Years ago in San Felipe, Mexico, I needed something surreal to read to keep pace with the surreal environment. In front of a shop on the dusty main street I found a box of old English language paperbacks for $1 each. I bought a Robert Silverberg novel, Dying Inside, about a man who is tormented all his life by his ability to read minds. One time he is waiting with crowds of people for President Richard Nixon’s motorcade to pass. When the President is within telepathic range, the protagonist reads Nixon’s entire mind- nothing is hidden- and comes away from the experience deeply shaken.
Anyway, I was deeply shaken myself by the book because, well, I can read minds too. I have no idea why I have this "gift"- enhanced in my case because I don’t have to be in proximity to my subjects- but I will report that as Silverberg suggests, it's not for sissies.
Enough complaining! You didn’t come here to listen to me whine- you want to hear the stuff I’ve been reading in people’s minds, right? Well, I have a treat for you. I read the entire U.S. government's mind(s) this morning, as well as the governments of virtually all other countries, and the minds of the CEO’s and boards of all the major global corporations.
My findings would be too much to relate in one essay, so here I've boiled down the mind-reads to an amalgam of similar concepts and motives. I’m not sure what to call the group I’m discussing. In some parlance they’re the One Percent, the supposed percentage of the human race that is able to make decisions about what will happen to the human race. The will of this group is generally carried out, partly because it uses misconceptions about itself in the outside world. The most common misconception is that the group’s power derives entirely from the power of money and from physical force. This leaves out intelligence, but the people in the One Percent are very smart, able to trick almost everyone (I’m not being superior- I was tricked several times today). Their ability to trick everyone is dependent on their willingness to sacrifice some of their self-esteem. They are actually aware that you think you are smarter than they are. I’m not saying they like it, but it works for them.
As I read through minds of One Percenters, I encountered a preoccupation with strategy that is not found among the outside world. We sip a martini and watch Scott Pelly drone on about scandals here and there, none of it adding up to a hill of beans, the only gripping and truly painful part of the broadcast being the Cialis commercials, or we read Politico, with its veneer of inside information, basically just inside out and recycled. We think our thoughts but we don’t do anything.
That is not the case with the One Percenters. They are thinking all the time about everything, seriously thinking about it and how to influence it, because they see the world now as a proto-world, so full of potential that it is forgetting its past in a rush to be born anew. The One Percenters are on it, while the Ninety-Nine Percenters, though they see things and think things, do not consider themselves in a position to affect much of anything outside their immediate vicinity. They feel led.
The main surprise I found in reading the One Percenters' minds was that they are surprised at how much of recent events have surprised them. These people model themselves after the secret planners in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series. And indeed, a lot of stuff that looks random is planned by them. But the universe is largely beyond human control, and no one is going to control everything. The One Percenters, I found, are having some unanticipated problems regarding the various hot-spots they’ve set up around the world, which are to be used at times as generators of terror and coercion. There are continual internal struggles now about who does what first, and what the outcome is supposed to be. There is also some doubt about what the whole effort is for. Will we have new races of cloned people, designed to live in compartmented bliss and work in softly humming factories? Will Mad Max roam the plains? Will there be societies of people like me, telepathic hippies who manage to find a niche? I’m thinking Mendocino.
This brings me back to the Ninety-Nine Percent, which self-identifies as disenfranchised. I’m not saying it isn’t; I’m saying there are times when the One Percent is a bit unsure about things, as it is now, and those times should be used to some effect.
I’m not talking about opposing the One Percent in a fundamental way. That would be quixotic, to put it mildly. I’m talking about helping the One Percent understand how it should manipulate you, so that you feel noticed and addressed. In the current instance, Donald Trump, in moves very few of the One Percenter minds I read anticipated, has inconveniently revealed that the two parties, and especially the Republican Party, is in startlingly bad shape. The hope had been, among Party leadership, that the creaky system could last through the 2016 presidential election, but now that looks iffy.
I propose that people start talking about not voting in 2016, that older generations, who have been voting for one party for years, cancel their memberships and tell other people to do the same. People with kids in the Millenial generation should ask them what they know about political parties. Most likely the kids, even the academic and ambitious ones, will have no preference at all, and will lump all the hoopla into the same “Old People” folder as Scott Pelly’s Polident and Cialis commercials. Tell your kids they’re right, it’s time for change.
A smart movement would be one in which tens of thousands of voters cancelled their membership in the two parties and stated that they would not vote in 2016. Party leaders (mid-management between us and the One Percent) would be forced to react, to do something politically creative that had not been foreseen by the Asimov group. There would be an opportunity to insert outside opinion into the political process.
This would be the tricky part, because the Ninety-Nine Percenters will have a lot of differences of opinion. Not everyone, probably, would agree with my request that a giant sea wall be built off Mendocino to protect it from the anticipated earthquake induced tsunami and that the city be designated a safe zone for telepathic hippies. But hopefully there could be some consensus on, for example, war. There might be an awareness that U.S. firepower has sometimes been used to create and sustain our enemies and wars, e.g. as reported twice in the New Yorker Magazine over the last two years, the CIA made cash payments to the Taliban throughout the Afghan War, sometimes to influence where to attack or not attack, sometimes to help it pay its bills. A million people read the New Yorker. Scott Pelly is not one of them. How about we get up off our asses and react? Say: “I’m not voting in 2016 unless I hear a credible candidate demand that if we wage war, we wage it to win, not to instate war as a way of life.” If you agree, please share this essay, proclaim that you won't vote, and help the One Percenters understand what we need!