Escaping the Matrix: critique & response

2006-12-02

Richard Moore

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Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2006 12:00:31 -0800
To: •••@••.•••
From: Joe Jaffe <>
Subject: Re: ETM

When I first heard of Richard's ideas they sounded great.  But as I 
read the details it seemed to me that the implementation of good 
ideas has to deal with real people in a real world.  This does not 
mean that people cannot resolve some differences but changing the 
world involves deep seated concepts that have roots in history, 
religion, economics and family life.  As two people, Karl and Molly, 
that I knew and respected, were so convinced of the validity of 
Richard's ideas what was I  missing.  As yet I fail to find that I 
have missed anything.

Here are some questions about the over 200 years for the U.S. to 
reach its present state that includes many good things and many bad 
things:

1.  Could harmonization between the colonists first come to an 
agreement to break away from the King's rule and then achieve that 
result?  If so how long would you expect it to take?

2.  Could harmonization between the North and the South free the 
slaves?  If so how long would you expect it to take?

3.  Could harmonization between factory owners and parents end the 
use of child labor?  If so how long would you expect it to take?

4.  Could harmonization between employers and employees bring about 
the 8 hour day?  If so how long would you expect  it to take?

5.  Could harmonization give women the right to vote?  If so how long 
would you expect it to take?

6.  Could  harmonization end separate but equal education for 
minorities?  If so how long would you expect it to take?

7.  Could harmonization between the "right to lifers" and those who 
believe that women have the right to choose legalize abortion without 
Roe vs. Wade.  If so  how long would you expect it to take.

I am sure that we can all agree that these are some of the good 
things that have happened since 1776.  Millions of people would have 
suffered if we had depended on harmonization to achieve the same 
results.  And we still don't have peace in this world, universal 
health care, too many people living in poverty, etc.  Some people may 
thing these gains are just band-aids.  But I have six grandchildren 
and four great-grandchildren.  I would like to have those good things 
achieved in their life times.

About 48% of the eligible voters turn out to vote (it takes less than 
30 minutes)  once every two years.  How frequently would 
harmonization meetings take place (they could last hours) and how 
many people will have the time to participate?  Beside seniors.

What am I missing?

Joe

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Hi Joe,

Many thanks for taking the time to share your very reasonable concerns.

      > When I first heard of Richard's ideas they sounded great.
         But as I read the details it seemed to me that the
         implementation of good ideas has to deal with real people in
         a real world.  This does not mean that people cannot resolve
         some differences but changing the world involves deep seated
         concepts that have roots in history, religion, economics and
         family life.

Yes, there are deep-seated concepts, and they won't be overcome by 
education or debate, or by people reading my book. But the actual 
experience of harmonization dialog seems to be able to cut through 
those concepts, and reveal to people that a new way of relating is 
possible. It's like with a peach, you can only know its flavor by 
tasting it. Although it is long-standing, our conditioning turns out 
to be only skin deep.

       > I am sure that we can all agree that these are some of the
         good things that have happened since 1776.  Millions of
         people would have suffered if we had depended on
         harmonization to achieve the same results.  And we still
         don't have peace in this world, universal health care, too
         many people living in poverty, etc.  Some people may thing
         these gains are just band-aids.  But I have six
         grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.  I would like to
         have those good things achieved in their life times.

You seem  to be assuming that we have been experiencing steady 
progress toward a better society. I question this assumption on 
several grounds...

For one thing we need to recognize that Western economies, since the 
time of European expansionism (1500s and later), have been part of a 
whole-system intimately interlinked with colonialism and imperialism. 
If we want to judge the 'progress' of this whole-system, we need to 
take into account the conditions in the third world. The apparent 
progress in the West has been paid for, and is being paid for, by our 
brothers and sisters down south. They pay not only through the theft 
of their resources, but through political oppression on our behalf. 
Are we really experiencing progress in human rights and economic 
equity?

For another thing, this 'progress' has been enabled by an increased 
dependence on economic growth and other unsustainable practices. If 
one lives beyond ones means by running up a credit-card debt, is that 
evidence of 'wealth'?

In addition, this 'progress' has been accompanied by the increased 
centralization of power in Western governments. In  a very real sense 
we've been accepting domination in exchange for comforts and 
privileges. Now that the centuries-long growth era has come to an 
end, and there is no longer an excess to share with the masses, we 
are learning the price of acquiescing to elite rule.

