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Capitalism, Revolution, and War Against the Ghost in the Machine

2011 made it abundantly clear that capitalism, globally, is involved in a fierce battle against an overwhelmingly powerful rival.

With protests and occasional riots and fierce clamp-downs in 90 countries and 40 at the risk of serious destabilization, it is quite evident that capitalism is threatened from within, far more than it was from without during the Cold War.

But who is the enemy?

Revolutions are costly, in human lives, in ethereal values and in revenue. But you can ultimately not blame the masses for embracing revolutionary tendencies, if the benefits from adhering to the social contract are absent.
There is hardly any communism left in the world, and whatever there may be, is hardly an existential threat.

There’s hardly any socialism either, regardless of what people on both sides of the political gap may claim.

Whatever socialism there may be is rapidly being disassembled, partly in accordance with a long-standing ideological line in capitalism, its right wing neo-liberalism, partly to finance the ever more demanding bailouts for the banks and corporations upon which the capitalist system relies.

One simple answer would be that people are increasingly neo-socialists, but no coherent socialist doctrine, vision or order is being expressed.

“Quasi-socialist” could be a useful term, since it is pointless to deny that social rights are at the core of the stand-off between the governments and their plutocratic sponsors, and the people.

Another popular answer would be that capitalism is at odds with itself, “its own worst enemy”. That wouldn’t be entirely wrong either, since blindness to systemic errors in the capitalist structure is the structural reason for the sudden opposition to a capital based ideology most of the consumer-voters in the world have more or less complacently subscribed to since 1989.

Neither rudimentary socialism or self-defeating crony capitalist zeal, however, adequately accounts for a situation, where governments with ideologica consensus for their core values in their own populations must fiercely combat the same population.

"If comprehensive reform is not carried out within the system, the fault lines produced by the system collapsing – race, class, faith, gender, sexuality – will automatically tear societies apart, and the most productive, the most tolerant and heterogenic, will suffer the worst, because the social tensions will be amplified by the diversity."
An Enemy More Amorphous Than Al-Qaeda

In essence, capitalism is fighting a ghost, "the ghost of international socialism." It’s an undefined enemy, more losely structured than the notorious grouping of hackers called Anonymous or the network of protests revolving around the Occupy Wall Street slogan and the 99-1 percent division.

So losely defined is the enemy of capitalism today that governments are at risk of losing control, signalling from all areas of the world, regardless of cultural background, willingness to strike down on its people with the utmost brutality and the unscrupulous enforcement of draconian measures.
"...legends speak of people who marched into war against the desert storm, with swords and spears and shields, never to be seen again. Herodutus recounts how Xerxes punished the seas by having his men whipping it for its insolence."
So losely defined is the enemy of capitalism today that those who push and prod at the movement to empower it, to make it succeed by whatever strategic means and for whatever goals and gains they perceive, can calmy promote the concept that it is capitalism against the people, corporations against the people, and by extention, corporate controlled governments against the people.

It’s safe to do so, because it is impossible for even the most expert PR manager to create a counter-spin to it. It looks so enticingly reality-accurate that to many it eventually becomes the Truth with capital T. It looks real, because "socialism" actually correponds with an overlooked or deliberately neglected aspect of reality, and one that is fully acknowledged by all the classical authors of political science.

Extremely Few Are Really Opposed to Capitalism

From a more detached perspective, in a structural analysis, the matter looks quite different than how it is usually presented by politicians and pundits. 

A structural analysis does not alleviate the corporate powers of responsibility, not even of guilt. Neither does it mean the protesters are in the wrong, per se. They are merely acting out their collective objection to a system that is so obviously derailed you hardly even need to make good arguments to prove it.

However, what is the source of the derailment? Is it capitalism itself? Still only few dare to take the ultimate consequence and condemn the entire capital based consumer and welfare society. Those who speak out of capitalists are still deeply immersed in capitalist culture, embedded in it, tied to it by asymmetric dependency.
"This should be something the bankers and merchants could understand very easily: Quid pro quo. You don't get something for nothing, ever, in this system. The compliance of people, according to Hobbes, Rosseau, even Macchiavelli, is bought. If you give people nothing, if you let them eat the proverbial cake, the very laws of nature turns them into messengers of death. As even the Bible says, "a rich man's wealth may become a ransom for his life." 
Realistically, the entire concept of an anti-capitalist movement is both real, as a threat, and a huge conceit, produced to make the threat seem credible, in order to produce change.

Both political wings are toying with the concept of revolutionary changes.

Those who claim the problem is merely lack of welfare, the mixed economy Democrats, the democratic socialists, the Keynesians, are more intellectually misguided than the others – in this case – because structurally, mixed economy and no amount of centralized charity can fix the problem. Welfarism just patches up what can be patched up, which is very little, when it comes down to actual crisis.

