The idea that we are part of a wonderful economic system producing the very best that people working together in mutual co-operation can achieve, and that all that’s standing in the way of that ideal being fully attained are those not prepared to “pull themselves up by the bootstraps,” is nonsense.
Just like the many small traders in 1920s’ Chicago who were bullied by gangsters into paying protection money to avoid having their businesses wrecked, our economy only functions because we too have signed up to a similar mob protection racket.
It’s a racket where, in return for allowing “The Mob” to define and control the terms of trade and all associated financial arrangements, and providing that we support The Mob extending its “protection” to others, only then can we be sure our little shop’s front window won’t be smashed and our goods strewn in the street.
It’s a protection racket that replaces a similar one run by an earlier Mob, once the biggest in the world, but whose power and influence was destroyed in the great Mob War of 1939-45. Soon after that the old Mob withdrew its “protection” of far-flung folk like us, and became a lieutenant in the ranks of the new Mob.
The old mob’s once-vast territory, on which it was claimed the sun never set, was ruled with such brutality that the blood spilt never set either. And all that violence was accompanied by a display of pomp and pageantry deftly designed to “dignify” the methods used by the old Mob to maintain its Imperial grip.
It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished, unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets. —Voltaire.
But with its influence declining and its regal trappings now reduced to a dysfunctional London family, trotted out to salute a tawdry display of square bashing on Horse Guards parade each year, the old Mob is a shadow of its former self.
While still obscuring the gangster-style nature of the processes we have been so cleverly schooled into accepting, the new Mob projects its power with an emphasis more on “board room” than “throne room,” which, we are told, points to its “democratic” values, and so we’re signed up.
Today’s new Mob keeps us “shocked and awed” with its very real and deadly military and financial omnipotence and perpetual war-mongering, which it says is necessary to defend “democracy”. And this has now spawned a new and more frightening phenomenon where, because the production of war weaponry is so lucrative, war itself has become the reason for war. Who wins matters less.
And that pitiless profit potential is now further enhanced by the The Mob now requiring that those being “protected” buy the weapons which provide that protection. And, of course, again, the bill is paid from the public purse. Surely, somewhere, there just has to be a secluded spot where Capitalism has erected a shrine to Socialism
Surely, somewhere, there just has to be a secluded spot where Capitalism has erected a shrine to Socialism.
This systematised protection racket first described by Italian philosopher, political theorist, journalist, writer and Marxist politician, Antonio Gramsci as “Cultural Hegemony,” is defined as the dominance of a culturally diverse society by the ruling class who manipulate the culture of that society for their own benefit.
Gramsci argued that consent to the rule of the dominant group is achieved by the spread of ideologies—beliefs, assumptions, and values—through social institutions such as schools, churches, courts, and the media, among others. These institutions do the work of socializing people into the norms, values, and beliefs of the dominant social group which, by consent, then controls the society
So, for instance, if today’s Mob covets some resources sitting in the backyard of a someone not currently enjoying its “protection,” and decides to seize them, we, having been conditioned to accept The Mob’s worldview and the social and economic structures that embody it, will support the seizure of those resources in that backyard.
In many instances we are so convinced by the argument which the Mob claims justifies its action, we may even extend it a helping a hand. All to ensure our shop window isn’t broken and our goods aren’t strewn in the street.
Accordingly, having been convinced that the Mob’s world view is in fact our society and culture’s world view, we have, over the span of our culture’s evolution, supported the invasion and plunder of many backyards – not least among them the one we’re standing in right now.
In addition to being kept in awe of the threat of the Mob’s power, its omnipotence is cemented by a range of legal, judicial, governmental and religious structures, each of which is designed to add dignity and solemnity to the otherwise crude processes of a protection racket.
For instance, in any sane society nobody would accept that; “People only get the justice they can afford”, and yet we accept that. Why? How can it be that lawyers, whose job it is to help others access the law, should be paid fees that make it impossible for those needing the law’s help, to get it? All that that has achieved is to ensconce lawyers as petty officers of the Mob and so bound to protect its interests. That’s systematised corruption!
Gramsci believed society’s intellectuals, often viewed as detached observers of social life, are actually embedded in a privileged social class and enjoy great prestige. As such, they function as the “deputies” of the ruling class, teaching and encouraging people to follow the norms and rules which the ruling class has established.
In his “The Study of Philosophy,” Gramsci discussed the role of “common sense”—dominant ideas about society and about our place in it—in producing cultural hegemony. For example, the idea of “pulling oneself up by the bootstraps,” the idea that one can succeed economically if one just tries hard enough, is a form of “common sense” that has flourished under Capitalism, because it serves to justify it.
In other words, if one believes that all it takes to succeed is hard work and dedication, then it follows that Capitalism and the social structure that is organized around it is just and valid. It also follows that those who have succeeded economically have earned their wealth in a just and fair manner and that those who struggle economically, in turn, deserve their impoverished state. This form of “common sense” fosters the belief that success and social mobility are strictly the responsibility of the individual, which, in doing so, obscures the real class, racial, and gender inequalities that are built into the Capitalist system.
But such political and philosophical ideas, which Mussolini’s Fascist state considered so dangerous it had Gramsci imprisoned, along with ideas that contend we are participants in a big protection racket, are matters the Mob would prefer weren’t discussed. But in this age of internet communication it’s nor t easy to keep a lid on such exchanges. And so the battle to keep us loyal to the Mob has become as big a war as that being fought in the backyards being “liberated.” And that’s where the role of the media and propaganda comes in.
But that’s another story – pun intended.