JR'S Free Thought Pages
The Ersatz Democracy
Capitalism, like all hierarchical systems, is not Democracy but rather a Simulacrum
By JR, July, 2018
Civil government, insofar as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defence of the rich against the poor; and for the defence of those who have property against those who have none – Adam Smith, cited by most capitalists as the founding father of their esteemed elitist ideology of greed and exploitation
There is the multitude, and there are the natural leaders. Wealth, birth and culture mark out the man to whom a community looks to undertake its government. These men have the leisure and the fortune...They are the aristocracy, and the rulers of a country should be taken from among them. – Lord Salisbury, 1894
As the 18th century Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith intimated, those with wealth, property and power have always dominated the hierarchical forms of governance in order to serve their own interests. They write the laws and create the political agents and protective forces of both police  and military to “serve and protect” those interests.
One of the most complicated and wearisome aspects of operating an evil capitalist empire like the United States of America is maintaining the fiction that it doesn’t exist and the enormous volumes of deceit, bullshit and propaganda required to do this. The primary perpetrator of hierarchy and authoritarianism, oppression and violence is the modern capitalist nation state. The state’s involvement in exploitation, manipulation, indoctrination and suppression is its primary function and the instruments of control and repression are many that include the machinations of our fraudulent forms of “democratic” representative governments: the legislature, senate, the judiciary, monarchy, the massive bureaucracy of the civil service, the armed forces and especially the police and their surveillance arms that serve and protect the entrenched entitlements of wealth, power and privilege. The United States is not, and never has been, a democracy. In fact what currently exists is a corporatist oligarchy that is trending toward what American historian Chris Wright calls “an aristocracy of inherited wealth, an aristocracy of inherited wealth, complete with all the ideological and cultural trappings of aristocracy. Our exalted rentiers and their service-providers have the usual attitudes of aristocratic entitlement to all good things in this world (and exclusion of the non-rich), sputtering rage at the occasional prospect of losing a particle of their preferential tax treatment, and the valorization of nepotism as first among the virtues. “The rampant nepotism of the political class fuels the galloping socioeconomic inequality of the twenty-first century.” The main differences between the American aristocracy of today and, say, the French aristocracy of the eighteenth century seem to be that the former has incomparably lower cultural (and architectural) tastes than the latter and is incomparably more destructive of society and the natural environment.”
The instruments of persuasion, propaganda, patriotism, nationalism and deceitful mythologies are the churches, educational systems, the corporate controlled media, including TV, radio and the press and forms of apparent dissent that in reality condition us to accept the status quo - the lame parliamentary opposition parties are the most obvious, but many other adjuncts of the state machinery designed to promote, support and serve conservatism and the capitalist ideology. One cannot leave out the global monetary system and its financial control; the banks and investment conglomerates, the IMF, World Bank, the world’s manipulated stock exchanges, interest rates and money markets, the individual, collective and state bureaucracies, the currency, precious metals and real estate speculators, land ownership and the debt peonage of much of the working classes, poor and other marginalized under-classes. Under capitalism, particularly the globalized corporatist casino monopolist variant called neo-liberalism that currently controls and exploits the world’s people and resources there is no escaping these totalitarian institutions.
Virtually every action you take in running this monstrous state machine must be carefully re-contextualized or otherwise distorted and sanitized for public consumption. As the late George Carlin rightly claimed, “Bullshit is everywhere” and if the masses woke up and stopped believing it, the entire dissolute edifice of predatory capitalism would unravel. Revolution and the overthrow of the entire tyrannical edifice would soon follow. The sociopathic corporations and wealthy oligarchs who own most of the planet and control our corrupt politicians will not relinquish their stranglehold on power without a challenge and sadly, this usually entails, as it has in the past, violent revolution.
It takes dedicated willed ignorance or solipsistic isolation not to notice that every time our corporate sock puppet politicians decide to invade and bomb some brown skinned country into the Stone Age as the United States does with regularity in the “national interest” (read “corporate profit”) it becomes de rigueur to launch a massive propaganda campaign about “defending democracy” and propagate the myth that “our brave troops are fighting and dying for our freedoms”. War, as Major General Smedley Butler argued, is a racket, designed to fatten the bank accounts of the “masters of mankind”, as Adam Smith called them. Today that means the multi-national corporations, larcenous banks, financial institutions and wealthy investor classes.
As a prelude to every sporting event, especially baseball, football, and now hockey, we have to endure the embarrassing childish rituals of standing at attention with shoulders back like trained seals while listening to the nauseating patriotic war-mongering drivel of national anthems and celebration of some military personage, complete with eulogies about courage, salutes and waving flags. The US (and Canadian) military apparently pays these professional teams for the privilege of indoctrinating the credulous rabble into the glory and nobility of imperialist war. But as the title of Major General Smedley Butler’s edifying book informs, “War is a Racket”; it remains a mystery that so many sheeple haven’t come to this seemingly obvious conclusion. [2a]
Wouldn’t open tyranny and despotism be so much simpler than the time, expense and smoke screens of our wealthy conservative corporatist oligarchs and their neo-liberal political masters endlessly promoting and pontificating on the mirage of a democracy? And would it not be more honest, forthright and emotionally gratifying? At least we would not have to delude ourselves into thinking we’re not really just compliant dupes and slaves. Capitalist “democracy” is, for anyone with a functioning brain, a massive swindle and farce.
