to vote.

The blunt truth is that we are now ruthlessly governed by these few wealthy individuals who have accumulated their vast fortunes. One might almost say that we are “ungoverned,” but of course we are taxed to benefit these rulers, and to pay for their losses on their risky financial investments. The government is operated and controlled by and for these few wealthy individuals. For all practical purposes, it is if we are ruled by a selfish greedy king who rules us and taxes us for his own pleasure and his own benefit. This “king” has his royalist earls, dukes, nobles and toadies in the form of Presidents, Senators, elected officials, journalists, college professors and economists who fawn around him. These toadies tell the “king” what he wants to hear (however insane and stupid) hoping for his favor and crumbs from his table. President Obama himself is such a toady to the “king.” Obama’s economic advisors, former Harvard President Larry Summers and University of California Professor Christina Romer are perfect examples of such fawning advisors to the “king.” They study and report only what the “king” wants to hear.

The truth is that our capitalism and our self governing democracy are beyond repair or reform. Both are terminal, and dysfunctional. Our material well being is rapidly falling, and it will fall much further. Our trance prevents us from dealing with the death throes of capitalism, with the few wealthy individuals who control democracy with their wealth, with diminishing reserves of oil and gas, and with deadly global warming. This is not to say that we will find it easy to make changes even if we become aware of our trance. We will have to attend meetings and vote. We will have to accept a lower standard of living because of the depletion of oil and live like Cubans. Other civilizations in the past have fallen into dark ages because those in power did not recognize the falsity of their political-economic-cultural ideas, and did not take corrective action in time. Millions of us are destined to starve and those who do survive will be serfs allowed to grow a little food on the estates of the very rich. This is inevitable, unless we awaken and face the truth very soon.

Doug Page is a retired lawyer for unions, a former Democratic politician, and a life long observer of government, unions and business. He can be reached at: dougpage2@earthlink.net. Read other articles by Doug, or visit Doug's website.

23 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on November 10th, 2009 at 9:59am #

    Doug page is the first analyst that, to my knowledge, speaks of the strong tendency in US to put as much of governance as possible in private hands.
    And as i see it, with aim, to deny other people their right to have a rightful share of the goodies that people produce.
    I, self, wrote 15yrs ago many leters to editors stating how wrong it is to privatize business that belongs legally and morally to all of the people. Not a single letter was ever published.

    We cld also notice that the robbers and warlords do not ever speak of a bad or too much governance but of too much gov’ts. In other words, system of rule does not matter. The sole problem is the gov’t.

    But i do speak of bad governance and bad constitution as some of the root causes for US constant warfare, poverty, oppression, privateering-profiteering, without which pols wld never be as rich as they are and to go on
    making even more money as private consultants or join corporation once they are out of office.
    tnx

  2. Suthiano said on November 10th, 2009 at 10:40am #

    “We have forgotten that government is the only effective institution that we have to protect us from the brute force of the Law of the Jungle….

    We cling to this false deadly assumption despite the vast accumulation of evidence that our political process is totally dominated and controlled by approximately 5000 very wealthy individuals acting through their ownership of their corporations and their mainstream advertising agencies, TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines.

    The truth is that our capitalism and our self governing democracy are beyond repair or reform… Millions of us are destined to starve and those who do survive will be serfs allowed to grow a little food on the estates of the very rich. This is inevitable, unless we awaken and face the truth very soon.”

    I certainly appreciate the ‘tone’ of this article, but the above extracts are just a couple of examples how muddled this paper is. What exactly does the author suggest?

    Government is offered up as our protection, yet it is also admitted that government is in the hands of the ‘capitalists’ (the plutocracy), and is beyond repair or reform… unless we awaken soon?

