January 31, 2011
Valle de Elqui, Chile
The need for most species to gather into larger collectives is a primal, animalistic instinct. Whether flocks of birds, schools of fish, colonies of ants, or packs of wolves, it is a natural inclination for animals to form larger units for their mutual protection and productive benefit.
Human civilization has shown the same tendency. Mankind’s first collectives were families and tribes based on common language, customs, lineage, and geography. As tribes grew and formed into kingdoms and vast empires, though, the core power in a civilization became concentrated in the hands of a few.
History is filled with examples of tyrants who mercilessly oppressed their people; in fact, the entire concept of the feudal system which dominated the earth for over 1,000 years was based on this idea that the masses exist to serve the ruling class, not the other way around.
We like to think that civilization has evolved far beyond that point… that the modern world is one in which, for better or worse, the will of the majority dictates the rules. Unfortunately, this notion is nothing but an elaborate illusion– feudalism is still alive and well today.
Certainly, there are varying degrees of it, and some nations are far more open about it than others. Western democracies decry brutal dictatorships in Burma, North Korea, and Cuba, all while a small cadre of bankers and bureaucrats sets up a system designed for their personal gain at the expense of everyone else.
Incredibly, the ruling class has managed to establish a society in which ‘the majority’ demands their rule, capitulates to their authority, and fills their coffers with taxes, bailouts, and loans. Maintaining the status quo is their ultimate objective, and we can see that in today’s headlines.
As waves of food riots have spread across the world, the various ruling establishments have reacted by digging in and defending their own interests… turning police and military forces loose on the people to put down insurrection under the ridiculous pretense of “keeping the peace.”
The tactics that have taken place in Egypt over the last several days are particularly telling: the government has taken out Internet and telecommunications architecture, at least at the consumer level, in an effort to quell the rebellion… and I think Egypt is a preview of things to come.
Governments will now neutralize any asset that civilians can use to unify their efforts and establish command & control. This includes cutting communications architecture, sending troops in the streets, and enforcing curfews.
I suspect that other measures on the table include cutting critical infrastructure like water and power, and contriving ‘security emergencies’ and dubious terror threats.
Unsurprisingly, lawmakers in the United States are getting ready to reintroduce a bill that gives President Obama the power to seize control over, and even shut down the Internet.
So long as we’re all obedient servants and don’t rock the boat too much, they’ll keep the lights and the phones on. The moment we stop digesting their imploding paper currencies or pour into the streets demanding accountability, they’ll flip the switch and go into self-preservation mode.
Ironically, such measures can be surprisingly effective. It’s psychological warfare, really– the establishment can demonstrate with surgical precision how dependent we are and how much control it can exert over us. (it’s like that old joke “the beatings will continue until morale improves…”)
This is feudalism, plain and simple, and it doesn’t really matter who’s in control. If the established ruling class fails to preserve their power, they will only fall to a new ruling class… but the mentality will remain: “do as you’re told, and we’ll keep the machine running.”
Modern society has evolved to the point that there are numerous, complex networks in place to take care of our basic necessities, freeing up our own individual capacities to focus on other productive interests– our careers, leisure activities, etc.
We don’t have to worry about producing our own food or generating power anymore because the system does that for us… so instead, we can focus our time and energy on things like professional endeavors which help us to afford our platinum cards and houses full of Chinese manufactured knick knacks.
This dependency, however prosperous it may feel, comes at an opportunity cost… and I think the recent events in Egypt and around the world underscore very clearly that this opportunity cost is freedom.
Real freedom, after all, has nothing to do with a bank balance full of fictitious zeros, or a credit score that gives people the means to further indebt themselves… but rather the degree to which one can be unplugged from this dependency.
Understanding the nature of the opportunity cost is critical, as is taking steps to reduce it. This can include planting multiple flags, investing in agricultural property, stocking up on food and water, installing solar paneling at your home, alternate RF or satellite communications, etc.
Measured preparation is the key. There is no reason to panic or expect the end of the world… but merely to identify vulnerabilities and risks, and then devise a plan to mitigate them. This will be a guiding principle for the resilient, sustainable community that my team is now planning.