When the whole society becomes a theater of absurdity, the puppeteers become kings and queens of insanity. The society loses its logic, history, facts, honesty, sincerity, creativity and imagination, as the monstrous imaginations of the deranged ruling class devour humanity and nature.
The invisible cage of authoritarianism comes in the shape of a bottomless pyramid. Fear and hopelessness fill the dimly lit bottom layers. Layers and layers separate us, alienate us and dehumanize us. The pain of “others” becomes your gain. The power of oppressors becomes your safety: The safety of living in the dangerous imaginations of the kings and queens.
But such a thought vanishes as quickly as our minds get flooded back with the numbing noises of the insane theater, while our remaining logic, seriousness and honesty are ridiculed and attacked by fearful fellow humans with cynicism, hopelessness and cowardliness.
The world doesn’t look like that at all for those who belong to the club of kings and queens. The unruly mass with no understanding of the righteous path of “humanity” has been inherently expendable for them. This has been shown over and over: colonization of natives by Europeans, enslavement of African people, genocides of many sorts.
But one also sees the same blunt inhumanity embedded among us today: homelessness, deaths by treatable diseases, hunger, deaths by substance abuse, suicide, poverty, refugees, mass incarceration, state violence, the psychological torture of alienation. The kings and queens don’t recognize those as issues to be solved with their resources.
Instead those issues represent forms of punishment for those who fail to secure viable positions within the capitalist hierarchy. The fear of the punishment and the fear of the authority work together to lock us in positions in the hierarchy, forcing us to protect our positions which systemically and structurally threaten our wellbeing 24/7; we live in a system of structural extortion.
As we have become free-range people in the “divine farm” of modern-day kings and queens, we have lost our access to the fundamental material reality. A sterile cage with screens, mandatory injections, electronic tracking within the invisible fence; human mice for profits, feed for data harvesting, an ever greater degree of spiritual death. It is not hard to start connecting the dots to see how things can lead into a grim future.
But what does such a fear do to the population, which has tolerated an assortment of abuses as their “punishment”? To those who manage to ignore their fellow humans living on the streets as invisible beings or fail to feel the pain of those being cornered into substance use and desperate acts of self-destruction?
Would they believe the words of those who question, or the words of the ruling class promising a glorious future of AI, green capitalism, genetic engineering, digitization and financialization?
And before we ask such a question, one must wonder if such a question is even allowed when the socioeconomic/political trajectory of the empire has been firmly within the imperial framework of the two capitalist political parties.
The capitalist hierarchy absorbs what it needs by allocating special positions within it: Natural resources, narratives, facts, history, people, political ideologies or anything that sits in time and space. The kings and queens monopolize them— material resources as well as people with skills and knowledge are captured to serve. Once monopolized, the valued items are commodified, to be distributed in ways that benefit those same kings and queens.
Meanwhile such a process occurs in layers and layers, projecting myths, exploitive narratives, false history and erroneous facts onto our collective consciousness—a fake reality which covers our eyes while we push our mortal bodies around in the real world.
The images projected onto our psyche vary according to our positions in the hierarchy. Each narrative validates and justifies our positions in the hierarchy. Kings and queens find themselves to be worthy rulers of the universe, while the masses see themselves as freedom-loving people who do their best in a world of opportunities.
In such an equation authoritarianism presents itself as a swinging pendulum between fascism and social democracy as it moves forward on the capitalist path in space and time. The carrot and stick carefully manage projected images to stay within the capitalist framework of acceptable ideas. Corporate politics and corporate activism play crucial roles in making the pendulum swing, therefore ensuring that the capitalist interests always go forward while appearing to be “democratic”.
Those who rely on terrorist tactics of various sorts attempt to resist the system by attacking the valuable, captured elements that work for the system. The damage compromises social dynamics in ways that deprive those who are already deprived, while dividing the population that should be uniting to dismantle the oppressive system.
Guided by agent provocateurs and corporate NGOs, righteous anger against oppressors turns into a justification for draconian measures, destruction of communities for urban renewal, and a catalyst for new projects of exploitation.
As a set of capitalist imperatives pushes the capitalist contradiction to the limit, completely depriving people’s ability to reconcile the false perceptions and the material reality, it is time for an urgent mobilization to change the trajectory of exploitation into a new field with a new set of rules. We are told that enemies are coming, a natural disaster is coming or a disease is coming, forcing us to mobilize ourselves to adjust to a new path of plundering for the kings and queens.
Any crisis, real or not, against the backdrop of a hierarchical structure imposes two sets of momentum that keep us within the capitalist farm. The first set has to do with fear of the authority, which keeps our frustration directed against ourselves, each other and oppressed “others”, while firmly gripping the destabilized psyche of the population—creating an ironic psychology of supporting oppressive authority against our own interests.
The second set has to do with the material constraints imposed by the particular crisis—we become enemies to each other fighting amongst ourselves to survive. We are put in the capitalist cage. And we are forced to protect our cage, which is constructed with vertical strength to withstand fear of the authority, horizontal strength to withstand attacks by competitors, and a solid floor to prevent one from falling down from the position in the hierarchy. The whole structure is held together with violent force of exploitation and subjugation.
