WWII Legacy of Hope
Last night, without realizing it, my father handed me a crucial bit of information, an essential piece of the modern puzzle about the state of humanity. “This is much worse than during WWII”, he said, facing me with his usual red-eyed, tired look. “During the war it was really bad”, he pronounced, hunching over dinner, “but we had hope. Hope for the end of the war, we looked forward to the end, to reconstruction, we believed in the future. Now, there’s no hope left. It’s much, much worse”.
In 1945 he was an Italian boy of only 12. So many years later we were both standing on the same balcony of our home in Rome, and he recounted a few events he witnessed back then.
Pointing to a place across the square, he directed me to look towards the spot where he saw a partisan shooting at Germans while hiding behind an ancient Roman wall next to our terrace, until the man quickly changed his clothes and abandoned his weapon behind a corner, to mix with the general population, as the bewildered soldiers came up the street, during the hectic days that preceded the arrival of the allied armies. Dad pointed to the modern day parking lot, the bank, the gas station and told me where he himself was hiding, witnessing, before the gas station, before the bank, before the hundreds of parked cars came into being. At that moment I floated above my own history, and connected with the small boy hiding while witnessing historical events, while his dreams of a better world to come where about to flourish in post-war Italy.
As I identified with him, the modern image of the city was transformed under my eyes forever, and the reality which I had grown up in, dropping water balloons from that same balcony and playing tricks on passersby during my blessed childhood, expanded to encompass another city, bigger dreams, other childhoods of which mine was a heir and a continuation towards ever better days. I understood and shared in his hope, felt his legacy, and because of that understanding I’ve forgiven him the mistakes of his generation, just like I forgive today the naivete’ of those who, prey of appearances, are uprising only to embrace a system built to create scarcity and misery for the majority. Most of all, perhaps, because I understood my own naivete’, I have come to forgive myself and the world over, and moved on to understand how the energy released from resentment and disappointment can be used to transform the old visions into new ones.
Outward colonizers, Inwardly colonized.
Reformulating hope after witnessing the failure of our old dreams is not that easy. What my father said is true. I feel hopeless like him, and believe that it’s never been so bad,material possessions notwithstanding, and I find that I am unable to pass on the same burning torch of passion which I’ve carried and kindled for most of my life.
I am scrambling, on and mainly off this blog, to find a new form of hope to hand over to my children, to find appropriate motivation, something which we can look forward to together that’s not based on obsolete and decrepit stories, but I struggle to find enough trust in myself, and enough resonance in the mainstream culture around me.
Hope is traditionally only lost by colonized and conquered cultures. They lose hope, wither and disappear within the breath a few of generations. They never truly assimilate. In time, if some survive by kindling their own coals, they may regain identity, then hope then freedom, but they never assimilate into the values of the conqueror.
Traditionally, we industrialized nations have been the colonizers. Marching about the globe our ideals have conquered, pillaged and raped, and when that went out of fashion we got others to do it surreptitiously for us, and if that was too obvious, we attempted conquer through sanctions, isolation, aggressive propaganda, covert means of bringing about regime change. All ostensibly in the name of spreading our religion of submission to our values, the equally manipulated ideas of “Godly forces” or “Market forces”, our sanctimonious, propagandist point of view that – so we are told over and over and over – will bring about freedom and welfare for all, the continuation of the legacy of hope, the maturation of so many heroic struggles, like WWII.
So it is well worth nothing that today we, the colonizers, have fundamentally lost hope in the future and are behaving like a colonized nation. There are lessons to be learned from this apparent contradiction, the surprising hopelessness of the winners, lessons from which our very survival as a species may depend.
We have it better than ever, so we are told, we possess more, hence any complaint about quality of life is unjustified. That is, for example, what keeps Americans from taking to the street: the propaganda message – repeated ad nauseam through the official channels, that the poor of today possess more of the poor of yesterday, as well as much more than the poor of other nations, and that therefore not only complaining is a sign of weakness, of being literally spoiled, but it is also dangerous because – so the propaganda goes – unrest may catapult the poor to even poorer status lest the rich stop funding the poor through allowing them to work…
In countries which equates quality of life with material possession, and thus collectively display the mental prowess of a 5 year olds, that broadcast rhetoric has worked wonders. Americans make less money than 30 years ago, and to cope had to resort to two jobs, women had to abandon their children and go to work leaving increasingly stressed kids without the support of an extended family nor of fathers, and in the end they all had to resort to soaring debt which finally, once they collapsed and defaulted, still earned them the “spoiled” nickname – people who spent more than they earned (no matter that the same quality goods got exceedingly more expensive over time) – except that now they were enslaved by debt, tagged as spoiled anyhow, penniless and property less.
