You say you want a revolution…. Well, you know we all want to change the world

I have a tendency to trip down the philosophical path now and again.  It is not good philosophy – it is just my philosophy and I make a lot of it up as I go.  It is just questioning, really.  Fertile imagination mixed with a little paranoia and even less education makes for thoughts, opinions, ideas and not just a few whacked out theories.  I thought I might float one by you………


We have our ways of doing things.  We all have.  And those ways, when managed cooperatively, become organized into teams, clubs, societies, companies, countries, religions and the like.  And, of course after a time, they become established, confirmed, recognized and institutionalized.

And some progress is made.

When something becomes institutionalized, it becomes an entity in itself and harder to change.  And the longer the institution prevails, the stronger it becomes and the harder it is to change it.  Few institutions have a real renewal gene built in.  They are built to survive, not change.   And this can be a good thing when you are seeking standardization, efficiency and control of the progress you are making.

And who doesn’t love standardization, efficiency, control and progress?

(Unless you are the one being standardized and controlled)

The building block of these organizations is, of course, individuals.  And individuals are all different.  Not only are they different but they respond to environmental change much faster than does the institution.  It doesn’t take long for the individuals to become out of sync with the institution they work for and or believe in.  In year one when say, 85% of the people involved felt much the same way, only 30% of the people might feel that way 25 years later.

But institutions are built to survive.  And so are people.  So the institution bribes them to stay the course.  We all get paid or promoted or tenured or pensioned or whatever it takes to re-instill some commitment to the institution.  NOT the goals of the institution but the institution itself.

And therein lies part of the problem.  The individual eventually no longer believes in the survival of the institution if the institution has forgotten or diminished it’s ideals or goals. Instead the employees put their faith in the money they are given so that they can survive.  In other words: they sell out.

Typically, an institution starts with a visionary.  These people are dedicated, driven, focused and usually morally and ethically (for their times) girded for the battles they encounter achieving success for their dream.  George Washington, Martin Luther King, the Beatles.  And, God bless ’em for those innovations.

But the idealists eventually need help and they hire people and then the originators, initiators, founders and dreamers die and so the remaining people stay the course not out of faith but because they are paid.  This new generation of institution-keepers stay the course because of money and for the sake of their own survival rather than the higher aims of the original founders.

There is another inherent weakness built into the institutional construct.  Life, circumstances, fashions, conditions and times will change.  And eventually some people won’t want to be standardized anymore regardless of the money (or, perhaps, they were left out in the first place or outsourced and downsized afterwards).  If they can’t thrive and survive any longer, the people will give up on the istitution altogether.

So far, our idealism in the western way of life has been eroded considerably  but money is still flowing and is still king.  People are surviving even if they are not thriving.  But it is also true, right now, that a lot of our people are barely surviving and almost all are not thriving in the least. Hell, even a suburban cul-de-sac dweller doesn’t feel as if he/she is thriving.  ‘Live to work or work to live?’  The system has left the poor in the dust and is now leaving the middle class bogged down in the mud.  That is now the plight of the majority of the people.

I think.

When neither idealism, survival or thriving is possible, the institutions lose their followers.  I think we see that happening now.  And then, inevitably, the people will really want to affect change.  They will rebel.  They want a revolution.  They need a revolution.

These people are problems for the too-big-to-fail institutions and so the institutions have rules and laws and police and other means of controlling those who are contrary.  Homeland Security?  Really!?  Keeping us secure from whom?

At this point, it is just a numbers and scheduling game.  Are the majority still thriving and surviving?  Or not?

And I think we are close to declaring it:  NOT!

Mostly the institutions aren’t stupid.  They know that a bit of change will salve the savage breast.  At least long enough to maintain the status quo for those still doing well.  So they have annual general meetings to appoint new directors or they have institutionalized and managed minor change mechanisms to give the appearance of change.  CEOs and board members come and go.  We have elections.  Popes change.  New Stanley Cup champions emerge.  The system  definitely knows how to make the appearance of change.

And yet the institutions (when looked at in the larger view they form the ‘system’) remains the same.  Such is the staying power of institutions and the system.

How is this inertia possible?  How can these Frankensteins continue?

The answer is simple: carrots, sticks and drugs.  OK, maybe a little rock and roll, too.   

The carrot is the dream of ‘making it’ and ‘being rich and successful’. That rarely, if ever, happens.  Money cannot buy happiness and, when it does a good simulation, you still need health and friends and a healthy planet.  The carrot is enough to keep some people in line but it is really not enough and they eventually come to realize that.  The stick, on the other hand, will keep most people in line a lot longer.  Police, laws, fines, lawsuits, Homeland Security and other means of intimidation work.  For awhile, anyway.  Right now the government has stopped holding out the carrot but have begun to emphasize the stick.

