"All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie." ~Bob Dylan
"All that we see or seem, is but a dream within a dream." ~Edgar Allan Poe
The following observation is attributed to an 18th century British historian, but the actual genealogy of the quote is a bit sketchy. Regardless, the wisdom suits my purposes:
The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, those nations always progressed through the following sequences: from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence; from dependence back into bondage...
I realize that there are imperfections in the formula. In all actuality, it seems that every civilization maintains a precarious and compartmentalized balance between all of these manifestations simultaneously. In the post-revolutionary United Sates, at a time when the white male landowner was enjoying the "Golden Age of liberty", his African brother was being sold into bondage and stripped of all humanity. His wives and daughters, too, were made mute in matters of politics -- religious and social mores encouraged their docile submission.
But because we love our illusions, there was freedom. Because of the sacrifice of the revolutionary, we have inherited this freedom. Say it aloud. Lie to me.
Though society as a whole may have tendencies and characteristics that favor individual freedom, liberty is mostly a matter of perspective. To the oligarch, the wealthy ruler, liberty has always existed. There are no restraints and conditions. The objective of life is to indulge the self and temper the intellect with the esoteric knowledge of secret orders and fraternities. Occult thinkers, writers, artists and historians -- explorers of the deeper mysteries of life and metaphysics -- these are the lauded figureheads whose works are horded and made cryptic by rulers and their scholars. And while the masses pray for a better life, the elite seek to become the gods to which we pray.
Makers of law. Captains of industry. Noble bloodlines. Divine Right.
-- Gods of Celebrity and Distraction, deliver us from evil.
Of course, the oligarchs do not need a savior. They are not waiting for rapture or deliverance from the drudgery of life and the tedium of obligation. They may run around in the woods debauching and worshipping stone owls and other secret gods of their mystery schools, but they are not so limited by the framework of existence that deliverance is the objective of a life well spent. Living is.
Slaves need religion in order to make their bondage bearable. Elitists need civilizations and institutions in order to siphon the power and wealth of the fluoridated masses.
Many of us see civilization and social order as one of mankind's crowning achievements. It was designed as an escape from the barbarism of nature's law, an improvement upon the tribe and village whose resources were often limited and whose power inadequate against the larger, more dominant tribes.
As philosopher and pragmatic materialist Thomas Hobbes noted in his epic treatise on government, the transition into civilization was to prevent man's perpetual war against man -- in the state of nature, everyone has an equal claim on everything and power and force underlie man's life and determine his stake. Ultimately Hobbes argues for a strong central authority as a means to maintaining peace and harmony among men, to escape this constant warfare.
While Mr. Hobbes was far more brilliant than I will ever be, his argument loses its pragmatic appeal the moment he begins to lobby for such authority. To Hobbes (and to both modern political parties as well) the individual cannot even exist until the Leviathan emerges. Without the state and the authority of rulership, an individual is meaningless. He can't exist. The state of nature negates the development of the individual. It is only the safety of the Leviathan that offers man the stability needed to actualize. Of course, this complex line of reasoning has its merits, but seeing as though it was argued at a time when Copernicus was still revolutionary, there may be room to criticize.
Four hundred years after Hobbes, what is civilization really? What has the Leviathan become? What are its accomplishments? What has it done? How has it worked to help the human individual achieve happiness and harmony? -- Surely it has given us more than three dollar gas. Micro-regulation. Disintegrating families and community. Increasingly severe limitations on freedom. Taxation. Inflation.
All of this so that we can have a "free" society? One that is constantly at war with other factions, one that incarcerates a larger percentage of its people than any other nation on earth (a higher percentage than Iran, China, and Russia). One in which a ruling establishment of bankers along with government and corporate elitists rape and pillage the wealth of future generations. How is this superior to a state of nature? Air conditioning and grocery stores? Traffic?
Civilization has become (and probably always has been) a construct of the oligarchical establishment, a creation of elitists who have infiltrated (if not founded) every important institution known to man -- calibrating each for the advancement of their own fraternal order. We are all fools if we consider it otherwise. But in the world in which we live, Obama is wisdom and rhetoric such as this is on the tattered fringes -- on the edge of the fringe -- storing food and ammunition -- waiting with tin-foil hats and HAM radios for the FEMA camps to open.
Frederick Douglass once asserted that if you want to know the exact measure of the injustice people will suffer, discover to which oppressions they will "quietly submit". This principal is taken to heart and applied readily by the ruling oligarchs -- the "quiet submission" of the masses is ensured by the doctrine of incrementalism. It is behavioral conditioning on a historical, societal scale. This is how B. F. Skinner was able to teach a pigeon to play ping pong. The is how the elite are able to teach serfdom to you and your children. This is the way the world ends. This is how the Leviathan grows.
Obviously, a global scientific dictatorship cannot be born overnight. There would be open revolt and turmoil. It has to put into place over a long enough period of time and to such incremental degrees that the sleeping public hardly notice. Those who do -- those who recognize the difference between liberty and encroaching tyranny -- are easily silenced or marginalized. This is how traffic cameras become military surveillance blimps and GPS-tagged front doors. This is how police go from Andy Griffith to paramilitary roid-ragers. This is how the New Deal becomes government operated health-care and car dealerships. This is the way that all liberty dies. Small steps. Not with a bang but a whimper.
(Police: Then and Now)
In order for the Leviathan to grow, in order for civilization to "advance", self-reliance must be sacrificed, as does individual liberty. It presents itself as a cruel irony that mankind fled the "state of nature", where constant struggle bred constant fear, in order to embrace the Leviathan where fear is managed by the state and used as a lever of control. Once we become invested in the machinery of the Leviathan -- its banking institutions, its public services, its regulatory and bureaucratic labyrinth -- we become more easily manipulated by the phantoms of these institutions. Fear allows it to grow.
The more self-reliant the man, the less important the machinery, the less susceptible to the manufactured crises of institutions and nations. The Leviathan has no use for the self-reliant man.
Through control of wealth, commerce, and education, the Leviathan has made the self-reliant man much more difficult to produce. On the other hand, the dependent man flourishes. They are born within our borders and they come from far and wide. A new serfdom has been created. And a mighty chain has been fashioned. We call it democracy. Love it.
But at least you can watch the NFL in high def while being ritualistically gang-raped.
The once mighty dream of America has become government-managed health care, Obama's teleprompter, and carbon enforcement brigades. Perhaps Hobbes was right. So is Obama.
In some ways, and to varying degrees, we each maintain an overinflated sense of importance -- a center-of-the-universe mentality that is monumentally out of proportion considering our relative existence to the unimaginable expanse of the known universe.
We are all equally insignificant when we stare into the night sky and across the starry expanse. The leviathan of universal order makes Hobbes look like a pussy.