Obama appears to be as gifted as any U.S. president in a long time. In addition, he seems far more balanced and lacking in personal demons than most presidents. Like Franklin Roosevelt, Obama's talents fit the times well: he appears calm, intelligent, and compassionate, and projects a sense of competence and being in control. Finally, he has, in these hopeless times, given many people, especially young people, hope. Even one of our darkest, most pessimistic poets, Bob Dylan, was moved to remark at a performance in Minnesota that "I was born in 1941, the year they bombed Pearl Harbor. I've been living in darkness ever since. But it looks like things are going to change now." Then he danced a jig. Yes, Bob Dylan danced onstage. Maybe Obama really can work miracles.
But can a president, even the most gifted, really change things? Not by himself, of course, only the people can, and only if they and their leaders have a clear and accurate understanding of the situation, especially the role of Israel in the world today. They also need a clear and accurate understanding of human nature, both the nature of normal humanity and of the intra-species predators, the psychopaths (more on that later). In that regard, one wishes Obama would read more Andrzej Lobaczewski and less Reinhold Niebuhr.
It is easy, and not a bad thing, to be cynical of all the talk of hope and change. Many in the "foreign policy establishment" (American Imperialists in other words) see Obama as a "rebranding" of the U.S. internationally. Obama's talk about "winning" the war in Afghanistan is particularly repellant. Obama's pick of the rabid Zionist (and rabid generally) Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff, was a stomach punch to many. One hopes that Obama is following the principle of keeping your friends close and your enemies closer. Even if the ideal president was trying to move away from Zionism, how could that president possibly do it given what the United States is now? You would only get one shot and it would have to be right between the eyes. The same goes for abandoning imperialism. If you miss, you're dead. Just have a seance and ask John Kennedy.
So the jury is out. Time will tell if Obama is just an eloquent front man for the same old death machine or if he is another naïve reformer in over his head in shark-infested waters. In any case, someone needs to get him a copy of Political Ponerology.
Troublingly, Timothy F. Geithner, president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is being tipped as a possible candidate to succeed Paulson as Treasury Secretary.
In the news
More details emerged of the Bush gang's wholesale looting of the US Treasury via their 'bailout plan'. The terms on which the Treasury has injected fresh capital into the banks would be laughable if they were not so transparent, not to mention the purchase of worthless junk from the banks in exchange for valuable Treasury Securities. Naomi Klein calls it The New Trough. To compound matters it emerged that the Fed is refusing to disclose who it has lent the money to and against what collateral security.
The G20 met, in closed door talks, in Brazil this weekend ahead of the crisis meeting in Washington next weekend (November 15th). There are ever greater calls for coordinated action to address the real world effects of the 'financial crisis' and the global recession it is exacerbating. As hedge funds, banks and other investors in emerging market nations rapidly withdraw their funds, the markets in these countries plunge as do their domestic currencies, their banks have almost no access to external funding and their economies literally hit the wall. As always it is the poor who suffer most in these circumstances.
The US, UK, G20 and China have joined the clarion call for "fiscal stimulus"; China announcing a package worth $586 billion. Unsurprisingly, but troubling none the less, key policy framers in the US and UK are calling for tax cuts rather than public spending. Tax cuts benefit the rich, do not generate jobs and fail to provide any relief to the poor.
On the currency front, it looks like there may be moves to justify the US dollar as a reserve currency in a new currency system. European banks cut interest rates, the Bank of England by 1.5 percentage points, causing commentators to refer to a world of zero interest rates ahead.
|Previous week's close||This week's close||Change||% change|
|$ / €||0.7858 / 1.2725||0.7863 / 1.2718||0.0005 / 0.0007||0.06% / 0.06%|
|$ / ₤||0.622 / 1.6077||0.6393 / 1.5642||0.0173 / 0.0435||2.78% / 2.71%|
|$ / ¥||98.465 / 0.01016||98.235 / 0.01018||0.23 / 0.00002||0.23% / 0.23%|
|US Fed Funds||0.12%||0.25%||0.13||108%|
|$ 10 year||3.96%||3.79%||0.217||4.29%|
It is very apparent from all we have written and said on Sott.net that we are in a very serious situation here on the Big Blue Marble; a situation devised by those in control of the affairs of man. In order to have any chance of extracting ourselves we have to take certain concrete steps, the first among them being that we have to face the truth however incredible and terrifying it may seem. This means that we have to face the truth about our predicament, our controllers and ultimately ourselves. Only then, armed with truth and surrounded with suitable allies and friends, can we formulate our survival and eventually our escape.
