A major part of the problem and a defining aspect of our current situation is capitalism. It feels liberating and oppressive. Rules of the game. Some winners, some who work for the winners and way too many who lose out. It is mystified but quite easy to understand. Those who have it can make decisions for themselves by spending and for society by how they invest. Democracy and capitalism are two ways society makes decisions. Unfortunately capital is able to buy leverage in the democracy through media, “representation” an the banking system. All are potentially active in a democracy but only some have capital. How capitalism came to be is a more complicated story. It begins with herding societies and the birth of new calves. Called head, or cap in the Latin of the Roman Empire , and passed on down to us.
That simple act of sexual reproduction led to increase and that increase — new head of cattle, was the basis for what follows. Grassland was free , until too many head of cattle, so the land was divided equally (the meaning of nomia in economy) but people realized there was not a fully fair way to make the divisions. Some land was just better and some worse for cattle raising, or any other crop. This problem of unfairness -the inability to divide the world into equal portions — defines the modern dilemma and the main recent attempts to create equality — communism, socialism, fascism, (all reactions to capitalism) failed. Probably because they all held on to the industrial factory system and dull bureaucracy. If we add to this matrix the emerging hierarchy of the powerful within the tribe morphing into empires, you can feel how the some have and the some have not arises easily.
This increasingly complex matrix (leading to the movie by that name) blended then with contracts, memory, lending and return (I lend you 100 head of cattle, you in the next breeding cycle have a hundred and fifty, you give me back my hundred plus ten. From these ancient times till now the changes are a mystification protecting the rich from the inquiring minds of the rest through complexification through law, regulation and contract — and culture. Obviously the distribution of wealth now is based on things done in the past: wars, trading, theft, especially the use of law to legitimize various forms of taking. If you inquire into the history of he land where you live you will discover all these aspects. What looks like a landscape is crisscrossed with invisible lines of contract, ownership and regulations. The problem for us is, what do we do about the accrued unfairnesses.