Ruling an empire like the United States by claiming it is a democracy rather than in reality a despotic oligarchic godlike dictatorship of capital means never having to say you’re sorry. The surveillance state can propagandize and spy on the populace relentlessly, allow the racist militarized police to brutalize and even kill those who are deemed enemies of the state such as the poor, homeless, environmentalists, anti-capitalists, socialists, anarchists, protestors and pacifists. The corporatist state can torture and kill anyone it wants and do so with impunity and quite seamlessly and efficiently with the latest killing technology, the drone. With wanton impunity it will invade, conquer and pillage whichever countries it wants without having to explain or justify the actions to anyone.
Generating the simulacrum democracy is necessary so that most sufficiently delusionary Western citizens can continue to believe in or pretend to believe in this facade so that they are not just merely smooth-functioning lemmings or mindless robots in the capitalist machinery of a murderous global empire managed by a class of obscenely wealthy and powerful psychopathic international elites to whom their lives mean exactly zilch. Wake the fuck up sheeple.
Although extremely expensive and time-consuming, the massive propaganda system, aided and abetted by bribery (referring to this as criminal activity as “lobbying”) corporate marketing, their less than useless news media and sock puppet politicians is essential to maintaining and justifying their obscene wealth, authoritarianism and oligarchy of power.
Having indoctrinated most Westerners into believing they are “free” and not just glorified serfs obsessed with and distracted by superfluous gadgets like smart phones and other weapons of mass distraction, the global capitalist ruling classes have no choice but to maintain their fairy tale narrative. Without the mass of people believing all the bullshit from politicians, business elites, lame stream media and churches, their empire and countless looting vacuum cleaners would split open at the seams. Are people going to wake up before there’s nothing left worth saving, including our vulnerable ecosystems which are under threat from human induced climate change and industrial contamination of soils, oceans, lakes and waterways?
This is the devil’s bargain modern capitalism made as far back in the 18th century. In order to wrestle power from the feudal aristocracies that had dominated the West throughout the Middle Ages, the emerging business classes needed to sell the concept of capitalism as “democracy” to the impoverished masses, who they needed both to overturn the monarchies and theocracies, carry out the miserable wage slave grunt work in running their factories and, in most cases, to fight, be mutilated and die in endless imperialist wars of pillage and profit.
The hogwash about taxes, tariffs, and the unwieldy structure of the feudal system was not the easiest sell to the peasantry. “Liberty”, “equality” and “fraternity” was an easier sell. So “democracy” became their rallying cry, and eventually, the official narrative of capitalism as freedom, but freedom restricted to the exploitation of your neighbour. The global capitalist ruling classes have been stuck with this ersatz capitalist “democracy” ever since, or, more accurately, the simulacrum of democracy.
The purpose of this con job is not to generate fake democracy and pass it off as the genuine article. Its nefarious agenda is to convince people that capitalism is the defining ideology that brings democracy, that capitalism is the true and only valid concept of democracy, the only form in which democracy exists. There is no other conception. Neo-liberalism is the newest mutation of capitalist theology as the alpha male monotheistic gods have been replaced by mammon and the market, the arbiters of all things. Professor Henry Giroux summed it up well as he recently wrote:
The basic elements of this new neoliberal authoritarianism can be seen clearly in the ongoing and ruthless assault on the social state, unions, higher education, workers, students, poor minority youth, and any vestige of the social contract. Free market policies, values, and practices with their emphasis on the privatization of public wealth, the elimination of social protections, and the deregulation of economic activity now shape practically every commanding political and economic institution in both countries. Markets now use their economic and ideological resources to weaponize and militarize all aspects of everyday life, increasingly held in place by a culture of fear, a pedagogy of repression, a banal celebrity culture, game show aesthetics, and a politics of precarity, control, and mass surveillance. A world of shadows, secrecy, and lawlessness now characterizes a deep state that is ruthless in its pursuit of wealth and power and indifferent to its plundering of both humanity and the planet. Terror is all nearly all-encompassing and disguises itself in the normalization of greed, the exaltation of the spectacle of violence, and corporate controlled consumer-soma machine that inoculates the public with an addiction to instant gratification. We don’t see the work camps or death camps that characterized the catastrophes of mid-century totalitarian regimes. But as a generation of black youth can attest, you don’t have to be in jail to feel imprisoned, especially when it is increasingly difficult to take to take control of one’s life and means in a meaningful way.
Perhaps one could convincingly argue that, life under global capitalism is more “democratic” or “just” than under feudal monarchies and theocracies. Capitalism’s form of tyranny and despotism is at least a tad more comfortable and entertaining. We have the freedom, after all, to choose between Coke and Pepsi, $6 coffees from Starbucks or Tim Horton’s or to sleep in a multi-million dollar home or under a viaduct. Both the wealthy capitalist and the homeless person have the freedom and right to live in a cardboard box.
This is as far as our “freedom” goes under the restrictive parameters of capitalism. If you are some sort of alien or mutant who believes in peace and a society of sharing - or happen to be an anti-statist anarchist - you are targeted as an enemy of the corporatist state. The global capitalist ruling classes are never going to allow us to govern ourselves (the sine qua non of real democracy), not in any meaningful way because the general will as JJ Rousseau called it is what real democracy is actually all about. But this conception of a cooperative commonwealth of self-governance is anathema to a corporatist capitalist system of self-interest, monopoly and greed. In fact, since the mid-1970s, they’ve been systematically dismantling the framework of social democracy (capitalism with a human face) throughout the West, and otherwise relentlessly privatizing and deregulating everything at the altar of corporate power. They’ve been carrying out this neo-liberal agenda more slowly in Europe, where social democracy is more entrenched and where people actually exercise their democratic rights by getting pissed off, resisting, getting off their lazy complacent asses and heading for the streets to protest, demonstrate and raise hell. This is what democracy is all about; not merely voting from a list of pre-selected corporate capitalist lackeys in a corporate media orchestrated farcical election. Here is Giroux again:
In spite of their differing perceptions of the architecture of the totalitarian super state and how it exercised power and control over its residents, George Orwell and Aldus Huxley shared a fundamental conviction. They both argued that the established democracies of the West were moving quickly toward an historical moment when they would willingly relinquish the noble promises and ideals of liberal democracy and enter that menacing space where totalitarianism perverts the modern ideals of justice, freedom, and political emancipation. Both believed that Western democracies were devolving into pathological states in which politics was recognized in the interest of death over life and justice. Both were unequivocal in the shared understanding that the future of civilization was on the verge of total domination or what Hannah Arendt called “dark times.”
