What the hell is wrong with those people, looting and rioting. This isn’t about #blacklivesmatter anymore. It is just senseless violence, completely uncalled for.
It is neither senseless, nor uncalled for.
It is merely a symptom of our failing society, just like starving kids in Africa.
Essentially it is just a bunch of people without money or perspective, who realize their power as a collective, as the suffering majority.
People who worked 2 jobs, yet still struggled to pay the bills.
“Worked” because most of them – 40 Million to be precise – just now lost even those shitty jobs during the Corona hysteria.
People who are at the tail end of an economy that favors few, at the expense of the majority.
People who are ridiculed by the promise of the capitalist system – the American Dream –, which is constantly shoved into their faces with never-ending media propaganda in the form of commercials, movies and TV shows, promoting a life they won’t ever have.
So far, the propaganda machine has been mostly effective in keeping people at bay.
An important narrative in that regard is the tale about democracy. It says that we are in fact in control, that we can vote for change.
But it is a blatant lie.
Political representation is effectively closed.
From left to right, it is all the same nothingness.
Powerlessness ensues and turns into quietly steaming anger.
But the lid of the social kettle is tightly closed, so the pressure inside just keeps mounting, slowly turning it into an explosive device, which is now bursting.
This was to be expected.
And there is not anything that can be done.
None of the problems in our society are resolvable.
Neither by the Military shooting at their owns citizens, nor by a universal income, which I am sure will be offered sooner or later, in a desperate attempt to stop the uprising. It will be way too little and too late.
Our society has been sick for a long time, spilling its disease all over the planet, ruining it in the process, while at the same time rotting from within.
Perhaps it is not a coincidence we are constantly asking each other, “How are you doing”, like a society full of patients, taking each other’s temperature.
Our deteriorating state (even in the so called first world countries) leaves us clue- and helpless.
The rapid demise of our living habitat just adds to this.
At times it seems our society is held together by the mere tension of all social atoms straining towards an illusionary healing.
Healing of racial discrimination.
Healing of patriarchy.
Healing of hunger and war.
Healing of global destruction.
The moment we realize we aren’t healing anything, but rather causing more and more flesh wounds, the social contract is terminated, and chaos erupts.
No number of antidepressants, anti-psychotic medicine or amphetamines can stop this. It could always only delay the inevitable.
The problem goes way deep.
At the root of it all lies the questions, who are we, what is our role in this world?
The capitalist system defines us as workers and consumers, and as such we are both, building and upholding the order of our society.
This idea has been indoctrinated into our parents, grandparents and many generations before, so deep, it is hardly put up for debate.
Over time it completely changed who we are, by methodological devastation of anything that is not work, ie, our self of sense, families, communities, etc…
Paradoxically, now that work has firmly triumphed over all other ways of existing, workers are becoming increasingly superfluous.
Automization, relocation, mechanization and digitization among others have reduced the amount of living labour necessary for the creation of commodities to almost 0.
Fun fact: 100 years ago, people thought that today no one would have to work because machines will do it for us. Well, they do, but the increase in labor output per human has just increased the wealth of a selected few, whereas workers are still being exploited, just as they have always been.).
A society full of workers, without work, and without the means to buy the distractions the capitalist system provides, and also without any perspective or guidance whatsoever, on HOW TO LIVE DIFFERENTLY.
I mean, what could go wrong?
I have always been critical of our way of life. It just does not make sense. It did not come natural, it is learned behavior.
Cases in point
Children are great teachers, they arrive on this planet pure, completely oblivious of the narrative that forms our social construct (which can be summarized with WORK. GROWTH. DOMINATION.).
So, how are we prepping them for their lives?
Well, our society is a complex scheme, so the natural instincts we are born with do very little to ensure our survival.
Food (while still actually only needing sun water and earth to grow), had been locked away, and is only accessible to those who succumb to the prevailing system.
To teach our offspring, we force them into institutions, where their innocence is quickly replaced by the many demands of modern society, which are drilled into their brains for hours at an end, day after day, year after year.
At first, the poor little fellas welcome their “education”. After all, people they love and trust had put them there.
They proudly and smilingly pose for a photo on their first day of school.
Fast forward, 8 years later>
Many of those previously smiling kids are now consumed by anger and confusion.
They wear black, dye their hair, take drugs and participate in other risky activities in an attempt to reject the life that is being forced on them.
Their efforts are ultimately pointless though, after all, there are plenty of psychological concepts and ideas to break their will and get them back in line.
Very effectively indeed, for university most are “normal” again, smiling bitter-sweetly for the camera.
2. Mid-life crisis
Some of those smiles will fall off again though, often another 12 to 15 years later, during another well studied psychological phenomenon, the so called “mid-life-crisis”.
At that time, most are firmly established in society, acting as more or less important cogwheels in the system.
Yet for some reason they are profoundly unhappy and overwhelmed by nagging thoughts questioning the sense of being. This can’t be it, or is it really?
Just like during puberty, the system provides a solution/relief, often in the form adrenalin-inducing activities or products, which shortly succeed in instilling some sort of sense and purpose.
Enough to tie us over until it is finally time for retirement. Freedom at last.
Ironically, when that happens, we have been so thoroughly brainwashed that we resent letting go of our “life”, our work, because what is left, really, after a lifetime of slaving away…
It is only right before our death we seem to again realize our mistake, and so it is with our last breath we mutter the words, I wish I had not worked so much (https://www.theguardian.com/…/01/top-five-regrets-of-the-dy…).
