I’ve been consistently accused of harboring a ceaseless idealism by my most beloved, and as the years go by, increased accusations seem to reflect a growing fervor within myself for the ‘bad habit of setting myself up for a fall’, or better yet, of being ‘slightly delusional’. Rationality, it seems, means embracing the reality of flawed characteristics dominating collective behaviors, especially on the part of state actors who exercise policies that serve their best interests – propagating a global political (and consequentially, economic and social) atmosphere defined by ‘free-riding’ principles; self-serving, greed-riddled, power-hungry, money-seeking ends which permit a world of amorality to emerge and thrive. To such logicians of gothic advocacy, I say, how rational could it possibly be to accept a world of unabashed and unopposed sadism?
Over a lush serving of the finest beverages and platters of rolled-up fishy, cheesy delicacies, and with a spectacular night-time view of Dubai’s burgeoning skyline, I had a lively conversation last weekend with a group of young, educated professionals working in the finance sector. We spoke of politics mainly, our conversation inspired by the revolutionary times we’re living in. We reminisced over the days of nationalism and the upholding of causes such as Nasserism, Pan-Arabism, a free Palestine and the bringing of justice to those robbed of it (a displaced reminiscence perhaps, given that all of us at the table didn’t exist during those days – still, our parents’ generation have been so imbued with disappointment over the loss of those days that we reserve a second-degree connection to such experiences, and a first-degree hopelessness which I believe has enabled the construction of Machiavellian mindsets – but more on that later).
As I spoke with the voice of an excited child about the emboldened youth movement in Egypt taking to the street, the empowered Libyans and their megalomaniac (former) ruler, and the frayed hopes of poverty-stricken Tunisians led in despair to suicide revolts, my company at the table smirked politely, perhaps even jeeringly. “I believe its organic, I believe the people have reached their threshold and the tipping point has led to genuine regional uprisings which .. yada yada yada”, I said, my voice slowly mutating into muttering as I observed the facial expressions of my audience. One of the women at the table who works for an international bank, and another young woman in PR for a leading global corporate consulting firm, assured me with cool conviction that everything had surely been staged. They assured me that America was arming the Libyan rebels and leveraging their grievances for their own lucrative purposes from the start, that the British government outsourced agents to manipulate policy shifts and demonstrations in Egypt, and that nothing authentic could ever come out of the Middle East because it would forever linger in the abyss of an endless colonial existence, like a broken record stuck on the word bitch.
“We know how business works,” one said, “we write the press releases,” another said, all of them tooting the horn for the hegemony of neoliberal capitalism which they argued rules global propaganda, owning all access routes to the information industry that manipulates the minds of the masses into believing whatever it is that “they” want the poor, incapable, mindless masses to believe. Okay, I said, so who are “they”. Some said they are Masonites, others pointed to the American-Zionist congress, and some argued they were simply the abstract flow of global capital ebbed by Big Business and shored by the most powerful governments disguised as torch-bearers of democracy, with a warmonger’s heart beneath that veneer.
I do believe there’s truth to their claims. It’s the acquiescence behind their claims that unnerves me. It’s the melting into decadence that enrages me, and it’s that same defeatism which has cast millions of people into a state of financial, mental and spiritual poverty and has reinvigorated an institutionalized racism and volatile sense of religion that has both given birth to the need for the revolutions which we are witnessing today, and has sown a rotting and unsustainably polluted way of being. This way of being is the lynchpin upon which the Endless War theory is brought to fruition – this way of being is the scarred and blackened soil within which mercenaries hibernate and collect energy for war. This way of being is multiplied by arguments of a fixed nature; arguments assuming that humankind is genealogically predisposed to feed off of rational-utility-maximization – the idea that the world is anarchy, that each individual and each individual state protect their vulnerability to that anarchy by amassing the most material capabilities and imbedding fear in the hearts of the less fortunate to maintain their power. “It’s just the way it is”, the argument goes. We are all assholes, and we cant help it.
Oh please. We have choices. We have the power to construct.
Neorealism argues similarly, stating that power of balance is all that matters in this world. This way of thought goes all the way back to Hobbesian philosophy, and even further back before predicates to modernity. Steven Levitt’s Freakonomics is a beautifully written and well researched work on the deeply coercive role the most powerful governments and businesses play in determining the fate of our world. It’s all out there for us to read, even on WikiLeaks. And because of apathy, it can be out there for all to read and do absolutely nothing but chuckle at those who have the audacity to believe in another way of being. Perhaps its too painful. But how painful is it to sit by and watch our world burn slowly, slowly down?
Change has to come in the mind first.
– Love In a Box