Matrix – INTRODUCTION, take 2

2005-03-08

Richard Moore

Friends,

Based on your very useful feedback, I have taken a totally 
different approach to the Introduction. Many thanks!

rkm

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draft version 4.1

INTRODUCTION

If, twenty years ago, I had noticed a book on the shelves
about "global transformation," I imagine I would have passed
it by. Such topics, I would have assumed, were for
philosophers, mystics, or ideological fanatics.
"Transformation" had no real political relevance, neither as a
desired goal nor as a likely possibility. Our Western
societies certainly needed improving, but no sensible person
thought in terms of whole new systems, or questioning the
wisdom of such basic things as progress and capitalism.

A lot has changed in the last twenty years. We now find a rich
and popular genre of "new system" literature, exemplified by
David Korten's, "The Post-Corporate World -- Life After
Capitalism." We are beginning to see a convergence among
several threads of thinking. There is the 'sustainability'
thread, with its whole-system perspective, and its
understanding that economic growth is destroying our
life-support systems. There is the 'economics' thread,
challenging the dominant free-market models, and leading to
deeper critiques of our banking and finance systems, and the
basis of our currencies. There is the 'corporate-power'
thread, and its understanding that our media, and our
governments, have become the willing agents of greedy
corporate agendas. There is the 'imperialist-critique' thread,
exemplified by Noam Chomsky, with its understanding of the
naked power that characterizes international affairs and
American foreign policy in particular, and its understanding
of the propaganda and deception that characterize the
corporate media and official government statements. In my
'Annotated bibliography,' I've tried to include a
comprehensive sampling of this genre.

In these various threads of thinking and research, we can see
a consensus emerging that the basic systems of our global
society -- as a whole -- have become dysfunctional. We -- the
people of the world -- are like the owner of an old car that
has been repaired many times, and which is beyond further
repair: we must begin thinking seriously about a new vehicle
-- a transformed basis for society.

And indeed, this genre of new-system literature has moved
quite a bit beyond critique of the "old car." Serious thought
and research has been devoted to understanding how our global
food supply can be produced sustainably and without harmful
pesticides, how we can reduce our energy usage, and how we can
develop sustainable and non-polluting sources of energy and
modes of transport. Similarly, new models of currencies and
economic exchange have been developed, which can enable a more
productive and equitable kind of economics to operate -- an
economics based on real productivity, as measured by benefit
to people, rather than one based on the raw maximization of
economic activity. From both the sustainability and economics
threads has emerged a systems perspective oriented around
decentralization, and moving decision-making toward the local:
local control makes for efficient economic operations and
facilitates effective stewardship of natural resources.

Transformation of the systems of our society, it seems, has
become a respectable topic of investigation -- and the
popularity of the various books indicates that interest in
this topic is not limited to a group of visionary thinkers and
researchers. Indeed, in the anti-globalization movement, we
see evidence of a broadly based, highly vocal, global
constituency for fundamental change in our societies. Critics
of that movement frequently accuse it of being
"anti-everything," and "not having a positive program." That
criticism may not be adequately addressed by the slogans of
the protestors in the streets, but it is answered rather
substantially by the emerging genre of transformational
research and analysis.

The technical problems involved in making our world more
sensible are not insurmountable. If the "societal will"
existed, we could create functional and sustainable systems,
put an end to war and poverty, live peacefully and happily
ever after -- and we could fund the conversion project with a
small fraction of what we would save from our cancelled
military budgets. It would be an immense project, but none of
it is rocket science. The major obstacles to social
transformation are not technical but political; they are bound
up in the question, "What is our societal will?"

In fact, our societal will is the will of our government
leaders. If they decide to invade Iraq, for example, then the
resources of our society, and our men and women in uniform,
are devoted to that objective -- regardless of public
sentiment regarding the adventure. And when it comes to
transformation of the systems of our societies, our government
leaders are dead set against any such notion. They are
irrevocably committed to the paradigm of unending economic
growth. The corporate domination of our political process
permits only one agenda: "more of the same." The response of
our governments to the emerging transformational analysis has
been dramatically symbolized in their brutal suppression of
the various anti-globalization protests.