Again ironically, those words of wisdom and warning remain mostly ignored by the youngsters, who are distracted climbing the career ladder, who never learned to listen to the elderly, isolated in retirement homes.
Ok, am I exaggerating here? Who says that this is not normal, that this is not how we are supposed to live…
Alright, don’t you think it is remarkable that there is no puberty, no mid-life crisis, no burnout in indigenous societies? How come?
They too teach their kids how to survive, eg, the Aborigines during the “walkabout”, only that it does not require years of brainwashing and it is not rebelled against. Makes one think, doesn’t it?
Ok, so to summarize, we have a system that
1. Fails to feed and satisfy all its members,
2. Devastates our living habitat and therefore threatens our very existence,
3. Often makes us unhappy and questioning the purpose of life.
Yeah, I am not surprised cities are burning, not in the slightest.
The big question now is, what to do, how to live?
Throughout this writeup, I have been mentioning “the capitalist system”, so is that the problem?
Up until some time ago I would have affirmed that, without a doubt.
Now I am not so sure anymore, not least thanks to the incredible book Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn, which I urge everyone to read.
In essence everything boils down to the question who we are and what our role is on this planet.
As I look out of the window, into the concrete jungle surrounding me, one thing seems to be certain>
We are on top of the food chain.
To support our exploding population, we have occupied ever more land at the expense of pretty much anything else. But, is that ok, should we be there on top, or are merely we in the process of ruining everything?
Ask yourself, do you think we are the summit of creation?
Is everything, the world, its inhabitants, just there to support the growth of the human population?
Is it justified that we occupy so much space because we are refusing to die.
Yeah, that is right, that is the gist of the problem. We do not want to die, and we think we do not have to.
So far our quest has been a tremendous success.
Our life expectancy nearly doubled in the last 100 years.
Our expansion on this planet led to more than double the number of births per day compared to deaths.
We seem to be on the best way to beat the circle of life.
Scientists say those who live the next 30 years might live forever, thanks to advances in medicine and life-prolonging research (Alphabet, Google’s mother company is on the fore front here btw).
While we acknowledge the problems of our world, the prevailing thought seems to be the only way out is through and so we are only looking ahead, with tunnel vision, trying to survive the mess we create by more growth, even if it means we will have to find a new planet.
Kind of crazy, isn’t it?
To illustrate why that is wrong, I want to paraphrase a short story from Ishmael.
The gods created this planet and all life on it.
They were very pleased with their work, until they heard a scream from a gazelle, which was being hunted by a hungry lion.
Help me, I want to live, it pleaded to the gods.
Fully sympathetic with the magnificent creature the gods said sure, you shall live, and set her free from the lion.
Please with their decision they lean back and watch their creation.
Not long after they hear another cry. This time from a starving lion, also pleading to the gods that he wants to live, which means he needs to eat the gazelle.
Of course the gods also sympathize with the beautiful lion, but they had not forgotten about the gazelle either. Who shall live, what should they so?
After long consideration they find a solution.
They declare that the gazelle has a right to live and it should do so today, whereas the lion also has a right to live, and he should do so tomorrow, even if that means the gazelle will die, for it had a beautiful life the day before.
Voila, the circle of life, the natural order of things, the law of nature was born.
We live and we can take lives to live but the deal is that at one point we have to die to make space for the other beings we share this planet with…
Our refusal to accept this law, our attempt to step out of the circle of life created the imbalance that is now threatening our and everyone’s habitat.
Some will object now, after all, perhaps we are the summit of creation, I mean, perhaps that is why we got so far…
It could be that climate change, famines, social unrests are just small hiccups during our otherwise rather impressive progression from hunters and gatherers to the sophisticated society we live in today.
We have ascended from within the ranks of animals to the undisputed rulers of this world.
Perhaps that is really our purpose, and our success so far proves it.
Perhaps the law of nature, the circle of life does not apply to us anymore, otherwise we never would have gotten that far…
Yeah, nah, I doubt it.
I will conclude this writeup with another story from Ishmael.
It is about the law of gravity and our attempts to overcome it, ie, the dream of flying.
Long time ago we were watching the birds and wanted to be able to fly, just like them.
Easy, thought one adventurous guy, and started building a flying machine, in essence a bicycle with makeshift bird wings.
People told him that he will not succeed, that we humans are
not, and wont ever be able to fly like birds.
Nonsense the guy thought, I will show them.
Enthusiastically, he takes his flying machine up a mountain and cycles as fast as he can downhill towards a canyon.
When he falls off the canyon, he is ecstatic. I am flying, I am flying, he shouts into the world. All you doubters, I told you, I can do it.
While approaching the ground he sees dead bodies from others who tried to fly down the canyon.
Ha, I am better than those, I am flying….
Moments later he crashed into the ground and was dead.
So this guy, thought he beat the law of gravity while he was actually always just crashing towards the earth.
For a short moment, while up in the air, he could delude himself into thinking that he was in fact flying.
Perhaps that is where we stand today, thinking the law of nature, the circle of life does not apply to us, pointing at our success so far in order to prove it.
Well, perhaps we have never been flying either, but always just crashing, here, on top of the food chain…