Previous article in the series – New World Order: We, The Markets
Note: This was supposed to be the final piece in the mini series, but the topic demands one extra installment, which will follow this one.
In the previous article of New World Order, we closed off with the implication that markets are as real as any beast we have put to work, and more than capable of getting out of hand because of their gravitas. They’re a force to be reckoned with in their own right, even when under complete control.
Of course, they’re not the only ones. There are many other beasts like them, operating among us, systems that exist in their own right, too, grinding away, shaping society, affecting our life, influencing our progress and exacting certain kinds of behavior from us, which helps not only us but also them.
Let’s call these systems organs – a term which we will henceforth use interchangeably with beasts, for the systems we’re talking about are both these things at the same time.
First we have the internet and the telecom/information systems. We know very well what this organ does, how it integrates society through its vast network of connections, enabling instant communication, an exchange of information and a platform for creating new material, concrete or abstract. It’s a tool as much as it is a phenomenon, providing as well as demanding, enabling as well as dictating. From the moment it went live it we felt its presence, alive and kicking, assuming a role in society and causing change in human behavior. It’s nature is dual, can be used for good and bad alike, for progress or repression, for education or propaganda. Most of all, it absorbs individuals and groups into its framework, people whose actions and connectivity drives its growth even further.
We got carried away and learned to reduce ourselves to neurological, electrochemical functions
Then there’s the healthcare, welfare and medical systems. Geared to improve life and care for everyone’s wellbeing, this benevolent beast has grown from a hit-and-miss healing process of arbitrary prayer and herb administration to an advanced, informed system that has, by now, in its own right, assumed a code and ethic of its own, a language and function through which life is determined, perceived and dealt with. Through its presence we were first able to erase the theological notions governing the body’s functions, filling it up with millions of observable, comprehensible and replicable processes, all based on science.
Then we were able to expand on that knowledge and gain unprecedented information on what powers us, what defines us as human beings and living entities. Gradually we got carried away and learned to reduce ourselves to neurological, electrochemical functions, taking out all notions of spirit, intuition, energy, mind power, life force, and other elusive esoteric concepts. Only recently (over the past sixty years) have “mental” and psychological factors gained strong credibility in the process of medicine proper, through fields like psychoneuroimmunology (PNI), making a comeback and adding new dimensions to the over-reductive medical paradigm.
Point is, as a system, as a dogma, as a field and industry in its totality, the health-care medical-pharmaceutical system is a beast which, regardless who’s in charge at any given time, affects the way we deal with life through the deterministic corpus of knowledge it has accumulated over the years.
Corpus. Now there’s a key word, which has everything to do with our systems of accumulated information and knowledge.
The legal and judicial and penal systems, for example, depend on a corpus of knowledge accrued through the ages, centered around law. Their operating subsystems (courts, police, security, prisons, rehabilitation, administration, parliament etc) stem from an array of interrelated corpuses dealing with philosophy, political science, ethics, utility, social issues, civil rights, human rights, economics, trade, international relations, and many more. They dictate the way we function as individuals and groups alike. They serve society as much as they serve the legal system itself, a self-fulfilling mechanism that has us arguing whether the law upholds justice as well as it upholds the legal and judicial systems as such.
All the systems mentioned above are converging, giving rise to the greater meta-human organism
The same goes for the educational systems. Schools in their majority are now teaching materials based on a factory-based, industrial model that clumps and clusters kids according to their age, not ability, testing them along standardized lines that may on the one hand make it easier to extract comparative test results and compare accomplishment across the board, but which on the other hand indoctrinate more than they educate. Through this process, lateral thinking is displaced. The expectation to provide standard answers to standard questions, at least in our younger years, when we’re at our most creative and receptive, sets the tone for later. The batteries of tests given year after year become a means to an end, testing nothing other than kids’ abilities to pass those tests per se, and knowledge takes second place to training. All on account of a corpus of teaching that has slowly morphed into a process of unimaginative education.
Apart from the information and telecom field, all the systems mentioned above are converging, giving rise to the greater meta-human organism. So far they’ve proven fragmented and slow, subject to the varying traditions and cultures in play round the world, kept apart by national barriers. Their function and nature are subject to human needs and aspirations, binding them to the immediate human condition of the individual, and the groups we comprise.
Hence their slow expansion, their laborious evolution, and their inability to grow at rates which truly transcend the human condition.
Information and telecom systems don’t have this restriction. Powered by rapidly evolving technology that knows no limits, the electro-digital matrix grows at a pace unmatched by any other dynamic, setting its own pace and creating a new world order. It has advanced based on human needs, but it’s not restricted or bound by them, not in the way our social systems are. Like markets, it has assumed a life of its own, a self-fulfilling, self-perpetuating agency that transcends the atomic human, assembling an infrastructure of high-tech networks that drive and influence the lives of individual people who, in their effort to live out their lives, become incorporated into them, enabling them to function.
