A funny thing happened this summer. As most of the people who read this blog are aware, I spoke on a whistleblowing panel at the Oxford Union in February of 2018 and became the only person in the history of the self proclaimed last bastion of free speech to be censored by them. You can read all about it here, here and here. On July 7, I received an unexpected invitation to speak at the Oxford Union. Again. That’s pretty funny in itself but there’s more.
Transcript (more or less) from The evolution of democracy: Explaining Trump, Brexit and the Colombia peace deal, a keynote to launch the Inteligencia Colectiva para la Democracia in Madrid, November, 2016.
My name is Heather Marsh. I am a writer and a programmer and I have been studying and experimenting with both local activism and methods of mass communication and collaboration for many years now. From 2010 to 2012 I was the administrator and editor in chief of the Wikileaks news site Wikileaks Central where I experimented with creating knowledge repositories, tying that information to things that were happening in the news and creating action based on that information. News without action is just voyeurism and action without information creates a very easily manipulated public, so I was trying to bring the two together in one place. In 2012 I concentrated more social media collaboration and I wrote a first book called Binding Chaos about all the problems I had seen while working with Wikileaks, Occupy, Anonymous, M15 and many other mass movements in recent years. We all seemed to be coming up against the same issues with hierarchy, direct democracy, consensus and collaboration. As I kept working on various projects it became apparent that we as societies had been butting heads for millenia on these same issues which really come down to trying to create a balance between autonomy, diversity and society, which is the title of my next book. And along the way I have been thinking of what tools we would require to help us achieve this balance, and the primary one I have been working on is a universal database and trust network called Getgee.
So today what I would like to talk about are some ideas from Binding Chaos and a little bit from Autonomy, Diversity, Society which will hopefully help when we are thinking about creating products for mass communication and mass collaboration. The focus is on creating a balance between personal autonomy of those doing the work, diversity of ideas and solutions and allowing the participation of the whole society.
How many people here have heard of a technological singularity? A technological singularity is something IT people and science fiction writers have liked to talk about for years. The idea is that we will reach a point, or have already reached a point, where technology is beyond the scope of human understanding and artificial intelligence will be programming itself, in a Skynet sort of world. It’s funny, people have been talking about this for years, but not many have noticed or acknowledged that we have instead reached a completely different type of singularity which is a societal singularity. We have reached a point where no one can understand every aspect of society which affects them. If you go back in history, crafts people could know everything there is to know about their jobs and people could know everything that went on in their villages but this is just not true any more. And even our villages and neighbourhoods are not autonomous, they are all connected now at some level with all the other communities in the whole world, even uncontacted tribes.
We need to collaborate with others not only to develop tools but even just to understand the news. We have to put our faith in other people and believe in what they tell us or trust in their skill to create their components if we are building a product. As programmers we have been used to working as an ecosystem like this for years, we always have to incorporate other people’s work and their bugs into our own, but this has spread to almost every aspect of public life. And this is one of the biggest challenges in creating tools for democracy. We can’t have real direct democracy or self governance any more because none of us can understand every aspect of everything. We need to rely on collaboration instead and this is going to require a completely different set of rules than we have used in the past. We need more than simple referendums and voting to govern ourselves this way. We need to somehow create nuanced and detailed information we can trust and we need to coordinate goals with people we will never speak to.
There are two main areas to talk about which are idea based collaboration and action based collaboration. The challenge in a societal singularity is how to allow all people to participate and communicate but still be able to filter signal from noise and how to allow people democratic choice but still retain worker autonomy.
First of all, let’s look at mass action based collaboration.
For action based tasks, the model that has become almost ubiquitous is the competitive hierarchical model. Most of us are all too familiar with this model. The typical response to a situation which requires an action is to create a noun, in the form of an organization, government body, or an official person and the focus is always on the organization and the personalities involved instead of the action. The hierarchy creates what I call personality based systems, as opposed to idea or action based systems. A new idea in a personality based system remains completely bound to the owner until it is legally transferred to another owner. All contributors work for the owner, not the idea, and you have to wait on one specific person for approval or direction at each level so there are bottle necks everywhere.
Most workers do not enjoy hierarchical systems as they lose autonomy, mastery and creative control over their own work, they just become an instrument under somebody else’s direction. The orders come from the top down and so there is very little diversity of ideas and we lose all the talent and ideas downstream. Because it is a closed system, collaboration between people does not happen unless they are hired by the same project. Competition is the opposite of mass collaboration. It’s really people working against each other, not together. So there is no autonomy, no diversity and no society.
The alternative to competition has traditionally been cooperation. Cooperative groups try to replace the top down hierarchy with a group consensus driven system which allows diversity of opinion at the top.
This is most effective only in groups of two to eight people. For groups larger than 25, cooperation is extremely slow. It is still a personality based system. An idea in a cooperative must be approved by the entire group, both on initiation and at each stage of development. The majority of energy and resources are spent on communication, persuasion, and personality management, and a power struggle can derail the whole project.
It can be dominated by extroverted personalities who make decisions to control the work of others and are very justly resented by those doing the actual work. Cooperatives frequently use consensus or votes to make decisions for the entire group. These methods may not produce the best results, particularly in large groups, as many people may not understand the work if they are not actually doing it and they may demand things they would never be willing to do themselves. The feeling of the workers at the bottom is no different whether there is a horizontal or a hierarchical structure making the decisions, the workers still have no personal autonomy.
Both competitive and cooperative projects will die if the group that runs the project leaves and both will attract or repel contributors based on the personalities of the existing group. Both are hierarchical systems where individuals need to seek permission to contribute. Both focus on the authority of personalities to approve a decision instead of focusing on the idea or action itself. So we have a society, at least within the group, but not without, but we still have no autonomy and because of the need to reach consensus there is also no diversity of product.
This isn’t in any way to say that cooperative and consensus driven systems are bad. They are actually the most comfortable way of working in small groups who know each other and have similar styles and share a goal, but they are very difficult to scale. As soon as you have a very large group of people with opposing viewpoints and personalities that don’t mesh, it is very difficult to get anything done.
I use stigmergy to describe a method of action based collaboration that is suitable for mass movements. I didn’t make up this awful word by the way, it is lifted from biology where it describes indirect communication and collaboration among ants and termites and various other creatures. In human movements, it allows diversity of methods and autonomy for workers while still putting the ultimate authority of choice with the whole society, to try to achieve that balance we talked of earlier. It is neither competitive nor cooperative. It is action based collaboration instead of personality based.
A system is stigmergic if
– it follows one goal
– it is completely transparent
– it is open to everyone to participate, at least within the user group
– the output is free for anyone to use and improve on
Stigmergy gives people autonomy over their own work. With stigmergy, an initial idea is freely given, and the project is driven by the idea, not by a personality or group of personalities. So no one needs permission, like they would in a competitive system, or consensus like they would in a cooperative, to initiate a project. There is no need to discuss or vote on the idea. If an idea is exciting or necessary it will attract interest and the interest attracted will be from people willing to contribute so those with more involvement in the idea will automatically have greater influence through their contributions.
There are no official authorities but the power of the user group still exists in the ability to accept or reject the work.
Workers are free to create regardless of acceptance or rejection. Drastically innovative ideas almost never receive instant mainstream acceptance so leaving control of work to group consensus only cripples innovation. When we allow anyone to contribute we also have a great diversity of talent and people can step up to further the goal in ways the originator never imagined.
So here we have full autonomy and diversity but the entire society still has the ultimate choice.
Where is stigmergy? We have always had stigmergy in our social lives and it has been behind most mass movements that have had any success. You can see it wherever groups of diverse people who do not belong to any formal organization or have any formal communication with each other are all working together to carry out a goal.
If you look at something like the civil rights movement in the United States, that is a multi-generational movement of so many people and so many different methods and everyone who has contributed, whether they are groups or individuals, has decided for themselves how they can be most effective. If this stigmergy chart was for that movement, that big group can be the Million Man March, the square is Malcolm X and his followers, the heart can be MLK, and between them all by themselves is Ruby Bridges or Rosa Parks, none of them had to communicate or come to consensus but they are all trying for the same goal and are more or less aware of each other’s activity. The US still hasn’t reached that goal so they go through periods of great upheaval followed by periods of more calm working, depending on whether an event sparks more action or something blocks progress for a while.
A stigmergic movement will continue as long as the goal is not reached and people still share it, even if it dies down or goes dormant for a bit. That is the advantage to an idea based system over a personality based one, you can’t kill an idea.
Or another stigmergic idea is freedom of information. This has everyone from the free software movement, creative commons and similar open copyright groups, Sci-Hub which liberates scientific papers, other filesharing sites, Wikipedia, even the Internet itself in its original inception might be considered a node in that stigmergic movement.
What keeps these movements from burning out, like so many do in the massive assemblies, is the fact that they are not spending all their energy communicating except in small groups and they are following one clear idea.
It is not often you find one organization or group that is purely stigmergic, but Anonymous is one. This is why they say they are not an organization or group. They usually say they are an idea, but they aren’t really one idea either, they are a method of mass collaboration and the method is stigmergy. That method allows everyone to follow whatever ideas they choose, in groups or individually with perfect autonomy. Anonymous never tries to reach consensus. Anonymous is not unanimous. And there is no organization you can order to do something, Anonymous is also not your personal army. You have to just put an idea out and see who follows it.
It may seem difficult to figure out how stigmergy can be used in a corporate setting where everything is set up around organizations and official people, but it helps if we remember that each of those organizations, no matter how they are organized internally, can be a node under a stigmergic idea. I am often asked if Wikipedia is a good example of stigmergy and no, it is not. Wikipedia is a cooperative. You may contribute work without asking anyone but your work can be thrown out and you can be locked out of contributing, or the topic locked, and there is a definite personality based hierarchy and a need to reach consensus around one final product. There is no diversity of product tolerated and there isn’t any real autonomy either.
But Wikipedia is still one of many nodes under the idea of Freedom of information because what they produce is completely free for anyone else to use or modify. I said earlier that Anonymous was stigmergic but Anonymous very frequently works with other people like news or human rights organizations or other hacking collectives such as Redhack who are themselves internally communist. It doesn’t matter what the internal organization of each node is as long as they are all following the same idea and their work is available for everyone else to use.
So the same methods can be used for corporate work. The key is for corporate style organizations to recognize what stigmergic ecosystem they are a part of and follow the guidelines to make their work contribute smoothly to that idea. One place where stigmergic development has really taken off is in the IT industry because free software has meant that the output is available for everyone to use and improve or modify. If we look at one stigmergic idea: We need better web development tools. If we had left this to Google, and Google had been acting like their competitive corporate selves, we would have just had the Angular framework, and progress would be Angular 2.0. And we do have Angular 2.0, but we also have Facebook’s React, Ember and many others. As long as the user group has not reached consensus over what tools we want for full stack development we have many contributors creating different frameworks for us.
When we start to reach wide consensus in some area, like yes, we don’t want any more black and purple websites with green sparkles and the vast majority of us are going to create websites that are very uniform, we start to see more and more conformity around standards like Twitter’s bootstrap styles but as soon as someone has a very divergent idea that people find interesting again, like Google’s material design, many people will start hacking on it and trying to create different solutions again. The same periodic upheavals of innovation and change are apparent here as in the social movements driven by stigmergy. In this case HTML5 and ES6 stimulated a rush in web development tools in general.
Of course this example of corporate stigmergy has some major issues., first in who is getting paid and who is not. Google employees are and free software programmers frequently are not. And even with free software, when you have players like Facebook and Google and Twitter it is going to be a bit hard for anyone without their development team budget and user groups to compete so it is not a level playing field for all to participate, but as long as the code is commons property we can have consensus without monopoly which is a huge improvement. It is starting to approach stigmergic organization, just from the addition of this one change, of software that is free for anyone to use or modify. You can see this especially as you move away from the big corporations to the later development add ons, in all the diverse people writing packages and tools for React and Angular and the other frameworks.
This is better than academia and science manage. They are supposed to be stigmergic as well, the idea in science and academia is that everyone is supposed to publish and build off each others findings, but because they do not have open source and permissive copyright or even access, their work is frequently corporate IP property, and they don’t allow or reward outside contributions, they are very far from stigmergic and their progress is not nearly what it could be. If we look back at the principles of stigmergic organization, the last three of four points do not apply to science and academia so they both need to change if they are going to truly act as epistemic communities for us all. Which brings us to my next point which is about idea based collaboration.
We have stigmergy for action based collaboration which follows an idea, but what if we want to collaborate on ideas themselves, to build knowledge and find some most reliable facts? If we look at the 2010-2011 movements, like M15 and later Occupy and all the rest, they were fine with action based collaboration, especially when they used stigmergy, but they really struggled when it came to idea based collaboration, like setting goals. This is kind of important since without the ideas, you don’t have the action. Stigmergy follows ideas and information, so management of the ideas and information here is as important as management of personalities is in competitive or cooperative systems. If you think of this in a governance context, we won’t be electing personalities, we will be electing ideas.
To see what happens when an idea loses its clarity, or its idea has been co-opted, look at feminism. The civil rights movement in the US retained its clarity because it has set specific goals in each cycle whether that is to end slavery, end segregation, or end police violence. When feminism meant fighting for the vote and legal personhood it had a clear goal and was a stigmergic mass movement but second wave feminism allowed itself to become a noun instead of an action, its goals became very loose and because there wasn’t a clear goal it was used to advertise corporate product and promote prominent personalities, primarily from the United States, who felt they could speak for every woman in the world on every topic. A noun is not a stigmergic goal, a noun is an organization, so when feminism became a noun it stopped being a stigmergic movement and became a competitive, personality driven, organization which became completely divided, as is typical, these types of organizations do not scale.
The single biggest factor I’ve found for whether or not someone will participate in a stigmergic action is whether they are sure of the idea behind it. Not whether it affects them, or if its simple to grasp or easy or even safe to do. I have created many actions where the audience was completely removed from the people affected or where the action was dangerous or very difficult to understand or even initially believe. None of this mattered. All that mattered in whether the action was a success was whether people could be sure the goal is sound. And the easiest way for someone to prevent action is to sow doubt in the goal. That initial kernel that makes up the idea looks simple but it is everything. But finding the information we need for conviction in our goals is not easy.
If we think of a large population creating a knowledge repository stigmergicly, we have a picture of a bunch of ants sifting and sorting information and putting the best in a pile. And that’s probably how we thought we were going too do things on Twitter. But that’s not how expert knowledge, like the kind we have in a singularity, works and it’s why a bunch of people in a horizontal group can’t just do that. Especially a personality dominated horizontal group like Occupy or any direct democracy that starts from the premise of all voices and opinions being equal. This goes back to the idea behind a societal singularity, we can’t all be experts at everything and we don’t want to be either. We don’t have the time and we may not have the interest. We can’t keep berating voters for not spending all of their time studying everything that affects them, it’s impossible and it’s not fun either. We need to find a better solution.
I love this chart because it illustrates exactly why we need concentric circles in a democracy. This space between innovation and acceptance is where demagogues and gate keepers lie in wait to control information before it reaches the public. Like little trolls under the bridge. This is why we need knowledge bridges to replace the gatekeepers because most ideas can’t make it across this chasm on their own.
If you think of recent examples of elite working groups whose ideas were rejected by the wider society, like Brexit in the UK or the peace deal in Colombia, it was because of a failure of the working group to establish effective knowledge bridges between them and the public. The public did not see their viewpoints being heard and responded to and they did not see or understand or trust the decision making process, which gave demagogues on the outside of the process the ability to derail the acceptance of their recommendations. The people had information that was too difficult to audit themselves, and they had no faith in the people offering solutions. People in the UK said repeatedly they were sick of being lied to by the media and experts.
