Of course we must further our self interests
But in order to know what they really are
We first have to know who we are
We think we live in a democracy or social democracy, and we feel that we are better off than people who live in a theocracy, autocracy or communist bureaucracy. However, all of us who live in the “first world” of presumably democratic nations actually live in an Econocracy.
The bare bones definition of the democratic system is a government that represents the will of the people, further defined as the majority of individual opinions, expressed by a voting process. The fundamental consciousness’s out of which democracy arose are two. The first is survival consciousness, the evolutionary drive to survive that is a constant in all species of life, without which no individual would survive, no species would differentiate, and evolution itself would grind to a halt. The second is individualism, our human perception of ourselves as separate body-minds, wholly responsible for ourselves and our needs, with not only the right but the obligation to meet those needs.
When survival consciousness is expressed through human individualism, something happens.
On the collective and corporate levels, individualism and survival consciousness morph into the right to profit. Implicit in individualistic thinking itself, though perhaps not spelled out, is the right to profit from our labors and the protection of this right. This further implies that the individual is responsible for himself and accountable for his actions. He sinks or swims by his own efforts and the results of these efforts, beneficial or not, ultimately flow to him. In order to best get their individual needs met, individuals frequently band together in a succession of collectives, ranging from families to nations to corporations, but individualism is always the driving consciousness, and thus, the individual tends to sees himself as the basic unit of everything from the human species to human society.
These individualistic drives to survive and to profit are the engines of our economies.
An econocracy is also government, or should we say rule, by the collective will of individuals, but these individuals are economic entities, usually though not always corporations. The ‘system’ that we have created to rule ourselves by, is not a democratic government any more than it is a theocracy, dictatorship or a communist bureaucracy; rather it is corporate feudalism. But instead of a feudal master, we have corporate masters, quasi individuals empowered by our government and legitimized by the universally accepted and legally protected, “right to profit”. These quasi individuals or corporate entities conflict with and largely supersede not only the sovereignty of individuals, but also that of nations. What is more, in so far as these corporations have become globalized, we live in a global econocracy. In fact, globalization is the establishment of a global econocracy.
So econocracy is formed by the extension of the same consciousness, the same belief systems that formed democracy, but self-interest of corporate entities is very different than the real self-interest of individuals, and therefore an econocracy is very different from a democracy. Two ideas, logical and seemingly innocuous, have mutated individualistic consciousness into econocratic consciousness. The first was the idea (made law), that a group of individuals could incorporate into one mega-individual and enjoy roughly the same privileges and protections as a sovereign person, including of course, the right to profit from their collective labors. The other is the invention of double entry bookkeeping, which by the simple comparison of two columns of addition, expenditures and income, supply an reliable (though illusory) means of determining whether, at the end of the day, one’s business has operated at a profit or a loss.
The subtle, almost invisible ways in which an econocracy differs from a democracy constitute a kind of doublethink, a doublethink that contributes mightily to the internal inconsistencies of western societies. One aspect of this doublethink is that the rights of the corporation have gradually replaced the rights of the individual as the basis of society, which means of course that corporate survival and corporate interests, not the survival and prosperity of the individual, have become the economic engine. Despite the propaganda that the corporate owned media is feeding us, corporate interests have become the highest priority of our society, more important than the quality of life, more important than life itself.
It follows from this doublethink that all profits flow first to the corporation and then through to the individuals that direct it, own shares in it, and are employed by it. This separates these individuals from the corporation, so that for the most part it is only the corporation that can be held accountable while the individuals in it profit. This further enables individuals to be shielded from punishment for wrongdoing, and much more significantly, from having to face the personal and moral implications of knowingly committing and profiting by irresponsible, inhumane and criminal actions. This shielding of the individual enables their directors to ruthlessly, single-mindedly and irresponsibly pursue the bottom line to any extent that they think they can get away with. To make things worse, it is the duty of the Corporation to maximize profitability for its shareholders by any legal means possible.
In the corporate charter, the right to profit morphs into the obligation to profit.
Widespread and unthinking acceptance of this logic has morphed individualistic consciousness into econocratic consciousness, but the root consciousness that has enabled this process is individualism and it to this that we must look to find the cure.
Individualism and survival consciousness
On a radical level, individualism itself begins in a mistake, a mistake I call false identity. False identity is the erroneous perception or belief that one is a thing, a thing called an individual. Moreover, any other existence that one has, particularly consciousness itself, is a property of that body. A host of erroneous conclusions derive from these premises. Among them the following:
- This body consciousness is completely mortal and destructible.
- This body consciousness is, for all intensive purposes, separate from all others.
- This body consciousness is also separate from the natural world.
- Its survival is dependent upon the accumulation of other things, things that can serve as resources such as food, shelter, weapons, tools, money, other people etc.
Econocracy is a form of representative government
Communist governments like Russia, Cuba and China have themselves become mega corporations, completely run for profit, whose citizen- employees provide a low-cost, captive workforce that labors for the benefit of the ruling class of politicians and bureaucrats, and in return are given the bare minimum of benefits, just enough to keep body and soul together and forestall a revolution.
While in the United States and other “democratic” countries, corporations and their interests are increasingly allied with government.
This notwithstanding, we must always keep in mind that, like democracy, econocracy is a form of representative government, and resist getting into an us versus them, polarized mentality. Econocracy, for better or worse, arises from econocratic consciousness, which, as we have said, is a projection of the individualistic survival consciousness of human nature itself.
There is no them; the problem is us.
At the same time we must understand the limitations of individual action. There is little profit in making ourselves uncompetitive in a competitive world; and individual action is not only ineffectual, it can backfire, just as taking the law into our own hands can. In a complex society the need for a government by law is widely accepted, whatever forms this government takes. If we want to reshape our world, grass roots pressures have to align with practical programs. We need to reshape econocracy into a more human and sustainable form without sacrificing its many benefits. We need to analyze the structural faults that have made it go so far astray and correct them. We need to disassemble the procession of media disinformation, re-educate ourselves, and conceive a new economic system, humane and sustainable, yet progressive, rewarding and motivating, by which we may govern ourselves.