On Dependency: How The Free Market Chains Society
Just wanted to say thanks. There’s a phrase that seems paradoxical. The “just” makes it, the giving thanks, seem small. Gratitude always seems tricky to express properly. If you over-do it you sound like you’re more into the aggrandising, or pageantry than the quiet act of giving thanks to someone.
Therein lies the difficulty — I need to thank a bunch of people. So, rather than trip up, I’ll get to to point. “Thank you” isn’t enough, it won’t cut it. I need to talk about dependency.
Dependency gets a bad rap. If you’re dependent on people, it infers you can’t look after yourself. In this society, not being able to look after yourself is tantamount to heresy. We’ve come out of the eighties with a hang-up, so engrained in us by Thatcher/Reagan ideals — and a giant decade long coke-binge- that we’re only now reckoning with it, only waking up to our skewed judgments of the past.
We’ve come to think of the individual, of individuality itself as alluring, or somehow the pinnacle of selfhood.
If you can’t make it alone, you’re a burden.
This is inherently silly. But, there’s reasons for why this silliness has stuck around in our cultural net, where we keep left over phrases and sentiments, that no-one took the time to test their validity — like cheese gives you nightmares, and dogs can’t look up.
Thatcher once said “society doesn’t exist” having being strongly influenced by the philosophy of Ayn Rand who fetishised the free market, and hated the idea of community to such an extent she’s become cartoonish as a component of libertarianism in recent years.
She was silly. But, there’s reasons why she’s stuck around too, being championed by US Congressmen as the perfect citation for defunding everything state apart from police, because … reasons.
Ever see “It’s A Wonderful Life”? Well, Ayn Rand is Mr Potter. That wheelchair bound, elderly villain who slowly took over the town and tried to squeeze it for every penny, so eventually it’d turn into slums.
Our hero, a young, immensely handsome and affable Jimmy Stewart, attempts suicide for a life insurance payout so his family wouldn’t be left in the lurch — after money (stolen by Potter) goes missing.
In the end, the whole town comes together to pitch in and save Jimmy Stewart, and they all sing Auld Lang Syne, and there’s not a tearless eye left in the room.
Apart from Ayn Rand, who’s evidently spinning in her grave.
The problem is this movie came out 40 years before Thatcherism, so Mr Potter got the last laugh. The other problem is Thatcher, Ayn Rand and Reagan are completely right.
The free market doesn’t allow for society.
The free market by definition, is cold, uncaring, and, paradoxically, anything but free.
It means, pay, and you’ll be okay.
Can’t pay, you’re fucked.
The free market has no economic safety nets, it has no better angels jumping ahead of Jimmy Stewart into that near-frozen river to save his life.
The free market does not self reflect.
It is an entity onto itself.
Look at the world now.
We have billionaires literally shooting themselves through phallic shaped rockets into space, while the world is literally boiling, on flames, or fighting off the floods. This is the embodiment of individuality, run amok, fetishised to the point of parody, with enough phallic imagery to make Freud blush. This is what happens when the free market is allowed meet its desired end-point. Empathy loosens its grip, and unbridled egos ascend into orbit.
If you call yourself a person who strives for a global law that’s enforceable, you’re labeled as a pawn of the new world order, someone who wants to see freedoms and States dissolve and a world tyranny rise to torment us.
This, again, is incredibly silly.
We as a world, are made up of small communities who are wholly dependent on each other.
This is how it’s always been, and always will be.
The sick need the caring.
The hungry need the growers.
The business need its workers.
The curious need their teachers.
The lost need the way.
Self-actualising, without anyone else there to help, is a myth.
Even Buddha when he left his kingdom, only realised the vapid nature of his wealth by seeing the abundance of poor left for dead on the streets of India.
Without putting himself among them, without going without, he wouldn’t have found whatever it is that lies behind the veil of suffering, that we call enlightenment, that was reported in his eyes until his death.
