Escaping the Matrix: The Red Pill


Richard Moore

This just posted to the ETM website, and to the
Achieving Democracy blog. It summarized the
contents of the book.



The red pill
The metaphor of the red pill, borrowed from the Warner
Brother's film, The Matrix, refers to waking up from
illusion - suddenly realizing that everything is quite
different than how you always thought it was.

Each chapter of this book offers it's own red pill. Our
civilization is based on a great many illusions, and each
chapter attempts to dispel one of these, peeling one more
layer from the onion of deception. Below is a brief
description of each chapter's red pill.

   * The Matrix - The consensus reality that we see portrayed
   on television and in school history books is a fabricated
   illusion. The lies of politicians are repeated in the media
   and then become the basis of histories, the fabric of the
   Matrix. The war in Iraq provides an excellent current
   example: in the Matrix we read about bringing democracy to
   the Iraqis while in reality the US is seizing control of
   petroleum resources and establishing a permanent military
   outpost in the Middle East.

   * A brief history of humanity - The history we are taught
   in school is not the story of humanity, but rather the story
   of hierarchical civilizations. Our species has been fully
   human for about 100,000 years, and only the last 10% of that
   - a brief episode for our species - has been characterized
   by hierarchy and centralized governance. We are presented
   with the Hobbesian illusion that early humans lived a short
   and brutal life, and the Social Darwinist illusion that our
   evolution has been driven by dog-eat-dog competition. In
   reality, early societies were highly cooperative and
   egalitarian. Civilization is not a reflection of human
   nature, but is rather a system of domination and
   exploitation by ruling elites. We are like animals in cages:
   our behavior under these stressful conditions is not
   representative of our nature, just as the pacing of a caged
   cheetah are not representative of the natural behavior of
   that beautiful animal.

   * Our Harmonization Imperative - Our societies and
   political systems are characterized by competition and
   struggle among cultural factions and political parties. When
   we try to change this system by forming adversarial
   political movements we are playing into this game - a game
   rigged so that elites always win. If we really want to
   change the system, we need to learn how to come together as
   humans, moving beyond the ideological structures that have
   been created to divide us from one another. We are all in
   this together, and a better world for one is a better world
   for all. It's not about winning, nor really even about
   agreement: it's about working together in pursuit of our
   common interests.

   * The dynamics of harmonization - Our usual models of
   discussion and deliberation reflect the adversarial nature
   of our society generally. We argue for our position over the
   other position: one side wins, the other loses, or we settle
   for a compromise - and the underlying conflicts remain
   unresolved. Harmonization is about a different kind of
   dialog, based on respectful listening, and aimed at
   developing solutions that take into account everyone's
   concerns. This kind of dialog can be readily facilitated in
   any group of people, and it is an ancient human tradition,
   capable of transforming conflict into creative synergy.

   * Envisioning a transformational movement - Harmonization
   provides the means by which we can overcome our differences
   and find our common identity as We the People. If we pursue
   harmonization in our local communities, on an all-inclusive
   basis, we can create islands of grassroots empowerment - of
   direct democracy - within our existing societies.
   Harmonization can become the basis of a community
   empowerment movement, transforming our adversarial cultures
   into cooperative cultures. When We the People have woken up
   on a society-wide basis, we will be in a position to
   transform our societies, replacing elite rule with
   grassroots democracy, based on the principles of
   harmonization and mutual-benefit exchange.

   * Envisioning a liberated global society - The core
   principles of a democratic society are local sovereignty and
   harmonization. Only at the local level is it possible for
   everyone's voice to be heard, and harmonization is the means
   by which those voices can develop a consensus agenda. The
   residents of a local community share a common interest in
   the local quality of life, and are in the best position to
   manage their resources and economies wisely. Large scale
   issues and operations can be worked out by delegations from
   local constituencies, meeting together to harmonize their
   various agendas and concerns. There is no need for
   centralized governments, corporations, or institutions,
   which inevitably become vehicles for the usurpation of power
   by would-be ruling cliques.

   * The transition process - Political sovereignty is
   meaningless unless it also includes dominion over resources
   and economic affairs. In our transition to a democratic
   society, one of the first steps will be for each community
   to repossess its commons - assuming ownership of all land,
   resources, buildings, and infrastructures that are currently
   controlled by absentee landlords, banks, corporations, and
   government agencies. Under the control of local communities
   and workers, conversion plans can be worked out, gradually
   repurposing existing facilities toward sensible and
   sustainable uses. We can expect considerable variety in
   local economic practices - ranging from communal operations
   to market economies - to be determined by local cultural
   traditions and the democratic process.

   * Reflections on humanity's future - Which comes first,
   personal transformation or social transformation? This
   question, often debated, turns out to be much like the
   question, "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" That
   is to say, the question cannot be answered in its own terms.
   Humans are above all a social species, and it should not be
   surprising to realize that personal transformation and
   social transformation can be most readily achieved together.
   To a considerable extent, existing paths of enlightenment
   must begin with a rehabilitation of the individual, helping
   them find their own center in the midst of an oppressive and
   stressful society. When we create societies that liberate
   our spirits and involve us in our own governance, the path
   to enlightenment will be a much easier one.

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