Equality and the fraternity

Equality for all has been held up as one of the fundamental truisms and virtues of just governance since the widespread rejection of Patriarcha and the divine right to rule. This concept was conflated after the French and US revolutions to imply all had equal ability to survive in a trade economy. How an idea so manifestly false and impossible ever became lauded as a truism must be found in its expedience and convenience in furthering the objectives of its promoters.

Equality was espoused by a homogeneous group of male caucasian slave owners and enablers. John Locke was both a major investor in slavery and an important contributor to the laws enabling the trade. Thomas Jefferson owned hundreds of slaves. When these men spoke of equality they naturally were not including anyone but themselves in the concept, rhetoric notwithstanding. Babies, children, women, slaves, indigenous people and anyone less able were obviously not their equals and were never intended to be. As covered previously in Binding Chaos: Out of Robert Filmer’s frying pan, into John Locke’s fire, this libertarian concept of trade equality was meant to enable decentralized patriarchy, not remove patriarchy. Why an assumption of equal worth to a trade economy is in no way just is covered in Binding Chaos: An economy for all.

The concept of equality as an economic virtue has been extremely successful in justifying and continuing rule and unbalanced privilege by this same group of people, spreading initially from France and the US where Locke’s writings were most influential. In every tyranny there must be a rational justification of it. The divine right of kings was usually successful in protecting a monarch’s head as few wished to act against god’s will. A secular age must appeal to a sense of fairness which most people are born with. The idea that this one group of people are more worthy as they are more able to take control must be instilled and reinforced constantly, as it is.

The only reason equality in a trade economy is considered a virtue is to allow rule by right of virtue for the fraternity, the libertarian ideal of meritocracy.

In 1792 Mary Wollstonecraft stated the root flaw in every governance algorithm used in the past or present, “Where there is justice there is no need for charity.” Her view has been overlooked by all and the image of a just society is consistently one which has evolved to be charitable. There have been societies that were ruled by justice regardless of ability but they were always few, and since the notion of equality for all under a trade economy became widely lauded as both an ideal and a truism they exist almost nowhere.

If you hear the cry for equality under a trade economy ask: But what of those who are not equal? If the orator accuses you of bigotry for denying what is obviously false you are already dealing with a tyrant. If the orator speaks of giving and brotherly love, run. The equality mantra is the worm at the root of all trade economy systems today and any trade economy based on an ideal of equality will produce the same result, as we have seen. Equality comes from an economic system in which an infant or other dependencies have an inherent right to be included without reliance on charity.

When an ideology decrees that people governed under it will behave in a certain manner it is necessary to look for any reason to believe they will. Among proponents of trade equality as a virtue the best reply thrown at those who point out that people are demonstrably not equal was framed by Marx when he decreed distribution would be “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.” This is not effectively different than the answer given in different terms by other ideologies such as the tacked on welfare systems common in most capitalist societies. In all cases Marx’s stated outcome is certainly not inherent in the system and must be enforced by hierarchical coercion. We can see what that looks like every day as the powerful torment the poor, the victimized and the disadvantaged to test their ability and need.

Every political ideology named as one must have defining characteristics. Proponents of ideologies have a habit of stuffing rainbows and unicorns under their umbrellas but when the virtues being attributed are in no way inherent under the defined characteristics there is no reason to expect they will be present when the system is implemented.

Democracy is ridiculously conflated with human rights. If human rights exist under a democracy it is only by virtue of separate bill of rights, constitutions and other documents tacked onto the democracy as appendages. A democracy such as Burma can openly conduct genocide simply by having the majority rule the minority no longer have rights. Democracy is a system of voting, representative or direct, and there is no reason to assume that goals such as human rights or freedom of speech will result from it.

Peer-to-peer is an idea adapted from network architecture. In a p2p network, nodes supply and consume resources to and from each other in a structure for sharing among equals. As network architecture it works beautifully. It does not work for people because people are not peers. All you need to do is picture an infant attached to this network to see the obvious failure in p2p’s “assumed equipotency” of all participants which will result in a need for charity.