To better understand our economic predicament we have been exploring how the system that we know as 'Free Market Capitalism' works and how it manifests from week to week. Let's take a quick look at how this system originated, the role that we are expected to play in that system according to the masters of the system, how this came to be "the system" and what type of being dominates it.
Once we understand these we should be better equipped to explore alternatives on a macro and micro economic scale.
Free Market Capitalism
Hannah Arendt's Origins of Totalitarianism delineates the features of what started as the new mercantile social class of the 16th and 17th centuries and became the defining political class of the 20th and now 21st centuries, the bourgeoisie or financial/capitalist elite.
"As long as the mercantile class fulfilled the basic function of being producers and stimulators of production (ie. a community of producers), its wealth had an important function for the nation as a whole." However, "the owners of superfluous capital were the first section of society to want profits without fulfilling some real social function - except that of exploitative producer - and whom no police could ever have saved from the wrath of the people." 
By the 19th century there arose in Europe the confluence of surplus labour and surplus capital; both originating from the social and economic changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution. At the same time the existing political and social structures of Europe were under considerable threat. This led to an imperialist alliance between the "mob" (the masses) and capital, often resisted by the governments in power at the time but supported by a large section of the educated classes; for imperialism, the expansion of capitalism beyond the borders of the nation state, seemed to be the universal panacea to sweep away all troubles.
Capital was invested abroad with large numbers of the mob similarly exported to extract resources from those foreign lands and protect and exploit the invested capital. Imperialism was and remains the export of free market capitalism in its most extreme form. It is also theft on a grand scale. This latter point should not be forgotten for while the people of the western capitalist economies sit at home raging about the dreadful economic times or the theft of billions from the public purse it seems opportune to resurrect a few home truths:-
* The comparative comfort of those in the 'West' is built on the theft of the resources of the nations which have been subject to our imperial rule and on the blood, sweat and tears of the inhabitants of those nations. No nation has, and never has had any right, divine or otherwise, to invade, occupy and pillage lands belonging to other peoples.During this period the bedrock of the creed of free market capitalism became established; the equating of private interest with public interest; the rights and protections associated with private/individual property; the view that political institutions, including the police at home and the military abroad, exist exclusively as an instrument for the protection of individual property and the legalisation of theft, in the form of rampant exploitation, given an almost moral authority.
* The blood, sweat and tears currently being shed by our generation and that shed by those that came before us in the defense of 'freedom' were in fact shed in the defense of capitalism and for the principle benefit of those at the top of the capitalist/financial tree. (see writings of Douglas Reed who railed against what he saw in Britain).
* Your governments, run as they always have been for the benefit of the elite, whether aristocratic or financial/capitalist, have always been stealing from you to line their own pockets - they call it 'taxation' and 'regulation'.
Business was transformed into a political issue and the narrow economic interests of a relatively small group became equated with national interests, where the common good became identified with the sum total of individual interests and expansion, that is imperialism, appeared to be a common interest of the nation as a whole. "Since the [financial and capitalist] classes had convinced everybody that economic interest and the passion for ownership are a sound basis for the [operation of the state], even non-imperialist statesmen were easily persuaded to yield when a common economic interest appeared on the horizon." 
Expansion became an end in and of itself and its protagonists became "nothing but functionaries of violence [who] could only think in terms of power politics. They were the first who, as a class and supported by their everyday experience, would claim that power is the essence of every political structure."
The perpetual cycle of accumulation of property/capital begetting the accumulation of power begetting the accumulation of property, onwards forever, requires perpetual expansion. The great waves of change of the Industrial Revolution, the age of Imperialism and the age modern empire, whether under the guise of Cold War or War on Terror, have led to the ceding of all power to the financial/capitalist elite. Since the age of colonial imperialism this elite has succeeded, in complete accordance with its creed of perpetual accumulation of property and power, in gathering ever greater amounts of both.
Recall if you will two small parts of US history. The first, that part of the United States Declaration of Independence which declares that man has certain inalienable rights, "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" may previously have read "...and the pursuit of property", although whether and when such a change was made is a matter of some debate. The second, that originally only property owners were eligible to vote as was the case in England.