  3. Don Hawkins said on November 10th, 2009 at 12:11pm #

    Doug I vote to put this article great words into the book of new knowledge. X

  4. dan e said on November 10th, 2009 at 12:38pm #

    The 5K or whatever is the exact figure who control public discourse in the US/Canada/UK etc have no intention of eliminating “government”. What they intend and with Obama installed are busily carrying out is the elimination of the influence of the Working Class and the Poor over governmental decisions and functioning which came about when the very Free Enterprise (sic) system itself appeared even to many of said 5K to be failing, to have become dysfunctional. In addition to the Crash and the Depression, there was the nascent Soviet Union and the then-rampaging US Labor Movement led by admirers of Soviet accomplishments and apparent promise.
    Thus the more intelligent of the capitalist class, under FDR’s leadership, chose to bend like the bamboo in order to foreclose any possibility of being uprooted like the oak. It was decided that many and far-reaching concessions had to be made to the Labor Force.
    It is only now, three quarters of a century later, that is is becoming possible to revoke these concessions.
    With Obama in place it becomes possible to envision sweeping attacks on popular living standards and civil rights that Republicans could only dream of. Meanwhile, the Military and Security arms of the capitalist State, governmental and “private contractors”, continue to hypertrophy, as does the “mainstream media” and related means of conning you into cutting your own throat.

  5. Ryan M. said on November 10th, 2009 at 12:39pm #

    I will need to agree with “Suthiano.” I just don’t see the point of this messy and convoluted argument. What exactly are you suggesting?

    The vast majority of conservative capitalists are are indeed against the regulation of Wall Street. This is because they have little to no interest in the day-to-day happenings on Wall Street. The fact of the matter is that Wall Street brought the financial collapse upon themselves via naked short-selling and similar immoral business practices.

    It should be noted that short-selling is actually a practice that should be disallowed by standard common sense, (you can’t sell what you don’t actually own – gasp!) but was actually made possible through legislation. And it is (mostly) because of this practice that financial Armageddon is upon us.

    People who invested in the market knew (or at least, should have known!) the risks involved in investing… And now their money is gone. :-(

    But that’s how it works…..

    So keep looking to your legislators to protect you from the “Jungle.” I’ll be stocking up on food and ammo ;-)

  6. Danny Ray said on November 10th, 2009 at 2:13pm #

    I had rather fight the jungle than be a slave. and and slavery is the only outcome of where we are heading.

  7. bozh said on November 10th, 2009 at 2:18pm #

    We cld also adduce an enlightenment by stating that everything that happens on a human level, whether in nepal, china, yemen, or US is systemic; i.e., of a system.
    Even lack of a system or a jumble of contradictory/iniquitous laws may be systemic.
    System od rule can be called structure or structure of governance. Gov’ts; i.e., managements being a mere part of it.

    Any in cold blood observer [icier the better] can see the naked components of the US sytem of rule. And not only that but also people who solely rule or rule much more than lower layers of society.

    One does need no schooling nor to read any media to see what is happening. One eye or ear will solely do. But most of us have two eyes and two ears. And we can see structure of atom, heart, hypertension, cancer, diabetes, governance, polio, etc.
    Once we see all that we can at least attempt to change the structure. This how we have eradicated polio and some other diseases.
    Poverty is also wrought by the system of rule and not just riches. Causative factor for poverty then being the system; which does not exist without people.
    It is the people who set up the system. The people who set it up were slave owners, feudal lords, warlords and not just in US but in almost all lands and for millennia.

    Wihout significant change in the system and with world getting daily poorer, poorer people and poorer countries can expect to become even more wartorn and poorer.
    tnx

  8. Don Hawkins said on November 10th, 2009 at 3:56pm #

    I am starting a school and will take about six weeks. The floors in a new school something called VCT same stuff you see in Wal Mart. I need a break anyway last comment for awhile just the next few months oh man. I tried to give a crash course in climate change now we need answers. Some answers to late but still time if we act now. I’ll be back.