In light of the election as President of the United States of the narcissistic racist tyrannical clown prince of ignorance Donald Trump, a 21st century version of Benito Mussolini, Antonio Gramsci’s famous quote between the wars during the rise of fascism in Europe has become prescient and germane once again, “The old world is dying and the new world struggles to be born. Now is the time of monsters.”
But let’s get back to the simulacrum of democracy, the purpose of which is to prevent us from perceiving the world as I have briefly outlined above. One line taken by the current corporatist masters of mankind is that how democracy works is, we are all conditioned to believe we are living in these imperfect ersatz democracies, which are inexorably evolving toward the real thing but just haven’t managed to quite get there yet. It’s an ongoing project; we’re working on it; so just trust us. Have faith. Like Jean Baudrillard’s Disneyland, “Western democracy” is presented to us as “imperfect” or “unfinished” (in other words, as a replica of “real democracy”) in order to convince us that there exists such a thing as “real democracy,” which we will achieve … someday...perhaps when Christ returns or hell freezes over.
Why have people rarely accepted the fact that throughout history real democracy has been lacking in every human societal relationship from the personal to the family to the feudalisms, monarchies and theocracies of the past ages to the tyrannical bureaucratic capitalist leviathans we suffer under today?
The problem is we have been systematically inculcated into accepting hierarchical and authoritarian models of human social and political ordering. As Bertrand Russell once sarcastically stated, “A good man is one whose opinions and actions are pleasing to the holders of power”. Russell who was a classical liberal, yet sympathetic to anarchist thought, found this idea repugnant to his innate notions of human freedom and flourishing. But the widespread belief in authority, which includes all belief in government, nation states, leaders, bosses and managerial forms of human association, is irrational and antithetical to our innate propensity to liberty and autonomy that Russell held sacrosanct. The belief in authoritarianism is contrary to what most call civilization and moral independence (even the most axiomatic such as the golden rule) and constitutes the most perilous, destructive superstition that has ever existed. Rather than being a force for order, cooperation and justice, the belief in authority, of which monotheistic religion is one of the most toxic varieties, is the arch-enemy of what it means to be human and is one of the primary reasons why democracy does not, has not and very likely never will exist.
The demented mind of Adolf Hitler, by itself, posed little or no threat to humanity. It was rather the millions of docile credulous, yet otherwise decent people, and especially the conservative institutions such as the churches, military, wealthy landowning elites, and big business that, in order to preserve their traditional entitlements and control looked to Hitler as a strong man who would destroy the emerging people’s social and political movements that threatened their power. This is what actually enabled and facilitated the terror and carnage carried out by his Third Reich.
In the 1960s psychology professor Stanley Milgram conducted several experiments, one of which has become famous. It was designed to determine to what degree ordinary people would inflict pain upon strangers simply because a perceived “authority” figure instructed them to do so. One can learn about the complete description of the experiments and its results read Dr. Milgram’s book, Obedience to Authority.
Subjects were asked to volunteer for what they were told was an experiment testing human memory. Under the supervision of a research scientist (the “authority” figure in this case), one person was strapped into a chair and wired with electrodes, and the other – the actual subject of the study – sat in front of a shock-generating machine. The person operating the machine was told that the goal was to test whether shocking a subject when he gave a wrong answer to a memorization question would affect his ability to remember things. The real objective of the experiment, however, was to test to what degree the person in front of the shock machine would inflict pain on an innocent stranger simply because someone in a position of authority told him to do so. The shocking machine had a series of switches, increasing to a maximum of 450 volts, and the operator was supposed to increase the voltage and administer another shock each time the person gave a wrong answer. In truth, the people on the receiving end of the shock were actors and not really being shocked at all, but at predetermined given voltage levels would scream as if in dire pain, complaining of chest pain and plead with the operator to stop the shocks experiment, at times feigning unconsciousness or death.
The results of the experiment shocked. Milgram. In short, a significant majority of subjects, nearly two out of three, continued through the experiment right to the end, inflicting what they thought to be excruciatingly painful – if not lethal – shocks to a complete stranger, despite the screams of agony, the cries for mercy, even the unconsciousness or death of the alleged victim. Dr. Milgram himself succinctly sums up the conclusion to be reached:
“With numbing regularity good people were seen to knuckle under the demands of authority and perform actions that were callous and severe .... A substantial proportion of people do what they are told to do, irrespective of the content of the act and without limitations of conscience, so long as they perceive that the command comes from a legitimate authority.”
Noteworthy in the experiments was that there was no threat that the person inflicting the shocks would be punished for failure to obey, nor was there any special reward promised for obedience. So the results were not merely demonstrating that an ordinary person might hurt someone else to “save his own neck,” or might hurt someone else if it somehow profited himself. Instead, the results showed that most people will inflict excruciating pain, even death, upon an innocent stranger for no other reason than that he was told to do so by a perceived authority.
