Totalitarian Capitalism

I had never heard of James McGill Buchanan until I read, in today’s Guardian, a review by George Monbiot of Duke University historian Nancy MacLean’s recently published book Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America. I have yet to read and assess MacLean’s research and argument, but I wouldn’t be really surprised at the revelation of a “stealth plan” for, and prospects of, “totalitarian capitalism”. That was already the conclusion of political scientist Sheldon Wolin in Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and The Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism. Nor are Maclean or Wolin the first to express fears about totalitarian capitalism, only the most recent. There is also Jane Mayer’s related investigation into Dark Money. Totalitarian Capitalism has been anticipated in any case by other names such as “corporatocracy”, “plutocracy”, or “techno-fascism”. This has been a growing threat.

How likely an outcome and endgame is it? I would say very likely. It would be the logical culmination of Jean Gebser’s anticipated breakdown and collapse of the mental-rational/perspectival consciousness structure barring some unanticipated intervention and disruption of this dynamic.

The coming of some form of totalitarian capitalism — or fascism by any another name — was the chief concern of the old Dark Age Blog, which already saw that probability prefigured in Hayek and Friedman’s economic theories, in Thatcherism and in Francis Fukuyama’s “end of history” thesis, and in the elementary self-contradictions of neo-liberal ideology and economics upon which their creeds were based. Those implicit self-contradictions have wormed their way like a virus into the culture at large infecting everything, and now manifest as a mania and pandaemonium of duplicity and hypocrisy, if not a kind of schizophrenia, or what I referred to in my old Dark Age Blog as our own “four riders of the apocalypse” — Double-Talk, Double-Think, Double-Standard, and Double-Bind. These are the forms of our contemporary nihilism, and even self-annihilation, and they attest to the fragmentation and disintegration of the personality and consciousness structure of Late Modern Man, who now suffers, as a result, an “identity crisis”.

That same self-contradiction and value-nihilism that afflicts neo-liberalism is evident in Buchanan’s apparently influential thinking as well, as I note from Monbiot’s article

Any clash between “freedom” (allowing the rich to do as they wish) and democracy should be resolved in favour of freedom. In his book The Limits of Liberty, he noted that “despotism may be the only organisational alternative to the political structure that we observe.” Despotism in defence of freedom.

Buchanan is certainly not the first to come to dissonant conclusions about the proper form of society that absolutely contradict his ostensible value premises and assumptions — conclusions which annihilate those same value premises and assumptions by leaving them null and void. Can’t chew gum and walk at the same time, as the popular saying goes.  Can’t effectively walk his talk.

These are the circumstances, mental and social, in which totalitarianism finds its rationale and appeal. The inability to reconcile the contradictions and self-contradictions leads to a violent effort to suppress the dissonance and the dilemma rather than transcend it, both in relation to the psyche and also society as whole. The repressed tension cannot be denied, however. The tension, inwards and outwards, mounts inexorably, “like a splinter in the mind”, as Morpheus put it in The Matrix.

Totalitarian regimes do not survive long, as you may have noticed, precisely because of that. In time, they collapse from their own inherent self-contradictions, often violently. But they can be incredibly aberrant and destructive while they last. And it is, in many respects, the inevitable consequence of confusing the meaning of Whole and Totality, the universal with the uniform, and as such evidence of a pathological state of mind and society.

Totalitarian regimes are the very antithesis of all holistic and eco-logical consciousness and thinking. And that is the real “clash of civilisations”.

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24 responses to “Totalitarian Capitalism”

  1. mikemackd says :

    It is interesting to put the findings of this book alongside that quote of Major Ralph Peters that I posted under “We’ll always have Paris”:

    “There will be no peace. At any given moment for the rest of our lifetimes, there will be multiple conflicts in mutating forms around the globe. Violent conflict will dominate the headlines, but cultural and economic struggles will be steadier and ultimately more decisive. The de facto role of the US armed forces will be to keep the world safe for our economy and open to our cultural assault. To those ends, we will do a fair amount of killing.”