When people lose faith in those who are supposed to be their experts, like politicians, or those who are supposed to be their knowledge bridges like the media, they lose faith in any stigmergic goal these people present and they will block it, as I said earlier. The information from the opposition in both cases was certainly no better, nobody was offering a fully developed and audited plan for an alternative peace deal or a detailed plan to exit the EU, but even very poorly supported information and hyperbole is sufficient to overturn an idea that the public doesn’t trust. We can see this also in most elections, there are just demagogues and hyperbole on both sides, there is no process of reconciling any issues with the public or providing information people can rely on. In fact, the goal seems to be to deliberately confuse and immobilize the public and then just give them a binary vote in the hope they vote against the establishment which has lost so much trust. This is why both sides seem to only be interested in painting the other as the most corrupt establishment.
[On May 8 2017, former US Director of National intelligence James Clapper suggested the solution to the misinformation of the US 2016 election was to further fund USAID and spread more misinformation against US enemies. Those are exactly the actions that caused people to lose faith in information emanating from the US in the first place.]
You may have seen a lot of people blaming this current state of low information on social media and they are partially right but corporate media certainly doesn’t get a free pass either. Most of the tools we have to communicate simulate direct democracy and look for popular ideas, the most retweets and the most readers, but not only is popular not innovative or expert, the two are mutually exclusive. Popular ideas are riding the peak of the wave of socially acceptable opinion. They already appeal to the widest audience. They are not new ideas, by definition, and they aren’t at a level of elite expertise that is difficult for all but a few to understand also by definition. This is why we now elect politicians on the basis of their tweets and this is the secret for politicians like Donald Trump who speaks at a grade 3 level. The more easily understood and the less challenging your message, the wider your appeal will be so an age that amplifies the most popular information, as we do now, will be an age of demagogues.
It is counter intuitive to think popular ideas are what we need to give us the best information. If we need some specialized level of knowledge to explain something like Brexit or a peace deal or the issues in an election, or if we want those making the decisions to hear the voices that are seldom heard, that may expand their Overton windows and give us some fresh perspective, or represent a rare case that will cause their solution to break, amplifying the most popular ideas or people is the exact opposite of what we ought to be doing. And really this is what direct democracy, representative and liquid democracy do, so of course it is also what the tools for democracy have been doing.
We have tools that are very useful to find out what a population thinks and tools that are great for discussing things and coming to consensus, but we need to also go to where their opinions are formed. Opinions are based on information. We need to be able to find expertise and accurate and diverse information that we can trust before we form our opinions and long before we measure them.
Ideas need to be audited and promoted by those users qualified to understand them to allow diversity of ideas and prevent the process from being dominated by celebrities without the expertise required. But if we have an elite discussion group with only elite experts or ideas in it, we are at great risk of having an elite oligarchy based on control of information. This is what we have now. We don’t maintain the necessary balance between autonomy, diversity and society unless this quiet place to talk remains a fully associated part of the wider group. So to avoid a hierarchy and leave control with the entire user group, I use a structure I call concentric circles.
Concentric circles relate to sound amplification. In a concentric circle, people or ideas promoted to the center by their peer group receive greatest amplification and their findings will be audited, amplified and explained to the general public by outer circles. They are not hierarchical as they have no direct control over the actions of anyone. An epistemic community is a knowledge resource only, authority remains with the entire user group which provides a good incentive for the epistemic community to ensure transparency and knowledge bridges so their ideas are accepted. As in stigmergy, votes in a concentric group are frequently replaced by actions. If this little drop receives no amplification, it is just an idea that goes nowhere.
With knowledge bridges, you don’t have to have personal expertise on every aspect of society. All you have to do is have a transparent concentric circle that you can look at, you can see the activity, you can get feedback if necessary, and you can say yes, there are a lot of people auditing, there is a lot of discussion, I trust some of the people in these circles, I trust that they know what they are doing. Everyone can review the work of the experts both directly and through the review by their peers. Experts can also be created by the system itself as users develop knowledge and reputation and move towards the centre and you will find this happens increasingly if users lose trust, they will realize they need to start auditing this circle.
Communication should not be the full responsibility of the experts in the centre, which is where government initiatives like Brexit and the Colombia peace deal have failed. Ideas should be carried over expertise bridges by full transparency and user participation. The epistemic community in the centre should not need to protect themselves from demands or attacks from completely uninformed users or demagogues. The circles of expertise which promoted them to the centre should also verify and explain their findings to the outer circles. And, concerns and arguments from the user group should be carried back to the epistemic community if the user group finds the points valid. So the epistemic community can work without noise but still receive ongoing feedback from the users and acceptance is a process, not just a binary vote after the fact.
If this all sounds familiar, it’s because this is exactly what happens in open source communities.
In open source software, the code for each project is available for all to see. Even if the end user cannot understand the code, they can go to discussion groups or listen to programmers who have read and audited the code, they can read the bug reports. Any urgent bugs will be broadcast to the general population and amplified by media as we have seen many times. The people with the greater knowledge of the system will provide knowledge bridges for people at a more novice level and increasingly, that’s how people are learning to code. Good ideas from forum discussions can be read, possibly implemented by the developers as well. Transparency goes both ways.
Open source software with forums open to all are a perfect working example of fully transparent and audited systems of elite knowledge. While the decisions are made by the developers, review and acceptance or rejection of the software is the right of the user group. If the developers refuse to listen to the user group and another development team is willing to work on the project, the original code can be forked and modified to meet the user requirements. Which means you can only be attacked by another fully developed, open and transparent epistemic community which also must be audited by knowledge bridges. You can’t be attacked just by a demagogue and rhetoric, you can only be opposed by another working solution so the user group has a choice between two or more working solutions instead of simply rejection or acceptance. Which means we need the final most important point for concentric circles – the information is free for anyone to use or modify.
Intellectual property in a stigmergic system is like an ant that finds food but doesn’t leave any pheromones to tell the other ants. Or worse, actually blocks the other ants and that idea is so ridiculous I can’t even think of a stigmergic example of it. Ownership of ideas is in complete opposition to stigmergy which is to say it is in complete opposition to rapid progress, finding the best solutions and democracy.
So what we have been looking for here are methods of collaboration that bring us a balance between autonomy, diversity and society. We want to allow the maximum amount of autonomy to those doing the work so we can include all of their ideas and abilities. We want to allow as many diverse solutions as people are inspired to try for each problem. And then we want to allow the entire user group to easily make an informed choice of which solution is best for them as is their right in a democracy. So our methods are stigmergy, which we use for mass action and concentric circles which we use to audit, teach and amplify information.
The best part of stigmergic work and transparent concentric circles for knowledge is our work doesn’t get wasted. When you come to an event like this with a specific project, it is easy to feel as though you are in a competition where you are only associated with one project and your success or failure is tied to that one project and the group around it. But even if you organize your own team in a completely different form, if you follow these principles you will still be contributing to progress as a node in a stigmergic idea. For this two weeks the idea is: Let’s develop better tools for democracy. If you follow these principles, if other people are free to contribute to your project and you to theirs, if you add what you learn to the epistemic community of ideas and act as a knowledge bridge to those learning and most of all if your code is open and free, you will still be part of the community around this idea contributing to the goal we are all working towards. You will be part of the ecosystem.
When a baby is born, they are assigned a gender, a generation, an ethnicity, a citizenship and a health rating. They are assigned a class by the neighbourhood, professions and income bracket of their parents. As children, they are sent to educational institutions where professionals examine and categorize them every day. Instead of providing sufficient teachers and adequate training and options to manage diversity in schools, many governments now provide extra funding only after schools have classified educational difficulties in the students. The underfunded schools are motivated in this way to classify as many students as possible with the preferred learning disabilities so they can be streamed into special programs and used as product by the pharmaceutical industry. Students who escape this are streamed into narrower and narrower paths towards their future assigned roles.
The sectarianism initiated at birth intensifies throughout adolescence until teenagers are expected to spend all of their time worried about what they will become. When they finally attain adulthood, they will be confident in their assertion of what they are: professional, unemployed, educated, ignorant, married, single, a success or a failure. These classifications are added to the ones they received at birth, and then still more. They will become liberal, conservative or apolitical, gay, straight, or asexual, criminal or law abiding, addicted or not. They may belong to churches or fraternities or professional groups. Simply losing a physical object can cause them to drop into the bottom class, and become part of the homeless. They are not simply the same people without homes, the loss of an object changes their class identity and who and what the world sees them as.
Pundits of media and academia will all scramble to classify them further, to be the first to coin a new category. They will become hippies or yuppies or NEETs, emos or hipsters or millenials. They will be set against each other as proletariat and bourgeosie then further excluded as lumpenproles and petit-bourgeousie. They will submit to divisions as binary as black and white, to subdivisions so detailed they require acronyms like WOC, to gender and sexual orientation coalitions that include half the alphabet and an asterisk. They will probably enter online thought bubbles of gaming or social media. They will begin to classify themselves and others by opinion, as SJWs and MRAs, as fascists and anti-fascists and as every hyphenated ideology imaginable. In the obsession over group affiliation, actions and ideas are completely lost. People are accepted or shunned by entire category, not individual actions and ideas.
Societal institutions relate to each person by their assigned category. Legal systems and media will call some people in countries they weren’t born into expats and others immigrants or illegals leading to vastly different treatment for the same situation. The same actions are crimes or not depending on social standing and whether or not the perpetrator is an agent of the state. Murder is unlawful killing. The law only objects when the lower classes kill, so killing is not murder if it is by police, militaries, judges and presidents. Taking property is only stealing for the lower classes who don’t write property laws and disobeying the rules is only a problem for those not making them. Credit cards, banking institutions and so many others pay the wealthy and charge the poor for the same services. People can be forbidden freedom of movement based on citizenship or refused the right to survival income based on education. These class based differences which result in everything from lifelong misery to death are far more easily accepted if they can be abstracted by categorization.
The historical creation of difference between religions from the same culture, coloured by the same ancient myths, who accept the same texts as authority, pray to the same god and preach the same morality, helped to divide international populations for exploitation by the trade economy. The idea that these are three or more different religions instead of three sects of the same religion is a stretch. When compared with religions from completely different regions, it is apparent that these three ought to be considered one. It is only through a history written from the perspective of practitioners of these/this religion(s) that the differences were inflated to justify separate labels. Language was eventually used to separate the religion(s), with Hebrew common for Jewish texts, Latin for Christian and Arabic for Islam but all texts were still available in all the regional languages and the name of god is the same and prayers are very similar in the same languages. The inflated differences under this religion were combined with academic depiction of all other religions on earth as cults or in some way not real religions. The definition of a religion (vs a cult) usually includes qualifiers that limit religions to only sects of this one religion. Common qualifiers for a religion are a belief in God, a formalized hierarchical structure and written religious texts. This has left most of the world under the moral directive of one religion, that of the Silk Road.
Left to right: Christian woman, Jewish women, Muslim woman
Even the surface differences pointed to today in different practices of the trade route religion are really not different. The fashion of the time and place where all of these religions were born dictated very similar dress and that regional dress became encoded in the religious texts as the proper form of dress. Islamic, Christian and Jewish faiths all dictated that women should cover their hair and women in the devout sects of all three major religions still cover their heads in a very similar manner. As well as the more traditional sects of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, the most permissive Christian churches still required women to wear hats in the 1960s, Christians still veil at religiously significant events like funerals and weddings and both traditional nuns and Mary are always depicted in head coverings. Despite this, and the fact that many Muslim women, especially in the west, do not cover their heads and many Christians and Jews, especially in the Middle East, still do, popular sentiment has decided to associate head covering with Islam. An idea that most people’s grandmothers or any but the most narrow experience could tell them was certainly not unique to Islam has been used to persecute Muslim women. Predictably, head covering in the United States then became a cultural property of only Muslims, which would ignite a fury of Medium blogs if worn by anyone else.
The Indo-European trade route religion(s) followed prophets who looked at the same culture in roughly the same era and provided guidance for how to make that culture more humane. Instead of taking the spirit of those prophets and applying their same humanitarian impulses to our societies today, some people use these religious texts to demand a return to the same societies these prophets were trying to lead people out of. The message of all of the prophets was one of evolution, not regression or violent restriction of evolution. After two millennia or so, either the spirit must be followed ahead of the texts or this religion(s) is no longer useful. This religion(s) gained huge followings along the trade routes because of the hope it gave of something better than the life that was experienced there. Demands that all societies return to the same patriarchal trade cultures that these prophets provided guidance away from is in opposition to the religions these demands emanate from.
The patriarchal model itself was a symptom of the trade routes. International trade created a very dangerous time and place where strangers were more likely to be a slave raid than potential friends. A patriarchal structure provided an outer shell to protect the weaker members of society even while it also gave the patriarch ownership over those weaker members. A patriarch could sell a wife or child to pay off debt, but he was also responsible for the survival of the entire extended clan. Women and men had extremely defined roles. Women could not usually make leadership decisions but women were also not expected to risk danger by meeting with strangers and the men arranged all travel, alliances, war and other dangerous social activity. Women were frequently sold or stolen as slaves or in marriage, but so were men and boys and the boys were often castrated, a horrific and barbarous practice with a survival rate of possibly ten percent. To depict such a system as simply one in which men oppressed women is incorrect, as is any suggestion that it proves men are superior to women.
Patriarchy was a horrific structure, necessitated by the world created by the trade routes. Gender was invented as a set of social norms divided between the classes of men and women. The primary features of gender supported the roles assigned to men and women. Men were to be brave, powerful, and in control. Women were to be loving, giving and submissive. Women were constrained by a gender designed for lifegivers and caregivers and men were coerced into a gender designed for killers and protectors. Today, women are as able to be protectors as men, men are have as much right to be caregivers as women, and any justification of a patriarchal structure is obsolete. The trade route prophets were using the culture that existed in their time and place as reference. Patriarchy is a cultural phenomenon, not a moral or religious ideal. The part of patriarchy that remains morally relevant is the fact that society needs lifegivers, caregivers and protectors. In these days of less dangerous societies, birth control and weapons which do not rely on strength, the roles remain but are no longer gendered or exclusive. In times and places not on the major trade routes, men and women shared these roles. That is our human impulse in societies not being violently coerced.
The scientific obsession with human categorization attempted to justify a stratified society without religion. Categorization imposes an abstract construct based on perspective. It is not scientific fact. Archaeology and DNA continue to find almost no differences between nations. Both knowledge exchange and genetic mixing are shown more clearly with every archaeological find around the world. The ancient mixing of migrant Homo Sapiens with Neandertals and Denisovans is still used as an excuse for racism despite the fact that “the greatest genetic diversity is still found within sub-Saharan Africa” where this mixing would indicate the least.i The caucasian Tarim mummies in China, dating from as early as 1800 BCE, have caused discomfort both in China and outside. The Chinese state, like many other nations that have current land claims to establish, prefers a history of an isolated empire which developed entirely by itself to a history of near constant global trade and migration. A simple archaeological find is also made politically complex by the idea of citizenship. The Chinese Uyghers have taken to calling themselves the caucasian Chinese in a fight against the Chinese state’s policy of considering them recent immigrants. Evidence that Polynesians and others may have landed in the Americas long ago is also politically distasteful to some who feel threatened by a more complex view of history and are trying to establish national land claims. Rights which depend on defective categorization of humans are put in jeopardy by more accurate information. Those rights should never have been dependent on these categories in the first place.
