The Guardians of the Pyramid 

Joao Carlos Holland de Barcellos, (october/2006)
translated by Debora Policastro

[This essay seeks to explain how a production system like capitalism, after expanding until it became a dominant political ideology, affects all areas of our lives and how it maintains itself despite benefiting only a minority.].  

If someone asked: "Who are you?" or in a more general way: "Who are we?" with the objective of knowing what you think of your true essence, what would you answer?  

Maybe you would tell your interlocutor to "get lost" if philosophy was not really your “cup of tea”. Otherwise, you would think a little and answer something like "I am my consciousness."   Since the Industrial Revolution, people (especially those in the Western capitalist world) have increasingly joined the culture of the "I-consciousness".   Before we go deep into the consequences of this belief and what it came to serve we must ask ourselves: has this view always been this way?   If not, what was there before?   Why would it have changed?   In order to answer to these questions and others we will have to go back in time a little...  

The Industrial Revolution  

Before the industrial revolution, things people did for a living were quite different from today: there were no computers, no birth control, families were large and had very little time to philosophize and think about things like "the   meaning of life" or "the reason for existence".  M en worked hard, often using their physical strength to support their families, and women took care of their house and children.   The basic goal was supporting the family.   The thinking was very conservative: "women working?   What nonsense!   Can you imagine such a thing as abandoning the kids to make money!?”   Religion had a very important role in family education and thinking.   At that time, the most likely answer to our initial question would be something like: "Our essence is our soul".   As the supposed soul was immortal, the being's essence would be forever guaranteed in " Paradise " or in another safe place, depending on religion.  
Meanwhile, the population was increasing, croplands were decreasing and cities were growing. With the advent of the industrial revolution and the increasing mechanization of human brute labor force, productivity could be multiplied thousands of times.  There were new p ossibilities of trading and profiting from markets that were before impossible to be explored since production depended on animal strength.   Mechanization increased unemployment and demand for workforce in non-producing areas, especially skilled workforce in manufacturing zones.   As companies grew and swallowed small handcraft producers, new problems started to emerge.  

Although machines were vomiting parts and components non-stop, they still could not do, mechanically, the delicate work of assembling or packaging.   This work still needed skilled human hands.   Moreover, with increasing production scale, new problems came up: How to control production?   What about accounting,  i nventory control, accounts?   How to develop new products?   How to do market research?   Before steam machines, companies could not be very large and those problems did not exist.   But everything changed since they expanded.   Companies were growing and, in order to solve these and other problems, there was an increasing demand for more skilled and specialized workforce.   The market and profit potential was huge: Literally the whole world.   The world needed to be supplied, and quickly, otherwise the competition would do it.   But how to solve the problem of getting skilled workforce in a quick and cheap way without damaging profits?  


The solution to these problems was urgent and it came quickly and ingeniously: if women were introduced in the job market the supply of workforce would be quickly doubled, as brute force was no longer necessary.   Women could work on an equal footing with men and this would bring a double benefit to capitalism: it would double the supply of workforce and decrease the average wage since competition would be higher.   With the general reduction of wages of men due to the increasing female competition, there would naturally be some pressure on women, who did not use to work, so they would also enter the market to at least maintain the previous level of income in the family, as   their husbands had had their wages reduced.   But for women to enter the job market it was imperative to break the old stigma, the "taboo" that said they should stay home looking after the house and children. At this point, favorable conditions for feminism to take off were created: they did the "dirty work" capitalism needed to be done: to inoculate in all women the meme (the idea) that working home was old fashioned.  H appiness was no longer in the family, in taking care of the house and children, but away from it. One could only be happy in life if found financial independence, even if only at the level of mere subsistence.   Tightening bolts in a factory should be then much more dignifying than nursing her own child.  

Thus capitalism broke the first important link of happiness in humanity: mothers could no longer take care of their children as they had been doing for thousands of years because society made them believe it was old fashioned and would create unhappiness.   They should, thereafter, prepare themselves to compete in the job market with men.   Women's goal would then be to become an executive with a high salary and male subordinates - oh glory!   Marriage and motherhood should then be reconsidered.   If there were children, they would have to stay in community day care centers, with babysitters or with their grandparents – for the lucky ones.   But grandmothers, as we saw, would increasingly reject this role, since they had also fought so hard not to have it themselves.  