Thus we see that a corpus isn’t restricted to a system of knowledge. It also represents the infrastructure created by a system, tangible and real, and very engaging. When we say that we’ve “become incorporated”, it means we’ve become part of a greater body. We hear the term a lot these days, experiencing first hand, or by proxy, the incorporation of smaller businesses and individual entrepreneurs into corporations, sometimes at their benefit, other times at a price. But the process of incorporation is not limited to corporate capitalism, nor is it strictly money-driven. It’s the process through which humans create society and civilization. It takes place in every field and sector that are substantial enough to grow into an organized, elaborate system, and has been doing so for thousands of years, and will be doing so forevermore, absorbing people by default. Because that’s how life functions, building layer upon layer upon layer. Because all bodies of knowledge and all organizations act in their own interests. Corporations are no exception.
Corporations are entities, agencies, beasts and organs with a function and presence of their own, unnervingly sentient
Which brings us to the controversial adage that corporations are people. We may not want them to be, we may think it’s wrong to regard them as such, but the truth of the matter is – the real, gritty, ontologically-based, philosophically-driven, developmentally-bound truth is that they’re people; not so much “people” as entities, agencies, beasts and organs with a function and presence of their own, with a definite agenda – and influential self-determination – regardless of the humans that drive them. They’re a higher form of organization that operates through the instruction of people, but isn’t defined by them, not totally. They exact things they were made to exact, creating situations that serve their expansion, and this makes them unnervingly sentient.
If we don’t like them, our corporations – and all such organizations and dogmas that have incorporated us into their operations – we have two options. One is to occupy and destroy them in order to rid the field of them and return to a state of existence in which we’re the only real organization around (save nature – which we’re trying to incapacitate too – or is it our beasts and organs that are doing it through us?) and reign supreme and unchallenged, blissful and ignorant, like proper troglodytes.
Great idea, romantic even, but not realistic. Nature’s incorporation by humanity aside, which we can ill afford as long as we remain a chiefly biological species, we can’t afford the demolition of all organization. It would be a catastrophe of biblical proportions. Individuals can’t cut the mustard anymore, not alone, as atomic entities, not all the time, and certainly not across the board. We need to get organized to have an effect nowadays, now more than ever, on account of the knowledge we wield and the potential we’ve unleashed. The stakes are too high, the game too advanced, and we need sophisticated tools to operate on current levels, let alone advance. To be able to advance, we need the inspiration of key individuals to pave the way and power our dreams, but we need this to happen in conjunction with the support of greater organized systems that are able to such dreams forth and make things happen on a high-tech, informed level versus a bucolic one.
This leads us to the second, more realistic option: play the game we ourselves have started and create organizations that exact better things than what the existing organizations are exacting right now. Let’s raise the stakes and assemble organs that are more attuned to an environment that supports our existence. We’re biological beings after all, and depend on a narrow band of physical conditions to survive. Our new organizations would have to acknowledge this, not just for our sakes, but for theirs, too.
See, we may need the markets to live, but the markets need us to live too. It’s a symbiotic arrangement, which we, as self-conscious beings, can put to good use.
We may need the markets to live, but the markets need us to live too. It’s a symbiotic arrangement
(Technology is another matter. It can exist on its own, creating its own market of resources – at least it may do so when it achieves a technological singularity: a level of organization that’s self-aware, self-sustainable and beyond the scope of the human mind. It may do so with the help of humans powering its synapses and connections, rendering us the ghosts in the machine, or it may do it through superconducting silicon power alone, all by itself and human-free. A technological singularity is theoretically capable of anything. But that’s another story.)
To establish new organ-izations that will help us expand our scope and reach, we need them to compete with the existing ones. Today’s systems will have to be challenged, confronted, and survived. Either reform them and put them to good use, or beat them and drive them out of the game.
If we don’t, if we let them run amok – as they are right now – and march to the tunes of their agendas and powering their machines, we might as well admit defeat. Beaten by our own beasts and thrown aside like pathetic farmers who, eager as they were to set up shop, proved incapable of managing their affairs.
Someone wrote a novel about this kind of development once, chronicling the rise of beast on beast. He called it Animal Farm. It was a most poignant book, politically-informed and scathingly applicable to human affairs. Orwell’s vision of the organic, beastly nature of systemic and incorporated revolution may soon prove alarmingly prophetic on a wider ontological level. The beasts we have to worry about are none other than our systems, which have a life and agency of their own. If we’re serious about progress, let’s come to terms with reality and find ways to tame these beasts before they absorb us in their framework for good (or maybe even not so good).