Tuesday, September 8, 2015

I am not voting

Years ago in San Felipe, Mexico, I needed something surreal to read to match the surreal environment.  In front of a shop on the dusty main street I found a box of pre-read English language paperbacks for $1 each.  I bought a Robert Silverberg novel, Dying Inside, about a man who is tormented all his life by his ability to read minds.  One time he is waiting in a crowd for the motorcade of the President of the United State's to pass.  When the President is within telepathic range, the protagonist reads his entire mind- nothing is hidden- and comes away from the experience deeply shaken.  I was deeply shaken myself by the book because I can read minds too.  I have no idea why I have this "gift"- enhanced in my case because I don’t have to be in close proximity to my subjects- but I will report that as Silverberg suggests, telepathy is not for sissies.  

But you didn’t come here to listen to my woes- you want to hear the stuff I’ve been reading in people’s minds, right?  Well, I have a treat for you.  I read the entire U.S. government's mind(s) this morning, as well as the governments of virtually all other countries, and the minds of the CEO’s and boards of all major global corporations, prominent military thinkers and most of the world's (actively employed) billionaires. 

My findings would be too much to relate in one essay, so here I've boiled down the mind-reads to an amalgam of similar concepts and motives.  Take your pick of terms for the group I'm describing.  In some parlance they’re the One Percent, the supposed percentage of the human race that is able to make decisions about what will happen to the human race.  The will of this group generally prevails, partly because it uses misconceptions about itself in the outside world, such as the idea that the group’s power derives entirely from money and physical force.  This leaves out intelligence, per the popular misconception that the One Percent, though it's smart about money and politics, is kind of dumb about other things, like understanding Virginia Woolf.  But the leaders of the One Percent are very smart, able to trick almost everyone on many levels (I’m not being superior- I was tricked several times today).  Their ability to trick everyone is dependent on their willingness to sacrifice some self-esteem.   They are aware that many consider them incapable of major, fundamental deception.  I’m not saying they like the diminished stature, but it works for them.

As I read through the minds of One Percenters, I encountered a preoccupation with news reports and strategic concerns that is not common in the outside world.  We sip a martini and watch the network news, maybe David Muir on ABC explaining scandals and catastrophes, superficially informative but none of it adding up to anything actionable- the most gripping and truly painful part of the broadcast being the Cialis commercials- or we read Politico or other internet sites that, though they have the veneer of inside information, are mostly inside-out and recycled.  We think our thoughts but we don’t do anything.

That is not the case with One Percenters.  They are thinking all the time about everything and about how to influence things, because they see our world as a proto-world, forgetting its past in a rush to be born anew.  The One Percenters are on it, while the Ninety-Nine Percenters, though they see things and think things, do not consider themselves in a position to affect much of anything outside their immediate vicinity.  They feel led.

The main surprise I found in reading the One Percenters' minds was that they are surprised at how much surprises them.  They model themselves on the secret planners in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series.  And indeed, a lot of stuff that looks random is planned by them.  But the universe is largely beyond human control, so no one is going to control everything.  The One Percenters, I found, are having some unanticipated problems regarding the various hot-spots they’ve set up around the world.  There are continual internal struggles about who does what first, and what the outcome will be.  There is also some doubt about what the whole effort is for.  After Big Bang III, will we have new races of cloned people, designed to live in compartmented bliss and work in softly humming factories?  Will Mad Max roam the plains?  Will there be societies of people like me, telepathic hippies looking for a niche?  I’m thinking Mendocino.

This brings us back to the Ninety-Nine Percent, which self-identifies as disenfranchised.  Usually it is, but there are times when the One Percent is a bit unsure about things, as it is now, and those times should be used to some effect.

One needn't oppose the One Percent in a fundamental way.  That would be quixotic, to put it mildly.  I’m talking about helping the One Percent understand how it should manipulate you, so that you feel noticed and addressed.  

For example, in one current instance of One Percenter limitation, Donald Trump, with moves very few of the other One Percenter minds I read had anticipated, has inconveniently revealed that the two parties are in startlingly bad shape.  The hope had been that the creaky system could last through the 2020 presidential election, but now that looks iffy.

I propose that People of the Ninety-Nine turn up the heat by talking about not voting in 2020, and that older generations, who have been voting for one party for years, cancel their memberships and tell other people to do the same.  People with kids in the Millenial generation should ask them what they know about political parties.  Most likely the kids, even the academic and ambitious ones, will have no preference at all, and will lump all the hoopla into the same “Old People” folder as David Muir's Polident and Cialis commercials.  Tell your kids they’re right; the parties are existing on residual image only (the GOP might become one of Trump's bankruptcies).  

A successful movement would be one in which tens or hundreds of thousands of voters cancel their party memberships and state that they will not vote in 2020.  Party leaders (mid-management between us and the One Percent) would be forced to react, to do something politically creative that had not been ordained by the Asimov group.  There would be an opportunity to insert outside opinion into the political process.

This would be the tricky part, because the Ninety-Nine Percenters have many differences of opinion.  Not everyone, probably, would agree with me that a giant barrier should be built off Mendocino to protect it from the anticipated earthquake-induced tsunami and that the city be designated a safe zone for telepathic hippies.  

But hopefully there could be some consensus on, for example, war.  There might be an awareness that U.S. resources are sometimes used to create and sustain our enemies and our wars, and you don't need to be telepathic to know it.  Sadly, though, nothing so far has been able to rouse people from their current stupor.  In 2011, Dexter Filkins (recipient of the 2008 National Book Critics award for nonfiction and many other journalism awards) revealed in the New Yorker magazine (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/02/14/the-afghan-bank-heist) that throughout the Afghan war against the Taliban, the CIA funded the Taliban with truckloads of cash, directing it when to attack and when not to.  Filkins writes that without CIA funding, the Taliban would not have been able to sustain itself as a fighting force.  In other words, the Afghan war was at least in part an Orwellian fake, whose real purposes were to give us a war to fight and to foment enough hatred of the U.S. so that we could have future wars. The fallout in the U.S. from Filkins' essay: None.  No mainstream news media picked it up, and readers of the New Yorker, numbering well over a million, were not roused.  This year the same assertions were made in the New Yorker by Barnett Rubin, former staff member of the late Richard Holbrooke, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan ("What I saw in Afghanistan," http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/what-have-we-been-doing-in-afghanistan).  Again, no pick-up from the media and no outrage from New Yorker readers or anyone else. 

Are we living in the Matrix?  How about we get off our asses, react, and say something like: “I’m not voting in 2020 unless I hear a credible candidate demand that if we wage war, we wage it to finish it, not to sneak war through the backdoor of our minds as a permanent way of life.”  

All the best!  Harry the Human [Update, 12/26/21: Change "2020" to "2024" and drop the Cialis and Polident commercials on network news- dicontinued because they made viewers feel old- and the points in this essay still apply.]

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