Offer your child to the "god-market"  

With the increase in supply of workforce and mechanization of production, knowledge and technology had great advances.   That allowed producers to add more technology and intelligence to their products and as a result they became more expensive.   In addition to that, the market needed people with expertise, and that demanded many years of study.   Unskilled people were not interesting to the job market.  No o ne could build a family and work before spending at least 15 years studying.   Kids who would be useful for the job market cost a lot of money. Moreover, families were not able to buy expensive products because their children needed to spend years at school before starting to work.   What could the market for an increasingly sophisticated and expensive production be?   Families with few children, a maximum of two.   That would not only guarantee the income but also a consumer market for the new "high tech" products that needed to be bought.   Furthermore, it would create favorable conditions for families to prepare their children with qualified studies so they could easily be "consumed" by the companies that held technology.   However, as in the case of feminism, it would be necessary to inoculate a specific meme in human minds for this solution to be successful.  

The virus meme "vm2c"  

Reducing the number of children would therefore bring a double benefit to the system: it would increase the supply of skilled workforce as well as the consumption power per capita.   That would make the consumer market for expensive and high technology products grow.   Fulfilling the domestic market was a prerequisite to compete in the large foreign market. As a result, very favorable conditions for the "vm2c" to spread through the population appeared.   The "vm2c" (virus meme of two children) is a powerful viral meme agent that causes its bearer to believe - and regardless of his/her income! - that having more than two children is an archaic and obsolete act, an illogical, retrograde and even prohibitive practice that should be avoided at all costs: "Can you believe something like that?!?" and "Having many kids is something only poor, unschooled and uneducated people do!”

Thus "vm2c" spread in society and it currently infects the minds of virtually everyone in capitalist countries.   How many couples that have more than two children and consider themselves educated do you know?   It would also be interesting for the market that such a virus-meme reached most of consuming countries; otherwise they would not have money to buy the expensive and sophisticated gadgets that are produced by exporters.  
Despite the individual unhappiness generated (or not), the fact is that the adopted measures and the mass inoculation of specific ideological memes have generated, at least in the countries that export technology products - first world ones - a large accumulation of capital and   wealth, which created a surplus large enough to allow a significant reduction of working hours as well as legal provision for income distribution and poverty reduction.   Unfortunately, however, for the underdeveloped or developing countries, importers of technological goods and exporters of raw materials, it remained only unemployment and poverty.  

"The Culture of I"  

Anyhow, whether in countries that have technology or in countries that buy it, an increase in knowledge and free time took place.   That created conditions for a greater critical reflection of religious dogma as well as the proliferation of alternative religions and cults.   "Heaven" and " Paradise " were no longer guaranteed places people could go to.   The only certainty was that happiness could be felt right here on the earthly plane.   Any promise of "after death" happiness could be refuted since no scientific evidence of life beyond death was ever proved, despite the efforts. Those thoughts have produced a rich broth for what we now call "The Culture of I."  

The "Culture of I" has a basic standard which is the tenet that the only happiness we can actually get is the one we can feel in life.   And this "I" resides within my consciousness as it is my consciousness what in fact feels pleasure.   This leads to an extreme individualism: "My pleasure and my happiness are in my conscience and not in another's."The "culture of I" leads the behavior of the average capitalist man to two basic objectives when it comes to obtaining pleasure: Consumption and Culture of the body.  


Consumerism is a way to get pleasure through the market: buying, buying and buying.  M oney is then of great value; through money we can give vent to what we call “consumption dreams”. Obtaining goods also brings pleasure in the form of "Status" since the people who buy more are the ones who have the power consumption to do so and obtaining status sponsors the seduction power over the opposite sex (or same).   Although it is not elegant to walk around with a DVD player last type hanging on your neck or to keep saying what you bought or will buy, it is socially accepted to talk about the wonderful trips you made to the most beautiful and expensive places possible or to show off   that car that is advertising on TV.   Trips would not be so much fun if you could not brag about them. Why would anyone buy a beautiful dress if nobody could see it? Moreover, trips represent the pinnacle of the culture of I: investment in immediate pleasure, something our body can feel right now.  Why save money (for the children?) i f what I really want is to feel all that I can feel right now?   After all we have only one life!  

My brain is the source of my pleasure and it is necessarily attached to a body.   If the body is not "OK" the mind is not either, after all, the body pains are felt in the brain, in the consciousness.   Moreover, if happiness can only be lived on Earth, a maximum happiness can only be achieved through a maximum time of life!   Taking good care of the body is therefore a way of increasing happiness in life.  The “Culture of the Body” had t hen begun.  