This point cannot be over-stated: there is a particular belief that leads basically good people to do bad things, even heinously evil things. Even the atrocities of Hitler’s Third Reich were the result, not of millions of evil people, but of a very small handful of truly evil people who had acquired positions of “authority,” and millions of obedient people who merely did what the perceived authority told them to do. In her book about Hitler’s top bureaucrat, Adolf Eichmann (sometimes called “the Architect of the Holocaust”), author Hannah Arendt used the phrase the banality of evil to refer to the fact that most evil is not the result of personal malice or hatred, but merely the result of blind obedience – individuals giving up their own free wit and judgment in favour of unthinking subservience to an imagined authority.
A very plausible conclusion to this study is this: All systems of authority, political or otherwise, should be avoided at all costs. All hierarchies and authoritarian models of human interaction are not only undemocratic and antithetical to human freedom, they can rarely be legitimized.
The Alarming Phenomenon of Blind Obedience
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” - Upton Sinclair
The effectiveness of the process of indoctrination, particularly in our putative democracies is deeply disturbing. [3a] One can witness credulity and blind obedience when people rise like automatons to sing the national anthems at sporting events, get on their knees to pray and worship a non-existent alpha male deity in church, remove their hats to pay tribute to some sad sack soldier who died “fighting for our freedoms” in some imperialist war of profit and greed or when some politician justifies policy such as building a hydro dam or pipeline as being in “the national interest”.
The alleged aims of education are to teach literacy skills such as reading and composition, basic mathematics, science, history, art, logic and critical thinking. Notwithstanding a few courageous iconoclastic teachers some of us have been privileged enough to have had, the primary objective of our educational institutions, both public and private, is actually to convey and inculcate as a virtue the notion of subservience and blind obedience to authority. For our various institutions of education, including the churches, indoctrination is the name of the game and it continues in the workplace and through the endless message of our corporate masters, government and mass media that serve their interests of wealth, power and the current “masters of mankind” as Adam Smith famously put it.
Hopefully, most students clearly and immediately come to understand that society is hierarchical and that there are two distinct classes of people, masters and slaves, leaders and followers, teachers and students, bosses and workers, rich and poor and above all, winners and losers. Most never come to the seemingly obvious conclusion that the state and its various machinations of control, including the police and military exist to serve and protect the former from the latter.
Schooling in the United States and elsewhere throughout most of the world, was deliberately fashioned after the Prussian system of education which was designed with the express purpose of training people to be obedient tools of the ruling class, docile, compliant and easy to manage and quick to unthinkingly obey and be satisfied with boring work for paltry unliveable wages and especially as cannon fodder for the military and imperialist wars that serve the interests of the prevailing ruling classes. As it was explained by Johann Fichte, one of the designers of the Prussian system, the goal of this method was to fashion the student in such a way that he simply cannot will otherwise than what those in authority want him to will. At the time, the system was openly admitted to be a means of psychologically enslaving the general populace to the will of the ruling elites. And it continues to accomplish exactly that, all over the world, including in Canada, the United States and much of Europe. Most people unfortunately sleepwalk through life like trained seals never questioning anything or even uttering a sceptical, dissenting or original thought.
It’s important to note another psychological study conducted at Stanford University in 1971. A mock prison was set up with dozens of students appointed as mock prisoners and others as mock prison guards. The experiment had to be terminated early, after only six days, because those labelled guards who had been granted authority had become shockingly callous, abusive and sadistic toward their prisoners.
It must be noted that the abuse committed by the guard even surpassed what they were instructed to do by those conducting the study, which was designed to humiliate and degrade the prisoners. This shows that the personal malicious or sadistic tendencies in an individual is a significant contributing factor to such abuse, but that most people openly act out such tendencies only when placed in a position of authority that they believe grants them permission to do so. The same behaviour can be detected in all manner of misuses of power, whether by a sociopathic boss, manager or officious bureaucrat on a power trip, a soldier or police officer who takes pleasure in bullying, assaulting or even shooting unarmed civilians, especially protestors and strikers. Both the psychopath and sociopath enjoy controlling and exercising power over others. These instances, among others, demonstrate that not only does the acceptance of hierarchy and authority allow, even otherwise decent and ethical people, to become tools of oppression and injustice, but it also elicits and significantly intensifies whatever potential for malice, hatred, racism, sadism and love of dominance those people may inherently possess. These behaviours can be observed in anyone who holds a position of power and authority such as police, soldiers , bosses, mangers, CEOs, bureaucrats and even prosecutors and judges in our law courts.
It is very revealing that many policemen are quickly angered, often abrupt, condescending and even violent when an average citizen being stopped for an alleged traffic violation simply speaks to the officer as an equal, instead of assuming the tone and demeanour of a subjugated underling. Again, this reaction is precisely the same – and has the same foundational cause – as the reaction a master would have to a recalcitrant slave speaking to his master as an equal. There are countless examples of this. I have personally experienced arrogant condescending belligerent behaviour in cops on more than one occasion and they are the primary reasons why I generally do not like them.  There are many examples on internet videos of a cop’s typically unacceptable supercilious superiority complex and negative reaction to any dialogue that challenges their absolute authority when they deal with the people they are ostensibly hired by the people to “serve and protect”. In some cases innocent people are shot, especially if they have the wrong skin colour. These policemen, our hired goons of the state, refer to any lack of subservience and grovelling as someone having a bad attitude in a citizen who refuses to genuflect before the master cop. Any interaction with a cop, particularly when confronted by them as a suspect of some alleged illegality, is understood by them to be a master-slave relationship.
