The simplest way to put it is that they’re all a bunch of crooks.
The bankers are the chief con-men. They print up (so to speak) a bunch of fake money out of thin air. I can do that too, but no one is going to take “Annabucks” at the coffee shop. Where the government comes in, is that they “tax” people, forcing them to use that money to pay their “taxes”, thereby giving the fake money some sort of base value. In exchange for being the muscle behind this con, they get to use basically as much of that money as they want (up to a limit, they don’t want to spend so much they break the system) which goes largely into the hands of private contractors at the end of the cycle.
The rest of it follows from this basic cycle: the banks flow that money into the big corporations to keep them afloat and help them crush their competition, the government regulates away any opportunities to work outside the system, forcing people to compete to work inside the system. The “insiders” are outside the system in a sense of course. They can basically ignore the law. Once in a while the government has to put on a show trial, just to keep the con going, but by and large they only enforce the law against the outsiders.
You’ll often hear that cliché that only 1 out of 10 small businesses ends up successful. They say that like it’s a law of nature, but it’s not. They have to keep it that way. If 3 out of 10 small businesses were successful, or 4 out of 10, they’d be ruined. If everyone “leveled up” mentally, and became more competent, economically nothing would change for the little guy. They would just adjust the parameters of the system again. In fact, all that would do is make more money for the insiders, because they’d have more to steal. (Which is why they push education so hard, a society with 10 million engineers is a society where engineering is cheap)
Libertarians don’t do their cause any good at all when they try to defend big business on free enterprise grounds. There is no free enterprise at that level. No business is going to become big, in this economy, without approval from the gatekeepers. Free enterprise is a system which never existed, except for brief periods of time during historical social unrest. Once an elite is re-established, it’s back to the game.
Once you understand that they’re all a bunch of crooks, and that we already live under a system that’s under total (statistical) control, then you don’t get caught in so many contradictions, trying to figure out what’s going on. The power elite are all working together, at least they’re all playing by an agreed upon set of rules. If someone tries to change the deal or sabotage it, they become public enemy #1. But wait, you say! “I don’t believe that people are smart enough to control things from the top… central planning doesn’t work!”
You are correct. That’s why there’s a crisis after every crisis. They have total power, but not total knowledge. The experiment of Leninism proved itself a failure. So they rely on statistical control. They increase this or that lever, watch the results and then react to it, until things are “dialed down” to where they want them to be. If you pay close attention to the language of the ruling class, they don’t actually deny that this is what they’re doing, either. They just tend to bloviate a lot, hiding their actual methods behind trigger phrases like “market failure” or “moderation” or “compassionate conservatism” or other such nonsense. Even though they only use statistical control methods, they still fuck up constantly, in fact, that’s how I’m able to write this right now. They don’t care about your freedom. At all. If they thought they could stop people like me they would. Not that I’m of some grand importance, but I’m an anomaly in their system. They do care about some form of your “well being” but only in so far as it makes you more productive for them. Outside of that, they don’t give a shit.
I happen to believe that the science behind man-made climate change is probably true. I don’t know enough to doubt it. But that’s merely a matter of fact. How you deal with those facts depends on how you see the world.
If you don’t realize they’re all crooks, you’ll buy into the BS that pollution is a byproduct of free enterprise, and we need drastic top-down controls over production and consumption in order to hold it at bay. But once you do see that it’s all a crooked con game, you know that they could just slow things down on their end any time they want (if man-made climate change is a problem, it’s a problem created by the power elite and their system of endless growth, which is necessitated by endless debt, which comes back to the con in the first place…). What they want though, is an excuse to reduce production and consumption, so they can continue to live the way they do right now, or close enough to it. They want more control over you. Just think about it. No one ever asks “so what are our options here?” Why not decentralize production and put drastic tolls on the highways? That’s a possibility. But no, the assumption is that the mass-centralized-corporate economy is necessary to maintain our “standard of living.” Which is nonsense. It does no such thing. At best it makes you a more efficient slave than previous generations. Yay! You might get to see 1% of that increased productivity, if you’re lucky. Most of it just goes back to the con men. We still work 40+ hours a week to make ends (sort of) meet, just like our parents and grandparents did.
We have more “stuff” but it’s cheaper and shoddier.
It’s a crooked game and it’s the functional equivalent of Yaldabaoth’s “ersatz reality” in certain neo-gnostic formulations. They replace our real life, our real myths, our real economic and social relations, with a pre-manufactured, pre-designed substitute that keeps us trapped in the spectacle of an honest world, but it’s all just flash and hot air.
Life 2.0 – on sale now, the price? Your life.
So what is to be done about it?
Well for one, we have to get people to realize that they’re all a bunch of crooks and that the system we live under is organized crime. Politicians are never going to help us, and they’ll never “fix” any of this because the only reason they’re politicians is to help run this crooked game. From that understanding, I’ve come up with three basic rules that make a good starting point, to begin to detach ones self from the con:
Rule 1: Never call the cops unless you’re in mortal danger and there’s no other option.
You can go anywhere online and find story after story about how the police brutalized someone who initially called them for help, for not being passive enough. The police have become paranoid egomaniac thugs. They’re unlikely to help you, but very likely to harm you, just for “talking back” or “not following instructions.” The police are not on our side; let’s not make their job easier for them.
Rule 2: Keep silent about particulars. Don’t report things, don’t list things, don’t announce things, and don’t fill out any forms you don’t have to.
Don’t entangle yourself visibly, in ways that can be traced back to you. If you become too visible on the radar of the con men, that increases your chances of being a victim, should you decide to change the way you play the game. Open rebellion against them isn’t going to work very well at this point. They no longer follow their own rules, even on a basic level.
Rule 3: Let other people know the rules.
The more of us that understand these things, and act on them, the more space opens up for action outside the system. Without us helping them to keep the con going, it becomes more and more difficult for them to do so.
This is essentially a good beginning for what I have come to call Autonomism. It includes Agorism (principled black and grey market business), TAZs (temporary autonomous zones), Direct Action/Sabotage in the workplace, and basically any action that takes place outside of the authorization of the system.
As we become more autonomous, they will push harder, which is why the rules above are necessary. We need to follow James Joyce’s dictum of “Silence, Exile and Cunning”. We must be invisible to their eyes, yet visible to each others.
And yet, these rules and the larger program will “work” because they follow people’s own basic self interest in a way that doesn’t require extended time preference. Deep down, despite ideology and brainwashing, most people are simply pragmatic when it comes to their own lives and the lives of their loved ones. The path to liberation must be one that can be followed without self-sacrifice. It must be immediate and basic enough that anyone who hears it may begin to follow it and reap the rewards.
This is why the three rules are a good beginning point. They do not ask anything of someone that they would not be inclined to do anyway and they do not involve risking the present for the sake of the future. All they ask is that you become aware of how you’re helping the system function… and then to stop.
C4SS Contributing Writer Anna O. Morgenstern has been an anarchist of one stripe or another for almost 30 years. Her intellectual interests include economic history, social psychology and voluntary organization theory. She likes piña coladas, but not getting caught in the rain.