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Extreme distraction (part 2)

By Tony Andrews

… Continued from Part 1

The world is rigged, and it has been for a very long time.

Society has a bad habit of labelling everyone into being something that can fit into an easily defined mould. Capitalist, Socialist, Christian, Muslim, right wing, left wing, progressive, conservative, conspiracy theorist, whatever term or ‘ism/ist’ that can be used to remove the impression of autonomous, free thinking individuals.

Labelling or pigeon holing is, after all, the basis of most of our western names. Our first names and our surnames are both derived from the need to identify and pigeon hole the owner, John Smith, ‘that man’s a christian and he’s a tradesman’, is one obvious example.

I’m no different to anyone else and am guilty of pigeon holing and labelling people and stuff as well, so feel free to label me as you wish, but at least I acknowledge that it’s a bad habit that allows us all to judge other people based on almost nothing… who knows, maybe it’s genetic.

The modern reality show, as well as being entertaining, is also exposing the flaws in our economic system. The popularity of shows that give an insight into how the other half lives, gives a newfound and constant form of proof to the world that the rich and privileged in our society are no smarter than average people. In fact, often they actually appear less intelligent, more self-absorbed and seem to lack self-awareness more than most of the world’s population.

While we laugh at the selfish and demanding personalities, edited to capture their individual extremes, the more outrageous the better, in order to capture the tv audience from other network’s similar, reality-based shows, overall, the essence of who these Uber members of society really are shines through. And we are all slowly realising that these are the people and children of the people, that control our very existence.

That they didn’t get where they are today by working harder or being smarter than the average wage earner. They did it by being either, manufactured by industry as marketing tools, a personality that the target market for the corporate product can identify with, or inherited wealth and the networks and connections that offers, has provided them with a life that their brains and ability could never have provided.

To quote Jack London, “they walk on dead man’s legs.”

The same flaws are being exposed in our political system. The constant need for program content on news and current affairs shows and its ‘news all day, everyday’ mantra, means that our elected representatives in government are revealed as the people they really are, warts and all.

The talking heads that interview our members of parliament and the senate, as well as our economic and intellectual leaders, are trained to attack weakness and to follow their employer’s editorial direction.

They need to look ‘hard hitting’ in order to maintain their own profile and career, in other words, to continue to service their mortgage and investments… to earn their daily bread, so to speak, because let’s face it, one thing we all have in common is a need to provide for ourselves and those we love.

The interviewers also have to appear knowledgeable about whatever subject is being discussed whilst maintaining their image as ‘ordinary’ members of society.

It’s a balancing act that has cut many careers short, as we don’t like ‘tall poppies’ or ‘know it alls.’

The work of selectively diligent researchers and discreet earpieces that can direct the interview from behind the scenes, mean these talking heads often appear more knowledgeable on a subject to the viewing public, than the person being interviewed, regardless of their training or expertise in the field being discussed… and we wonder why people have lost faith in ‘experts’… although, to be fair, strict ideological doctrines, like those that are universally trained in neo-liberal economic theory, for example, hasn’t helped ‘experts’ credibility much either.

Interrogated would be a more appropriate description of the modern interview technique. Especially when it is a politician whose views differ from those promoted by the shareholder appointed controllers of the media and whose ideas may upset the status quo… after all, the senior management of the media corporations want to keep their jobs as well and provide for themselves and those they love.

The accepted reality of today is that we need to be ‘competitive in the global economy,’ but the fact is that it’s just another slogan to promote the corporate’s profit serving agenda. Like the politically powerful ‘stop the boats’ or ‘jobs and growth’, used by the business arm of politics to persuade the general public that they are serving the needs of the people, when the reality is that they are only serving themselves and our corporate masters. We are a means to an end.

The corporations need us, the same way that a pig farmer needs to feed and fatten his produce in order to profit from their sale at market.

We, the consumers, are powerless and in today’s world, taxpayer funded government spending has added to the burden on citizens by directly subsidising these corporations in order to attract their investment. Allowing them to take full advantage of profit shifting to their parent companies via tax havens overseas and increasing the financial strain on the individual tax paying members of a country.

What is the point of a high GDP if the living standards of a country’s citizens don’t rise proportionately with it?