    By “our economy”, it now appears to be quite clear that he was referring to totalitarian capitalism, with people like the Koch brothers as typical examples of its, and therefore our, masters.

    There’s a relevant article on this theme at “Tomdispatch.com, called “The Empire of Destruction”. The author misses the USA’s role in fomenting the war in Syria, perhaps because was done under “bombs away” Obama’s watch. However, he is awake to the continuing militarization of America and totalitarian capitalism’s other puppet state’s police forces. The puppet I live in has just announced the creation of a super-ministry to facilitate that process.

    When are people going to wake up to the possibility that these measures are being put in place to protect totalitarian capitalism; not them, but from them? Do they seriously consider that the skills learned in those wars overseas cannot be applied to local dissent?

    • mikemackd says :

      I meant “other puppet states’ police forces”: sorry.

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      When are people going to wake up to the possibility that these measures are being put in place to protect totalitarian capitalism; not them, but from them?

      Everyone “on the front lines” — from Occupy to DAPL to the Arab Spring — are fully awake to reality of that. Others, at least in the US, are perhaps only half-awake to it in that they think it’s only a possibility (actually, a reality) when either the Democrats or the Republicans have a majority in the House, Senate or both. In other words, the widespread perception (and comment) that “it looks like we’re a police state now” is largely dependent on which party of the corporate duopoly (or their “platforms”) is supported.

      Nothing has changed under Trump, of course, except that the mentality underpinning it is in every-moment-of-every-day view now. (“It’s not fair to our companies” reflected his “distorted sense of reality” on DAPL.)

      What I wonder is when “the 1%” will realize that “a nation of consumers,” regardless to which nation that term supposedly refers, left with nothing either to “consume” or “consume” with couldn’t “keep that golden arrow afloat” even if it wanted to, planned and perceived obsolescence notwithstanding.

      “Duh,” indeed.

  2. Scott Preston says :

    Buchanan’s logic, which concludes that despotism is necessary to preserve liberty, brings to mind that hapless Marine lt. colonel’s remark during the Vietnam War as reported by Peter Arnett: “We had to destroy the village in order to save it, sir”.

    That statement became somewhat iconic of the nihilism of the Vietnam War — the supreme example of Double-Think. Yet, it wasn’t long before this kind of self-devouring logic became “normalised” — in fact, the essence of the “New Normal”. As Pope Francis put it quite properly: “duplicity is the currency of the day”.

    The same duplicity informs Buchanan’s logic, and that’s just a reflection of the same duplicity that informs neo-liberal ideology. It’s logic is nihilistic, and we have to get to the roots of this. How the hell did this situation come about?

    It would seem that the Emissary and the Master (to use McGilchrist’s terms) are now at war with each other. You see that in the fact that completely contradictory and antithetical values are being forced to occupy the same semantic space. The life-enhancing values (freedom, creativity, save, and so on) are immediately contradicted and negated in the same statement — (despotism, “productivity”, and destroy). This is the Jekyll and Hyde problem, of course — and that did not end well for either Jekyll or Hyde. And I think this situation is very well described by Blake, especially in his “Vision of the Last Judgment” and his mythology of the four Zoas.

    We know what needs to be done, don’t we? We need to reintegrate these divergent modes of perception –. The Emissary (Blake’s Urizen by another name) must return to the Master — its true roots, source, and “vital centre” –as servant. The alternative– total segregation or apartness — is only annihilation and self-annihilation.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Fascinating interview with Svetlana Alexievich which I read in The Guardian moments after posting the above comment, and which uncannily illustrates this situation also in contemporary Russia.

      ““More than once afterward I met with these two truths that live in the same human being,” Alexievich writes. “One’s own truth, driven underground, and the common one, filled with the spirit of the time.”

      “Hypernormalisation” (As Adam Curtis described it in his documentary by that title) is still alive and well in Russia, too, and not just a aberration of the decline of the USSR in the eighties.

      https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jul/21/svetlana-alexievich-interview

      The same milieu, the same malaise — the same social, cultural, and psychological situation.

