Prosperity and the illusion of Identity.

I fear him.

I do not understand him.

The mirror stares back at me.

Oh, help me great leader.



Prosperity, I think, is what we all aspire to. Happiness and progress. And yet, as a species, we do very little to achieve this. We are the only life form on this planet that kills its own kind for reasons that have no real value. We kill for oil, for land, for precious rocks, for ideologies. We carry out organised crime and legalise it by calling it a war among nations. We steal from our neighbours thinking that this way there is more for us when in truth there is less for all.

I was born and raised in a country that has been at war with one of its neighbouring countries for the past 500 years. I had to waste two and a half years of my life, the best years of my life, in the army being forcibly conscripted. I stood guard on the borders and saw people shooting at me. Trying to kill me because I was born about 100 kilometers to the west from where they were born. This is the only thing that separates as. The illusion of identity.

I know, it sounds silly. It sounds like the ramblings of an idealistic kid who hasn’t woken up to the real world yet. Or a pot-head hippie who thinks we should all hug each other in brotherly love. I assure you I am neither. In fact I would rather punch you in the face than hug you. Practically speaking though, war and poverty are an extreme waste of resources that could be put to better use. I’m sure you can thing of many.

So what is the illusion of identity? Bertrand Russel makes an excellent historical analysis. When man first appeared, we lived and functioned in the family level like a pack of wolves. Power in unity. In the pack, the strongest was the leader, the rest followed. Once these packs began to grow in population through war and conquest, the members of the pack no longer had any personal contact with the leader and therefor no loyalty. Instead, the loyalty of family ties was replaced by fear. For thousands of years the fear was that of physical punishment and pain. Today that has been replaced by psychological fear. In Germany, the Nazis cultivated the fear and hatred of other races, especially Jews, to trick the population into a war. In the USA, the Christian fundamentalists cultivate the fear of terrorism to convince the people that they should spent a trillion dollars to bomb a few poor people who are in fact posing no threat to them. Now, I don’t mean to equate Republican America with Nazi Germany, but I think you get the general idea. If you want war, scare the people into believing that “they” are somehow different from us. They are commies, they are muslims, they don’t eat mcdonald’s, etc. The trick never fails to work. And why would our leaders go to all this trouble, you might ask. Well folks, war is to capitalism a most essential necessity. It is the best and fastest way to create what economists call ‘surplus wealth’. And since, according to a fellow called Einstein, all matter is constant, ‘surplus’ wealth is nothing else but the redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich. And you don’t even need Marx to tell you that.

Thus, as you should all know, war is the best way to enhance the feeling of belonging to a group, the feeling of identity. Security is in fact the last bastion of the nation-state, as we have learned from the EU experiment. But in the same way, identity is the cause of war. After all, the definition of war is hostility between groups of different identity. Of course, identity is not limited to the human illusion of nationality. There is also that unspeakable evil, Religion. Between them, religion and nationality have caused 99% of all warfare in the history of the human kind.

Warfare is not the only major problem caused by the illusion that we are somehow different from each other. Poverty, famine, disease, sound familiar? 80% of the human population, thats about 4.5 billion people, live well below the poverty standard. Are they stupid, weak, lazy, or just plain bad? God must be punishing that six month old baby, thats why it has malaria and starving to death! What a bunch of idiots! It hasn’t rained there for the past one hundred years and they still insist in living in that desert! Why don’t they just move? Oh, now I get it, it’s called ‘borders’. So thats why they can’t get away from those parts of the earth whose climate and terrain is not suitable to planting crops and raising domesticated animals. 

Sure, climate and terrain is not the only cause of poverty, but I have neither the time nor the inclination to analyse the reasons behind the underdevelopment of the Third World. Maybe in another post. The case remains that bringing down the borders would solve 99% of these problems. In fact, I am absolutely convinced that it’s the ONLY way to solve these problems. 


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