What has the ideology of the free market delivered for ordinary Australians?

For an economy to benefit everyone it needs to have a balance between regulation and the free market. No single solution ideology fits our modern societies, if they ever even did.

It’s about balance but, instead of looking for balance, we’ve allowed ourselves to get distracted, again, with seemingly urgent issues and philosophical debates that allow the corporate machine to continue on its path to worldwide economic and social collapse.

More and more of us know this now, we can see that we’re all being used, but we still fall for the old ‘divide and conquer’ rubbish. It’s not all our fault though, we’ve been trained by history to accept our reality and not rock the boat too much.

We know that millions upon millions of ordinary people have died in the pursuit of ‘freedom’. We know that fighting for a fairer share of the pie often leaves those that can least afford it destitute and hungry. Of course, we, the ordinary members of western culture and society, are scared to risk everything for a chance to help everyone and ourselves. History has shown us that we’ve risked it all before, only to replace one set of masters with another or have our burden increased by victorious incumbents we swore to serve. However, there is no free ride.

To really change things in favour of the majority of humanity, we need to resist the distractions of blame, hatred, and revenge. We need to resist those that insist change can only come with ‘class struggle’ and great personal loss because that brings with it the same problems… blame, hatred and revenge.

I’m not saying that there will be no cost, that it’s as easy to fix as snapping our fingers, but the revolution of the last thirty years, that’s what the economic reforms have been, a revolution, have occurred almost unseen. Capital has taken complete control over almost all the world economies. Social protections and our communal well-being have been removed almost completely from consideration.

In our country, Australia, de-regulation and the sale of publicly owned assets, as well as the offshoring of manufacturing have resulted in unparalleled levels of economic growth (on paper anyway). The social costs of these reforms need to be assessed accurately, calculated and given a value. This value then has to be returned to us. Not necessarily in monetary form, but in increased social protections and the ability to reform ourselves for future economic development, to regain the shared ability for individual economic prosperity.

We need to take some form of control back from the domination of the stock market’s rise and fall.

It’s not impossible, it just needs accurate data and the will to pursue a counter revolution. ‘Changing the rules’, a slogan and campaign produced by the Australian trade union movement is an example of this counter revolution. It’s already begun, the people are getting behind it. No guns. No violence. No ‘seizing the means of production’ or overthrowing capitalism. Just solid data and the will to initiate change to benefit people, not just bank balances. To quote a couple of influential Australians; “from little things, big things grow.”

The trade union movement and by extension, all workers, have suffered much during the current revolution.

The offshoring of manufacturing and the ‘modernising’ of industrial relations in all other forms of employment, has damaged our societies much more than the politically uninterested could believe possible.

Until rapid deregulation allowed the ‘housing boom’ to create another lucrative revenue stream for the multinationals, new suburbs around Australia were mostly built with public funds to provide housing for the workers that were needed in our industries. Not just large locally or internationally owned factories, but our mining and power generation as well.

Local workers earned enough to eventually build their own homes in the same areas. Creating ‘local’ economies, providing employment and opportunity for small businesses to service the local community. Creating, at the same time, the ‘fair go’, that’s become a cliché of Australian values.

Now, our communities are fractured. We no longer know our neighbours well or work together. Our high-priced homes in new estates, planned and built around the potential for profit generated by their development, rather than servicing the needs of local employers, has divided us more than skin colour or religious belief ever could.

Historically, communities formed the backbone of trade unionism in Australia and around the world. If workers in one industry were locked out or on strike, their friends, other members of the local community, did their best to ensure that the striking worker’s families still got fed and provided moral, as well as financial, support.

This concept of community must be recognised, also given a value, and internationalised. If the global economy is ever going to work for all of us, we need to re-adopt the same approach or similar, that allowed individual prosperity and the means for anyone to progress above the superficial barriers of ‘class’.

The idea needs to be continually reinforced in the public minds that modern unions are not just self-interested groups looking to improve the fortunes of some workers, while ignoring others that are not under their influence.

If we allow the current crop of revolutionary leaders and their propaganda arm, the media corporations, to continue with the ‘us vs. them’ style doctrines, directing the dialogue and condensing the public debate around globalisation into division between the haves and have nots, the future of the union movement and its regained public allegiance by the political parties that originated from their support, will wane.