While differences between sexes are being denied and attempts are made to eradicate them, differences between ethnicities are being exaggerated and attempts are made to manufacture them. With no scientific basis for race and no correlating national identities, there is not much to go on. People around the world look extremely similar. Ethnicity is not separated along lines of physical appearance and neither is it any longer separated by location or even ancestry which is too mixed to divide neatly. Neither is there any kind of a rational spectrum in appearance. Melanesian blondes have blonde hair with very dark skin and black Irish have black hair with very pale skin and the curliest hair is found at both ends of the skin tone spectrum. Claiming different cultures for people frequently raised in the same neighbourhoods or even families is beyond ridiculous. Claiming a similar heritage based on appearance is factually incorrect. While race was created for class segregation, that is no longer a reliable grouping either. Religious groupings created systems of beliefs which turned into laws which separated each other but race has not even that to go on. Groupings by so-called race are solely political.
Race was created primarily as a way to easily assign ingroup or outgroup status by class within societies. In the earliest stratified societies, it was customary to wear distinguishing clothing, jewelery or tattoos to easily identify class. With the spread of the international slave trade, ethnic appearance was used instead. The Dutch East India company and many others transported slaves back and forth from India, Southeast Asia and Africa, resulting in slave populations which had no community ties to defend them and were a highly visible class. Not only were the traders and purchasers able to dehumanize these slaves as an ethnic outgroup, the local populations saw them as an outgroup as well. The imposition of class barriers was far easier when a class could not hide from their own physical appearance, whether that was sexual or ethnic appearance.
The imposition of ingroups and outgroups by class is a powerful construct with multi-generational effects. In most of Africa, the word racism is usually replaced by tribalism but it frequently relates to class as well. Former slave and slave owner classes are as divided in Africa as they are in the rest of the world, whether the cause is depicted as racism or tribalism. Some people descended from the Incan empire still treat those descended from former slave tribes as an inferior outgroup and they are also still relatively economically disadvantaged. The Dominican Republic deports its low income workers by deporting Dominicans of Haitian descent. Once race and gender have been established, their use becomes a shorthand meme to remind people of who their outgroups are, even when no one remembers the reason. Race and gender have become a hereditary slave collar.
Despite the endless classifying of people, ostensibly and paradoxically in order to combat sectarianism, bigotry by class is not only tolerated, it is inherent in every institution. Every institution from education to the economy would collapse without classism. It is the height of hypocrisy for legal systems to claim to have laws against bigotry and hate crimes when the entire legal system is institutionalized bigotry and hate by class. Legal systems which deny the poor the basic essentials of life and condemn people of all ages to misery based on class are built on hate. Any laws which pretend to protect people based on gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity are a distraction from this foundational sectarianism.
Gender and race have a correlation with class, they are not a cause of class. Removing gender and race will have no impact on class divisions. Promoting gender and race will strengthen both sectarian and class divisions.
If women as lifegivers and social caregivers are under threat and indigenous people as ecosystem caregivers are also under threat, the most persecuted people on earth are indigenous women. In Canada, 1200 to 4232 aboriginal women have gone missing or been murdered since 1980ii. Canada’s former Prime Minister told the media “it isn’t really high on our radar.” Particularly in formerly matriarchal nations, the degradation of indigenous women and their social invisibility is necessary to ensure they do not regain or remember their former power. In most nations, from Central America’s Caravan of Missing Migrants to Argentina’s Asociación Madres de Plaza de Mayo, to Nigeria’s Bring Back Our Girls, it is the mothers and grandmothers who have formed the resistance movements against the ongoing genocides.
Violence against women has little to do with gender relationships or sex and everything to do with class. When someone destroys another human’s intestines with a metal rod and throws them from a moving bus with their intestines falling out, as in the The 2012 Delhi gang rape case, it is not because the male to female ratio in India is out of balance or because Bollywood encourages men to think of sex. This is murder, brutality and sadism, and it is the kind of violence applied to outgroups. The same violence has been seen around the world towards ethnic groups who have had roles forced upon them that the trade economy teaches contempt for.
The reason women were and are persecuted is their ability to give birth and their assigned role as the essential but unpaid labour in society ruled by trade economy. The reason indigenous people were and are persecuted is their occupation of land and resistance to exploitation of that land. Solutions that simply offer compensation to persecuted groups within the paradigm of their persecution do nothing to shift the balance of power away from the merchant class and back to society. Solutions based on ethnicity and gender do nothing to protect the roles which were the actual reason for persecution.
In the fight to regain their power, women and indigenous nations have lost themselves. The personal stories and professional pride of women have been erased, their own bodies have been used to enslave them and their economic and social relationships are removed from the structure we live in. The only current path to autonomy for women is to join the trade economy and the primary path to the trade economy is through mind and body altering pharmaceuticals, politicized access to health services and rejection of lifegiving and caregiving roles. Indigenous nations have been made to prove their history and genetic purity in international courts in order to qualify for indigenous legal rights such as free, prior, informed consent to exploitation of their land. The path to autonomy for indigenous nations is through racism, exaggerated and purified history and permission to exist accorded by ancient history and forbidden evolution.
Allowing women and indigenous people media attention only when they accept corporate ideology ensures their messages in other roles are not heard. Lifegiving and caregiving are social roles, not genders or races. Diverting attention to how many female or ethnically indigenous people are represented in corporate roles distracts from all the lifegivers and caregivers who are not being heard and replaces the urgent conversations we are not having about the caregiving roles being vacated by women and indigenous people. Demanding roles for women and formerly indigenous people in the ponzi schemes of power supports and upholds those ponzi schemes and drains resistance movements.
Gender and race are social constructs and exist on a spectrum. Until we can be partly pregnant, the roles we fulfill do not. The founder of Y-combinator, the source of the most funding and influential advice for tech startups, did not tell startup founders to not hire people wearing dresses and makeup. He told them they would be crazy to hire anyone capable of giving birth.iii He did not specify a point on the spectrum of relative maleness called male to female or man to woman, he specified lifegivers, those with uteruses who may one day use them, those with bodies potentially capable of growing a second autonomous human body inside of them, giving birth to it and then nursing it and those who society expects may do that. All the neo-pronouns and non-binary genders in the world are not going to change this bigotry against role.
Alongside the antipathy to real diversity, fake or surface diversity has become a lucrative corporate product. Corporations which refuse to respect the earth or allow the safe and supportive communities required for caregiving, congratulate themselves for hiring women and people whose ancestors are from diverse regions. Indigenous people who run their own mining corporations and are hailed as a great success in gaining indigenous rights are equivalent to women who work for corporations as a strike for feminism. Replacing a culture that respected the land with a culture reduced to blankets, beads and suspect DNA is like replacing lifegiving and caregiving with the birth control pill and calling it a success for maternal rights. If autonomy is solely used to give more people the ability to act exactly like the merchant class, it does not support the diversity of roles we need. A destructive mine is a destructive mine no matter who profits from it and there is no community support for lifegiving and caregiving whether some women are able to opt out of it or not. Instead of begging legal and economic permission to act as ecosystem and community caregivers based on DNA, the roles of ecosystem and community caregivers and protectors must be recognized and empowered. Instead of standing outside begging for admittance to power, lifegivers, caregivers and protectors need to reclaim their own power, on their own terms. Instead of fighting for all to join an economy rewarding those who serve the powerful, we need to design one rewarding those who serve society and our ecosystems.
The solution to the class war is not to be found in some binary division between proletariat and bourgeoisie and a revolution which flips the two. The proletariat and the bourgeoisie were never as clear cut as depicted and they long ago transformed into new social roles. Instead of a subordinate or dominant peasantry, we need interlocking nations of ecosystem and community caregivers and protectors. Instead of a class of powerful scientists, we need open and transparent epistemic communities. Instead of gatekeeping and hoarding of knowledge by academia, we need an organic ecosystem of auditers, knowledge bridges and amplifiers of information from epistemic communities. Instead of roles assigned and protected by ethnicity or gender, we need free choice to seek the work most fulfilling to each of us. Instead of a hierarchical valuation of those roles, we need equivalence.
Identity politics requires an acceptance of a very simplistic history where group affiliation is pure and all of history has good guys on one side and bad guys on the other. Identitarians teach that if humanity can be divided and we compensate the good guys, our conflicts will be over because we will have equality. We don’t need equality. We need diversity, supported by equivalence. Our diversity is necessary, not in a variety of shades and genders performing the same roles but in a great diversity of roles, each open to all regardless of skin tone or gender. We also need equivalence for diversity of ability, where the great spectrum of aptitude encompassed by humanity results in a great diversity of roles, not a stratified system of valuation.
The violence against both women and indigenous people is caused by society’s contempt for the roles they are cast in or perceived to represent. The answer to this violence is not to demand equality for all performing the same destructive roles for the trade economy. The answer is to demand respect and widespread acceptance of the lifegiving and caregiving roles so desperately needed and encourage these roles for all. The violence directed against people for the social constructs of gender and race are not even in the same world as the violence directed at them as caregivers and protectors, no matter how much identity politics wants to conflate the two. Genocides have been committed the world over to clear populations off of land for industry or competing groups. The violence against people based on role will stop when the roles of lifegiving and caregiving are recognized and accorded the approval of the whole society. Violence against people based on the social constructs of race and gender will only be resolved by abolishing race and gender, which will never happen while people are still profiting from these divisions.
Diversity is not attained solely by allowing broader spectrums of social constructs such as gender or race in the same corporate roles. Diversity must also allow equivalent social acceptance for the variety of roles required in a healthy society.
“In 1968 people like Habermas, Marcuse, and Roszak invited us to see the role of scientific rationality in the maintenance of the existing social order and to examine critically whether that was the role which we wished expertise to play…. On the whole, we failed. … What was just about escapable then seems inescapable now.” – Robert Young, 1984i
The discouragement of those who have been in the trenches of the radical science movement for over half a century is understandable. Accepting defeat is not an option, however. Society without science, and without an effective way to integrate epistemic communities, will always be a society dissociated and easily controlled. Society with integrated scientific and epistemic communities may even yet save itself.
For years, science fiction writers and scientists have been enthralled with the idea of a technological singularity. They have looked forward to a day when technology will be beyond the scope of human understanding and artificial intelligence will be programming itself. Instead, we have reached a societal singularity where no one can understand every aspect of society which affects them We need to collaborate with others to create or develop products and even just to understand the news. We have to put our faith in other people and believe in what they tell us or trust in their skill to create their components. We need to somehow create nuanced and detailed information we can trust and coordinate goals with people we will never speak to.. Our societies are all connected now at some level with all of the other communities in the world, including even uncontacted tribes. This singularity is both unacknowledged and a core part of our societal functioning (and malfunctioning). Not only knowledge based industries but every level of governance depends on our management of communication and trust. The lack of integration between knowledge and the public is crippling our progress.
Representative governance and both the Great Man and the identitarian views of history present all human interaction as personality based. If there are community conflicts, our institutions assume the problem is one of personality management which can be solved by law enforcement. If social issues aren’t addressed, representative democracy assumes a demographic is under represented. Collaboration in a personality based system can only be by authority or consensus. Most workers do not enjoy authoritarian systems as they lose autonomy, mastery and creative control over their own work and rule is by coercion, not choice. Consensus is ideal for small, local, like-minded affinity groups, but it only works in groups of under twenty-five people, preferably two to eight. Consensus is not useful for large scale collaboration or collaboration that is separated by communication barriers or over time.
Neither knowledge based industries nor governance ought to be personality based and neither can operate effectively in that way. The goal of all knowledge industries, including governance, is to stimulate the public to action. The only effective and voluntary large scale method of action based collaboration is stigmergy1 and stigmergic action follows ideas, not personalities. Since knowledge industries want to trigger stigmergic actions, they ought to be focused on ideas.
Currently, knowledge communities act like closed, internationally linked, affinity groups at a level of expertise not accessible to the general public. Affinity groups are personality based and allow expertise to be held by gatekeepers controlling information flow between groups. While local, self-governing, affinity groups should have the ultimate authority of acceptance or rejection of ideas, they all need access to the expertise of international epistemic communities in order to make the choices which are right for them. A structure which allows gatekeepers to control information flow will create both demagogues and an easily manipulated public. Epistemic communities that develop and audit ideas should use transparent and permeable concentric circles to integrate ideas from the epistemic communities directly with the public.
In a governance context this means we won’t be electing personalities, we will be electing ideas. We won’t have representatives for groups of people, we will have concentric circles around ideas.
Academic and scientific journals were created so that everyone would publish and build off of each others findings, guiding stigmergic action. In reality, most research is not open source, it is frequently corporate IP property and it does not allow permissive copyright or even access. Outside contributions and auditing is not rewarded or even allowed. Science and academia are very far from acting as concentric circles integrating ideas with wider society. Their closed communities allow their work to be easily controlled by politicians and industry and very little stigmergic action results from it. Without stigmergy, their progress is not nearly what it could be. Science and academia require knowledge bridges, transparency and free information if they are going to truly act as epistemic communities for us all and stimulate mass action.
Stigmergy is a method of collaboration for mass movements, not organizations. The civil rights movement in the United States was a stigmergic movement which retained its clarity through successive generations because it set specific goals in each cycle, whether that was to end slavery, end segregation, or end police violence. When feminism meant fighting for the vote and legal personhood it also had a clear goal and was also a stigmergic mass movement, but second wave feminism allowed its goals to become very loose. Because there wasn’t a clear goal, second wave feminism was used to advertise corporate product and promote prominent personalities, primarily from the United States, who felt they could speak for every woman in the world on every topic. When feminism stopped following ideas, it stopped being a stigmergic movement and became a competitive, personality driven organization which then became completely divided, as is typical. Personality based organizations do not scale.
Stigmergy is made up of collaborative actions, not identitarian organizations or people. All identity politics results in personality based organizations which is why so many resistance movements, especially in the United States, collapse due to infighting. If mass movements rallied to stop rape, or street executions by police, or contamination of water, they would be very widely supported and unstoppable. Personality based organizations claiming victimhood as the exclusive product of one identity group have succeeded in stopping mass movements around all of these these stigmergic goals.
Stigmergy can scale to an entire population if support for an idea is unanimous and identity politics is not used to drive people away. Because stigmergy follows ideas, ideas are as important in stigmergy as personality management is in organizations. The single biggest factor for whether or not someone will participate in a stigmergic action is whether they are sure of the idea behind it. Whether it affects them, or if its simple to grasp or easy or even safe to do matters very little compared to their belief in the goal. This means the easiest way for someone to prevent action is to sow doubt in the goal. Finding the information we need for conviction in our goals in the collaborative structures we use today is not easy.
Most of the tools we have to help mass communication simulate direct democracy and look for popular ideas, the most shares and the most readers. Not only is popular not innovative or expert, the two are mutually exclusive. Popular ideas are riding the peak of the wave of socially acceptable opinion. They already appeal to the widest audience. They are not new ideas, by definition, and they aren’t at a level of elite expertise that is difficult for all but a few to understand also by definition. This is why we now elect politicians on the basis of their tweets and this is the secret for politicians like Donald Trump who speaks at a grade 3 level.ii The more easily understood and the less challenging the message, the wider its appeal will be. An age that amplifies the most popular information, as we do now, will be an age of demagogues.
It is counter intuitive to think popular ideas are what we need to give us the best information. We need both expert and diverse knowledge. If we want those making the decisions to hear the voices that are seldom heard, that may expand their Overton windows and give us some fresh perspective, or represent a rare case that will cause their solution to break, amplifying the most popular ideas or people is again the exact opposite of what we ought to be doing. This is what direct, representative and liquid democracy do however, so of course it is also what the tools for democracy have been doing. We have tools for voting, tools that are very useful to find out what a population thinks and tools that are great for discussing things in affinity groups and coming to consensus, but we need to also go to where opinions are formed. Opinions are based on information. We need to be able to find expertise and accurate and diverse information that we can trust before we form our opinions and long before we measure them.
