. So Near and Yet So Far | London Progressive Journal
A non-partisan journal of the left.

So Near and Yet So Far

Fri 10th Mar 2017

Have you ever noticed that when you hear the phrase "rich people," you always assume it means someone richer than you.

Most of us, myself very much included, have never been wealthy, although we may have tasted some of the leftover crumbs fallen from the feasting of the so-called elite. As we less-potent westerners sink further into the gap between us and them, it's not only becoming more difficult to see over the edge, but we can barely hear their pronouncements affecting our daily lives.

What primarily defines the powerful is their ability to make choices. As our own lives become more proscribed, more constricted, we're overwhelmed with feelings of impotence. Like innocent children we tend to blame ourselves. If only we were working harder; if only we could figure out how to earn more money. And then we blame irrelevant others - If only this person or that person or those people weren't standing in our way.

Through the dwindling remains of our awareness, it's clear that we've become less and less relevant in the greater scheme of things. Even the old social tricks of offering us tools and baubles to fuel our material aspirations no longer work - well, not by themselves. These days the more recent denizens of the rat-race maze have been presented as more dangerous than merely our rivals. They are now our enemies, the killers of our dreams.

Conflicts are fomented, whipped up by those who hide their power in the shadows. They're wrapped in the rhetoric of hate, designed to airbrush out our commonality as members of the human race. Instead we're encouraged to re-label ourselves as though this designation or that is synonymous with self-worth.

In reality, this social construct has little if anything to do with the importance of individuals. It is a mechanism of control which keeps the system in operation. Yes, once again, I'm on about capitalism as a corrupt force. I can throw a bunch of stats at you to illustrate the current crisis. But if you still believe the world around you is clean and neat and tidy, well, you must have forgotten your history. Because yes, we've been here before.

I'm not referring to how banks and governments colluded like some bizarre tourniquet to staunch the bleeding wounds of the financialmarkets a decade ago. Wounds which are to this day affecting all but the wealthiest, and still bamboozling analysts groping for underlying explanations. Tories blamed Gordon Brown, formerly hailed as a wise fiscal owl, while the traders and the banks and the Gnomes of Zurich hadn't even begun to fit together the pieces of the disaster they created.

No, even before then, back in the early-to-mid 1970s, the wave of apparent fiscal plenty clouded judgements, particularly in the housing sector. Lenders failed to notice the social change as prices soared along with interest rates. With the predominantly self-generated oil price rise, the resulting crisis required some heavy-handed back-room deals finessed by the Bank of England to bail out scores of smaller banks. Its solution plunged its own debit sheet into the red zone by some £100 million. But nothing could stop the stock market crash. Britain's slice of austerity engendered a three-day week and Prime Minister Heath was forced to resign.

What's so insidious about our current global crisis is that its engineers have become so unaccountable, and so ubiquitous. Previous capitalist directions of travel have been sign-posted by politicians. The rise and rise of those commanding economic power still had to answer to Department Ministers, Cabinets, Select Committees, and even advisory civil servants who taken together have been assuming the power inherited from the all-powerful rule of centuries of monarchy.

It's only in the last quarter century or so that politics has learned to dance so frenetically to the tune of BigBiz. These are no equal partners steering each other across the ballroom. Instead, one leads and the other follows, whether willingly or not. It's the usurping of power from democracy by capitalism. And the likes of us aren't even in the room. Perhaps we're close enough to hear the rhythms and rhetoric of take-overs, unaccountable boardrooms, manipulated shareholders, white-washed public relations pronouncements, and the entire cacophonous score that has rephrased the tunes of life we used to know.

This month is marked by two International Days highlighting some of the most potent problems of our era. One is International World Wildlife Day, the other International Women's Day. Each will be celebrated or ignored throughout the world. What seems absent from any media coverage is any cogent analysis of why they're so important, and why we've been so deprived of any meaningful choices to effect change.

Worldwide efforts to ensure the protection of wildlife - and by definition, the habitat that sustains it in all its forms - cover no less than the future safety of our planet. Consider the very air we breathe, which has just been quantified by the World Health Organisation as 90% polluted. Consider the water so vital for all life forms, which is being threatened by daily infiltrations of oil waste, burst pipelines, sewage mismanagement, and plastic particulates present even underneath the ice sheets of Antarctica. Consider the ravaged people forced to flee from their homes by bombing and shelling, creating an underclass, displaced and treated like statistics instead of fellow human beings. Choices? I don't think so.

The matter of gender equality removes even more choices from women around the world. Whatever halting so-called progress has been made in sections of western societies - and they are by no means universal - there remains a pervasive belief sadly shared by both genders that women are inferior to men. Once again the public rhetoric of the west, fed to us by political pronouncements, advertisements and populist entertainments, appears to chart evidence of a fairer society.

But that fantasy is belied by the group photos of high-level decision makers, both political and corporate. Of the cast and crew lists of films and television programs, where admittedly there has been some discernible redress.

But, even more appalling, is the increasing incidence of exploitation, abuse and/or bullying of women, and sadly of children as well. The images we're fed confirm the division of the sexes instead of our commonality as a species. No wonder so many young people are addressing their confusion by redefining their own genders. No wonder so many men
can no longer rely on the assumption that they are genetically smarter than women, and, as a result, they resent accepting women in positions of authority. No wonder they can no longer rely on the assumption that a woman's very function is to serve and service men, and as a result, they react so violently when their sexual advances, however inappropriate, are rebuffed.

Of course, I can only sketch out some examples. What's clear is that if the so-called enlightened west remains so conflicted, people on other continents matter even less to the power elite, and have never experienced any iota of choice. In that they have been deprived of dignity since birth.

Every single such deprivation is a by-product of the function of capitalism. The very concept relies on the exploitation of people. Even more, it relies on the expendability of people. As men who can only consider women as an objectified hole for insertion and release, successful capitalists can only consider people as the means to their own ends.

That is not democracy. It is tyranny. Its head honchos may know how to do deals, but they have no idea about human dignity, equality, or self-worth. Nor do they care. What matters is how much more dosh they can accumulate. They have been preparing for decades, along with the near-total complicity of the politicians they control. Now they themselves have become those very politicians. They can re-make policy. They can legislate. They can enact. Unfettered and for their own ends.

What happens when BigBiz runs the world? Now we know.

So, is there any hope? Any chance for other choices? Yes - we're so near, and yet so far.

The only choice we have lies with ourselves. We can take advantage of those baubles of the west and use them to our advantage. I mean our access to global communication. To retain our dignity, we must reject all violence, how ever provoked. We don't even have to gather in physical spaces, which are traditionally invaded by agents provocateurs.

We merely have to stop buying. Capitalism relies on a proscribed system of supply and demand. The aim is to prosper, whatever the human cost. So just stop. It's not illegal. Yes, it will hurt. But frankly, it's hurting right now.

Here's a mantra for choice, for a reversal of the tyranny. Reach out, we can do this if we unite. Stop buying, start making! Stop buying, start growing! Stop buying, start sharing!
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