On The Money
Financial Advice for the Working Class
We hear talk about financial bankruptcy all the time. Whether its people losing their homes in the
foreclosure epidemic, California’s debt crisis or the current wrangling over raising the national debt ceiling, everyone it seems lives on borrowed money these days, and no one looks to have any prospects of ever paying it off. Every year we work harder, make less, and get further in debt while a handful of people grow ever more obscenely rich.
Increasingly, we live in a world of robber barons and serfs. How ironic that the crowning achievement of the secular, democratic and scientific revolution, born of “The Enlightenment” in Renaissance times, is to deliver us into a new, global “Dark Age”. Frankly, our present situation makes the Medieval Dark Ages seem pretty bright to me.
The average American works way more than the average medieval peasant, just to get by. Medieval peasants also had more flexibility in their workday. With no time-card to punch, lots of holidays and little direct supervision, medieval peasants enjoyed significantly more freedom in their daily schedules than modern Americans.
Medieval peasants never submitted to drug testing, and often, more often than not, drank on the job. Compared to American workers, medieval peasants were unruly slackers. I think we could learn a thing or two from medieval peasants about how to improve our quality of life, and from my present perspective, I take a pretty dim view of this whole “enlightenment” thing.
This is what I mean by “cultural bankruptcy”. Our culture has failed catastrophically. It has failed socially, economically, environmentally, philosophically and spiritually. We all know this horse won’t carry us any further. We can stand here and flog the dead horse, or we can move on. When the life of a medieval peasant looks better than your real future, I say its time to move on.
I don’t mean to diminish the plight of medieval peasants. All of that drought, famine, plague and the Spanish Inquisition must have sucked., but the enlightenment gave us genocide, slavery, sweatshops, mechanized warfare, more genocide and nuclear weapons. Let’s not diminish our own plight, just because its veiled in happy advertizing, and we’re used to it. We deserve better, and our current culture just doesn’t deliver. Its time to cut our losses.
Wouldn’t you trade global climate change and ecosystem collapse for a good old fashioned famine and drought? If your crops failed, at least there were still fish in the sea. As we harvest the last deep water Peruvian sea bass, while we BP the Fukushima out of the oceans, we face a bleaker future than any peasant could imagine. If you want to know who had it worse than medieval peasants, look to the inhabitants of Easter Island. Now think about a global Easter Island scenario. Yeah, compared to that, I’ll take a little famine and drought any day. Would you choose bubonic plague over cancer? Anthrax over AIDS? I’ll call that a toss up.
Not that we can just go back to the middle ages, or would even want to, just that the foundational principals of our modern culture, that seemed to hold so much promise 500 yrs ago, have crapped the bed on us. Our bold plan to take charge of our destiny through secular democratic government, scientific investigation and technological innovation and a free market, has only exacerbated, not solved the problems we faced as medieval peasants.
Lets look at what’s become of these “Great Ideas” of our culture, starting with…
…Democracy. I’m so sick of democracy, and this idea that we should all just get along. I don’t want to “get along” with everybody, and I’m sure not going along with your stupid idea about how we can all work together. If we weren’t all so damned eager to work together, even on the most insane ideas, we wouldn’t have nuclear weapons or foreign wars. Next to all the ugly, violent and murderously evil things we’ve done as a nation, and all the millions of people who’ve perished, in our efforts to “spread democracy” around the world, don’t the Crusades seem quaint and charming by comparison?
So, lets stop using this word “we” to talk about all 300,000,000 of us who live South of Canada and North of Mexico, like we’re all on the same team. We’re not all on the same team. Forget about compromise. Forget about unity. Define your faction, and work for your own best interest.
I know you really didn’t believe in democracy any more, anyway, so lets slaughter the next sacred cow, science and technology. While we ridicule Christian fundamentalists for “living in the Dark Ages” because they believe the creation myth in the bible, we all “know” the universe exploded out of nothingness in an event called “the big bang.” We all “know” that E=MC2, but none of us can really fathom what it means.
Odd, isn’t it, that ancient agriculturalists gave us the garden of Eden, and research that lead to the first atomic bomb gave us “the big bang.” What we see has way more to do with how we see than it does with what there is. About 98% of what there is remains completely incomprehensible to us, so it makes no sense to draw philosophical conclusions from the 2% we do comprehend. That 2% allows us to predict enough physical events to put a man on the moon and build powerful computers you can hold in your fingertips, but just because that little gadget in your hand impresses you, that doesn’t mean you, or any other human knows how the universe works., or has any business fucking with it.
Capitalism, that’s easy. When the banks got bailed, capitalism failed. If you didn’t know that capitalism was a scam before the economy collapsed, you do now.
Finally, lets assassinate Reason itself. They could have never convinced you to go along with this whole wretched system if you weren’t so reasonable. We dialogue, discuss, argue and debate everything in this culture, not that it does any good. Once you’ve agreed to solve a problem rationally, through open dialogue, you’ve lost. A decent rhetorician can make a convincing case for any position, including the ridiculous notion that endless hours heated vitriolic debate would be preferable to a quick decisive duel.
I really don’t think that medieval times were so great, quite the contrary. I just think that if the “Enlightenment” has made life worse rather than better, we should probably ditch it. With the collapse of the middle-class and the growing income disparity between rich and poor, we should face the fact “The Enlightenment” really didn’t solve anything. In the ’70s, in the song, “Working Class Hero” John Lennon sang “you’re still fucking peasants as far as I see.” Today, we should be so lucky.