  3. Scott Preston says :

    Hey, mike.. your previous comments on the mining industry in Australia (posted to “Canada’s Corporate Terrorism”) seems very much corroborated by this article that you probably also caught in today’s Guardian.

    https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/jul/21/dirty-coal-to-dirty-politics-everything-is-connected-through-a-malformed-political-economy

    • mikemackd says :

      Many years ago, I wrote a monograph online about climate change. I was particularly concerned that scientists were treating the climate as if it were a machine, when it isn’t; it’s non-linear and complex.

      You may recall my reference to Tim Flannery a couple of months ago. I asked him about all the methane under the tundra, and he said not to worry so much, because it’s trapped under a blanket of vegetation. I wrote to him afterwards and said:

      QUOTE

      Dear Tim Flannery,

      Thanks again for your courteous and informative answers to my questions at the Seabreeze Festival the other day.

      However, this news link, which has its own link to the source, calls into question the reassurance you gave me about the Arctic.

      It seems the blanket may me like an improperly-fastened lid on a pressure cooker.

      https://thinkprogress.org/alaskas-vicious-cycle-warming-tundra-spews-co2-speeding-up-warming-8cf7aec95fc7

      UNQUOTE

      I do not consider myself an expert on this subject, but would love to learn from someone who is – that is, someone modelling non-linear dynamics to the potential effects of this as a runaway phenomenon – how this will not result in the extinction of most megafauna, particularly us.

      But every cloud has a silver lining: at least it will make the omnicidal death cultists happy. Caity Johnstone called the neoconservatives that at https://medium.com/@caityjohnstone/neoconservatism-is-an-omnicidal-death-cult-and-it-must-be-stopped-df9ddddcff46, and I consider, after having now studied around a million wordsof his that, if Lewis Mumford were alive today, he would agree with her.

      • InfiniteWarrior says :

        From another Johnstone entry titled How To Fight The Establishment Propaganda Machine And Win:

        What Americans lack in voting power, they make up for in the fact that their ability to network and share information has reached completely unprecedented heights, which means that the old propaganda systems which have been used to lull Americans into accepting the establishment narrative are wielding less and less influence. The internet has the potential to initiate a total shift in public perspective….

        Globally.

        If you know that the system is rigged against you by your oppressors, then why are you fighting them within the system that they rigged? That’s like agreeing to fight a shark in the water, or a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt on the ground.

        lol Oh, I like her. Thanks for the intro to Johnstone, Mike.

        • Scott Preston says :

          That, as it turns out, is a double-edged sword. As we see now, the internet has also amplified the potentialities and reach of propaganda as well.

        • Scott Preston says :

          I like the fire in her belly, if not her mind. But I’m unconvinced by her analysis of the propaganda machine. Her strategy has some flaws, which I should probably address point by point, but mainly you need to understand, first, not that these “psy-ops” or “black ops” (technocratic shamanism) work (because they do), but WHY they work in the first place.

          We saw something of that with the problem of “symbolic belief” — the NEED to believe what is counterfactual. In my studies of the propaganda system in Nazi Germany, I discovered that most people didn’t really believe the propaganda, but surrendered to it because it was exciting, stimulating, and dramatic. That’s what’s concerning about this present dissonance exemplified by “symbolic belief” (especially of the kind peddled by the likes of Alex Jones, et alia).

      • InfiniteWarrior says :

        PS While I can’t abide the “warrior politics” mentality Johnstone (as the vast majority of our politicians, including Sanders) promotes, much preferring to endorse the “Gentle Revolution” — which I’ve stated in the past is quietly happening of its own accord without the interference of anyone in particular (<– and with that no one needs to agree) — her observations about the complicity of mainstream (and other) media are dead-on.

        Lightening up in the manner she prescribes never hurts, either, imo.

