rkm: reflections re/ cyberjournal


Richard Moore


cyberjournal has been around for almost 15 years and our community is quite diverse — a kind of microcosm of our larger society. There are people on the left and the right, some who agree with most of the postings, and some who are usually annoyed. Some are well informed on world affairs, while the interests of others lie in other directions. For me the list has always been valuable, as a way to collaboratively develop ideas through discussion and debate, and as a way to build new friendships and networks.

My own thinking has evolved considerably over the years. If I were to meet my earlier self, I imagine we’d have a heated debate. I started out thinking that the big problem was disinformation, and that the solution involved all of us understanding the truth about ‘how the world works’. I still thought there was hope in the political system, and that right-wingers were ‘the enemy’. I had never thought about the real meaning of self-governance, and how it can only happen when everyone’s voice is included. I hadn’t recognized the appalling poverty of civilization and its concepts, seen within the broader context of the human potential, and the planet’s potential. The tentacles of conditioning and domestication, six thousand years in the making, run deep.
They say that knowledge is power. I’m not so sure about that, but I am convinced that illusion is disempowering. Each time one of my own illusions has been dispelled, I’ve realized that what I thought were solutions were in fact a waste of time. You do not need great insight in order to live a good life, but if you are an activist, a change agent, illusion can condemn you to being part of the problem, rather than part of the solution.
Of course we mortals can never be free of all illusion, so how can we ever be sure our efforts are not misdirected? In this regard, a very wise man I met at the UN in Geneva, Henry Volken, once said to me, “If you want to understand the world, try to change it”. That is to say, right-understanding is an ongoing process, and right-action discovers itself through the trying. But that discovery can only happen if we are paying critical attention to the outcomes of our actions, and always challenging our own understanding. The more strongly we are committed to a particular manifesto or agenda, the less likely we are to be on a useful path.

My own activist efforts began back in the volatile sixties. I’ve marched in protests, canvassed door-to-door for candidates and issues, written letters to editors, circulated petitions, spoken up at city-council meetings, worked in activist organizations, took the leadership in organizing a community protest rally against aerial spraying, rabble-roused within a corporation on behalf of exploited contract workers, given talks and interviews, published articles and a book, organized activist gatherings of various kinds, and the list goes on. Always I’ve been disappointed in the outcomes, compared to what I was hoping to achieve, and each time an important lesson was learned, an illusion dispelled, greater clarity achieved. I’ve never had the patience to beat my head against the same wall twice.

One can view this kind of ‘searching for a path’ as a scientific investigation. In science, we come up with models, and then we test those models empirically. If the models are on the right track, then over time they converge. That is, the relationship between the evolving model and reality becomes ever clearer, and that which remains unexplained becomes more and more limited. If you’re not on the right track, the convergence doesn’t occur, too much remains unexplained, and you’re still in the exploration phase. 

If my own reflections on my own activities can be trusted, then I’d say that there has been considerable convergence in my experimental process, particularly over the past five years. You folks have been very helpful, partly with your positive feedback, and even more with your critiques, challenging my thinking. But it’s been the offline activist efforts that have been the most instructive, along with small-group online discussions with other activists. 

It’s not that I’ve converged on the answer. If that were the case, I wouldn’t be writing postings, I’d be off somewhere saving the world. What I have converged on is a set of constraints on the answer — properties that a path must have if it is not to lead us in circles. I’d like to express that convergence in terms of understanding. In my view, based on my investigations, anyone seeking social transformation needs to have the following minimal understanding, if he or she is to place their activism in an appropriate strategic context:

• enough political understanding to realize that our governing institutions are in-their-roots tyrannical
• enough economic understanding to realize that sustainability begins with localism
     • enough spiritual insight to realize that wisdom lies within each of us
• enough cultural understanding to realize that strong community empowers the individual
• enough process understanding to realize that strong community is sustained by inclusive dialog
     • enough understanding of right livelihood to commit to collaborative action in pursuit of transformation
Here on the cyberjournal list, particularly since Obama came along, I’ve been spending most of my time trying to argue for the first principle above, about the futility of seeking progress through our political process. To my way of thinking, Obama is a perfect case study, having generated so much hope for change, while delivering the opposite, and still managing to hold on to most of his following. I’m now bringing in the Estulin material, in order to come at the question of tyranny, and the realities of the political process, from another direction.
That leaves most of what I’ve learned out of the discussion. Whether or not the discussion is useful to you folks, I’m not learning much by this that I didn’t already know. That’s OK, I enjoy cyberjournal quite a bit, and I do get a lot out of it, but I’d kind of like to have a different kind of forum as well, one where the participants are further along the same path I’ve been discovering. In particular, I’d very much like to find, or assemble, a group of people who share the minimal understanding that I’ve outlined above.
If there are any such people out there, or if you know of anyone who thinks that way, whether you see that as wise or foolish, please let me know.