  9. Obstreperous said on November 10th, 2009 at 10:35pm #

    We are voluntarily moving towards a Dark Age because we have succumbed to the siren song of free riding and entitlement. Liberty, opportunity, integrity and personal industriousness seem to be things of little value in our egocentric search for leisure, material goods and services. We have chosen politicians who cater to that vanity and promise that fantasy world while demonizing and destroying the very mechanisms and individuals that provide the creativity and dynamism to improve the human condition. Bad is good and good is bad. As this site testfies, we cannot even speak clearly to one another…we use similar words, but they have such different meanings that different languages might as well be spoken. People talk of Illuminati, puppetmasters, the rich, the power-crazed, but are any of these people really that intelligent, organized and capable. One minute we see that the government cannot run an immunization program or a disaster relief effort, yet we credit them with diabolical efficiency with everything sinister. Perhaps they’re all just as incompetent, confused as everyone else and the inefficiency is just all the egocentric interests working at cross purposes. Does it look dark? I agree, but not for the reasons you give. In fact, I think it results form the type of negativism and scapegoating presented in the article. There’s just too much hate out there and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere.

  10. Deadbeat said on November 10th, 2009 at 11:09pm #

    We are voluntarily moving towards a Dark Age because we have succumbed to the siren song of free riding and entitlement.

    Your analysis is just as juvenile as Max Shields.

  11. Obstreperous said on November 10th, 2009 at 11:16pm #

    Thank you. You make my point.

  12. Deadbeat said on November 10th, 2009 at 11:19pm #

    Doug Page writes …

    We will have to accept a lower standard of living because of the depletion of oil and live like Cubans.

    I understand what Mr. Page is saying but my disagreement is with semantics. I would argue that living cooperatively would in fact RAISE our standard of living. With improved transportation, affordable housing, accessible health care, child care, education, the end of usury, we would see a renaissance of creativity and improved living standards for the majority.

    It is the high level of inequality that lowers that standard of living for all.

  13. Deadbeat said on November 10th, 2009 at 11:20pm #

    Thank you. You make my point.

    On the contrary. You made MY point.

  14. Don Hawkins said on November 11th, 2009 at 2:30am #

    Obstreperous I saved your last comment now it’s time to go to work. Calm at peace

  15. Don Hawkins said on November 11th, 2009 at 3:30am #

    http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/10/19/18626092.php

    I read a lot of stuff and this was very well written harder to do in the strangeness. Remember so far there is no plan just more of the same and that’s called insanity. One more time

  16. Trevor said on November 11th, 2009 at 6:54am #

    This idea that we are all brainwashed and, as such, mindlessly approve of the royal screwing over that we are taking from the ruling class is not at all reality.

    The American people hated G.W. Bush and the entire criminal agenda of the neocons. They went to the polls and elected “hope” and “change” exactly because they aren’t mindless, brainwashed sheep. But the ruling class was one step ahead. Obama is Bush. White Bush is out and black Bush is in.

    The crisis facing the underclass isn’t that we are sleeping-walking through a brainwashed existence. The crisis is one of leadership. The underclass goes completely without any political representation. The ruling class capitalists own and control both major political parties, the mainstream media and the labor union hierarchy. The people only appear to be brainwashed due to this lack of leadership.

    We already knew the Republicans represented the interests of the wealthy-elite. But the entire Bush agenda would have been impossible without the complicity of the Democrats. The only reason that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzalez and a host of others aren’t in prison today is due to their close friend and life-long associates, the Democrats.

    Is there any doubt that were Obama to have his yang attended to by an intern that the mainstream media would be all over that story 24/7 for months? Yet the bankers loot the economy, destroy our jobs, award themselves trillions of dollars of our money, borrow billions more from us at less than 1%, subsequently raise credit card interest rates to near 30% and then gloat over their huge salaries and bonuses; and the mainstream media hardly gives such crimes a mention.

    The union hierarchy long ago became the partners of the corporations. For decades now the function of the union hierarchy has been to sell out labor actions and inflict layoffs and concessions upon the workers they ostensibly represent.

  17. kalidas said on November 11th, 2009 at 8:26am #

    In other words … Lenin said: “The best way to control the opposition is to lead it. …

  18. Suzanne Phillips said on November 11th, 2009 at 5:09pm #

    Doug – great article – you raise a lot of interesting questions. I think you’ll be encouraged about a way to change our society as described in the novel A Gladness In the Eyes by Grady Ross Daugherty. You can check it out at the above website. If you’re interested, let’s talk.