        • mikemackd says :

          Assuredly, I.W., one must be extra sensitive if employing the “warrior politics” mentality, Firstly, as was stated by Goethe, “There are many things we despise in order that we may not have to despise ourselves”. Secondly, we lay ourselves open to manipulation by psychopaths of the ilk we mean to oppose: “My psychopath can beat your psychopath!” “Oh yeah? Sez you and what army?”

          However, the two approaches may not be mutually exclusive …
          After reading this post of yours, I returned to my reading of Mumford’s The Condition of Man. These words from there possibly add value here (pp. 29-31):

          QUOTE
          To Plato, in his youth, all things seemed possible: The Republic witnesses that belief in perfection. Toward the end of his life a sobered and saddened man writes The Laws. He still cannot believe that all is over …. How could reason prevail if men remained unteachable?

          The crisis that the Greeks faced has an obvious parallel in our own culture, not least in the fact that it came so unexpectedly on the heels of their superb achievements in every department of art and thought …

          Plato’s whole life was in effect an effort to find a means to restore order and purpose in a community that was becoming progressively disorganized, banal, and purposeless: in which the divine was succumbing to the all-too-human. He sought to conceive a commonwealth that could survive in a disintegrating world …

          Athens needed men, and the humanities by themselves did not produce them. Indeed, for lack of political discipline and moral responsibility, the teachers of the humanities hindered rather than aided the making of men: they were producing facile rhetoricians, glib orators, clever teachers, connoisseurs, not men capable of living robustly on every plane of existence. Citizens who would serve in the law courts or on the battlefield as readily as they would write a poem or pursue an abstract truth, men of the stature of Sophocles or Socrates, were no longer being created …

          The highest possibility of life, for the Greeks, was a static one: life arrested meant art perfected: for them the community itself, the polis, was a work of art. Unfortunately, art perfected may also in time mean life denied. No mere work of man deserves that homage.

          No one has given a better description of individual excellences than Plato; no one else has shown more clearly the weakness of de-moralized power and of an impotent morality. He knew that strength needed the sanction of virtue and reasonable purpose; he knew that goodness needed the support of disciplined strength, “From the cruel, or hardly curable, or altogether incurable acts of injustice done to him by others, a man can escape only by fighting and defending himself and conquering, and by never ceasing to punish them . . . wherefore I say that good men ought, when occasion demands, to be both gentle and passionate.” This was a side of goodness that Christianity, as Renan pointed out, neglected at its peril: the realm of civic virtue. The meek may see heaven; only the strong are capable of establishing it on earth …

          The problem, in other words, was how to put military power and money power in their place, by a form of co-operation and union that had no foundation in Plato’s philosophy: one capable of embracing territories and peoples outside the Greek polis. If Sparta was not the answer, neither was Solon’s Athens. A new form of fellowship was required, capable of breaking down the walls that separated city from city, race from race, class from class. How to turn the new fellowship of the religious mystery into a universal fellowship for political mastery: that was the problem of problems.

          To his dying day, Plato never conceived that transformation.

          UNQUOTE

          Are men and women of such character being created today? Is that transformation being conceived today?

          • InfiniteWarrior says :

            Firstly, as was stated by Goethe, “There are many things we despise in order that we may not have to despise ourselves”.

            Despicable of us, is it not?

            First, “can’t abide” doesn’t mean “despise.” It means “can’t live with.” I choose not to in an eclectic kind of way, but since it’s come up….

            We’ve grown and refined and sophisticated our senses enough to know precisely what Goethe meant. We call it “projection” today. Human beings tend to project upon others (and other ‘things’) the characteristics inherent to all human beings that they don’t like about themselves in order to feel better about themselves or, in some way, superior to others, rather than transforming those things within themselves. Therein, lies the crux of our “problem.”

            He knew that strength needed the sanction of virtue and reasonable purpose; he knew that goodness needed the support of disciplined strength, “From the cruel, or hardly curable, or altogether incurable acts of injustice done to him by others, a man can escape only by fighting and defending himself and conquering, and by never ceasing to punish them . . .wherefore I say that good men ought, when occasion demands, to be both gentle and passionate./em>”

            I see what Mumford did there. There’s another option, of course: “shake the dust from off your feet” and walk away. I’d go a little further.

