2012 is the hundredth anniversary of the Titanic tragedy. Today, we, too, are all at sea, heading for treacherous bergs in a doomed ship.
Only one thing for it ‘
Chapter Eight – Let Us Prey
If you\’ve played Nintendo\’s Quest 64 you\’ll recognize Mammon as the double-dealing demon hoping to lure Brian the pure into releasing him from jail so he can take possession of the human spirit.
Or perhaps you know the name as the bible\’s so-called \”false god\”:
\”Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal,\” warns Matthew, adding no one can \”serve both God and Mammon.\”
Today, we\’re not going to examine the cell structure of faith, but in the context of our near-universal state of slavery, it\’s helpful to highlight religion\’s role and unhappy history of hypocrisy.
What a singular irony that the two stories dominating recent headlines here in the UK concern the crossed paths of church and mammon.
One story covers the calculation of corporate bonuses and the pay differential between workers and bosses. We’re told by impartial business analysts that company directors\’ salaries rose 3.2%, while other benefits boosted incomes by 50%. Oh, shed a tear for these hard-done-by wage slaves, who can also factor in a rise in bonuses by 187%. That means a typical FTSE 100 director carts home some £2.7m a year – and they’ll need a cart to carry that much!
No wonder Deborah Hargreaves, chair of the High Pay Commission expresses, albeit with some understatement, that \”it is very hard to justify these sorts of pay increases.\” And she notes by comparison that the average person’s pay “is going up 1% or 2% ‘ not even meeting price rises.”
For these City bozos who could really do with an imagination transplant, it’s incomprehensible that anyone reacting badly to such figures only indicates jealousy. It’s the inequality, you morons. That’s what the Occupiers around the world are questioning. If money is the thing, there’s actually enough to make everyone super-rich.
Oh, no – you can’t just redistribute and give money to the poor. They’d just waste it. Oh, yeah, like on food, and cleaning the sewer-homes of the favelas, and such.
Meanwhile across the ocean, as increasing force is used against the American Occupiers, a recent bipartisan Congressional Budget Office indicated the nation\’s highest earners saw their household income almost triple in the years between 1979 and 2007. Post-tax income increased by 275% for the wealthiest 1% of Americans, but by just 18% for the poorest 20%.
Except for a few media dissenters, most of the coverage might as well have been about the weather. Oh, well – yessiree, it’s a record breaking month for temperatures, all right. But hey, wotcha gonna do?!
Not so easy to pigeon-hole is the other snowballing story about the anti-capitalist Occupiers upsetting church officials and their high-powered pals.
Although the very concept of faith appeared fairly recently in our species\’ history, we\’re constantly told it\’s the eternal, universal bedrock of our ability to behave morally. Despite what\’s staring the faithful in the face – namely, that all religions are pretty much the same – the prevailing view is that my faith is the one true faith, and your faith ain\’t.
It’s all about telling stories and exercising control.
Archeological discoveries of ancient burial sites immediately give rise to simplistic conclusions they’re proof of religion. But respect for ancestors and treasured pals does not require religion. Ritual does not imply a deity or an afterlife, nor is it a requisite of decency. It may, and is more likely to emphasize the commonality and connectedness of those who are known to us, who are dear to us:
“What about that Og, eh guys? We’ll sure miss him. He could charm a mastodon right over a cliff! What an inspiration. What say we cover over his body and leave a rock, so every time we pass this way we remember our pal Og.”
There is no verifiable proof that any such entity as religion existed before the shape shift to a pyramidal structure.
Our ancestors’ circular communities in which everyone was known to each other and depended on each other for their collective survival, were not lacking in morality. In fact, when people are so interdependent it practically eliminates immorality, because the consequences of exploitation are too devastating to contemplate.
But everyone loves a good yarn.
If I relate a parable of two brothers set against each other by jealousy, vengeance and death, you\’ll probably conclude I mean Cain and Abel. Ah, but I’m telling the tale of a much earlier sibling pair, Anpu and Bata, dating from about 1209-1205 BC, back in the 19th Egyptian dynasty.
Many religions tell flood stories and tales of the defeat of oppressors, creation myths involving an infinite series of turtles floating on the backs of turtles which float on the backs of turtles which float ‘
Sure, various societies founded on the stairway of slavery, invented a religious structure – but it served as a method of social control. That doesn’t make religion inevitable, or even necessary. And it certainly doesn’t make it anything but man-made.
