Saturday 1st May 2010

The way that the world works is actually quite simple. It appears complex because a large number of people are employed to make it look that way. This set includes those employed in sales and marketing, public relations, economics, politics, journalism. That's a lot of people, and a lot of money spent on their craft. So whereas few people are inclined to believe someone who sells used cars for a living, for example, most of us most of the time believe in lots of things which are, when you get to the heart of the matter, just as unreliable, and just as firmly rooted in the self-interest of whoever is paying for the message.

To see the underlying simplicity of it all we first have to dig through all that babble and get to the principal motivations of our opinion-formers. Fortunately there's an easy rule to follow: always ask "who benefits?", and always expect that the people benefiting most from the current state of things (almost always the rich and powerful) will be the ones most likely to sell you a clapped out old rustbucket while persuading you that it's the latest thing in automotive engineering.

The world is run by a combination of three types of powerful organisations: corporations, states and governments. In theory the first two are controlled by the last, but in reality the reverse is often true. This is not to say that our 'democracy' is not a good thing. Even if our ability to vote for alternatives in government once every few years is set up in such a way that the real change that we need is next to impossible, the process is extremely important and must be defended tooth and nail. There is a world of difference between a totally unfettered power and one which has to make even a token effort to placate its opposition and argue its corner.

However, quotation marks are often necessary: a real democracy would not mean choosing between conservative Labour and the new Tories (or between the Demoblicans and the Repurats, or still less the ConDems) whilst being bombarded by a thoroughly unified media and marketing world view constructed from the same deep pockets that pay for the private schools where the elite politicians learn their trade. A real democracy would mean lots and lots of people making decisions. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

The world is run by a combination of three types of powerful organisations: corporations, states and governments. In some countries these three are all rolled into one giant object, generally called The Party. This is what most people mean when they talk about "communism" (although it bears little resemblance to the original concept of that name). China is the last major example of this type of country.

Where was I?

The world is run by a combination of three types of powerful organisations: corporations, states and governments. The effect of all this is that journalists end up behaving like used-car sales people, and politicians end up behaving like used-car sales people without the usual high level of commitment to truth and honesty. This is not to say that journalists, politicians and other opinion-formers are bad people; just that the structures they find themselves in force them to act as apologists for a system which requires us to believe a lot of nonsense in order to put up with it.

Bugger. Time for bed. As Ian Dury said in You'll See Glimpses, "It's true that I haven't quite finished yet." But never fear, "... here's a last glimpse into the general future. Home rule will exist in each home, forever. Every living thing will be another friend. This wonderful state of affairs will last for always."


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