What exactly does “the resistance” resist? What should “the resistance” resist?
Clearly, the target of any resistance has to be some form of unethical behaviour. Only that can justify – and indeed call for! – resistance. So what is the underlying ethic?
The following is an attempt to uncover a possible answer.
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Imagine a transaction between a farmer and a trader of farm produce.
The farmer’s time and energy are fully committed to getting a decent harvest in the face of fickle weather and uncertain market prices, while also looking ahead to the next season. He can spare no time or energy for complex business transactions or financial calculations.
The trader has plenty of time, energy and incentives to master the tricks of finance and business. To him, the farm produce is merely a commodity which he can buy or sell, process further for value addition, pledge as collateral, dump in a foreign market … or whatever else brings in good profit. Only the trader’s cunning limits what he can or cannot do with a given commodity – and there is no limit to that cunning.
The farmer’s life depends on hard work; the trader’s life depends on cunning. Therefore the farmer would invariably have a weaker hand in any transaction with a dealer.
The argument made here extends to any other primary producer – factory worker, miner or bus driver – whose life depends on “the sweat of his brow”. Cunning business and finance types can run circles around such people in any business dealing, and economic exploitation of primary producers extends seamlessly into violent crime, usury, money-laundering et cetera.
In the so-called “free-market economies” being touted all over the world, there is therefore a tragic and seemingly inevitable chasm of inequity between hard work and cunning.
In any society, the business and managerial class devises the laws and mechanisms of “free markets”, the education system promoting “free markets” – and even the incessant media hype around “free markets”. The interests of primary producers play, at best, a marginal role in the sophisticated economic superstructure of a “free-market” society.
This has been true throughout history; but in recent decades – with technology and transport spanning the world – rigging of “free markets” has become hugely exacerbated. Owners and managers make big profits, while primary producers get the short end of the stick.
Around the world, economic systems are designed so as to exploit with maximum efficiency low-cost natural resources and primary labour. This is the so-called “globalist agenda” of the business and managerial classes. The fig leaf of this narrative of greed and power is that maximum economic efficiency of exploitation is somehow “good for all of us”; of course no proof is needed for that cunning and noble-sounding claim.
In practice, there is almost no upper limit to how much primary producers can be exploited. The game is designed by the cunning people and totally rigged in their favour.
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Up to a point, primary producers put up with some exploitation. Their lives and their needs are simple. As long as the family is able to take care of their children, celebrate once in a while, and cope with occasional difficulties, life goes on. Indeed, provided that certain basic requirements of life are met, a primary producer is not even envious of a wealthier owner or manager. The abstract concept of “complete economic equality” is not on his mind.
“To each his own”, the primary producer may say. But he would also surely need the assurance that the system would not let his family go under; that line must not be crossed.
This is exactly where a serious problem arises. The cunning ones do not really care if a few families of primary producers – deplorables! – do go under. For these self-proclaimed “elites”, other human lives do not count for much. While the simple-minded primary producers accept having to share the planet with the cunning ones, that courtesy is not reciprocated.
There is virtually no upper limit to human cunning. Sophisticated mechanisms of leveraged speculation, risk management and money-printing are devised to ensure that the cunning types profit under any conceivable economic situation. In catastrophic situations, when huge risk insurance payoffs would endanger the whole system, the government – also under the hidden control of the cunning – arranges huge bailouts, at public expense.
In this way, the most cunning 1% of the people around the world have built a seemingly crash-proof economic bubble – or cocoon – around themselves. They seem to harbour the illusion that, contrary to the law of impermanence, their cocoon will last forever.
As economic exploitation worsens, the chasm between primary producers and the most cunning 1% grows wider. Because the rules and laws governing any economy are man-made, this phenomenon is in reality the deliberate tearing of the fabric of society.
Because this phenomenon is today global in scope, it has created the global divide which we are witnessing. The primary motive force behind this phenomenon is “big finance” seeking big and risk-free returns. To that end, their core strategy is: “Whatever it takes”!
This worsening divide running through societies, and across national boundaries, seems to play a greater role in current geopolitics than race, religion or ideology.
Over recent decades, the “sole superpower” – fronted by armies of MBAs, PhDs and other assorted pseudo-academics – has been leading in this game of “global Monopoly”. More recently, the “sole superpower” is being challenged by others, who have by now figured out how “global Monopoly” is being played, and wish to alter its one-sided rules.
In this situation, what can a primary producer hope for?
A primary producer in any society has only one rational, human hope: A life of basic dignity for him and his family. Not much to ask, surely – but the cunning will grudge him even that.
We can only hope that the future global economic system will be fairer to all segments of the global population; and that it will not, as at present, favour only the cunning, self-proclaimed “elites”. The economic system should heal the global divide rather than aggravate it.
