Thesis Number: #1 (Page 3 of 7)
The Collateral Damage
The traumas that afflicted most civilisations of the past were the result of the conversion of rent into income appropriated by a privileged few, whether priests, princes or patricians.
Corruption of the Social Galaxy
Figure 2 illustrates some of the primary impacts of rent privatisation. These include
- distortions to people’s perception of themselves (psychological trauma)
- constraints on the value-adding economy (artificial ceilings on productivity)
- perversion of culture (dysfunctional communities and of ways of perceiving the world); and
- abuse of natural habitats (loss of reverence resulting in assaults on other life-forms).
Symptoms stemming from primary distortions are registered through the interaction of two or more of the disturbed pillars that support the social universe.
Within the economy: enforced idleness, loss of affordable shelter, misallocation of capital
Within nature: deforestation and topsoil erosion; pollution of skies; acidification of oceans
Within people’s minds: irrational attitudes, such as racism (through competition for artificially-constrained space), and class and gender prejudices (scramble for status within the hierarchy of Insiders [rent-appropriators] versus Outsiders [the excluded]).
Within culture: adjustments of world-views to cope with the loss of authentic people-centred norms. Resort to dependency-type coping ideologies and organisations such as socialism, fascism and the welfare state; and, most recently, “capitalism with Chinese characteristics”. These are responses to the primary shocks:
- disengagement of people from their natural habitats through land enclosure and privatisation; and
- denial of access to the rents that populations need to sustain their cultures, the effect of which is the evisceration of society in favour of a naked individualism.
Privileges of the rent-seekers who take control of the social space are consolidated through manipulation of minds and emotions, as with
- the language of humiliation, with corresponding statistical profiles: e.g. numerical differentiation into Upper and Lower Classes
- institutions, such as the subordination of women: India’s caste system, Europe’s primogeniture.
Privatisation of the resources that communities formerly shared between their members was consolidated in property rights which undermined the vitality of humanity. When rents are not pooled for the common good, all spheres of existence are automatically ruptured and degraded. Slavery was the crudest expression of the denial of freedom. The outcome is the crime of humanicide (Harrison 2012).
History is replete with examples of the way that cultures were debilitated when populations were deprived of their common rights to land. Examples from the colonial impact on indigenous peoples in South America are analysed in The Traumatised Society. An example from within Europe is provided by Ireland. Its population’s behaviour over the past 300 years cannot be understood without reference to the way the English grabbed the land, to extract the rent; thereby reconfiguring personalities and culture. “The peasant’s character, no less than his material condition bore witness to the landlord’s exactions” (Connell 1958: 1). The lessons were not learnt. The legacy of decolonisation was land legislation that consolidated the privatisation of rents: “[T]his was the giddy draught that made the impoverished tenant fancy himself head of a landowning family” (Connell 1958: 6). The mores of Ireland were adjusted as people aped their former masters, the cultural shifts traced through marriage customs, morality, religion, the arts and politics. The culmination was the maniacal property boom/bust of the early 21st century as sponsored by the statecraft of greed.