But neither is as effective as the drugs.  The drugs will work forever.  Media, entertainment, drugs, booze, TV, whatever takes your mind away from the reality of the situation – that is the most effective way to control the people.  The more time we spend ‘entertained’, the less likely it is that we will revolt.  It is that simple.

The game changer may be the social media.  It is currently quite apart from the system.  Twitter is becoming the voice of the people.  And it has already been employed in revolution.  See Arab Spring.

The carrot is rotten.  The stick can’t control the social media.  Not yet, anyway.  But the drugs persist.

I wonder how it will all play out.


10 thoughts on “You say you want a revolution…. Well, you know we all want to change the world

  1. So let’s paint with the broad brush of informed self-interest. The axion of self-interest might be expressed as, ‘No matter what is happening in society it is working for someone’. Generally, self-interest is sometimes confused with bureaucracy especially when and individual is faced with a problem of their own creation that they are not able to solve then the easiest path is to blame institutions. Individuals would fair much better is they would cease concentrating on ‘how they have been wronged by whomever’ and focus instead on developing their competence, self-efficacy, and an intrinsic interest in their own lives. This intrinsic interest begins with the question, “How am I doing?” “How far have I come and where to from here?” So if materialism is the only reason for living then disappointment is likely to ensure but if self-efficacy is the goal then self-directedness emerges. Dave these are the skills you have developed.


    • Thank you for that. I am trying. But my point was in answer to why I feel imminent change, revolution, shock or disruption. I just think something’s gonna happen. BIG. And this feeling is explained – somewhat – in the above rant. Institutions get old. They gotta change.
      Our institutions are getting quite hoary. From our too complicated legal system to our impotent political system to our chemically based health care industry. And let us be clear – ‘CHANGE’ in the way I am talkin’ about can’t happen by voting in another party. That is like trying to change your lifestyle by drinking Bud Light.


  2. Your spider senses are tingling and so they should in the land of killer whales, grizzly bears, timber wolves and perilous seas. The sense of doom is ubiquitous to the human condition. Michael Jackson took propofol to face his sense of foreboding but you have your vista from your deck.


    • Hmmm….where do I get some of that Propofol? Seriously, I don’ need no stinkin’ Propofol ’cause I have a deck and scotch. And Sal. It can’t get any better than that. But simply living in paradise doesn’t eliminate the potential threats to it….and I feel a threat not so much to me but to the larger system and all who live by it. I think there will be some big, lumpy changes coming. And I think cities will suffer more because, well, they already are.
      On a more positive note, I think that young people poised to make a difference will have the chance soon (next ten years). We baby boomers are getting off the merry-go-round in bunches. Space is opening up. I think the shift will be lumpy but, ultimately, good for the youth.


  3. BC will have a change in government, Harper is going down for the count, the federal liberals are rising, Europe is tanking, Spain has 25% unemployment, the USA is gridlocked and needs a war in Syria to grow the economy, China is pumping out greenhouse gases, wild salmon have lice but so what? What is dire about any of these trends? The trend worth watching is that capitalism is dead and a new economic system called debtism has taken its place. We live in a borrow and spend world and deficits matter little as long as money is printed and we have quantitative easing. Quantitative easing increases the money supply by flooding financial institutions with capital, in an effort to promote increased lending and liquidity. Maybe the institution that is failing is sound banking.


    • Well, it is hard to argue with you about that! But I will add that a neighbour has a W’fer from Spain here. And Miguel said, that the offical unemployment of 27% is an underestimate. The real number is somewhere in the mid to high thirties. It is one of the reasons he went W’fing.
      I think sound banking has already failed. How ya gonna compete in commercial banking world when the reserve currency county’s printing presses just pump the cash out? A bank loses billions and so they print a bunch more for ém. Hard for anybody (bank or criminal) to compete with that kind of government subsidy.
      And if the FedLibs rise to the extent that Justin is PM, I’ll go stark raving!!!!


  4. “It’s coming through a crack in the wall;
    on a visionary flood of alcohol;
    from the staggering account
    of the Sermon on the Mount
    which I don’t pretend to understand at all.
    It’s coming from the silence
    on the dock of the bay,
    from the brave, the bold, the battered
    heart of Chevrolet:
    Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.”


    • Aaaaahh, DJ. You are right. The post just after this one made the same observation. Went out to watch the ravens and the whales yesterday. And just putz.
      I confess, however, to a tendency to think. Call me crazy. They say ‘ignorance is bliss’ and I believe that. But thinking is a life long habit and not an easy one to shirk. But I’ll try. This is a start: How ’bout them ‘Nucks, eh?


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