Plight of the Price System Lemmings

Stephen L. Doll  1991  

Published in:

  • Section 3 Newsletter January 1991, No. 89
  • The Northwest Technocrat, 3rd quarter 1991, No. 324

For years, it was accepted that the little creature known as the lemming harbored some sort of unfathomable propensity for irrational self-destruction. Legend held that every few years, vast numbers of this plump, mouse like denizens of northern climes would mindlessly set out on a one-way journey to Lemming’s Leap, whence they would cast themselves from cliff tops into the sea. Recent research, however, has prompted scientists to conclude that their periodic grand demise is due to intolerable social conditions — a simple matter of too little food for too many animals in too small an area. Most don’t even get to enjoy their short-term seaside vacation. They die of starvation on the way, or eaten by other animals.

How do we humans stack up? Why are we, young and old alike, killing ourselves? In Dade County, Florida, 37 suicides were recorded at the secondary school level in the 1988-89 school years. The previous year, two children took their lives in VolusiaCounty. One was thirteen, the other eleven.

Evidence suggests that economic difficulties spur an increase in suicidal behavior. This is understandable, as we are conditioned to view the Price System as the supplier of all our wants and needs. When that tenuous underpinning is pulled out from under us, where do we go?

But this is too easy, too simple. The question behind this answer is: Why are we so dependent on the artifice of the Price System that we value it more than life?

Perhaps the answer may be found in the case of the 19-year-old college student in Texas who recently took his life after telling his parents how empty he felt. This was not a down-and-out misfit. This was a highly promising youth, a consistent achiever, and a model of self-motivation. Yet underlying it all was a sense of futility. His parents would remember that, in spite of his achievements, he would constantly point out the stupidity of it all, the falseness. In view of conditions in the world today, this youth, obviously, was too perceptive for his own good. Acquaintances shake their heads and ruefully observe that kids think too much these days.

Aren’t kids supposed to think these days? Or are there too many of the wrong things to think about? Is the rash of suicides, as in the case of the lemmings, an indication that social conditions are becoming intolerable?

Consider the falseness in which we live and move and into which we thrust our children at ever earlier ages. A lip-synching president with a pair of slick-dealing sons. Elected representatives who would let the nation come to a halt as they haggle about how much the rich vote is worth. Consider an economy that thrives greatly on human suffering, weakness, and warfare. Perfidious religious leaders. Highly-paid role models revealed as shysters and drug addicts. Deprivation in the midst of plenty. Bullet-proof clothing for school children. An eroding planet. And all this posing behind the false mask of freedom and a prosperity reserved for the game-players.

We live in an age of unprecedented peril. Our technological capabilities are making possible a condition of universal peace and abundance undreamed of by any except the most starry-eyed of philosophers. Yet we labor under the constant specter of devastating warfare and internal strife as may be seen in the grim reality of conflict around the globe.

In North America, unlike the environs of the unfortunate lemmings, our problem is not too little food for too many human animals. Otherwise, why would we be destroying millions of tons per year? The problem with food distribution, as with all the other necessities of life that are withheld in order to protect profit margins, is the very system by which we operate, the system of imposed scarcity and commodity valuation that Technocracy calls the Price System.

Herein lies the real falseness, the big lie: the facade of charity and concern we maintain while, in reality, it is the adversarial pursuit of acquisition that holds sway over our actions, not a sense of service. We are no longer what we are, or even what we achieve, but what we have. This is especially unfortunate in that, in a land of abundant resources and the technology to develop them, the workings of finance actually serve no higher purpose than that of an artifice that separates humankind from its true nature as a social animal.

Technocracy has presented ample evidence that the false underpinnings of finance, never a reliable source of security, are rapidly being washed away by the inexorable tide of technological advance. At the same time, those who maintain their power over human affairs through the manipulations of mercantile wizardry are doing whatever it takes to keep humankind laboring under this false dependence, with the tragic result that the masses that see their base of security — the Price System — being taken away from them are reacting accordingly. Even more tragic are those promising souls with the brains to see the inescapability of the falseness and who choose not to participate in it.

Suicide is an extreme reaction to negative input. Most people don’t resort to it. They indulge in slow suicide as they choose to lose themselves in drugs or alcohol, or beat up on those closest to them. Some beat up on those not so close. Or shoot them. Or cheat them. Or any of an infinite number of other anti-social activities that the intolerability of our situation demands of us. The number and form of expressions vary as much as human individuality itself. There is, however, but one cause — the falseness.

The Price System has answered this in typical and predictable fashion with a myriad of band aid approaches that only serve to mask the true problem, which goes unresolved: the Price System itself. All prescribed remedies are merely designed to perpetuate it.

In an optimum setting, when all needs are met and all intrinsic expressions of individuality are given free rein, humans do not need to be bribed to do worthwhile things. And deep down, we know it. Ours is a society of individuals in conflict with ourselves. Our instincts demand that we be of service, while our monetary system dictates that we withhold that service in order to guarantee the perpetuation of the system. This is the falsehood, the big lie, the Grand Separator of humanity to which even religion and philosophy must bow. And it is this conflict that drives the socially conscious to distraction and destruction.

The lemmings die because their conditions are no longer adequate to support them. Are we, supposedly the most intelligent species on earth, allowing our devotion to the demands of the Price System to head us in the same direction? We cheat, we lie, we fight, and we undermine the very planet that is the true source of our livelihood.

Technocracy’s Technological Social Design provides the only solution to our imposed inhumanity — a functional governance for the operation of the physical functions of North America, a design for universal abundance through balanced production and distribution. With Technocracy’s guarantee of equal consuming power for all, no one would live in fear of want, and no one would be called upon to be false to his neighbor or himself in order to secure the things necessary for a good life. For the first time since before the advent of the Price System, humankind would be allowed to live in harmony with longings of their true nature, not under the dictates of a financial system that demands ever more and renders ever less.

Our potential is so much more than that of lemmings. We need not perpetuate the intolerable conditions that take so many from us. The college student in Texas did not think too much; there is no such thing as thinking too much except in a system that demands a liberal supply of non-thinkers for its continuance. Perhaps the truth is, far too many of us think too little.


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