by Ben Bruce
We are experiencing unprecedented social uprisings and revolutions all over the world at this time. Social networking: Facebook, Twitter and others are paving the way for under-nourished, exploited and down trodden peoples of the earth to up-rise. We have seen it in Tunisia, then Egypt. We have seen similar uprisings start in places like Italy in questioning the moral integrity of their billionaire President that they have there. It looks like a trend may be emerging - whether for complete overthrow of dictators and oppressive systems, or at least the impeachment and ousting of individuals who are seen to be getting away with injustice - and not at the hands of other ministers or mass media, but by the people themselves utilizing social networking media.
Is this a good thing or will it bring bloody instability? Or is it the case that a bloodless revolution means you don't effectively have one? Either way a tidal wave of civil unrest and the overthrow of dictators pretending to be democratic leaders is sweeping the globe - and I for one am very impressed. I am wondering how such widespread events will affect individual people's sense of personal power; will we dare to dream once again? Will we be affected by knowing that the old ways of political corruption are only a stones throw away from being utterly rejected and ousted; with people power we can unite and stand up against the oppressors.
It all started with the dictatorship in Tunisia, where the people overthrew the entire government in several days! This was only made possible by advanced communication between masses of people to effectively create a leaderless coup. The people used their mobile phones to send rapid messaging and effectively collected and distributed operational intelligence reports; as soon as someone noticed the government agents (police, etc.) organising themselves, the people were straight on to it to quash anything that may oppress and disband them. The government therefore, could not find ground and could not mobilize: this was due to the speed of the social networking-facilitated uprising.
The game between oppressor and oppressed has now changed forever.
Egypt has just consolidated its revolution, ousting the 30 year dictator President Mubarak. I was amazed at how this polished and clean cut dictator was refusing the will of millions of people protesting for weeks that he must step down. I could understand that he was clinging to power as he was corrupted and addicted to the power, and it may also be the case that he was trying to prevent instability in the region. Apparently he would use the politics of fear to maintain his position, even when negotiating with western nations and the UN. He often stated that if he was not supported as a leader (/dictator) then Islamic fundamentalists would rise to power and cause immense instability and furthermore would enable terrorism to spread from a consolidated group of Muslim countries such as Iran and Afghanistan, where the divide between mosque and state is non-existent, and Sharia law would erode civil liberties.
I was impressed to hear, however, that the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, which represents the main Islamic fundamentalist movement of the country, announced that they would NOT run for seats in the new parliament now that Mubarak has finally stepped down. So the fear tactic proved fruitless: the Muslim Brotherhood is either biding its time or wishes to operate in a different capacity aside from government.
People are kept down by fear and disorganization: the game is rigged and the deck is stacked. The state pretending to be a democratically elected representation of the people, by the people and for the people is really just a powerful gang that willfully extorts money from the people through the racket they call taxation (thankyou to M.A. for pointing this out) - and if you disapprove of what they do they have laws to put you in cages or use force against you in order to suppress you, often involving the barrel of a gun, or more recently the wire of a taser.
Precedents of state power are constantly made to convince us that we are all powerless beneath the system and 'resistance is futile' and that it's 'all for our own good'. We are infantilized by the system, and thus we act irresponsibly and some of us commit crimes; at best we wait until we are told what to do and neglect to use our own natural intelligence. We have been dumbed down by the state so that we feel we couldn't possibly run our own lives and make decisions for ourselves. We are culturally conditioned to pledge allegiance not to each other and our society, but to the government system.
What amazes me is that when these revolutions have occurred in countries like Tunisia and Egypt, the people want to reimpose the same system, democratic elections, that got them into such a mess to start with. People say such things like 'what else are we to do? There is no other way'. Whatever the case, a stronghold of collectivised power in the hands of the few, even if 'elected' by the people democratically, is a system that can be manipulated and exploited. Think of western elections, where you can choose between two guys who are basically preaching the same politics but just giving us the illusion of choice by disagreeing on trivial issues. Apart from this it comes down to who has the most money to afford campaign budgets and buy the most media time - where the people staring at the screens simply vote for the guy who 'feels right' based upon familiarity, makeup, stage lighting and the smooth velvety voice of a silver-tongued Lazarus. They hypnotically rise from their couches, go off to the ballot box and elect the guy they saw the most on their screens, who made them feel good about their uncritical, generationally-bound preference for 'conservative' or 'liberal', even thought the two terms are a completely false dichotomy.