Ideas need to be audited and promoted by people qualified to understand them both to allow diversity of ideas and to prevent the process from being dominated by celebrities without the expertise required. If we have an elite discussion group with only elite experts or ideas in it, we are at great risk of having an elite oligarchy based on control of information, like we have now. Concentric circles relate to sound amplification. In a concentric circle, people or ideas promoted to the center by their peer group receive greatest amplification and findings will be audited, amplified and explained to the general public by outer circles. Concentric circles are not hierarchical as they have no direct control over the actions of anyone. An epistemic community is a knowledge resource only. Authority remains with the entire user group which provides a good incentive for the epistemic community to ensure transparency and knowledge bridges so their ideas are accepted. As in stigmergy, votes in a concentric group are frequently replaced by actions. If an idea receives no amplification, it is just an idea that goes nowhere.
“I wonder if the world is full of middle-aged people still waiting for their peers to take in the full range, depth, subtlety, and profundity of their work.” – Robert Youngiii
With knowledge bridges, everyone does not need personal expertise on every aspect of society. As long as there is a transparent concentric circle, everyone can see the activity and get feedback if necessary. If there are a lot of people auditing and a lot of discussion and if the observers trust some of the people in these circles, they can trust the process and the ideas. Everyone can review the work of the experts both directly and through the review by their peers. Experts can also be created by the system itself as users develop knowledge and reputation and move towards the centre. This happens increasingly if users lose trust and they realize they need to start auditing a circle.
The vast majority of scientific and academic work is ignored as the public has no access or understanding and the scientific community has no time to examine everything. With a wider circle of auditors, outside the community of competitive peers, this work would not all be lost. Instead of doctors ignoring their patients for the latest paper from their colleagues or funding from the powerful, knowledge bridges would encourage community driven knowledge and research. Psychologists should not have the sole authority to decide what is normative. Anti-social or social acts should be decided by the society itself. Pharmaceutical industries and medical professionals cannot be allowed to ignore the lived experience of groups such as the Hearing Voices Network and Aphrodite Women’s Health forum. Science, even where it uses isolation, must also be tested as a part of the whole, and even where it relies on peer review, must be fully open to review and contribution by the wider society.
Science will tell us that the population of an isolated community has shrunk 3.5 centimetres in the last century. If they asked the people in the village, they may hear that one man was 5’4” and had 27 children and almost the entire town are now his direct descendants, but in today’s structure they rarely ask. Science will tell us that a woman died of a heart attack. Her village could tell us that she died of a broken heart because her son died. Science tells us how, but without the village, we will never understand why. Science today is not asking the village. They are too busy telling everyone that people can’t die of a broken heart and sneering at superstitious villagers. As Paul Richards outlines in Ebola: How a People’s Science Helped End an Epidemic, ebola was not being spread by eating wild meat as the international experts claimed. Villagers noticed it was the people who attended funerals who contracted the disease and adjusted their behaviours more effectively on their own. If the international epistemic community studying ebola had been communicating with the local affinity groups dealing with ebola, they all would have been a lot more effective. Instead of providing a one way flow of near useless information, researchers could have been acting as an integrated epistemic community and a valuable resource.
No one is or should be more afraid of the mob, of mob norms and mob decisions, than those outcast on the fringes. For those accepted into the scientific community, it is frequently the first social gathering where they can share their knowledge and interests and the only place they can speak freely with others at their level of knowledge on their topic of interest. If they guard the borders of their nation it is not solely from xenophobia. Without isolation from the public, scientists and other specialists have a very valid fear that they would no longer be permitted to work. The marauding hordes which some fear would overrun science and persecute a scientific minority do pose a very existential threat. With no society which understands their work, scientists would be marginalized, their social approval stolen by demagogues and their work misunderstood or lost. In a larger community, all would demand equal and democratic amplification on topics far beyond their understanding. The wider public will always be resentful of any research support they see as self indulgent and this resentment will be used politically. Particularly where there is no public access or obvious public merit, the public will never willingly fund science or elite knowledge. When information is controlled by demagogues, what is important loses to what is popular.
When left out in isolation, user groups can be as guilty of group narcissism as the scientists they criticize. As psychoanalysts looked to parenting as the cause of scizophrenia and other illnesses as part of their vilification of mothers, feminists seized anorexia nervosa and anorexia bulimia as evidence of the body shaming culture women and girls lived in. The physical areas of investigation such as hypoglycaemia and associated yeast infections and digestive issues were spurned as reams of paper and mainstream media was filled on this far more lucrative and politically satisfying line of inquiry.iv Any scientific finding that endorses popular bias will receive far more media attention, approbation and funding than that which discredits popular bias. Scientific or academic findings which strengthen identitarian groups will be spread and encouraged by those identitarian groups. Even science likes being appreciated and will respond to public acclaim. Wider community influences on science must guard against the biases of scientists, not promote their own. Science and all specialized study requires autonomy from popularity. Complete transparency is required so media does not selectively report and science does not selectively research in response to political pressure.
Any specialist epistemic community cannot produce any work of value if they are expected to be in constant communication with people at a level of understanding far below their own. Neither can they produce work if they are fending off political attacks by demagogues. Communication should not be the full responsibility of experts. The current demand for people in knowledge industries to go on speaking tours, delivering sound bites like performing monkeys, is a waste of their expertise and forced crowd pleasing for survival. Epistemic communities should be allowed to work and to communicate only when they choose, to whom they choose.
While every epistemic community requires a quiet place to discuss work with those at a similar level of understanding, and no expert should be required to submit themselves to the “lol. Fake news.” level of Internet discussion, their work should be both completely transparent and accessible for others to discuss and build on. Their ideas should be carried over expertise bridges by full transparency and user participation. The epistemic community in the centre should not need to protect themselves from demands or attacks from completely uninformed users or demagogues. The circles of expertise which promoted them to the centre should also verify and explain their findings to the outer circles. In addition, the epistemic communities themselves must be completely permeable to anyone with valuable input. It is only by allowing oppositional thought and transparent auditing that expert communities can protect their ideas from being blocked by uninformed demagogues.
Popular instances of political demagogues overthrowing expert recommendations rely on simple sabotage. The opponents to the Colombia peace deal and Brexit had no better alternatives devised, any more than most politicians seeking election have reasonable platforms. Platforms are less and less a focus in elections in any case, as media and public attention is taken over by discrediting attacks instead of alternative solutions. Science cannot be allowed to be discredited by ignorant demagogues. Like free software, existing science should only be opposed by alternative theory which can meet the same standards of scientific rigour. Science cannot prove that vaccinations are safe, so vaccine safety should only be opposed by those who can prove they are not. It is only possible for science to be opposed by worthy rebuttals if it is within the power of everyone to make worthy rebuttals, if their work is also reviewed and they have the access required to audit and investigate.
In open source software, the code for each project is available for all to see. Even if the end user cannot understand the code, they can go to discussion groups or listen to programmers who have read and audited the code, and they can read the bug reports. Any urgent bugs will be broadcast to the general population and amplified by media as we have seen many times. The people with the greater knowledge of the system will provide knowledge bridges for people at a more novice level and increasingly, that is how people are learning to code. Good ideas from forum discussions can be read and possibly implemented by the developers as well. Transparency goes both ways.
Open source software projects with forums open to all are a perfect working example of fully transparent and audited systems of elite knowledge. While the decisions are made by the developers, input, review and acceptance or rejection of the software is the right of the user group. If the developers refuse to listen to the user group and another development team is willing to work on the project, the original code can be forked and modified to meet the user requirements. This means existing ideas can only be opposed by another fully developed, open and transparent epistemic community which also must be audited by knowledge bridges. They can’t be attacked just by demagogues and rhetoric. They can only be opposed by another working solution, so the user group has a choice between two or more working solutions instead of simply rejection or acceptance. This is only possible if the information is free for anyone to use or modify. Ownership of ideas is in complete opposition to both stigmergy and concentric circles, so it is in complete opposition to rapid progress, finding the best solutions and self governance.
The open software movement has driven most technology based fields into a flat and accessible relationship with the public and social media has done the same for journalism. As people become more accustomed to real and participatory news and culture, they will demand the same of science and academia. As science and academia develop their own direct relationships with their user communities, they will be in a position to shun those in industry or politics who refuse to support them or attempt to manipulate them. Politicians and industrialists are not necessary in a fourth age societal structure. Knowledge industries are and it is essential that local affinity groups learn how to communicate and support them directly.
We can never have idea and action based governance without the reliable information provided by fully open, transparent, epistemic communities and knowledge bridges. The ability to create a body of knowledge for review must not be restricted to one class. Access to and ownership of our knowledge must be a human right.
1 Stigmergy is explained in greater detail in both Binding Chaos and Releasing Chaos.
People think that our sole object is to amass gold. No one believes what we say. Like insolvent tradesmen we are without credit. – Pope Pius II, 1460i
The very justified resentment against science as a classist system of control and manipulation is being used as propaganda by the same corporations and politicians who used science as a tool of oppression. With the necessary public examination of science and academia has come an anti-elitist backlash where people are encouraged to trust no one: not science, governments, media, politicians or any authority. While misleading information will encourage people to act against their own interests, no information will immobilize them or encourage them to follow demagogues. This rejection of expertise has been used repeatedly in recent democratic votes to encourage the rise of uninformed or dishonest demagogues globally. The rise in misinformation and demagogues has in turn encouraged calls for even tighter control over information and official channels.
Now science itself, like journalism, is struggling to be heard over the demagogues and struggling even more for the trust of the classes below them. The trust and faith of the jaded and confused public is the most fought over resource today, with billions or trillions spent annually to procure it. Scientists and journalists understand even more than most that the very existence of humanity is in the balance. The corporate demagogues are (correctly) depicting intellectualism as bourgeoisii and (incorrectly) telling the public that ignoring experts is the same as overthrowing the elite and refusing to be manipulated. This blocks even the prior filtered access to knowledge the public used to receive and leaves people at the mercy of personality based governance and demagogues. Even ideas are conflated with ideology and people are discouraged from thinking about ideas because of previous massacres in the name of ideologies.
“Ironically, while this work should serve to improve the quality of scientific medicine, it is being used by some cranks to attack the scientific basis of medicine.” – Dr. Steven Novella, Are Most Medical Studies Wrong?
When a force which should be productive is under attack by a force which is certainly destructive, it is a natural feeling to delay criticism which may be used by the forces of destruction and to insist that now is not the time to suggest improvement. In the case of science and academia, immediate critique is not only necessary, it is crucial and urgent, but critique alone is not enough. Every time scientists and academics have taken a stand against power, they are threatened, expelled, imprisoned or executed. It is almost impossible for scientists and academics to reach the public directly without media and politically vulnerable appointments. Science can be undermined by demagogues because demagogues control communication between science and the public. We have to establish direct communication between epistemic communities and the wider public in order to remove power from demagogues. We have to build a protective network for knowledge preservation, auditing and dissemination. A time when knowledge is already under assault is the best time to establish this network.
In this era of no traditions, science in particular and information in general control our actions. Our true governance is through information. We will destroy humanity or save it based on information. Governance by the people requires knowledge as a societal right and a global commons. It should be the duty of all members of a self governing society to audit and share knowledge and promote and support its development. The ponzi schemes of academia and science shun anyone not in the citation circle and block access entirely to ideas and critique from outside of their class. Wikipedia, Twitter, Facebook and Google all serve as propaganda control for states and corporations. Our collective knowledge should not be directed by corporations or exclusively available to a tightly guarded class, either for access or for contribution. We live under a supranational empire. We do not need secrecy over borders to protect knowledge from our enemies. The classes on top are the enemies of those below and they are maintaining their positions by the secrecy and idea ownership we allow them.
The solutions being recommended to the lethal ignorance of the public are headed in the wrong direction, towards more corporate control and a more accredited expert class. Journalists are wanting the internet reconstructed to give themselves credit and funding for each piece of information posted while they still grant neither to their subjects or sources. Scientists are encouraging even more secrecy and delayed publishing and less communication with media, much less the public.
The scientific class encourages those admitted into it to listen to their peers ahead of their patients and listen to local and unsanctioned knowledge only to steal credit. Science encourages binary division and branding of people and nature as mad / sane, dangerous / harmless or normal / abnormal according to the needs of industry and the powerful and to the detriment of the public. Science, academia and the media together encourage a cult-like devotion to pronouncements of one truth at a time instead of reflecting the nuance and uncertainty inherent in most research. Science views everything through a lens of corporate interest. Elite knowledge is still a product of wealth, leisure and access.
While the world has now amassed a vast quantity of knowledge and progression of that knowledge has grown exponentially since science and academia began, there is no reason to believe the creation of a scientific class brought the growth instead of the slope of progression we were already on. If instead of a closed class of scientists we had created open, permeable, epistemic communities, it is hard to not believe we would have made far less mistakes and far more progress in directions more beneficial to all of humanity. If the epistemic communities were open to the people, our information would not be so easy for demagogues and corporate interest to intercept and manipulate. Canada teaches mining to children as a ‘sustainable resource’ and bans scientific research as ‘anti-oil’ opinions. This and other Lysenkoism and educational propaganda is only possible if we do not all have direct access to all expert information through transparency and knowledge bridges.
Oral history taught us that people can accumulate knowledge in the collective mesh network of their brains and retain it with detailed accuracy for thousands of years. Guilds attempted to hoard that knowledge away from other stratas for their own enrichment and power. The new intelligentsia has often tried to be open and evolve but failed miserably because of a hierarchical classist structure that blocks input or access from the lower classes and puts knowledge in service to a tyrannical corporate empire. From the first age we can learn that if people have information they own, they will happily spread it, preserve it and use it in their daily lives. The second age guilds taught us that knowledge is power and if it is not shared, it is a recipe for tyranny. The third age has taught us that the public has no trust in information outside of their own class strata and they are justified in that lack of trust.
Whenever knowledge has helped secure an economic advantage it has been a source of conflict. Even old family recipes or other skill that might improve marriage possibilities have been guarded as tightly as guild secrets. Methods of preserving food, fishing spots and the ability to sew and maintain mukluks have in other times and places been as valuable to their possessors as silk, ermine or tulips. These secrets are no longer necessary for the survival of any person, just corporations.
Artists and all creative or knowledge based professions have fought to criminalize their audiences since copyright was invented. All recording technology since the player piano has had to fight artists who insisted their professions would be ruined by it. Rap deejays were the first to force mainstream acceptance of using other artists’ music in a mashup, opening up a huge pool of creativity that is still fighting for legal acceptance. As soon as people in both the free software movement and social media, started freely sharing their knowledge, industry found itself too dependent on the open source commons material to maintain their exclusive control. In all cases, the removal of exclusivity and knowledge gates brought an explosion of work and far greater diversity and expertise. Instead of responding to the obvious societal good in removing copyrights and patents, as the reasonable time for either has shortened, the time of ownership has been lengthened under international law.[cite]
There have been many suggestions for science to follow the lead of open source communities.iii In 2009, The Tropical Disease Initiative and several others attempted to encourage unpatented, open source drug discovery. Some initiatives such as Sci-Hub, an open access library of scientific papers established by neuroscientist Alexandra Elbakyan, have had better success by just ignoring the intellectual copyright laws and allowing the public access.1 Lately, the Open Science movement has been gaining traction, especially in the European Union with projects such as Facilitate Open Science Training for European Research (FOSTER) and various other initiatives and calls to action. The problem with all of these movements is they only involve publishing scientific data. Knowledge is not accessible unless the public can understand it. Epistemic communities require knowledge bridges to communicate with the public.
Science and journalism must evolve into systems for producing open, transparent, verified knowledge, free of powerful influence. Academia and journalism must become fully open, transparent methods of transmitting verified knowledge.