"The Culture of the Body"  

The "Culture of the Body" assumes that we can only have a healthy mind - capable of feeling pleasure - if the body is healthy.   The gyms are now crowded.   Walking, running, working out, anything goes. Can you remember the "Cooper Method" - that proliferated more than rabbits?   Fat is now the great villain, synonymous of poison.  Suddenly there are more methods for losing weight than stars in a summer night.   It created the market for any type of food as long as it promises a healthier or prettier body. “Diet” and “light” food, with fiber, no cholesterol, with HDL, HDL free etc...   Who did not practice some kind of exercise like walking or running would be going against life.   Being "cool" was, and still is, to worship our own bodies.  

Many forgot, or perhaps never knew, that the objective of the body fashion should be to enhance happiness, not an end in itself.  P eople would struggle and suffer during their workouts instead of obtaining pleasure from it; they would spend hours running and exercising non-stop.   The goal has been forgotten, and the cult of the body eventually became an end in itself.  

Uphill battle  

This type of extremely individualistic and selfish behavior was widespread and praised.   I remember reading a story about a woman in her forties who boasted of not having had children and through much daily exercise and workout still had a body of a 39 year-old.   How long could she fight against time?  It is an u phill battle losing that much time trying to slow time down and look a little younger.   People spend ten years of their lives to look five years younger!  

Individualism and Neoliberalism  

The "Culture of I" brought an extreme individualism.   Children are considered a waste of time and a drain of precious resources that could be better used on an incredible trip to “Hawai” or on that car that is showing on TV.   And if we still had a "damn instinct" for them (children) then we should have only one, maximum two children.   That should be enough to appease and satisfy those outdated animal instincts that insist on disturbing our lives of pleasure.  

For the individualist, the only happiness that matters is the one he can feel and experience through his body.   Promises of a better world for future generations do not to touch him at all.   The individualist is therefore a short-sighted person.  He is not interested in striving if only future generations will enjoy the benefits, not him.   Thus individualism leads the society and the environment to a constant deterioration.  
Neoliberalism is the economic ideology that is most suitable for the individualist. Neoliberal ideology proclaims the absolute freedom of trade between countries with minimal or no state intervention and that means, preferably, without any import tax. Thus the individualist can quickly consume a wide variety of imported products at a very affordable price.  

It does not matter to the short-sighted person that this behavior may break national industries [8] – as long as they do not break while he works in one of them (since companies tend to agonize for a long time before they break or are sold to a transnational, with consequences like downsizing of   personal and extinction of development areas).  

What neo-liberal people really want is to buy their gadgets at low prices.  Why "reinventing the wheel" if there is already a finished product out there?   Their short-sighted thought is: "If it is cheaper and faster to import finished products, then why develop them?"   Thus neo-liberals are above all defeatist, but obviously not the neo-liberals that live in developed countries, holder of technology.   For them, neoliberalism is very good; it is a guarantee of profits and jobs for their compatriots.   Exporting their production is not only a way to gain market share, it is mainly a way to prevent other countries of developing technology and competing with them in the international market domestic markets. Why run the risk?

We can conclude that individualism is a direct result of the fundamental philosophical question "Who are we?", when the answer is based in consciousness, the body or some kind of individuality.   The individualist does not really care about the future happiness of his countrymen, as he will probably not be in this world to see it.  It does not matter to him that the country will be an eternal dependent on technology; the important thing is to have his thirst for consumption quickly quenched.   Its ideology can be summed up in one question, "why suffer now building a future if we are not going to be here to enjoy it?"  

Religions: the "Matrix of Capitalism"  

The problem with the "Culture of I" and the individualism that it causes is that besides bringing selfishness and its disastrous consequences, it actually prevents an individual from having a complete happiness and drives him to a life of consumerism, "empty", devoid of a transcendent sense.   Traditional religions have lost a lot of ground and will continue to do so, simply because they are inconsistent, and both knowledge and the average IQ of the population tend to grow, in a way religious dogma contradictions and reality of facts will get clearer as time goes by.   This is also why a myriad of mystical sects and cults have spread so much.   But even mystical beliefs and esoteric cults may seem a little unreasonable to a more enlightened mind since these sects are based on principles that are not supported by any scientific fact, and that would conflict with the "Occam's Razor" [ 9 ].  

