Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh CXII

Steve Bull (https://olduvai.ca)
8 min readMar 27, 2023
Teotihuacan, Mexico (1988). Photo by author.

Our Banking System: Government vs. Private Control, Part 1

This rather lengthy Contemplation (that I’ve decided to break into two parts) has been prompted by a comment shared in response to an article I posted on my personal Facebook page regarding the inevitable collapse of the world’s banking system.

In response to the comment that banks be nationalised to prevent unsound banking practices, I stated: “Not sure that I trust government much (if at all) more than profit-seeking corporations.”

A dialogue ensued regarding this lack of trust in government verses private corporations — both of which I consider to be part and parcel of the ruling caste of modern complex societies and thus not much better than the other when it comes to representing the interests of the ‘masses’.

The following are my relatively extensive thoughts on this in the grand scheme of our ‘collapse’ predicament that I promised the commenter (LN) I would compose and I thank him once again for causing me to reflect upon the subject.

We will have to agree to disagree about any potential increased soundness in our banking systems were they to be nationalised[1].

Nationalised or privately run, the banking system and related financial institutions are amongst the most unsound of human-contrived institutions on this planet, contributing to and exacerbating our predicaments at every turn. And they exist at the behest of a ruling caste of society (that includes both governments and private corporations) that uses them to meet their primary motivation: the control/expansion of the wealth-generating/-extracting systems that provide their revenue streams and thus positions of power and privilege.

The common narrative surrounding bank nationalisation is that a nation’s government would better serve the interests of its people verses a profit-driven, private banking system. This, of course, arises from the common belief that governments are social institutions whose primary function is to protect, preserve, and hopefully better the welfare of the citizens it is said to ‘represent’ — a story that suits the-powers-that-be quite well and is thus one of the tales most often repeated and taught in our societies.

This belief, I would contend, is a rather significant assumption and quite likely inaccurate. Heaven knows there’s plenty of evidence every day to subvert this beneficent role of society’s ‘leaders’. It’s just that most tend to deny or rationalise away these signs that things are not as they appear on the surface.

Our ruling elite (particularly the political class) all too often, if not always, leverage events (especially crises like the current banking one) to help legitimise their positions of power and privilege, as well as expand their reach into aspects of society that increase/maintain their control of/influence over it. And supporters of this caste are far too quick in my opinion to hand the reins of important societal aspects over to them in their belief that they could and would do better, primarily due to the belief that governments serve the citizens. “The government is us” is a constant refrain heard by those that have such faith in our political systems.

And while nationalisation of such institutions as banks does and has occurred[2], many governments are actually loathe to do so and instead put forth arguments that they can regulate and improve banking without such a move — I would argue this probably has more to do with pressures from the banking cartel and other powerful/influential elite[3] than anything else, but governments also work hand-in-glove with the various financial institutions so why bother when they can reap the benefits of their creation of money-from-nothing scheme, but also use as a scapegoat to point the finger at when things go sideways — there’s often great theatre created when our political class convenes a commission/inquiry into the latest crisis supposedly due to non-political actors/institutions, with the result almost always being policies that increase political power over things (and oftentimes beyond the issue being reviewed).

Without getting too deeply into the entire morass that is our fiat currency scam[4] and the Ponzi-type structure of our global economic system[5], I would argue that any marginal benefits of any governing system — particularly those that have developed during the past handful of centuries, if not more recently — have arisen not as a result of the beneficent behaviours of any specific elite (e.g., democratically-elected politicians who portray themselves as ‘representatives’ of the electorate) but as an epiphenomenon of intensified resource extraction, socioeconomic machinations, military might and alliances (mostly to gain and/or retain access to resources/markets), and — perhaps most importantly — fossil fuels that have helped to amplify everything by providing significant surplus energy, the foundation for most if not all of human societal complexities the past couple of centuries.

I would argue that the leveraging of fossil fuel energy in particular has ‘benefited’ many (but mostly and quite inequitably the ruling caste), allowing an increase in the perception of the ‘representation’ within our so-called ‘democratic’ sociopolitical systems, but also in all nations regardless of the type of system in place. When a society has a lot of surplus net energy, it’s much easier to ‘share’ that in a way that provides the masses with much more ‘bread and circuses’ and to craft narratives that the system is representative and serves ‘the people’ — democratic or not.

Surplus net energy reduced the need for human and draft animal labour allowing for all kinds of societal shifts — in both practice and narrative. One significant change is that more violent and coercive techniques for controlling people can be reduced. In response, the ruling caste has created grand stories that they are being responsive to the needs of the people and ‘progressive’ in their policies and actions. The use of ‘moral validity’ to justify status quo power and wealth structures, and sell the idea of ‘representation’ (i.e., agency), is far less costly than other forms of population control particularly violence and coercion.

