The catalyst effect of COVID-19

I had hoped to have more published at this point in 2020 but life has been a little distracting. Most of what I have written that applies to the political upheavals being manifested in current events is written in Autonomy, Diversity, Society, a book which is not even next on the list to be published, so I thought I would write a short tl;dr. This is especially for those of you who have heard me go on about 2020 for ten years now and have read bits of my still unpublished work about the economy and fourth ages of nations. I apologize for taking so long to get this series out but hopefully this helps as a preview.

We are, or will be, going through the most radical transformation the world has ever seen; people are justly terrified, excited, depressed, heartbroken and hopeful, all at once. It is very tempting to stop everything and live in the moment, but some things need us to be alert, careful and creative. One thing I have been saying for years is the US, China and Russia (and others) are all headed for a major crisis in 2020 (which is here now!) and so is the world generally. While some states are undergoing terror and totalitarianism, others are seeing unprecedented opportunities for healing. The key point is that we are scaling up into a mono-empire from a system of two rival economic ideologies (cold war communism and capitalism). In terms already introduced in The Creation of Me, Them and Us, this means our two dominant authoritative endogroups are being sublated to one transcendental endogroup. There will be three major things to watch for in this transition.

One, the economy is not going to be nearly as important as it was before. This may be unimaginable to people who have been accustomed to framing all of our problems in terms of economics, but think of how religions and states faded as the dominant endogroups when new transcendental endogroups appeared. Things that appear essential to society can fade into irrelevance if they are based only on endoreality, as economics is. The crash we started the year off with will not simply produce a depression and then recovery. Instead, it will illustrate the fact that economics now is simply an abstracted power structure with no underlying support in universal reality (like all endoreality). Economics as we know it, is dead. This does not mean it will disappear completely overnight, or that it will not remain in some form in some places, but, like religions, states, families, and other formerly dominant endogroups, it will no longer be the dominant or authoritative power structure in our lives. This is explained in great detail in The Approval Economy which will be published one day.

Two, in accordance with the law of the last circle, also explained in The Creation of Me, Them and Us, places like the US, and China are going to try to fall back to old real or imagined endogroups such as those around states, religions, etc. as the economic endogroups weaken. We have already seen this in the global reversion to various forms of endogroups producing widespread nationalism, sexism, racism, religious cults and every other form of endosocial extremism. This will continue in some regions, and we are still at risk of civil wars and other endogroup atrocities from this.

Three, and this is by far the most interesting – the world is attempting to transition into a mono-empire. It is already very evident, and has been for years, that the form of this mono-empire would feature totalitarianism beyond any of our wildest nightmares. This nightmare future has a very substantial implementation problem, however. An endogroup, as explained in The Creation of Me, Them and Us, is an emergency power structure that humans instinctually create and support in response to external threat. One of the six components of every endogroup is an existential threat from external forces. Another is an identity which enables exclusive membership. An empire which includes everyone cannot be exclusive or have plausibly threatening external forces. If there is no external threat, the equally inherent human tendency to egalitarianism creates a counter force which will dismantle any endogroup power structures created in times of emergency. A mono-empire has no external endogroup to act as an existential threat and so a mono-empire cannot form or maintain its defensive structure. It dissolves even as it attempts to form. This will become increasingly apparent this year as the last vestiges of dominant economic ideology weaken. The projected and planned-for mono-empire will never be able to fully form or hold its power, although it will be dangerous as it fights to do so.

The response to the lack of an external endogroup threat has been to create, or use, anthropomorphized natural threats, similar to the recent War on drugs, War on terror or US president Trump’s anthropomorphizing of a virus into a ‘brilliant Invisible Enemy’. We are certainly all facing plenty of existential threats from corporate destruction, climate change, pandemics and more. We have definitely seen the usual suspects using all of these crises to institute more extreme totalitarianism. There is a difference that is becoming more obvious every week, however.

An external threat that is not a rival endogroup does not produce an endogroup power structure to combat it. A naturally occurring environmental threat creates widespread exosocial collaboration, as is seen in every disaster. The first thing that happens in a disaster is the breakdown of endogroups and hierarchy and the establishment of altruistic exosocial aid. This has happened around the world in response to all of our current environmental threats. Instead of helping to entrench endogroup power, these disasters are creating exosocial opportunity.

Given all of this, we have three goals we ought to pursue right now. One, consider collaboration free of trade economy norms. We don’t need cryptocurrency, or even basic income, as much as we need institutions of sharing and free services like transit, medical care, education, food and housing. Develop these ideas, even if they seem far-fetched right now – they won’t for long. We really do need Getgee – it’s a shame it received no support because it would be very useful right now. It is long past time to disrupt the Silicon Valley vapour capitalists and put collaborative economies under control of local networks.

Two, watch out for and combat the still present and very dangerous endosocial extremism arising in places of collapsing economic power, including the desperate attempts at transcendental totalitarianism. Do not confuse shared responsibility for keeping us all safe with totalitarianism. Infecting your neighbours has nothing to do with exosocial collaboration or combating tyranny. Autogenocide in the name of the old god Economy is a sign of endosocial extremism and cruelty, not exosocial connection and altruism.

