Bcc: contributors and interested parties
The Prognosis article seems to have gone semi-viral, given the number of hits one gets on Google. It’s on Pravda, Infowars, and everywhere in between. Once Global Research picked it up, it spread from there.
Lots of people have sent in comments, and I’ve included those folks in the Bcc. Newcomers are invited to join us here on cyberjournal, a low-traffic and I hope decent-quality list. Email to:
I’ve learned a lot of things since I wrote ETM (Escaping the Matrix). Since then I’ve read The Long Twentieth Century, which gave me a much better understanding of capitalism, I’ve delved into the history of the banking elite, and there have been many changes on the world scene. The Prognosis amounts to an updated and more comprehensive version of Chapter 1 of ETM, the ‘statement of the current problem’, the ‘description of the matrix’. The article is now on my document blog, and anyone can leave comments:
Prognosis 2012: the elite agenda for social transformation
Several people were bothered that the Prognosis shows no ray of hope, and offers no suggestions for countering the program. They wanted to know what my solutions are.
I developed some ideas for how we might overcome elite rule in ETM, and I’ve learned a lot more since. My basic thesis is that ‘the enemy’ is hierarchy itself. Hierarchy always breeds greater hierarchy, every hierarchy provides a position of power for some clique, and power always corrupts, sooner or later. In an age of technology, the inevitable outcome of the hierarchical social model is a tyrannical world government, of one flavor or another. It was always just a matter of time, as was the end of growth.
In this regard, it is important to understand that hierarchy has not always characterized human societies. Hierarchy came in subsequent to the development of agriculture, less than 10,000 years ago. Our ‘natural’ social form is a small, egalitarian, self-sufficient, cooperative community, and that’s how we lived for about 200,000 years, in hunter-gatherer bands. We are ‘wired’ to find security in a supportive community, and hierarchical society, particularly our competitive variety, is a source of considerable psychological stress. In a real sense, we are like animals confined in a cage, unable to express our true nature.
ETM has a chapter, ‘A brief history of humanity’, that seeks to present the ‘big picture’ of the human story, from its origins up to modern times. While the Prognosis seeks to give an in-depth perspective on our current predicament, we also a need an in-breadth perspective on our situation as a species. Since ETM, I wrote an essay that I think tells that story better, and it’s now on the document blog:
The Grand Story of Humanity
A new book
I feel that I’ve now got the bones of a new book. Jackson Davis got me thinking about it, when he suggested that we make a pamphlet out of the Prognosis. I’ll want to do some editing and some rewriting, and attend to transitions and continuity, but I think the Prognosis and the Grand Story are a strong foundation for the first two chapters. They are each just under 8,000 words.
I envision a third chapter, of about the same length, which will be the discussion of solutions. 8,000 words is a digestible size, while big enough to cover a lot of ground. And three chapters is a good story structure, like a play with three acts. First the tension and danger are introduced, then there’s a stepping back to get perspective, and then there’s the engagement with the dragon. Here are some thoughts regarding that third chapter. This is a first sketch, and any kinds of suggestions would be welcome.
Community & self-governance
If hierarchy is the problem, then the creation of non-hierarchical social structures must be the basis of a solution. If we don’t want to be governed by elites, we need to learn how to govern ourselves. We need to understand that if the current rulers said, “We give up, you guys can take over”, we wouldn’t have the slightest clue regarding how to respond effectively to that opportunity. We’d fall back into our political parties, and our factions, and the power competition among hierarchies and cliques would resume. Hail to the new boss, same as the old boss.
In ETM, I develop the idea that we need to transform the nature of civil society beginning in the grassroots, in the community. The objective facts are that we are all in this together, we are all being marginalized by the elite agenda, and our communities are where we can find our common ground. I talk about dialog processes, which have the proven potential to break through divisiveness, and enable to people to find their common ground. I develop the concept of an ‘awakened community’, where the people have developed a process of consensus building through inclusive dialog, and where the ‘will of the people’ has real meaning. This would be the achievement of egalitarian self-governance at the community level.
Since ETM, I’ve done a lot of research into community-building initiatives. Some of these initiatives have been based on the same ideas presented in ETM, using dialog processes in communities, seeking to build a shared sense of community. These efforts have been quite successful as experiments with small groups, however they have not led to awakened communities, and there is little prospect at present that they will. A vision of self-governance is not something very many people are ready to relate to, or get motivated about. In fact, most people would see it as a totally unrealistic notion.
