This is the third post in our Timeless Life series
We’re starting from the inside and working out. Our last article was Did you Do Your Best?
In this installment called Burn it F$%^ing Down we’ll try to make sense of the unrest that is all around us.
All over this troubled world we see the problem. The government and media call it by different names: Brexit, Occupy, Inequality, Social Justice, Trumpsism, Hippies, ISIS, Unrest… Call it revolution or evolution, it’s all part of the same thing. It’s the pre-cancerous sore spots of society that evolve into Fascism, Nazism, rebellion and war.
What are these troubles about really and what is causing them?
Hope for a better future is what eases our fears. It’s what keeps people in line. Hope is literally the notion that the ‘line’ is moving and it’s leading to something good.
Trouble starts when people stop believing. The line is not moving. The line is not going to anything. They are in the wrong line. There are others in a faster better line.
A generation ago people divided their money between saving, investment, giving, and spending. Now most of us have only negative saving – DEBT – that finances spending. Investing, the owning of the capital assets that earn most of the wealth in the modern world is the domain of a few. Investing is as far removed from the everyday life of regular people as the butchering of our food.
Simply existing is taxed and few among us have enough savings to carry us through one major emergency or even 30 days of the regular costs of living.
Most feel so powerless, helpless, and impotent to change or even impact any of this we don’t even try. People have given up and focus solely on getting the bills paid as our only goal in life. We’ll say yes to anything that gives the appearance that we’re getting a little of what others seem to have had so much of. Up to a point.
So here we are. Nominal citizens in this supposedly rich country. Sure you are going to keep it together. You are a good person. You’re doing OK. You got your family to think about. But really, how long can this go on?
At what point are some people just going to say “Burn it F$^#^ing Down!”?
At what point does the cheap plastic crap, cannabis, cell phones, cars, cartoons, and calories stop being enough to keep people’s minds off what’s going on around them?
At some point Burn It Down is not the revolutionary idea, it’s the logical next move. If you’re suffering then everyone should suffer too. Want equality? That’s how to get it. And who knows? Roll the dice? Maybe in the new world order, you may end up a big player in a tribal militia or something. You could be better off if the world as you know it is destroyed. As David Hume, the Scottish moral philosopher famously said, “Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger.”
Vengeance is not a quirk of police drama stories, it’s one of the fundamental strategies of human success going back to the beginning. There were once many animals who could easily hunt individual humans. We evolved to work in groups not just to defend ourselves but to violently slaughter these animals without the slightest qualm or query but a heart filled with pride, glee even, and a sense of real community.
Today’s winners look, to the average person, like the most undeserving people in history. The CEO’s, the big politicians, the reality stars, the smug government worker. Their distinguishing qualification seems to be how much damage they do rather than the positive impact they’ve had. Their success comes only at the expense of others.
So why not burn it down?
This is what a failed society looks like.
It’s not just that there are winners and losers, which is inevitable, everyone expects some to be better at certain things than others and we even like it this way. It’s that the winners are utter disgraces; colossal human absences of integrity, purpose and beauty and truth. Regular people might not be saints, but they look like me and you and they seem something like basically pretty decent people. Today’s biggest winners have few redeeming features.
Umair Haque recently wrote,
“Losing is hard, but bearable, but being preyed upon on by reprehensible, amoral, noxious winners who steal tomorrow’s trophies before they rig today’s game is eminently unbearable, even for a loser.”
In this way, movements like Trumpism and Brexit are not the irrational quirks and meaningless blips marring the perfect line of progress that they are made out to be — they are lethally rational, perfectly well reasoned, and in that reason lies their ever-growing destructive power, because it also tells us that they are history writing itself before our very eyes, not merely little errors on the trend. The danger, as always, as it was during the 1930s, is that history, once it begins to be written, is ever harder to unwrite.
The Shape of Things to Come
Those who want to move the world forward and concern themselves with the shape of things to come need to do one thing really good. They need to offer a new, practical, sweeping vision of what’s in it for the people who stay in line. We need a new story that everyone understands.
How do we make it so that households, not corporations, governments, big banks, land speculators, financial services and car dealers are the central building block of our economy and society? How do we make it that households are the main character and hero of our story?
How do we ensure that all these systems work FOR the household, not the other way round?
If we bring the corporate powers into check they will simply wither and fall into our service as they should. But if we don’t households will not fall in line. We have all the history in the world to show what they will do. Rationally, reasonably, and with a kind of visceral jubilation and joy that’s built right into our deep brain, they will Burn it F#$%^ing down.
The world’s leaders need to offer a real reason why society exists with a possible future that’s safe, fair, smart and better in meaningful ways or people will start to talk about the logical choice – Burn it Down and start again. It happens more often than you would think. We call it by different names but it always ends the same.
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Follow the story in 2018 as the world careens toward the breakdown of the social contract.