Our industrialized society has given us a backwards world where ideas are owned and personal data is not. While societal knowledge is held away from the public by gatekeeping laws and institutions, the personal details of the public is a product being examined and manipulated for politicians and the trade economy. The current goals of knowledge based capitalism continue the progression of supranational empire. The billionaires of silicon valley, like the financial and commodity industries, exist to create a new corporate ruling class overseeing a new age of corporate empire. What they produce is in service of empire, not greater society. The financial and commodity industries were set up to rob resources and enslave the rightful owners. The technology industries have created a global governance system designed around control and manipulation of information.
Academia is the primary institution where people are sorted and taught to sort each other, where the class systems are created and perpetuated. Those that decry the anti-intellectual tendencies of those on the bottom refuse to acknowledge the class system behind the hostility. It isn’t knowledge these people disdain, it is the class of people who refuse to allow them input or entry into the halls of debate. Knowledge and certification are hoarded behind a series of obstacles, only accessible after years of hazing to determine whether the recipients are suitable for entry into a homogenized class. Academia, like science, is a knowledge dictatorship. The wider public are barred from seeing the source of knowledge and expected to accept the filtered and packaged versions as truth. They are expected to acknowledge the superiority of the keepers of knowledge, when that superiority was granted by an external authority with no mandate from the people to create a superior class. This is not the same as an epistemic community that the people promoted themselves.
Academia is not a member of the communities it dictates to by virtue of the class floor built between them. Academia is used to bar people from the organizations which profess to speak for them. Human Rights Watch and many other organizations protecting the rights of those on the bottom demand a PhD for applicants seeking employment with them, barring entry to most of the people they are speaking for. Academic standing is used not just to bar people from economic classes and knowledge. Most borders are also open or closed depending on academic credentials and the laws dictating that were created by political and legal academics. Academia provides the majority of the visas to the supranational classes and so acts as the bureaucracy for a global eugenics program. While massive open online courses (MOOCs) have been an amazing development in bringing knowledge to the wider public and creating concentric circles of expertise and knowledge bridges around epistemic communities, the accreditation is still withheld by institutions and accessible only to those with money and time.
Not only does academia categorize students, it also spends far more time on assigning ideas and actions to categories or Great Men than it does in initiating or evaluating either. Students are rarely given ideas to audit and test and translate to action. They are instead given ideas to attribute by Great Man and categorize by ideology. They debate with sources and quotes instead of opposing ideas and actions, encouraging a public which follows personalities and ideologies instead of testing ideas and creating action. They are taught to worship solitary geniuses instead of being taught mass collaborative processes and how to use them. Academia is conducted like religious study, focused on what the great men said and meant instead of whether or not they were correct. The printing press created a rigor mortis for debate which the Internet should have cured, but academia slogs on in its old path with the same methods.
We no longer live in a world dominated by resource capitalism or industry. We live in a world dominated by information capitalism and information control. Industry had a direct source of conflict between workers and owners. Information simply has manipulation at the top and those at the bottom are largely unwitting and passive consumers. The intelligentsia is depicted as a meritocracy, a victimless elite as opposed to the industrialists victimizing factory workers.
Science hoards knowledge and uses it against the people and for the profit of corporations. Academia acts as gatekeepers to allow filtered streams of knowledge to a selected few. Journalism acts as a marketing agent for information which benefits the powerful. Academia sorts the people for future valuation by the trade economy and the law punishes those they deem without value. None of these institutions are by and for the people as they are all imposed by an outside class. None have a right to the confidence of the people and they receive none.
A people with no confidence in either their epistemic communities from the scientific class or their knowledge bridges from the academic and journalist classes is a people with no belief in ideas. With no ideas to follow in confidence, people will become cults following personalities which will become demagogues.
Societies do not transcend classes. If all knowledge is removed to a higher class, the lower classes will neither trust nor follow it. Without reliable knowledge, action will follow class demagogues.
1 Go to sci-hub.cc if you have difficulty finding any scientific papers cited in the endnotes of this book. Also consider supporting Elbakyan and the site in any way you can, she does not receive nearly the support or recognition deserved for her brave and extremely important work.
“When capital enlists science in her service, the refactory hand of labour will always be taught docility.” – Andrew Ure, 1835i
The problems with the scientific community were hardly news to scientists. Joseph Needham was concerned in 1935 about the impact of “scientific opium”, “a blindness to the suffering of others” and “a ruthlessness derived from the very statistical character of the scientific method itself” which “may too easily be applied to human misfits and deviationists in the socialist world order”. He addressed the scientific zeal to overcome all the evils of existence with the warning, “the problem of evil is not capable of so simple a resolution.”ii
After the atomic bomb was used in World War II, the world’s scientists enjoyed a boom in the United States in service to its ever-expanding military. The military expanded science and science expanded military in an all encompassing death dance that dwarfed all other funding and absorbed vast quantities of scientific thought and global potential. At this point scientists were not responding solely to their own very ample bigotries. They were being trained with military propaganda and their findings were spun by military propagandists. US President Dwight Eisenhower’s famous 1961 speech warning of the military industrial complex reminded us, “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present.”iii Any of science’s already tenuous claims at being apolitical and ideology free died during the science race of the cold war. J.D. Bernal wrote in 1958, “The only time I could get my ideas translated in any way into action in the real world was in the service of war.”ivThe militarization and commodification of science was a fait accompli.
There were many efforts initiated in the 20th century to widen the perspective of scientists and to stop those projects which were destructive to humanity in favour of those which would be beneficial. Protests over scientists’ participation in weapons of mass destruction and exploitation of the environment were held in the late sixties, including the formation of the British Society for Social Responsibility in Science (BSSRS) in 1969. The Edinburgh branch of BSSRS helped run a teach-in about pollution which was attended by an estimated thousand people in 1970.v“It becomes essential to take binding steps which cut off one’s line of retreat… we have to fix it so they wouldn’t have us back even if we wanted to come.” Robert Young declared in 1977.vi
By the 1980s, the removal of most research out of universities and into top secret research facilities muzzled dissent and greatly reduced awareness of what science was doing.vii The development of Science and Technology Studies (STS) to study the relationship between scientific knowledge, technological systems, and society was a painful attempt to study the impact of scientific isolation from society from an academic vantage point still isolated from society.viii The earlier radical science movement was often explicitly socialist, even explicitly Marxist. After the political failures of communism and technological utopia, striving for any type of political end fell very out of favour. Scientific circles sought to remove politics and ideology from their organizations and work entirely, returning to 1926 when Martin Heidegger declared “the end of philosophy”, and claimed that “science does not think”.ix
Of course, this was the equivalent of burying their heads in the sand as outside the lab, in the offices of their directors and funders, they were owned by politics and capitalist ideology. As journalism loses any claims of being unbiased as soon as it selects a topic as newsworthy, science is not apolitical as soon as it selects a topic of study. Science does not follow purely intellectual inquiry in pursuit of the greatest understanding. Science is not a science. Science has been a means of allowing officially accepted truths to emanate from only one class under direction from the ruling class. What scientific thought is doing much of the time is no more or less than what this book is doing: providing one framework out of a vast array of different possible frameworks and choosing to view the world through that framework and study only the issues that make up that framework. This can be a very helpful exercise for providing a certain perspective but it certainly does not result in a single indisputable truth.
“Scientists always stomp around meetings talking about ‘bridging the two-culture gap’, but when scores of people from outside the sciences begin to build just that bridge, they recoil in horror and want to impose the strangest of all gags on free speech since Socrates: only scientists should speak about science!” – Bruno Latour, 1999x
The much resisted opening of the knowledge hoarded by science, as well as long overdue scrutiny of the activities of scientists, has brought a great deal of very valid criticism of both. The slur that anyone who questions them is anti-science is ironically used to silence anyone who questions the methods and motivations of scientists. The idea that criticism or a demand for transparency is an attack, or that any criticism is dangerous and anti-knowledge, is simply more evidence of the scientific class acting like a closed and extremist cult instead of a method of producing verified knowledge. This is the reaction of an elite class outraged and panickedxi that anyone is questioning their authority and control over knowledge, much like news media did before them. If scientists are no longer an ingroup with very different rules for their outgroups, then everyone must be free to examine them just as they examine everyone. Despite the very popular and publicly redeeming efforts of the scientific community in the work to protect the environment, and the fight against industry for acceptance of scientific findings on the environment, there is still no integrated structure of public audit or transparency.
Thomas Kuhn could point out in 1962 that science viewed the world through a series of periodically revolutionized paradigmsxii but the same critique from the poststructuralists outside the scientific community was met by enough hostility that the critique and reaction were popularly dubbed the Science Wars of the 1990s. In Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Sciencexiii Paul Gross and Norman Levitt insist that those who question them do not believe in reality itself. Who but science could claim that only they know reality and they alone are influenced by nothing? We are to believe they create their ideas directly from the primordial soup, a godlike feat indeed. This unquestioning belief that science has the sole key to facts and reality has given us an educational system that graduates people more ignorant than when they went in. There is a point in the process of being educated on a topic when the student is full of information and convinced they have all the facts and solutions. If education progresses and experience is broadened, they will discover nuance and context and layers of alternating perspectives and realize they have only ideas which may or may not bring the results they are hoping for. Without this broadened perspective, scientists become more convinced in their own infallibility, or at least superiority. At least the uneducated understand their own ignorance.
The highly inaccurate and unscientific idea that the challengers of science are The Academic Left is an invitation to further persecute that subsect of academia who were already purged from academia and driven from their jobs in the west during the cold war. In a brief exchange with a New York Review of Books literary criticxiv the authors also bring the critic’s leftist politics to the forefront in the first paragraph of their rebuttal. For a pair of scientists intent on proving that science is apolitical, it is obvious that mentioning someone’s political beliefs is their go to method of lumping all of their critics together and discrediting all of their beliefs based on one political belief. The Academic Left is also a not very veiled reminder that the ideas of everyone who is not a caucasian man are still superstition. Others may acquire education but then their ideas are just “higher superstition”. The reference to “the left” is also a nod to the history of radical science which attempted to warn the world about environmental destruction and weapons manufacturing in the 1960s and 1970s. A 1977 Daily Mail article foreshadowed the 1994 book when it depicted a BSSRS action against the British Science Association as “the Left has Science by the throat” with no acknowledgment that the BSSRS were also scientists.
The political accusations are also meant to imply that the authors are, by defending the status quo, apolitical. Establishment scientists see themselves as an international class like Olympians, and like Olympians, they see themselves as apolitical while standing on politically funded podiums representing political alliances. The co-option of science by industry is depicted as the conventional stance and the fight for science for humanity is depicted as a fringe attack on science. The casting out the Left from science and the depiction of all opposition as the Left is nothing if not political. Choosing the status quo is not the same as being apolitical or non-ideological. Higher Superstition claimed an agenda by “postmodern and feminist critics, AIDS activists, environmentalists, animal rights advocates and others”xv against “reality”. It is not hard to discern in their defense of reality a political defense of the supremacy of the status quo and the exceptionalism of the wealthy, western man.
BSSRS cartoon about sexism in science
It is only with no connection at all to reality that a person could fail to notice, particularly in the 1990s, the neglect of diseases such as AIDS (or now ebola), the lack of representation of women and minorities in test results or the experimentation on lower classes for the benefit of higher classes. The reality science described was of course a reflection of the bigotries and group narcissism of the scientific community. Scientists’ insistence on presenting themselves as a pure meritocracy depends on public acceptance of this reality. Valuations of people which place IQ above strength or kindness and compensate years of university ahead of shortened life expectancy is part of the reality science has created for us. The group narcissism of scientists sees itself as the standard and lashes out at the slightest criticism. Like a traveler in Einstein’s elevator they are not fit to measure or even detect the elevator they are traveling in.
Cartoon from Science for People, issue 43
As Gary Wersky described in 2007, “The conviction grew in some that, far from being allies in the fight against ‘higher superstition’, STS ‘social constructionists’ had joined hands with an academic left made up of feminist scholars and postmodernist English professors in an unholy conspiracy to undermine the legitimacy and authority of science.”xvi By depicting all critics as a block of uniform opinion and politically motivated ideology and depicting all criticism as an existential threat, science slammed and bolted the doors to constructive (or deconstructive) criticism. This lack of acceptance of outside critique led to criticism being formed outside of the community instead of in tandem with it. Such criticism was then rejected by scientists who complained it frequently lacked both understanding and intellectual rigour. Science refused any meaningful use of outside critique and forced all interested parties into two parallel and uncommunicating streams. Science lost the opportunity to open their epistemic communities and create knowledge bridges which would provide much needed critique in a rigorously vetted and usable standard. They instead left their critics free to collect an outside audience to view both the closed hostility of the scientific community and any sometimes poorly founded sniping of those outside. The public is now left with a choice between acceptance of the wildest of conspiracy theorists or blind faith in the closed and frequently sociopathic science industry because scientists refuse to be questioned by those they very transparently see as inferiors.
The distrust sown and never reconciled was easily exploited by demagogues such as Thatcher and Reagan. Science became even more isolated and alienated from a misunderstanding and judgmental public and even more did they require the protection of their exploiters from government and industry. The hostility perplexed Bruno Latour as he wrote “Far from not believing in reality, surely science studies has added reality to science.”xvii But the reality added by science studies was reality from the perspective of outgroups and it polluted the clear lens of the scientific community, the only view accepted by them as the one clear reality. “How could we be pitted against the scientists?” Latour wondered. “Are biologists anti-life, astronomers anti-stars, immunologists anti-anti-bodies?” Sadly, the answer is not a clear no. Scientists, from the time science first decided that nature would reveal its secrets more readily under torture, have most often taken positions in opposition to the objects of their study. Scientists who are so suspicious of science studies may be projecting from their own relationship to those they study.
“The duty of the man who investigates the writings of scientists, if learning the truth is his goal, is to make himself an enemy of all that he reads, and … attack it from every side.” – Hasan Ibn al-Haytham 1011-1021
Whether science likes it or not, science is a part of a wider community and impacts a wider community and must be audited by and transparent to all those they affect. The insistence that we are to believe that all scientific and industrial developments are safe until proven unsafe or that we are to trust regulatory boards and studies commissioned and funded by the very industry that would be profiting from it are not reasonable. Those scientists who see doubt of them as a lack of respect for their higher ranking, and their doubt of the experiences of the lower classes as healthy skepticism, must be overruled. Outside critique must be integrated within the process of science and not seen as an enemy attack. The scientific method must be expanded to include integration and feedback with the entire society and ecosystem impacted.
The most persistent complaint of scientists is that their critics do not have the knowledge to critique them usefully. The Socal hoax in 1996 involved a physicist convincing a small academic journal to publish a parody of the worst of scientific critique as evidence of their lack of scientific rigour. He was asked to change all of the worst elements of the article and refused. The journal published his article in the end in deference to his scientific credentials as he was the only natural scientist who had submitted to their Science Wars edition and thus they became the butt of the hoax. Despite the fact that he proved they “felt comfortable publishing an article on quantum physics without bothering to consult anyone knowledgeable in the subject”xviii he also proved much more than he set out to do.
Social Text was a small publication in no way to be confused with a professional science journal. The alternative takeaway from the Socal Affair is that journals show deference to the scientific community over those trying to be heard from the outside, even in the most sympathetic of editions of the most sympathetic of journals. He also proved that journals will publish a certified expert even when it is obvious to them that his methods and conclusions are not of a professional standard. The Socal Affair did not prove that this same deference was afforded to anyone not recognized as an expert and the journal’s response that “Less well known authors who submit unsolicited articles to journals like ours may now come under needless suspicion”xix intimated that he had aggravated the credibility divide. The fact that science’s gossip magazine Lingua Franca published Socal’s exposé with no opportunity for rebuttal given to the journal even further shows the double standards between the two worlds as does the fact that Socal suffered no professional repercussions for his outgroup hoax which would certainly not have been tolerated within the community of professional scientific journals. Socal’s depiction of the outside critics as “barbarian hordes”xx did more to illustrate the problem with science than the problem with its critics. Science responded to perceived criticism that they were an isolated and narcissistic community with demands for isolation and proof of group narcissism.