But, I hear you cry, look at all the good things that have emerged from the church. Yeah, well, sometimes.
Two caveats accompany beneficence attached to religious accounts over time. One is all the equally good deeds that required no religious context. The other, sadly, are all the monstrous exploitations by the power elite of rabid believers. The Inquisition. Child abuse by priests and nuns. The sanction and support of political monstrosities by religious leaders in Peru, the Japanese Shogunate, Calcutta, Nazi Germany.
Today\’s UK Occupiers have accidentally found themselves ensconced in a geographical metaphor. In emulation of and inspired by Occupy Wall Street, they coalesced as Occupy the London Stock Exchange (OLSX). Based in the City of London [the financial district equivalent to Wall Street], the LSX represents everything the system malcontents want to re-examine and restructure with a greater sense of humanity.
It\’s only because they were asked to move from the privately owned LSX site on Pater Noster Square, that the Occupiers decamped to the neighbouring environs of London\’s famous St Paul\’s.
The cathedral is not only a magnificent building, founded in 604, designed and refurbished by Inigo Jones after the Great Fire of London; not only has it been the venue of royal celebrations and the ceremonies of those wealthy enough to book it for the day – it\’s also a state-allied religious symbol of moral values, a deceptive dusting of decency on a dirty body politic.
Although some of the clergy have voiced criticisms over the years against the more amoral actions of various governments – for which they’re usually pilloried in the press – it’s also true that, alongside selected clergy, the Board of the cathedral is dominated by the economic interests of its City neighbours.
Its chair, Sir John Stuttard, is a former Mayor of London whose background with Price Waterhouse et al was influential in his recruitment as an advisor to government initiatives to privatise nationalised industries. Among others, his colleagues also include Dame Helen Alexander, Chair of the CBI and director of private energy firm Centrica; former Police Commissioner of the Met Lord Blair; investment banker Roger Gifford; and John Spencer, former MD of Lloyds TSB Business Banking.
When it comes to a strategy to remove the Occupiers whose very presence calls into question the corruption and unfair practices of big business, I can’t help thinking these revered business heads take precedence over a mere reverend’s case for morality. St Paul’s, whose Mission Statement “welcomes all,” is run as a hard-nosed business, charging a hefty admission fee – £14.50 adults/£5.50 children – for visits to limited sections of the building. To be fair, the actual services are free.
Last year the cathedral’s funds totalled £1,385,000, with net assets of £19 million, some of which were supervised by Board members. A substantial amount is held in investment units. Is it coincidental that several Board members have ongoing interests and expertise in global investments?
As I write this the media are trying to taste the meat from the meeting between the Occupiers and Dr Richard Chartres, Bishop of London. He assured them he opposed any resort to violence against them, but admitted he supported moves for their eviction.
It’s good that finally, however late and however feeble, not only has the media begun to recognise London’s OLSX is part of a global movement, but that the church itself is putting a public face on its ambivalence in the debate.
And now we learn that a report about abuses by its City comrades and cronies, commissioned by St Paul’s, itself has been suppressed, the excuse given because it would give a misleading impression in light of the Occupation.
Looking with cynical eyes, I see that behind the requests to take the debate inside, or move it elsewhere, lurks a desire to manage the movement. The advisors are used to being obeyed, to getting their own way, to deflect questions – whether from dissenting shareholders or media interviewers – as deftly as politicians bat away provocative challenges, hiding behind their weightless words.
Big Biz reddens with embarrassment by the very presence of the Occupiers. Out of sight, out of mind is what they want. They want to get on with their obscene abuses over us slaves and not have to account for anything.
And the media of the world keep trying to sweep up the global movement into a neat little pile called a story. ”How does it play?” they ask each other, as though it were a game. And they giggle as they bleat again, “who are the leaders,” “what are their goals,” meanwhile searching and searching for a spark of violent drama to move the story on.
I’m not as informed as I should be with the media coverage in other countries, but here in the UK, and on the US radio and online services I’ve heard and read, the vituperative piffle that’s being aired convinces me that it’s this peaceful presence that most scares the powers that be.
Just by being there without screaming, fighting, nor demanding – they’ve taken the path of peacemakers, of Ghandi, of Buddha, of quiet determination. We evolved to cooperate. But slavery demands competition.
