Delusional leadership: Our undoing
“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark. The real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” – Plato
Regular visitors to this blog will find leadership is a subject I visit regularly. Why is this so? The answer comes easily. So much of what is wrong with this old world comes back to leadership. Leadership is of course a function of government. When it is in trouble we are all in trouble.
Over the last thirty or so years we have seen the world consumed by Neoliberalism, also known as the free market economy, aka predatory capitalism, aka the capitalist warfare state. Neoliberalism is in essence socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor. It requires the dismantling of nation states as under Neoliberalism they are no more than a market to be exploited. It is no coincidence the world now has a surfeit of billionaires as they plunder public assets. A good metaphor for Neoliberalism is globalized open-pit mining. This “mining” leaves far too many bomb craters and dead bodies; too many national economies gutted by privatization and deregulation.
Paving the way for Neoliberalism, government, as an essential institution, had to be thoroughly denigrated. Among the-denigrators-in-chief was non-other than the Devil incarnate Milton Friedman. For Friedman government is the enemy and he made the toxic argument the free market would be self-regulating- which of course, was no more than a license for unmitigated greed.
People were trained to be cynical about government and this was too easily achieved.
Politicians were convinced to give up too many of their powers and supply the private sector with endless piles of cash. This was also too easily achieved. Now government has become redundant and all too often a comfortable sinecure for semi-employed legislators.
Even though risk is an essential part of leadership, governments are risk averse as the power of the private sector is so daunting economically and militarily. They cower from real leadership, see their democracies dissipated and their populations abandoned. Mandated to lead, they follow, running a catering service to the private sector at their public’s expense.
In essence Neoliberalism is the deification of greed and violence and our leaders have been all too willing to accommodate it.
Another pre-condition for creating this not-so-brave-new-world has been to thoroughly denigrate socialism. Socialism is a political ideology. It is also the humanist value system by which we live, passed on to us through the world’s great religions. It is contended science killed religion, just as Neoliberalism has liquidated our humanist values and sense of community.
I am constantly amazed at the negative reaction so many people have to the very mention of the word “socialism.” They are oblivious to the fact socialism also pertains to societies and the terms on which we live together. Where social values are shattered anarchy and alienation and prevail.
America spent a good part of the 20th Century purging any semblance of socialism from their politics. The MaCarthy hearings of 1954 were the final culmination of the purge and the country was on its way to becoming the grim capitalist warfare state it is today. Little wonder Bernie Sanders was so quickly sidelined by his own party. Had he prevailed over Clinton he would be president today- but to no avail as the Deep State would throttle any reforms as is their wont.
In 1987 Margaret Thatcher claimed there is no such thing as society. She was right government can in some instances create too many entitlements; but she was wrong to claim societies don’t exist. She was one of the founders of Neoliberalism and all these years later we see the wreckage.
Forty years later Thatcher might blush to see the entitlements the 1% have awarded themselves and how the capitalist/corporatist warfare state plunders the planet at will.
Neoliberalism shatters societal values in favor of the market place where people are no more than commodities-atomized, and disenfranchised.
The propagandists have done their job well, on an unwitting audience.
“A generation of idiots”
From where I sit the day Einstein designates is long past. It is a warning that when we become so consumed by technology, the easy life style it provides, its endless distractions and counterfeit measures of our success and omnipotence, we are in big trouble. When Neil Postman wrote Amusing Ourselves to Death it was a very articulate warning of our misplaced priorities.
His book was published in 1985 to great fanfare and drew copious media attention. I read it then and again recently. If Postman were around today he would be shocked to see how many more ways we have found to amuse ourselves to death, and how totally distracted and propagandized we have become.
We are seduced by our comforts and adjust our beliefs to that zone. Intrusive facts, issues and threats are pushed aside, aided and abetted by a propagandist media that edits to suit our pleasure. News and commentary are reduced to infotainment; snippets, bits and bites. Context is studiously avoided as it might lead to real understanding and insight.
Over half a century ago Canadian philosopher George Grant lamented the loss of our sovereignty. It was clear Canada’s political and economic elites saw the country as no more than a commercial expediency to be sacrificed on the altar of the burgeoning post WWll American empire. If the sacrifice was to become part of a superior and democratic New World Order (NWO) it was a worthy one.
If, on the other hand, the sacrifice was to an inferior tyranny the loss was profound.
All these years later the tyranny is global. Whole countries are being arbitrarily destroyed militarily. Others are ruthlessly exploited by Neoliberalism and still others are being destroyed incrementally by the abdication of their leaders to the global tyranny.
We become easy targets for our oppressors as we are wedded to inaction, indifference and alienation.
A word about the opera Norma
The opera Norma is set in Roman times and she is a high Druid priestess. Her and her Druid warriors were preparing to fight against the Roman occupation of Gaul; their forested homeland where they revered nature and lived in harmony with it.
She invoked her warriors to hold back from going to war against the Romans as she claimed Rome will be destroyed by its own corruptions. Norma was though a compromised high-priestess/leader. She had fallen in love and had children with the Roman proconsul. The plot centers around her lover’s betrayal(Pollione) for a younger woman(Adalgisa), one of her junior priestesses.
In the end Norma realizes the betrayal was not Pollione’s or Adalgisa’s: but hers. She had broken her vows as high priestess. She was the betrayer. She was the architect of her woes having betrayed herself and her followers. She put herself on the pyre as punishment.
Our leaders are in so many ways “Normas”- architects of destruction. For vested reasons they rationalize the tyranny stalking our existence, assuming it too, like Rome, will self-destruct.
It surely will. But how much damage will be done in the interim?
A silence no longer affordable. Help spread the word.