Even when a cop knows full well that the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution or the Canadian Charter of Rights specifically dictate that a person has no legal obligation to answer questions or consent to searches or compliance to cooperate; for example, failure to obediently bow to the law enforcement officer’s every whim and demand is regularly perceived by him as an indication that the person must be some sort of deviant, drug addict, criminal and enemy of the corporatist state. From the perspective of cops, only a despicable lowlife scum bag would ever treat esteemed representatives of state sanctioned men in blue carrying lethal weapons in the same manner as he feels justified in treating everyone else.
In short, it would appear that cops are trained to be sociopathic oppressive megalomaniacs and to treat everyone else as livestock or trained seals. And, human nature apparently being what it is, anyone who routinely treats others in the manner that cops are inculcated to treat everyone else will learn to despise others and treat them with contempt, disrespect and hostility. However good or heartless and uncaring an individual is to begin with, the way to bring out the worst in him is to give him a deadly weapon and the right to unleash power and abuse on other citizens.
In every country with a standing military, much research has been done to determine what can be done to overcome a soldier’s natural aversion to killing another human being, usually another working class comrade, so that he will kill on command. And one of the most effective ways of achieving this is to demonize and dehumanize the one he is being told to kill. In modern wars, the governments of both sides inculcate and brainwash their soldiers constant dogma and propaganda designed to depict the enemy as heartless, vicious, sadistic, inhuman monsters. Ironically, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, because such propaganda makes both sides into robotic gangs of merciless monsters fanatically determined to exterminate enemies, generally gullible working class young men such as themselves that they do not view as being fully human.
Eliminate Political Parties, then the State
Whether the mask is labelled fascism, democracy, or dictatorship of the proletariat, our great adversary remains the apparatus—the bureaucracy, the police, the military. Not the one facing us across the frontier of the battle lines, which is not so much our enemy as our brothers’ enemy, but the one that calls itself our protector and makes us its slaves. No matter what the circumstances, the worst betrayal will always be to subordinate ourselves to this apparatus and to trample underfoot, in its service, all human values in ourselves and in others. - Simone Weil (1909 – 1943), French philosopher and political activist
As Simone Weil observed decades ago, political parties and all forms of representative government are self-serving entities that advance and consolidate power and as anyone who regularly observes their activities can clearly see, they also end up circumventing truth and justice. The general will of the masses, the “public interest” if you will, is cast aside as careerist politicians serve the interests of the wealth and power of elites. In the 21st century they have become the instruments of propaganda and servants of the big multinational banks and other power elites of inherited wealth (the plutocracy) and the corporate oligarchy. Weil understood the bureaucratic cockroach behaviour of political parties and how they control their membership from within the hierarchy. Dissent from the party line is controlled from the leadership and any digression from party doctrine and their doctrinaire script is severely punished. The controlling neoliberal Christian fundamentalist theocrat and former Conservative Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was a cunning expert at this sort of party manipulation and discipline.
Most people live their lives surrounded by authoritarian hierarchies, from families, to schools, to boy scouts, to churches, to businesses and all levels of government as understood in today’s nation state and its multifarious layers and bureaucracies. As a result, most people seem to have an inculcated or perhaps innate fear of freedom and have a difficult time even beginning to imagine a leaderless civilization, a society of equals, an existence devoid of gods, rulers, leaders and bosses, a world without legislators, their devious laws, police and prisons. The very idea of a stateless society in most people’s minds conjures up images of chaos, mayhem and a world assumed by Thomas Hobbes as “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”People who have been slaves all their lives or have served lengthy prison sentences fear uncertainty and the unknown, even if it means freedom. Anarchists of every stripe have agreed with William Morris’ contention that no man is sufficiently suitable to be either another man’s master or even a representative of his interests. People in positions of power know this and the creation of fear is a tried and true stratagem to control and coerce those under their illegitimate control. The early Marxists, agreeing with anarchists at the time, rightly considered the modern state as nothing more than the executive committee of the ruling classes. So-called political “democracy” was merely a facade concealing the real operative power of the owners of land and capital. Precious little has changed in the 21st century other than a slightly different cabal of Adam Smith’s “masters of mankind”.
When someone who has been indoctrinated into the cult of authority eventually extricates himself from the authoritarian mythology, the first thing that will likely happen is that he will see a dramatically different reality. When he observes the effects of the authoritarian model that has infiltrated almost every aspect of his life he sees things as they actually ought to be, not as he had formerly been inculcated into imagining them to be. For example, when he witnesses so-called law enforcement officers in action, he recognizes them as the actions of illegitimate and immoral thugs being deployed to control, coerce and abuse the masses in order to serve the will of the authoritarian political order of wealth and power, whether it be state capitalism, communism or any other tyrannical regime such as a monarchy or theocracy.
The free thinking un-indoctrinated would take no more pride in waving a flag, singing the national anthem, supporting our troops, shaking the hand of some esteemed politician than he would scratching his arse. The men in grey wigs and black robes who wield wooden mallets with pictures of the queen above their heads refer to themselves as revered men of the law courts ought to be seen as the fraudulent charlatans serving the power elites and the demented apparatchiks that they are. Those who wear either military garb or the blue uniforms and badges of the police forces, brandishing automatic weapons imagine themselves to be something other than mere mortals will not be considered by the deprogrammed, free and enlightened as noble sacrificial warriors for law and order but as rabid discombobulated automatons and killers for the state suffering from what is are serious intellectual disabilities and psychological disorders.
