In Aldous Huxley's prophetic Brave New World, the masses are controlled through the liberal application of the drug soma. Dissent was quelled, free thought was diminished, order was maintained and freedom was eroded all through the use of a popular mind altering drug. One might say that without an opiate for the masses progress is more difficult, and rarely substantial. In a recent piece published in the Sydney Morning Herald, the development path taken by communist China and democratic India contrasts a great leap forward economically, technologically and socially in the former, while the latter remains firmly entrenched in inefficient, ineffective democratic systems which seem to only serve to maintain the status quo within Indian society and inhibit true progress. Yet there are those who seem to pay little attention to the fact that freedom is very limited in China, despite its obvious progress. Communism has performed its opiate role well and allowed for a directed development which may not have otherwise been so readily achieved in such a short time frame, but at what cost.
Somasites of the brave new world of the 21st century are here in force in so called free democracies also. Religious dogma, political ideology or chemical control; our society is far from free. Our soma today is the gross indulgence of a society so paralysed by greed, material wealth, success and power that we are prepared to sell our freedom to the highest bidder and applaud as their political puppets push it further and farther from our reach until it is too late to retrieve. Yes, despite claims of actions in the common good, many decisions presently made by governments in this country and others are far from altruistic, often associated with the forceful and resourceful posturings of well to do interest groups or commercial interests.
Why then do the vast majority of the public not cry out in disbelief or outrage? Put simply, most people with the will and passion to voice their concerns lack either the means or influence to be heard. Those who are complacent or apathetic have been conned by the pursuit of wealth, or distracted by the trappings of affluence, or in its most concerning form, prevented from hearing the truth by the very groups who would stand to lose their position of power or priveledge.
Therefore, our rage must be directed toward the two camps who perpetuate the falicy of the brave new world. Firstly, those who peddle the distractions of excess and greed: the media who control information or distract through mindless entertainment; the global corporate barons who stand to lose most from a tectonic shift in the economic or political reality; the politicians whose ear the corporate barons possess; the military industrial complex; or the legal fraternity who facilitate or perpetuate existing social, economic and political institutions to entrench inequities. Secondly, those who are blinded by the soma metered out by the first camp. Their blindness may not be directly due to their own choices, but is nonetheless an integral component in the continual decline in the justice and equitability of our society. To rail against one and not the other is akin to treating cancer and not the pain; effective, but intolerable. What is needed is a war on two fronts, with consomasites united against both the disease and the symptoms of an increasingly dysfunctional global community.
Our brave new world will not be built on the 21st century equivalent of soma, but upon truly free economic opportunities, equitable access to health and education services, fair representation in government, ecologically sustainable development, and open and free press free from economic and political distortion, and such goals being realised as global commons regardless of ethnicity, religion, spatial, social and economic background. Call those who will fight for such what you will: egathocomasonites as I did in an earlier post, consomasites as I do here, or any other name you care to use. Either way, you have your movement, and their time will soon come.
To be continued...