[Both parts of this article - Part One and Part Two - have been adapted from an article titled “Who Are the Modern Day 'Tyrants'?" published in the June 2002 issue of John’s monthly newsletter]
Back in the middle ages, royalty was assumed to be either divine or very well-connected to the Gods in what has become known as the “Divine Right of Kings.” Kings and queens could do all sorts of nasty things and everyone excused it as “willed by the gods” or some such rationalization. This was the assumption everyone had grown up with. This assumption was passed on from one generation to the next, one century to the next, pretty much unchallenged. People went along with tyrannical behavior, social injustice, unfair application of the laws, and even tolerated absolute madness, assuming that this was the way it was supposed to be. No one questioned it. Then, one day, someone said – “hey, why are we going along with this?” (Thomas Paine and his crowd) and democracy was born.
Once this long-held assumption was questioned and perceived as having no real validity in fact, the divinely-endowed rights and privileges associated with royalty started becoming things of the past.
Today, we have a new class of privilege, a new group of tyrants who only possess the rights they hold because the rest of us allow them to by granting them the same sense of legitimacy that our forefathers and foremothers granted their royalty. Similar injustices and inequities exist in the world because a new generation of tyrants is being allowed to run roughshod over the vast majority. A new “madness” is being condoned by the masses who don’t appear to be challenging the underlying assumption that this is “willed by the gods” and, thus, we think we have no power to change it.
Please notice that I did not say we don’t have the power to change it – only that we think we don’t. Also, let’s see how “tyrant” is defined before we get too far into this. The dictionary defines tyrants as people who are unrestrained by law, who usurp sovereignty and are harsh users of power and authority.
So where do most of these “new” tyrants hang out? Where are most of them concentrated? Where does the most power appear to lie in these days of very complex systems in a globalized world?
We tend to think that the real power resides with our national leaders – like heads of state. Fewer of us realize that the real power these days lies with money and the system in which it functions. Students of systems thinking know that answers to questions in complex problems are rarely obvious.
The economic system has the greatest impact on global society than any other system in the world. Let’s look at what players within the economic system are having the most negative influence. Who are the least restrained by law? Who are the harshest abusers of power? Who are the greatest usurpers of sovereignty?
Are they the Arab despots in the Middle East? The billionaires like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet or George Sorros? Hardly. They have too high a profile to dominate the system effectively. If you examined every group of people from the most disenfranchised people to the most opulently privileged, where would you find the ones who have the most negative global impact today?
The people who have most of the influence on the most influential system work behind the scenes, content to simply make scads of money while most of the public’s attention focuses on the faux leaders - like politicians, celebrity activists, CEOs of the large multinational corporations, major investors, religious leaders, and prominent academicians. These modern day tyrants let the faux leaders get on the covers of the magazines and distract attention from them.
The tyrants of today are the people who are engaged in pure financial speculation, without having any loyalty to any person or any organization except making the most money in the shortest time. Traders are like casino gamblers, and their actions wouldn’t be particularly harmful if the winners reaped the rewards from knowledgeable players – where all parties know the rules of the game they are playing.
Today’s stock and option traders don’t add any value except to make themselves more money. They “bet” on upswings in the so-called “market” which resembles a lottery more every day. Companies that do nothing but speculate are out to make as much money as possible without ever really “investing” in anything. Growing numbers of day traders speculate on short-term price fluctuations rather than longer term appreciation. Arbitrages, margins, caps, puts and calls fill their vocabulary, punctuated with Daisy Chains, Double Tops and Bottoms and Day Orders.
[To be continued……Next month I will continue this line of inquiry]