Today our societies suffer from a massive disconnect between the world we *think* we live in, and the world we actually live in. Thanks to the propaganda fed to us every day of our lives, we think we live in a "modern" world of democracy, freedom of speech, and individual liberty. In actual fact we live in a world which is barely post-feudal, encumbered by Imperialist caste systems and hierarchies, and switching over from late Imperialism to proto-fascism (call it "corporate feudalism" if you will) during our lifetimes. Note the distinct lack of words like "freedom" and "democracy" in the above.
Marketing and window-dressing is all - the virtuosity of spin. Even in the Middle Ages, when people were chopping one another up on the flimsiest of pretexts and with alarming alacrity, the prevailing dogma was a Candidean "all for the best in the best of all possible worlds", that the state was structured "as God ordained it", and that the world was one of universal brotherhood and love. When of course nothing could be further than the truth. It should give all of us pause when we blather on about freedom and democracy - the West is a loose mercantile coalition of one party states masquerading as two party states. The reason the US elections pretty much fall 50/50 each time is because people vote pretty much randomly - there are no real issues to distinguish them. "What color chains do you want today?"
To paraphrase Orwell, revolution never comes from the "proles". Western history documents several so-called revolutions - English in the 17th century, American and French in the 18th century, a close call Europe-wide in 1848, the Russian in 1905-17, Chinese in 1949, etc, etc. In none of these were the leaders from the working class; quite the opposite, they were from the disgruntled mercantile classes, looking to remove the glass-ceilings of inherited privilege. And they worked - but only by recruiting the proles to their side by LOTS of egalitarian-sounding marketing.
We are facing a similar Revolution today. Twenty years ago the Cold War began to crumble. Since then, the old guard have struggled to stay in power - finding us a new Bogey Man (in a beard and turban this time) to drum up population-controlling fear, and desperately trying to keep the old oppositional us-and-them confrontation going to feed the military-industrial complex which drove 20th century history from start to finish. With the most Orwellian of irony, the old world order even tried to sell itself to us as the New World Order. Some people bought it; someone always does.
But there is a bunch of mitteltier rebels out there trying to break the NWO glass ceiling; and it's the merchants, again. There are resources *everywhere* available for exploitation today, and the corporate feudalists want to *get at them*! In every Western country over the past decade we've seen corporate interests and government interests gradually become the same - actually the definition of fascism - but in clear opposition (most of the time) to the OWO/NWO.
Hence today's Revolution. The OWO/NWO is collapsing under the weight of its own inertia; in its place, a much more agile corporacy, perhaps not quite global yet, but heading in that direction. As with most Revolutions, its going to be disturbing to the peace of all of us for a while, but, uniquely, perhaps, this time, our New Masters, the corporate feudalists, would like to keep us Consuming and Producing just as before - it's simply the agenda that's changed. There's been a coup d'etat in the West.
Tragically, the rest of us are left blinking in the rubble, clutching our smoke-and-mirrors dreams of a free modern world of liberty and fraternity in tatters to our chests. To quote Starship Troopers (!), the only freedom any of us ever really have is figuring things out for ourselves. Bitter comfort, when you may be losing your house and savings to "historical necessity".
The trouble with Marx is that Lenin gave us the idea we could shortcut the historical dialectic, somehow jumping from "post-feudal late Imperialism" to "socialism-building-communism" in one fell swoop, hurdling possibly centuries of social development in a single bound. The aftermath of the Russian revolution gave the lie to Leninism. But Marx is still in there - we inch one step forwards, as capitalism comes face-to-face with its own contradictions when placed on a global stage. Now we get to post-capitalism - a kind of managed version of what we had, with hopefully some greater social controls. But, dang, is this social progress thing ever a slow business...
HG Wells in "The Shape of Things to Come" predicted total economic collapse and a century of rigorous self re-education before our society could reach some form of sensible organization. Here at Manuscripts Don't Burn we think that's optimistic; last week the US spent TEN TIMES the sum it would take to deal with global hunger on a "bailout" of its banking system, so we have a way to go yet before the era of universal brotherhood dawns.
Perhaps this is the eternal paradox of the intellectual. The world *could* be a paradise, if only people were... well, different... not like they are... weren't people, basically... if only they were more like us here at Manuscripts Don't Burn... oh, bother... ;-)
In this hinterland of history at the tale end of the Middle Ages, we can offer only this advice, from a dear friend who happens to run a Swiss bank investment company in the City in London: Keep it local. Show, don't tell. Create functioning communities and networks *where you are*. Sidestep the corporacy and create your own alternative system. Rebel in small things; don't watch advertising; don't follow the demands of the herd to be "alternative" in acceptable ways. Keep smiling, and crack targeted jokes. Never just mumble and let another overt oppression take place.
As the ex-mayor of London said, if voting changed anything, they'd abolish it.
Cause for hope or despondency? Manuscripts Don't Burn votes for Hope - at the price of eternal vigilance. Our civilization has a long way to go yet before it reaches the place our propaganda tells us it's already at. But that's no reason not to keep heading in that direction. It *is* the right direction.