Therein lies a difficult contradiction. Left to themselves, the pulls, pressures and inequities of any economic system tend to exacerbate rather than heal economic divides. The underlying reasons, as outlined briefly above, are that the operators of the system (a) lack a standard of fairness, and (b) have a huge stake themselves in “the game of privilege”.
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It is possible to understand or correlate certain clear trends in world politics today with the above analysis of economic exploitation.
1. There is much talk today of “globalism” versus “nationalism”. But if “globalism” implies the tearing apart of a society by global economic forces, then “nationalism” is the resistance put up by those who do not wish to see their society torn apart. In this debate, it seems that the much-maligned “nationalists” could benefit by a clearer articulation of their position.
2. In the US, the President is caught between his firm supporters, mostly primary producers, and the far more cunning types who have wielded unbridled power over many decades.
3. In Russia, the government seems to be taking great care that unbridled “globalists” do not tear the Russian society apart again, as they did during the decade of the 1990s.
4. In Europe, the struggle between “nationalists” and “globalists” is at a different stage in every country, and it is complicated by the phenomenon of immigration. In the UK, the exploiting class have got themselves into a tangle of their own making.
5. In India, even while he is seen to be very active globally, the Prime Minister appears to have given very clear instructions down the line that the many welfare schemes aimed at common people constitute a central part of his overall government policy.
6. In China, hundreds of millions of primary producers have been brought out of poverty over the last three or four decades; that would not be possible without clear state policy.
7. In most countries, the interests of indigenous primary producers are sold out by their own economic “elites”, working in cahoots with other “globalists”. Cynical and ruthless “regime change” style techniques are employed to break or subvert any resistance.
8. Everywhere, the forces of “law and order” are invariably aligned with exploitative economic systems, since the “economic stability” of even a hugely unjust system is seen as a virtue; hence the birth of ridiculous concepts such as “too big to fail”.
When we connect many such dots, we see the current global divide as being caused by limitless “free-market” exploitation versus the natural human reaction to resist being exploited.
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While there is no limit to the cunning schemes of exploiters, there is a limit on how much deprivation and degradation primary producers will tolerate. Depending on history and culture, this limit varies from society to society. Beyond that limit, when they have nothing to lose, primary producers have no option but to rely on the strength of their numbers.
When primary producers unite to resist exploitation, the qualities of solidarity and unity are far more important than cleverness. Games of enticement and subversion played by the cunning have to be countered and exposed. The world will never run equitably or smoothly on self-promoted “high IQ” alone; more useful are solidarity, unity and healthy communities.
If the above analysis is accepted, then all “ideologies” – of the “right” and the “left” – are seen merely as obfuscatory tools of the cunning, aimed at herding labouring masses into their assigned zones of economic exploitation. Indeed, even the term “controlled opposition” does not give an accurate picture. Rather, an array of “fake ideological fences” achieves the intended herding, aided by “bread and circuses” media brainwashing.
A parallel to this situation can be visualized as a pack of sheepdogs employed to help manage a herd of sheep. Some dogs bark from the left, some from the right, while the rest drive the herd from behind towards its designated pen – all under the smug supervision of the owner.
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The analysis here is based on fundamental human needs and propensities, independent of race, religion, education, state of development … et cetera. Tragically, all so-called “academic discourse” today misses out on basic human needs and propensities, in favour of highly esoteric theories and ideologies. One reason behind such “fake academics” is that basic human truths are not “publishable”; they do not contribute to academic career-building.
Imagine a simple truth of life articulated by, say, Jesus Christ, Gautam Buddha or Jalaluddin Rumi. Although the truth may have enormous value to communities, it has no “academic respectability” today because it is not “original research”. Strange notions of “academics” exclude time-tested human wisdom from “sophisticated policy discourse”!
A research paper such as “Revised Chi-Squared Analysis of the Seasonal Incomes of Farmers in Southern Namibia” has a far better chance of influencing public policy today than anything that Jesus, Buddha or Rumi might have said. Overpaid eggheads seem to have missed this simple and unalterable fact of human life, proven time and again by history:
If basic human needs are provided for, all other aspects of “civilized life” – including peace – arise organically. Happy communities generate higher value.
A naive person may ask: Who would possibly argue against fulfilling simple, basic human needs? Sadly, today the answer is: Cunning people with their cunning theories!
But then how can one possibly re-educate uncaring and arrogant eggheads? One can only hope that the emerging “multi-polar” world will be an economically fairer one as well.
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Related reading: Two earlier essays on this site, Gutless Wonders and The ABC of Modern Empire, attempted to probe these same issues, but in a slightly more indirect manner. Also relevant is Identity and Peace.