Consciousness Expansion (In the Age of Neofeudalism)
Last Saturday night, I felt my soul leave my body and I knew that I had died. Falling into the stars, as the universe whirled all around me, I understood for the first time that there is a rhythm to this apparent chaos; that there is reason to this randomness and, yes, perhaps even a divine plan unfolding in the great, eternal galaxy of things. I fell not just through our universe, but every universe that has ever been or ever will be and, though I had moments of intense fear, the wonder and amazement of this odyssey overwhelmed my senses and I found myself surrendering to the ever-spiralling patterns and colours, to the sight of strange, alien planets where the sound of life buzzed, vibrating out into the ether, and to the long, winding tunnel that sucked what was left of my body, now naught but a hot, blazing ball of light, down into it with a force and speed hitherto unimaginable to me.
I cannot say for how long I was gone; it seemed to me like years and years, but in real time - earth time - it was perhaps little more than twenty minutes. Stunned and physically shaken beyond words, I found myself coming to on my friend's bedroom floor where he was whispering to me soothingly, as though attempting to guide my rough and rocky passage back from outer space. But I did not want to come back; I wanted to stay out there forever, for there was much to see and do and I had observed but a mere fraction. Indeed, I had no desire to return and now, as the days pass by and I drift ever further from that place of truth, that "real" reality, I feel my spirit sink deeper and deeper into a mingled sense of grief and loneliness only those touched by death can possibly fathom.
The voice of a forgotten and forsaken god, or gods unknown, spoke to me directly, but now I cannot recall the sound and, as time goes on, I have begun to lose all memory of what I witnessed and how it felt to be, for the first time my life, unshackled and unbound from the mundane worries and troubles of this world. A strange entity informed me of my purpose on this earth, but now for the life of me I cannot remember – my brain had swiftly relinquished the most important piece of information I could ever hope to receive! And by the time Monday rolled around, I found that I could not get out of bed. The weight of this wretched realm, heavier and more oppressive than ever, seemed to press down on top of me as I recalled all that this mental adventure had enabled me to forget - my aimlessness, my failure to make it, my poverty, my disillusionment and my increasing disgust with the current global regime; it all seemed to dissolve into nothingness as I realized how utterly petty our problems truly are – issues we ourselves have created and therefore have the power to resolve. Yet as my earthly woes returned and I regained a sense of the gravity of our modern predicaments, the one piece of wisdom that remained with me was a resounding conviction that the time has come for change on a global and existential scale and that, because of our insatiable egos, we are on the verge of missing it forever.
The human ego is delicate flower which requires rich, fertile soil, the warming rays of the sun and the occasional sprinkle of water in order to survive and, according to the tenets of modern capitalism, constitutes the epicentre of human activity and human life. It is, to the capitalist, what essentially drives human advancement across a vast spectrum of intellectual pursuits and is as vital for motivation as butter is to bread. The ego also lies at the heart of the ideals of meritocracy, which, in and of itself, are a vital component of capitalist ideology. Put simply, these ideals - universally accepted - suggest that if one plays by the rules and is morally, physically and intellectually worthy, then one becomes blessed with the essential nutrients which enable not only their ego, but their physical body to survive and grow. Everyone wants to believe themselves worthy and so we buy into the notion that what we do within the capitalist paradigm and how much money we make are a direct reflection of who we are deep down inside and what our value to society is. The result being that we essentially conflate monetary value with our intrinsic value as human-beings, leading to a frantic rat-race to earn more and own more and hoard more – a compulsion leading ultimately and ironically to our own extinction.
Popularized in the age of aristocracy, the notion of "worthiness" plays a specific role in the maintenance of the system and of the structure of the social classes, which themselves reinforce the apparent validity of the meritocratic order. In a meritocratic system, the impoverished and unemployed are viewed as shameful and anathema to humankind, as they inevitably, and quite instinctively, bring to mind ignorance, laziness, inadequacies and, dare I say it, inferior genetics. The poor are viewed as by society as those who, through their failures deserve to be in the dire situation that they are in. Indeed, the central premise of the 19th Century "Workhouse" where multitudes went to languish and, in some cases, perish, drew heavily from the notion that the poor should be punished for their inability to "just get on with things" and use what little few skills they had to make a living. The super-rich, (like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk etc) on the other hand, tend to be highly esteemed and held up as models to emulate and applaud. They are wealthy because they deserve to be, because they are smarter, cleverer, prettier, more creative and innovative than those beneath them. They have "earned" their positions at the top and that is why they enjoy all the accoutrements of elite living - billions of dollars, servants, private jets, countless houses and cars, influence in society, as well as among their elite political counterparts.
