THE PILL OF PROPERTY & THE DRUG OF RELIGION
Revolutions in the Middle East are not bringing the expected democracy because revolutions never do. The idea that they might is a post-enlightenment myth of the Western world. Revolutions simply create a temporary shift in the balance of power. It is wrenched from the privileged by subsistence-lacking stiffs, egged on by disenfranchised intellectuals.
Soon new owners of privilege will arise from the stiffs, throwing the ideals of the intellectuals into the trash can of history. The new privileged will bring their ready-made systems of belief with them, inherited from their parents, peers and cultural environment.
Karl Marx is a chief example of a disenfranchised intellectual egging on a revolution. In his post-enlightenment writings, he complained that a system of belief is a drug, used to control people. But he said there was only one: religion.
Instead Marx swallowed the new drug handed out by the rising middle class, media and lawyers – the pill of property, just as everyone else did in his time, though he was disturbed by its unequal distribution.
Property is described as “owning, being owned,’ by the Oxford dictionary. Marx’s friend, Engels had a hard time keeping up with Marx’s demand for this pill. Throughout history, there has been a struggle between great thinkers demanding that intellectual property be free while the privileged want it constrained. When they gain power, intellectual property such as truth, reality, justice, equality and democracy are the first to go.
The enlightenment was a rejection of authority, criticizing religion and aristocracy. Then in the Western world, two drugs were combined; the pill of property and the drug of religion. David Deutsch in The Beginning of Infinity, says there were actually two enlightenments; a progressive revolution in Britain and a violent one in Europe.
In the US, the pill of property was also progressive, resulting in a rebellion rather than a revolution in 1776. Intellectuals like Thomas Jefferson were not disenfranchised but leaders who wrote the ideals of democracy, equality and justice into their constitution.
C. Wright Mills observed that the pill of property controlled the US. The intellectual complex, money and the military were simply rancid pies, covered by the whipped cream of democracy. This is the situation in the West.
In Russia, disenfranchised intellectuals explored social angst. Lenin and Trotsky turned to Marx’s solution of communism. Trotsky was murdered while Lenin’s teachings turned to totalitarianism under Stalin. Property became owned by the state who distributed it unequally.
Unlike the West where ‘church’ became TV, box stores and social media, religion in the Middle East was never usurped by property. Subsistence-lacking stiffs continued to be controlled by the drug of religion, even as the pill of property crept into its privileged classes and leaders, unaccompanied by the critical spirit of the post-enlightenment.
Those privileged who were educated in the West often become disenfranchised intellectuals like the heroine of the Iranian graphic novel and film, Persepolis. Such individual’s fomented unrest among the subsistence-lacking stiffs over the usurpation of property by their leaders but then the drug of religion took a firmer hold. Religious control seems to spreading through the Middle East.
In the West we do not have the commitment of true belief, controlled as we are by the pill of property. Ultimately this pill may control the whole world but in the Middle East, it will not be today. Full enlightenment will not come until we separate from the pill of property and the drug of religion.
Dick DeShaw is a disenfranchised intellectual. Completing doctoral work in Social and Political Thought, he has contributed to sociology texts, newspapers and journals. He writes a blog; Spinoza on Science & Stress. @www.http://dickdeshaw.