Or in slightly more sophisticated states, the politicians focus on marginally important issues yet often fail to deliver on their promises once in power. The main structural issues, such as taxation, power and corruption, government structure etc., are often overlooked by electoral platforms as if all these things are a given; an infallible, sacred, unbreachable standard that we rely on. However, we must question authority: do we really need you and your stuffy ways? Do I need to be constantly told what to do and to be coerced overtly and covertly to follow their rules, and to have half (or more) of the product of my labours taken away from me in the form of taxation, fees, fines, infringements and penalties? Do the powers that be really have a a right to treat us this way? Is our current system just another form of slavery, where the chains are simply invisible and we willingly participate in our own enslavement by passively agreeing with such tripe as if our intelligence and creative thinking is sterilized: people often say 'there really is no other way'; 'we need protection from ourselves'; 'at least we can vote' - even though we are voting on what is presented to us in the form of a false choice, a Babylonian ruse to confuse us so we do not notice the slavery we enter into under contracts signed by our own pen.
We really are habitual morons when it comes to endorsing a system of government which is unnecessary, wasteful and corrupt, which oppresses all of us. And we think we actually need it to protect us from terrorists. Who do you think the terrorists are fighting? They are protesting against the governments that are also enslaving and exploiting them from abroad (through post-colonial imbalances of power and trade) - they are only bombing the people because they are easy prey and will make sensational headlines until people start to question their government's foreign policy agenda. Having said this, the preying on innocent regular folk as they go about their business is just disgusting.
There are alternatives to State power and the inherent corruption and conspiracy of such nationally federated governments. This is certainly not an argument for communism, as such a system which concentrates ongoing power in the hands of one political party is even worse than what we have. If you read Karly Marx (and social Marxism is completely separate to the political system of communism), the system he espouses is based on collective ownership and sharing of all resources based on laborious effort. This is why the proletariat are favoured in such ideologies, because they work so hard for the common good - i.e. to provided food and shelter for the people. Conversely our own current democratic capitalist system favours power and richness in the hands of the few who don't actually do anything worthwhile; ask yourself what a stock broker or investment banker or hedge fund director actually produces in reality? An executive in a banking or hedge fund company can make $300 million per year in salary and bonuses! All he has actually done is siphoned cream from the top of enormous piles of other people's (and country's) money, that didn't really exist in the first place (investigate the subject of 'Fiat currency' to see this) . And the executive is rewarded for making fat cats fatter, and then bailed out from all personal responsibility when he then stuffs the whole thing up. Compare this guy to a farmer, who if he stuffs up, goes out of business, loses all assets to the bank, and stops producing food for the country he lives in. Does anyone bail him out?
Aside from this, I think we need to get seriously creative about alternatives to violence-mediated state-run power over-lording it over the common people who make up the majority. We need to not only question authority but also question the system of authority. For example - rather than choosing which bank, we start to doubt the system of banking itself altogether. Incidentally, the anti-state system of 'Voluntarism' may be the answer, where people naturally moderate themselves to produce goods in demand within naturally competitive systems, involving self-regulation of behaviour; this is where we take personal responsibility for everything we do. Think about it? Why do we have such controlling forces in the world? Why is it so hard to get anything done? Why are we constantly at war? Why are we still using stone age methods and technologies like the internal combustion engine - when there are bound to be a host of inventions by talented people, where machines can run on water or sunlight with complete efficiency (clearly if anything does work and threatens the stake holders of the status quo, it is branded 'top secret' and hidden from view; inventors are bribed and bought off or made to go away). Why are potential elected representatives who were previously more or less unknown, jettisoned into the spotlight and subsequently seats of power by invisible hands and funding lobbyists? Who owns and controls the news of the mass media? Why is there no real choice any more? Who is really in charge of things and why do we put up with our own ignorance that allows such powers that be to continue controlling us and ripping us off?? Is this what we really want for our lives and for our world?