Relocalization & Transition Towns
One of the fastest-spreading community-building initiatives at present is the Transition Towns Movement, and the relocalization movement more generally. Here there is a stronger basis of motivation. An awareness of peak-oil, carbon footprints, and the unsustainable nature of our societies generally, leads to recognition of the community, and the bioregion, as being the place where we can seek to create islands of sustainability. If we can grow our own food and produce our own energy locally, we can be more or less independent of the ‘failing unsustainable system’, and have some hope of surviving its inevitable collapse.
This movement has a natural appeal to activists who are concerned with peak oil, or global warming, or organic agriculture, or environmentalism, or sustainability, or local empowerment. It’s an umbrella movement, that brings these different activists together, and gives them a practical program to pursue, that can produce measurable progress in dealing with their concerns.
However, the movement is not actually producing any self-sufficient towns, and there seems to be little prospect at present that it will do so. Just as ‘self governance’ seems unrealistic to most people, so does ‘self sufficiency’. Don’t talk to me about farmer’s markets! On my budget I’ve got to shop at the big discount outlets.
Nonetheless, the movement is providing a shared focus for local activists, around a useful agenda, and there is potential in that, if a more compelling focus can be found.
Local currencies & economic development
There is also a local-currency movement. Local currencies have the potential to enable a vibrant local economy to operate, even though the community is poor in terms of official money. Many activists have been drawn to the local currency movement, and there are a great many independent experiments going on with local currencies of various kinds.
However, the movement is not actually transforming the economies of any communities in any significant way, and there is little prospect at present that it will. The experiments have remained marginal, with the currencies used perhaps to exchange personal services, or to encourage a bit more business at local shops that accept the currency.
The goal of a local currency is to enable the blossoming of a strong local economy. But a medium of exchange is not enough. If one wants to build a strong local economy, one needs to have an economic-development plan. One needs to have some idea of available resources and skills, of local consumption patterns, and of local business opportunities.
Suppose a community were given a large cash grant, dedicated to developing the local economy. In that case, we would expect planning and analysis to be done, to use those funds wisely, with the greatest economic leverage, given the circumstances of the community. It’s no different with a local currency. The currency can be the enabler of economic activity, as can the grant. But in both cases that activity needs to be organized coherently, if it is to lead to a strong local economy.
Worker co-ops & Mondragon
The most impressive example of local economic development I’ve seen is in Spain – the Mondragon cooperative movement. Here is an excellent BBC video documentary that tells the story:
The Mondragon Experiment
The movement is based on worker-owned cooperatives. Some are consumer co-ops, but the real strength of the movement comes from co-op industrial units, and the co-op bank that coordinates and supports the movement. The movement has been going on for twenty years, and over that time they’ve figured out how to deal with the various problems that come up with co-ops.
Typically a group of workers want to start a co-op, but they don’t know much about running a business. The co-op bank takes a leading role, helping them to focus their ideas, develop a sound business plan, and recruit management talent to join the group. The bank can then finance the start-up, and the bank stays in touch, available for consulting when problems arise, and for additional financing when appropriate.
They’ve found that in a small co-op a spirit of community arises, that is very beneficial to group harmony and to productivity. When a co-op gets too big, the community spirit suffers, and so a limit has been set to the size of a co-op. They’ve learned that even in a co-op, conflicts arise between management and workers, and they’ve worked out a structure of representative councils that deals with this very well. They’ve also learned that workers must sell their share when they leave the co-op, otherwise a scenario of absentee ownership arises, and the enterprise loses its cooperative, egalitarian nature.
Such worker-owned co-ops are very efficient and productive, because everyone involved is an owner, whose interests are aligned with the co-op’s success, and with worker welfare. Such co-ops seem to be an ideal vehicle for local economic development, particularly when local self-governance is also a goal.
These co-ops are models of people working together effectively, and taking responsibility for their own future. The processes used in a co-op — with councils, and dialog between workers and management — is an example of a non-hierarchical governance process. A co-op movement in a community would create a subculture, based on cooperation, grassroots empowerment, and mutual benefit. To the extent this subculture could inspire a similar spirit in the community generally, that could be very helpful in creating a sense of community identity, and in awakening an appreciation of the benefits of local collaborative undertakings.
