A thought experiment of questions

If there actually was a military-intelligence-industrial-media complex and if it had a massive black budget funded by profits from front companies and criminal enterprises and/or dark money funneled through front organizations, international banks, etc — not to mention involvement of and access to the resources and capabilities of client states, allies, trade partners, puppet dictators, foreign oligarchies, organized crime syndicates, etc — how would anyone know about what was happening outside of the ruling elite directly involved within the highest echelons of the crony establishment, deep state, shadow network, plutocratic corporatocracy, soft fascism, and inverted totalitarianism (or whatever one wishes to call it)? How would we the people know what was going on? Would the media elite in the big biz news media report on it? Would the political elite in the one-party state with two wings tell us about it? Who would speak truth to power, what media platform would allow such critical honesty to be widely broadcast, and how would these moral voices be heard by a public that is lost in mediated reality tunnels?

Besides, would it even require the bad intent and organized conspiracy of a secret cabal of social dominators and dark personalities (Machiavellians, psychopaths, and narcissists) or could it emerge almost naturally, or at least unintentionally and by default of the biases and incentives built into the system itself, as the result of normal human relationships and social affiliations, shared life experience and common interests in terms of a ‘natural aristocracy’ of monied elite and high society that lives in the same neighborhoods, goes to the same churches, sends their kids to the same schools, belongs to the same clubs, vacations at the same resorts, attends the same social events, donates to the same non-profits, owns stock in the same companies, are members of the same corporate boards, and generally hobnobs in the same social circles and career networks, in some cases even where family dynasties form through inherited wealth and power and how they are bonded together through generations of intermarriage (i.e., cronyism and nepotism)?

Do most individuals in the elite ever stop to think about the immense system of privileges and protections, power and position in which are embedded every aspect of their lives, identities, careers, and relationships; upon which is built their entire lifestyle of comfort and pleasure, safety and security; a socially-constructed and hermeneutically-sealed poltico-economic reality that in many cases continues from conception to death? Are the upper classes, as sheep herded through carefully structured and highly controlled elite institutions, any less brainwashed and miseducated or more so? In their roles as wealthy influencers, philanthrocapitalists, powerful actors, backroom dealers, political insiders, public intellectuals, and thought leaders, do they believe the lies, disinfo, and propaganda they help spread? What would cause them to become aware of the world into which many of them were born and everything they were freely given as their birthright within the power structure? What tiny fraction of a percentage of the ruling elite actually worked and/or lucked their way up out of desperate dirt poverty, not merely having started out in the upper middle class? How many of them have ever known anything other than membership in the upper classes?

If a semi-covert or obscure Anglo-American-Western Empire as the greatest geopolitical and economic superpower on earth, though hidden in plain sight, was doing top secret technological and military research, development, and build-up for ongoing and upcoming covert operations, espionage programs, propaganda campaigns, proxy wars, international conflict, and cold war containment, possibly in preparation for World War III, with the cooperation and support of various geopolitical power structures (UN, NATO, World Bank, etc), would there be any undeniably obvious outward signs and documented evidence of this activity that could be clearly detected, easily uncovered, and demonstrably proven by outside observers, investigative journalists, and academic scholars, no matter how intelligent and informed? What if other old centers of imperial power, such as Russia and China, were likewise being restructured behind the scenes such as a Russo-Sino-Eastern Empire to oppose, challenge, and potentially defeat it’s historical enemies in the West? If there had already been a second cold war going on for decades now, would most of us have any clue to its existence, what it means, and where it might lead? Are we about to enter a new era of imperial wars of adventurism, aggression, and expansion, as was the case from the 18th century to the world war era?

