From where I’m sitting the Left will never be back in power, not because they will never win elections, but because the power game is over. The nation state as we know it is being slowly dismembered before our eyes, the leviathan of globalisation has one flank firmly grasped, while rapidly discohering communities of self-interest are ferociously nibbling at its underbelly, each mindlessly determined to have its own ounce or two of flesh.
The power started leaking badly about when Hiroshima and Ngagasaki cracked open the seams, and later when Thatcher, Reagan and Douglas used Friedman’s ravings to slap an intellectual veneer of psuedo-science over their old dream that greed really was good, and that the elites should own almost everything again… the innards of cohesive community rotted and oozed. It’s only ironically proper that a hollowed out society should have appointed hollow men to steer the hulk.
In most countries the political process is paralysed, a Mexican standoff between varied power factions none of whom no longer know what is even in their own best interests, much less the good of the people they contemptuously pretend to represent. As for ‘us the people’, we delude ourselves, we no longer want to know of news that might prompt a sincere re-evaluation of our own personal privileges and comforts. We mostly prefer to believe ourselves just ‘not yet rich’.
We delude ourselves to be happy, yet the dosing rate for anti-depressants rises, we cannot have ‘fun’ without first ‘smashing’ our conscience into incoherence, being fed empty rushes of addictive fleeting thrills that trap abusers and victims alike into cycles of guilt, shame, social and mental breakdown.
We delude ourselves to be succesful, while the consequences of our collective stupidities accumulate. Whether it is CO2 induced climate change, peak oil/water, biodiversity collapse, uncontrolled WMD proliferation and use, a prolonged global economic Depression, or some miserable combination of them all… matters little. Voltaire made it simple, “Man argues… Nature acts”. The truth is that victory and fame Monday to Thursday are nothing but hollow ironies if you and your children are all dead Friday.
How did we get to be so distracted, depressed and helpless? Where exactly did we misplace our true capacity to act intelligently with foresight, to be creative, fulfilled and content? How did we get to believe that money, possesions and power would take the place of these things? Why do we measure a man’s worth by how what he has, by how much power he wields over those around him? Because of this belief we have for thousands of years been locked in a vicious game of ‘beggar thy neighbour’, now massively amplified by oil and technology, and ultimately played to the point where the outstanding, the primal reality of this world, is that the top 1% of people control more wealth than the bottom 90%.
And this gross extreme of wealth and poverty, not just the cause of cruel, heartless suffering for so many, makes us all unhappy. As much as we want to pretend our small personal lives are good, there is an oft-muted voice in us that sulks under the pretence regardless. It knows we have been robbed of our birthright to be decent, wise, loving and happy, but for fear of loosing the meagre fragments of these things left to us… the voice remains silent. Worse still it locks us into failure; the planet simply cannot ever sustain the entire human race being ‘succesful’ on the same consumption terms as we define them for the top 1%.
What if instead we measured a man’s worth, not by how much he had, but by how much he gave away?
What if the lasting aphrodisiac was not power over others, but service to others? What if we valued talent and wealth not for what it could do for us, but for how it was used for those around us? What if it what we really wanted was… to give it away?