            ‘We’ (and, perhaps, especially, in the West) have some pretty strange ideas about “strength” and “passion” and, especially, “perfection” which we inherited (and continue to perpetuate) directly from the Greeks and the Romans. I’d just as soon as we stopped doing that, but that’s just my preference, and we know what Thoreau had to say about what concerns us much.

            A new form of fellowship was required, capable of breaking down the walls that separated city from city, race from race, class from class. How to turn the new fellowship of the religious mystery into a universal fellowship for political mastery: that was the problem of problems.

            I think Plato proceeded from a false assumption: that there are “walls” to “break down” in the first place, not to mention viewing a universal fellowship as something we create rather than “relax into” as the commenter davidm pointed out to us recently put it. Take a look at this image and show me one wall that hasn’t been created and perpetuated by the human mind.

            Are men and women of such character being created today?

            I’d say a few even more exceptional now than then.

            Is that transformation being conceived today?

            No. It is happening as we speak.

            • mikemackd says :

              An enriching reply, I.W. Thanks.

              I need more mulling time, but for now I add the last words of Mumford’s last great work, The Pentagon of Power, in confirmation of your “shake the dust” option:

              QUOTE:

              The whirligig of time has gone round; and what James applied to science applies equally to our compulsive, depersonalized, power-driven technology. We now have sufficient historic perspective to realize that this seemingly self-automated mechanism has, like the old ‘automatic’ chess player, a man concealed in the works; and we know that the system is not directly derived from nature as we find it on earth or in the sky, but has features that at every point bear the stamp of the human mind, partly rational, partly cretinous, partly demonic. No outward tinkering will improve this overpowered civilization, now plainly in the final and fossilized stage of its materialization: nothing will produce an effective change but the fresh transformation that has already begun in the human mind.

              Those who are unable to accept William James’ perception that the human person has always been the “starting point of new effects” and that the most solid-seeming structures and institutions must collapse as soon as the formative ideas that have brought them into existence begin to dissolve, are the real prophets of doom. On the terms imposed by technocratic society, there is no hope for mankind except by ‘going with’ its plans for accelerated technological progress, even though man’s vital organs will all be cannibalized in order to prolong the megamachine’s meaningless existence. But for those of us who have thrown off the myth of the machine, the next move is ours: for the gates of the technocratic prison will open automatically, despite their rusty ancient hinges, as soon as we choose to walk out.

              UNQUOTE

        • Scott Preston says :

          Yes. I appreciate Floris Koot’s approach, which I would call the “mental hygiene” approach. Johnstone is a Zealot. That’s her predilection, but you need a mix of approaches to the issue of the propaganda machine.

          Counter-propaganda is a tricky matter — how to dissolve the “mind-forg’d manacles”, as Blake calls it without just forging a new set of manacles (which is the problem of “political correctness” in the true sense — just replacing one set of dogmas with another set of dogmas).

          I still think that (besides Edward Bernays’ how-to book Propaganda ) the two best works of counter-propaganda are Chomsky’s Necessary Illusions and Jacques Ellul’s Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes, although there’s a number of others that deserve honourable mention as well. The website DeSmogBlog is also very good at analysing contemporary propaganda and “public relations”.

          https://www.desmogblog.com/

          There can’t be a “totalitarian capitalism” without the technocratic shaman, a.k.a, the propagandist or “perception manager”. The chief example of that was Goebbels, although Bernays is a classic as well. But when I was a student in Germany, I got my hands on all Goebbels’ speeches, public and private, as well as copies of his secret directives to media organisations and to his auxilliaries. I studied Goebbels pretty closely.He was pretty much the avatar of “cynical rationality”.

          • InfiniteWarrior says :

            Thanks for those book recommendations. I was about to ask.

            mainly you need to understand, first, not that these “psy-ops” or “black ops” (technocratic shamanism) work (because they do), but WHY they work in the first place.

