Re: Escaping the Matrix


Richard Moore

9/6/2002, Drusha L. Mayhue wrote to toeslist:
  > This article is indeed the best thing I have read in
    a very long time.  It may be the best thing I've ever
  > The article is kind of deflating in a way.  On the
    other hand it validates what most of us have
    ascertained through our research and studies.

Dear Drusha & toeslist,

I'm glad folks on the list found the Matrix material
useful. It's been my most successful article, published
first in Whole Earth, then New Dawn and dozens of
smaller periodicals, journals, and websites.
  > Someone on the list said the following: "Our state
    structured culture began to radically change in the 60s
    from exploitative to reciprocal." I disagree.  There
    was an effort to change them but it never happened. 
    Especially after reading this "Matrix" article.

I agree with you... the 60s was in many ways a flash in
the pan.  But the rebellion was of a special character,
and in that sense was an important precursor. It
_wasn't about class conflict, it _wasn't about party
politics, and it _wasn't about reform. It was about a
new way of thinking about values, society, the
protestant work ethic, and community. It was about
'changed minds' in the sense Daniel Quinn uses the

When Nixon was forced out, and we got the Freedom of
Information Act and all that, it really did seem that 
things had changed.  I can understand Brian clinging to
that feeling of achievement.  But by the time Reagan was
through, the whole thing had been fatally undermined -
as an effective social force.


Nan Hildreth wrote:
  > Brian, I agree.
  >   One out of four Americans are building a new culture
    and thus helping folks escape the Matrix, says the
  >   The work is to help us recognize each other and
    validate each other.  Help us come together to
    co-create and tell each other we're ok, it's the rest
    of the world that's nuts.

This work (by Paul Ray) featured heavily in Korten's
"The Post-Corporate World".

I suggest that there are two fundamental problems with Ray's
line of thinking - one tactical and one strategic.

Tactically, he is extrapolating a trend without
considering the overall political context. It should
abundantly clear in the midst of Bush's War on Freedom
that cultural trends are not something that elites are
going to leave unmolested.  All that 9-11 coverage
we've been watching is designed not only to encourage a
revenge war spirit, but also to build an atavistic
patriotism, a basically fascist kind of nationalism. 
Cultural Creatives are on the defensive and are likely
to remain so - within the current political context. 
Keep in mind that the political climate in which Nazism
arose was also characterized by very strong and radical
leftist parties.  Elites have many ways of manipulating
trends and conflicts.

Strategically, Ray is suggesting a divisive approach to
politics.  One group overpowering others through
numbers. You echo that when you say "it's the rest of
the world that's nuts".  'Heartlanders' and
'Modernists' are _not nuts.  We all know some of
them... they are in our families and they are our
neighbors. They have perhaps fallen prey to bad
information, or perhaps they are restricted by fears
that Cultural Creatives don't share.  But they are real
people with sincere values and they must be part of any
new world that we might wish to create.

Building alliances to overpower such people is a wrong
strategy. It is playing into the game of
divide-and-conquer, and that is a game we will never
win. More important, it is not a game that we should
want to win.  It represents the same old Taker
mentality.  We need to be doing the opposite of 'divide
and conquer'.  We need to learn how to build community
across those kinds of divisions.


Janet Eaton write:
  > I agree with Drusha - about the profound insights in
    RKM's article.

Janet, nice to hear from you.  A lot has happened since
I met you back in '98 with Jan.  Permit me to comment on
some of the items you forwarded...
  > "...the improvement of people's lives and the
    ultimate defeat of the system will only be achieved
    through mass struggle... which is occurring in numerous
    communities throughout the world, in the creative fight
    for basic human dignity and earth democracy."

True, but we must keep in mind that peoples and
communities have been struggling desperately against
imperialism ever since 1492... and they have not been
winning (despite pseudo latter-day 'independence').
  > * Self-Determination - As global capitalism renders
    economically invisible more and more communities, the
    potential for a global web of community-based
    resistance and renewal is strengthening.

Yes!  This is a very good point. The universal nature
of exploitation under globalization _does create the
potential for an unprecedented kind of global
solidarity-from-below, or community-from-below. This is
our point of leverage, our fulcrum with which to 'move
the world'.

  > Vlais goes on to say...It is up to each of us, both
    as individuals and communities, to understand our
    particular struggles free of ideological and political
    fundamentalisms.  Once deeply rooted in our own
    contexts and struggles, we can act in solidarity with
    others and discover the commonalities based in lived
    experience as opposed to blanket ideologies. 

Yes, but how?  We need to learn _how to understand our
struggles 'free of ideological and political
fundamentalisms'. And we need to learn how to do that
collectively as communities.  It seems easy on a
self-selected email list but that is not a real world


Drusha wrote:
  > I think the exploitive relationships will continue to
    last because those of us on this list are such a small
    group of people.  We have not yet begun the job of
    reaching out to enough other people to get a critical
    mass (we don't need a majority, just a critical mass)
    to affect change.  The right wing think tanks have done
    too good a job in planting their views in the minds of
    the majority of people.  We have a long haul to begin
    the process of countering the right wing think tanks. 
    Too many people have been brainwashed.

You fall into a trap here.  You are assuming that we
need to change people's views on a massive (critical
mass) scale in order to bring about change.  The
implication is that we need to shift people's
ideologies from acceptance-of-the-matrix to something
closer to the view of Cultural Creatives.  

The problem is that we cannot succeed at this task. 
The media is too powerful and the elite's means of
manipulating events are too powerful.  Until we accept
that fact we spend our energies in vain.  The Matrix
article, for example, reached a certain number of
people and had a certain effect.  But it counts only in
the small decimal points of demographics.  It was more
a preaching to the choir, and intentionally so, rather
than an attempt to change minds on a massive scale.

Vlais points to a more viable path with "commonalities
based in lived experience as opposed to blanket


Brian wrote:
  > The tottering old imperialist empire, of course, is
    doing its best to maintain its exploitative
    relationship with the world, but I'm sure you can see
    the writing on the wall - it ain't gonna last much

If we manage to create a new world, then afterwards it
may appear to have been inevitable.  You, at least,
will be able to say you predicted it on the basis of
anthropological determinism.  But I don't think such
observations, now, are of much help in bringing about

We need to act as if the world depends on our own
initiative, our non-deterministic free action, our
collective creativity, our will.

best regards to all,