Crises, like pandemics, don’t break things in and of themselves; they show you what’s already broken.
– Patrick Wyman
Big macro crises in any form are scary, massively disruptive, and in some cases, literally deadly. This is why governments and entrenched institutions always see such events as opportunities to further consolidate wealth and power.
The current global pandemic is no exception, as I detailed in last week’s piece: Power Grab. While it’s necessary to be aware of this reality — and to push back against it wherever possible — it’s equally important to recognize there’s a silver lining to all of this.
The paradigm we live under depends on us not thinking too hard about how power functions.
It relies on us being so busy with the basics of survival, or distracted by superficial consumerism and endless entertainment, to contemplate how the system actually works. This method of social control has been wildly successful throughout my lifetime, but what’s interesting about moments of global crises is the mask is forced off for a period. In a desperate scramble to marshal all of the corporate-imperial state’s resources to save the interests of the oligarchy, we’re shown in full color who really matters and who doesn’t.
You do not matter.
The imperial state doesn’t care about you. Oligarchs don’t care about you. Mega corporations don’t care about you. This truth is cleverly hidden from much of the public during “normal” times when the machine is humming along as intended, but it’s far more in your face during a crisis period. It’s much harder to hide the truth when the world gets turned upside down.
Aside from the grotesque spectacle of the U.S. government funneling all of its resources toward propping up Wall Street and large corporations, this crisis has exposed the the rot and dysfunction in another meaningful way. Our health experts, ostensibly there to help the public navigate exactly this sort of event, have failed us in spectacular fashion.
This is what political actors masquerading as experts do in a crisis.
They either give bad advice, or intentionally mislead the public to hide the fact the U.S. simply doesn’t have adequate mask supply and sent its manufacturing capacity overseas. Which brings up an important topic worthy of further discussion: the crucial distinction between experts and expertise.
An “expert” in our society is someone with expertise in a particular field who’s been propped up by either the media, government or both as an authoritative source to listen to on a particular topic.
This individual’s elevated stature is artificially created by an external source that’s selected this particular person as someone you should listen to. It tends to be a political appointment. This person has been chosen, not only because he or she has expertise (many others also do), but due to other attributes that appeal to those who’ve decided to prop them up. Anyone who’s worked in corporate America knows full well that many of those promoted to middle management, or higher, often end up there not because they’re particularly skilled, but because they’re good at playing politics and know the right ass to kiss. The same is true in all large organizations, and government is no exception.
In the days before the internet and social media, the public might know that government/media experts were behaving dishonestly, but didn’t have realtime access to competitive nonpolitical voices with equal or superior expertise to the government experts.
What many of us discovered during this pandemic is people with expertise engaging publicly on Twitter provided far better and more timely advice than the government/media experts. This makes perfect sense because these people tend to not be political actors, but rather humans attempting to share information in an honest and selfless manner. If we’ve learned anything in the 21st century, it’s that actual track records don’t matter when it comes to media and government positions. In fact, the more catastrophically wrong you are in the interests of oligarchy, the more likely you are to be promoted and elevated.
Fortunately, I entered this crisis with a well established distrust of mass media and government, and therefore knew better than to look toward their experts for any useful guidance. Rather, I sought out the opinions of various nonpolitical individuals with relevant expertise who helped me see things for how they were very early on. Others have not been as lucky, but will no doubt emerge from this crisis with a deep distrust of established institutions and individuals, and with very good reason.
We’ve just witnessed a catastrophic failure of the centralized state in America, and the blowback will resonate within the larger culture for years if not decades.
Similar to how many people were shaken to their core during the financial crisis a decade ago, I think this pandemic event will lead to an even larger wave of people awakening to how completely rotten, pernicious and corrupt the whole system is. Once you see that reality in all its glory, you can’t unsee it.
Of course, recognizing how broken things are isn’t enough.
We need to have a thoughtful conversation about what we have too much of versus what we need. If we’re going to change the world, we need a vision. I have some thoughts on the matter.
Nothing is set in stone. The world as it is today is not some divine eternal paradigm beyond reproach. Humans shape the world through their choices, actions and mentality.