Nevertheless, the system invests heavily - schools and educational institutions pay taxes while churches and temples do not - in religious culture regardless of the type, especially through the media. All kinds of religion or sect are tolerated and considered normal, even if they are totally antagonistic or contradictory to each other.   No one should dare to question or criticize other people's beliefs under penalty of being labeled "intolerant".   The contradictions between them should be ignored in favor of the system, after all a god would not be schizophrenic enough to dictate different rules for different sects.   Atheism, on the other hand, cannot be tolerated and must be seen as an aberration.   However there is a reason for that: the great mass which forms the base of the pyramid is uneducated and at the same time, extremely dangerous.  If they i deologically rise against the system it may run the risk of collapsing.   In order to keep them passive it is necessary to give them hopes of a better life - Heaven - and more: the more servile and suffered the individual is here on Earth the greater the chances of achieving paradise.   The idea that must be spread is that is not the system's fault if people are struggling (despite the fact that the system does not distribute its wealth fairly) after all "the system is really good, don't you see it on TV?" The reason for people's sufferings, of course, came from themselves and can be explained from what they did in their past lives (Spiritism) or the great sin their ancestor (Adam) committed when he disobeyed the" Father " – and everyone, without exception, must pay for it(Catholicism). Anyhow, if your religion does not have an explanation for suffering, is surely has a good reason why you should not crave for a better life: After all, wanting things you cannot have   is the reason for your suffering, so you should avoid wanting things. Wishing is wrong; people should have just enough to survive (Buddhism).  

Religions are tentacles of the system  

The system teaches the ones at the base of the pyramid (formed by those who have less access to information and education) that the responsible for all suffering is never the system itself.   If your neighbor is unemployed and starving, for instance, the system wants you to believe that it is his own fault; he did not try hard enough to get a job - even if jobs are scarce because of increasing mechanization and globalization, it is never the system's fault.   At this point religions and churches start working in a way to sublimate a likely revolt: what you have to do is pray a lot so that God will not let that happen to you too.   Thus praying works as an important escape valve against a possible revolt of the crowd on the lower levels of the socio-economic pyramid.  

In addition to prayer, this tentacle of the system has other ways of cooling down the feelings of revolt: by redistributing the resources of the ones that do not have much to share – in other words, Charity.   Charity is the way the system found to withdraw resources from those who have little in order to distribute them to those who have even less, and of course, without disturbing those at the top.  Like it or not we were born within this system and we are immersed in it.   Charitable acts should be seen not as a religious obligation or a way to lubricate our way to a paradise that does not exist [2], but as a way to minimize the harmful consequences of a self-destructive [1] regimen that insists  on not evolving.  
The "Guardians of the Pyramid"  

It is interesting to see how the system, just like a large brainless octopus, can be self-perpetuating.   There is no need for a centralized and malevolent mind orchestrating what tricks should be created so that people will remain passive and resigned.   There is no such thing as a small group of rich and powerful capitalists belonging to a sect who decide what the next religion will be and how effective it will be in promoting illusion and hope.  There is nothing like that.  What happens in fact is that the ones who are at the top of the socio-economic pyramid voluntarily work for that to happen, somehow even unconsciously - they know what is down there and they do not want in any case to lose their privileges.   Staying at the top of the pyramid gives status, power; some people even say it is aphrodisiac.   Who would want to share all that?   Governors, legislators, businessmen and traders, especially journalists and their directors, act in their respective areas in a way to keep themselves - and their friends and relatives - in their privileged positions of high salaries.  

Legislators, for example, create laws with loopholes so that the people at the TOP of the pyramid is never arrested (jails are for the poor), private property is considered sacred and inviolable and the breach of banking secrecy is a crime   worse than murder etc. Businessmen and traders finance the party campaign that will promote their companies and businesses in the hope that their profits will never decrease. The media is always showing that not being part of the system is like “hell” and all the good events   are evidence of divine existence and so on ...   Each person who is at the top and does not want to run the risk of leaving gives a small or large contribution for the pyramid to remain firm and well planted, regardless of what happens in the base.   They are the "Guardians of the Pyramid."   If you always say "Thank God" when something good happens but paradoxically do not say the same when it is something bad, then you are also a little guardian, perhaps even unconsciously, since you are helping to keep the belief in the inexistent   [2] therefore helping to maintain the religious tentacle of the system.  


The followers of Genismo [3] claim that "we are our genes."   That means our essence is not in our body, not even in our consciousness, but in our genes.   However, unlike a "I - consciousness", the “I - gene" is not only in our body and that makes all the difference in the world.   Our genes are also in our body but not only; they are also in a large proportion in our children, and then in a decreasing rate, in our relatives, our species, then our genus, family, order, class, phylum and kingdom.   Thus, our genes are shared, in a greater or lesser extent, with all living beings on the planet.  

According to this idea of who we are, each living organism has a bit of us as we are also a part of whom or what they are.  The simple explanation for that is that all living beings are descendants of a first common ancestor: a replicating molecule, perhaps something close to a small segment of RNA, which floated around with no destination in the 'primeval soup' of the Earth about   three or four billion years ago.  