No wonder they lost hope. They gave it their best, and are still called losers by the loudspeakers of the mainstream society, with their neighbors keeping their head low and their mouth shut in fear of being humiliated and singled out as pariah themselves.
The lack of hope is one of the indicators of colonization, in this case a colonization of the mind.
“The greatest colonization is the colonization of the mind. In the initial stages of colonization, the conquered people are enslaved and controlled with the force of arms. The weakness of this form of colonization is that the colonized people can rise up in revolution and send the colonizer packing, permanently. This colonization is transient. However, the colonizer has other weapons in his arsenal and these are used to colonize the minds of the conquered people, since colonization of the mind has more permanency.” (Mental Colonization)
“Normalization is the colonization of the mind, whereby the oppressed subject comes to believe that the oppressor’s reality is the only “normal” reality that must be subscribed to, and that the oppression is a fact of life that must be coped with.” (Colonization of the Mind: Normalize This!)
We are shown a reflection of ourselves on the media, an idealized, hollowed-out image of a man whose external attributes of success are an automatic reflection of his inner evolution, a soulful evolution which is hinted at but never explored because in reality there’s none there. That’s modern man, a man of appearance, a caricature, a straw man which we are told through repetition and positive image association, we should all aspire to be a version of.
The loss of hope is a sign that we believe ourselves to be outcast, in the minority, and powerless. Even though statistics tell us we are indeed the majority, under threat of violence or humiliation we lower our heads and accept a tiny minority to exploit us in exchange of cheap gadgets, poisoned food, water, and unhealthy children.
Are we failures or dissidents?
It is important then to understand whether or not the loss of hope happens because we understand at a fundamental level that we will never be able to be Old Spice man, or because we actually do not want to be like him, and unconsciously believe “the better world our heart knows is possible”, as Charles Eisenstein puts it, cannot be achieved within the paradigm offered by our colonizers.
That is a very important question for everyone to answer, and a superficial answer won’t do. Superficially, every colonizer’s propaganda will deliver freedom, justice, harmony, and happiness. Therefore, superficially, Old Spice man is a perfectly good role model as the propaganda associates him with our innermost values.
That association however, and the loss of hope that in apparent contradiction derives from it, I argue is a window to understanding a lot of what is going on, and possibly one more crack in the wall that keeps us bound to an old story.
Loss of hope comes from lack of trust in one’s ideals and aspirations, and the belief that the conditions to find new hope, a new story, are not present, nor will ever be. So there are two possibilities here to understand the widespread malaise that’s gripping the first world, the industrialized nations:
1 – We love the materialistic ideals and aspirations offered by the colonizers, namely those who hoard and control the artificial scarcity that keeps us bound, those who control the official message, but realize they are not achievable by the vast majority of the population and we have come to the realization that no matter how hard we work at it, there’s only one most interesting man in the world and it’s not going to be us.
We are offered the hoarders cart to push, in exchange of the crumbs falling off the riders banquet. We are also told that one needs to have a cart to get anywhere, that’s what progress is, and the only way to get on it, for those who are not born there, is to push it, but also that ours is a privileged position, because as we can clearly see there are others who pave the road upon which we ourselves push the cart. The child labor, the exploited, the modern world slaves, the homeless, all are pointed out to us in exquisite detail by the mainstream message as our possible future, if we ever stop pushing the cart.
Occasionally, among the better pushers a tiny, infinitesimal fraction is allowed to climb on, through a combination of both luck and uncanny ability to erase one’s personality and substitute it with one that’s as close as possible to Old Spice man, or its many advertised variations. That almost invisible percentage is whisked through the propaganda channels and broadcast to everyone. Lottery winners, contest winners, selected ass kissers and the occasional .0001% who is genuinely talented and lucky do indeed fill up the airwaves, giving the impression of multitude. There’s not many of them, so we see them over and over, we all get to know the names of the few, but they’re sold to us as if they were many, and representative of a place we could all reach. Just push harder, conform more, and you’ll be up here on the cart.
Unfortunately for the colonizers, the pyramid scheme on which the cart trick is based is fast reaching its end, exponentially fast, just like any other pyramid scheme. So it is becoming more and more obvious that things are not working, not getting better, and cheap gadgets are not enough to make us think we should be happier. The cart will never be able to accommodate everyone, it’s built to be pushed by many humans and ridden by a few, and it’s becoming painfully apparent.
Upward mobility was the way to a more bountiful material life, and facts show that not only the top of the cart is closely guarded by just a few family names, but even moving from being asphalt to cart pusher is getting harder and harder.