The other typical ideologies, like conservatism and libertarianism, cannot fix it either. They are, in a sense, the problem or at least closer to it: They ideologically enforce the corporatism that forces society into adopting policies with massive blind spots when comes to the social laws and dynamics of political science.

But they are not intellectually blind. They know they are the problem. They have a very clear sense of living at the expense of others - which liberals even at their most cynical would never admit - but in their perspective that is a natural condition, a function or hierarchy, which is unavoidable in any civilization.

Every man is closest to himself. You can’t make an omelet without crushing eggs. The smart ones fool the stupid ones. All progress has a price.

Most of the people who generate what is known as the right wing are pragmatically self-serving, and they may even be right to some extent - society may just simply be an aggregation of the self-interest of billions of egotists. They do have some foundation in reality, except for one crucial area, where the blind spots they allow to exist in society has infected their own calculations:

They think they will be safe if the system fails. Many think their status, privilege, beliefs or moral systems will keep them safe, even if Titanic goes down. They will be safe, because they either belong to the elite or side with the elite, crucial as henchmen to carry out the plans and policies of the elite.

The others – communists, anarchists, socialists, humanists, or even less congruent, less articulate protesters – often buy into that illusion as well. They will vehemently reject the governing delusions, seeing through the loopholes and circular logic of the establishment propaganda, but often failing to realize the most crucial part:

Control is an illusion. No individual or group can be ultimately empowered. Time and chance governs everybody, and embedded in this chaotic structure, like everywhere in nature, is a governing system that strives towards self-regulation.

Revolution is The Last Resort of the Disenfranchised

Buying into the concept of empowerment through capital is not just buying into capitalism, but self-defeating on another level, because it promotes the concept that resistance is futile. From a detached, structural perspective, it does not matter that resistance is futile - if life is perceived to be "hopeless", without real prospect of thrift and procreation, the human mind connects to the death drive.

When people protest, and when they riot, and when they rebel, and ultimately cause revolution, they do it because the social contract between the state and a significant portion of the individuals who inhabit it and empower it grows increasingly disadvantageous, approaching zero value.

In the mind of the human being, hardwired into its neurological essence, there is a concept that rivals society. Psychologists, with their often academically limited understanding, like to call it an “anti-social tendency.”

Anti-social tendency, on the collective scale, however, is merely an aggregation of frustrations, tipping the balance away from society, centralized power and the unconscious socal contract the individual signs with the state for the sake of survival, security, thrift and privileges.

All humans navigate according to functional anarchism as much as they do to the rules and regulations of the state. The degree of pull away from loyalty to the central power very much depends on the value and validity of the social contract.

Does relinquishing whatever  bits of my total, absolute freedom, provide me with enough advantages when comes to survival and procreation and thrift to justify the bargain?

Can I conceive of circumstances where all authorities would leave me alone, and I would actually be better off? Would my chances of surviving, making a decent life for myself and my family, actually improve?

It’s of no use to tell people to “take responsibility for their own life” or “stop complaining” or not to “blame society” for their own trouble.

The option to blame society for your trouble is a fundamental option on the control table of the individual. It’s a precondition to freedom; the many debt homicide-suicides in the capitalist countries, namely the thousands of Indian farmer suicides, testifies to a crippled humanity, so brainwashed by the governing ideology or so oppressed by bestial force they accept to make themselves “collateral damage”.

When based on reality-accurate assessments, disloyalty to the state is not just a sign of mental health, but it is actually acknowledged by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states….

“…it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law…”

2011: A Demonstration of the Failure of "World Goverment"

The authors of the declaration clearly understood that dysfunctional societies in which the government and whatever ruling class empowers it bring on their own revolutions. The authorities are responsible for turmoil and upheaval. Their hand is on the handles of the societal control board, and they have to make sure conditions for human beings – at least the majority and ideally also the minorities – do not fall below conditions imaginable in functional anarchy.

Because of the social contract, it is an existential condition for all men to always weigh loyalty to the state against perceived advantages from abstract freedom. Anarchism, you may say, is a dysfunctional ideology, but it is also a fixed star on the night sky, a concept by which you can navigate in critical circumstances, where the government and its institutions have let you down.

Under such circumstances, all bets are off. The social contract, by its own nature, becomes null and void, regardless of what arguments or violence the government produces to enforce it. This should be something the bankers and merchants could understand very easily: Quid pro quo. You don't get something for nothing, ever, in this system. 

The compliance of people, according to Hobbes, Rosseau, even Macchiavelli, is bought. If you give people nothing, if you let them eat the proverbial cake, the very laws of nature turns them into messengers of death. As even the Bible says, "a rich man's wealth may become a ransom for his life."