Nothing exemplifies the confrontational nature of our society as ‘
Chapter Nine – The Elephants in the Throne room
We’re in trouble. We’re weakened pillars supporting a cracking system. To understand it we really have to define the components of Britain\’s class system.
We\’ve seen how the pyramidal architecture of society results inevitably in inequality. We\’ve seen how quantifying monetary worth lulls us into the false conclusion that more means better, that aspiration means acquisition.
”Naff off and don’t bother me with whinges of exploitation, buster – your end justifies my means. I means money, honey. Now get back to work!”
One of the few advantages of moving from the money-tocracy of America to a country divided by class, is an ability to mix more readily up and down the social scale. While I may have noticed an erosion over the years, you folks are kidding yourselves if you honestly think you’re not still ruled by a class sensibility. ‘Ruled’ being the operative word.
You can discuss it, joke about it Ã la John Cleese and the Ronnies; you can deny its existence, pretend that just because someone has a job they’re working class – but let’s at least acknowledge those unmistakable elephants in the throne room. Open any media-mogul rag – how can you miss ’em. There are stories even when they’ve Princess Di-ed.
I promise you I have nothing against any member of the royal family – and I’ve only met one of them to talk to. But the persistent institution of the monarchy symbolises the quintessential nature of slavery.
As the pinnacle of aristocracy, the royals represent the cunning ways that we slaves have been cornered into knowing our place, into adulating a lifestyle that should get our blood boiling. And, as the old joke goes, ‘who likes boiled blood?’
But seriously, folks, as the chatterati discuss long-overdue changes to the outmoded rules of primogeniture, the important royal questions remain unasked. Namely, wtf?!!!
People left, right, and centre bleat about “hard-working” families, and how they just can’t afford to get a place to live. Everything’s blamed from aliens (in the form of immigrants) to selling off council houses. There have even been suggestions that elderly people should give up their own homes to alleviate the “bedroom shortage.”
Now, I bet we can all think of an elderly person with plenty of bedrooms, can’t we. Just out of interest, guess how many rooms there are in Buckingham Palace? G’wan, take a guess? 50? Couple of hundred? OK, I haven’t personally counted them, but according to http://www.royal.gov.uk there are 775 rooms in this publicly owned residence.
Apparently Prince Charles wants to turn the Palace into a hotel. Well, what do you know? Another money-spinner to supply the monarchy’s aristo pals a prestigious place to crash in town.
It’s a public building. Owned by us slaves. It could be a hospital. It could provide shelter for the elderly. And I mean all the elderly, not just the “distressed gentlefolk” soliciting charity in magazines like The Lady.
Just in case you don’t know, the monarch and extensions, get to occupy five more regal homes which we own along with the so-called ‘Unoccupied Palaces.’ The privately owned gaffs are Balmoral and Sandringham, so you needn’t worry there wouldn’t be a wee room to rest the royal head if ‘The Palace’ were otherwise occupied by us riff-raff.
Please don’t tell me “she’s worth every penny.” Because I’m not talking about her as a person. I’m sure she’s a perfectly nice woman, though she ain’t exactly the best role model.
When politicians prate about the sanctity of family life, do they have in mind a needlessly large one who scrounge on the state, have numerous affairs, consort with fascists, and many of whose marriages end in divorce and/or disgrace.
It’s not that long ago that the very notion of divine right of kings slipped quietly off the class agenda. But the melody lingers on.
Perhaps the most socially disgusting corollary to the monarchy is the notion that they’re better than the rest of us. They’re entitled to whatever they can claim because, paraphrasing that hairspray advert, ‘they’re worth it.’ And, by implication, we’re not.
Riding piggy-back on that false assumption is the arrogance of the aristocracy to the classes below. They do honestly believe they are our betters. Well, between them all, the monarchy, and the church they certainly can claim ownership. Based on rewards for the performance of royal favours, nearly three-quarters of all the land in the nation is owned by less than 10% of the people.
When they rail against too many people in the country, they mean, of course, too many poor people.
The way to sort out the filthy poor is the Victorian notion that charity will solve everything. The aristos are, of course, inherently good and noble and kind and generous. They will take pity on the poor and toss them some crumbs. See, we do care.