The defining principle of direct trade (reciprocal sharing is trade) among equals has absolutely nothing to do with the commons, free software, permaculture, 3D printers or any of the myriad rainbows and unicorns currently being herded under the umbrella. P2P governance is just a hacker-ish name for libertarian. Modern libertarianism can use new technology and other capabilities but there is no underlying philosophical difference. John Locke could point to magnanimous powerful men who gave charitably to their neighbours just as p2p points to free software giving charitably to a non-contributing public, but neither charitable neighbours nor free software are a natural result of the idea of trade among equals. To see what p2p governance would look like simply look at the completely homogeneous list of 26 men (no women) listed as “notable figures“.

We now have no choice but to move beyond the age of equality among young, able, caucasian, educated men from privileged families and start including the entire world. The entire world is now an unstoppable collaborative force and they will no longer tolerate rule by the fraternity of peers.

Occupy, Anonymous and each of the 2011 uprisings were many things but the one thing they were not is p2p. The endless assembleas and communication networks set up by M15 and the gatherings of the Day of Rages were a genuine attempt to hear the voices of the unequal. The Hope Riders, Jasmine Revolution, Occupy and others fought very hard to recognize and support diverse roles and unequal ability. Anonymous is the roar of those omitted from the fraternity, the raw voice of the voiceless unpackaged and sanitized by NGOs and polite representatives. Every revolution the world has ever seen has started with that roar and every revolution the world has ever seen has been co-opted by the fraternity of peers.

We can tell the revolution has failed every time we look around and see the fraternity sitting astride the ideals of the voiceless and promising to ride them to a different place this time. When the hopes and creations of the people once again become rainbows and unicorns to sell a platform for the fraternity to gain power we have failed.

If we are to proceed past the never-ending cycles of revolution and arrive at a system of peaceful evolution we need a completely different system of change. Probably writing that next.

See also

This is what my revolution looked like
Binding Chaos chapters:
An economy for all
Out of Robert Filmer’s frying pan, into John Locke’s fire

Mary Wollstonecraft: A vindication of the rights of women
Robert Filmer: Patriarcha
John Locke: Two Treatises of Government

Advertisements

News, analysis, action

Donate

In the past, media was protected in most democracies because in order to govern themselves, people need access to accurate and timely information on all topics relevant to their governance. The news needs to be the match that starts analysis and action which doesn’t stop till we have change. Otherwise it is silly to pretend that news has anything at all to do with governance. If news requires no action, it is probably not the news we require in order to govern ourselves. If activism requires no analysis, it is probably not informed or effective.

News

The first right of all people must be the right to communicate. Without communication there is no way to safeguard our other rights or participate in society. Everyone needs a voice and the ability to call for help in emergencies.

Corporate media was long ago co-opted as a propaganda vehicle for corporations and governments, but people still supported it for three reasons: it provided a paying job for reporters, it provided access to an audience and it loaned official credence to the news.

The laughably small amount news media pays for most stories now (if they pay at all) is no longer tempting. Having to write material to fill a slot instead of writing because a story needs to be told, writing only on topics and only to audiences dictated and then having work butchered by editors who have less knowledge of the topic than the author is not the path to job satisfaction or quality information. Editors decide their audience must be fed the exact same story in the exact same way every day. Every story that brings different information or perspective is considered ‘biased’ and modified to reiterate the standard line. News must have an established audience before it is told, which defeats the purpose of news. Articles are produced as quickly as possible, are not interactive like micro-blogging and are seldom thoughtful and crafted like the best blogs. Corporate media reads like advertising copy, inoffensive, unsurprising, unoriginal.

Once this journalism at least brought community respect. Now it is more likely to bring open contempt and public criticism. Many bloggers have received far more recognition and respect by creating their own work and publishing it their own way on their own blogs. They sometimes manage to earn an equivalent or better living as well through a combination of donations, grants, paid appearances, website ads, etc.

The audience provided by official platforms online is now largely driven by online sharing and authors are expected to push their stories on social media when they are published. This could easily be (and sometimes is) replaced by promoting personal blog posts directly to social media instead. For those who are not interested in domain values and page hits, it is far easier to create viral media without restrictive copyright and pay walls. The unrealistic delays in publishing on official platforms make them obsolete as breaking news platforms.

