We live in a world of countless problems.
Our political institutions are dominated by ruthless financial interests whose overwhelming priority it is to make their very small cohort of owners and self-designated royalty to become even wealthier and more powerful. Over population is depleting the planet of nearly all of its natural beauty and biological diversity. Most of the world’s people and an even greater number of its children live in extreme poverty because of vast disparities in how resources are allocated. Global climate change threatens the viability to much of the world’s remaining plants and animals. We are, truly, living on the edge of a great abyss.
As the ice caps melt, as it is observed that between 200 and 2,000 species become extinct every year, as emissions of carbon continue to foul the atmosphere, and as participation in the facade of democracy declines, we are compelled to ask ourselves:
Is there a single root cause that links each and all of these phenomena?
There is, but it doesn’t really have a name. It is really a process … a process that began 10,000 years ago.
What is this process?
The Process of Subjugation
Plants and animals evolve. They adapt to changing environmental conditions (or become extinct). They have also tended to become more complex over time.
Human culture is not different; it too has evolved.
One day, about 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent (present day Iraq), someone observed that it was possible to cultivate plants to increase production through human intervention.
It wasn’t long before intensive agriculture became the foundation of this new form of human organization: civilization. Because nature is unpredictable and, more importantly, people had become dependent on their production, large-scale irrigation projects were developed to provide a predictable supply of water essential to keep the fields fertile. Farming demands labor, lots of it. This labor need to subject itself to authority and thus was born the laborer. Men experienced the transition from the relatively free roaming nomad and core decision-maker to slave.
These fledgling city-states needed workers; lots of them. The need for more workers and soldiers changed the role of women from co-equal leaders to home enslaved baby makers.
We have very imprecisely labeled this process with the ennobling term “civilization” as if it were the only direction in which human culture could have occurred. Because reality is truth, we can say that our human story could only have taken this course, since it did. But that is not the same as saying that civilization can only assume the form in which people are debased for the benefit of their few.
And it is that sentence that sums up one of the most conspicuous qualities of this process; that it is exquisitely designed to disproportionately benefit those that have acquired the most wealth and influence. It is not designed to lovingly bestow opportunities for happiness. To the contrary, it is designed to appropriate the labor of the many to benefit the few. Its ceaseless demands for productivity at the lowest possible cost has caused a plague of unhappiness.
In my view, we needed to move through this era of relentless production as a way to understand a value system that is, ultimately, lethal to the whole complex of life on this planet, but also to itself. We learn the errors of our ways and, hopefully, adjust to what we actually see.
The Main Features
The first main feature of this process is the unjust concentration of benefits that industrial civilization produces. The second main feature is that this unjust distribution depends on the unquestioning obedience and compliance of the workers that support this edifice designed, ironically, to maintain their powerlessness and poverty just as it streams power to their overlords.
Great concentrations of wealth and authority can only happen with the willing acquiescence of the many!
As culture has evolved, the most advanced industrial societies have briefly redirected wealth to a larger class of mid-level workers, but when the ruling class is threatened by the ever-shifting winds of economic change, this leveling stream is stopped. The Overlords re-assert their dominance and demand austerities that primarily affect workers. In this way they re-assert their own class as the sole beneficiary of the wealth created by the labor of the many. We are seeing just this process in those societies that briefly flirted with ideas of equality and fairness in Europe and N. America.
Wealth is finite. When the pie of wealth is divided among the many the opportunity for amassing vast wealth (and thus authority (not power) cannot happen. Workers and baby makers must be ready to embrace the absence of their authentic authority and dignity for the sake of the overlord. And, even more to the point, they must be willing to do with without realizing they are doing it.
The Essential Lesson
This debasing civilization relies on its ability to convince people that their innate dignity is something that must be continuously earned and is not a consequence of mere existence. As long as every child learns the hard lesson that love and value are earned and are not a right of birth, then the channel for a lifetime of exploitation is established.
As I have argued at this site and in great detail in my book, Liberation from the Lie, the child must be traumatically invalidated. They need to be the first to know that, as they are, they are not all right. On the other side of the not all right coin, the child must learn that their parents are right. They must transfer their own power and dignity to an external object.
When the child is very young, that object must be a parent (or parent figure). In this way, the child embraces his powerlessness and externalizes objective power. This external objectification of power starts with parents, but then moves on to teachers, bosses, flags (patriotism), and Gods (religion). The desperate craving for bliss and enlightenment are all part of this process of personal self-debasement and the externalization of power and bliss outside of the personal identity of the human being.
As long as we are identified with inadequacy and insufficiency, we will welcome and sustain our exploitation! It is this identification which keeps the whole process of exploitation in place. It insulates it from the possibility of change.
The good and compliant child, whose goodness is dedicated to receiving the “gold stars” from power figures (parents, teachers, etc.) become, effortlessly, the good and compliant workers of the world. Disowned from who we actually are, a world of unhappiness, substance abuse, constant over-striving becomes real and self-sustaining.
Of course, there will be those who see this process thoroughly and are able to embrace their own beauty and dignity and there will also be angry rebels committed to the violent dismantling of the system that causes their pain, but the primary flow of the subjugation process has shown itself to be sufficiently adaptable to squelch all such collective efforts. As testament to its adaptive power, it transforms the efforts of rebels to replicate the very systems that gave birth to the revolution in the first place!
The subtlety of the dominant political paradigm is breathtaking. Rulers will celebrate the very qualities that our collective invalidation have negated. They will thus speak enthusiastically of our fundamental right of dignity, respect, and empathy, while they sustain the very processes that strip people of these same qualities. The world of endless toil is rarely talked about. Instead, the rulers will speak in a coded language filled with platitudes and lying ideology whose purpose it is to disassemble the real and the true. They will talk of the *common” man and woman as if they are one of them.
This is how The Process is sustained.
The Great Questions
Can we truly change this Process? Can we change ourselves? Can we forge a revolutionary vision? What is the next step?
My next post will address these questions. This is the new direction of this site. We will discover that an age of transformation is truly happening and we can participate in this transformation as men and women, as parents, and as members of the great community of life.
But before this rather long and complex post, let me address one key question.
What is the primary action of liberation?
Liberation means to rediscover our primal selves free of the identification with lack and insufficiency.
That is our quest and mission in this life.
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The The Root Cause of Our Struggle: In Dishonor of Columbus Day by , unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.