Teaching the Future

April 2007


I always love when Capitalist pundits start spouting off about the inevitability of Capitalism - they sound just as fooling as the Socialist pundits of 100 years ago spouting off about the inevitability of Socialism.

Fact is, there is a great deal of the world that is the way we make it. We made it the way it is now, and if we want to and try to, we can make things different, too. Maybe not totally and utterly different, unless we ourselves cease to be humans and become something else, but a little change, as from capitalism to communism, is nowhere outside of the realm of human capacity or ingenuity.

There are, of course, some things that are beyond human control or imagination. It is perfectly clear to any rational being that if humanity continues on in the same way it has been doing for the past hundred years, then the tenure of human beings as the dominant species on Earth will probably not last another hundred years. It is somewhat debatable whether all terrestrial mammals will perish with us or whether some will struggle on, evolving eventually into something else.

So, change of some kind is inevitable: we either change what we do, or we will be changed, terminally. How do we go about this?

How did we manage to get into the current mess and confusion? We educated ourselves into it. By very deliberate and none-too-stealthy means, we taught successive generations of human beings a number of fatally flawed lessons. Here is my list of seven deadly lessons:

  1. Capitalism, i.e. selfishness is better than Communism, i.e. sharing.
  2. War is strong and an excellent means to achieve results.
  3. Cooperation, collaboration, and compromise are weak and inferior as a resolution strategies.
  4. Property is more important than people, unless the people in question have lots of property.
  5. There is only one truth and you can buy it in easy installments.
  6. God does not care about what you do, He only care about what you believe.
  7. People can be graded by worth, rather like livestock or vegetables.

You can of course simplify them down to a single modern evil: treating other human beings as things.

Most of these lessons have been taught because they benefit the wealthy at the expense of the poor. It's kind of like a regressive moral taxation. The more you embrace these lessons, the more you support the hierarchy of wealth and pursue a place within it—usually as high a place as you can contrive. The biggest propaganda victory of the last 100 years was achieved by the new Republicans who convinced many of the bottom third of the population (by income) to support policies that were obviously harmful to their own interests and only really benefited the top 10% of the wealthiest members of the nation. This was, in Carl Rove's words, borrowed from Josef Gobbets, because they found a very simple lesson, composed of a few good sounding words and said them over and over and over until people believed that they were true.

In the America today, you can get any amount of money you want to deliver the seven lessons to a mass audience: just look at television. Other messages get passed along, too, but they're just a few discordant notes in a symphony of avarice.

When people tell me that we can't change things, I tell them poppycock. We got changed into this mess, and we can get changed out of it, too. It's a pretty deep hole mankind has dug itself, but we've been in deeper before, just look at feudalism. Our current mess is more dire and immediate because there are so many more of us. But we have to be evangelists for change.

Evangelists is a good term because, surprise, Christ did get it right. He was a communist. If we'd actually followed his message and made it the message of mankind, we'd be in an entirely different place today. Early Christians did not believe in private property, but held everything in common for the good of the community. They did this because Christ told them that is was right and and good idea. We can decide the same truth is true today. It wasn't easy then and it is not any easier today, but we human beings can do amazingly difficult things. How do you go about this? Rethink your own life and your own goals first. Start with what you can do, then what you can do that's a bit harder, and work up to a better world. Teach your children first by your own example and then teach them the fallacy of those seven lessons. Arm them with the perception and critical understanding of the fact that many people will lie to you and attempt to get you to follow their mistakes.

Remember that the worst and most cynical people in power are counting on the fact that those with the most stuff will die last in the coming global catastrophe. They're wrong. Long before they're the last, the rest of us will rise up and overthrow the tyranny of their wealth. The sooner that happens, the more of us will outlive their greed.

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