Re: Welcome to 2003 – The Year of The Apocalypse

2003-02-06

Richard Moore

Friends,

Lots of important messages have queued up.  I'll be
posting a whole batch of them to the newslog list later
tonight.  To this list I'll post a paragraph on each so
you can check out ones that interest you.

In the meantime, let me share some dialog from another
list.  Chris, one of our subscribers, forwarded the
"Welcome to 2003" posting to the TechGnosis list and
there was some discussion to which I responded.  Here
is Chris responding to the TechGnosis list about some
the comments that were posted...


  Chris> Disappointing though it be, his [rkm's] assertions (passim in
    his writings) that the capitalism essential to the
    Vamperialism he reveals is not reformable weigh in
    pretty heavily in the What's-To-Be-Done-About-It
    debate.
    
    In more recent writings, Moore is enthusiastic about a
    technique of non-confrontational consensus-forming
    which has been found effective  in local communities.
    
    One might even consider that in any attempt to find a
    solution to a problem, the first and best prescription
    might well be to stop running around like chickens with
    heads cut off and to consider the problem calmly and
    with some minimal respect for the views, however
    ultimately misguided they may prove to be, of the
    various parties.
    
    Moore quite clearly does not align himself with the
    impetus towards violent revolution, being aware that
    60's style activism is quite likely to be repressed
    under new laws designed to squelch dissent in its
    traditional forms.  In this regard, I think he is being
    quite wise. When so many intellectuals are throwing up
    their hands in despair, it is helpful for there still
    to be some who, while not knowing what we will
    eventually do, insist that we not turn away from the
    disaster nor indulge in old-paradigm knee-jerk
    responses....
    


Dear Chris,

The discussion on TechGnosis seems rather interesting. 
I imagine it would be too much traffic for me, but I
appreciate receiving the occasional special posting. 
Certainly so when my own work is the topic.

I found your characterization of my material to be on
target and rather nicely and concisely put. I would
like to say something about my writing, and I'd be
happy for you to share that back with the list if you
feel such would be appropriate.

I usually feel out of place in debates among idea
people.   I encounter two patterns, two kinds of
people. First are the idealogues.  They have a program,
a philosophy, a movement, a cause, a religion, or an
analysis.  When their ideas are criticized, they
respond defensively, with ad hominem arguments,
counter-'attacks', and crowd-pleasing sophistry. And
then there are the critics.   They don't commit to
anything, but love to point out faults in others ideas,
or show that someone else already said it before, or
whatever.  Stalemate.  Perhpas TechGnosis is better than
that.

What I'm about is investigation. I'm trying to figure
out what we can do to change things. Being a Virgo, I
end up looking at different possibilities and saying
'not this', 'not this', rather than being inspired by
some central vision.  I jump into things, whether it be
an activist organization, a start-up company, or a
discussion forum - and do it whole hog until I
understand what it is capable of and what it is beyond
its scope.  What I learn is then something I 'know'
rather than something I 'believe'.  Something I can
'see', not something I 'think'.

I got a little note from Daniel Quinn when I sent him a
copy of the Zen quest story. He says, "You're right in
describing my message as 'cryptic'.  It was of course
not intended to be cryptic, but what is clear to me is
often completely opaque to others, and I often have to
labor for years to find a way to bridge the gap."   I
know exactly what he means.  What I wrote in "Welcome
to 2003" was simply a summary of how the world looks to
me.  All obvious stuff, from where I sit.  Not stuff to
debate, but stuff to move on from.  The last paragraph
of that piece was a series of questions... Is X worth
doing?  Is Y worth doing?  That was the part I was
hoping people would respond to.

For a hundred centuries we've been ruled by
hierarchies. All that time hierarchies have been
getting more sophisticated, bigger in scale, and more
effective in their means of control.  There has been no
break in the chain.  Why should there be?  From chiefs,
to kings & aristocracies, to economic barons, to
corporate oligarchies.