            And how they work in the first place. Does not “subliminal” pretty much cover that?

  4. abdulmonem says :

    As there are the four riders to the hellisitic, landscape there are the fourfold humans who are riding toward the holistic landscape. As Scott said it is not numbers but intentionality supported by incessant attention. It is the historical story of humanity. The faithful vs the faithless. As there is faithful knowledge which Scott like to call it empathetic epistemology there is faithless knowledge which our intellectuals like to give it the label of narcissistic epistemology. One should not be surprised to meet the like of Buchanan, the flag carrier of the four riders as natural phenomenon to keep the like of Gebser in a state of alertness to carry the faithful flag. What is strange is that people get used to live in the polluted swamp of the dark money and perverted corporate culture that used the revolving doors policy to maintain its domination and hegemony. It is a strong cooperation between governments and corporations to keep people under siege. The story of Iraq is a good example of such cooperation without forgetting the mercenaries collected from all quarters. Examples of bad corporate exploitation, fill the world but alas the situation is moving from worse to worse despite the healthy islands that pop here and there in some places giving some hope to a desperate humanity. The width and breadth of the deterioration, forces me all the time to look for him, feeling his discontent with the human falsification of his story that does nothing but bring doom to the falsifiers. Suffering is part of the test and He said, do you think that we have created you in vain and you are not going to return to be asked. I am no longer in love with those who search for god in his particles who think that they living in a codeless universe and all these phenomena
    are doing their work without a coordinator. I wonder why I am being asked to thank him for sundering the heavens from earth in a wise move and made the angels messengers with different mission, double, thrice, fourth and more. The one who has power over everything. There is no haphazard big bang but a wise separation to give the humans the chance to find the way back with a new knowledge that we see flourishing all around giving signs for those who want to awake. Stupid are the accumulators of money forgetting their original mission that of empathy and charity, forgetting who gave them life and the abundance they are enjoying. Stupids are those who never want to repent from their ugly aggression. Stupids are those who exploit the primitive and use them against each other. It is sad but faithfuls are always being asked to be patient and never leave riding the horse of truth. Thus is the difficult game which we have to undergo whether we like it or not.

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      What is strange is that people get used to live in the polluted swamp of the dark money and perverted corporate culture that used the revolving doors policy to maintain its domination and hegemony.

      I sincerely doubt they do.

      A while back, we conversed about the sense (then expressed by Charles Eisenstein and reiterated most recently by none other than George Carlin) that “this is all wrong.”

      I think this general sense of “wrongness” is universal. We appear to come to a realization of it, as Carlin suggested, around the same time we come of age to be fed into the Megamachine, and it never really goes away. How we deal with it is the truest test of our mettle, imho. Many of our Catholic friends think of purgatory as a state of limbo we visit after death, but I think our lives here on earth is the only purgatory we’ll ever see.

      I hope Scott is not too appalled that one thing he said upon my discovery of TDAB will stick with me most prevalently as a candle of hope in these darkest of times: “Our institutions will be the last to change.”

      I think I’ll have that embroidered and hang it on the wall as a constant reminder that our institutions must conform to the transformations we’re seeing “here below” and not the other way around. In the meantime, we can only play our part wherever we may be.

  5. davidm58 says :

    I guess I’ve finally caught the Lewis Mumford bug. Just watched (free online – link below) part 1 of the 6 part CBC documentary, “Lewis Mumford on the City – 1) Heaven and Hell”

    My transcript of the conclusion below.

    Narrator:
    The heart of the city is a mass of disposable containers for living and working, where life promoting elements are subordinated to life curing routine. Where human scale is forgotten, and where power – insolent, irrational, dehumanized, threatens to make sterile man’s most precious collective achievement. In exalting power alone, such a civilization foreshadows its own end, and in human terms it makes little difference whether the destruction is produced by uncontrolled urban expansion, or uncontrolled nuclear devastation.