The unfortunate part of this reaction is not just the loss to science but also the loss to its critics. There were a great many valid criticisms that needed to be made about the excesses of reactionary poststructionalism in the 1990s, and we are feeling the repercussions from the lack of correction today. The idea grew among the political descendants of radical science that a lack of cultural hegemony had contributed to the failure of Marxism, so they invested more and more into identity politics. Rojek and Turner in 2000, while once more depicting science critics in the U.K. as Left-wing, also contributed valid points. They critiqued the critics own group narcissism including “the self image …[that cultural studies] are closer to material reality” and “its own variety of moral arrogance, intellectual narrowness and over-confidence”. They asserted that cultural studies contributed to revising power relationships primarily at an aesthetic level, was deeply politicized and magnified current local conditions over broader and historical trends. They pointed out the negative and reactive nature of postmodernism which produced “an undecideable sea of micro-relationships” and “the privileging of the cultural over the social and economic”. They also claimed that postmodernism “Although profoundly politicized … has no tenable or sustained political agenda” and accused its proponents of careerism.xxi
Seventeen years later, it is obvious that the above criticism was valid and ought to have received more discussion and resolution. Instead, each side progressed in hostile and opposing thought bubbles, each pointing at how bad the other is, like two political parties. Neither side included the wider public and neither offered solutions to use criticism more effectively. Anger sells and pointing out faults is easy. Solutions are difficult to develop, difficult to explain and risky to implement. Far fewer people read scientific papers than social media. Criticism of a broad societal hierarchy devolved into the rise of micropolitics and the social media microcelebrity hierarchy. Dissidence became a career, not a means to a solution. Division and hostility sell. The everything is political post modernists of academia brought us the everyone is a demographic politicians of representative democracy and the every microaggression is a career thought leaders of Twitter.
The division of dissent into packets of identity politics allowed scientific establishment to appease the individual sects with initiatives of political correctness. The radical science of the 1960s and 1970s, which fought issues such as weapons, environmental destruction and technologies of political control, were transformed into institutions for cultural studies and feminist critiques. Radical magazines like Science for People,Radical Science Journal and Undercurrents were replaced by sectarian courses of study, politically pleasing, reactive, narrow in perspective and low on facts. Radical science had also been concerned with inclusion of marginalized groups but today it is the issues which are marginalized. A war which was to fight the direction humanity was taking was reduced to a war over whether all sects were properly represented in our mutual destruction.
Thanks partly to its critics, science has lost all of its metanarratives. There is no longer a goal specific to science, or none which is acknowledged. There is a purpose to all action, and where it is not defined by the actor they will follow a purpose assigned to them. In the case of science, they follow their funders and their purpose is to exploit the earth and its inhabitants for maximum profit. Even where scientists fight against the destruction of the earth in its entirety, that is in line with their capitalist mandate. They are still enabling the exploitation of each piece of it individually. The idea that science is too impartial and apolitical to follow a metanarrative is contradictory to the very existence of science. Science once defined itself and its claim to reason as the very essence of humanity, as the higher purpose of humanity’s existence and as proof of humanity’s superiority. Without the idea of collecting, cataloguing and expanding all the knowledge of humanity, science would never have existed much less had a singular goal to follow with such religious zeal. The scientific community needs to once more clearly define its purpose.
It is not enough for science to be separated from malevolence by a few degrees to claim to be apolitical. The benefits to the scientific community of alliance with militaries and governments is a loss for collaboration and global knowledge. A movement which, for all its faults, existed to build commons knowledge for the betterment of humanity willingly walked into secret chambers to work for the destruction of humanity. Autonomy for groups in society is a privilege granted by the wider societies. This privilege can and should be lost when the group begins to act in a manner which is a danger to the wider society. The autonomy and trust enjoyed by many in the higher stratas of knowledge, religion and politics has been proven repeatedly to be dangerous to all of their out groups. These groups can no longer be organized in isolated and autonomous stratas. The work of scientists affects entire communities not in their stratas. Input from and transparency to the rest of the user groups is essential.
“Shall we substitute for the opium of religion an opium of science.” – Joseph Needham, 1935i
With the rise of dissociation came a culture of individualism and survival of the fittest. Wealth centred in individuals and happiness was expected to come from individual achievement, in both life and afterlife. The philosophy, politics and religions of hierarchical societies were all teaching extreme individualism, free will and dissociation from nature and body. Instead of proving his existence by measuring his effect on surroundings, as a part of a whole, Descartes’ first principle proved his existence in his own head with I think therefore I am.ii The soul had little concern with bodily functions as the body was only a temporary residence. The farther removed a mind was from corporal matters the more evolved it was considered. Buddha was a deadbeat dadiii who reportedly named his son Rahul for the meaning fetteriv before abandoning him for seven years. As caregivers were pushed lower in status, those who cared for no one, who put a sociopathic philosophy they claimed as reason above human empathy, were ever more celebrated.
Most old religions had people living with their gods and their actions were believed to have immediate impact on the gods’ lives and tempers. The gods were frequently of the ecosystem, as in animism, and did not tolerate disrespect. The major religions of the trade empires, all of which began on or near the silk road and were spread by the trade routes from that region, put the worship of man ahead of everything else in the ecosystem. Earth in these religions was temporary and existed to be used in the service of man’s temporary time on earth (as did women and children usually). This was the trade economy encoded in theology. Anything that didn’t suit the idea of isolated personal autonomy, that reduced the amount of control of man over his environment or self, was rejected. The individualism in popular thought reached an obsessive plateau with the popularization of science in Europe. Science became the embodiment of these beliefs and a way to insist on the credibility of an omnipotent and autonomous man and discredit all other beliefs. Science is a method which achieved the status of an evangelizing religion.
Science became an attempt by powerful men of Europe to discover, catalogue and own all of the supposed secrets of the universe, including those previously widely collected, catalogued and distributed through the Islamic world, India and China and those newly discovered through European empires. European science was marked by two features: the isolation and control of each tiny element in the universe, and the obsession with credit to and ownership by European men of each supposed discovery. Science was a continuation of trade exploration, intended for ownership and profit, not for expansion of tribal knowledge. Access to knowledge was strictly controlled by those universities which admitted almost exclusively wealthy European men. Ownership of knowledge was strictly controlled by copyrights and patents, almost exclusively granted to wealthy European men. The so-called intellectual property that forms the basis of wealth for almost all of the world’s most wealthy today began with an aggressive global scramble to seize and control all of the world’s knowledge.
The fact that a great deal of the knowledge these men sought was already held by indigenous people, women and other empires around the world was not an issue for them as they decreed that nothing could be acknowledged in science unless it was scientifically proven and written in scientific papers. In other words, no knowledge was real knowledge until it came from the mouth or pen of a western man. This idea quickly extended to all knowledge as even on the ground news reports today are labeled not verified until someone has paid a western journalist to repeat them.
Patents which had previously been granted to the medieval hoarders of knowledge in the form of guilds became available to individuals and corporations. Patents and copyrights pretended that each little piece of knowledge was not dependent on all others and could be individually owned and sold. With their requirement that the secrets contained be published for all to see, the new patents broke the power of the guild class. The secrets which were previously hoarded by the craftsmen using them were isolated and dissociated. Patents freed knowledge in order to hoard it in a higher class. Those with the power to purchase secrets no longer required the old societal ties to do so.
Patents and copyrights also solved the problem of most knowledge being already held by others for centuries or millennia because it granted ownership not to the origin of knowledge but to the first to file patents, almost always western men. Patents and copyrights are exclusionary rights. They are not rights to do something but rights to stop others from doing it. They do not exist to directly empower the owner, they exist to empower him in relation to his colleagues by restricting them. University accreditation and licensing act in the same way. Institutionalization and professionalization allowed control of the sources of knowledge and its use by the men of the dominant social classes, a situation still true today. Ownership and controlled access to knowledge established the new floor the upper classes stood on, the ceiling for everyone else.
With science began the discrediting of thousands of years of knowledge and the establishment of professions such as medicine as the exclusive domain of the caucasian men who had access to the universities and literacy. The creation of officially sanctioned knowledge and reassigning of credit removed ownership of knowledge from women, indigenous societies, peasants, and all lower classes and placed it all under the rigid control of the scientific class. Practices which had been used and tested for centuries were not considered official or tested until men of science approved and claimed ownership of them. Most prior knowledge had been transmitted orally, at least off the main trade routes. Even knowledge that had been written down was later transferred to manuscripts copied, purchased, stored and taught by wealthy men. The credit deserved by many great scientists and historians for their work in preserving a small part of these oral traditions does not mitigate the fact that almost all knowledge was needlessly filtered through western male bias and misunderstanding before it was accepted into the halls of officially accredited knowledge.
This collection of knowledge allowed social independence or dissociation to those with access to universities. Self-congratulatory science produced generations of wealthy boys accustomed to the idea that their institutions already possessed all answers for all things and they no longer needed the listening skills and respect for their elders, colleagues and trade partners formerly necessary to acquire knowledge. Even in media and politics, young male pundits were depicted as having all of the answers to everything without needing to consult anyone actually involved in an event and, as in science, all stories were presented through the filter of the western men who held the microphones. The institutions which controlled the certification of knowledge then blocked the majority of the world from access to knowledge which was previously available to all as commons property. The face of a western man became the face associated with expertise. The face of an old woman became the face of old wives’ tales and the face of indigenous people became the face of superstition. Science is depicted as the source of all modern knowledge but it has, for centuries, stood in the way of the vast majority of people who may have contributed and has also ensured that all knowledge developed and disseminated was to the benefit of the powerful.
Science is not a source of knowledge; it is a gate. Knowledge was gathered from the global commons and then restricted by science, academia and licensing exactly like all other resources were gathered and then restricted by the trade economy. Knowledge was held to not exist until science discovered it, just like resources were claimed to be unowned until Europeans discovered them. Scientists and academia effectively burned the world’s oral libraries of tribal knowledge and went back to playing with alphabet blocks until they could rediscover what was already known and patent it. The amount of knowledge irrevocably lost to this scientific cleansing is a global tragedy and the restriction of all forms of study to wealthy western men has retarded human progress for centuries.
Science and the trade economy were depicted as the only conceivable path to progress. All prior beliefs were subject to the burden of proof but everything said by the great religion of science was held to be true until proven again and again to be untrue. No matter how many times they failed, the scientific class was always held to be infallible. Scientists could, like Thomas Aquinas, prove that god existedv or like René Descartes, declare knowledge of god innatevi, and be given credibility. Skepticism was reserved for the old beliefs which were always derided as old wives’ tales and superstitions. Scientific beliefs were proven wrong every day by scientists themselves. It was not scientific methods or ideas being presented as infallible, it was the scientific class. They reserved the right to point out errors to themselves alone. To the people being studied by anthropologists, having their homes explained by biologists and their news reported by journalists, the experts were invariably ignorantvii, but they had no voice to say so. It was rare that they even had access to read what was being said about them. The knowledge experts prided themselves on their detachment from the objects of their study and called their ignorance impartiality.
The isolated thought bubbles of science and academia developed schools of western masculinist theory in service to industrial progress that were almost unusable when applied to the needs of the real world. It is only after intensive critique from the rest of the world, large scale adoption of knowledge from international sources and the commons, and frequent disastrous failure that science has made the contributions they are credited with. Even with the body of academic and scientific knowledge that has finally been built, progress is stalled by funding, credibility and fame that is only available in the west. The vast majority of funding and research is spent on topics that interest neither the researcher nor anyone else but serve to fulfill employment, accreditation or funding requirements. Topics which could be of huge benefit to wider society are not studied if they are not within mandates or of interest to funders or if they are not in the interests of state and industry. Research is driven by power, not need. Like silicon valley’s endless parade of apps of use only to the frat boys creating them, science and academia study issues that affect wealthy old western men from the lens of wealthy old western menviii.
After years of ignoring the empires Europe has been trading with for millennia and pretending that Europe was unique in the development of complex societies and empires, archaeologists are finally studying the great kingdoms of the rest of the world. Nearly every one of the sites newly receiving attention is headed by a western academic. One of the world’s most important sites is the Caral-Supe site in Peru. The research at Caral has been headed by Peruvian Ruth Shady Solís since it began in 1994. She published her findings regularly and in 1999 was invited to the U.S. to give a talk, by two U.S. researchers who then visited the site for one weekend in 2000.ix They offered to use their well funded U.S. university to assist with carbon dating in exchange for their names appearing on her paper. They then used the appearance of their names on that paper to set up a parallel research group which receives far more funding and publicity than hers and to claim that they discovered the site she showed to them.x They also renamed her Caral-Supe civilization ‘Norte Chico’, a designation the English media and resources such as Wikipedia have used since.
This type of appropriation is not unique. It is structural in the way academia and science operate. A system of knowledge ownership, reciprocal citation and promotion, industrial funding and regional wealth is toxic and incompatible with a level or open system of study. Academia and science still parasite off of people worldwide with knowledge to contribute and no way to fund it or be heard without attributing their work to someone with more power. Travel bans, sanctions, intelligence sharing and trade alliances restrict the free global exchange of information. Ownership of ideas then continues to enable disparity of income and power and the cycle continues. The so-called scientific community is really a scientific class that hoards knowledge from the classes below and is in service to the classes above.
Science is not a synonym for verified knowledge. Science is a class structure in a hierarchical trade economy which regulates knowledge and controls access to it.
The average person has difficulty understanding a whole system at once (perhaps especially male people and even more especially those who are attracted to the study of the minutiae of science).[cite] In order to maintain control over a specimen for study they must break it into tiny pieces and view them in isolation where they will lose all context and relevance. The division of labour in factories helped efficiency by allowing people to build without understanding how to build the entire product. Science was supposed to allow study with the same compartmentalized efficiency, but in science no one understood the whole. Like humans, animals and nature do not respond well to isolation and torture. They must be considered as a whole of interrelated parts observed in their natural habitat for any understanding.
Scientific isolation has, for centuries, left us a legacy of medicine which seeks to kill disease instead of improve overall health, and agriculture which seeks to grow isolated crops by killing everything except the chosen plant. All of the old knowledge which looked at ecosystems and organisms holistically and sought to work with them were replaced by petri dishes and attacks on every aspect of nature. Empathic and intuitive knowledge, where women were perceived to be stronger, were derided as unscientific. Science centred on isolated, sterilized experiments that explain how with obsessive mania without ever inquiring why. After centuries, science has yet to answer or even ask a single why and prides itself on its myopic views as indicative of reason.
Science encouraged the dissociation of all of its products from their natural origins, of medicine from plants to pills, of food from gardens to plastic bags of products unrecognizable as food. Medicine was conquered and in service to man instead of the former herbs and rituals working with nature and the body. Medicine, cosmetics and food, once inseparable, became isolated to the point that cosmetics were poison and food caused sickness. The hunt for wild animals, where people were joined in contest with the animal and grateful if they won, was replaced by domestic animals raised in factories under complete domination, torture and slavery. Prayers to thank the souls of animals for feeding them were replaced by assertions that animals were machinery made up of nothing more than working parts. Occasionally this isolation and dissociation was necessary but far more often it was to enable copyrights and patents for industrial control. The legacy of this isolation is a knowledge class that is dangerously removed from the world it studies.
