The Insidious Quabal

Unstoppable climate change, massive refugeeism, genocide, starvation, domestic militarization, violence, human trafficking, poisoning of the Earth, constant war, terrorism, maltreatment of women, American exceptionalism, wealth and income disparity. Sounds like a laundry list of human disasters, doesn’t it? That’s because it is. And that’s the short list.

These massive global trends seemingly have nothing in common, except that each one adds another layer of human decomposition to the accumulation of the centuries. The Earth as we know it is dying. Why is this happening now? Is it just coincidence? Or perhaps only a different perspective triggered by the speed of communication, allowing us to simultaneously listen to the globalized dirges of death.

But, it’s not quite so simple, and humankind needs nothing more at this moment in history than to open its eyes to the truth which lurks in the shadows around us: a Quabal of immense powers which effectively controls human life for the enrichment of the few. I’ve coined this word as a shorthand term to describe a group of four institutions which interlock their immense power and resources to corrupt, corrode and control humankind. Remembering that “cabal” is a small group which comes together to conspire for power and control, “Quabal” denotes four such conspirators in the twenty-first century: the state, the corporation, education and media. Not to exclude other institutions which seek power, control and wealth, these four are the primary dominant factors in peoples’ lives, and the primary causal factors in most human misery.

The corporation sits enthroned as leader and purpose of the Quabal. Most especially the large corporation. The S&P500 is the single largest economy in the world, larger even than China! They control every aspect of production and marketing, effectively limiting who gets what, when and where they get it. And corporations impoverish their workers along the way, treating them as commodities to be simply replaced when they become too expensive to maintain. Educational institutions receive billions from corporations and the state, feeding bloated budgets even while impoverishing their graduates. The government further assists by protecting colleges and universities from the defaults of their graduates under crushing debt. The media has worked its way into the Quabal by controlling what we are allowed to see and hear about our world. Six media corporations effectively own the vast bulk of radio, television, print, cell phone, internet, and other media outlets. These three Quabal components are effectively glued together by the fourth, the state, which funnels vast sums of money to them, confirming and entrenching their power.

It’s not like we haven’t been warned. Dwight Eisenhower and, before him, Abraham Lincoln, warned us that this was coming. But, awash in American mythology, we have managed to blithely ignore the red flags. Noam Chomsky has put it rather candidly: “The norm [for most people] is obedience, adoption of uncritical attitudes, taking the easy path of self-deception.” Now is that time to change that.

As I’ve already said, the most important thing to be done…and done soon…is to reveal these truths to the people of the world, the 99%. We need to unleash the fervor of the 99%, a fervor that simply cannot be resisted by those in power. Imagine, if you will, a Global Day of Protest, on which the only employees who showed up for work were the 1%!

There are plenty of precedents for powerful non-violent social movements, but none more powerful than faith. While the sins of faith institutions over the centuries are well-told (and well-tolled), faith itself has lived on, through many trials and earthquakes. It is the one successful sustainable movement in human history and the good news is that it offers all humankind a unifiable platform for transformational revolution of the social and political values by which all people can live together in peace. But I’ll save a discussion of this for a future article.

Rev. John Paul Ransom is an ordained minister and social justice & peace activist. He serves congregations in the larger ecumenical community and is a member of the Vermont Workers Center. His second book has just been published: Emerging Revolution: Toward a Global Moral Ethic. He lives in Readsboro, Vermont with his husband and their four dogs. Read other articles by John.