Cultural transformation, in the people’s alternative future
In the Prognosis, we were considering the social transformation that could be expected to accompany a global, elite-managed, steady-state, economic system. I emphasized that we were talking about a whole new era, with different political structures, different social relationships, different mythologies, different economics, etc. Each era must have an internal coherence, as did the Roman Empire, the Medieval period, the Industrial-Capitalism Era, and all the rest. A change of era is always accompanied by a compatible cultural transformation, perhaps emerging naturally, and perhaps influenced by the designs of emerging elites.
If we were to overcome elite rule, and establish a decentralized system of self-governance, that would be a cultural transformation of the first order. It would be unprecedented in the chronicles of civilization. It would certainly qualify as a new era. Indeed, we might reset our calendars to begin with the onset of this new era — AL, After Liberation. That would be our version of the Mayan’s ‘end of time’ prophecy — end of the old time, beginning of the new.
When you begin a journey, it is very helpful if you know where it is you’re going. In our case, we know that the end of our hoped-for journey will be a new culture, a new era. Knowing that, our focus from the beginning must be on cultural transformation, not just on this or that element of local empowerment. We don’t have time to take the local train, with all the intermediate stops, we need to take the express train, directly to our destination.
I suggest that the movements and initiatives that we reviewed above provide the essential elements of our new cultural paradigm.
Worker co-ops provide a model for economic entities, in stark contrast to the corporate model. A model organized around mutual benefit, rather than exploitation. A scaled-down, decentralized model, with roots in the community, and a way-of-operating that harmonizes with a local democratic process. And yet a model capable of competitive industrial production, as Mondragon has demonstrated so well.
A co-op bank provides a model for finance, where the relationship between bank and borrower is a partnership, almost a joint venture. The bank doesn’t just loan money, it takes responsibility for helping ensure the success of the enterprise, with the help of its resources and its expertise. This is in stark contrast to the elite banking model, aimed ultimately at reducing everyone to debt slavery.
A local currency establishes the principle of monetary sovereignty, as a basic component of sovereignty generally, in stark contrast to the central-bank model. And a local currency provides a co-op bank with a lot more power and flexibility, in terms of the financing it can provide to the community.
Loans can be made in official currency, or in local currency, depending on the circumstances. While reserves of official currency may be hard to obtain, credit extended in the local currency is limited only by fiscal considerations, inflationary pressures, etc. Enough currency can be issued to support whatever level of economic activity is sustainable.
The Transition Towns movement brings in the paradigm of local-centric economics, along with the comprehensive assessment of community resources, needs, productive potential, etc. This dovetails with a local currency, it helps inform the development of local co-ops, and it provide a focus for community-wide dialog and collaboration.
There is a natural synergy between relocalization and the co-op model. In a real sense, the relocalization perspective is viewing the whole community as an unofficial co-op, whose ‘business plan’ is to achieve a sustainable local economy. The processes and councils used in the co-ops provide models of how the community can manage its transition process in a non-hierarchical way. And of course the co-op model can be adopted by sustainable enterprises that are set up as part of the transition process.
There is a natural synergy as well between the Transition Town movement and the co-op bank. The bank can provide development-planning counseling to the movement, just as it does to co-ops. And for the co-ops established by the transition movement, the bank can provide its usual services, including financing. The co-op bank provides a financial keel for the community, while the transition team mans the development helm.
The dialog-based, self-governance movement also has an important contribution to make to our new culture. As I mentioned earlier, this movement has achieved remarkable successes in small-group settings, but has not succeeded in rousing the interest of whole communities. In this co-op-intensive, development-oriented culture, there are many ways that small-group dialog processes can lubricate progress.
The basic principle behind this kind of dialog is very simple. It is based on listening – listening to everyone’s concerns and ideas, and continuing to dialog until a resolution is found that deals fairly with everyone’s concerns. This is particularly difficult to achieve when the people involved have strong differences in perceived interests. And yet it is necessary to achieve if the various projects are to proceed smoothly. And there are dialog processes that can reliably achieve these kinds of resolutions, despite strong differences.
Listening-based dialog is the heart of a self-governance process, and it is an important part of our now-lost human heritage. Indigenous cultures tend to have such a dialog process, often circle-based, that is used to make difficult decisions or to resolve conflicts. In some sense the invention of such processes was the greatest invention of all time, more important than the wheel, because it enabled us to abandon the alpha-male model, and establish egalitarian societies. It is that invention that separates us more than any other from our primate ancestors.
