Clarity of thought on the process for getting what we want, when we want it, from who we want it should first start with acknowledging that we live in someone else’s thoughts. Our economic, political, and legal environments resulted from a thought process that we were not invited to participate in. I believe proof of this can be provided by asking the average 21st century citizen a number of foundational questions. “What is economics?” “What is the law of supply and demand?” “How did this rule come about and why?” “What is law?” “What is the history of law?” “Can a monarchy be referred to as a government?”
Imagine you are a hunter/gatherer. Your survival would require that you be in tune with your environment. It would require that you are aware of the changes in the seasons; how seasonal changes impact animal migration; and note when certain trees and plants grow and the type of fruit that they may bear. You have knowledge of these processes. But even the hunter/gatherer lives in “another’s thoughts”. Just like today’s 21st century citizen could not explain the genesis of economic, political, or legal philosophy, the hunter/gatherer could not explain the genesis of Earth itself. “Why do we have trees?” “Why was this planet created in the first place?”
For the 21st century citizen or the hunter/gatherer, “living in the now” of having to satisfy their basic needs and occasional pleasures limit their responses to the above questions with catch phrases like, “It is God’s will.” “It is what it is.” “What the fuck do I care.” They may visit “the past” either for sentimental reasons; to lay a platform for blame; or to escape the overwhelming nature of the present.
The fear of the future is not a commonality between hunter/gatherer and the 21st century citizen. The hunter/gatherer consumed what he had at hand. There was little to none of any technology that allowed him to store items for days much less overnight. This is not to say that he was not concerned about shortages or theft. Shortages meant he had to keep on the move and theft meant establishing kin relationships that expanded the number of his tribe hence his security.
Today, the 21st century citizen crudely tries to occupy “the future” by borrowing today against tomorrow’s income. He prepares for his retirement years by putting away a portion of his income today so that his nest egg takes care of him tomorrow. The markets have pushed his fear buttons such that he rushes to E-Trade to open up an account.
I say crudely occupies the future because 21st century man operates primarily in fear. The economic, political, and legal environment provided for him recognizes his fear. The environment’s framers share most of the masses, but if there is one unique fear held by the environment’s framers it is fear of mass passion.
To maintain order, to keep his peace, the environment’s framers build a system that hopefully brings predictability of and order over mass behavior. The framers, to ensure an ordered, predictable economic, political, and legal environment must themselves be inter-spatial. Their system thrives on economic, political, and legal rules steeped in precedent. Precedent provides a platform for settling current disputes. Precedent mitigates uncertainty. Precedent brings order.
Order serves a role other than providing the framers “peace and quiet.” Order serves as a carriage for the transmission of value. Order provides a path for commerce to flow. Order creates less friction for information to flow. The framers meant for order to connect a non-existent past, “the now”, and the non-existent future.
Many a self-awareness guru will argue that “the now” is a realm of quiet, an open space for the mind, the moment where we are constantly aware of the noise too much thought can bring; the place where two non-existent realms, the past and the future intersect.
The irony is that for the political leader, he wants the masses distracted by a now filled with noisy moments. He is nothing but the chief chimp banging on a cage filled with other primates. This is where he paints a noisy economic, political, and legal environment for it is only in such an environment that he can create a narrative that says, “In all this noise and uncertainty, I am the only one who can save you.”
For an increasing number of the African Diaspora, the “Save Us/Chimp” mentality is being challenged, especially among younger blacks. They are willing to take emerging digital technology and use it to create their own micro-economies. They grew up hearing stories about social security not being available when they retire. They are facing increasing costs of housing and crushing student debt. They have diminishing confidence in the nine-to-five world that their parents and grandparents try to convince them to embark on. A growing number don’t believe that the government can save them.
Operating more on the willingness to do it their way and less on the paralyzing fear instilled by their elders, political messages steeped in the “savior” narrative are falling on deaf ears. The new economic, political, and legal outlook may be one where black people say, “The things you promise, we can get on our own with our ingenuity, the internet, and certain aspects of government. We’ll create and live in our own economic thoughts.”
The weight that partisan and electoral politics played in the political philosophy of black people may be taking a back seat to economic politics, a new thought creating a new world order designed just for us.