Why We Need Authentic Politics and Economics
We are fighting a global cancer of toxic belief.
Our world is run by and for interests that are utterly divorced from real needs. Even the most powerful individuals are still servants to the imaginary interests of concepts, and we are all kept in servitude by our unquestioning allegiance to them. From corporations to nation-states, from laws to institutions, we the people spend our lives enacting desires that truly belong to none of us.
A corporation is not a person, my friend, but it does have its own set of interests. Based on its charter and legal obligations, it has an interest to maximize profit for its shareholders, maintain and expand its market share, and out-compete other companies in its field. The interests of a corporation may tangentially correlate with the interests of the human beings employed at its highest levels, but this correspondence is indirect at best. Corporate interests are corporate interests; they aren’t human interests.
In creating institutions with their own interests, separate from the interests of individual people within them, we create unwieldy and abominably powerful systems, hungry for enacting their own unique will without regard for whether their will is actually good for any living being.
The British monarchy has an interest to preserve itself and its role in society, an interest which is often at odds with the personal needs of its even its own family members, including Elizabeth Windsor herself. A nation state has interest in expanding its power and maintaining its control, regardless of whether the actions taken in service of these goals have negative personal consequences for its citizens or leaders. An individual law enforcement officer may not want to evict a homeless encampment, but may feel obliged to follow orders on behalf of the local police institution. At the extreme, state representatives commit atrocities in the name of “just following orders” to enact a will that doesn’t seem to stem from any actual human’s authentic interest.
To put it plainly: this has to stop. This institutionalization of interest, as though some abstract concept like a corporation or a country were a living, breathing creature in need of love or food, is quite literally killing us all. This is the logic of cancer, not of life.
Against these artificial constructions, no human force can be effectively exerted. You can threaten or imprison a human being who works as a CEO, but you cannot send a corporation to jail. You can go to war or impose sanctions on the human beings living in a country, but you cannot attack the country itself. It’s as absurd a notion as “criminalizing a drug.” You can’t criminalize drugs, only drug-users; you can’t send heroin to jail.
What we’re left with is a world of powerful interests that belong to no living thing. These hulking, amorphous concepts rule our lives and make us, each and all, slaves to their bizarre and unnatural wills. Because these conceptual entities are not human, not natural, not tangible, they cannot be directly overthrown or curtailed.
The only way to win against the power of a concept is to stop believing in it. The way to stop believing in a concept is to stop treating it as a reality, and stop using your own thoughts and actions to uphold the façade that these concepts are real.
If we want to end the violence and depravity in our societies, we must create economic and political systems that allow people to represent their own interests, not confine them to act as representatives of some conceptual entity. We will continue to take actions that harm and exploit people and planet until we have political and economic structures that are built by and for what we actually need, not what some abstract concept requires according to the parameters by which we built it.
We made up corporations and countries. We made up property laws and law enforcement. We made up borders and criminality. So too can we unmake them.
Rather than act to play the role of the representative of a company or government, we must craft systems in which people sit at the negotiation table as themselves. We must act not as CEOs or employees, not as presidents or officers, not as judges or soldiers, but as people. We must live according to the interests we actually, personally have. We must stop wasting our energy preserving roles that are authentic to no one, to enact interests that are needed by no one. Instead, we must lean into the vulnerable, empathetic process of making decisions together, simply as ourselves.
When we do, we find our interests are not so very much in conflict with one another’s. We can respect one another’s autonomy, and negotiate the demarcations authentically, to meet everyone’s authentic needs as best we can. We stop living and dying for allegiance to concepts and ideas that do not themselves think and bleed and feel. We start living instead for ourselves and for each other.
The systems we have are so far from authenticity, but we, ourselves, are closer than ever. As we step into our own authentic wants and needs, the power of our toxic subservience to fake entities begins to fade. As we wield our power, the power of these phantom institutions evaporates.
It will not happen overnight, but invariably, it will happen. These concepts are crumbling, and out of the rubble, we begin to realize: the building blocks we need to build a free and beautiful world lay all around us. When we step out of the role, release our blind obedience to fake interests, we become much better able to meet our needs ourselves, together.
We do it, here and there, every day. At times, we get overwhelmed in concepts and subsumed by the illusion of their power. And then one day, something pulls us out again, and with our heads above this hazy toxic water, we begin to pull others out in turn.
We must stop stacking the odds against ourselves. If we don’t, these phantoms we’ve created will win, and every last one of us will lose.