They have already taken away many of the reforms that have been 
achieved over the centuries, and are systematically undermining those 
that remain. That's what Reagan, Thatcher, globalization, and 
'reform' have been all about. They are also preparing ways to keep us 
under control as things get worse; that's what the War on Terror and 
the cutback on civil liberties are all about. Our 'progress' has been 
both temporary and illusory. The way things are going, your 
grandchildren will have a far worse life than you have had. Is this 
progress?


Another thing about your examples is that you are asking 
harmonization to solve problems in a dominator society, problems that 
involve conflict between those who have power and those who don't. A 
factory owner is not motivated to increase his costs just because his 
employees want more wages. He is not motivated, under the current 
system, to harmonize his interests with those of his workers.

My proposals are about transforming society -- from elite rule to 
democracy -- not solving piecemeal problems.  We've had elite rule 
for 6,000 years, and if it takes a bit of time to escape from that, I 
wouldn't be surprised. But it's our only path to salvation, so that's 
where we need to apply ourselves. If we achieve a society based on 
collaborative dialog, we will find that problems can be much more 
readily dealt with than in our current system, and with much more 
satisfactory results.


      > About 48% of the eligible voters turn out to vote (it
         takes less than 30 minutes)  once every two years.  How
         frequently would harmonization meetings take place (they
         could last hours) and how many people will have the time to
         participate?  Beside seniors.

You are raising very good questions about motivation and about efficiency.

As regards motivation, we need to acknowledge that today's 
corporate-dominated political parties do not give voters a real 
choice. The fact that people do not waste their time in a fruitless 
exercise does not mean they don't care about what happens to society. 
They are simply revealing that they understand how the system 
generally works: we vote, and 'they' do whatever they were planning 
to do anyway. In a system where people's voices make a difference, 
there would be a strong motivation to participate. This has been 
demonstrated empirically by some of the Latin American initiatives 
around grassroots empowerment, particularly in Brazil, Argentina, 
Venezuela, and Cuba.

As regards efficiency, I see great promise in the principle of the 
'unanimous representative microcosm'. That is what the Wisdom Council 
is based on, and also what the jury system is based on.

The idea behind a jury is to try to reach the same verdict that the 
whole community would reach, if everyone could take the time to 
consider the case in detail. By selecting twelve jurors at random (a 
representative microcosm), the idea is to make sure that the various 
viewpoints found in the community find voice in the deliberations. 
The number twelve is ancient, and was probably arrived at through 
long experience. By requiring a unanimous verdict, the idea is to 
ensure that every viewpoint in the jury (and by implication in the 
community) is taken into account in reaching the verdict. The film 
"Twelve Angry Men' dramatically illustrates the importance of 
unanimity, where the isolated viewpoint of a lone juror turned out in 
the end to be the wisest viewpoint, but would have been voted down 
early on, if that had been allowed.

The Wisdom Council is based on the same principles of  'unanimous 
representative microcosm', and again uses twelve randomly selected 
citizens from the community. Rather than 'deciding something' on 
behalf of the community, like  a jury does, the Council 'considers a 
problem' on behalf of the community. The microcosm principle ensures 
that general community viewpoints are reasonably represented, while 
he facilitation process enables the participants to collaborate 
effectively in the creation of wise solutions that take all those 
viewpoints into account. For that reason, the the proposed solutions 
are likely to make sense to the community generally, and the whole 
community thereby 'gains useful insight' from the dialog of the 
microcosm.

Only twelve  people need to take time out for the process, but the 
whole community 'increases its understanding' as a result. If Wisdom 
Councils are convened regularly in a community, then each one adds 
its own insights to the 'general understanding' of the people in 
community. This is a process in which people's voice are heard, and I 
believe people would be motivated to participate. Over time, as more 
and more community problems are considered and wise proposals made, I 
believe that the process would converge toward a basic 'community 
consensus', a community 'sense of itself'.

This is how I believe participatory democracy can be manifested at 
the grassroots level. I also believe the convergence process can be 
accelerated by bringing in other dialog processes as well. Dialog 
circles of various kinds in the community would give more people a 
chance to participate in dialog, and would provide a vehicle for 
people to discuss and refine the ideas that come out of the Wisdom 
Councils. There might be little  motivation for people to participate 
in circles  at the beginning, but as enthusiasm over the Council 
process grows, circles  would become more and more popular -- people 
would want their voices to be included directly in the developing 
community consensus.

thanks again for sharing your concerns,
rkm

-- 

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