Ignoring the current age of corporatism is not an option. Any political party that promises to wind back the clock and take capital head on, will very quickly find themselves unelectable.

Collective unity must include everyone.

The idea that for those with less to gain more, those with much must lose everything, has been an unshakeable barrier to change and is a huge factor in why we are where we are today.

The idea that there must always be winners and losers in any negotiation, means the threat of the guillotine still remains. For this reason, ‘changing the rules’ may bring about unintended consequences because capital will not capitulate.

It will go down fighting.

It will change the rules as well and, as history has shown us, it plays dirty.

The next card up the corporate sleeve if the status quo is too threatened, will be putting down social revolt in order to maintain the free market revolution. Not right now of course, so don’t go building a bunker in the bush just yet, they’ll need a reasonable excuse first.

Again, they’ll go back to basics.

The ever-widening gap between the rich and poor will be exploited even further because hate makes us blind. When we ‘see red’ we forget consequences. We forget to think rationally. Hate is a powerful weapon because it’s the one thing that can turn the masses into a mob.

Midway through the First World War, German leaders knew exactly what they were doing when they released Lenin from prison and shipped him off to Russia in a boxcar. The war was going badly, and they were desperate to ease the pressure on their borders. A Russia thrown into political turmoil seemed like a great idea at the time… it didn’t help them of course, they still lost the war, but the consequences of their actions still echo through time. The concept of the ‘class struggle’ has never gone away and it will only take massaging and coercion to steer the people’s desire for a fairer deal into something far bigger.

Just as the rise of salesman Trump has challenged the current political structure, it won’t be long before his polar opposite appears.

Not Sanders in the US, not Corbyn in the UK, these men desire stability and a fair go for all. That is not enough to create the kind of conflict that can stop change in its tracks.

The media, intentionally or not, will help create a new Lenin.

Like with the modern version of fascism, rising under Trump and others, ideology will be a secondary consideration. Old style communism will not work. Trotsky, for example, didn’t decide to take to the countryside and preach to the farm labourers, the rural peasantry, his version of a worker’s paradise for no reason. The more educated workers in the cities and larger towns were not so easy to convince and allow themselves to willingly be used as a weapon of their own personal destruction.

A new angle will need to be found and it’s quite possible that the trade union movement, somewhere in the world, will inadvertently provide it. Covertly encouraged by the masters of our present economic system.

Passion is infectious and easily exploited by those that have none. Given enough rope, a ‘true person of the people’, indulged by those in the media in search of high ratings and the illusion of job security that ratings provide, will help create an ‘anti-Trump’. Someone that can polarise the people by offering another means for us all to acquire that new can opener or toaster. The rope will tighten and there will be war.

The real winners though, will not be people. It will be the corporate machine and it will continue to roll over the top of us long after the war it creates between the historic monsters of ‘fascism’ and ‘communism’ has come and gone.

Any changes to the rules that will benefit us all and direct a fair distribution of profit back to those that provide the labour and consume the products created will be stalled indefinitely.

It will also provide another ‘ism’ for future corporate revolutionaries to scare us, the workers/consumers, into submission with for as long as they can… the threat of ‘unionism.’

Because almost all humans have at least one thing in common. We may wait years to buy a new can opener or toaster, deciding which brand suits us best, but when we make up our minds to get one, we buy it, and nothing will change our mind once it’s been made up. The same applies for which footy team we support or political party we vote for.

So the revolution will continue in the background and it will be our own fault, because instead of balance, we’ll allow extremes to control the agenda and humanity’s direction. Then, when the burden seems like too much to bear and we start to demand, again, a ‘fair go’, we’ll again search for someone to blame, rekindle our hatred, then seek revenge…

With the corporation’s covert approval.