Three, we have never in the history of humanity had an opportunity like we do now to be free of endosocial extremism. This is the moment I have been waiting for, and hopefully you have as well. We can prevent power structures from returning by establishing exosocial collaboration and refusing to allow autogenocidal actions like pollution to be re-normalized. It is futile to weed without planting; now is our window to plant the seeds of a better world. Here are a few of the opportunities we are being given in various parts of the world and which we can try to establish and defend in all parts.

  • The fact that pollution increases COVID-19 deaths has been used to limit vehicle traffic and reclaim city streets for physical distancing of bikes and pedestrians. Vehicle traffic has always increased deaths from pollution, not to mention the astronomical amount of deaths caused by vehicle accidents; reclaim all city streets and never give them back.
  • Pollution is so unhealthy every day that the COVID-19 shutdowns of industry have, in some regions, potentially saved more lives than were lost to the pandemic. Pollution needs to continue to be recognized and treated as a global health emergency on par with the pandemic.
  • Public transit is free in some places to reduce contact with bus drivers. Don’t ever let it be unfree again. Providing free streets for vehicles and charging for public transit is taxing the necessities of the poor for the autogenocidal luxuries of the wealthy.
  • Food banks are receiving more government funding in places; food stores ought to be free, filled with healthy, locally produced food. Think of the carbon footprint reduction, medical care reduction, and general increase in happiness and competence that would be caused by universal access to fresh, healthy food and universal ability to grow and share food locally, perhaps in the laneways and parking lots freed from vehicle traffic. Why should every child have a right to education but not food? How is free health care effective if healthy food, air and water are unattainable?
  • Evictions have been stopped in some places and those without homes are suddenly being housed to prevent COVID-19 deaths. Poverty and lack of housing has always been lethal; eradicate poverty and universalize access to homes.
  • Some people have acknowledged that releasing the majority of prisoners will create no social ill and prisons are inhumane. Some are even acknowledging the extreme mental distress and increased tendency to violence caused by social isolation. Use this opportunity to re-examine the goals and methods of archaic and cruel prison punishments and construct rehabilitative alternatives which focus on harm prevention.
  • The Canadian government and others have rejected IP protection for necessary COVID-19 treatment and supplies; abolish IP while crediting creators and we will see an explosion in creativity and scientific advancement. COVID-19 is hardly the only emergency facing the world.
  • The vital need for knowledge emanating from transparent, two-way, epistemic communities and facilitated by knowledge bridges is finally being recognized. Ignorance is lethal. Knowledge needs to be a human right. Establish protection and support for this right in all areas of social collaboration, including corporate and governance activity.
  • Health is, at least for a moment, being prioritized over industry. This is a sign of the weakening of industrial endo-idealism. This must be recognized as the moment of sublation it is; do not allow this moment of victory over industrial endo-idealism to blind us to its potential replacement by a transcendental mono-empire. Be aware of these attempts, such as Google and Apple surveillance justified by the pandemic, and instead, seize the moment to establish exosocial collaboration.
  • Transparent, collaborative knowledge with two-way epistemic communities are providing the information on health guidelines. All science needs to be open and collaborative and unfiltered through political and corporate interests. Cancer and many other diseases could also be greatly reduced with the same transparency and prioritizing of health over industry.
  • We are seeing an example of governance by epistemic communities, Knowledge regarding the pandemic is global and transparent. Policy implementation is under networked regional authority which consults and defers to regional experts informed by that global knowledge. This is the new method of collaborative governance that I described a decade ago and wrote in Binding Chaos. For this method to work, knowledge (not simply speech or information) must be a human right.
  • Tourism has all but halted. Some states, such as the US, and China, will attempt to use this to entrench totalitarianism and greatly restrict ability to move. Let’s instead try to create a new habit of slow travel; let’s forfeit the social media selfies and work on creating true links of friendship, mutual aid, trust and discovery when we are guests in other people’s communities and homes.
  • Worry about supply chains is suddenly causing questioning of international forced dependency on trade. This is a window to encourage collaboration through networked development of strength and support, not hierarchical development of enforced dependency.
  • Airbnb and others have taken a huge economic hit. This could be an opportunity to develop Getgee and networked control of our own service industries, instead of apps controlled in Silicon Valley.

These and many other opportunities for great social change are being presented where just a few months ago the same ideas were dismissed as utopian and unrealistic. These aren’t even the biggest opportunities, however. The greatest social change of the last months has been the redirection of social approval from endosocial destroyers to exosocial creators. Instead of powerful endo-ideals and men with guns, the world is looking to actions coming from caregivers. The focus on essential services has highlighted the real contributors to social health. Saving lives is finally being recognized as more valuable than ending them.

