Beware of imagined people-power

There’s that saying that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
Well, with all the activism growing in the world, of the people’s voice being heard and all that, a new challenge arises.

Because those movements are challenging powerful interest groups, those groups will try various approaches for securing their power. And one really clever method that is likely applied from the very top is along the lines of the saying:

The most hopelessly enslaved are those who falsely believe to be free.

What I call “worldsaving bread&circuses” would be one example of this, and another one could be, and I will mention it for elaboration of my point:

Net neutrality.

I read an article about it, talking about it being likely to be preserved in the USA, and the article itself, unaware of its implications, contained some warning signs: It mentioned that net neutrality has the support of president Obama, some democratic allies in politics as well as various big telecommunications corporations. So apparently there are some in the business who believe that, after weighing possible pros and cons, net neutrality is their preferrable way.

So if net neutrality ends up being preserved … How do we know the popular activism had any say in that?
Tricky one, isn’t it? All you can do is believe it did, unless you have damn well documented every chain of cause and effect. A decision being made that happens to match the preferences of the people isn’t evidence of causation.

Studies have been made about US politics that draw a picture of the people ultimately having virtually no say at all on what decisions are being made, so that’s certainly cause for heightened vigilance and scrutiny.

This is an urge for more activism, but not the blind kind. You gotta be smart and not hastily jump on any feeling of triumph or power. It is a character weakness based in your ego that will be exploited in order to deceive you. Just like people’s lack of purpose in life and falling-out with traditional religion made them vulnerable to aforementioned tales of being heroes and saviors in the context of the modern armageddon prophecy of global warming. Too many people put more importance on believing they are making a difference than on knowing for sure they actually do. It’s egoistical, really. Personal convenience. Soothing your conscience. Selling of indulgences. And when your self-deception is challenged, you will condemn those who actually care about the result as pessimists or call them much worse, revealing that the whole time you’ve really just cared about yourself.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but you can be an activist for social justice and still be a mere pawn of big business, in ignorance or outright denial of the massive human suffering you might be causing.

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