Of all of our societal systems, the most resistant to
transformation is our political system. So long as our
political systems are controlled by corporate interests, none
of our other systems can be transformed. Revitalization of
democracy turns out to be the critical factor in social
transformation. And indeed, as part of the emerging
transformational analysis, there is an important thread
concerned with 'revitalizing democracy.'

My purpose in writing this book is to weave together the
various emerging threads into a comprehensive tapestry of
social transformation. The first chapter is devoted to
examining our existing systems and the propaganda matrix that
seeks to maintain those systems through deception and
obfuscation. The remainder of the book seeks to identify a
practical path for achieving the global transformation of our
societies.

The book is self-contained and it begins from first
principles. I refer to the existing literature, and I have
certainly been informed by it, but a reader who is new to this
genre will find here a complete treatment that can be
understood and evaluated without reference to other works. A
reader who is more familiar with the literature will find here
a systematic consolidation of the emerging consensus, together
with important new material -- particularly as regards the
political process, social movements, and the revitalization of
democracy.

At one level, in terms of the substance of its analysis, this
book is intended for global audiences: it is about global
transformation, not just the transformation of a single
society. At another level, in terms of the style of its
presentation, the book is aimed primarily at Western
audiences, and in particular the reader will detect a
distinctly American perspective in the material. Partly this
is a result of my own background, having grown up in
California. More importantly however, the Western and American
orientation is intentional. It is Western governments, in
particular the American government, which have the
preponderance of military and economic power in the world.
Unless transformation occurs in America and the rest of the
West, it cannot be achieved anywhere, at least not in a way
that can last.

There are certain terms that are used differently in America,
Britain, and Europe, which I should probably clarify in
advance. In America, the term "liberal" refers to a person who
in Europe would probably be known as a Social Democrat or
perhaps a Green, and who in Britain might be a Labor or
Lib-Dem voter. The term "neoliberalism," used commonly in
Europe but less so in America, refers to free-trade economics
and the globalization agenda. The term "neocon," short for
neoconservative, refers to the right-wing ideological clique
that currently dominates Washington politics, as personified
by Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.

As a final note of introduction, I'd like to say something
about my own ideological prejudices, and what "kind of person"
this book is intended for. For most of my life I would have
put myself squarely in the liberal camp, in the American
sense. I hated racists and bigots, thought guns and capital
punishment should be outlawed, that abortion should be freely
available, and that religion was a case of mass hypnosis. When
I first started writing, about ten years ago, I was hoping to
"educate" those on the right, and convert them to my
enlightened, rational, liberal thinking.

As it turns out, my prejudices have not really changed much,
but my attitude toward "those on the right" has changed
considerably. In my attempts to debate right-wing thinkers on
the Internet and in person, I found that I was learning more
from them than they were learning from me. Their views on the
evils of big government, their emphasis on self-reliance and
local solidarity, and their skepticism regarding the
mainstream media impressed me as being very sensible
perspectives. I began to see that we liberals had blind spots
and prejudices every bit as objectionable as those we
criticized in our right-wing brethren. I began to see that
ideological labels are divisive, and that underneath the skin
we are all real people with sincere contributions to make to
our societies.

I will not be able to hide my liberal biases in this material;
it comes out in the language that I use and in my choice of
examples. But I hope this will not deter those of you who are
of a conservative persuasion, and who may be deeply religious,
from giving consideration to what I have to say. Not to give
away the plot, but in the end social transformation depends on
our ability, as human beings, members of an allegedly sentient
species, to get beyond our superficial differences and realize
that we are all in this together, and that a better world for one
is a better world for all.

Richard Moore
Wexford, Ireland
March 2005

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Richard Moore (rkm)
Wexford, Ireland

"Escaping The Matrix - 
Global Transformation: 
WHY WE NEED IT, AND HOW WE CAN ACHIEVE IT ", somewhat current draft:
    http://www.ratical.org/co-globalize/rkmGlblTrans.html
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    There is not a problem with the system.
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