Some infantile questions about economics.

I attempted to get an early night tonight, but as you can see I am still awake.

gogol
hot or not?

My semi-slumber reverie was arrested due to the most troubling of domestic issues. Nothing romantic, but the issue of domestic servitude, although perhaps that does it for some folks. Not me unfortunately – or fortunately, as is my current opinion. What I am getting at is this: I forgot to put the laundry on.

This idiotic internal monologue which I have been compelled to share with you was my mind’s homage to my current literary beau, Nikolai Gogol. His work has given me a rudimentary insight into the machinations of the feudal system in the days of the Russian Empire. And what a handsome man he was to boot: Nikolai Gogol there, with his cane and his dark, mysterious brow, twinned most pleasingly with the bristles of his triangular moustache (this is what happens when I do housework. It’s a cry for help.)

Empire.

The feudal system, at least in Gogol’s rural Mother Russia (he was Ukranian, actually), consisted of the landowners – instantly definable by their going by three names, and their quite often nature of idiosyncracy (or to put it less tactfully, madness). To the landowners were endowed their serfs, who were peasants – owned on paper by the landowner… by which I mean that they were under contract, but they were essentially slaves de facto, in that they were bound to work for the landowner in exchange for the right to subsistence farming and shelter. And they were secondly de facto slaves in that there was little in the way of alternative lifestyle, such that it was neither here nor there whether they were slaves or not.

What struck me about this convenient system was that actually things are very little different today. Thanks to the supreme ability of the human mind to willingly and naively undergo indoctrination without question (it really is okay to ask questions about society, by the way! Isn’t that what our teachers always said?)

Anyway, thanks to this foible of man, we find ourselves again under feudal rule. We buy a house, and then we claim to own the house. But it is not our house, it is still very much the bank’s house, all the way up until the moment before you make your final mortgage payment – which, incidentally, is usually never – we love to remortgage, because we really deserve two holidays a year or a yacht or whatever.) The banks, our feudal masters of the universe, own our house, and we are merely paying back a loan to them. And then your children inherit your house, sell it in order to pay the tax on it, and begin their own ascent to property heaven. But I’m digressing. I am using mortgages as an example here, but obviously we are owned by the banks in other ways that you are familiar with already. But again, there is little in the way of alternative lifestyle, both for the humble man and the wild beast. We in the western world can say to ourselves, hey, life isn’t so bad, forgetting that there are many things that could be better, and that all it takes is a little civil unrest, a good idea, and, importantly, a lot of hard work, to change things.

Little in the way of alternative lifestyle.

The occupy movement was congruous in a satisfyingly post-modern way that would have made Tristram Shandy proud, and like everyone else I will now tap-dance around an insurmountable problem: how can a protest move forward when each point cannot be considered alone, but is part of a greater web of misrepresentation and deceit, when it the very powerful fabric of society at large? On top of this, now, in the time that the occupiers should be organising and formulating a strategy to win over the rest of the 99 percent in order to revolutionise minds by offering a greater alternative, they are not doing so very effectively. And the risk is that the opportunity will be forever lost. It is not something that is easily achieved (this is naturally the case with such a disparate group – the 99% are not the same, unlike the 14% – banding together under an apparently united flag); and there are fundamental questions that must be formally addressed in some way – namely, to what degree, and by which means?

How does one go about involve the greater public, all of whom – and I am certain of this – do not necessarily want to be involved in policy-making and political decisions? How can this be achieved in light of the fact that fairness is the crux of the issue — and it must be achieved, because involving the public is absolutely necessary for being rid of the corruption that is always inherent in a borderline authoritarian state (albeit one that lingers in, or is emerging from, the veil of constitutional democracy.) How is this achieved in the absence of absolute involvement, without simply recreating the present situation of corruption and corporate control, with representatives of the public for whom it is not necessary to take into account the public’s thoughts, or with no inlet by which the public can participate in decision making?

And does this have any meaning on a national scale? Surely in the absence of global considerations such a shift is naive, and considering a global shift is equally naive. Is this not the hypocrisy here – that it is simply more convenient to reduce the problem to a local level in order to attempt to solve it. Perhaps this reduction is the first necessary step, but  ignoring this complex element can only exacerbate a more far-reaching inequality that is perhaps the real problem.

I cannot bear to consign the movement to failure, and it hasn’t failed at present. But questions and answers must be formulated in order to build a strategy to move forward. It is not possible simply to reject the present system unless there is something to replace it that people are willing to fight for.

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