We live in a world of major threats. Growing inequality and austerity; government for bankers, by bankers; the march towards catastrophic climate change and resource depletion. And then there’s the backdrop of constant, far-away wars. It’s a slow-motion car crash we seem powerless to avoid, despite small victories such as Greece’s No vote yesterday.
But there’s a good reason why our political and economic system is failing to address these threats. It’s the same reason why we are increasingly oppressed by our own governments. And that is: our political and economic system is psychopathic.
What’s more, it will kill us if we don’t challenge it. And if we are going to challenge it, we must look beyond traditional forms of political campaigning and protest, which are little more than expressions of futile rage and have little effect.
This is not, however, a narrative of despair. If grassroots campaigns are really to make any difference across the range of critical issues, they must be smarter, more targeted and must explicitly seek to use economic power as leverage.
Ordinary people have much more power than they think, they just don’t see it, or are scared of using it – as I argue in my book, Psychopath Economics, before going on to outline some methods by which, I believe, could be more effective. Unlike a lot of writers, I don’t see the point of providing a critique of power without also offering ideas on how to change it.
The purpose of this article is to promote the book and the issues around the need to take power back from the elite. To summarise the book’s main points:
- Economic power is inherently psychopathic. It actively creates victims and blames them for being its victims.
- Elites relentlessly take more wealth and power. Today’s ‘One Percent’ owns half of all global wealth, but still wants more and doesn’t care if getting it means starving everyone else and destroying the planet.
- The elite is seeking to neutralise all democratic alternatives to corporate power, by shrinking or subordinating the state – hence the widespread adoption of austerity and the secret negotiations on TPP and TTIP.
- The elite wants to make societies completely dependant on corporations as the providers for all human need. If successful, they will enslave our economies.
- Economic growth:
- Economic growth is sold to ordinary people as a promise of greater prosperity that has not been delivered for decades. Ordinary people are constantly exhorted to work harder to achieve it, but economic growth largely benefits only the elite.
- Growth is increasingly a function of economic control, and one that’s environmentally unsustainable. The elite would rather shrink the population, destroy the planet and enforce its control than concede any power.
- The gulf gets wider:
- Forget the trickle-down effect, it doesn’t exist – thanks in large part to a system in which money is created as debt by commercial banks.
- The wealth pouring up to the elite more than outweighs any downward redistribution by the state and progressively empties the real economy of vitality and jobs. Ordinary people are encouraged to make up the difference by taking on ever more debt.
- By definition, for every pound or dollar of net wealth, there’s an equivalent net debt held elsewhere. Getting rich means pushing someone else into debt. In this way, the elite’s wealth is bought at the direct cost of everyone else’s indebtedness, a gulf that interest payments, tax breaks, incentives and bailouts widens.
- Unequal capitalist economies are less efficient and create less happy societies.
- Catastrophe, here we come…
- We are being driven on a path of unsustainable consumption that relies on the exploitation of human and natural capital beyond their breaking point. Exponential growth rates mean resource depletion and catastrophic climate change will be with us in just a decade or so.
- Humanity has been here before. Elites, their belief systems and psychopathic exercise of power are major drivers of the rise and fall of societies. Only, this time, our civilisation is global. The victims of collapse will have no escape.
Taking back power
- Challenging the system: There are risks to challenging the system, but overwhelming evidence suggests that failing to do so will simply guarantee our own destruction. Psychopathic power concedes nothing without a genuine threat, so traditional forms of political campaigning and protest, though important, will make little difference on their own. Instead, we need:
- More imaginative and disruptive campaigns explicitly designed to leverage change by threatening to degrade, devalue or negate the elite’s assets.
- More targeted campaigns against corporations, brands and organisations most closely connected with human exploitation, environmental destruction, corruption and lobbying.
- A more explicit agenda that redefines and promotes what business is actually for.
- Campaign via the political system to:
- Reinstitute downward redistribution of wealth while politicising debt. Capitalism works best when wealth is widely distributed. It makes societies happier, too.
- Replace ‘debt-money’ with sovereign money that is democratically controlled in the interests of society, not of a parasitic banking sector.
- Redefine debt-money as illegitimate or odious as a precursor to a campaign of debt cancellation.
- Attack the moral and economic rationale for debt, which always grows beyond an economy’s ability to pay. Enforcing unpayable debts unnecessarily foists misery on ordinary people – just look at Greece.
- Ensure risks emanating from the corporate and financial sector should remain there. Corporate risks should not be nationalised or underwritten by taxpayers. And, where they are, they should be subject to clear repayment criteria.
- Direct action:
- Directly attack the rationale of debt – including its moral, economic and legal framework – as part of the wider campaign for cancellation. Debt strikes have the potential to destabilise an already vulnerable financial system. And where there’s vulnerability, there’s leverage.
- Directly campaign for tax strikes as a counterweight to corporate lobbying power. No tax without representation; no representation without tax.
- Threaten and launch class actions against governments and corporations engaged in exploitative practices and failure to address climate change.
- Anti-branding and ‘brandalism’ – campaigns that ‘vandalise’ brands so as to reverse the ever-increasing corporate control of public mindshare through marketing and advertising.
- Publicise and democratise short-selling campaigns through the stock markets that target specific corporations and degrade the value of their assets.
- ‘Disintermediate’ the corporate press, financial system and captured states by promoting a diverse media, non-debt digital money (such as bitcoin) and peer-to-peer technologies.
Fear is a major factor that inhibits grassroots movements for change, but whatever the risks might be, all the evidence suggests that the risks associated with doing nothing are much greater and more urgent.
One of the first lines of argument we will hear if any grassroots campaign does begin is how it will threaten to destroy the economic system. But history suggests otherwise and, in any case, the elite is as likely to crash the system itself to keep the wealth and power it already has.
Psychopath Economics comes in four parts. The first, The Bull & The Bewildered Herd, describes the book’s overall arguments before critiquing mainstream economics as a service industry that specialises in selling ideas and concealing basic truths behind a veil of science.
I’m not particularly into the salesman thing, but the book has been published by Smashwords and so, if you like its message, you can promote it as an affiliate and obtain a commission on each copy sold via a link on your Facebook page or website.
Meanwhile, if anyone out there is interested in collaborating with me, or would like me to give a presentation or talk on the issues contained in the book, then please drop me a line via the details below.
Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Author profile at Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/peterbatt
Psychopath Economics Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/psychopatheconomics
Psychopath Economics blog at http://psychopatheconomics.com