The Coming Consciousness Shift

The trouble with living in, and commenting on, present society is that it is very difficult to get a birds-eye view of what is really going on.

We are all products of our intellectual and social environment to some extent, and this severely limits our ability to see alternate developments outside the square of accepted opinion and media bias.

Historians have got it over current media commentators precisely because when looking at present events, they should be able to take a longer view - and perhaps discern trends which may be missed by others.

And it certainly requires such a perspective to be able to spot an historically significant event, at the time it is actually occurring.

I recall when I first read "The Sovereign Individual" - by Davidson and Rees-Mogg - one of their predictions certainly stood out. The collapse of the Berlin Wall was really an historic turning point, a verdict on state socialism and on any central planning, and this event would be seen as such in the future.

I agree.

I also see something else of major significance - that mostly goes unnoticed by world media - the rise of the "market" as the model for creating economic and societal success.

To explain this, I need to distinguish between two modes of action: The "political" mode and the "market" mode.

The political mode is in essence the use of force to achieve desired ends - disguised somewhat behind the facade of democracy, which seeks to give some moral credence to the use of such force.

But force is no doubt the primary tool of politics - democratic or otherwise. The process of applying this force involves negotiating, dealing, bribing or lobbying to ensure one's own particular notion of how such force should be used - and for it to become public policy.

Just one example: farmers the world over (except New Zealand and Australia to my knowledge) are notorious for wanting special political favours - i.e., protection for their particular industry.

At a political level this is easy to achieve, because rural areas are usually well-represented in government - giving clout to the farmers' demands. And of course, food is an emotional issue - "we must look after the farmers, as they create our food!". The end result is that farmers are mostly successful in lobbying the state to keep out (by force) the food produced by farmers in other countries - in order to protect their own patch.

In this example, farmers, who should be relying on the market mode of operation, are instead relying on the political mode - the use of force to achieve their desired ends.

Democracy is the "smoke and mirrors" trick that is used to legitimise such force - by saying, in effect, that this is what the people want.

However, most people, if given a true choice, would much rather pay less for their food, than to prop up their own farmers at a premium - notwithstanding the propaganda about buying your own countrymen's produce.

And it is this ready access to the levers of force that is the engine of corruption.

If you can pay a million bucks to have your particular notion of how such force should be deployed and taken up as state policy, then you are able to buy yourself ongoing financial success. You will have greased the wheels of the political (force) machine to do your own particular bidding.

Yes, force is the primary tool of politics. And here's the essential point - it's also the antithesis of the market.

The free market is distinguished by the fact that a win-win situation must occur before a deal can be struck. If you remove force from the possible strategies for achieving what you want, then you are left with one simple alternative - to win others over to your point of view by offering something in return. In other words "trade" becomes the method of achieving one's goals - not the use of the gun.

If I, as a businessman, want to sell you something, then I have two possible choices - employ the political mode, or the market one.

If I go the way of politics (as far too many "big" business people do), then I can lobby for quotas and tariffs on my competitors' products - to create a guaranteed market for my own. Or I can lobby for taxpayer funding to develop or subsidise my business.

A good example of using the political mode of business is in the alternative energy field. The market is teeming with hopefuls peddling everything from wind to solar power. And most of them have one thing in common - they are so convinced of the benefits of their particular technology, that they want to bypass the market's judgement in favour of preferential treatment, tax breaks and direct subsidies, courtesy of the hapless taxpayers.

If I go the way of the market - then I have to find customers by winning them over. This requires such things as offering what they really want, at an acceptable price - and of the best quality. If I can't successfully do this, then I simply go out of business.

Thus the market operates in the realm of voluntary action - and politics in the realm of coercion.

Now, here's the interesting thing. Throughout history, politics has always been the main player - and the market has always been controlled by it.

Those who earned a living through the market (the merchants, the traders, the producers) have always been despised for earning money via voluntary exchange. While the kudos and social acceptance has always been reserved for the politicians - the purveyors of force.

But that is changing. Sure, the change may be slow, but such change also represents a world first!

These last few years has seen an increasing acceptance of the market model for doing things. Business people are more often in the news. The business of "business" is permeating the culture more and more.

And it's no wonder.

When a company like Microsoft or Apple makes capitalists out of its employees (by offering stock), then a fundamental change has taken place.

No longer are "workers" and "management" two distinctly different entities - but instead co-owners, with a stake in the profitability of the company they work for.

It doesn't take too much of this new status and attitude to completely alter the basic mindset of people - especially when you also consider that more and more people are becoming what used to be called "self-employed".

At the same time we are witnessing the ascendancy of the market, we are being bombarded with images of political corruption and incompetence - the downgrading of the political mode of action.

Hardly a night goes by, when watching world news, without some politician somewhere being accused of corruption or involved in some scandal. And to make matters worse, such politicians always appear to get off scott-free.

While ordinary people are being fined for driving too fast, or imprisoned for enjoying a quite puff of dope, the political class are committing crimes of such magnitude that it defies belief - and yet walk away squeaky clean.

The public perception of politicians and the political process is at an all-time low.

At the same time, the market is continually delivering "good" news. And some of the big good news stories these days are to do with the breakthroughs in genetic research - which have the potential to lead to cures for all sorts of serious illnesses.

Now, this really is big news, because us humans are particularly vulnerable to dying too early - and hold our future health in high regard (mostly). So, when we read or hear of some major breakthrough that could save our lives in the future, or even save the life of a loved one now, then this has a big emotional impact. And you know what? Politicians are out of the loop on this one. They are not the ones who can deliver such good news.

Of course the market is delivering a vast range of good news stories every day - but because our media is mainly concerned with "bad" news, such stories are not given the prime space they deserve.

Whether its about computers, entertainment, medical advances, transportation, or even healthier food - the fact cannot be ignored that the market is the good news machine, while politics is the bad news machine.

Eventually, all this "good news" sinks into the public consciousness. The market delivers the "goodies", while politics delivers the "baddies". Sure, the enemies of the market are always trying to depict business or capitalism as rapacious and evil. But this is a media image - not necessarily what ordinary people actually think. And while there are always bad apples in any environment, these are usually rare in business and pale into insignificance when compared with the crimes of the political class.

Okay, it takes time for such a consciousness change to fully take effect. But when it does, it could bring about a swift transformation of society - as rapid as the fall of the Berlin Wall.

No one expected that. Politicians and political thinkers everywhere were caught with their "pants down".

What happened, in the case of the Berlin Wall, was that "politics" finally caught up with reality - the reality inside people's heads.

The Berlin Wall was a political edifice that couldn't withstand a fundamental mind-shift in the people standing either side of it. When the wall, and the people's view of it, were finally separated by a chasm of fundamental difference - the wall simply had to go.

The "wall" was the essence of the political mode of action - the use of force. And its collapse represented a turning point.

My thinking is that the reality inside people's heads is changing again, and that at some not-to-distant time, events could conspire to bring about a major collapse in the political mode of action - and finally unleash the full power of the market as the only viable alternative for human interaction.

In fact, with the political mode of action fighting a rear-guard action already (by resorting to its ultimate end game strategy - war), that day could be closer than we think.

And when that occurs, the market process will win the day, and the concept of voluntarism, win-win outcomes, trading value for value and the abolition of force in human relationships will finally be the only mode of action worth pursuing.

Meanwhile, you can begin that process now - by ignoring politicians, (dinosaurs really), and shaping your own life according to the "market" mode of action - and grab a foretaste of freedom.

Yours in freedom

David MacGregor