Since power is normally a means to an end, a society based solely on power must decay in the calm of order and stability. Only by acquiring more power, by constantly extending its authority, and only through the process of power accumulation can it remain stable. Thus, such a society "must always provide itself with new props from outside [new avenues of expansion and ever more property] otherwise it will collapse overnight into the aimless, senseless chaos of the private interests from which it sprang." Hence the attributes of Free Market Capitalism that we see today. It is not that the system is necessarily collapsing but that it must continue to expand, to consume all, to survive. Should it run out of space in which to expand, or property and labour to consume, then it will implode. If we were to refuse to aid this system in its voracious consumption of peoples and nations and of our own wealth, if we were to stand firm and say "NO" and really mean it, be prepared to suffer together the consequences of starving the predator then it would indeed "collapse ... into the aimless, senseless chaos of the private interests from which it sprang".
Such an analysis certainly seems to fit geopolitical history and the current power struggles we see before us. The same can be said of the state of Israel and any other system governed by the same psychology as Free Market Capitalism.
The role of man
The English 17th century philosopher Thomas Hobbes depicts in his work Leviathan , a totalitarian state based on a certain structure of society in which 'Man' would have to attain certain attributes. Hauntingly, despite being published in 1651, Leviathan depicts our modern society and the view of normal people held by our ruling elite.
Normal people are viewed as being without reason, without the capacity for truth and without free will, that is without the capacity for responsibility. We are seen as essentially a function of society and judged therefore according to our value or worth, our price; that is to say "so much as would be given for the use of our power." This price is constantly evaluated and re-evaluated by society depending upon the law of supply and demand (and within the confines of our ability to act collectively, an ability severely restricted since the mid 1980s).
We are considered equal, not because of some inherent value of human life or our possessing a divine spark but because of our mutual ability to kill. The state exists as a result of our need for security from each other as we feel ourselves threatened by our fellow man. Exactly today's fractured societies where we accept unprecedented levels of state interference on the basis that we are being protected for the outcasts of our own societies, whether professional criminals or young thugs (a recurrent theme in European politics), or outsiders in the form of the ubiquitous 'terrorist' or 'immigrant'.
"The state is based on the delegation of our power and not of our rights. It acquires a monopoly on killing and provides in exchange a conditional guarantee against being killed. Security is provided by the law, which is a direct emanation from the power monopoly of the state (and not established according to human standards of right and wrong). As this law flows directly from absolute power, it represents absolute necessity in the eyes of the individual who lives under it. In regard to the law of the state - there is no question of right or wrong, but only absolute obedience, the blind conformism of [capitalist] society."
The delegation of our political power to the state and the loss of real political rights means that we have lost our rightful places in society and our natural connections with each other. Bereft of political rights we are reduced to focus only upon ourselves and our private lives which we can only judge by comparison with others and thus we are driven to compete. We have been reduced to a society of individual competitors. For many even the notion, let alone the actuality of being part of a community, of something larger than ourselves in which we have rights and to which we are responsible is beyond comprehension. In our society those that 'fail' in this competition are barred from competition and thereby from society; one look at how we treat the disadvantaged, the poor and the weak confirms this. This has even become a virtue in current US and Western social models.
As well as assigning our political rights to the state, as individuals we have also delegated our social responsibilities to it; we have in effect asked the state to relieve us of our obligation to our fellow man just as we have asked the state for protection from our fellow man. This process of delegation of power and abdication of responsibility is ongoing. We are left in the position of having no responsibility for those things over which we have, or at least should have control while we are held responsible for matters outside our control - consider modern US and UK law relating to legal liability in contrast to our freedom to educate or vaccinate our children as we see fit.
For Hobbes, "power is the accumulated control that permits the individual to fix prices and regulate supply and demand in such a way that they contribute to his own advantage." "Man driven by his individual interests will have a passion for power." Hobbes might just as well have been writing a first hand account of the situation we find ourselves in today.
As Arendt puts it, "It seems as though Hobbes's picture of man.....gives...a consistent pattern of attitudes through which every genuine community can easily be destroyed".
Imperialism, in the 19th century the new phase of free market capitalism, was to change not only the exploited colonies but also the nation states form which it sprang.
J.A. Hobson in Capitalism and Imperialism in South Africa (1900) and Imperialism (1902) called imperialism a perversion of nationalism "in which nations...transform the wholesome stimulative rivalry of various national types into the cut-throat struggle of competing empires". Again, an accurate depiction of the world today, in which the mob (or masses) are easily swayed into confusing the economic interests of their ruling elite with their own and their nation's interests. Hobson referred to the financial/capitalist elite as "Parasites upon Patriotism" 100 years before the flag waving jingoism of the present wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The coming to power through imperialism of the financial/capitalist elite had a debilitating effect upon the political institutions of the home nation. In Britain Hobson noted the shift in power away from Parliament to the Cabinet; "Imperialism was the chief cause ... which led to ... a growth of "power of the Cabinet as against the House of Commons". This is a process that has reached its current zenith in the US with the wholesale 'privatisation' of the US government and the accumulation of all power within the Executive.