As we all are descendants of this replicating molecule we all share the same origin and the same basic ingredients that formed life.   Thus, the closer we are in the evolutionary tree, the more similar and empathetic we will be.   As a consequence we will be more sensitive and have greater empathy [4] towards a mammal being hunted than a fish or a reptile.   However if we look at other species as organisms that share part of ourselves our empathy towards them will be greater than if we see them as distinct organisms that do not share our consciousness.  T he more the "I-consciousness" dominates the human mind the more radical and selfish that type of attitude towards other species will become.

Ephemeral   consciousness

A genist knows that his consciousness is ephemeral but his genes are not.   After the death of his body his genes will remain.   That means his "I-gene" will somehow survive in the individuals that remain alive.   Preserving life is therefore a way to preserve ourselves.  L ife manifests itself in the environment.   If we are to preserve our genetic immortality we must preserve the place where it will remain.   Thus, to genismo, preserving the environment is not just a fad; it is an assurance that we are preserving ourselves in other bodies or organisms.  

The destiny of the country in the long-term may not be really important for the individualist . It is not important for him whether Amazon will fall into foreign hands or not, whether industries will remain national or not.   He will no longer be here when those things happen.   Perhaps it would be even better if his country adopted the neoliberal model so he could buy all sorts of modern and cheap gewgaws.   A long time may pass before all industries break due to international competition; he will no longer be here to know that, besides he would have already enjoyed free trade for a long time.   Therefore, the more centered an individual is in his "I-consciousness," the more selfish and neoliberal he will be and the less concerned about the fate of his country.  
Thus nationalism - the feeling of protection towards the country - tends to be higher for a genist, since they know their genes tend to stay in the same country.   Protecting one's country is to protect one's own genetic future.  

One can say, with some justification, that it is not important where happiness is generated, whether it was created in our country or not.  That way, if we stop generating jobs here as we import products we will be creating jobs out there that will also be felt by somebody and then we will somehow be exporting happiness.   This argument is partially true, but it fails the following aspects: if the external production is more automated than ours, then our jobs would not be reversed in happiness in the same proportion as they are withdrawn here.   And, more importantly, if we follow an ideology of helping our neighbor's children instead of our own we would not generate the same happiness as if we were helping our own children.   This is because we are genetically built to assist our own genes, which are in a higher proportion in our children than in the neighbor's.   That is, nationalism is not just a way to help ourselves in the future but also a way to enhance total happiness in the planet since happiness is linked to the gene-perpetuating behavior.  

"Scientific Meta-Ethics"  

Genismo is related to the "Scientific Meta-Ethics" (SME) [5].   The SME states that one should always behave in a way to maximize happiness.   Fair and ethical actions are the ones that sponsor greater happiness than the others do.

From the principle of maximization of happiness we can conclude that a very large unevenness in income distribution would violate SME. In order to understand that, consider the following hypothetical case: a wealthy businessman spends two million dollars in a sports car to satisfy his desire for status. He stops at a traffic light where there is a poor woman and her baby (who will later die of cold) asking for a few bucks. Do you think it is fair that one individual spends two million dollars in a whim while other human beings die of basic needs? If you are a “Guardian of the Pyramid” your answer will be YES. Otherwise you will think that this kind of thing makes little sense. A system that allows a few people to spend much to satisfy their consumerist whim [6] while many die of starvation is not a system we can be proud of [7].


However, we know that men are competitive by nature; we wish and need to stand out, so it would be against human nature to put men in a production system that would level everybody at the base, as if we were all the same. People are different from each other, they have different skills, some are hardworking, others creative, others more intelligent, and so on. Forcing a hardworking and creative individual to earn the same amount a lazy person would is also be unfair. We must unleash freedom and human creativity. Systems that tried to stifle individuals as if they were all the same have proved to fail: they caused unnecessary suffering and frustration, hindered human freedom and creativity. The most creative and hardworking people have to be rewarded for their abilities and ingenuity; furthermore there will be more dynamism and productiveness if they know they will be able to enjoy together with their families at least a bit of what they struggled for in their lives. And of course, no one who desired to work could remain unemployed: that would be a fundamental right of citizenship.

[1] "Virtual Economy" (

[ 2 ] " The   Jocaxian Little Blue   Devil ”  ( )

[ 3 ] " The Pillars of   Genismo "   ( )

[ 4 ] " O Empatismo " ( )

[ 5 ] " Scientific  Meta- Ethics "   ( )

[ 6 ] " The   disgusting   luxury   consumption ” ( )

[ 7 ] " 2%   concentrate   half the   world's wealth " ( )

[ 8 ] " Nationalism   is compatible with   Genismo " ( )

[ 9 ] " The   Occam's Razor"   (


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