It doesn’t have to be this way

“Induce people all to want the same thing, hate the same things, feel the same threat, then their behavior is already captive–you have acquired your consumers or your cannon-fodder.”

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The potential for transformation can be expressed in one simple phrase: it doesn’t have to be this way.

The structures that benefit from dominating the current system maintain their dominance by convincing us that “the way it is” is inevitable and impervious to systemic change. That is the primary mythology that generates and maintains their dominance.

The second level of dominance is created by persuading us that not only is the current “way the world works” inevitable, it is the best way possible because it enables self-expression and convenience via consumption.

R.D. Laing described the essence of the hidden machinery of dominance in his book The Politics of Experience: 

“All those people who seek to control the behavior of large numbers of other people work on the experiences of those other people. Once people can be induced to experience a situation in a similar way, they can be expected to behave in similar ways. Induce people all to want the same thing, hate the same things, feel the same threat, then their behavior is already captive – you have acquired your consumers or your cannon-fodder.”

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The essence of dominance is not force (which is only deployed when there is no other way to maintain dominance) but the molding and internalization of a specific set of beliefs about how the world works. These beliefs include a set of values and myths that guide our behavior and how we experience the world around us.

All the structures that dominate our society and economy (the central state, crony-capitalist cartels, the Federal Reserve, the financialization/banking sector, those benefiting from Empire) need do is persuade us that their dominance is not only inevitable and natural but ideal.

We can delineate the core beliefs that enable their dominance with a set of simple if-then statements. If we believe what they want us to believe, they have won and we have lost: their continued dominance is assured without force or even persuasion.

1. If we believe that debt is inevitable, they have won and we have lost.

2. If we believe that what we wear, buy, drive, display and consume defines our identity and place in the world, they have won and we have lost.

3. If we believe that we express ourselves through what we buy, consume, display and own, then we have entered a state of permanent insecurity and adolescence; they have won and we have lost.

4. If we believe that without its Empire, civilization would perish, they have won and we have lost.

5. If the “news” leaves us fearful, anxious, frustrated and angry, they have won and we have lost.

6. If we believe that being connected to and consuming digital media during every waking hour is not just necessary but desirable as a display of coolness and status, they have won and we have lost.

7. If we believe fast food and packaged food is cheap, tasty and convenient, they have won and we have lost.

8. If we believe we would perish without a payment from the Central State, they have won and we have lost.

9. If we believe that measures such as the unemployment rate and gross domestic product (GDP) are meaningful metrics, they have won and we have lost.

10. If we believe that our identity and self-expression flow from our membership in various “tribes” defined by signifiers such as sports team logos, corporate logos, tattoos, programs and music we consume, brands and other consumables, they have won and we have lost.

11. If we believe the “Western” civilization of today is the perfection of all that is good rather than the suppression of all that is good, they have won and we have lost.

12. If we believe that learning and intellectual accomplishment are to be scorned as “elitist,” they have won and we have lost.

13. If we believe that health results from consuming handfuls of pills, they have won and we have lost.

14. If we believe it is normal to transfer the vast majority of our earnings to the state and a handful of crony-capitalist cartels, they have won and we have lost.

15. If we believe the world is controlled by secret cabals over which we have no power, they have won and we have lost.

16. If we don’t know what to do with ourselves when shopping, buying, consuming and entertainment/news are unavailable, they have won and we have lost.

17. If we believe there is a meaningful difference between the two political parties, they have won and we have lost.

18. If we believe we are entitled to convenience, state support, etc. as a birthright, they have won and we have lost.

19. If we believe we are powerless to change anything other than our current mix of consumption, they have won and we have lost.

20. If we believe that lying, cheating, fudging the numbers, exaggerating our victimhood or accomplishments, gaming the system and being silently complicit in others’ lies, fabrications, deceptions and embezzlements are required to get ahead, they have won and we have lost.

Here are some “it doesn’t have to be this way”-related aphorisms:

“There is no security on this earth; there is only opportunity.” (Douglas MacArthur)

“We are what we repeatedly do.” (Aristotle)

“Do the thing and you shall have the power.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.” (E.F. Schumacher)

“Do you know what amazes me more than anything else? The impotence of force to organize anything.” (Napoleon Bonaparte)

“Whatever remains unconscious emerges later as fate.” (Carl Jung)

“A healthy homecooked family meal and a home garden are revolutionary acts.” (Charles Hugh Smith)

“Any sufficiently advanced cartel’s actions are indistinguishable from magic.” (Charles Hugh Smith)

“The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.” (Marcus Aurelius, Meditations)

“Passive absorption of marketing-dominated media is the primary activity on the plantation of the mind, and that of course is the goal of the colonial overlords: distraction, passivity, confusion, divide and conquer, and the old stand-by, financial desperation.” (Charles Hugh Smith)

Author: Charles Hugh Smith

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