The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name. \
— Lao Tzu
In 1776, Adam Smith published Wealth Of Nations, which was his analysis of how commerce functioned in his day and age.
“Buddhist disciple, or luohan, holding a peach” is licensed under CC0 1.0
In 1848, Karl Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto, which was his analysis of how the masses were exploited by those with economic power.
Both Capitalism and Communism are theoretical constructs, intended to describe and justify the actions of individuals. What really exists are the people and their individual choices.
Today, “Capitalism” is largely under the control of large corporations. It is very different from what was described by Smith, and yet it retains the label.
The corporate state is to Mussolini what the New Deal is to Roosevelt. — Fortune Magazine (1934)
Corporations are powerful machines for building wealth and prosperity. Under the control of individuals focused on long term prosperity for the nation or the world, this can be an amazing thing. Under the control of individuals focused on power and short term profitability, it has turned into one of the most destructive systems in the world.
Similarly government can be a force to protect the people from exploitation, or it can be a force to enable exploitation. This depends on the collective will of the people.
Instead, we focus on labels, and how we believe they apply to our actions.
The vast majority of power and money are in the hands of a few. We believe this *must* be acceptable, because reversing it would be Socialism or Theft. These are the lies that keep us in bondage.
Real change doesn’t come from changing a “system”. Real change comes from changing ourselves, and helping others do the same. Real change comes from focusing on each other, instead of ourselves.
Humans are members of the Great Ape family. We are able to use logic and reason to overcome our instinctual behaviors. We are Tribal animals who tend to limit the scope of our “tribe” based upon our personal experiences. Trauma can reduce the size of our tribe to just ourselves, while love can expand it to all with an understanding that we are all one. We are all interdependent. Exclusion creates enemies.
There is no greater illusion than fear, no greater wrong than preparing to defend yourself, no greater misfortune than having an enemy. Whoever can see through all fear will always be safe.
— Lao Tzu
As Nationalism grows once again, we can observe as our leaders create enemies.
Is it immigrants who have destroyed our once great nation? Or is it the individuals who increased their bank accounts by removing work from people who needed it in order to survive?
Is it Muslims who are the threat to peace? Or the countries that train them to fight, just to fight them as well? Bin Laden was trained by America to fight Russia after all. ISIS grew in the destruction left when we destroyed Iraq for a lie.
This death and destruction has built great wealth within the Military Industrial Complex that President Eisenhower warned us about.
We have returned once again to a time when “Capitalism” has chewed up the people to benefit the rich. This is the result of a cycle old enough for Plato to discuss nearly 2400 years ago. The Oligarchs have risen. The Democratic man has demanded the Freedom to exploit. The Demagogue was selected, and is in the process of becoming the Tyrant.
Fascism is the industrial age version of the same exploitation that always rises and falls within societies which have lost the way. The label changes based upon the details of the implementation.
The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.
— Charlie Chaplin: The Great Dictator
The name that can be named is not the eternal name. The Tao of Death persists, while the details change.
Real change does not begin at the top.
You cannot change people by changing a “system”. You can change the “system” by changing the people. This requires sacrifice and effort.
The path into the light seems dark, the path forward seems to go back, the direct path seems long, true power seems weak, true purity seems tarnished, true steadfastness seems changeable, true clarity seems obscure, the greatest are seems unsophisticated, the greatest love seems indifferent, the greatest wisdom seems childish.
— Lao Tzu
First, you must change yourself. And then you may change others.
Real change requires leadership, not power.