Examining the future course of Western civilization is difficult unless we can bring it down to images. One of the images that emerges from this exercise was first raised by George Orwell in 1984, but has found fertile ground today in the images that are everyday fare on American television. One interesting show involves a future where companies have taken over all functions of government forming a unit called the Corporate Congress. In this show, Continuum, the “Corporate Congress” owns and controls the police, ordinary citizens are protected and owned by the corporations. All actions of society are judged by their cost versus benefit, by actuarial tables that calculate the cost versus the benefits. Private profit and security are intertwined. All hail the Corporate Congress for making life simple, far simpler than the messy democracy we have.
In my novel, The Phoenix Year, the first part of a trilogy, the wealthy industrialists and traders who engineer the collapse of the global economy and world stock markets in order to amass control of major private companies, believe they are doing this for the good of all people. They see the future as being ruined by predatory practices of private companies. They argue that without this intervention then the world economy will fail along with the environment, the air and water we breath, the food we need to sustain life. Collectivism of private sector actors is it different than State Socialism? Is collective self-interest of companies working together for the good of all people and less for profit, than for sustainability, any different from the State (Government) own the Means of Production for the Good Society?
Sometimes I think, Von Kleise and the others in the Society of the Phoenix Utopian vision will be subverted in the end and we will end up with the dystopia of late 21st century Vancouver that is pictured in the television show Continuum. A world where every citizens actions is regulated, where the police are called ‘Protectors.’ But who do they protect? Individual freedom or the will of these nameless leaders of the great corporations who own the world and all that is wherein.
The Phoenix Year is available now.