Science sought to remove spontaneity as other institutions removed society. Biodiversity was shunned and Monsanto became rich on a promise to kill all that was unapproved. Human efficiency was studied like that of battery hens and both are isolated in corporate factories to maximize production and eliminate any life not related to service of trade. Isolation of work has been transmitted even to homes where isolated people argue about chores rather than gathering as communities to share work. William Petty’s Political Arithmetickxi allowed the reduction of people to numbers and value and the importance of individual experience was lost. The seed of collateral damage was born. Every plant and animal, like every human, must prove its usefulness to the trade economy. We now have corporate valuations of both people and nature and both must prove their worth to industry to be permitted to survive. Corporations are omnipotent, like gods, and have no duty to provide any social good or obtain any social approval. Science funded by corporations is more interested in mining asteroids than in rediscovering who we are or preserving life on earth.
Our world is in crisis. Verified knowledge has never been more necessary. Study, experimentation, analysis, publication and critique are necessary. Epistemic communities are necessary. Sometimes solving problems in isolation is necessary. Even various scientific methods, empiricism and also rationalism are necessary. What is not necessary, and is blocking achievement of the collective knowledge we so urgently need, is a social class that sets themselves up as the closed arbiter and keepers of all knowledge and operates in service to the trade economy.
While group affiliations by clan, tribe and nation have always created ingroups and outgroups, the bigotries we experience today can be traced through history by the demands of the trade economy. Women have been kept subservient to control ownership of their offspring in patriarchal structures for the last several millennia. The role of caregiving (but not necessarily womanhood) is vilified when less population growth is needed. The taboo against homosexuality is largely invoked only when population growth is being encouraged.
Religious affiliation was used to prevent Muslims from enslaving other Muslims, a humanitarian law which made the rest of the world an outgroup and vastly expanded the Islamic slave trade. The same ingroup restrictions on slavery were made by the Christian church when the Ottoman Empire was too powerful against Europe. In the melting pot regions near the Silk Road, ethnicities and nationalities were too mixed to establish clear divisions, so religions were used to establish ingroups and outgroups. The idea of genetic race, as opposed to national appearance, was invented only in very recent history and encouraged primarily in America, as a visual representation of class and to divide the lower classes, including women. The methods of outgroup vilification used began with the very literal demonization of women along the major Indo-European trade routes several millennia ago.
But regardless of the dangers magic posed, the bourgeoisie had to combat its power also because it undermined the principle of individual responsibility, as magic placed the determinants of social action in the realm of the stars, out of their reach and control. – Silvia Federici[cite]
For, as for witches, I think not that their witchcraft is any real power, but yet that they are justly punished for the false belief they have that they can do such mischief, joined with their purpose to do it if they can, their trade being nearer to a new religion than to a craft or science. – Thomas Hobbes, Leviathon[cite]
The religious obsession with removing witchcraft, particularly from the hands of women and indigenous people, was a fear of anything that interfered with control and free will for powerful men. The overwhelming fear of chaos was a fear of both women and nature. Both have been popularly associated for millennia with chaos, a word which originally was used to describe the primordial state. Pythagoras wrote, “There is a good principle that created order, light and man and a bad principle that created chaos, darkness and woman.”[cite]
The Babylonian goddess of primordial creation, Tiamat, described in the Enûma Eliš (sometimes depicted in a serpent form or as the mother of serpents) is one example of this ancient association. In this myth, her son Marduk murders her, the divided parts of her body become the heavens and earth and Marduk becomes the most powerful patriarch-god over his siblings. A related story specifies, “the deity above-mentioned took off his own head: upon which the other gods mixed the blood, as it gushed out, with the earth; and from thence were formed men. On this account it is that they are rational, and partake of divine knowledge.”[cite] Men were not only associated with the god, not the goddess or the earth, but chaos, women and nature were depicted as their mortal enemies which needed to be violently overcome.
This is an early (possibly 18-16th century BCE) version of many religious myths describing primordial chaos and darkness conquered and divided into binary good/evil, light/dark, male/female by a man-like god or a god-like man. Subsequent stories are reduced to the man-god fighting a serpent or dragon and are sometimes referred to as the chaoskampf theme in myths, legends and religious stories. This story is common to almost all Indo-European and neighbouring regions in stories ranging from Beowulf vs the dragon to Apollo vs Python to Christ vs Satan and Krishna vs. Kāliyā.[cite]
The more modern forms of this myth are the knights who battle dragons for the hand of characterless virgins, a too-perfect allegory for the subjection of female power. This transformation is echoed wherever trade spread Christianity and replaced the mother goddesses such as Pachamama with the virgin Mary. While Latin America still prays to the Mary-goddess and her figure is far more prominent than that of Jesus, she is now depicted as a characterless and castrated vessel for God-man instead of a direct source of life and power. This revision in women’s acceptable role is seen throughout history as powerful women from Trota to Elizabeth I have been accused of being male or, like Joan of Arc and Hildegard of Bingen, treated as solely empty vessels for God’s will. The men of their eras also claimed divine inspiration but were credited personally for their achievements.
In later years, many theologians decided to replace the idea of primordial chaos with nothingness or creatio ex nihilo, an early example of photoshopping anything considered female from history. The snake-like creature persisted however, and retained its qualities of being conquered by Marduk-God for the use of man. Psalms 74 of the Book of Psalms addresses God, “Thou didst break the sea in pieces by Thy strength; Thou didst shatter the heads of the sea-monsters in the waters. Thou didst crush the heads of leviathan, Thou gavest him to be food to the folk inhabiting the wilderness.” It is this chaotic force of nature in the form of the leviathan which Thomas Hobbes invokes in his 1651 treatise arguing the need for a strong absolute ruler (or man-god) to control our impulses under a state of nature.[cite]
The other aspect of the myth which persists is the division of a chaotic whole into an ordered binary, and the development of a Manichean worldview. With the addition of the Madonna-virgin figure to the chaoskampf myths, women themselves became a binary. As long as they were obedient to men (order) and not in control of their own power through sexuality and lifegiving, they could be on the side of light and good and order. In the last couple of centuries the ancient division between chaos and order, light and dark, and male and female was expanded in some regions by the creation of race. Now people are labeled as black and white and some are cast out with chaos and darkness and women while some are elevated with light, order and men. The virgin woman became the untouchable ‘white’ woman and the dark women were left to be cast as the whores, though both were still subjected to men. The preference of Circassian slaves as wives and concubines to the sultans of the Ottoman empire and the shahs of Persia while the cheaper Syrians and still cheaper Nubians[cite] filled the harems of the lower classes is an example of this new status.
A Jewish story describes Adam’s first wife Lilith as created before or at the same time as him and from the same earth. She refused to lie beneath Adam and flew away to become the baby eating, man raping, snake loving demon she appears as in many writings (under various names). Her appearance in the Alphabet of ben Sirach in the 8th – 10th century[cite] as a foil to characterless Eve entrenched the moral that women who were not completely subjected to men were pure evil. She, like primordial chaos, has been photoshopped from most current accounts of Adam and Eve. We are again left with only one acceptable form for women in the shape of Eve and the Lilith side is again now represented by a snake, also associated with Satan and evil. Still, Lilith’s role as the temptress of Eve is an early example of the moral to keep women isolated and not able to conspire together and to keep the good women away from the bad.
All of these ancient beliefs were used during the Inquisition to stir up hatred and increase the subjection of women. In order to create a class war against a population which was not an abstract thought but the family members and social structure men lived with daily, differences between men and women had to be exaggerated and presented as the result of evil. In 1486, the printing press began its illustrious career as a disseminator of mass hate propaganda for centralized power with the publication of the Malleus Malleficarum[cite] which saw 29 printings before 1669, second only to the Bible. Among the many edifying chapters in this extraordinary work are the following:
Concerning Witches who copulate with Devils. Why is it that Women are chiefly addicted to Evil superstitions? Whether Witches may work some Prestidigatory Illusion so that the Male Organ appears to be entirely removed and separate from the Body. That Witches who are Midwives in Various Ways Kill the Child Conceived in the Womb, and Procure an Abortion; or if they do not this Offer New-born Children to Devils. How Witches Impede and Prevent the Power of Procreation. How, as it were, they Deprive Man of his Virile Member. Of the Manner whereby they Change Men into the Shapes of Beasts. Of the Method by which Devils through the Operations of Witches sometimes actually possess men. Of the Method by which they can Inflict Every Sort of Infirmity, generally Ills of the Graver Kind. Of the Way how in Particular they Afflict Men with Other Like Infirmities. How Witch Midwives commit most Horrid Crimes when they either Kill Children or Offer them to Devils in most Accursed Wise.
The Malleus Malleficarum summarizes the historical views on women as follows:
“Ecclesiasticus xxv: There is no head above the head of a serpent: and there is no wrath above the wrath of a woman. I had rather dwell with a lion and a dragon than to keep house with a wicked woman. … All wickedness is but little to the wickedness of a woman. Wherefore S. John Chrysostom says on the text, It is not good to marry (S. Matthew xix): What else is woman but a foe to friendship, an unescapable punishment, a necessary evil, a natural temptation, a desirable calamity, a domestic danger, a delectable detriment, an evil of nature, painted with fair colours! Therefore if it be a sin to divorce her when she ought to be kept, it is indeed a necessary torture; for either we commit adultery by divorcing her, or we must endure daily strife. Cicero in his second book of The Rhetorics says: The many lusts of men lead them into one sin, but the lust of women leads them into all sins; for the root of all woman’s vices is avarice. And Seneca says in his Tragedies: A woman either loves or hates; there is no third grade. And the tears of woman are a deception, for they may spring from true grief, or they may be a snare. When a woman thinks alone, she thinks evil.”
So the witch hunts decreed that a woman was neither permitted to think in the company of other women or in solitary, all of her thoughts must be guided by men. Network censorship in the name of terrorism is not a new thing.
Malleus Malleficarum then offers remedies for witchcraft including some of the most disturbed sexually deviant practices ever written, dressed up as law and order. It is however made clear that the power of witches was not their own, but rather came from a sexual act with the devil, women being far too weak of mind to have ideas of their own. “For as regards intellect, or the understanding of spiritual things, they seem to be of a different nature from men; … Women are intellectually like children…. No woman understood philosophy except Temeste.” As a model of professional sabotage, the Inquisitions and Malleus Malleficarum remain unequaled and the control they established over medical knowledge remained complete until the Internet allowed women and others to once more begin their gossip. Interestingly, one of the first and most panicked cries for Internet censorship was to prevent dissemination of medical knowledge by any except professionals.
The isolation of women was furthered by the dehumanization and the discrediting of all visible female emotion as trickery designed to use men for evil purposes. Men were made to fear any sympathetic attraction to women as being under her spell and resistance to association with women became a celebrated measure of piety. Female seduction was feared as a method of removing men’s free will, a premise still used today in rape justifications. Isolated from other women, feared and despised by men, their work reduced to slavery, their history erased, and their hereditary knowledge unattainable, women became outcasts of the very societies they still created and nurtured.
Both Lilith-type legends and Malleus Malleficarum warn of the dangers of women’s carnal natures:
“But the natural reason is that she is more carnal than a man, as is clear from her many carnal abominations.”
And of their natures in general:
“And as to her other mental quality, that is, her natural will; when she hates someone whom she formerly loved, then she seethes with anger and impatience in her whole soul, just as the tides of the sea are always heaving and boiling. Many authorities allude to this cause. Ecclesiasticus xxv: There is no wrath above the wrath of a woman. And Seneca (Tragedies, VIII): No might of the flames or the swollen winds, no deadly weapon, is so much to be feared as the lust and hatred of a woman who has been divorced from the marriage bed.”
All of the above opinions are reinforced by philosophy, in which Aristotle calls women “a misbegotten male”,[cite] and by science, in which Darwin wrote “males are more evolutionarily advanced than females”.[cite] Darwin also warned that “unchecked female militancy threatened to produce a perturbance of the races” and to “divert the orderly process of evolution”.[cite] It is little wonder that feminism spends all of its energy trying to convince both men and women that they are alike in every respect and denying any differences no matter how physically apparent.
In actual biological fact, women are obviously not equal to men though they certainly are equivalent. Whether or not men deviate more from the normative range (in both directions) due to their more vulnerable Y chromosome[cite], women deviate from their own norms through both a monthly cyclic cocktail of hormones and a lifetime of changing, personality altering hormones.[cite] This is not a weakness, it is a gift. Women are capable of far more diversity of thought within their own minds and lifetimes. We are not even beginning to understand the full effect of hormones on women (or men) because difference is not a topic of popular study in a world where safety and societal acceptance are found only in equality. One thing is certain; there are cognitive differences in women on the hormone altering pharmaceuticals sold to women worldwide as Feminism, their keys to acceptance into a male world.[cite]
No one can seriously think in this day and age that the best method of birth control we can come up with will necessitate women the world over being subjected to extremely dangerous pharmaceuticals[cite] that do everything from destroying the aforementioned carnal lust to eliminating the aforementioned natural will which these men found so frightening. The birth control pill is not just about birth control, it is Dolby sound for women’s hormones, a way to control that legendary fury which hell hath no greater than and a sacrifice of women’s own genius to make them a little closer to the masculine ideal. The fear of women’s hormonal changes is ancient and pervasive. It is predictable that it was women suffering post-natal depression that were a favourite target for brainwashing by Canadian intelligence services. What would be poetic justice if it were not an environmental catastrophe is those same hormones that are being used to declaw women globally are of course returning to the earth and combining with the simulated estrogen in plastics to create an excess of women’s hormones the world over.
Centralized medicine brought the industrialization of childbirth and removal of breastfeeding. The pharmaceutical industry has managed to conflate the pill with birth control almost completely and further conflate the pill with feminism. Feminists who feel their role consists of convincing the world that women are identical to men and preaching complete assimilation would rather deny that natural hormones exist and embrace any pharmacology that minimizes them. It is interesting that the exact same pills when provided to an ethnic group are a scandal[cite] but not when provided to an entire sex.
The desire to remove any variation in character from women goes back to earliest writings. In Indo-European mythology, women are frequently powerful wild cards with a passion for vengeance such as Nemesis, Nyx, Lilith, Eris, Calypso and many others. In science fiction, women are most often robots (frequently literally), predictable and characterless, with child bearing function removed or industrialized. The hoped for transition in character is hard to miss. In societal norms women must be heavily moderated, use endearments instead of (witch’s) cursing and any negativity or assertiveness is instantly condemned as hysteria or unacceptable anger. The need to constantly train women to be passive and subservient partly results still from a very real terror instilled by the relentless propaganda of the last millennium.
In matrilineal societies women controlled the home and were responsible for all of the child rearing as well as most agriculture. As descent could only be proven from women, they were the heads of families and men could be banished from the home and even shunned from the village if they offended. This shunning could equal a death sentence if the man had nowhere else to go. The terror of women’s anger may have had something to do with this traditional fear in some cultures. Centuries later, the same concerns about women’s property ownership and maternal rights and the same complaints about women’s natural character are being repeated by the masculinist MRA (men’s rights activists) group. Conversely, MRA also complain if property ownership is not available to women as they then are considered gold diggers, seeking possession of men’s property. The resentment of men who were made to purchase admittance into their own families by the creation of waged labour continues.
Religions were not such an obvious point of division as gender. All of the great Silk Road religions adhered to the same patriarchal ideology of autonomous and omnipotent men who were granted the right to use women, children, nature and weaker or more unfortunate men in any way they wished. Although they followed different prophets: Mani, Zarathustra, Buddha, Christ, Mohammed, and more, there was no serious point of conflict between theologies along the Silk Road. They all fit comfortably into the same patriarchal social structures, unsurprisingly as they shared both common myths and common economic structures. The religious conflicts of the region are and have always been based on trade. As in all group affiliation, religion was used to divide very similar populations and justify atrocities towards each other.