The introduction of fiat currencies has allowed our elite to expand further on this tendency while extracting even more wealth for themselves and their supporters but also ‘sharing’ more of it with the masses. But basically, both surplus energy and fiat currencies are being used to help legitimise, solidify, and expand the ruling caste’s hold on power.

I wrote in a previous Contemplation rather extensively about this tendency of the ruling caste to manipulate society in order to legitimise their positions of power and privilege.

One method of doing this is to create vested economic interests where the benefits of rule are shared to a small extent. This works well especially for the bureaucrats that serve to support those few that sit atop a complex society’s power and wealth structures and the upper/upper-middle classes. This top 15–20% of society want the status quo systems to continue and are amongst their most ardent defenders.

Another form of this manipulation takes place through the theatre of elections. This very important legitimisation process serves to convince the masses that they have some form of agency in the decision-making that takes place in their society. The narrative that elected sociopolitical leaders are ‘representative’ of the many (because they were just voted in by everyone) and have their people’s best interests at the forefront of policies and actions is paramount.

The message that the status quo systems (especially the political system) benefit everyone can be repeated ad nauseum by the elite and their bureaucrats via political speeches, mass media, and education systems — and this ‘systems serve the people’ is ‘true’ regardless of sociopolitical system (i.e., democratic or autocratic).

Repeat something enough times (especially by ‘experts’ and other authority figures), make sure it’s taught in your education system, splash it all over your media, and shout down criticism and dissenters (especially by pointing out their ‘unpatriotic’ nature) and the illusory truth effect[6] kicks in and everybody considers it a self-evident ‘truth’. Democracies work! Just ask everybody doing their civic ‘duty’ and voting in one. Don’t vote? Then you can’t complain.

But take that veneer of surplus energy away and/or the economic machinations possible through the use of fiat currencies and I believe the ‘true’ nature of our governance would soon come to the foreground. In fact, as our resources encounter increasing diminishing returns and the Ponzi-type structure of our entire financialised economic system becomes more obvious we are beginning to see the actual colours of our governing institutions as the elite increase significantly their activities to legitimise their positions of power and prestige via increased narrative manipulation alongside greater centralised control efforts.

It’s perhaps no coincidence that coercion in the form of social marginalisation, police/security expansion, censorship, mass surveillance, persecution of ‘thought’ crimes, etc. has been growing quite quickly the past few years as attempts at narrative management seem to be failing.

While it would be gratifying to believe a ‘representative’ sociopolitical system would be responsible as our systems ‘collapse’ and guide us in an equitable and non-chaotic fashion — perhaps by using the economic system in a wise fashion — I have a difficult time believing this narrative given every such sociopolitical system has tended to pursue growth (the foundational cause of our predicaments but seemingly completely necessary in our modern societies given the Ponzi structures that support our systems — particularly the financialized economic system) in one form or another which then, ultimately, leads to collapse/decline.

Nowadays this pre/historically-evidenced societal cycle of expansion/growth in complexity, followed by the appearance of diminishing returns on investments in this growth, and concluding in eventual simplification/collapse is compounded by planetary ecological overshoot.

And our political systems and profit-seeking corporations are both making the predicament worse — because they both serve the interests of a ruling caste that benefits greatly from the status quo power and wealth structures. But these structures cannot simply be ‘tweaked’ to put us on a ‘sustainable’ trajectory since we are well past the point of no return, but most refuse to accept this and continue to deny/ignore and/or rationalise away the coming storm…

You can find Part 2 here; Part 3 here; Part 4 In Progress.

If you’ve made it to the end of this contemplation and have got something out of my writing, please consider ordering the trilogy of my ‘fictional’ novel series, Olduvai (PDF files; only $9.99 Canadian), via my website — the ‘profits’ of which help me to keep my internet presence alive and first book available in print (and is available via various online retailers). Encouraging others to read my work is also much appreciated.

[1] See this, this, and/or this.

[2] See this, this, this, and/or this.

[3] See this, this, and/or this.

[4] See this, this, and/or this. This system that has been perpetuated upon society by banks (both central/national and private), other financial institutions (e.g., shadow banks), and governments; and, has taken place across the planet regardless of sociopolitical system because governing elite everywhere are complicit in the scheme.

[5] See this, this, and/or this. This Ponzi-like nature of our economic system seems primarily due to its financialization and apparently complete dependence upon credit/debt growth.

[6] See this.

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Steve Bull (https://olduvai.ca)

A guy trying to make sense of a complex and seemingly insane world. Spend my days pondering our various predicaments while practising local food production...