Meetings are where business gets done in any society. That’s where decisions and plans are made, commitments are agreed to, and problems are resolved. If our various meetings and councils can be carried out in the spirit of listening, and dealing with all concerns, using appropriate processes when helpful, then we would be transforming our culture at a deep level. Our basic unit of social interaction would be based on mutual-benefit collaboration, rather than competitive posturing and negotiating-for-advantage.
All of these threads come together to create a coherent cultural fabric. Self-interest and community-interest are brought into alignment. An effective infrastructure for community empowerment is provided. Those who have productive ideas for improving the community can find support. Everyone is part-owner of their own means of livelihood. Everyone is invested in their community and its economic success. The virtues of taking responsibility, fulfilling commitments, and collaborating for mutual benefit, emerge as universally respected virtues.
If the threads can be brought together, and the cultural transformation achieved at the community level, then it is clear that a community self-governance process would emerge. The bank and the transition process should eventually be owned by the community as a whole, and we can expect the processes and councils used by the co-op movement to morph into processes of community self-governance. Local self-governance would be a natural organic outcome of the community culture, as it becomes pervasive.
If this ‘bringing together of threads’ can become a meme, spreading to other communities, then we have the basis of a transformational movement. It would be an inclusive movement, free of factionalism. It would be a locally autonomous movement, with no centralized clique who might try to build a power base. It would be a territory-liberating movement, and neighboring liberated territories could be expected to collaborate for mutual benefit, based on listening to one another’s concerns. It would be a profound cultural movement, with the potential to make the brotherhood of man a reality in this world. A new era indeed.
Collapse & social transformation
Our current masters, the elite bankers, have clearly signaled their intention to bring the current social system into complete collapse, just like the Twin Towers. They’ve talked about their New World Order, we’ve examined what they mean by that in a bit of detail, and their strategy is understandable. The changes they want are so abhorrent, that they need to reduce us to starving rabble, more or less, so that any recovery program will be welcomed with open arms.
The collapse gives them a reconstruction opportunity, but it presents us with an opportunity as well. As unemployment and homelessness increase, and benefits and services are curtailed, there will be a real need for community-development initiatives of the kind we have discussed. Shared adversity breeds a spirit of coming together for mutual aid. The ground will become increasingly fertile for our transformational movement.
Economic collapse is the equivalent of oil running out. The same logic that says Transition Towns are a response to peak oil, also says that the same response is a response to economic collapse in general. The more self-sufficient our communities can be, the less we are vulnerable to systemic collapse, regardless of why it occurs.
Unemployed people, particularly skilled ones, represent a valuable and wasted social resource. Local currencies and the co-op model provide a framework in which people can be put to work, with ownership of their jobs, in a way that contributes to the revival of the local economy, on a sustainable basis.
The elite strategy is to create an ‘order vacuum’, and when the vacuum is total, to bring in their new order. Our counter strategy is to fill that vacuum with our own grassroots civil order, and prevent total collapse. We would be struggling against chaos itself, and our success would be very reaffirming of our sense of empowerment. We would begin to realize that hierarchy is the enemy, and that we don’t need anyone in high places to tell us how to run our lives.
To the extent the transformational movement spreads, we would be creating a society that is capable of taking care of itself, and eager to hold onto its decentralized system of autonomy. It would be society relatively free of factional divisions, and able to coordinate large-scale activities such as general strikes and other acts of nonviolent resistance.
To the extent the whole population can be united against elite power, the problem of maintaining command and control over all parts of the security apparatus becomes increasingly difficult. Family ties and other civil loyalties become an increasing problem. Ultimately revolutions are won when the troops refuse to fire on the people, or when some military commander storms the palace. Behind those Evil Empire uniforms are real people, someone’s son or daughter. There comes a point where that matters.
There have been many successful revolutions throughout history, often prevailing against what seemed like overwhelming odds. But because those revolutionary movements were based on leaders, and a leadership cadre, the outcome was always yet another hierarchical regime, with new rhetoric and old practices. There were cultural changes, but hierarchy always remained as a cultural constant. In the wake of victory, the people went home to celebrate, and new elites rushed in to fill the order vacuum.
With our transformational movement, there is no order vacuum. Creating order is what the movement is about. Organic, from the grassroots order, as in a living ecosystem. The demise of centralized power structures finds not a vacuum, but rather a society relieved that it can continue its business with an ominous threat removed.
blog for subscribers:
Climate science: observations vs. models
Prognosis 2012: the elite agenda for social transformation
The Grand Story of Humanity
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