The official status once brought by publication in corporate media is starting to bring the opposite result. Unless the official status is needed to update an archaic resource such as Wikipedia, there is little benefit.

There are many reasons to argue that journalism as it is practiced ought not to be a profession. While a good writer or investigator is always valuable, stories should be published when there is something important to say, not to fill a slot on demand. The people news is happening to seldom need others to translate their experience. First hand interviews and affidavits should replace journalist viewpoints. Our voices, not our votes are what gives us the ability to participate in our world and the people who tell our stories instead of just amplifying them are acting as our representatives with no mandate from us. The best articles are written by people actually affected by the news. They are the ones best able to answer questions and explain to us why their news is important. They should not have to beg some western man to find their story newsworthy and tell it through a western man filter.

Whistleblowers are journalists. The sight of whistleblowers and witnesses explaining what they found and why it is important to journalists who then turn and repeat what they have heard to an audience is a strange leftover from a long gone era. Expert opinions can also come directly from the experts, they do not need an intermediary.

In an interactive, decentralized world, the voiceless do not need someone to be their voice. They need a megaphone.

Analysis

The idea that news must be constantly new makes it an impossible option for deep ongoing analysis. Once an atrocity has been reported there is not much new to say. With no analysis or action as standard responses to news, the atrocities continue in silence and the audience attention wanders. The occasional bits of isolated investigative brilliance that make it past editors and accountants are left floating on isolated, seldom read url’s where only those that know they exist will find them.

Action

Journalism is a tool to an end, not an end. Investigators and writers who are not journalists may do their work for any or no reason; journalists are meant to bring information that the public needs to know in order to govern themselves into the public domain. The claim that journalists ought not to be activists is completely counter to the purpose of journalism. The only reason an item is newsworthy is if it requires action.

Reporters who are not activists are voyeurs. Their reporting is not journalism to aid self-governance, it is a distraction from self-governance.

There is a reason it is citizen journalism that terrifies governance. Only activists will do journalism for free and it is action that creates change, not passive reporting. Activists are not simply replacing corporate media, they are also replacing corporate NGO’s, those leeches that lie between those that need help and those that provide it and turn those in need into products to be owned and marketed.

NGO’s bring the bureaucracy and the official channels into giving. They stifle the voices of those in need except as pre-packaged marketing gimmicks and they block access to direct aid. They siphon large amounts of the aid for their own empires and spend the rest frequently without consultation with or in the interest of those it is intended for. They are also easily corruptible by political power which gives them their mandate, their access and their funding.

The huge amount of people working in NGO’s because of a desire to help those in need would be far more effective acting directly, responding to voices of those on the ground instead of power points by those who have commodified their need. Direct relationships between activists around the world have built trust and reputations. People in a position to help receive instant feedback on whether their help was effective.

Direct action and investigation can also provide real shadow cabinets to monitor and lobby government ministries and user group regulatory bodies to monitor corporations.

The future of journalism

The future of journalism is not in official platforms, page views and registered domains. The future of journalism is not in Exclusive! and Scoop! The future of journalism is not in celebrities with no knowledge of the topic who are begged to help activists aid citizen journalism. The future is not in Invisible Children or Falling Whistles style plastic-bracelets-to-stop-genocide-in-Africa commercialized snake oil dressed up as activism. Or in the centralized nodes of unofficial-official channels created out of formerly horizontal movements. Or in celebrity journalists. Or in lists of Who to Follow and Thought Leaders.

The future of journalism is in a stigmergic mesh network of amplifiers, investigators and activists who can filter and fact check news in real time, combine it with investigative global knowledge resources and create appropriate local and / or global action. The future is in collaborative investigators sharing knowledge to map everything we need to know to govern ourselves. The future is in activism and aid requested directly by the people who require it and responded to directly by the people who can provide it. The future is in the right and ability of every single person to broadcast their own voice and call for amplification when needed.

The future of journalism is in all of us.