So much of what we need to do is an exploration of the obvious. Enormity assails us with great predicaments. They should be obvious. We can only miss seeing them with great effort. Yet, they remain hidden in plain sight. How we see wealth is no exception.
Civilization holds at its core a promise that accumulation will bring us a better life. Debatable from the start, this belief has persisted. One reason we haven’t explored may be that accumulation brings with it a self-perpetuating befuddlement. The richer we are the less contact we have with the consequences of our actions. The easier it is to disregard our needs for direct engagement. The easier it is to shuffle-off into an undead existence, caught within our projections and illusions. This has become a selling point. Being rich, we are told, we don’t need anything or anyone. We can have it all.
Why does wealth seem to have the same effect on the poor?
The poor are involved in wealth. Our impoverishment, after all, generates wealth’s illusions.
An aggregation and accumulation of relative prosperity, wealth is achieved at the cost of the earth’s viability. Wealth only appears to be an improvement to those who go about its business, looking down the slope of poverty at those more obviously impoverished. Relishing in relatively easier circumstances, as they are draped in the luxury of cushioned illusions.
But, we are all subject to wealth’s distorting effects. This will go on so long as someone is convinced they will profit from our general impoverishment.
The wealthy make themselves stupid.
Accumulating at the expense of everyone and everything, they make all of us stupid.
An indoctrination engine is at work. The only way to maintain the fiction that it is possible to avoid consequences is to infect everyone with the belief that consequences do not exist, or, at least, that they do not matter.
This is easy for the wealthy. Cocooned, everything in such a life bolsters illusion.
Poverty is a basic stripping away of the means to achieve a successful engagement with life, as the accumulation benefiting others destroys possibilities.
For the poor, every situation carries immediate danger. Life is harsh. It can so easily be taken away. One of two remaining “profit-centers” are prisons and arms dealing. Both require the poor as their fodder.
For the poor, consequences are unavoidable. Delusion must be manufactured.
This has been the task of every leader since the first surplus was declared. Today, so much of the “work” of civilization is to negate this imbalance of delusion. There is a pressing “need” for the invention of new ways to misdirect and enthrall the poor. When that fails, ever more draconian measures trample whoever evades the psychological net.
The illusion of “quality,” that quality is conferred by wealth, has become harder and harder to maintain. In this “Gilded Age” there has been a great erosion of any real qualitative difference between wealth and poverty. All our opportunities for spiritual or material quality have eroded. Today’s wealthy may be the most miserable rich we have ever known. The squalor of their dysfunction amid faux-luxury and very real precarity rivals that of any previous feudal dark age. Before this one.
Wealth has provided meaningful leverage in the past. Before its effects were global, it was possible to buy an opportunity to live “well” – In a Marcus Aurelian sense. It was possible to appreciate, as well as accumulate, objects of actual worth. To live surrounded by quality. This is no longer the case.
This should make it easier to resist wealth’s delusions, they no longer pay.
Accumulating abstracted markers of wealth brings fewer actual rewards. One might expect the grip of delusion to weaken. Instead it grows stronger. Why?
The manufacture of stupidity has been so effective. It gathers us all in its folds. Carrying us into oblivion, overtaken by cascading consequences.
Those who should know better, have fallen for their own propaganda. The rest of us are either swept up in the drama, or caught between a prison-without-walls and our helplessness in facing consequences bearing down on us from all sides.
Wealth has seduced us with the lie that every action does not affect everything and everyone.
Wealth insists truth can be avoided.
Its greatest weapon?