Tuesday, December 27, 2016
More Than One Thin Veneer Of Normal Between Us And Chaos
The first veneer is the one that hides all of the suppressed rage out there. More and more of us it seems have been swallowing a day in and day out diet of what Jules Feiffer referred to as "Little Murders." The small bits of perceived indignity, humiliation, or some aspect of being ignored, and all combinations thereof. The result of this having people wanting to lash out blindly with a violent statement that "I matter;" however inappropriate that act might be (with sniping via a rifle being the primary there). What we see now, of course, as a cause for striking out are certain stress situations; road frustration, shopping frustration, voting frustration, etc.
It would be interesting to see if this list has been growing in any statistically significant way.
The second veneer is the one that separates the appearance of a growing, healthy economy, from the underlying reality of vulnerability. Wages are up a bit. Unemployment percentages are down. And as always, there is a lot of money being made by the usual suspects, even as who populates that list fluctuates a bit quarter to quarter. The vulnerability I speak of, of course, is rooted in the very nature of Capitalism's aversion to uncertainty. A tricky thing to keep track of when your focus can be both so short sighted, and so easily distracted (a big number in one part or another of the economy, usually without any meaningful context to tell us the depth of that number's true validity). A fact that only adds to the skittishness that underlies this aversion to uncertainty. The fact that we also live in a world where crisis events are commonplace does not help at all. The fact that they have also become commonplace at all, and the reasonable expectation that their frequency of occurrence may well be increasing certainly doesn't help either.
The interesting thing to keep in mind here is that it is the combination of Capitalism itself, with those who control it, that exacerbates all of the conditions that make both veneer's possible, and also so calamitous. If both parts of that combination were not so entrenched, as well as focused, on profit, or market share, or power itself, without limit, things might be a great deal different. The kind of limits that cooperative Capitalism, which is the ideal of Socialism, would encourage; as in profits being no more than 15% or so; prices tied more closely to inflation, as well as to supply; wages also tied to inflation and supply; and everybody accepting the idea that the rest of capital growth be invested back into research, efficiency (both economic and ecological), infrastructure improvement, and social services, with a healthy democratic process to keep all stakeholders involved in sorting out what are the ongoing priorities moment to moment, and how they should be addressed.
We see that ideal now as mostly naive precisely because it would not only have to be applied world wide, but that it also flies in the face of where human nature still is now after several hundred years of continuing with the economics of scarcity; which is precisely what unbridled Capitalism is founded on. That this might no longer have to be the case now that technology has advanced so far hardly matters to those who have become quite accustomed to, and consequently so incentivized, to keep things just as they are. And they continue this way because they think they can manage these veneers indefinitely into the future, controlling information flow, and manipulating whatever process that keeps the rest of us thinking we're still involved in decision making. But that is just more of the unbelievable foolishness that produces the conditions creating those very instabilities in the first place, and that make calamitous events ever more possible and frequent.
And so the facades of things being OK become harder to maintain even as the vulnerability to crisis increases. And people feel this whether consciously or not. Even as they are short changed here and there, in both small and large ways, and their outright frustration grows, they sense the ever increasing thinness of what separates us all between the facades and chaos. So much so that even apocalypse is a growth entertainment industry.