As Arendt put it, "That the authority of the nation-state itself depended largely on the economic independence and political neutrality of its civil servants becomes obvious in our time; the decline of nations has invariably started with the corruption of its permanent administration and the general conviction that civil servants are in the pay, not of the state, but of the owning classes." Interestingly, she also referred to "High society's admiration for the underworld....its step-by-step retreat on all questions of morality, and its growing taste for the anarchical cynicism of its offspring".
100 and 50 years ago respectively, Hobson and Arendt clearly saw the detrimental effects of imperialism and by definition free market capitalism. They foresaw where we are today; the private interests of the ruling elite, the arch capitalists, are being presented as the interests of us all upon which our very national survival depends. That none of this is for your benefit, none of it, did not escape them just as it should not escape you.
Keen readers of history understand that the vast majority of wars have been conjured, financed and facilitated by the financial/capitalist elite. This is entirely logical when looked at from the perspective of the need for perpetual expansion and perpetual violence to keep the financial/capitalist machine going. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the occupation of Palestine and the subjugation of peoples from Latin America to Asia are no different.
The system within which we find ourselves is the natural result of the evolutionary success of a sub-species of the human race. This sub-species is an inter-species predator, preying upon the bulk of humanity. This sub-species, the Psychopath, has been the subject of much recent research a good deal of which has been published on Sott.net.
From The Psychopath - The Mask of Sanity
Imagine, if you can, not having a conscience, none at all, no feelings of guilt or remorse no matter what you do, no limiting sense of concern for the well-being of strangers, friends, or even family members. Imagine no struggles with shame, not a single one in your whole life, no matter what kind of selfish, lazy, harmful, or immoral action you had taken.We are told that as a political philosopher Hobbes was in theory not attempting a psychological portrait of man but merely setting out how man would need to be to meet the needs of his political form, the Leviathan. Leviathan, published in 1651, would seem then to be either the work of a psychopath or an extraordinary analysis of the traits of the psychopath that would make such a psychopath successful in the new world of the financial/capitalist society.
And pretend that the concept of responsibility is unknown to you, except as a burden others seem to accept without question, like gullible fools.
Now add to this strange fantasy the ability to conceal from other people that your psychological makeup is radically different from theirs. Since everyone simply assumes that conscience is universal among human beings, hiding the fact that you are conscience-free is nearly effortless.
You are not held back from any of your desires by guilt or shame, and you are never confronted by others for your cold-bloodedness. The ice water in your veins is so bizarre, so completely outside of their personal experience, that they seldom even guess at your condition.
In other words, you are completely free of internal restraints, and your unhampered liberty to do just as you please, with no pangs of conscience, is conveniently invisible to the world.
You can do anything at all, and still your strange advantage over the majority of people, who are kept in line by their consciences will most likely remain undiscovered.
The 'Man' Hobbes describes is a psychopath. Whether he intended it or not he was describing how the world was to become when dominated by that particular breed of homo sapiens that excels in free market capitalism, itself the construct of psychopathy.
Andrzej M. Lobaczewski wrote the seminal work on the role of the psychopath in modern political structures - Political Ponerology: A science on the nature of evil adjusted for political purposes - which we highly recommend to readers together with the material here , here and here
What Lobaczewski explicates is the existence, among us, of psychopaths that are not "failed", in the sense of having committed a violent crime and been caught, so remain hidden from our obvious view. These beings are able to act entirely without conscience, are often charismatic and inspirational, with an almost preternatural cunning and depth of understanding of the psyche of normal people.
These features make them extraordinary manipulators of normal people. So much so that they infect many people who are not psychopaths with their callous and self-serving mindset, a process Lobaczewski calls 'Ponerogenesis'. A process that Michael Lewis captured in Liar's Poker, his account of his experiences as a bond salesman on Wall Street, and more particularly with Salomon Brothers (now part of Citigroup), in the 1980s. Salomon Brothers's Lewis Ranieri ran the mortgage department which essentially invented Mortgage Backed Securities leading ultimately to the creation of the sub-prime market. Mortgage Backed Securities and the sub-prime market became so over inflated that they precipitated the current 'financial crisis'. It is instructive to see how the psychopathic predatory nature operates on Wall Street and how the cancer spread outwards in an orgy of unmitigated greed.