Whatever it is that Buddha found out under that fig tree, when trying not to think, whatever we call a higher truth, it wouldn’t have occurred without facing the poor and putting himself in their place.
Buddha was dependent on the poor, just as Bezos, just a Zuckerberg, just as that English guy with the creepy smile who owns all those Islands and was once on Friends needs the poor.
They are wholly dependant.
But, greed is a very strangely impulsive, guarding emotive state.
Rather than face the strain of guilt and suffering that should go with having and not giving back — greed acts as a defensive wall, that builds up within the mind, that says in a whisper:
“They only need to work harder, you made it alone, so can they. Let it go.”
This, is the same voice that Margaret Thatcher heard, thinking it a remnant of her father the Green Grocer, “the self-made man”.
This, is the same voice Ronald Reagan heard, as he was hired as an actor by General Motors to travel town, by town, talking about the evils of government, and how better the world would be if General Motors would have no restrictions.
“Surely, by now, we should have flying cars, right? It’s the damn government holding us back, of course!”
Reagan and Thatcher were duped by the spoils of war.
Yes, the fifties, where they grew their ideals and spent their 30s and 40s, Thatcher and Reagan respectively, were a time of thriving, as our world bounced back from the ravishes of war. The decades after the war were significantly better off, precisely because war had helped boost expansion in every conceivable corner of innovation.
Scientists, with the advent of the the Bomb, had uncovered a whole new area of technology: nuclear energy. Now, society could hock microwaves!
The computer emerged from this war. And every man had a wedge in his pocket from military service.
So, every family now had money, and since science had been so revolutionary, a burst of new products to buy. And new places to work. The war caused a giant global economic boom. War bonds, which households were asked to buy to fund the war — matured and became good financial investments during the 50s. This and a whole mess of other war related pumping of resources to the common man after the war, made for a boom in many world economies, unprecedented, together with incredibly low unemployment.
Of course, you could always pop to the green grocers and pick up some fresh fruit off Mr Thatcher, unemployment was practically non-existent.
This is the world Ms Thatcher and Reagan grew up within. And this world was inherently a false representation of the free market, which rather than being stable, was artificially propped up by arguably the most surreal event in world history, the greatest war in history.
It’s only when the eventual, inevitable recession took place in the late seventies that natural economics regained its hold over the masses. But, rather than prop up their communities, the same people who enjoyed confectional childhoods, an economy boosted by the the spoils of war, those children took their mis-guiding conceptions of economics to the political arena.
Thatcher regaled everyone with stories about how her green grocer father inspired her, that she came from nothing and so could you. Reagan spouted the same rhetoric.
And neither, for a second, honestly considered that what they spouted was based on a conceit.
Truly, they hadn’t faced a day of truly free, devoid of state influence, market their entire lives. The state sponsored war made their childhoods one free of unemployment, with jobs abundant, and chances to succeed in many different areas not only possible, but probable — with state funded universities, or minuscule fees that could easily be met with part time employment (readily available).
These same people, unaware of their blind-spot, assumed that the State’s influence was a hindrance and so went about taking it out of society, defunding mental health services, stopping mining, and reducing tax.
We are still reeling in the world they created, in the politics they made way for, what is called Neo-Liberalism.
They did bring about a “free market” where governments have little power over corporations, and the gap between the poor and rich grows like a black fungus.
There is no means to stop it. We have taken the rails out from under our train. We’ve privatised or defunded the bodies who oversee.
No one is looking. No one can even hazard a guess how we got here, as no one was paid enough to pay attention.
But, it is not too late, we just need to realise: we are a society. We are wholly dependent on each other. We need to restrain the market.
Call it socialism. Call it society. We exist.
And we are wholly, unashamedly dependent.
Just like Thatcher. Just like Reagan. Just like every human who ever lived, or will live.
Be proud of your cry for help.
It’s the first sound you ever made, don’t let them blindside you that this is tantamount to original sin.
Thanks for your help.
Thanks for reading.