The Great Reset
”The Great Reset” is packaged as a “great solution”. Just like how the ruling class has marketed “green capitalism”—carbon trading, carbon capture, reforestation, and other resource exhausting green schemes and technologies for profit, it’s designed to prop up capitalism but it is also intended to transform capitalism to have more effective control of social relations while keeping the capitalist hierarchy intact.
Capitalism is getting a new OS, and it needs to be restarted. Just as “green capitalism” has destroyed real environmentalism in the name of saving the planet, it is designed to destroy anti-capitalist activism in the name of “revolution”.
One of the prominent leftist tools under a capitalist framework has been grass roots activism to affect state regulations and state guidelines to contain momentums of exploitation and subjugation created by Wall Street as well as capitalist social institutions. The stock market guided economy (falsely advertised as the only system that works) allows the ruling class to dominate social policies according to their interests; it prioritizes ruling class wealth accumulation while sacrificing social relations among the general population; it is extremely inefficient, unstable and economically unjust.
The capitalist state has been a great tool in ensuring the interests of the ruling class to be a priority. The socialist revolution takes over the capitalist state, it nationalizes corporate entities and sets up the economy, education and the rest of social institutions and social relations to be guided by people’s interests. Various incarnations of the above strategies to counter capitalist exploitation and encroaching imperial hegemony have attempted to do two major things.
First, they have prioritized people’s interests by emphasizing projects that benefit the general population while providing social safety nets, infrastructure for the people, environmental regulations and so on. Second, they have allowed economic activities based on people’s needs which can grow organic community dynamics based on humanity and nature.
“The Great Reset,” on the other hand, is a project of the ruling class meant to take away those measures from the people and utilize them to further solidify their dominance over the people. Since the owners of the farm are plenty rich already, they won’t need a big farm. Their social engineering skills as well as the greater control over the economy will be put to a test in building a sustainable farming business with a smaller herd.
This is why it seems that all activism has turned into enforcing or defying the various virus lockdown measures which have been instrumental in enforcing the trajectory of “The Great Reset.” Remember how all environmental activism was swallowed by the single idea of reducing carbon emission? Fearmongering slogans of apocalyptic narratives involving climate change, strong NGO guided activism, and corporate science emphasizing the topic of global warming have created the huge snowballing momentum to fight climate change at all costs, sidelining and coopting all other important environmental activism.
This has also contributed to the idea that it is no longer relevant to insist on being a part of systematic efforts in dismantling the capitalist system and building an alternate system which allows humanity and nature to prevail in harmony; we are told that we don’t have time to build socialism anymore. We are encouraged to be a part of green solutions by the capitalists as a result.
We are being told that casino capitalism for profits must end to introduce “stakeholder capitalism”. But of course, since the notion is coming from the profiteers who have colonized, corporatized, militarized and financialized, we can presume that they are talking about ensuring their own interests by directly guiding the economic decisions instead of continuing the show called the economy by the “invisible hand.” We are told that we should be provided with universal basic income, free housing and other social services as long as we follow the regulations and policies of public-private partnership.
What sort of conditioning will we be subjected to after being deprived of our inherent relationships to ourselves, to each other, to our communities and to nature, forced to be a part of destructive industrial farming, digitalization of everything with massive resource extraction, colonization of our communities with multinational franchises and enslavement of our souls in the invisible cage of indoctrination and propaganda?
We already have such a system in the US—it’s called mass incarceration in the private prison system. We are being told that the economy must not be merely guided by growth and it must be replaced by a sustainable one.
However, coming from those who have greatly restricted meaningful economic growth among the general population in order to subject livelihoods to the brutal capitalist framework, what they really mean is to restrict productive social relations among the people so that they must subsist with bare minimum requirements, eventually cornered to be a smaller herd, more manageable with less resources—an economic solution which can only be conceived by criminal minds. Who knows what role vaccines will play in it.
Who knows what sort of living hell people will be subjected to as our lives are treated like numbers in high frequency trading, or our entire lives are put on hold by AI customer representatives.
Note how the policies will be designed to be achieved by co-opting leftist agendas. The invisible hand has been busy building a brand new invisible cage to perpetuate the violent reign of kings and queens in the name of “revolution”—a fascist revolution that is.
Now, I would like to emphasize that these trajectories are not set in stone. The problem is that those possibilities are highly unlikely to be examined by concerned people within the capitalist framework. There is a structural problem in the system. Let me go back to the pendulum. Just like any other capitalist social institution, the capitalist political institution serves the ruling class; it can serve as a crime laundering devise. As soon as a topic involving criminal activities is destined to be “political”—it dissociates itself from criminal elements and becomes “legitimate”.
Various social institutions kick in to support such a view since they are all funded by the ruling class—media presents it as such, legislature codifies it as such, executive branch executes it as such, judicial branch judges it as such, academics support it as such, educational institution cements it as such and so on. It becomes normalized to be a part of social policies.
