The Elite Only Have the Power We Give Them

The rich elite won’t let us change anything, or so the argument goes when proposing a resource based economy. There tends to be a fall back disposition of relinquishing power to figures of perceived authority, to consider ourselves as powerless against the wealthy owners of property.

Yet what we can forget, or not recognise, is that it’s us who provides the elite with their money, with their ability to own all that they do. We shop in their stores, we buy their products, we sign up for their services, we watch their television stations and listen to their radio media.

The Power of the Elite is a Deception

Taking away the power of the elite is deceptively simple, and while it would take widespread collaboration to have an immediate short term effect, small groups of people reducing their consumption habits can make a long term difference. Once small groups of people take action they become an example to others, over time small groups grow and the impact they have escalates. As the reduction of consumption habits by a few expand to the many, the elite who were perceived to have all the power become exposed for just how little power they had and how reliant they actually were on the rest of us.

As the “Social Consensus Through the Influence of Committed Minorities” paper shows, once ten percent of a group hold an unshakeable opinion it will spread like wildfire through the rest of a group. While this shows ideological change can happen quickly, it also shows for this to happen takes commitment to a new or alternative idea by a ten percent minority. Building a ten percent minority may not be difficult among small groups of people, however in larger communities reaching the ten percent tipping point will take a considerable amount of time.

Such changes are already underway, while ten years ago discussions about making fundamental changes to the way our economy works may have been seen as the far fetched dreams of hippies, in 2016 those same types of discussions are not as uncommon. We may yet be several years or decades away from reaching a tipping point, but momentum is certainly growing and the kindling for change is well and truly present in our global society today, which has the clear potential to develop into small groups of committed people who are willing to take action outside of traditional protest movements.

Fear and Indoctrination

Self checkout stations by San José Library CC BY-SA 2.0
If there is one single shining light in this bleak system of consumerism for the sake of consumerism, it’s that of all the choices peddled to us between buying this brand or the other, our one real choice is to participate. Should we choose to remove our participation en masse from the system as a form of protest against inequality, environmental destruction, social degradation and pure structural violence, the system itself will collapse like the house of cards it is.

Social indoctrination and fear, fed to us by the wealthy elite through the mainstream media, keeps us on the consumption wheel. If we stop shopping we will lose our jobs, everyone will be out of work, then how will we make enough money to live? This is the real power of the elite, the power to keep us trapped in a single frame of reference, or at least it was.

With expanding automation the idea of working a 40 hour week to pay to live is slowly being brought into question. The drive for increased productivity, reduced overhead costs and ever expanding profits, which this economic system promotes and perpetuates in the business circle is becoming its undoing.

Larger and larger groups of people are willing to question the basics of our economy and seek alternatives. With the internet has come the ability for people to have global conversations, for the sharing of data sets and discussions about what the data is telling us about ourselves the wider community and indeed the world we live on. Previously separated small groups, who were unaware of each other, are connecting over the internet. Creating a growing community of people who are willing to have discussions, which were once considered unrealistic dreams of changing the unshakeable. The unshakeable has begun to shift under the might of spreading knowledge and the willingness to question.

The Free Flow of Ideas

This is why “net neutrality” has become so important in recent times. The elite know change is coming, they can see the ground beginning to shift under their feet and will do whatever it takes to prolong their reign of power. A free and open internet does not serve this purpose, as it is exactly the type of tool the majority of us can use to create, share and discuss content which in the past the elite had almost complete control over. With internet fast lanes we give the wealthy the power to funnel traffic to websites and networks with the financial backing to pay for it. We allow the elite to relegate home grown blogs and sites to the slow lanes, and in a world that has become all about instant gratification it does not take long to understand what that would mean.

For the time being people are standing together, opposed to the loss of the freedom of the internet to the corporate elite, managing to keep our politicians from harming our last vestige of true freedom. We will not be fed cake.

The elite should consider themselves on notice, in time, perhaps sooner than many think, people will take action against the foundations of our unequal societies. We won’t be coming for the elite with torches and pitchforks, we won’t be protesting at shops, in the streets or outside gated communities. The elite can deal with those kind of actions with their police forces, as we witnessed with the Occupy protests. We will be staying at home, visiting each other and rejecting the consumerist model on which the elite depend. It is not against the law to refuse to go shopping.

With the decline of this antiquated system of economics will rise from the ashes a new system based on sharing, fairness and collaboration; a system based on sustainability and the drive to elevate the standard of living of all.

Tick tock.