People with an existing weakness in their psychological make up are easily infected by the psychopathic pathology, becoming sociopaths and characteropaths. These pathological types create socially influential groups ('ponerogenic associations') or infiltrate existing social groups, allowing them to further spread the underlying pathology and infect normal people. These 'ponerogenic associations' "..cunningly avoid collision with the law while seeking to gain their own advantage. Such [associations] frequently aspire to political power in order to impose their expedient legislation upon societies in the name of a suitably prepared ideology, deriving advantages in the form of disproportionate prosperity and the satisfaction of their cravings for power". Does that not fit exactly with the description of free market capitalism set out above?
An additional part of this process of assimilation of the world of normal people to the world of the psychopath is the necessary conversion of people who are not psychopathic to the pathological creed through the creation of false morals or values ('paramoralisms) which are then used to justify what would otherwise be immoral behaviour. The doctrine of free market capitalism is full of such paramoralisms related to the fleecing of ordinary people, the "rightness" of greed, "might is right" and so on. In this way a false morality is built. Indoctrinated with this false morality, generation after generation has become the cannon fodder and slave labour of the world's financial elite and remains ripe for the picking whenever our master choose.
The entire fabric of Free Market Capitalist societies is governed by fear, an all pervading, overwhelming fear. A world where one is perpetually in competition, where what ever one has can be taken by the next man in his pursuit of property or through crime, where the fundamental basis of society is based upon the accumulation of unlimited capital and unlimited power for their own sakes, that is a world based on unlimited fear. A world entirely reflective of the psychopaths manipulation of the psyche of normal people.
It is essential to our mission or survival and escape that we face this reality - that we are subject to the predations of beings that appear human but are not. These beings have infected normal people and even our own minds to a greater or lesser degree. If we do not understand this then any attempts we make to change our situation will fall under the influence of the power of the psychopath and lead to "every genuine community" being destroyed. We have to face this fact and face that all pervading fear.
The 'financial crises', including 1906, 1920/21, 1929/33, 1997/98 and today's are simply the times chosen by the financial elite to gather ever greater property/capital and power in accordance with the laws governing the system that is modeled in their image. A system designed for periodic, engineered "failure". Despite what economists are inclined to believe, economies are not subject to 'natural laws' and therefore outside the control of man but rather to mechanical laws that are quite within the control of man if you happen to have the power and influence to pull and push the necessary levers.
The US economist Herman Daly, delivered a paper to the Sustainable Development Commission in the UK in April this year in which he reiterated his idea of a Steady State Economy that can replace the "failed growth economy".
In this paper Daly was challenging the basis of free market capitalism as summarised by Arendt, the perpetual accumulation of property/capital. He implicitly acknowledges the fact that free market capitalism has to consume to grow and has to grow to survive. Logically this is not possible perpetually when one looks at the world as a finite system. He therefore proposes that a move away from the growth economy of the last 300 years to an economy that is stable, one that does not grow. On a global basis this would mean that the developed economies would have to use their resources more efficiently, allowing the developing economies a greater share of the world's resources until such time as they had achieved a reasonable quality of life amongst their citizens.
A more equitable sharing of basic global resourcesWhether all Daly ideas are good ones is not really the point. What they serve to illustrate is that serious economists, (Daly used to be at the World Bank), do have ideas as to how our world could be run differently. So when you hear the liars telling you that this and that 'reform' is necessary to keep the existing system running hopefully now you can see through their lies and can tell anybody else who'll listen.
Reform of the tax systems to an ecologically based tax system
Limit the range of inequality in income distribution-a minimum income and a maximum income. Without aggregate growth poverty reduction requires redistribution. Complete equality is unfair; unlimited inequality is unfair. Seek fair limits to inequality.
Change the way we work so as to provide work for everybody rather than slavery for some and unemployment for others.
Re-regulate international trade. Limit the freedom of movement of capital, restrain globalisation.
Downgrade the IMF, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation to a new model designed for equality amongst nations.
Abolish fractional reserve banking. Give the control of money back to governments and away from banks.
Put scarce resources under public control and remove the private control on knowledge and information. Stop treating the scarce as if it were non scarce, and the non scarce as if it were scarce.
Stabalise world population.
