My impression is that we are currently seeing the emergence of a new war—the culmination of a cold war that commenced hundreds of years ago and may well have spawned a number of hot wars throughout modern history. In the west, we believe that we live in democracies, and certainly it can be argued that we live in the best states that have ever existed on the face of the Earth—from an ordinary citizen’s point of view. Certainly the United States, the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, and also the Japan of the late 20th century, were as close to paradise as one could ever have dreamt.
But something is wrong behind the scenes. There is a rotten smell oozing out from behind the stage.
We were—and are—brought up to believe we are free. We are brought up to believe we live in democracies. But is that really true? How many of the decisions that influence our daily life are democratic? The lives of most people are not shaped by government decisions, by plebiscites, by whatever happens transparently in the European parliament or the US Congress. Most lives are shaped on a daily basis by corporate policies, and, as it happens, corporations are in no way democratic. In fact, most of us cannot even decide when to get up in the morning.
Corporations internally are dictatorships or oligarchies. People who lose their jobs and, in turn, lose their homes and basically their lives, do not experience freedom, they experience the ruthless logic of the system. The financial system. The financial system is involved in every human activity in capitalist nations. Democratic decisions are not. Everything, really everything, requires money. Even romantic love involves money, as conventions require expensive presents, and money is also known to be more sexy than even the best-shaped six-pack. Money rules. And it rules ruthlessly. When we look more precisely, we are not ruled by democratic institutions or by people—we are ruled by a mathematical apparatus, and this apparatus basically consists of a set of functions requiring exponential fiscal growth in order to work properly. There is only growth or decline, and even a small decline, as the logic of the apparatus defines it, results in economic disaster. Unfortunately the exponential growth of the virtual fiscal values have to be matched by an equally exponential growth of real, physical values. And in the end the artificial requirements of an out-of-control financial apparatus will collide with the rules of physics on a small and plundered planet—of reality, that is.
However—as dead-cold as the apparatus might be, it is mainly in private hands, which is not a conspiracy theory but a fact. Banks are private corporations, and even in states where the money creation itself is controlled by independent state banks, individuals do not engage in business with state banks but with private banks who directly profit big time from the very creation process of money. Whenever we talk about state subsidies, we should look at banks first, as the banking system of our time basically is state-funded in its entirety. When people cry “Socialism,” they should a) try to understand what the term means; and b) explain why banks and corporations should be subsidized and protected, enabling them to pay out humongous bonuses, while children, sick people, and poor people are to live without welfare, free education or free healthcare, all three of which are normal in Western Europe, where I live, but absent in the US.
I feel more free here than in the US, because I feel less fear. Even if I lose my job, my children are entitled to free high-end healthcare until the age of 18, we grownups would still be entitled to free basic healthcare, and from the unemployment insurance I would receive enough income to allow my family and me to survive in a relatively decent way. If I am to believe American conservatives, that is an evil thing. Here, we call it the “solidarity principle.” In Western Europe, the people who pay into the system are the ones benefiting from it.
The question is: do we live in capitalism, in "timocracies", so to speak, or do we live in democracies? I more and more get the impression that at least the masters of the money universe, who have long confused this artificial construct with the real universe, believe they are the rulers of the world, and this attitude may well date back to the Fuggers and the Medicis, reaching all the way to the Ackermanns and Blankfeins of our time. The latter said he was doing God’s work, and I always get an itch when powerful people involve God to justify their own actions.
The US Supreme Court decides that there ought to be no limit to corporate spending for election campaigns, saying, effectively, that anyone who has enough money can buy the elections. President Obama is enraged and displays his righteous anger.
The going gets tough, the events are accelerating, and the hidden dark forces are beginning to show their face. We are witnesses to a power struggle that might well take very unpleasant forms in the not-so-distant future. The question is: who rules the world—democratically elected governments or corrupt governments in unison with banks and corporations? The self-proclaimed doers of "God's work" and Masters of their own invented Universe will—like the rest of us—have to learn the hard way that, to quote Philip K. Dick, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” And when it comes to a final battle between the virtual economy and the ultimate reality of nature, the finance sector will look like a house of cards hit by a megaton hydrogen bomb. And it will be blown away like the seeds of a dandelion in a hurricane—together with the rest of our mighty globalized money civilization, where human lives only count when a sack of bank notes is attached to them.
Stefan Thiesen, a scientist and writer, was educated in Germany, the UK and the US.
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