I recently saw that the US Government has created a 'kill switch' for the internet. This is not even a decision made by a majority of congress; it is a solo decision by the President himself (who is effectively operating as a dictator). This came about during the Egyptian revolutionary protests (not that we should call it 'revolutionary' - as we have stated above the people will just implement the same flawed system, so nothing has really 'revolved' or transformed - it is just a change of bums on seats). So during such protests the US and probably other western nations thought 'shit! This could happen to us as well' and as Mubarak killed the internet connections by shutting down phone company servers, the Americans were thinking how they could do the same thing with their own system if they needed to. They found a way under the ruse of 'protection from internet terrorism' and the same old argument they've bandied about for over a decade which is 'the people need to give up their rights, freedoms and civil liberties in the interest of greater control for the greater good - to stop terrorism you need to make the government all powerful'. What a crock of shit.
With an internet 'kill switch', social networking media like Facebook and Twitter can be kept in line: the technology can be oppressed in order to keep the people oppressed. However I have heard that a company interested in civil liberties and freedoms is currently purchasing a satellite so that people can access the internet and it can't be shut down by government due to password and security protection measures. I have also heard of application patches that can be downloaded to your phone so that you can set up a local network between phone holders in the immediate area even when phone lines are down, and wireless servers are taken off line. This has the potential to become an out and out 'cyber war' in due course, as we continue to witness unprecedented social networking phenomena, and coordination of masses of protesting people, by the people, of the people, for the people that cannot be matched by limited numbers of troops and police controlled by the government. I think George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and other founding fathers of the US State would be proud of the social networkers; the founding fathers who incidentally I believe were setting out to do an intentionally good thing in setting up the USA, based on a state that was self-limiting and controlled under the Constitution and Bill of Rights; a state kept minimal in terms of its involvement in people's ongoing lives. Unfortunately systems themselves also evolve, and US government has evolved to become dictatorial and a false democracy. We can start to see how the democratic system itself has flaws, even if in eventuality over time. We may start to see that the complete absence of state is the right way to go, favouring instead local councils made up of local people alongside of personal freedoms to make decisions for oneself, to set the market (prices based on bartering) and abide by self-derived laws based on common sense and human decency. A currency based on real worth, not a 'legal tender' (or illegal to decline currency) manipulated and controlled by interest rates and other such devices. Legal tender or 'fiat' currency is not actually worth anything; rather it is a contractual note, a promissory note where the person giving the dollar bill promises to pay you that amount in real terms if you ever called it in - of course no one could ever call in the promise to pay as there is nothing backing the currency, and this is why inflation continues to skyrocket, because the money is not worth anything itself - it is paper with an empty and impossible contract printed on it. As a result, when you are paid money for your labours or intellectual capital, what you are really getting in return is a constantly devaluing amount: one dollar today is worth 98 cent tomorrow, before you've even had a chance to spend it on anything real and worthwhile!! Additionally the Federal Reserve Bank, or Central Bank, is not state-owned and state-run. It is a private corporation which controls the production and distribution of money. It has been said by famous bankers, like Cecil Rhodes, Rothschild and Rockefeller - "give me control of a country's currency and I care not who is its leader". Controlling the currency effectively means controlling the state and all the people who live beneath it by default. This creates the platform and mechanism of 'the powers that be'.
However- we could change all of this, and with social networking we can take back our own power, our own information and media. Are we ready to take the plunge into auto-determination, or do we still need a nanny state to tell us what to do, who we can then also blame when things don't go our way (not that they impart any real penalties on themselves)? Are we ready for personal responsibility and real personal and community-based power, or will we continue to be controlled by lies, threats and fear of alternatives and essentially fear of ourselves and our own personal and collective potential?