Or are the real powers that are acting behind the scenes entirely different from any imperialism or imperial-like power the world has known from earlier eras? If the United States CIA, for example, had surreptitiously become an autonomous transnational paramilitary organization as part of a global deep state that operated entirely beyond all normal political oversight and public accountability, democratic or otherwise, that could be enforced by any national and international governing bodies, treaties, agreements, and legal systems, would the ‘CIA’ as such appear or operate any differently than it did in the past or would it otherwise seem to continue to do what it always had done, whatever else it might be doing that couldn’t be publicly seen? What if the CIA itself or even the entire United States government had now become a front organization for an emerging socio-politico-economic power structure of a kind, globally extensive and pervasive, never before seen to such a degree of complexity and centralized control? Would even the average lower level career politician, political party operator, or bureaucratic functionary be aware that anything had changed or would it smoothly and imperceptibly merge into the social, political, and economic cronyism and corruption already established over generations?

What if, like how a banana republic creates the illusion of democracy, transnational neo-imperialism or some other form of globalization maintained the external forms and appearances of separate and independent nation-states (maybe akin to the centralized faux ‘Federal’ government of the United States that originally, according to the Articles of Confederation, was a Federation freely joined by nation-states that were free to leave; after all, that is why they were named ‘states’)? Considering that the once diverse private and public, for-profit and non-profit media in the Western world (presumably similar to other parts of the world) used to be mostly locally-operated before nearly all of it was shut down or bought up and consolidated by a few transnational parent companies that are also invested in big energy, big defense, big tech, big drugs, big ag, etc, what if this big biz media that represents 90% of the news infotainment and soft propaganda (political rhetoric, mediated narratives, public relations, perception management, etc; in alliance with astroturfing, think tank machinations, lobbyist group influence, corporate advertising, etc) that most Americans watch has since become a propaganda arm of a shadowy superpower (deep state, deep neo-empire, or deep whatever), just another extension of the military-intelligence-industrial-media complex with loyalty to nothing else? Would we be able to smell that something was off simply by turning on the television, radio, or other tech device?

As a counter-balance and reality check to contrast against paranoid cynicism (real or perceived, justified or not), what would the world be like and how would our society function if all that was suggested above did not exist at all and, instead, we were an entirely autonomous public beholden to no power above or beyond our own democratic self-governance as free citizens of independent countries and communities (or city-states or anarcho-communes or anything else your crazy radical imagination could dream up) with fully functioning free markets and social democracies (or democratic socialism)? On a practical level of direct and personal experience, how would we tell the difference between authoritarian non-freedom and non-authoritarian freedom? What kind of lives would we live, what kind of communities would we call home, what kind of work would we do, what kind of economic fairness and social justice would exist, what kind of real freedom and effective rights would we have, what kind of resources and opportunities would be available to us, what kind of governance would we freely choose? And if we we were fully aware and informed, not indoctrinated and propagandized or manipulated and deceived in any way, how would we perceive the world we find ourselves in and how we would we act to move toward the world we would prefer? What would it take for we the people to become intellectually discerning, morally courageous, fully engaged, and politically empowered agents of our own shared freedom and collective determination?

What would freedom feel like in our bodies, minds, and souls? What would it feel like to be free in the world, to be free in ourselves and in relation to others, to be free members of free communities of people, to know freedom as a living experience within a living world? From that sense of freedom, how would we live and act freely? As freedom is etymologically cognate with friendship, what would it mean to treat others as equally free beings in mutual relationships of freedom? What does it mean to know, understand, and honor freedom as an ideal, vision, and reality? What does it mean to free here and now, not only as an aspiration but as a simple undeniable experience of what it is to be human, as a choice and acceptance of the ever present potential of freedom? Are we not all free in that we all belong to humanity, in that we are all at home in this world and have a right to be here for there is nowhere else we could be? Isn’t freedom the realization that we are citizens of the world, inhabitants of earth as a biosphere, members within the body of Gaia? What if that sense of freedom took hold in society and culture, within the public imagination, and spread as a contagious revolution of the mind? Isn’t freedom the acknowledgement that we are already in interrelationship? If freedom as our birthright is the starting point, what follows from that?