The Globalization of Rage

Foreign Affairs

I’m not sure how to deal with this after I wrote The World Cannot be Understood – and For This Reason, Must be Destroyed this morning.

This is saying much the same thing – but puts it in a global context – starting in 1919, in Italy – at the beginning of the Fascist movement, that wrecked Italy and Germany, in the Thirties and Forties.

Here are some quotes:

We want to glorify war—the world’s only hygiene—militarism, patriotism, the destructive act of the anarchists, the beautiful ideas for which one dies, and contempt for women. We want to destroy museums, libraries, and academies of all kinds, and to fight against moralism, feminism, and every utilitarian or opportunistic cowardice.

In the hopeful period that began with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union two years later, the universal triumph of liberal capitalism and democracy seemed assured. A combination of free markets and representative government appeared to be the right formula for the billions trying to overcome degrading poverty and political oppression. Many economies grew rapidly; new nation-states appeared across a broad swath of Africa, Asia, and Europe; the European Union took shape; peace was declared in Northern Ireland; apartheid ended in South Africa; and it seemed only a matter of time before Tibet, too, might be free.

Hundreds of millions of people have emerged from rural poverty and moved to urban areas, only to find life outside traditional communities to be burdened with fear, uncertainty, and unfulfillable fantasies of self-aggrandizement. Their social isolation has also been intensified in many countries by the decline or abandonment of postcolonial nation-building ideologies and projects and by their leaders’ embrace of a global neoliberal economy that imposes constant improvisation and adjustment—and, frequently, rapid obsolescence. As Tocqueville wrote, “To live in freedom one must grow used to a life full of agitation, change and danger.” Otherwise, one will move quickly, he warned, from savoring unlimited freedom to craving unlimited despotism.

Demagogues of all kinds—from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to France’s right-wing leader Marine Le Pen, to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, to the GOP candidate in the current U.S. presidential race, Donald Trump—have tapped into the simmering reservoirs of discontent.

You should read the whole thing – it’s an easy read.


What is a Consumer?

The first response that comes to mind is “Anyone who consumes things.” But this is clearly inadequate – people have been consuming things forever, but the Consumer is an artifact of Television.

TV viewers were mesmerized into buying things, or more importantly – thinking things. They had been turned into Consumers – robots under the control of the Tube. The TV industry had taken control of their minds.

When the Computer came along a few years later – it took advantage of the mental vacuum created by Television. Its networks (the Internet and the Wireless) became another way of controlling Consumers. And no one thought this was unusual or even undesirable.

Consumers are people under the unconscious control of global business. They are incapable of questioning (or even recognizing) its dominance in their lives.

I have named the villain – Global Business, or Business, for short. Globalization. It doesn’t have complete control of the world, but something close to it. If anyone or any group serves it – it cannot go far wrong. It controls our money and our jobs.

You might ask about Islamic fundamentalists – are these guys part of Global Business? In a strange way, they are. By their opposition to it they are helping to define it. They are the loyal opposition – completely dependent on it for their fuel, weapons, and communication. There is no way they can exist independently of it.

You may think “That’s only crazy Hal and his crazy ideas!” But if you think my ideas are crazy, look at these:

The business of Things

Year Zero: Our life timelines begin