In a society without the dogma of hierarchy and authority there would still be rapists, thieves, murderers, and other transgressors. The difference is that all of the people who view rape, theft and murder as immoral would not condone legalize exploitation, theft and murder, which is what every capitalist state engages in with impunity. People need to wake up to the truth of Peter Kropotkin’s observation, over 100 years ago, that “The state organisation, having been the force to which the minorities resorted for establishing and organising their power over the masses, cannot be the force which will serve to destroy these privileges.’ In urging the need for more popular, more decentralised, forms of social administration, he stressed that we will be compelled to find new forms of self-organisation for the social functions that the state fulfills through the bureaucracy, and that ‘as long as this is not done, nothing will be done.” Emma Goldman was surely right when she said that “If voting changed anything it would be declared illegal.”
The values and ethical principles we instil in our children and the moral exemplars they should see every day are, I believe, crucial to the sort of society we will end up with. But we bring them up to survive in a violent competitive capitalist jungle of greed and exploitation. The hierarchical authoritarian templates for human interaction such as capitalism must be rejected. There are clearly better ways of ordering society as autonomous free individuals and only the limitations of our imaginations are preventing us from finding a better way. If a random group of people, unaware of their socio-economic status were to consider the limitless possibilities of human interaction and flourishing, surely capitalism, a system premised on some of the worst human attributes such as the endless pursuit of money, profit, greed and exploitation of both the natural environment and their fellow human brothers and sisters would be at or near the bottom of the list of viable possibilities.
If one behaved as a capitalist in his family or circle of friends, he’d be ostracized and condemned as some sort of moral degenerate or alien ghoul from a distant galaxy. While many people dread the thought of anarchism, the truth is that almost everyone regularly experiences its principles. When people go shopping for groceries, or browse a bookstore, play tennis at your local tennis club or meet with your neighbours on some common concern, people are experiencing the results of direct democracy and non-coercive non-authoritarian, mutual cooperation. No one is forced to produce or purchase any of the products offered for sale, no one is forced to play tennis or commiserate with your neighbour. All of the individuals involved benefit from a genuinely free atmosphere of anarchy in action, an anti-authoritarian environment of free play and society in general void of any gods, masters, state laws created by elites to serve their own interests complete with their military, cops and prisons. We don’t need deities, leaders, managers and rulers. To reiterate a previous point, there are countless examples of mutually voluntary, egalitarian, cooperative, peaceful, efficient and useful events, meetings and organizations that do not involve hierarchy and top down authoritarianism we call government.
When cars meet at a four-way stop or when people engage in fair play (barring the rare sociopathic bully, asshole or jerk who is usually given condemning shaming stares) cue for a line-up, pass on the sidewalk; that is anarchy in action. Billions of times every day, people take turns, leave room for others and assist a disabled person and so on, without any authority commanding them to do so. People will generally behave in a fair and just manner when raised with the social graces and basic ethical principles and minimalist moral adages such as the golden rule – and provided with the opportunity and sense of duty to behave as such. The notion that peaceful coexistence requires aggression, belligerence and coercion has no historical evidence in its favour. In fact the only thing that deploying authoritarianism and force into a situation guarantees is that there will not be a non-violent, peaceful resolution to the matter. When someone describes the sort of society he wants to see, he will almost always describe a state of nonviolence, of mutual cooperation, fair play, justice and tolerance. In other words, what he will describe is the complete antithesis of the violence and coercion of the authoritarian model.
Parenting, which seems to be a lost art these days , is crucial in revolutionizing our culture of greed and narcissism. The sooner the child can be taught the reason for moral rules and decent behaviour, the sooner he can understand why doing what his parent asks will benefit him. Of course, that is not always possible, especially when children are very young and not yet capable of following a moral or any other sort of rational argument (something many adults today are incapable of doing). The parent who stops the child from devouring a bag of candy, screaming uncontrollably in a temper tantrum is benefitting ultimately the child to eventually understand the importance of self-control and consideration of others. I must point out that the coercive Christian approach of reward and punishment, especially corporal punishment and inflicting pain on a child, are not productive strategies that will elicit the sort of cooperative, decent, caring ethical society of which I am recommending. Yet most children are still raised in authoritarian religious based environments, with the claim that that will best prepare them for life in the real world of global capitalism in which profit is the overriding principle that takes priority over all else, including social justice and the planet’s ecosystems. In truth, it prepares them only for a lifetime of conflict, endless war, exploitation, legalized theft and enslavement. And beware of anyone touting salvation plans for humanity; real direct democracy is imperfect and requires hard work like everything else worthwhile having, but maintaining the status quo of economic tyranny and corporate capitalism will guarantee our demise.
Bertrand Russell, a man with deep anti-authoritarian anarchist sympathies, once sarcastically said that: “A good man is one whose opinions and actions are pleasing to the holders of power”. Its message was the opposite of what he believed, describing many are taught and perhaps unconsciously and implicitly believe, much to the detriment of democracy and a decent world. If one who If you love death and destruction, oppression and suffering, injustice and violence, repression and torture, helplessness and despair, perpetual conflict and bloodshed, then teach your children to respect authority and teach them that obedience is a virtue. If, on the other hand, you value peaceful coexistence, compassion and cooperation, freedom and justice, then teach your children the principles of self-ownership, teach them to respect the rights of every human being, and teach them to recognize and reject the belief in the historical authoritarian model and to accept authoritarianism for what it is: the most irrational, anti-democratic, self-contradictory, anti-human, evil, destructive and dangerous superstition the world has ever known.
