I can’t remember where exactly, but I stumbled across this apothegm of Karl Marx:
“In every era, the ideas of the rulers are the ruling ideas.”
Striving for even more brevity, I truncated it to rulers’ ideas rule.
Contrarians of the world should unite to identify and challenge these ruling ideas. When they serve only the needs of the powerful, we should be prepared to mark them as dangerous and most likely as undemocratic. And we should work to change them.
What are some of today’s ruling ideas? I challenge you to come up with some. But on this Friday morning, here are ten that I see as ruling our lives:
1. That capitalism is the only economic system that works, and that rampant consumption is necessary to keep the economy growing.
2. Related to (1) is the idea that GDP and similar economic measures are the best measure of America’s strength.
3. That “success” in life is measured by money and titles and possessions.
4. Related to (3) is the idea that education that doesn’t end in a lucrative career is largely worthless.
5. That poor people and other disadvantaged groups are the way they are because they refuse to work.
6. That it’s absolutely necessary to spend nearly a trillion dollars a year on national defense, wars, homeland security, intelligence agencies, and nuclear weapons, all of which are justified in the name of “keeping us safe.”
7. That privatization is the way to improve everything, including public services like education, the prison system, and health care.
8. That corporate spending in elections is the equivalent to freedom of speech for individuals and is therefore protected by our Constitution as our nation’s founders intended.
9. That there’s no such thing as class warfare in the United States.
10. Related to (5), that there’s equality of opportunity for everyone in the United States, regardless of race, ethnicity, economic background, and so on. Thus those who “fail” do so because of their own failings, not because the system is rigged against them.
That’s my non-rigorous, somewhat off-the-cuff rendering of rulers’ ideas. Please add your ideas in the comments section. Contrarians of the world unite!