14 Days of Freedom: Day 11

A note about this post. I am suspicious of governments and corporations, with very good reason. Whatever stereotypes you were thinking of, put them out of your head and actually listen to what I'm saying.

One of the biggest obstacles to achieving a free and humane society isn't them - the people in power, the global elite, whatever you want to call them - it's us, their subjects. For every person trying to raise awareness of the massive, massive problems there are - and while most people can see the external manifestations, they can't or won't see just how deep the roots of the problem go - there are 99 sheeple who still think governments and corporations are our friends.

Let's start with corporations first: they're easier to deal with. Capitalism and corporations let people exchange abstract entities (yes, money is abstract) in exchange for shiny stuff. That's about the only good point. Capitalism and corporations let people have shiny things. No, this does not make up for any of the exploitation and oppression inherent in the system - but a lot of people think it does, because they're too distracted by what is effectively just glitz and glamour. Listen up, sheeple: all that glitters is not gold. Just because capitalism and corporations give you shinies and luxuries doesn't mean they're your friends. Capitalism and corporations put profits before everything, including your well-being, and they will turn on you to make a little more money. And when they do, if you have no safety net because the infinite wisdom of the market provides for all, because the poor deserve what they get, because the upper and middle classes ignored the problem and in any case they would've been too prissy and too enslaved to the corporations to do anything, you're screwed. It happened to people I know, people you would've considered "normal" before they lost their jobs and the banks started to hound them, and it can happen to you too.

If sheeple weren't making shit up before this point, they start now. Out come the excuses about how the people who lost their jobs "didn't work hard enough" or "it wouldn't happen to us" - in other words, they start flat-out denying things. To them I say: wake up and educate yourself a little about psychology. (Educating oneself, if you haven't noticed, is something I repeat frequently - mostly because education is the key to understanding things and because nobody's going to do the job for you.)

Now comes the more difficult bit: governments are not your friend either. It might seem a bit of an odd thing to say, especially when we have such concepts as democracy and the welfare state. But the thing is, if governments actually gave a shit about us, they would listen to us. They wouldn't hold elitist attitudes about when the people, the masses, the hoi polloi should get to have a say (OK, so it was Louise Mensch basically saying that the people get their say at general elections, otherwise they can fuck off, but still). You wouldn't have people justifying not having a referendum by saying that the electorate are too ill-informed to act wisely. You wouldn't have politicians deciding that making the rich richer and the poor poorer is, in fact, an excellent idea (if you didn't get the sarcasm in that, I have no words), and you wouldn't have them passing bills based on ideology and pandering to corporate interests rather than on actual logic and good practice. You wouldn't have them deciding to wrong the people they have wronged so many times further, and you wouldn't have them defining peaceful protesters as terrorists. You wouldn't have them rolling back civil liberties. You wouldn't have them propagating paranoia and xenophobia, only planning for the next couple of years. In short, you'd have a government that cared about things and people other than itself.

If corporations want money, governments want power and endorsement too, and they're not picky about who they get it from. Twice a decade or so, they'll appeal to the people. Most of the time they'll focus on pandering to businesses, lobbyists and the mainstream media. If they really don't care, or if they just have a shitty PR department, they'll go all out in their attempts to keep control at whatever cost.

This is normally the point at which sheeple stop me and say "But we still live in a free country! Our government would never do that!". Wrong and wrong again. While we are freer than, say, North Korea, our rights have been curtailed a lot, especially since 9/11, and they're only being curtailed further. To say we live in a free country is to deny that such curtailment has ever taken place - and denial is never a sensible move. While our government would probably not crack down and make itself impossible to remove right now - being in a liberal representative democracy does make that a bit difficult, I'll admit - it's not really that wise to trust a powerful institution to do good rather than look after itself and increase its power. Nor is it wise to assume that it won't or can't try to hold on to power and crack down on dissent. Governments don't encroach on liberty in big leaps; they take little steps. That's why it's important to be vigilant and not to let things slide if they look suspicious.

What it comes down to are that governments and corporations both have agendas that put serving themselves above serving humanity, and that trusting them to deliver for humanity hasn't worked before, doesn't work now, and will not work. They will turn on it in a second for power and profit. Don't be fooled by shinies or propaganda.