Divided We Fall

People have more power than they realize. 1% of the population cannot control the remaining 99% if they are united and fighting for a common goal. So they divide us. They pit us against each other and they (the wealthy elites) sit back and observe, while skimming off the top of the economy.

Divided We Fall
Photo by Peter Schulz / Unsplash

People have more power than they realize.

1% of the population cannot control the remaining 99% if it is united and fighting for a common goal.

So they divide us.

They (the wealthy elites in control) pit us against each other and they sit back and observe, while skimming off the top of the economy. They collect their exorbitant salaries and rents while rest of us fight over who gets to own the Water Works (one of the less desirable assets in the game Monopoly).

Divided We Are Weaker

Throughout history, those in power have quietly feared the masses over which they ruled. There are many examples of public revolts, during which the aristocrats were eradicated - the French Revolution is the most cited. When the population is suffering, hungry and broke the obvious outlet is the few who control the wealth and resources.

The elites have learned from history, and with the pervasiveness of mass and social media it is much easier to propagandize and manufacture factions within the 99%.

Through the ownership and control of these media channels, the elites have created narratives that pit us against our neighbors, distracting us from the real problems and origins of those problems.

Whether Republican or Democrat, straight or gay, black or white, upper middle class or working class, for the most part we all share the same struggles and values.

Little do we realize, as civilization begins to collapse under the weight of a dying biosphere, we are fighting our allies for scraps instead of uniting against our true enemies.

Left vs Right

Politics has been turned into a sport, rather than civic discourse and a means to achieve common goals.

The divide between red and blue is wider than ever, yet the leaders of each party are essentially the same - rich, neocons that put corporations, asset ownership and the wealthy ahead of the needs of the average person. Sure, they wear different masks and ring bells that resonate with their followers, but they are more similar than most realize.

Yet, politics is used to divide us. The owned media takes the few dividing issues and amplify them to form a wedge between parties. They play off fear, focusing on the extremes while ignoring the fact the vast majority of Democrats and Republicans are closer to the middle and see eye-to-eye on many issues.

Once you realize the average democrat and republican have the same values and problems, the divisions quickly evaporate. But those who control the flow of information want you to think that your neighbor is the problem, not the wealthy elites and corporations that run the country.

Class Warfare

For the most part, the average person rarely sees or interacts with the "private jet class" wealthy. The ultrawealthy are safely tucked away in protected enclaves, away from the unwashed masses. So our perception of wealth is limited to what we actually see - mainly the upper middle class. And that's where we direct our hostilities.

Understandably, a $50k income is much tougher to manage than a $150k income. And a $150k income is vastly different from a $1m income.

But consider this:

  • $50k is 33% of $150k
  • $150k is 15% of $1m
  • But $1m is only 0.1% of $1b

While the working, middle and high-net-worth classes battle for their share of the pie, we have way more in common than with the private jet class. Yet, we treat billionaires with kid gloves, idolizing them as if doing so will unlock some golden door to our own riches.

You see, America is built off the promise of wealth. Everyone thinks they could be the next Elon Musk, so they vote for policies - against their own best interests - that allow the hoarding of vast sums of wealth by the rich and the mistreatment of the working class.

So the 99% fights amongst ourselves, while the 1% take a growing share of the economic pie.

You vs You

They pit you against your neighbor because they look different, vote different, drive a nicer car. But the propaganda also persuades individuals to blame themselves for their problems. While personal accountability is important, most of us are ultimately cogs in a system beyond our control.

"If you only stopped wasting your money on frivolous things you'd be rich."

That might be true if they were talking about Louboutin shoes. But they're not. Because they know that wouldn't work on most of the 99% who don't even consider buying luxury goods.

Instead, they come down from the mountaintop to proclaim we should do without basic necessities and simple pleasures like food.

Yes. Food.

Skip breakfast. Skip the latte. Skip avocado toast.

This is what it's come down to. If you're not happy about your lot in life, it's not because the ultra-rich are hoarding wealth while underpaying workers. It's not because your measly wage doesn't even keep up with inflation. It's not because government policy favors owners of capital.

No, it's because you wanted to eat breakfast. How dare you!

In the context of this article, these proclamations sound ridiculous. However, there are many people who take it to heart and divert attention away from the true issues, instead blaming their own coffee-drinking habits.

Personal Carbon Footprint

Perhaps the most egregious form of blame shifting was BP's development of the "Carbon Footprint" concept.

As Mark Kaufman wrote:

British Petroleum, the second largest non-state owned oil company in the world, with 18,700 gas and service stations worldwide, hired the public relations professionals Ogilvy & Mather to promote the slant that climate change is not the fault of an oil giant, but that of individuals. It’s here that British Petroleum, or BP, first promoted and soon successfully popularized the term “carbon footprint” in the early aughts. The company unveiled its “carbon footprint calculator” in 2004 so one could assess how their normal daily life – going to work, buying food, and (gasp) traveling – is largely responsible for heating the globe.

While we all share stewardship over this planet, in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions the vast majority of change must come from government and industrial policy. Yet, by individualizing climate destruction, BP - and the numerous corporations that have gleefully embraced the carbon footprint concept - has successfully shifted responsibility away from those that must be held accountable.

The elite have once again averted attention away from those in power to individuals with little power.

Moreover, the false sense of achievement created by 'doing your part for the environment' gives individuals permission to continue other harmful activities. Also, this provides society a sense that something is being done, reducing pressure on government and industry to cut their own carbon emissions.

The plastics industry is a perfect example of how this works. Recycling propaganda in the 1990s - led by the plastics industry - encouraged the shift away from paper, cardboard and glass to cheaper plastics. Now plastics are everywhere. Individualized ownership of the problem effectively absolved industry of any accountability.

The ugly truth is about 90% of the plastics you put in your recycling bin don't get recycled. Yet, this deception gave us permission to feel good about the proliferation of plastics, providing cover for the plastics industry that aggressively multiplied toxic production and waste.

It's time to realize we're all getting played.