Like the vast majority of the aptly-named “Lost Generation”, my peers and I bought into the illusion that if you succeeded in struggling your way through school, enduring all the dictatorial nonsense and the endless drilling of information, then battled your way through four years or more of college, that you would come out on the other side with job offers a-plenty and once and for all begin your glorious ascension into adulthood. We envisioned starting our first big career, buying our first apartment or house, marrying, having children and all the things we grew up expecting would naturally fall into place when the time arrived. Perhaps it was this way before, yet by the time we arrived it was already too late; the picnic was over and there was nothing left on the table but mouldy breadcrumbs. After the 2008-9 crash, an inescapable sense of disillusionment with the status quo was all that remained after our dreams and fantasies of getting on in the world had been shattered. We then watched with anguished disbelief as our elders fought amongst each other for every last piece of the pie, never considering for a second that the legacy left to us would amount to nothing more than bad debts, rotting infrastructure and a crumbling society. Since then, the greed and corruption we continue to witness unfolding on a daily basis is nothing short of breath-taking and the recognition that we have nobody to look up to and nothing to believe in anymore is beginning to hit home.
The reality which is constantly seeking to break through the propaganda and psychological manipulation is that aside for a brief and rare few periods in time, the idea of meritocracy has remained just that - an idea. The truth, which people worldwide are increasingly beginning to see and understand, is that the notion of a meritocracy has been used as an alibi whenever critics point the finger at capitalism for its extreme inequities and increasing lawlessness. The recent college recruitment scandal in the U.S., in which wealthy parents were revealed to have spent millions cheating their children's way into prestigious universities, is a prime example of a time when the guise of meritocracy shatters and, even for the briefest of moments, enables us a glimpse of the true nature of the system – an economic paradigm that is rigged to serve a tiny elite above the rest of humanity and the planet. Now, even the education system, ever the hallmark of the meritocratic ideal, has proved itself corrupted and rigged by the global elite.
Witnessing the aftermath of the financial crash has been sombre and unnervingly grim. The governments of the western world have shown where their true allegiance lies; siding with the “too big to fail” bankers, who continue to grant themselves enormous bonus packages while all around them citizens flounder. This climate of injustice has become the prevailing theme of our time and, for most of us, it is too much for the mind to grapple with. Our once steadfast belief in a system built upon the pillars of morality and righteousness and hard work has been utterly decimated. Indeed, the entire capitalist paradigm has revealed itself to be little more than a cheap side-show and, now that the curtain has given way and we see the truth, we find ourselves blinded by our own horror and disgust. Instead of using this crisis as the catalyst for global systemic change, however, we have allowed the unenlightened ones of this earth – the tricksters, manipulators and clowns - to continue to pillage and plunder what few resources we have left. We have failed to take the opportunity to question who this system truly caters to and why, in spite of its gross inefficiency and instability, it continues unfettered and unabated, masquerading behind the pretence of a meritocracy to strip us of what little pride we have left. Rather than supporting each other and rallying together to ward off the evil that surrounds us, we continue to compete against each other and scramble for the last crumbs of the pie in a desperate race to the bottom; shaming each other into compliance with a system that is killing us all, measure by measure.
For those still wallowing within the narrow halls of capitalist ideology, it is time to wake up. It is time to look around and see the universe and the universal truths for what they are, because right now we are sleepwalking into an abyss from which there may be no return. It is time be brave and acknowledge the fact that the era for an evolution of consciousness is upon us – an evolution which begins with the recognition that capitalism has no more alibis left to hide behind. Inequality is rampant, the planet is dying, and the very notion of a meritocracy has been shown for exactly what it is: a cruel farce and a lousy excuse for the utter inhumanity toward our fellow man that now prevails worldwide.
My spiritual odyssey taught me that the ego needs to be dismantled if we are to evolve as a species and not condemn ourselves to the rubbish-heap of history. This reality is a difficult to accept - cold, brutal and unapologetic - but the truth sets us free and recognizing our own enslavement is the first step to liberation. We need consciousness expansion on a grand scale if we are ever to overcome the restrictive, highly limiting paradigm neoliberal capitalism has confined us in. We need to open our minds to other ways of being, to the possibility of breaking through the power structures that suppress us and this world. We don't have to forgive the wrongs of the past, but we can at least move on and, for the sake of our own evolution, leave this rotting shell of a system behind. Let us not submit to the institutionalization of envy that meritocracy generates, but instead support each in other in the recognition that it is an idea designed to segregate us and prevent us from joining together in solidarity against the neofeudal regime. Let us leave the plutocrats and clownish politicians of this age behind and move together into a new era of collective caring, consciousness and progression.