As Gillian Tett of The Financial Times observes, “Most societies have an elite and the elite try to stay in power; and the way they stay in power is not merely by controlling the means of production, but by controlling the cognitive map, the way we think. And what really matters in that respect, is not so much what is actually said in public, but what is left undebated, unsaid.”
One particularly blatant way in which our cognitive map is controlled is through the endless repetition of the mantra: there is no alternative. If true, it would be very convenient for those who benefit from the current order. But it is not true. The claim that there is no alternative is an attempt by supporters of the status quo to shut down debate. And so far the tactic has worked. As a result, we are left with an economy that has lost purpose and direction. In guaranteeing the continued privilege of a small minority of citizens, it actively excludes the majority from the means to achieve economic security and wellbeing.
Democratic politics, or at least those people who sit in governments and legislatures around the world, has fully bought into the ‘no alternative’ argument.
Most politicians refuse to recognize that they have the power to change prevailing economic structures. This has led to a ‘do nothing’ politics and, in many countries, a dispiriting tussle between established parties of the left and right to occupy the ‘centre’ ground. When judged by historical standards, that centre is now well to the right of the political spectrum. The social programmes implemented by Richard Nixon four decades ago were way to the left of anything that could be considered by the Obama administration today.
– Excerpt from Four Horsemen – The Survival Manual
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