 Let’s cut through the bullshit about cops. Why are they needed, why do they carry weapons and who do they really “serve and protect”? Similar questions need to be asked about the military. Most people don’t like cops (why are so many of them arrogant neo-fascist assholes?) and there are good reasons for this. Notice when a cop radar crew is set up to catch people speeding, motorists who have seen them will flick their lights to warn other motorists. This is the sort of time wasting activity of these money grabbing dupes of the corporate financial oligarchs who are the real criminals of society, as the 2008 global financial meltdown has graphically revealed. Why are they not arresting the real criminals, the parasites in $3000 three piece suits walking out of a Bay or Wall Street banks and brokerage houses? It’s because these are the greedy bastards that the police are hired to “serve and protect”.
Yes, the unpleasant truth is that the real criminals are the slime oozing out of mafia Wall Street and Bay Street banks and brokerage houses and the corrupt lap poodle politicians they buy who are systematically ignored by cops. Why one should rightly ask? Let’s be totally brutally honest: police forces are racist authoritarian militarized institutions that exist to serve and protect wealth and power in an unjust unequal system of capitalist exploitation, class distinctions, hierarchy, racism and unmitigated greed. The RCMP for example (originally called the North West Mounted Police) was formed in the 19th century by conservative capitalist industrialists to clear the plains of Indigenous people who were in the way of real estate speculators and the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. The purpose of cops ought to be patently obvious to anyone paying attention and privy to knowledge of bottom-up history, particularly histories of civil rights, the labour movement and anti-war groups in which cops were always on the side of the state controlled by the minority owners of wealth, privilege and power. Cops seem to revel in intimidating and kicking the shit out of members of their own class who they hold in contempt, not unlike the rich bastards and oligarchs who pay their wages, lucrative benefits and pensions after 20 years “service” breaking working class skulls. We don’t want better police and prisons or even to reform these undemocratic oppressive institutions; rather we want to abolish cops and prisons entirely and create a decent civil just egalitarian world in which they are not necessary. In state capitalist societies, as in all authoritarian socio-political orders of the past, justice is merely a privilege confined to ruling elites or a commodity for sale, like everything else in capitalist regimes. The police are merely hired goons to keep the rabble in line. In authoritarian political regimes, such as corporate capitalism, the people are the real enemy, justifying police and the notorious prison gulags reserved for them.
Indigenous societies in North America, for example, had no need for either cops or the cruel cages we call prisons. Why, one might ask. People who demean themselves by working for the police state refer to it as “corrections”. Give me a break.
Most laws are cleverly crafted by corporate lawyers, bankers and wealthy elites to satisfy their traditional entitlements, entrenched power, financial interests and insatiable greed (what politicians refer to as “the national interest”). Many of us assume that laws are implemented consistent with basic generally accepted moral principles, including personal freedoms. Why are drugs illegal you might ask? Decriminalization of all drugs, as has been accomplished in a few countries such as Portugal in 2001, will not only reduce crime, but enable the state to purge itself of perhaps half the overpaid and underworked police forces. The same people (corporate leaders, bankers and their lackeys in parliament) who write the laws and those for whom those laws are written are the same people who benefit from police violence, the prison industrial complex and the farcical and atrophied conflict resolution called the courts. The name of the game is protecting haves from the have-nots. Remember the golden rule: “Those who have the gold make the rules.”
The most important laws are those that protect one capitalist from bilking another since nothing much happens when capitalists perpetrate a massive fraud as they did in 2008. On the contrary, they are rewarded with golden parachutes and business as usual. Equality is a mathematical concept and anyone promoting egalitarianism and justice for all that implies “equality” is delusional. But imposing limits on wealth accumulation would be a good start. How about any accumulation above $5 million is taxed at 99.9%? Does a sociopath such as Jeff Bezos who, like most capitalists, behaves at the rock bottom stage of Lawrence Kohlberg’s ladder of moral development, “deserve” his $110 billion on the backs of his 300,000 minimum wage sweat shops Amazon employees?
In novels and films, police have often been depicted as either corrupt bullies or ignorant bumbling idiots and fools. Those who have read Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes or seen the movies or TV series will recall the bumbling Keystone Kops and Inspector Lestrade, the inept Scotland Yard investigator - and who can forget Inspector Jacques Clouseau starring Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther movies. More recently, the Police Academy movies were even less complimentary to cops. There have also been many satirical pokes at the equally farcical military; one I vividly recall from the 1950s called No Time for Sergeants has been featured on TCM recently. A movie that depicts the brutality, irrationality, incompetence and inanity of military life very well are Paths of Glory (1957) and The Hill (1965).
In sum, whether it is a cop, soldier or some low-level bureaucrat, the purpose of all law enforcers is to efficiently and selectively inflict the will of the ruling classes upon the masses who have since time immemorial been the enemy of the state. The downfall of human society is that most of the injustice and evil is not committed by the result of psychopathic greed, contempt and malice of those in positions of power, but rather the result of the masses of sheeple following orders, mindlessly doing what they were told, people following orders, people “doing their jobs.” In short, most of man’s inhumanity to man is a direct result of the belief in the authoritarian model of human authority. This as the m lame excuse provided by Nazis at the Nuremburg Trials in the aftermath of World War Two. The damage done by the merely obedient subservience in compliance with the apparatuses of the state is just as real, and just as destructive, as if they had each done it from personal malevolence.
 As I write we’ve just commemorated Canada Day and the BNA Act crafted by our conservative parliamentarians in 1967 while most of them, including the Prime Minister John A MacDonald, were drunk as skunks. Many on our street fell into lockstep by brandishing the Canadian flag on their house frontage. I complied in my own way with this mindless ritual by displaying the Jolly Rodger. Next year perhaps I’ll purchase an Anarchist flag for the occasion.
