(First published on Urban Times on 04th Jun 2012)
This Article is a continuation from A World of TrEUble: Contrived
Previously, on A World of Treuble: Big Finance found ways to turn fallouts to opportunities. Then it got so carried away with the practice it started counting on them to make a quick buck, forgetting the merit in slow but steady investment. Quick boom followed by radical bust led to a volatile, destructive market that led to a volatile, eroded society. Like despots presiding over their subjects, Big Players seemed to have lost the plot.
We mentioned Prince [King] John and his subjugated, suppressed, overtaxed subjects in Part 2. We did so to put things in perspective, to remind ourselves what it must feel like for people to be subject to the whims of someone wielding unlimited money and power, and where such a setup may lead. Capricious ruler, disgruntled people, national crisis, Magna Carta. Whether it be Greece or communities in the “fracking belt” of America, or people in the Amazon Rain Forest and in the deep provinces of China, there is a case to be made for their land being plundered by powers greater than them with little regard for their human rights.
But a second argument follows from this analogy, and that is ignorance. The leaders may be acting like callous medieval despots, but the people involved are acting like medieval, ignorant, dated individuals. They are not up to par, refusing to play the game as team players and setting themselves up to be taken advantage of. They refuse to adapt to the changing environment or embrace the knowledge that stares them in the face. Rooted in medieval superstition, if not ancient custom, their resistance to the powers that be has merit only when considering the harshness with which they are being dealt with. But when one looks at the reasons behind their lag, examining how they have found themselves behind in the process, one cannot help but acknowledge facts and call things by their name: an undeniable inability on their part to adjust, adapt and evolve. Either that or massive unwillingness. Or maybe a bit of both.
It is a dangerous argument to make. Not everyone in Greece or in the fracking belt deserves to be labeled ignorant or dated. Chinese provincials may be good, honest, simpleminded country folk rather than backward. And the indigenous tribes of the Amazon are the sentinels of nature, not relics. People cannot be lumped together and stereotyped harshly, en masse, certainly not on account of how they fare in lieu of high technology and economics. It simply isn’t fair.
But neither is to stereotype the Big Players. Not everyone who wields power and money is an evil jerk.
See the conundrum? If people are not to be stereotyped en masse, then neither must Big Money. Both sides must be given the benefit of doubt, and have to be judged on facts, not biases.
It Always Takes Two
Perhaps the point is to set aside the tit-for-tat part of the equation and look at things from a more factual point of view. Attempt a quick, concise, straightforward analysis. Here we go.
Fact of the matter is, there is a process of development going on, which, for better or worse, marks the way forward, into the future. Those who are trying to keep it in check with the aim to let it grow sustainably are doing everyone a service, adding their cautious two bits to the game. Those who want to destroy it, on the other hand, returning the earth to a state of rustic provincialism, are on the wrong side of the formula. We can’t take knowledge and sweep it under the rug, pretending it’s not there. The notion is romantic but misguided, if not dangerous. Even if they are proven right and we do perish by the hand of rampant development, their opinion will always be meaningless and uninspiring, nothing more than the words of people who sat in the corner and spoke of the earth being flat, and of the need to stay put, lest the sky falls on our heads, while others were taking to the seas, testing the waters, pushing the boundaries and dying to perform miracles. Tangible, observable, replicable miracles.
An exception can be made for the Indigenous tribes of the world. They deserve credit for their intransigence regarding progress; there is merit in their resistance. They chose to fight modernity and high technology from the onset, on account of their beliefs, and they have historically done so in an informed and dedicated manner that upholds a different kind of universe, from top to bottom. They may have eventually been led into temptation by the nastier parts of modern life, but their resistance has been spirited and genuine, and far more noble than that of any other “resistant” culture on earth, who at one point or another ended up embracing technology all the same.
An exception can be made for the Indigenous tribes of the world. They deserve credit for their intransigence regarding progress.
The indigenous tribes of the world are of course dwindling as time goes by. Their voice is nothing but quaint interference in the stream of communication, neither heeded nor taken seriously, which ultimately spells trouble for us. Like it or not, these “quaint” figures hold the keys to the spirit of Geo-technology, which we are only recently starting to discover, and which we better start minding as we apply our high-tech paradigm to the planet. Perhaps high technology will be intelligent enough not to disregard them much longer, heeding their warnings, embracing their knowledge and adjusting it to our own, before it is lost forever.
Other cultures, on the other hand, more “advanced” cultures, who have found themselves far behind in the global game, are not so admirable. Their resistance is not born out of an informed and dedicated wish to preserve the earth. It is born out of micro-politics and expedience. They play the game on both sides, resisting the liabilities of the process while claiming all the benefits, their infrastructure and framework deeply embedded in technology, and their entire culture appreciative of it, but their minds dead set on thwarting it by doing things their way, in the name of cultural specificities that prevent them from adapting. Having perhaps given it a shot and discovered that they are not much good at it, or just because they are lousy team players, they throw spanner after spanner in the works, sabotaging the system and citing culture as their get-out-of-jail-free card.
Like the guy at school with the chip on his shoulder, who never showed up on time for the football game, and who always made a scene about being left out…
These people, whoever they may be, have made their choice. They must now live with it, and so must we, finding ways to deal with it. Tutoring, peer pressure, disciplining, enticement, intervention, treatment, rehabilitation, education – all options are on the table, the aim being to curb the damage, set things right and bring the miscreants back into the game, making responsible and reliable players out of them.
It would of course have been easier if they had not taken hadn’t refused to play in the first place, and if they hadn’t been causing problems on a whim, like the guy at school with the chip on his shoulder, who never showed up on time for the football game, and who always made a scene about being left out, despite being late, and who did not respect the rules and fouled others at will, and who quit the game midway, and who sat on the sidelines, heckling everyone. Remember that guy? And the girl he used to date, the one who hated everyone, who never had friends, who always wanted things her way, no matter what? Those are the personalities the world has to deal with when building up its game on the level of nations and organizations, and these are the people causing the problems right now.
On the other hand, not all development is good development. Some of it is self-serving and opportunistic, short-sighted and short-sold, geared to make quick money without regard for the trail of damage it leaves behind. It simply wants to enjoy all the benefits of power and wealth without assuming the responsibilities that come with it. It wants to lead the way into the future for its own personal benefit, without regard for those under its influence. Its players play the game at both ends too, throwing spanner after spanner in the works, citing the free market as their get-out-of-jail-free card.
These high-end saboteurs, like their mirror-image kindred, have also made their choice, and they will have to live with it, and so will we, finding ways to deal with it. It would have been easier if they had not been such jerks from the get go, like the guy who thought he was the hot shot, running the show all the time, rubbing people the wrong way and bullying his way through, taking over the proceedings at will, screwing everything up, spreading a blanket of fear all around him. Remember that guy? And his psychopath girl, who urged him on, eager to see him taunt people, break a few skulls, and make enough noise for the spotlights to turn round and point out how hot she was? Remember her? These are the personalities that guide much of the leadership’s behavior, and these are the people causing trouble again.
There you have it, jerk versus idiot. As simple as that. Convoluted the world may be, but not beyond comprehension. Logic may dictate that we stereotype nobody, but that does not mean we cannot see them for what they are, identifying the fundamental behavior that drives them. Fact of the matter is, not all Big Finance and its players are psychopathic jocks and skanks, but some of them are, and we better trace them out for everyone to see and recognize. Similarly, not all Average Joes are self-indulgent losers, but some of them are, and we better trace them out for everyone to identify. Perhaps it will help us make up our minds as to what is really at fault here and how to act on it.