THOUGHTS IN THE NIGHT
There are thoughts that no man should ever think; should ever feel the need to think. They are thoughts that make him ashamed to be of that race of beings called “Man.” Tonight I have been thinking those thoughts.
I, like you, know a little of our human history. Not a great deal. Not a lot of details; just a broad overview. I see that man has learned that co-operation among us is a good thing. I see that war is a bad thing. I see that we are all equally human yet we keep on trying to set up social orders where some few are raised up high over the majority of their fellows. I see that, over thousands of years, every system we have put in place that follows this pattern of some over others, has brought us grief. It has also brought us war and hunger; not peace and plenty. It has brought us the exact opposite of what we set up a society for!
I cannot think that this thought has not also occurred to you. To my eyes this pattern resembles a pyramid. An elite few, at the apex, rules over all those below them. To facilitate this rule, they ‘authorize’ those in the next layer down to also consider themselves ‘above’ the majority. That layer has the dual job of supporting those at the apex and controlling, ordering, and organizing those of the layers below them. There are many layers in this pyramid. All of humankind resides within one or another of those layers. All of humankind supports those above them, from whom they derive their own personal power and sustenance. All of humankind prides itself as ‘better’ than those below them in the pyramid.
Only those at the apex of the pyramid are happily satisfied with where they are in the order of our societies. All others want to move up to higher layers. Ideally we’d all like to make it to the apex; the very top of the pyramid; so we could rule without being ruled, in our turn, by others above us.
To this date in our history we have almost never organized any human society in any other way. To this date we have also never organized one that works well for us and all the people who share this small planet with us. Heck, we haven’t even organized one that works well for as little as half of us.
The great American experiment with ‘self-rule’ had the glorious concept of a society of equals as its initial precept. That didn’t work out too well, if we judge by the way it is today. The concept was a good one. Where we failed was in the execution. We set up another darned pyramid of power. We thought that by ‘electing’ those who govern us, we’d have sufficient control over them to limit their actions to those beneficial to us and to our society. We were wrong.
Those who seek to sit in the seats of government have been corrupted by a greed for either more power, wealth, or both. Those few who have great wealth now own the majority of those who hold positions in government.
The pyramid of power is quite a stable structure, as all pyramids are. Once established, it will do everything it can to continue in existence. It will even act in ways that are directly and obviously against the interests of the society that formed it. It has no conscience. It is a system, not a living being. It knows nothing of good or evil. It knows nothing of the needs and desires of the people who brought it into being. But it does try to survive; blindly, without thought, without consideration for the consequences.
Those who benefit most from it try to help it to survive. Those are usually the, so called, ‘middle-classes’ and those above them. The few, at the very upper levels, could not long retain their positions without that support from the middle classes.
What this tells us is that we – the middle classes – are the ones who give the most support to this system that we can see does not work as intended. We will never make serious changes to this system as long as we do support that pyramid of power by supporting our own positions in it. The best that we can do, maybe, is to change the individuals who govern us. But there is no reason to think that new individuals will not also, very quickly, be corrupted in the same manner and for the same reasons as our present lot.
We are left with two options and ONLY two options. We can continue using some form of the pyramid of power which has always failed us. Failed us whether we had a tribal system of it, a feudal system of it, a capitalist system of it, or a communist system of it.
Or we can devise a new structure – one not a pyramid – and build a social system that is different. Perhaps it could be one where all citizens share in the management of their society without ‘rulers’ or ‘leaders’. That kind of system would undoubtedly be a much less efficient society but it would also be a much more egalitarian one. It would change more slowly than one where a few can give orders for change to occur and have those orders obeyed by a sheep-like population. Slower but freer. More democratic. More open to enhancing individual talent and ability. One not susceptible to control by individuals of wealth. One owned and operated by the people who live in it.
I wonder if this is possible…..