Few times I felt when reading the works of a philosopher the ire and venom distilled by Nietzsche in The Twilight of the Idols. Here we have a very angry thinker, I mused. My mistake was, of course, to assume that philosophers are intellectually and emotionally detached people.
I was reminded of his anger when I got the latest news on Tax Havens, The Paradise Papers, follow up to the Panama Papers and yet another piece of evidence of the super rich escaping their duties to society as a whole. And then I realised that there has been a sense of angry surrealism watching many of the world “leaders”. In fact it is very difficult to understand how anybody can actually vote for a Trump, or his much admired Duterte. In fact the world “leader” has become in so many cases synonymous with “deranged or psychopathic despot” that it is difficult to remember that there are still a few caring politicians trying to turn the tide of dehumanisation.
The assumption that the powerful, whether in politics, commerce or any other field of action, conform to some kind of meritocracy has been instilled in the public consciousness. So many believe that they are rich or powerful because of their own efforts or capacities, that they also assume they have a right to be at the top. Or that they can do a better job than us. This, together with the belief that Money is the meaning in life, are the two most pervasive and destructive myths of our time. Myths that have been successfully implanted deeply in the hearts of ordinary people.
The problem is that this anger I feel and many feel about inequality, discrimination and the raise of the alt-right (aka fascism) is precisely what puts such “leaders” in power, as the system has learnt to cleverly exploit and manipulate the rightful concerns of the downtrodden so that they vote against their own interests and needs. And history shows very clearly that anger is not the best way to change things for the better.
The Paradise Papers may have continued to raise the awareness of people about how the rich (but not only them) hide their assets to avoid paying taxes absolutely needed to pay for services in their countries. The same politicians that preside over the demise of Health, Education, Housing and Welfare make sure that the movement of money to tax havens remains (kind of) legal and secret. The question of “what to do about it” is not so difficult to answer: elect a government that commits to closing the loopholes. Design a system that prevents rather than promotes concentration. Put human beings rather than Money and Power as the central value.
But to contribute to the confusion we can see well meaning attempts from people like ex-UK Chancellor of the Exchequer/ex-Prime Minister Gordon Brown who wishes to channel the public outrage by asking the G20 to modify the laws to regulate tax havens and prevent tax evasion and avoidance, trying to collect a million signatures to send to the President of Argentina, now occupying the G20 rotating chair. At present this would be Mauricio Macri, who was himself implicated in the off shore lists of the Panama Papers and who has at least three of his Ministers in the same situation with the Paradise ones.
What is internal reference?
In order that the voting population may chose leaders committed to improving the lives of ordinary people, everyone, they have to realise how they are being manipulated, they have to assess the options and choose those that will get society into a state of solidarity and mutual benefit. This is clearly not happening, the loudest propaganda form political parties manage to make people believe false promises and self-destructive programmes. For us to learn to trust our own criteria we need to develop an internal reference, a way to ask oneself what is the best option for myself and my community.
Education, as it is understood in the present system, is of no great help as it includes the values that prop it up: individualism and competition. The most sought after educational institutions for their quality and prestige, are also the most elitist.
What are the internal qualities we need to create a different society? We need kindness, wisdom and strength. These are the qualities of an Internal Guide, an image, a sensation, a presence that accompanies us helping us to make decisions both in our personal lives and as members of a community or a country. If any of those qualities is missing then we can be deviated from the path.
Many will find kindness, wisdom and strength in a mystical or religious figure, many in a spiritual contact with the most profound in their consciousness, many in the memory of a well loved teacher, a relative that may even appear in dreams, no matter who this Internal Guide is, they can show us the path to the coherence of a unitive life and solidarity with others.
But this dialogue with our interior is not often part of our culture. It is true that it has become more or less common knowledge that we criticise in others the negative qualities we fail to see in ourselves, but its positive counterpart is much less discussed, in spite of being truly revolutionary. So, we fail to see in ourselves the positive qualities we admire in others. We attribute to good leaders kindness, wisdom and strength but we feel we need those external leaders, we are dependent on them, because we do not realise those qualities are in us, in the peoples that elect them. In a culture where human relationships are based on mutual criticism many people are unable to develop an internal reference and are therefore open to manipulation through fear. To differentiate information from propaganda we must elevate our level of consciousness, by checking our own registers and discussing them with others.
Finding one’s Internal Guide (1) opens the door to both personal well being and a healthy, Real Democracy.
1. See Humanise the Earth by Silo, The Internal Landscape, CH XVII, The Internal Guide