Two years ago, I began a start-up called The Virtual Vanaprastha. The product line I offer includes a sane lifestyle-concept in an insane world. The lifestyle I work daily to design, test and offer is intended not only to be sane for myself but sane for readers who might also realize that we are careening wildly about wherever our product and financial markets take us good and/or bad.
For just one of the almost numberless examples, we are altering the environment of the planet because our markets demand we do so. This demand is coming both from democrats and plutocrats. All available means of avoiding the climate change that market economies are causing threaten the profits of business magnates and corporations and the quality of life of the general population. Because it threatens our own collective profits, as well, be we rich or poor, we are unable effectively to oppose the wealthy faction.
Those who are not wealthy are divided against each other. It is the normal course of things and amplified by our technologies and the rapid redefinitions of democracy they have driven. The plutocrats, being much more able to coordinate their small numbers, easily take advantage of these facts. The concept of a mass protest or political movement is destined to fail unless the wealthy see a profit opportunity in allowing or even creating it. Far more likely than not, a successful movement will have been created specifically by the plutocracy using the tools of psychology (advertising), or even propaganda, such as is the case with the well-known Tea Party movement.
Climate change is not even coming. It is already here and still we cannot choose to take the necessary steps in order to limit its severity. Droughts and floods (often alternately in the same locations), more frequent and powerful extreme storm systems, higher food prices, water rationing, and much more, have already begun. They are now a part of our life and still we cannot assemble the political will to meaningfully limit the far greater damage ahead.
Climate change presents a business opportunity. Corporations deny climate change while actively creating business plans in order to maximize profits from it. This is the only large-scale collective planning we are capable of doing in reaction to climate change.
This same dynamic is repeating itself as potable water grows ever scarcer on the planet and possibly millions already die every year from the lack of it. It is repeated as retirement programs and medical safety nets are disassembled in favor of greater wealth for the plutocracy and more money to fuel the cycle of new inexpensive products designed to become obsolete or irreparable in short order necessitating more production and more consumption. As massively wealthy corporations move out of the states they’re pillaging, they are leaving behind impoverished populations, unable to change their citizenship with similar ease, solely responsible for paying the enormous debts created in the name of wealth generation. It’s simply the best business strategy and it is being actively pursued.
The reader may reflect upon all that this implies and be quite open to a new lifestyle-concept, may have read to this point in order to understand The Virtual Vanaprastha’s promising answer as to how to put all of this right. But my lifestyle-concept — my product — is even more revolutionary than that. The Virtual Vanaprastha offers the lifestyle-concept of acceptance: there is almost no hope that any of this will be avoided.
Remember, you yourself are reading this prospectus on a computer connected to the Internet. You are likely to own an automobile of one sort or another. It requires fuel. If it is a recent model, it reports your whereabouts at all times. Whether or not the vehicle is a recent model, your smart-phone reports your whereabouts at all times. All of this, and much more, is yours only upon payment due. Failure to pay on time will cripple your life and the life of your family. Sign the take-it-or-leave-it contracts, allow your day to day activities to be tracked and recorded and pay your bills on time and you have a quality of life unimaginable even 25 years ago. Reject the package and life becomes a very uncomfortable, limited affair.
The plutocrats of the world are going to bank your payments, wield your data and make all decisions regarding all of this destruction for their own benefits, their own enhanced profits. They could not be stopped before now and they are orders of magnitude more powerful now. The trend is overwhelming and unmistakable.
While this may sound evil to those whose wealth is decreasing, as the result, they are the best ally of the wealthy. They cannot want to make the necessary sacrifices in order to seriously modify the system that brings them inexpensive food, clothing, shelter and continuous stimulation. They can only object to having too small a cut of the profits with which to buy more. People cannot get enough of the latest products or the social networking that makes buying them an inherent part of being in-touch or receiving emotional responsiveness. They crave historically enormous amounts of emotional stimulation and strive to negotiate a satisfying persona. To the point, in fact, that they fear those who do not experience the same cravings — a category of persons who might otherwise prove helpful — because they are so foreign to them, so inexplicable.
Those who see an historical sense of entitlement slipping away, who react by collecting personal armories, building bunkers and/or forming militias, offer only a deeply flawed and doomed concept. At base, they have sufficient collective rational thought, in the aggregate, to realize that they are helpless against today’s government security forces and technologies ever more co-opted by large corporations. In the end, they are not preparing to win some apocalyptic war and they know it. New technologies are capable of defeating them with ease. Instead they are preparing to win a guerrilla war against their fellow disenfranchised for the not inconsiderable scraps that will fall from the table. It is in this manner that they imagine they will regain the physical advantages and emotional satisfaction that once came with their entitlements.
Those who continue to try through the political process and peaceful demonstration are strong and worthy of the greatest respect. The Virtual Vanaprastha concept does not oppose engagement. One of the most important aspects of the psychological side of the concept is a daily feeling of community. But engagement as regards these massive issues is inherently dependent upon magical thinking. What successes there are will be worthy of our praise and appreciation. But they will only limit the harshness of the problems in small ways and only for short times. It is vitally important to each individual and family unit to acknowledge and accept the realities of the conditions that lie ahead and to make plans to succeed in the face of those realities.
What lies ahead will be either a challenge to be met or the unwinding of fate. Not everyone who addresses it as a challenge will succeed to overcome the daunting obstacles that they will meet. Not all who leave the matter to fate will fare poorly. Those who can properly analyze and prepare will only have a far better chance. There can be no guarantees.
The first step, then, is analysis of what lies ahead. The next is to build the resources to meet the challenges that might be expected. Your work should build resources. Your leisure should build resources. Your celebrations should build resources. Your mourning should build resources. You must learn to have happy, rewarding lives building resources.
Inasmuch as power and wealth are not precisely synonymous (and that’s not much), the only other source of power is knowledge. The answer is education.
So then, the following bullet list provides a sample from the propositions upon which The Virtual Vanaprastha concept is founded:
· Strive to be completely rational. Do not strive to be free of emotion. In a T=0 healthy mind, this will result in a healthier balance between rational mind (which requires continual development and maintenance) and emotional mind (which is inevitable and inevitably demands more dominance than is healthy).
· Use the new technologies but don’t let them use you any more than can be avoided. Learn everything you can about the new technologies (hardware and software) and use that knowledge to have far greater resources available to you at far lower cost.
· Use the legacy technologies inasmuch as they can profitably be translated into the present world. Learn the concepts by which machines work just as you would learn how computer software and hardware work. Know how to use the widest possible range of tools in order to build, modify and effect repairs. Low tech is one of your more powerful resources.
· Buy no cultural product primarily because it is popular. It is an enormously destructive personal and collective behavior.
· The single most powerful legacy technology is books.
· The most powerful tool in any toolkit is disinterest. There is no greater resource. Learn how and when to use it.
· Have fun. Enjoy yourself. Learn to enjoy yourself regardless of difficult circumstances.
If you have managed somehow to become a media personality, ignore everything I say. Keep working on more ways to get nearly naked in public and to be outrageous enough to get in the next media cycle. Just ignore me. If you have not managed to become a media personality and think that you might like to try my product, ignore them.