Change national accounting to reflect reality so as to be able to see when growth ceases to benefit a nation as a whole.
The first thing we all have to do is get over our fear because fear shackles us. It shackles our minds, our emotions and our actions. To break the shackles is much easier if approached with friends and allies. The society in which we have been conditioned to live, as described above, has made us competitor and not collaborators. This is the first thing to change; learn to collaborate, gather people around you who see the world in the same broad terms, see the same problems and see the need for change.
As you start to collaborate understand each others weaknesses and remember that among the things we need to learn are new ways of being based on open communication and greater comprehension. When you are with your 'friends and neighbours' observe how the discussion tends to devolve down to differences of opinion regarding details while the broad principles upon which you agree become forgotten. These differences in detail can derail many team efforts and can be easily exploited by the unscrupulous.
Understand the weaknesses and foibles of your fellow humans and work with them to cover their backs. Do not make people afraid to fail, for without the ability to fail how will we learn to succeed? There is nothing wrong with failing. Learn to communicate - it's a lot harder than it sounds as we all mask what we really need behind our false personalities - allowing our real message to often be lost in the need to be right or in a flood of emotions.
Once you have the basis of a team then move on to practical matters. One big change that will help you through the tough times ahead will be to live together as a group. You will find that large properties are cheaper per bed than many small ones combined. You will be able to share the burdens, risks and expenses of life amongst yourselves. You might even consider setting up some sort of business in which some of you can work while others remain in paid employment, at least while there is employment.
A house with 15 adults might need 3 cars, a couple of washing machines, two fridges and so on - far less than 15 adults living separately. Sure, it will take some cooperation to work out schedules but that shouldn't be beyond you. You'll need just one broadband and/or phone connection for the entire house. The bills for a big place (barring property taxes which you will need to take into consideration) split among a group tend to be cheaper per head. This includes insurance should you have it.
You will find that there are people always around to help you, and you them. If you find yourself laughing at such an idea then ask why that is - it may well be that you, like most people, have been conditioned against the idea of people living in communities; either that or you don't know how serious the situation really is.
Next, take a long hard look at how you spend your money. Look at your food bill and consider a complete change in diet to a very simple, cheap and healthy approach. Stop buying processed foods, research about detoxifying your body and take the recommended steps as far as possible and start eating brown rice, beans and pulses, and green vegetables. No more supermarket juices, cheese or prepared foods of any sort.
Does that sound too radical? Perhaps but it would undoubtedly help you in a number of ways - you will be healthier and you will spend far less on food. As rice and beans are simple to cook, can be cooked in bulk and kept in the fridge you would also save a bunch of time. If you really understand what we have pointed out about the way the system works, ask yourself whether that same system is likely to have been encouraging you to eat good foods or profitable foods. You know the answer.
Beyond your living arrangements, if you have any savings think about this - if they are in a bank or a fund or anything of that nature - who has the benefit of that money, you or the people who hold it? They do of course, and if 'they' are a bank they are using your money to turn a profit. So how about taking most of that money away from them? What about getting together with friends and allies and seeing whether you can make that money work for yourselves - the world has endless possibilities. You might get together, buy a plot of land and turn it into a group vegetable garden - really making your money grow.
In due course the things of real value in society will be those things that have a function that people are willing to pay for. If you can operate some of those things then so much the better. Prepare yourself for being able to barter and trade. Obviously, this will be easier if you are working in a group but even if you are alone, find a skill and get good at it while you can. For example, it might be that you can fix things so make sure you have good tools.
Take a look at the system, understand how it works and learn how to work within it. You can refuse to be controlled by it, bit by bit, but that does not mean cutting loose. There are ample reports of the extent of surveillance and the consequences of standing out so research and learn how to keep below the radar while being able to take active steps to help yourselves. Clean up your credit history as best you can so as to ensure that you have access to credit should you need it. If you are in debt with high interest see what you can do to lower the interest payments.
Basically, take a good hard look at the realities of your life and think - what could I do if I had a group of friends and allies I could really work with to improve this situation?
We have been conditioned to be 'individuals' for our entire lives now is the time to become communities again. You'll find that you'll laugh a whole lot more too.
 Hannah Arendt, Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), Chapter 5
 Hannah Arendt, Op cit
 Hannah Arendt, Op cit
 Hannah Arendt, Op cit
 Hannah Arendt, Op cit
 Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan
 Hannah Arendt, Op cit
 Andrzej M. Lobaczewski, Political Ponerology