[2a] It is quite reasonable to assume that someone who has risked his life, harmed or killed other human beings, possibly including innocents, and suffered terror and physical or emotional trauma as a result, would be reluctant to accept that all his patriotic fervour and commitment, his suffering, and the harm or death he inflicted on others ultimately served only be schemes of megalomaniacs. However, even some of the most famous military personalities in history have eventually come to acknowledge that “governments” engage in war, not for any noble purpose but for profits and power. Major General Smedley Butler, who at the time of his death in 1940 was the most decorated U.S. Marine in history, wrote a book titled “War Is a Racket” that exposed and severely criticized the military-industrial complex, saying that war “is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many,” even going so far as to describe his own military “service” as the actions of “a high class muscle man,” a “racketeer” and a “gangster.” Likewise General Douglas MacArthur opined that military expansion is driven by an “artificially induced psychosis of war hysteria” and “an incessant propaganda of fear.” General MacArthur also said the following: “The powers in charge keep us in a perpetual state of fear – keep us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervour with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it by furnishing the exorbitant sums demanded. Yet, in retrospect, these disaster seem never to have happened, seem never to have been quite real.”
 One is reminded of the Mai Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War in which innocent civilians comprising mostly women, children and the elderly were viciously murdered by US infantry. U.S. soldiers not only murdered hundreds of unarmed men, women and children, but also sexually assaulted and tortured some a few in the platoon openly delighted in the suffering and deaths of their victims, by the soldiers’ own testimonies. This is what American soldiers did, as a result of their loyalty to the myth of “authority,” combined with the demonization and dehumanization of their victims. The soldiers themselves put it perfectly bluntly, one saying they were “just following orders,” another saying that most of the U.S. soldiers there “didn’t consider the Vietnamese human”.
Subsequent histories of the Vietnam war have shown that these incidents were not isolated cases of “bad apples” but regular occurrences in a war in which US soldiers were ordered to kill everything that moves.
Similar behaviours were graphically displayed in the images that came out of Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq showing American troops, both male and female, not only carried out mental and physical torture but exhibited delight and amusement at the suffering of their victims, even joyfully posing for the camera while humiliating, assaulting, torturing and raping their prisoners. Both the Bush and Obama administrations prevented much of the photographic evidence of this torture from being made public, for fear of the effect that those images would have on the opinion of the military and the “country,” among Americans and foreigners alike.
Though the evidence shows that such torture was carried out at the behest of the highest levels of “government,” it is important to note that the ones who carried out these commands of “authority” clearly exhibited a sordid sadistic enjoyment of the pain and suffering they were inflicting on other human beings. They had been told, by someone they perceived as “authority,” that it was noble and righteous to hate and hurt “the enemy.” So they did, and they revelled in it.
And like every war, military actions and mass murder were justified by the typical bullshit mantra of “fighting for democracy and our freedoms”. What “democracy” and what “freedoms” one ought to ask? To add to the atrocities of war we are forced to endure military presence, flags, national anthems and God Bless America at most baseball and football games in which the teams are compensated for these mind numbing rituals of propaganda by the state. And most people believe this drivel and horse crap as they display bumper stickers of “Support our Troops” and “America: Love it or Leave it”.
[3a]My earliest encounter with propaganda and brainwashing occurred as a young teen after reading Erich Maria Remarque’s classic anti-war novel All Quiet on the Western Front. The 1930 movie version of the novel, which takes place during the horrors and mass slaughter of young men during World War I, is exceptional. Most enlightening was the school classroom scene in which students are brainwashed by the authoritarian schoolmaster into the patriotic and nationalistic propaganda about the sanctity and superiority of the German “fatherland” and the importance of dying for God and the country if necessary. However, after experiencing the mass slaughter and devastation, nineteen year old Paul Baumer, one of the main characters questions the fervent patriotism, nationalism and credulity of the German populace. What has blind faith in nationalism done for Germany other than destroy the country and hundreds of millions of its citizens? In following the words of his elders like sheep, Paul has achieved nothing except to become a cynical old man at the age of twenty. Not only does Paul now question his schoolmaster's reasoning, but he also questions the ability of his ruthless, cavalier and mostly incompetent superior officers.
 On one particularly ridiculous incident many years ago I was driving home late at night on an isolated highway (#10 in Surrey/Delta on a stretch through nothing but farms) after playing hockey and was stopped by an arrogant asshole highway patrol cop who claimed I was driving 15 km/h over the speed limit. If I behaved like a servile private speaking with a staff sergeant; in other words, as a trained seal I knew I’d likely just be given a standard lecture and a warning. But no I thought, to hell with that humiliating bullshit. I informed him that I pay his salary, he’s a public servant, and that surely he had better things to do like catch a real criminal, perhaps a thief breaking into my home. Surely stopping a law abiding citizen on a barren highway at 1:00AM was not a productive use of his time. I eventually challenged the speeding ticket in court but since he never showed up, the case was tossed out by the judge. This happened to me on at least one or two other occasions of dealing with typically overweight and out-of-shape obnoxious cops.
 Parents might take their noses from their cell phone for a few minutes and become cognizant of the child sitting in the stroller directly in front of them. Dogs are becoming more numerous (and a serious sanitary problem I might add) than kids these days and people seem to pay more attention to their two or three monstrous mutts on a leash than they do the kids walking along with them or in a carriage.
As W C Fields once said, “Anyone who hates kids and dogs can’t be all bad”.