Sorry, that is not a Big Society, it is a Big Con. Trust the Con-Dems to advocate it.
As I say, if you’re locked into your place on the ladder, you probably don’t get the chance to mingle. Because my accent wasn’t one which could be the basis of social assumptions, I got to rub some unlikely shoulders.
I don’t know what scared me more: the supercilious contempt of the lower orders by their masters, or the meek acceptance of the slaves to their station.
Nevermind – we’ve got a Jubilee to look forward to. Whoopee! I wonder who’ll be picking up the tab for that?
The most damning thing about the monarchy model is how undemocratic it is. Whatever smiling face it wears above its designer clothes, it’s tyranny.
Chapter Ten – Somewhere Over the Rainbow
If any one item exemplifies the control Big Biz has over the PM\’s commitment to the greening of the UK about which he crowed so smugly before the election, it\’s his decision not to attend the Rio summit, using as his excuse a clash of dates with the Queen\’s Jubilee.
It’s a Cameron lie, of course, because there\’s an overlap of dates, and it is perfectly feasible for him to put in an appearance at both. So who will represent him? Yep, Caroline Spellman, the Environment Secretary – which sort of seems appropriate unless you\’ve hear her views on sustainability and related green-y issues, which sound as though they\’ve come hot off the photocopier of the GMO industry.
If I had more time, there are other big picture sections of society that need to be scrutinized in the context of social slavery: Education, the Military etc. You know them as well as I do.
Oh, dear, what are we going to do about this lot, these slave-driving parasites who’ve had it all their own way for so long they honestly can’t even contemplate there might be another way.
This is really the nubbins of what’s motivating the Occupiers, wherever they congregate. They want to discuss real alternatives. Surely we all do if we have any sense of justice.
I began Slavery For Dummies by admitting I have no answers. But I do have some outRageous questions. They may sound naÃ¯ve, but I’d like you to indulge me, to try to consider the implications of these ideas without instantly dismissing them.
What are leaders for? Do we truly need to label one person as the embodiment of such a complexity of views about the world? And can we really trust them to put aside self-interest to constantly check and recheck the temperature of the people? On recent evidence none of them is doing such a grand job.
It was assumed for ages that when migrating birds such as geese flew in their V formations, they were following the leader goose. Turns out every bird takes turn being the leader. That’s the bird who works hardest, pushing out a path through the currents which gives the followers an easier flight.
Do we value the jury system? Well, some of the tyrants are trying to eliminate it. But those who trust in the quintessential fairness of people still think it’s a jolly good idea. OK, what about a model for democracy that gives everyone a turn at being the leader goose.
Instead of going boo-hoo at the dwindling participation in a flawed democratic process, let’s posit some other ways to engage. Suppose we all, as we are for jury service, mandated to comprise Parliament.
It could be on a rotational basis for whatever period of time proved most productive. We’d be paid from the public purse. We could hold the sessions in different parts of the country to better share the burden and remove accusations of being London centric.
Crikey if even one of the Houses were so composed, what an improvement that would be, what a victory for democracy. But it needn’t end there.
What if we just removed ourselves from the slave market? Suppose we set up sectors of expertise and determined our own inter-dependencies. Suppose we stopped considering ourselves as workers whose labour is sucked by the slave-drivers. If we feel a direct connection between what we do and who we are, we don’t actually have to participate in a system whose very foundations are so decrepit they’re dragging us all down, while Nero’s fiddling away.
No, I don’t know exactly how it would work, but I can’t believe we shouldn’t discuss it. Who knows what we can come up with if we have a global conversation.
This isn’t a matter of winning and losing, of right and wrong. It’s a matter of cooperation. Not those easy answers of tyranny – from parents who disrespect their kids by declaring “because I say so,” to patronising politicians and corrupt corporate creeps reluctant to hold themselves to account.
The remarkable thing about our time is that such a discussion is entirely possible. We’re only just beginning to realise how potent internet technology can be. We can use it to foment a world of ideas. Who says we have to do it instantly, to meet someone else’s deadline. Let’s take our time and respect each other along the way.
In an age when shopping for yet more shiny stuff has become a potent leisure activity turning us into consumer slaves, we can spurn that distraction. We can take control of our lives by joining with others. We can Occupy everywhere.
Please, please ask some outRageous questions of your own, and share them.Tags: Global
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