Declare Your Independence From Fear

by | May 1, 2020 | Class War

Early human curiosity always bested fear of the unknown—independence from fear. It’s called evolution. In 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick eloquently illustrated this fact.

Moving forward in time a few thousand generations. Our ancestors learned how to use tools to hunt, and unfortunately, to wage war. Their family groups became larger, more extended, as they prospered. They began to see that they could organize to hunt for larger game, like wooly mammoths.

Imagine a hunt. The tribe has more members and  they are a bit less hairy. Most of the adults will take part in the hunt. They sharpen their stone knives and some are readying a new weapon–the spear. It will take many of them to run down and kill a 4 or 5 ton mastodon. It’s a dangerous job, but the reward will outweigh the risk. The animal will provide food for the tribe for months.

When they corner the animal, he gores a couple of them before they swarm him. The gigantic beast fights for his life, but he is overwhelmed by shear numbers and succumbs to their knives and spears.

The tribe returns home triumphant, saddened by the lost of their comrades, but bearing the plentiful spoils of the hunt.

As they begin to prepare the feast, one of the warriors cries out, “All of this meat is mine!”

“Why?”, the others ask. “We all took part in the hunt and some of our brothers and sisters sacrificed themselves so that we all could eat.”

“Because it is mine,” he proclaims, “and I will kill anyone who tries to take it from me!”

This night the feast contains a new menu item–tournedos of mammoth–tasty filets wrapped in thin slices of wannabe rich asshole bacon.

Fast forward another thousand  generations or so. Things have changed. The population of the tribe has grown significantly. They’re starting to look like people instead of apes. The tools and more specialized, more refined. Spears, axes and clubs with wooden handles are abundant.

Roles in the tribe are also more specialized. Women no longer join in the hunt. A warrior class of men is developing. There is a chief and a shaman.

It is only within an emerging class structure that the next wannabe rich asshole can can attempt to steal the spoils of the hunt irrespective of his contribution.

He gathers a group of warriors and disaffected young men and promises them a share of the booty. For the young men who have been excluded from the tribe’s social-sexual interactions, the booty is just that—booty.

This time the rich asshole is successful. He steals a disproportionate share of the meat. He has the men to guard it and keep it. He is successful because he wages war against his own people. He dominates them with threats of murder, rape and starvation.

He instills a fear that dominates human culture for the rest of time. He becomes a king, a pharaoh, a prophet, an emperor, a banker, a dictator, an imam, a pope and a saint.

Yet even this scenario requires the cooperation and allegiance of others. That cooperation is maintained by the same threats of murder, rape and starvation. History is rife with stories of betrayal in the king’s court and military coups. And through it all, common people hunt and kill the meat and give up a disproportionate share to their rulers because they’re too scared to do otherwise.

The fear is almost genetic, we’ve learned to live with it and shrug our shoulders.

So here we are, celebrating our independence. We love to tell the stories of the American revolution. In fact, we love all revolutions unless they happen to be Communist or French–revolutions that dispatched their kings. We love the story of Robin Hood and we make schmaltzy movies celebrating the heroes of failed rebellions like Spartacus and Braveheart. Kirk Douglas and Mel Gibson can make us feel courageous for a couple of hours.

Why is it important to understand that the top 10% of Americans control more than 2/3 of our wealth? This is wealth that common people create, like our ancestors in the hunt. Without the energy and expertise of their employees, rich assholes could not survive.

Wealth stolen from us because we acquiesce to that ancient fear. Rich assholes  still use the same threats to keep us in check, but the threats are veiled. This or that proposal for the common good will be “job killing.” What they really mean is you killing. You’re dead unless you go along.

“From Ralph Reed to Eric Cantor to Jeb Hensarling to Rand Paul and now to Ryan, they all look like overgrown kids who got nipple-twisted in the halls in high school… ” –Matt Taibbi.

In other words, the message is delivered by disaffected men who couldn’t get laid  without allying themselves to rich assholes.

The Declaration of Independence recognizes, “That mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

Why should we be concerned about income inequality? Because to ignore it would betray our Declaration of Independence, the Zapatista Declaration of Independence, the Proclamation of the Irish Republic,  the Declaration of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and even Emma Goldman’s Declaration of Independence, all of which proclaim that all people are equal. And because we know from the history of humankind that concentration of wealth is a threat to any shred of democracy we have left. And because income inequality is evil.

No evil is sufferable but for fear.

We must discard our fear and recognize that no person can demand more than his or her fair share.


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