3 comments

  1. Kyran

    It’s funny, isn’t it? This whole conflation of power and authority. A fundamental fact is that those in power claim their authority to be from the people, by virtue of a casual vote every now and then, yet they demonstrate, over and over, that they will only exercise that power for the benefit of particular cliques or benefactors, repeatedly to the detriment of the very people on whose ‘vote’ they rely.
    Jared Diamond’s books are getting more traction, not just because they demonstrate we haven’t changed much in the last 13-16k years, but that we steadfastly assume that that which we have been doing, which demonstrably doesn’t work, is exactly that which we have entrenched.
    Fascism.
    “The 7th Function of Language” by Laurent Binet is alleged to be both highbrow and lowbrow in its analysis of communication. Written versus oral, body language as an underwriter. Innuendo, suggestion, euphemism, entendre, implication. It has several interesting passages on how fascism is now so entrenched in society that we only bring it up every now and again, when we need one of those emotive, negative campaigns, full of unsubtle, nuanced subtleties.

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/may/12/the-7th-function-of-language-by-laurent-binet-review

    At the end of it all, we are distracted by the word, and ignore the meaning. In 1944, a bloke called George Orwell laid it out really well. His book, “1984”, written in 1948, has since been decried, as he intended it as a warning, yet so many took it as an instruction manual for fascism. His 1944 description of fascism is the epitome of the first few weeks of the Scummo government. The IPA LNP (Mk 111) wet dream list has now become mantra, as it is devoid of any other substance. Lacking any semblance of credibility, even with the mighty Murdoch NewsCorpse at their side, Orwell nailed them, by ignoring the obfuscation.
    “By ‘Fascism’ they mean, roughly speaking, something cruel, unscrupulous, arrogant, obscurantist, anti-liberal and anti-working-class. Except for the relatively small number of Fascist sympathizers, almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist’. That is about as near to a definition as this much-abused word has come.”

    http://orwell.ru/library/articles/As_I_Please/english/efasc

    Another book, by Eric Metaxas on the life of Martin Luther, demonstrates the lessons of the Reformist era. If you only read one book in the next few years, please consider this one.
    “Written in riveting prose and impeccably researched, Martin Luther tells the searing tale of a humble man who, by bringing ugly truths to the highest seats of power, caused the explosion whose sound is still ringing in our ears. Luther’s monumental faith and courage gave birth to the ideals of faith, virtue, and freedom that today lie at the heart of all modern life.”

    http://ericmetaxas.com/books/martinluther/

    It’s ironic that without reformation, there could be no enlightenment, yet we studiously ignore the lesson. At a time when enlightenment has never been easier or more accessible and genuine reformation never more possible, we are continuously sold the notion that we, the people, are important to establish authority, yet we, the people, are undeserving of any consideration by the authority’s we establish.
    150k people took to the streets recently in Melbourne, admittedly under the auspices of the ACTU (and therefore tainted), asking for the rules to be changed. Wouldn’t it be better if we just asked for the same rules to apply to everyone? With the plethora of ‘business unions’, why haven’t they held rallies? With the plethora of ‘right wing’ parties, Bernardi, Layonhim, Katter, Hanson, etc, why don’t they hold demonstrations of public support? Perhaps a combined membership, nationally, of less than 5k is a hint. So why do we keep giving these fools a megaphone?
    If you want to argue that one gender is superior or inferior to another, you are a fool. If you want to argue that one child deserves different protections to another child, you are a fool. If you want to argue that one race, or one religion, is superior or inferior to another, you are a fool. On any of those points, I am reasonably confident of refuting argument or any underlying premises using nothing more than facts, logic and/or reason.
    But we have been there and done that so many times, it’s getting tiresome. Bob Dylan’s ‘Blowin’ in the wind’ is as current today as it ever was. How many times?
    All the while, trust indexes are plummeting and those, reliant on our trust, are asking for one more chance. The political leaders who draw a line between ‘restoring trust’, Shorten and Di Natale, use it to warrant an ICAC of sorts. This ignores that any anti-corruption body is scrutinising a crime already committed. Ignoring that those perpetrating the crimes are setting the parameters for the investigation of the crime. Ignoring the fact that those perpetrating the crime are those defining the crime. IPA/LNP leader Mk 111, Scummo, and his band of merry men departed to Queensland to talk about him, and the wet dream list of his saviour, the IPA, as his only urgent requirement. It’s not like he has to travel to Victoria to help his little buddy guy with the travails of electioneering.
    The shrill and hysteria is all we hear, yet all we ask for is the same set of rules. The reference to Martin Luther is relevant as a caution. When the extremes become too extreme, the first resort of a mob is often violence. It is no coincidence that his caution of the 1500’s became the mantra for the likes of Ghandi and Martin Luther King, as he was an avowed pacifist. It is ironic that another bloke, hitler, also used Luther’s writing to justify the Holocaust. If you need to make your point by violence, you have no point to make. My fervent hope is that this latest manifestation of injustice doesn’t become a distraction for rather more urgent matters, such as the environment. What used to be academic or hypothetical discussion, who rules who, has a new urgency. The environment, our environment, requires those we asked to rule to learn to read, listen and comprehend. Now. The rules of governance may well be a luxury or a distraction we don’t have time for, or can’t afford.
    In Part 1, you wrote;
    “Humanity it seems, deserves the future that has been written for us.”
    “That’s just how it is.”
    Above, you wrote;
    “The idea needs to be continually reinforced in the public minds that modern unions are not just self-interested groups looking to improve the fortunes of some workers, while ignoring others that are not under their influence.”
    Unions have become one of several avenues the public have chosen to voice their demands outside of a political system that no longer even pretends to observe its charter. We are told that we are disinterested, as political parties, combined, have memberships of only about 120k people (including the 4,500 men of the IPA, ironically funded by a woman). One union, on its own, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, dwarfs that by a long way.
    “In collaboration with the ANMF’s eight state and territory branches, we represent the professional, industrial and political interests of more than 275,000 nurses, midwives and carers across the country.”