It’s that simple. It’s do or die. It is not up to one individual, one pundit, one group of rebels or one political party to enforce this principle. This is a fundamental principle of all socialization, since before our first historical records. Every major event in our society – migration patterns, demographics, shifts in the political tide – demonstrates this principle.

That was the overarching lesson of 2011, a reinforcement of the very basics of political science, a collective realization that combines and therefore trumps all the more sensational news, from Egyptian revolution over Eurozone breakdown to American protesters and Wikileaks trials.

2011 showed us a system in which all nations are tied together, ultimately ruled from the heart of the West – whether that is seens as Wall Street or Capitol Hill – and this super-nation at the brink of becoming a “failed state” by its very own definitions.

That is the lesson of perhaps the most startling event of 2011, the proposal to pass the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (NDAA FY2012), also known as the “Indefinite Detention Bill”, which essentially declares USA a battlefield and legalizes kidnapping-rendition of US citizens on US soil.

It is the “world government” declaring bankruptcy, morally as well as fiscally. What came first? That is academic. The point is that the governing structure and its ideology has lost its raison d’etre, its justification and its validity, and hundreds of millions have discovered that.

The problem is that there is no enemy but the people themselves, calling for another structure, a more humane structure, one that affords them reasonable chances for survival and thrift, and revalidates the social contract.

There is no alternative ideology to replace the current one. USA is a “mixed economy”, and even the most socialist of the democratic socialist states in Europe are crony capitalist to the teeth, and they too suffer tremendously, financially and socially.

Revolution is a Structural Event, an "Act of God"

Now we have eliminated the false concept of a “clash of ideologies”, what is the structural error?

The structural error is what is popularly known as “debt enslavement.” No other function is as characteristic of capitalism as the exponential math of the international system of debt and repayment facilitates.

This system facilitates dysfunction as well as progress and development. It produces not only start-ups and ventures, stimulating economic growth, but also the derivative stock market speculation and the consequential bank collapses.

You have to dig very deep into human cultural history to understand the nature of the current socio-economic and political breakdown.

In Judaism, paleo-Christianity and Islam alike there are laws against usury. Islam is stricter, banning interests altogether, while the Judeo-Christian tradition actually prescribes a year of jubilee, where debts were cancelled and those who had sold themselves into slavery were freed.

The Mosaic Law, one may speculate, probably draws heavily from experiences from the almost 6000 years of Egyptian civilization that spawned the Hebrew culture.

I Ching, a 5000 year old book of wisdom from China, states that “if regulations are harsh, they cannot be permanent.”

The consequences of inhuman laws, a societal system that benefits its individuals less than the primordial condition, the functional anarchy, are revolt, mirrored cruelty and ultimately indifference to the lives of the people who enforced the corrupted legislations before the revolution.

Revolution is not something you can regulate or control, co-opt or direct, like a river. Once manifest, it acts like an avalanche, an earth slide, a flood, a typhoon. It is literally an act of nature, because it is an act carried out by the nature, the primitive part of cultivated man.

Only as such, as a structural reaction, can you understand the events of 2011, whether it was intellectual disapproval resulting in leaking confidential information, or it was rage in the streets met by the establishment’s instruments of repression, the tear gas cannisters, the batons and the guns.

Hyper-productive, Multi-cultural Societies May Fracture

2011 may have been a small quake, most often incapable of rattling the covernments out of their sense of confidence and their complacency.

But it was world wide. Unlike other natural disasters, it swept across all of the earth, within one fiscal year, hitting high and low, leaving very little territory untouched.

It was a warning, a tremor. Compared to the forces of nature the forces of man are next to nothing. We say we control the atom, but even one hurricane contains the power of hundreds of nuclear explosions.

And hurricanes don’t strike globally, at the same time. Even earthquakes and floods, by their very nature, strike locally.

Like revolutions they are indifferent, reckless, but natural disasters have nothing on manmade natural disasters, such as world wars.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was written and signed in order to prevent the repetition of two consecutive world wars in the same half a century, which devastated billions worth of infrastructure and claimed the lives of almost 100 million people – in WW2 alone, 2.5 percent of the world’s population were killed within less than a decade.

Capitalism is a belief system, rather than a descriptive system, even if it does happen to describe some aspects of reality accurately. It is the conviction about its infallible nature, or at least its superiority to any rivalling ideology, that reinforces the blind spots in the perception of politicians, industrial leaders and pundits in the West.

It’s important to understand that to avoid a global manmade disaster a fundamental change of the system must be made, with or without replacing the system and the elite that enforces it and benefits from it.

If comprehensive reform is not carried out within the system, the fault lines produced by the system collapsing – race, class, faith, gender, sexuality – will automatically tear societies apart, and the most productive, the most tolerant and heterogenic, will suffer the worst, because the social tensions will be amplified by the diversity.