The crisis conditions highlighted now have always existed for some. It is time for the world to see and acknowledge those that are always required to live in circumstances deemed unacceptable for the majority. In Canada, the federal government provided a temporary relief payment of $2000 a month for many people. Ineligible were the majority of those who are always forced to live far below the poverty line on pensions, disability payments and social assistance. The latter are still expected to live on a payment as low as $593 a month (depending on the province). The poor are the negative image who are dehumanized every day under wealth endo-idealism. Also dehumanized are those who are victims of the industrial endo-ideal. In Korea, that is victims of Samsung, and in Canada it is victims of resource corporations. These victims are not only not compensated for their injuries, they are silenced by media and the public and ignored by government. In a world free of endosocial extremism, all have equivalent value.

The pandemic we are facing is indeed a huge disaster. It is not the reason we are seeing these great social changes, however. I have been presenting huge social disasters in the hopes that people may be inspired to social change for years, and it has never worked. The world has clearly understood for many years that we are facing extinction, Genocides and atrocities, including caging children in concentration camps and state organ trafficking, have been ignored all over the world. Everyone knows that corporations are killing people and the earth for no apparent reason. The world is finally convinced that every single institution of power is involved in atrocities towards the most vulnerable, such as child rape and trafficking. As was my worst fear, exposure simply normalized it instead of stopping it. It is not the size or horror of this pandemic that has brought social change. The change is a direct result of the collapse of endosocialism under what was intended to be a global mono-empire. A mono-empire cannot hold its shape as an endogroup, even with the support of the most extreme totalitarianism.

As long as we are trapped in endogroups, people have proved throughout history that there is no atrocity or horror they will not normalize and justify. The fact that this current pandemic is suddenly creating sweeping changes in most populations is because of the lifting of the veil of endoreality. Those who were the invisible negative image of industrial or wealth endo-idealism are finally being seen as those endogroups weaken. The most industry-worshiping states still devalue our elders and instantly cast all those who are ill as the negative image. This has produced attempted terrorist attacks on hospitals and blocking access to them which we have seen in Brazil and the United States. As explained in The Creation of Me, Them and Us, the act of falling ill is enough to cast a person as the negative image in an industrial endogroup. This has been obvious for years through the condemnation of the ill to poverty and social ostracization but it becomes more evident as hospitals are threatened with bombs and hospital workers are evicted and shunned. The violence and disinformation attacks are a domestic escalation of the attacks by foreign interests suffered by caregivers in organizations such as MSF and the White Helmets for years. The current domestic escalation is a sign of the extreme effort being expended in trying to hold the last endogroups together. Every threat to an endogroup results in increased violence towards its own weakest members, the negative image. All externally directed atrocities eventually come home to roost, including genocide.

Unfortunately, endogroups are not the only major social problem we need to contend with. We have also created a large population of people who can only exist on secondary euphoria, that obtained from destruction and the suffering of others. Exosocial collaboration greatly increases during times of disaster, but so does the feeding frenzy of those who have an overwhelming craving for the suffering of others. The shame killings described in The Creation of Me, Them and Us, and in much more detail in Abstracting Divinity, are a feature of every endogroup collapse.

Those who crave the pain and destruction of others exist freely due to the cloak of endoreality which shields them from accountability. Their actions are depicted as necessary and unavoidable instead of the simple cruelty they are. We can combat these people by naming their actions and their guilt. Those that block transparent information and try to instigate an autogenocide of as many people as possible through encouraging uninformed action are cruel for their own gratification. This applies not only to COVID-19 but to all the branches of autogenocide we are facing.

Their reflectors, those who attribute all virtue to their endo-ideal and reject all guilt by their endo-ideal will have a very difficult time attributing the correct motivation to these lethal actions and will diminish such cruelty as much as possible. We are governed by information and our belief in and acceptance of that information. Transparent, verified information and knowledge bridges are the most important tools available to us today. Endoreality, which assigns all ownership, virtue, credit and victimhood to the endo-ideal and all vice, guilt and punishment to the negative image, acts to shield the endo-ideal from their own guilt and persecute the negative image. Endoreality is the primary tool of tyranny and the means to keep the world in chains of our own creation.

We are seeing the darkest part of the night before the dawn. It helps to understand what we are seeing and the desperation driving the current extreme actions of those upholding the last endogroups. The most dangerous time in any endogroup occurs on its destruction. We are living in a time of potentially unprecedented global exosocial collaboration but also a time of great danger. We need to understand the danger but also to understand that it will pass. The world is living through a time of great pain but great pain is always a motivator for exosocial expansion. The tearing of endogroup bonds and former euphoric connections results in a global need to create new connections. We have an opportunity to create those connections with discovery, with creation and with each other, through altruistic and power-free interactions. Let’s care for each other, beware of dangers and, at the same time, plant the seeds for the new world we want to grow.

 

Most of these concepts are elaborated in the two published books in the Binding Chaos series. There is also a glossary here which may be of some help.

 

9 thoughts on “The catalyst effect of COVID-19

  1. About time, but I knew you could paint a picture of reallity. I love your work. I have recently asked Who is the real John Galt? While we live in an Anthem like situation with “I and me” removed from our language and replaced with “we”

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  6. Heather, just discovered your existence (via the wikipedia article on stigmergy, believe it or not) … and then read this … and my eyes are nearly popping out of my head. Wow. Thank you.

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