Thursday, November 5, 2015

Agent of Change? Or Agent of the Status Quo?

Change isn't always progress

Agents of change?  Too often agents of the status quo, struggling to prevent change, which happens naturally driven by social needs and dissatisfaction..

Still, we use this term, "agents of change" as though it meant something. We all hope for "change you can believe in". 

Think about it;  who  are these "agents"?  Change forward?  Or change backwards?    In whose interest?   Liberals associate "change" with progress-- but is it?    In that case, what exactly IS "progress"?  Is it good for us? Questions, questions.  
The agent of Climate Change?  YOU!

I can't answer these all questions. Nor can you.  But we all most try. So here goes....

The concept of 'change" and, more particularly, its agency is defined by social context

The most common such context is neoliberalism-- which is not just an economic theory-- but a social system today derived from capitalistic oligarchism,  itself evolved  from feudalism – which evolved classical agrarianism.  

We must keep in mind also that the dominant social system for most of mankind's history as been hunting and gathering -- and such these societies are egalitarian: their members own little -- share almost everything. 

Neoliberalism, sadly, the default worldview of our time, is something of an aberration -- it divides the world into a hierarchy of humanity, with those at the top superior to all other.  Since "change" destabilizes the delicate balance of such vertical social structures, real change - "change you can believe in"  is discouraged.  

Leadership, in the neoliberal world, is not about making things different so much as it is about  power and maintaining the status quo. 
Man ...and Superman
Inequality -something not permitted among paleolithic cultures,  is seen as natural in hierarchical "civilizations". 

Aristos and hoi polloi.  Patricians and plebians.  Gentry and the Commons. Free people and slaves.  Citizens and foreigners.  Men and women.  Adults and children….   Since the invention of agriculture, some people have had to be better than others, to have more rights than others – in fact to be more human than others. 

Modern neoliberalism is no different:  it all about the owners and the owned.
Are you an owner -- or owned?
The meme goes back a long way in history, reiterating itself in each failed civilization, and our imaginations.
Ownership is not always deserved

From this point of view, most people are followers -- just sheep munching grass – content not to think or question or ask why-- happy to be used. Resources to be exploited like any other.

Sheeple need to be herded by their owners – politicians, the CEOs of companies, and rich people – who do think – and eat flesh, rather than GMOs.  The owners’ farm hands and sheep dogs are "authorities" -- the military, the police, the media, 'educators'…..who aren't exactly self-aware– but are presumed to be smarter than sheep. 
They too are meat-eaters, predators manqué. 

So the world is automatically divided between the Few and the Many. Predators and farmed prey. The Guys at the top -- and you and me at the bottom, consuming not grass perhaps but iPhones and Nikes and sitcoms and Hollywood retreads of Marvel. Our Owners will look after us, after all.  Happy, happy sheep

Descartes said :  “I think therefore I am”.  Neoliberals extrapolate this to mean that your level of relative humanity, which is also your right to life,  is determined by self awareness and individuality – even if awareness of self and individuality means blindness to one’s greater being and others.

Descartes was not Ayn Rand, of course -- but the logical error is the same -- generating solipsism -- which is necessary narcissistic.  It  makes most of us --in our imaginations at least -- cannibalistic lambs.We would be wolves, but TV and texting distract. Baaaaa....

There can only be a few owners.  This, the owners say is the result of individual competition -- usually economic – but also political and social.  The survival of the fittest?  But the playing field is never level, the players cheat.  It is survival of the meanest -- win/ lose – war --with the rules made up retrospectively by the winners.
The sheep provide wool – and they are slaughtered for food.  The steeple work and die.  In fact, we feed off each other.  As I said, cannibalistic lambs.
Are you a cannibal? 


Obviously, you and I cannot be “agents” of change -- not in a society  where individual agency implies not just ability but predatory capability, opportunity (often a matter of chance) and will.   Sheep do not have teeth.  They are bucolic creatures.   

Our owners, however, are wolf packs -- and they network, forming alliances of convenience. 

Agents of change, in the neoliberal world, are those with the power to change things to their advantage -- to exploit -- by this definition, a predatoriat.  
Getting by with help from friends

Tony Blair, Obama, the Clintons, the Koch Brothers, Rupert Murdoch, as such, changed little for the better and much for the worse.But note: while motivated mostly by self interest, they worked with others similarly empowered. It's called personal imperialism.
When "change" means regress -- 
politics as personal imperialism
So, agents of change in our society mostly change things for themselves, offering only the illusion of progress. A lot of people died under Clinton's rule.  And monopolies took control of the economy.  But Clinton is now a very, very rich man, with the Hillary set to inherit his mantle and get richer still, while American society decays. Oh, happy, happy Clintons. 
 Postmodern thinkers may question scientific progress, but it is undoubtedly real. The illusion is the belief that it can affect any fundamental alteration to the human condition...History is not an ascending spiral of human advance, or even and inch by inch crawl to a better world. It is an unending cycle in which changing knowledge interacts with unchanging human need. John Gray: Heresies, Introduction p.3

God was the first capitalist

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