Before 'democracy' people were controlled in two
ways... physically by the King and mentally by the
Church.  During The Enlightenment the wealthy elite,
with their 'democracy', staged a coup d'etat. Out went
the King, to be replaced by a corruption-enabled,
centralized government. Out went the Church, to be
replaced by a belief in 'citizenship'.

In fact the belief in citizenship had to come first -
that's what rallied the rebels to fight the King. 
Propaganda became necessary prior to the 'revolution',
in order to rouse the masses, and propaganda has been
the foundation of 'democracy' ever since. Religions
keep you passive by shifting your attention from the
world to an imagined afterlife.  'Citizenship'
propaganda keeps you passive by encouraging you to
imagine that you are participating, that you have as
much influence as anyone else.  We watch a political
debate on television and vicariously imagine we are
participating in a political process.  In fact we are
watching a theater piece designed to have precisely
that effect on us.  Even if the participants believe
sincerely in what they are doing.

People talk about 'restoring democracy'. They look at
Bush and think back to friendlier days.  Days when it
was safe for little kids to walk to school by
themselves, and you could afford a house and car on a
single salary.  Those days were friendlier but not
because they were more democratic.  The Social
Democracy Era was simply a stage in the evolution of
imperialism.  A temporary sharing of the bountiful
spoils, during a period of capital expansion.  We
thought we were in control.  We were deceived.  When
the expansion stopped, the rug was pulled out from
under the sham.  That was what Regan and Thatcher were
employed to do.

The reason this 'democracy' thing is important is that
it sets the scale of the endeavor before us -- if we
are going to change anything significant.  None of us
would want to return to the time of Kings and
Aristocracy, but most of us seem to think we should
seek to Restore Democracy.  It never existed.  Anyone
who doubts this should read Fresia's "Toward an
American Revolution".  Or review the history of
Republican Rome, where all the same designed-in
corruptions were already evident.

We can think in terms of 'going back to something
better' or we can think in terms of 'creating something
new'.  But 'something better' is a lot further back
than the New Deal and postwar European socialism...
further back than 1776, further back even than Kings
and Pharaohs.  If you peel back the onion of hierarchy,
it goes all the way back to the Fertile Cresent and the
co-emergence of agriculture and slavery.

If we want to see social models worth learning from, we
find ourselves looking at aboriginal pre-agricultural
societies.  Only there does one find non-hierarchical
politics.  This isn't a program I'm pushing, it's
simply a fact we must be aware of if we are serious
about seeking to change things for the better.  To the
extent we look back, we need to look back far enough -
to a time of non-subjugation.  As it turns out, there
is much to be learned there. Particularly from the
variety of societies which were studied in detail when
the Europeans encountered the North American natives. 
Very sophisticated and evolved forms of genuine
democracy. Forms which were stable over time and which
involved nations of tribes over extended territories. 
All based on consensus.  We learn from history that
democracy has never existed without consensus.

Why this emphasis on democracy, rather than
sustainability, or world peace, or whatever highest
goal one might put forward?  That is a matter of the
cart before the horse.  If we want humanity to be
sensible, we need to think not only about what are good
decisions, but even more about who makes the decisions.
 As long as elites are in power, they will pursue their
own perceived interests, not those of humanity at
large.  If you want to stop a runaway horse, you must
start by grabbing the reins.  Politics, in whatever
regard you may hold that topic, is what enables
everything else.

M wrote:

    > Moore's vision seems to be of a Movement which would
        grow alongside existing illegitimate governments,
        dialectically (via consensus) incorporating enough
        social groups in succession that eventually it would
        come to be the de facto governance. The size and
        ambition of that undertaking is so daunting as almost
        to engender further despair, rather than hope.

It isn't really a vision.  It's more that I haven't
found any other credible scenario.  You say the
prospect is daunting.  How does one measure that?  The
point is that the 'vision' seems totally impossible.
Until we have some idea of how we might get there, we
cannot estimate any schedule. Once we have some
understanding how how to get there, we might be
surprised by how little time it takes.  Look how
quickly and surprisingly the Soviet Union collapsed, as
did the Czar before in his own time.  An idea whose
time has come spreads at warp speed.

best regards,
rkmn


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