by James Corbett
February 18, 2014
In recent weeks, the Eyeopener has been examining the politics of division. In our first report, we looked at how the left/right political spectrum is used as a wedge to divide the people against themselves. In our second report we showed how this has been accomplished in recent years to defuse the anti-war movement. And in last week’s report we examined how the corporate welfare state is maintained by way of these phony divisions.
As important as the political spectrum is in keeping the people warring with each other, it is of course by no means the only wedge issue that is used to keep the public at each other’s throats. Other tools of division include race, religion, class, and a whole host of issues that do not intersect with the political sphere at all, but nonetheless effectively help to group people into warring camps.
The end result of this constant appeal to tribalism is to pit neighbor against neighbor, family against family, coworker against coworker, and even friend against friend so that our lives consist of ever-dwindling spheres of people with whom we can agree totally on every issue. Meanwhile, the people in positions of very real control over the lives of those masses go unscrutinized, their actions lost under the 24/7 babble of nonsense being generated by the politics of division.
There is, after all, a reason that the pyramid has historically been seen as a metaphor for social control. At the bottom lie millions of stones, atomized, divided against each other, but all acting in unison to support the layer above it. The further up the pyramid one goes, the fewer the divisions between the components of that layer until, finally, the capstone reveals itself as the single, unitary ruler of the entire system. This is the image of the oligarchy, rule by the few over the masses through the age-old technique of divide and conquer.
If divide and conquer is the technique that keeps the people oppressed, however, it is obvious that the one thing that the ruling class fears above all else is that the public will unite against them. If the people were ever to put aside their doctrinal differences and coordinate their efforts, the results would be staggering.
This is not mere theory, but a political fact born out by centuries of example, and one that is continuing to have dramatic effect on the world around us. A classic example in recent years was the push to force milk from cows treated with bovine growth hormone into the marketplace. After concerns about the effects of this milk on both human health and the health of the cows themselves were made known through grassroots advocacy, however, consumer pressure led to BGH milk being taken off the shelves in store after store, including Wal-Mart, Kroger, Safeway, Starbucks, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and other places. Similarly with bisphenol A, an estrogen-mimicking endocrine disruptor used in the creation of certain plastics and resins that was found to have potentially hazardous effects on the development of babies and young children. A mass awareness campaign led to worried parents demanding BPA-free plastics, which in turn led to BPA being removed from product after product.
In recent months, pressure on corporations has led to the removal of a number of food additives, chemicals, preservatives, and GMO ingredients from their products due to pressure from grassroots campaigns.
Similarly with the fight against water fluoridation. In most cases, the fluoridation program is not the addition of medical grade sodium fluoride to the drinking supply, but Hexafluorosilicic acid, a toxic byproduct of the phosphate fertilizer industry. As scientific studies continue to mount demonstrating the harmful effects of fluoridation on people’s bones, liver, thyroid, IQ, and, ironically enough, teeth, a concerned public has increasingly begun banding together across party lines to get the toxins removed from the water supply. One such case is in Austin, Texas, where young activists recently engaged in a hunger strike outside Austin City Hall to raise awareness of the problem, and have parlayed that action into a new PAC hoping to get the issue of fluoridation on the ballot in Austin.
The idea of grassroots campaigns helping to remove fluoride from the water supply is not unique to Austin. In recent years citizen-led groups have successfully campaigned for the removal of fluoride from the water supply of cities around the globe, from Calgary, Alberta to Windsor, Ontario to Hamilton, New Zealand to the entire country of Israel, and Portland, Oregon recently voted to keep fluoride out of their water supply.
By no means are these campaigns limited to the health sphere. The Move Your Money project has encouraged people in the US and the UK to stop banking with the big, unaccountable megabanks and switch to local banks and credit unions while Ithaca Hours, Colorado Mountain Hours, Calgary Dollars, and any number of similar systems around the globe encourage people to eschew central bank funny money in favour of local business-supporting complementary money systems.
In the tech field, the open source revolution is reimagining the way people collaborate, share knowledge, and produce innovations. From 3D printing and the sharing of the digital blueprints for the design of all manner of household objects under creative commons licenses to the creation of downloadable roadworthy car chassis to the sharing of designs and ideas for farming technologies in the open agriculture revolution, people are finding all sorts of new ways to come together regardless of political or philosophical or racial or class distinction to create vibrant, alternative communities of like-minded people interested in finding solutions to humanity’s problems.
Progress in these fields, of course, is by no means straightforward, and victory, as always, is hard won. But it can and does happen. These victories will never be trumpeted in the media, which always and forever wants to continue to keep people divided and to play up petty differences to stop them from coming together on their shared concerns. Ultimately, the choice of whether we are interested in collaborating over solutions or bickering over differences is not up to the would-be rulers of society or their talking head mockingbirds or their political puppets. It is a conscious decision that we make to transcend the barriers of divide and conquer politics, to put aside petty differences and doctrinal disagreements for cooperation on positive solutions.
That decision starts with you. And it starts today.