    Suzanne Phillips, Editor

  19. Ted Bagg said on November 12th, 2009 at 12:29am #

    Mr. Page seems too pessimistic to me. Our options might simplistically be viewed as revolt, reform, or wait to die. Reform seems the most promising course to me; but reform supported by a public capable of revolt. Actually, there’s a continuum between reform and revolt. An aroused public and a corrupt administration navigate this continuum jointly.

    Why doesn’t a reform-minded Congress make campaign finance reform a top priority? After all, one might think, once this was passed, the rich and their lackeys would lose much of their power over Congress. The fault in this reasoning is that the rich still control the mass media and can thus fool the public into punishing Congresspeople who prioritize the common good ahead of private interests.

    The top priority is really reform of the mass media, starting with a breakup of the monopolies and oligopolies therein.

  20. bozh said on November 12th, 2009 at 9:22am #

    Societal and governmental structure,from which all evil-good on interpersonal level emanates, can be seen.
    Layered society can be thus emended-amended so as to generate much less oppression by higher layers of the lower.

    More % of people in US approbate its classful society than any other people. It can be seen that the greater gap in wealth btwn classes, results in greater participation of the highest class in ruling a country.

    And that had always brought us enormous iniquities. And as long as US is ruled by its highest class to the degree that it is, we can expect it to do what every other high class had done over millennia: wars, slavery, torture, killings, imprisonment, oppression, etc.
    Such a class does not stop from anything when it comes to defense of its interests. It is called, as we know, defense of US interests.
    Even slavery alone proves that. We can also add to that 170 wars US had waged, nuking japan, use of other wmd, etc.
    I suggest strongly that the top US layer of society wld wage at least 50 more wars; most likely use chemical, biolgical weapons as well in quest for riches.
    tnx

  21. AM said on November 12th, 2009 at 10:45am #

    Well-written, however this work, as with other works by Mr. Page disturb me with his irreverent use of generalizations. ‘We’, meant to imply ‘us all’ is used so often that it defeats the impact of the article. I certainly do not believe everything in which it is claimed that ‘we’ believe.

    Another example is evidenced by the statement: “The truth is that our capitalism and our self governing democracy are beyond repair or reform. Both are terminal, and dysfunctional.”

    Many industries do work. Many government institutions do work. Please allow for exception in these articles. The only generalization that is always true is the exception in every rule.

  22. Foil said on November 13th, 2009 at 10:53am #

    The foundation of this arguement is that personal greed is the source of all of the ills in the world, yet you are blind to your own greed. I must agree with Obstreperous that we have succumbed to the siren song of free riding and entitlement, and the melody of that song is personal greed driven by jealousy of those who already have what we want or who we think are preventing us from getting what we deserve. You crave utopian perfection, but that cannot exist in an imperfect world. Nature is imperfect. You are not perfect. Rather than chase the elusive utopia, why not instead focus on yourself? I will take liberty and personal choice over someone else’s definition of perfection and fairness at my expense.

  23. karibkween said on November 14th, 2009 at 11:55am #

    As usual the ones who still enjoy some level of personal comfort respond to Mr. Page from a protectionist perspective. Our innate survival instinct which served us so well during our animalistic phase continues to prevent us from realizing our divine state. Liberty and personal choice has always come at a price. The whole notion of human freedom, or personal liberty is puerile, at best, since everyone is accountable to nature; which by extension means we are accountable to eachother; and, our poorly understood notion of personal choice somehow never extends to how we deal with the consequences of those choices. One would think that our information age would produce a more enlightened humanity, with a much more universal view and mindset, instead of the limited, self-centered views that have for too long dominated mankind and its resultant innovations; and its heartbreaking to accept, that has not been the case. In the end ‘WE’ get exactly what we deserve, for there is no circumventing cause and effect; and a self-absorbed public will always produce self-centered leadership, with self-serving ideas and policy, in our seemingly, never-ending demonstration of human incivility.