It’s distressing to find, in the cause of championing human freedom, infighting among the freedom fighters. Naturally this conflict sabotages the common cause. Factions and prominent advocates accuse each other of being “controlled opposition,” agents provocateurs, dupes, or self-serving egotists advancing platforms of personal gain. Or, as in Charles Eisenstein’s latest screed (There’s No One Driving the Bus), lacking philosophical depth and moral nuance.
In Eisenstein’s view the impulse to lay blame and identify conspiracy is misguided and distracting from the more diffuse cause of our enslavement, our own inability to exercise personal and communal power in our lives. The resulting void, he urges, is more chaos than conspiracy, more abdication than control. But in the conclusion of the essay he betrays the premise by writing,
“It takes commitment to renounce the bribes, ignore the threats, and change the habits.” The obvious rebuttal asks, “Then who is offering the bribes and enforcing the threats?”
It is not my intention to join the infighting by slandering Eisenstein, but to challenge his anti-fundamentalism as yet another version of divisive labeling. He opposes the black-and-white dualism of good guys versus bad guys, in the interest of witnessing the whole field of our collective responsibility. Fair enough, as far as that goes. But the firmness of that denial distracts—if I may use the same term in reverse—from the known planning and perpetration of crimes against humanity by those proud to exercise such control at every level of the machinery of power. That the hierarchy is deep and widespread and staffed by human actors who genuinely believe in the goodness of their technocratic cause does not excuse them from blame and responsibility for its deadly and yes, evil consequences.