    Mumford voice-over:
    But no inexorable fate is decreed that city must end as it began in an underground shelter, or a burial ground. the forces of life still lighten [?], and the promises of the City of Man need not be lost.

    https://www.nfb.ca/film/lewis_mumford_on_the_city_part_1/

    • mikemackd says :

      I was hoping that others may have transcribed more of the text from that series, but no luck so far.

      While you have been succumbing to the Mumford bug, I have been studying Chapters II and III of The Condition of Man (1944), available online at https://archive.org/stream/in.ernet.dli.2015.220269/2015.220269.The-Condition_djvu.txt. Chapter II centres on Jesus, and Chapter III on early Christianity.

      You have mentioned your Christianity here, David M. I mention this because those chapters could either cure you of the Mumford bug, or have you further succumb. Most likely somewhere in between, but I would be grateful for your comments.

      Part of my mullings over I.W.’s comments in this context of totalitarian capitalism involves Plato’s totalitarian Republic, the fascism of the Roman Empire, and their role in the development of the western manifestations of the megamachine. I have submitted here before that Jesus got himself crucified by opposing similar powers and principalities to those manifesting as totalitarian capitalism today.

      For anything to manifest in society, there must be a meeting of motives, means and opportunities. In that context, there are similarities between now and the Jesus’s time. Perhaps there always are, but we are now so that’s when matters most for us.

  6. flowerinthegrass says :

    I have been reading this blog for a while and read the commentary today. I have a question. How can we fight this if not by using all of the tools at our exposure? I’m also curious about the pockets of “healthy islands that pop up”. What do these look like and where? In my own experience, in my own town, we have been fighting the building of gas plants directly in our vicinity on the grounds of health impacts and climate change. It has been a long two years and our municipality pushed this project through using malfeasance with contracting. Using the system, we were able to vote for better reps and had them hire an internal auditor, of which we have not had in a decade. After a mere 5 months, he uncovered what the citizens have been saying all along about the manner in which this project has happened. Our town has ~200 frack wells and the people who earn a significant amount of earnings on royalties do so at the expense of our health. And they stood to gain more with the installation of the gas plant. As a community we used the system to fight this. And with decent people at the helm, I have hope that we might at least move the needle a bit. I feel helpless to fight the system in its totality. This feels like too massive of a project to even consider. But if each of us holds to our piece of the puzzle and works together to create change, then maybe we can come out on the other side of this with at least some hope of getting our from under it. Going back to my original questions. What does it look like to not be one of the “stupids” and how do we just sit back and wait and is this what we should do? What do the islands of healthy spaces look like? How is it possible to stave disintegration off without having some division against those who fight so hard to maintain the system as it is? Thanks.

    • Scott Preston says :

      I had to smile when I read this. I was just at a meeting this morning where this same problem was the topic — an apparent collusion and conspiracy between an elected council and corporate interests amounting to one big conflict of interest — the mysterious disappearance of files and minutes pertaining to a land sale transaction of conservation wetlands to an “energy services company” (Abaco Energy Services or Abaco Energy Technologies). We’re slowly unraveling a network of cronies who scratch each other;s backs for political and financial favours, not in the public interest, and they aren’t happy about that.

      Still, this kind of petty graft and venal corruption doesn’t by itself make for “totalitarian capitalism”. It’s petty crime in relation to that, which is more obsessed with power and a monopoly of power — something Kissinger once said sums it up — “power is the great aphrodisiac”.

      so, the question is — how to thwart the consolidation of this power as a monopoly of a “power elite” such that it results in “totalitarian capitalism”? Well, first of all, you have to know your enemy thoroughly — the strengths, the weaknesses. You have to watch and observe, study and scrutinise. What Algis Mikunas called “technocratic shamanism” (or propaganda by another name) is its chief instrument. You need to thoroughly understand that instrument — that “weapon of mass deception”. How does it work? Why are minds so vulnerable to that? Only when you understand it — its strengths and weaknesses — can you then move to counter it. But, as the old saying goes “physician, heal thyself”. That’s the first step — freeing one’s own mind from the spell.

      .

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