Once the topic is on the political table embellished with a glorious history and myths of the nationhood of the United States of America, the topic becomes officially “political”, not criminal, and it is now safely and generously handled by the corporate entities.
The rendered topic floats in an artificial realm of political myths, tradition, and the gladiator battle culture of political authorities as a commodified symbol representing a fictitious version of the actual topic. Ordinary people can’t approach it coherently for what it is anymore unless they are rich and influential enough to access all moneyed social institutions. Moreover, all the criminal records of officials are discarded, forgiven and forgotten as a new regime comes in every four years.
This is how destructive foreign policies of colonialism, corporatism and militarism, and exploitive predatory domestic policies of all sorts have been implemented against people in the name of freedom, justice and humanity. This is how environmental concerns have turned into “green capitalism”. This is how we are being mobilized today under the guise of virus lockdowns.
People watch and cheer the pendulum swing between political extremes within the capitalist framework. Bits and pieces of awareness beyond the imperial framework can only be perceived with tools approved by the framework, effectively keeping those with the awareness within the ideas of the ruling class.
If you hold a world view that does not fit in it, you end up being categorized as a supporter of a political villain or simply labeled as “fascist”, “communist” and so on. Needless to say those terms are solely defined by acceptable ideas, acceptable history and acceptable myths of the capitalist hegemony.
The fact that the US government has supported fascist regimes across the globe while brutally intervening against socialist countries across the globe won’t be admitted for instance.
How Capitalist Hierarchy Shapes Ideas
If one holds a view that defies the prevalent narrative, the individual can become a target of the authority as well as a target of multiple political extremes within the capitalist hegemony. For instance, if you oppose Israeli war crimes from an anti-capitalist/anti-imperialist position, you can be persecuted as a dissident by the establishment, while being labeled as anti-Semitic by supporters of Israeli policies. (You may also be labeled a Zionist shill by those who believe that Jews are taking over the world and so on).
The position that points out that Israel is a crucial part of the imperial structure, serving the imperial hierarchy while benefiting from its generous support, cannot be fully discussed due to how narratives are formed by the network of the imperial institutions.
The political pendulum doesn’t only create an illusion of “democracy”, it also defines what is acceptable while tearing communities apart. It utilizes its violence as a springboard to perpetuate and strengthen its grip on the exploited.
That’s why the living hell for Palestinian people keeps functioning as a devise for imperialism—the more Palestinians suffer, the more anti-Semitic sentiment emerges, which in turn justifies Israeli violence, which in turn serves the imperial agendas. That’s why victims of Katarina had to be victimized by “urban renewal” after going through the gravely tragic event.
Capitalist hegemony does not allow an honest discussion because imperialism is kept invisible by default, the capitalist cage is invisible and the guiding hand of capitalists is invisible. The capitalist framework simply corners people into having dead-end arguments. Period.
With the virus situation, we are told that there are good people who wear masks and stay home and bad people who selfishly defy the rules and spread “conspiracy theories”. The dynamics among acceptable narratives within the capitalist framework create the circular arguments of a screaming match. These dynamics exclude and belittle any understanding which goes beyond the artificial range of ideas created by the capitalist institutions: you are fake news, you are a denier, you are a conspiracy theorist, you are a grandma killer, communists are taking over and so on. Without recognizing this mechanism, any attempt to unify the momentums will result in a populism which emulates the existing social structure—another reactionary revolution at best, but more likely it will create more divisions and destabilization among the people, resulting in perpetuation of the capitalist hierarchy.
This is why there is no discussion of accountability for the death and suffering created by lockdown measures and there is no discussion about the meaning of why we are going through a structural shift. And when the deaths and sufferings will be put on the political table, financial vultures will devour them in the emerging social impact bond markets (see studies by WRENCH IN THE GEARS).
The invisible hand that is supposed to guide us to freedom, justice and humanity has created an empire ruled by the unprecedented accumulation of power for the few. The invisible hand has created an invisible cage over us, and it has been blinding us and dividing us, allowing the ruling class to exploit us and subjugate us.
Now, it must be clearly stated that what we perceive as the dystopian future of The Fourth Industrial Revolution—AI, blockchain, digitalization, financialization, green capitalism and so on—can’t be separated from the invisible hand and the invisible cage. It cannot be allowed to be defined by capitalist institutions as a “legitimate political topic” instead of what it really is.
The newly built cage hasn’t been built, but if we fail to see it for what it is in its context, we will simply be forced to embrace some version of it as one of the “legitimate” capitalist trajectories. That’s how it works when our society is a theater of absurdity.
I want to live a life that breaks open the invisible cage and firmly shake hands with nature and humanity. If you have stuck around this far with me, I trust that you feel the same…or not. Either way, we must start our conversations.
Hiroyuki Hamada is an artist. Exhibiting widely in gallery and non-commercial settings alike, Hamada has been the recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant, twice received New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships in sculpture, and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. Alongside his career as an artist, his writing can be found at various outlets online.
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