Centralized Power Threatened by Merchant Cliques

In a dictatorship it would be natural for a benign ruler who saw his dynasty threatened by upheaval and understood the grievance of the people, to act resolutely and with bloody force against the corrupt officials in his nation.

An ancient Oriental legend speaks of a young ruler who was to take over, when his father died. Spies informed them that powerful lobbies and secret societies were plotting against the new prince. He asked his sick and ageing father what to do, and his father took him to the garden and, without a word, with a single swing of his stick, the father cut down the tallest flowers in a flowerbed, leaving the rest.

The prince understood that it was an advice to deal resolutely, and as his first act he got rid of all the chief officials.

We don’t live in a feudal system, in a dictatorship, at least not nominally. We embrace – or we strive towards – other ideals, presumably nobler ideals. Knocking down a few corrosive influences in the top, however, is preferable by far to going to war with all people and with reality itself.

Other legends speak of people who marched into war against the desert storm, with swords and spears and shields, never to be seen again. Herodutus recounts how Xerxes punished the seas by having his men whipping it for its insolence.

It would behoove the leaders to understand and acknowledge the power of the revolutionary dynamic in society and to act against such corrosive forces that favor them. These are not who are commonly designated as national security threats. You can know the real threat by its actual power. Revolution is a desperate measure, a last resort that comes at the cost of the lives of those who carry it out.

The corrupted men of power are the ones who produce revolution, as surely as if they were paying to promote it. Root out the source of the blindness that prevents structural changes to a damaged system. Attack the groups that rival centralized government; that is, from the most detached, Macchiavellian perspective, the first duty of any ruler.

It is realpolitik, the realism of politics, a word that people seem increasingly comfortable with in our day and age.

If so, when all calculations are made, and relevant matters are investigated to their full extent, what factual loss does society as a whole incur if this socalled elite was to be replaced in order to allow a reform of the governing system and ideology to come into place?

None, really.

Revalidating the Social Contract

You can’t govern without an elite, but neither can you govern with a disloyal elite. Corporatism does not have the civil virtue, the societal spirit required to govern. That is not something to mourn. Merchants are a necessary class, and whatever emphatic and academic deficiencies they may suffer, it serves their purpose: To maximize their profits in free competition with each other.

It has always been like this. All empires in history have nurtured free market policies, even during war. That is the nature of things, the reality of human civilization.

What is discomfiting, unsustainable, and outrageous, is a very small class of a very few merchants guided by this spirit or lack of spirit, as it is, to usurp the central power and use it for its own limited purposes. The social system cannot bear that.

Under such circumstances systemic breakdown is inevitable, and the total aggregation of instruments of power in our technological world is so overwhelming that a descent into chaos would threaten us with utter destruction.

Hope comes from the collective realization, on an intuitive level, of what I have just tried to convey in academic terms. The people have understood this, and made their calculations, long before it occurred to the financial and political experts and advisers.

When the masses begin to instruct their teachers, and reality itself overthrows the wisdom of the experts, it’s time for soul searching. Austerity is a popular word in the financial context, but not so much in its ancient and original meaning: being possessed by seriousness, an ascetic mindset.

If austerity was to occur to the so-called experts of societal programming today, they might realize that they too get wet when it rains, and that their lives and the lives of their children and the lives of their loved ones ultimately rely on the benevolence of the masses.

If it hadn’t been for 2011, this might have sounded like a threat and put me on an urgent watch list of some clandestine agency.

But come on, all things considered, who am I to make such a threat? Are any of those who speak out today, with some ferocity or nerve, wizards who ride the dragon in the sky?

Reality is making the threat. The revolutionary tendencies, the defaults, separatism, the splitting of unions of nations or states, the drums of war… all are signs pointing in the same direction: There is a storm under way, and the forces of nature obscure all our human planning and render all our methods of control useless. All the governments have is the vague hope that self-preservation is enough to outweigh grievances, a very subtle balance.

There is no actual enemy in this battle, except the ghost in the machine, leaving its very real footprints as it declares what is obvious, the necessity for compliance to socio-economic reality and the urgency to revalidate the social contract.

Capitalism, with all her superior firepower, cannot fight this battle directly without shooting herself in the heart. In this day and age, human beings are the ghost in the industrial machine. All you can do is to solve the structural problem, and begin by addressing it - then you may see that all the other existential threats are relatively easily curbed and grievances and injuries, however widespread, quickly healed.

If the rich and the powerful, the elite, cannot do this out of idealism or goodwill for mankind, they should at least consider it as a matter of "self-interest properly understood", as prudence and self-preservation through caution and clarity.