2 – There is no spiritual, moral, common sense synchronicity between us and our colonizers, and we are unable to see any other world outside of the colony. We do not want to become colonizers of others, we do not want to ride the cart while pushed by many. We’d love to ride, but not at someone else’s expense.
As the mathematically bound death of the exponential growth economy nears, all of the systems associated and driven by it fail as well, and we understand that the system we have accepted into our lives was never in service of “the better world our heart knows is possible”. That world is a universally beneficial world, not a gated community surrounded by police protecting it and the road between it and our equally sheltered work place.
If the system was truly driven to accomplish the welfare of all, there would be an entirely different set of discussions taking place through mainstream society. We would be talking about humans well being, of people over profits, not mainly of how to maintain the welfare of a system generally understood to benefit the few by creating artificial scarcity for the many, an overall perverted pyramid scheme, like its many, smaller and denounced as illegal, competitors. The rules that benefit the few would be questioned and readily dismantled in favor of trying other solutions, if the goal of our representatives was truly to serve the benefit of all.
As it is, we understand that our colonizers are just that – parasites who are careful only not to kill us in order to keep using our lives and the resources of the common land for their own benefit. We understand, and yet we see that the voice of those around us does not speak but in agreement with the oppressor. Our neighbors and colleagues keep their heads low, mumbling maybe, but they are not organizing, they are not discussing alternatives, they are acting as a colonized minority, instead of the vast majority that they really are.
We then feel isolated, divided, powerless, unsure. Not finding others, we believe that we are wrong, that we are fish who cannot climb the tree that we are all asked to climb, and lose our ground, our hope, our trust in our own perspective, we stop believing our heart as capable of delivering happiness.
Each of us needs to find the right answer for themselves. Are we failed Old Spice men understanding that we will never reach the pinnacle of perfection and glossiness that we aspire to, or are we dissidents, colonized free men infinitely much deeper and with more potential than a digitally enhanced poster boy?
In either case, we should understand that together we are the majority, and that the system, whatever our purpose, our final goal in life, has ceased to even pretend to support our goal.
The next step is to understand why the system seems stacked against us, and why we are so afraid of clamoring for change.
Scarcity binds both, failures and dissidents
The potion that dulls us, the curtain over our eyes, is the system of artificial scarcity – the illusion that there is not enough to go around and that therefore we need to fight against each other to gain the favor of the hoarders. In reality, if you understand that you are compensated less than what you produce – so as to allow the hoarders to gain some extra value off your labor – you will start asking questions, and soon will also ask yourself why should you receive less than what you produce, and come face to face with the answer: you are afraid of scarcity, and are willing to trade the illusion of security for quantity, therefore allowing others to exploit your fear by creating scarcity into the system, in a way that you will always be scared, and always willing to trade your labor and freedom for a modicum of security.
So it is essential to understand next whether or not the fear you are basing your entire life on, the fear that has made you accept such a preposterous bargain, and has robbed you of hope as the illusion of security is always seemingly at longer and longer arm’s length from you, the fear of scarcity that is, is real or imaginary.
I posit that the main scarcity we are dealing with today is that of money, that is – artificial scarcity. Further, the artificial generation of scarcity is now being extended past the currency of exchange to actual real and tangible assets, such as water, or through the creation of an artificial scarcity of seeds.
I am still personally stuck in pointing the finger towards greed, but Charles Eisenstein, in his chapter on The Illusion of Scarcity, has a much more enlightened approach, whereas greed appears as a consequence of the illusion of being separate from everything “outside” of us. And possibly greed arises from the illusion of scarcity, engendering hoarding and therefore more illusion of scarcity, which gives rise to more greed/fear, and so on.
Ending the occupation
Once you understand that artificial scarcity is built into the system, and that the majority of the world’s population is essentially in the same bind, the thought that change is indeed more possible than you’re led to believe may arise in you, giving you at least the courage to speak up and find others who think like you. You may at least start to ask the question loudly – why are we supporting a system that is not meant to create the better world our heart knows is possible, a system that dedicates so much of its intellect to make alternatives look foolish and not worthwhile discussing, a system that’s so entrenched and so busy protecting its priests as to be actively and openly working against the majority, through austerity, mass exploitation and destruction of large swaths of environment?
And when the condescending hoarder will smile upon your neighbor, attempting to make her feel small and infantile, explaining to her she is being foolish, that she knows nothing and should just accept his superiority, proven by his greater hoarding abilities while playing a game he’s writing the legal rules of, you will be ready to stand next to her, and with you billions of people will stand, and their children with them.
Then the hoarders will be laughed off, war will be over, and reconstruction, will all of its difficulties, will begin.