    http://www.anmf.org.au/

    GetUp has a participation of more than a million Australians. Other ‘social reform’ groups are also increasing memberships with nothing more than an ‘act local, think global’ platform.
    Paying lipservice to corporations is so yesterday. If only we’d back ourselves instead of constantly promoting FIGJAM apologists.
    Thank you Mr Andrews, and apologies for the rant. Clearly, the caffeine hasn’t worked. Take care

  2. David Bruce

    Your article is very timely as I have just been reading “Insights Into How Our World Really Works” by F. William Engdahl. His latest book “THE LOST HEGEMON: WHOM THE GODS WOULD DESTROY” is an excellent geopolitical analysis of how we got to where we are!

    As you mentioned, corporations decide for the 99%, so the Trans Pacific Partnership is unlikely to improve our condition! We are being groomed to live in a fascist environment and Murdoch, Soros and the LNP are all involved! Engdahl explains:

    “By 2011 and the launching of the Arab Spring regime change destabilizations, under the tenure of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, it became clear that the war faction in the United States was using the Muslim Brotherhood secret organizations across the oil-rich Arab world to bring those lands and their oilfields–Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and even Kuwait and Saudi Arabia itself–into direct USA military control. In Egypt they briefly succeeded bringing Muslim Brother member, Mohammed Morsi, in as President. The Obama Administration and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were fully backing the Muslim Brotherhood as “their” surrogates.”

    “On one level, the IS war was about oil, gas, and pipelines to control the vast oil riches of the region, as well as to deny Russia the South Stream gas route to a Europe independent of Ukraine. On a deeper level, the IS war was part of a larger global strategy to defeat the only effective resistance to the creation of a new 21st century universal fascism, a return to the dark times of the Middle Ages but on a world scale, “one world” that would be controlled by very rich Western families whose agenda was total control over the world and reduction of global population through eugenics, wars and terrorism.”

  3. Andreas Bimba

    “Ignoring the current age of corporatism is not an option. Any political party that promises to wind back the clock and take capital head on, will very quickly find themselves unelectable.”

    So democracy has already been lost even though the 40 year neoliberal era has been a disaster for at least 90% of us?

    If Jeremy Corbyn can win the next UK general elections and loosen his self imposed fiscal straight jacket and if Bernie Sanders can win the US Presidency and have a majority in the House of Representatives and Senate then just maybe the neoliberal era can begin to unwind. The inevitable mass media counterattack will need to be stomped on as well. Unfortunately our ALP are still neoliberal team B with people like Chris Bowen dictating fiscal austerity and corresponding high unemployment.

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