Islam taught that Muslims could never enslave other Muslims and non-Muslims could only be enslaved if they were prisoners of war or the children of slaves.[cite] For its time, this was an extremely humanitarian law. Unfortunately, the in-group differentiation of this law and the contemporary demand for slaves led to the Islamic region becoming a vortex for warlike raids on other regions and enslavement of their populations. Since any prisoners of war qualified as slaves, slave raids to fill the Islamic markets were conducted by varied groups of people throughout Africa, west Asia and Europe.
Judaism dictated that Hebrews had considerably more rights than non-Hebrew and originally they were to be treated only as servants and freed after six years as written in Exodus 21:2 “If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve for six years; but on the seventh he shall go out as a free man without payment.” and in Leviticus 42 “For they are my servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as slaves.” The same strictures did not apply to outgroups: Leviticus 44 “As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are around you. 45 You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their clans that are with you, who have been born in your land, and they may be your property. 46 You may bequeath them to your sons after you to inherit as a possession forever. You may make slaves of them, but over your brothers the people of Israel you shall not rule, one over another ruthlessly.”
Although the above strictures were modified in other sources and certainly not always followed, there were consistently different statuses accorded to Hebrew and non-Hebrew slaves. If a Jewish man must sell himself into slavery he was instructed not to sell himself to a woman or a person from another faith and if he was sold to another faith it was the responsibility of all other Jews to redeem him.[cite] From the middle ages to the 19th century there were Jewish societies organized to free Jewish people from slavery.[cite]
Christianity reflected the Roman and Byzantine empires where it spread, and treated slavery as a well established fact of life, with not much said for or against it. As the slave raids spread from the Islamic markets and as those slaves began returning to Europe in the form of well trained armies, the Catholic Church started to issue edicts discouraging the enslavement of Christians and especially the sale of Christians to non-Christians. Besides prohibitions on selling to Muslims, from the 4th century forward there were repeated Christian prohibitions on Jews owning Christian slaves. Several sources state that Jewish involvement in the medieval slave trade was significant at certain times and places and several other sources say their involvement is grossly overstated. Most historians can agree however that the Christian perception of Jewish involvement was high enough to contribute a great deal to anti-Semitism in Christian communities. According to David Brion Davis in Slavery and Human Progress, “Medieval Christians … became obsessed with alleged Jewish plots to enslave, convert, or sell non-Jews.”[cite]
At various points in history, the religions of the book offered mutual protection from slavery to each other or mutual aid as go-betweens in the slave trade. Non-Muslim slave traders from Ethiopia, Spain and elsewhere carried out the horrific practice of slave castration for sale of eunuchs to Muslims who were forbidden to castrate them.[cite] Other religions were punished for interference such as the Manicheans who were condemned by the Synod of Gangra in 340 for encouraging slaves to revolt.[cite] Manichaeism between the third and seventh centuries became the most widespread religion in the world but it was driven out of the west first and then out of China by the 14th century, after supporting peasant rebellions.
While Judaism did not necessarily encourage conversion of slaves, both Islam and Christianity spread rapidly through the protection they each offered their ingroups from slavery and from conversion of slaves. Both Muslim and Christian communities also became wealthy by trading each other as slaves. While some Christian groups during abolition used Christianity as a reason to abolish slavery, others such as Jefferson Davis used it to justify slavery, saying the practice “was established by decree of Almighty God…it is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments, from Genesis to Revelation…it has existed in all ages, has been found among the people of the highest civilization, and in nations of the highest proficiency in the arts.” Jefferson Davis, President of theConfederate States of America.[cite]
None of the major religions encouraged slavery and all in fact tried to reduce its horrific nature, both by reaffirming the humanity of the slaves and by forbidding or restricting its use on their own ingroups. Indeed, the exhortations against cruelty to slaves may have been what partly attracted lower classes to these religions in a region dominated by the slave trade. The changing attitudes towards slavery now puts these religious texts far behind in a humanitarian role they once led. If the religious texts of two millennia ago were to occupy the same position in today’s society which they did when they were written, the groups they would be advocating for would include all of humanity and the passages on slavery would be for abolition. Sadly, the texts have been preserved instead of the spirit.
Despite their intent, the group affiliation nature of all religions only led to increased slavery and brutality towards each other, culminating in outgroup hatred. While it may be hard to believe that people would war with each other for centuries over scarcely differing religions, it is perfectly understandable in the context of the slave trade. Not only were there vast profits to be made by merchants in these wars, there would also be deep hatred to outgroups who regularly enslaved each other’s families and used horrific practices such as castration and forced marches which cost the lives of so many.
Those religions not of the book, whether from parts of Africa, America, India, or other regions, suffered from being the outgroups that all of the great trade religions were free to use as slaves. As trade exploration went overseas, indigenous people were also depicted as heathens to justify their enslavement, but this division did not work as well when they became converted to Christianity. A large population of labour slaves has also been a repeated danger for rebellion throughout history and the increasing amount of slaves being imported to America created a great risk of rebellion. When these slaves joined forces with indentured servants and others from the lowest classes, they were a constant danger to the ruling classes. It is in this context that race divisions were created.
By the time of widespread European overseas exploration, religious differences were causing extreme division throughout Europe. People were no longer divided simply by prophet or Eastern Orthodox vs Roman Catholic or Catholic vs Protestant, they had splintered into innumerable little sects which were being used to justify persecution of each other. Many people moved from Europe to the colonies in search of religious freedom. Religious divide was even more of an anathema in English colonies because it was feared that indentured servants would lead uprisings against their colonial masters in favour of other Catholics, as the Irish Saint Patrick’s Battalion (San Patricios) deserted the United States military to fight alongside Mexico in 1846 and Irish indentured servants on St. Kitt’s rebelled when France attacked the island in 1666. The United States particularly was founded on a principle of separation of church and state by a group of men highly suspicious of the church and their efforts to divide, so the United States particularly became the incubator of racism to justify slavery.
The same experts and rewriting of historical experts which were used to dissociate men from women were used to help establish racism in America. The concept of race doesn’t mesh well with myths depicting all of humanity as coming from one man and one woman but Christians have a story in Genesis 9:20-27 wherein Noah condemns Canaan to be a servant of servants to his brothers. The convenience of this myth had been recognized centuries earlier, around 1100 by Honorius Augustodunensis, who depicted serfs as the descendants of Canaan to justify their perpetual servitude.[cite] In the last couple of centuries this story was used again by both Christians and Muslims who decided, against all other information, that the descendants of Canaan were African and condemned to perpetual enslavement.[cite]
Around the late 17th century, the first attempts to divide people by race appeared. In 16th century Spain, Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda claimed that the indigenous in America were “natural slaves”.[cite] John Stuart Mill wrote in 1869 that “Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians”[cite] applying racism which Aristotle never intended to Aristotle’s view that “those who are as different [from other men] as the soul from the body or man from beast—and they are in this state if their work is the use of the body, and if this is the best that can come from them—are slaves by nature. For them it is better to be ruled in accordance with this sort of rule, if such is the case for the other things mentioned.” Even Mill spoke of barbarians as a transitory state which could be changed however. Racism started as nothing more than intellectual posturing to justify the theft of land in the Americas and the resurgence of slave trading by Europeans. Later, both racism and sexism were used to defend class barriers in general.
Like sexism and religion, racism was extremely helpful in dividing labourers and emphasizing non-existent divisions over the class reality they all lived. Slave traders used existing myths to create bigotries which could be used to entrench their use of other people. People were divided by gender, religion, and race to facilitate the slave trade initially and the resulting stratified society in later years. Long after the short-lived concept of race has been completely debunked, racism lives on. As long as there is a large bottom class and a tiny ruling class there will be the same motivations for keeping the bottom class divided and fighting each other. Groups like the United States Rainbow Coalition of the 1960s, who simply followed ideas instead of aligning by bigotries, are the biggest threat to the class system and will be disrupted by any means possible. (Video below.)
Bigotries allow different rules for different people, convince people to welcome the segregated cages they are put into, allow them to pay less for the labour of some, and give them a powerful tool to coerce people’s behaviour. Bigotries encourage people to lobby for benefits only for their own sect and ignore all others, ensuring that the most powerless remain isolated. Bigotry does not restrict itself to one sect or region. The evictions of Dominicans of Haitian descent from the Dominican Republic or the mass slaughter and expulsion of Rohingya people in Burma are just two examples where people will find almost imperceptible differences and use them to create division and mask economic motives.
All bigotries are expressions of class bigotries. Hatred of women is hatred of lifegivers and caregivers and it lessens when women refuse those roles. Hatred of indigenous people is hatred of ecosystem caregivers and it lessens when indigenous people refuse those roles. Hatred of those who are valued less or more is a protection of class. Hate is not based on appearance. It is based on the class associated with appearance. Hate will not end by achieving equality for all different sects in each class as long as the classes themselves remain. The classes will never be removed as long as the trade economy is profiting from them and the bigotries will never be removed as long as the top class is protected by them.
In every single part of the world, chattel slavery has been a part of human history. No region of any significant size has not had large populations of people sold as slaves and no region has not purchased slaves. There is no era in which slavery was not a significant part of societal relations. Even hunter-gatherer people abducted or claimed slaves as war or crime reparations or as spoils of war. Throughout history and continuing today, these human products were used as adopted family members, labour, sex slaves, human sacrifice and even more gruesome fates. Even when they weren’t traded, they were chattel in that they were considered the property of an owner, to dispose of as they wished.
Slavery increased wherever the trade economy flourished, as did the production of all products for sale. The trade empires of the middle east and Africa were in very large part built by the labour of slaves and the wealth brought by the slave trade. During the last two millennia and earlier, the Arab and African states made slavery for both labour and sex an integral part of their social structure. Although slavery is technically illegal in every part of the world now (in Saudi Arabia and Yemen not until 1965, In Oman not until 1970 and in Mauritania not until 2007) neither region has ever really eradicated it and both have recently seen greatly increased human trafficking of all kinds[cite]. In addition to the regular trade, disasters such as the wars in Syria, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and elsewhere bring the international vultures of human trafficking as well as politicians not averse to ridding themselves of annoying populations at a profit.
Europe’s use of slaves dropped after the fall of the Western Roman Empire with the increase in serfs and indentured servants and the decrease in trade. Europe was still frequently raided for slaves for all reasons, particularly the Slavs who were so often raided that the condition of slavery became synonymous with their name. Possibly three million[cite] Russians, Poles, Ukrainians, Moldovans, Circassians and Lithuanians were enslaved by Central Asian khanates between 1500-1774 or six and a half million between 1200 to 1760,[cite] in a trade several authors have dubbed the “harvesting of the steppe”. According to Mike Dash, “the great Russian historian Vasily Klyuchevsky … observed that “if you consider how much time and spiritual and material strength was wasted in the monotonous, brutal, toilsome and painful pursuit of [the Tatar] steppe predators, one need not ask what people in Eastern Europe were doing while those of Western Europe advanced in industry and commerce, in civil life and in the arts and sciences.”
The vast majority of this trade was destined for the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East. The Slavs had been the site of frequent slave raids earlier by Vikings, Italy, and others for sale to the Byzantine Empire, but by the time of the Ottoman Empire the trade was huge, there and elsewhere. Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Britain, Ireland and Iceland were also raided by pirates from the Barbary coast and some estimates claim between 1 million and 1.25 million[cite] Europeans were captured by pirates and sold as slaves in Tunis, Algiers and Tripoli between the 16th and the 19th centuries. Slaves made up three quarters of the population of the Crimean Khanate and one fifth of the population of Constantinople. As huge and devastating as this trade was, it was matched or dwarfed by numbers enslaved in parts of Africa and does not include the smaller or more exotic branches of the trade like slaves from Karelia (Finland).[cite] Like Africa and the Middle East, eastern Europe has never eradicated this trade. The still primarily female slave exodus is still ongoing[cite], still with the complicity of some source and destination governments.
China at many times preferred peasant, serf and bonded labour to slavery, but large populations of criminals and foreigners were still enslaved throughout Chinese history and as now,[cite] any laws against slavery frequently did not reflect the reality. Like Africa and Europe, India’s preexisting slavery was greatly expanded by the Islamic slave markets. Later Indians were also sold to the European overseas empires. The Dutch had the largest slave trade in the world in the late 1600s and, besides enslaving the indigenous populations, they imported around 6000 African slaves and an unknown quantity of Indian slaves a year into the Dutch West Indies.[cite] South East Asian slave populations were huge, particularly in Thailand and Burma where some estimate a quarter or third of the populations in some regions were enslaved between the 17th and 20th centuries. All the above regions still have large populations in labour slavery today[cite], as well as sex slavery and purchased brides, increasingly as the female shortage in both India and China has become more acute[cite]. Nepal and other areas are frequently raided by traffickers for the sex trade[cite] and Nepal also has traditional slavery still in existence among the kamlari[cite]. Displaced populations like Burma’s Rohingya people are either pushed off into boats to die or they fall victim to the human traffickers, frequently associated with officials like those in the Thai navy[cite]. China also has indentured labour that is difficult to distinguish from slavery and they have mass trials and execute prisoners and political dissidents horrifically and on demand for the organ trade in what can only be called a human farming industry[cite].
Slavery was widespread in America, as it was on the other continents, and Europeans who landed in America both enslaved indigenous people and were occasionally themselves enslaved. As soon as overseas trade expansion began in the 15th century, so did renewed trafficking in slaves by Europe. The trans-Atlantic slave trade from Africa to America was a massive industry from the mid 1500’s to the mid 1800s, enslaving around 85,000 people a year at its peak[cite]. While slave raids have always resulted in very low survival rates for the victims, from causes such as long marches, foreign diseases, castration and abuse, the trans-Atlantic voyages were particularly long and horrific with inestimable death and suffering. In addition to slaves from Africa, political dissidents and victims of attempted genocide in Ireland and other unwanted or poor throughout Europe were sent as indentured servants in conditions sometimes close to slavery. With the progressive abolition of slavery in the colonies, their numbers were replaced by more indentured servants from India and China, also sometimes kept in conditions difficult to distinguish from slavery. As well as traditional slavery, the United States in particular has continued to keep servants in a state near indentured servitude through legal threats based on their visa status.
In the era of abolition, slavery was depicted in American colonies as a problem of racial equality. This approach disregards the entire history of global slavery which took place before racism was invented and which hasn’t been slowed at all by attempts to eliminate racism. The international focus on one part of the historical trade, labour slaves from Africa to European colonies, in particular the United States, has allowed all other slavery to operate with varying levels of impunity. When slavery becomes so visible it can’t escape notice, it is now called human trafficking. While the new term focuses on the sale of people rather than the use of them, they are both incomplete terms and the only reason to swap one for the other is to pretend that there was a point in history where slavery was abolished and now it is a historical topic. While there may no longer be African slaves picking cotton in the United States, there is unprecedented slave labour in the United States from the rest of America and even more slaves from around the world in the United States sex industry[cite]. Despite the fact that there are far more books and papers discussing the end of slavery than the continuation of it, slavery has increased in almost every part of the world[cite].
Slavery has also been depicted as a problem integral to production and capitalism. Both today and throughout history, there were huge populations of slaves purchased for consumption instead of production, slaves for sex and other service to the wealthy. Slaves as product instead of means of production have been widely ignored in movements focused on workers defined as those involved in manufacturing product. This has led many historians to depict the Arab slave trade as not related to labour and to talk about slaves being freed by marriage and adoption because the service of women and children continues to be unvalued. Exodus 21:2 instructed “If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve for six years; but on the seventh he shall go out as a free man without payment.” but Exodus 21:7 qualifies “If a man sells his daughter as a female slave, she is not to go free as the male slaves do.” If marriage is involved there is no need to qualify. Then as now, we accept female slavery as a domestic cultural norm. If a boy is sold for labour, human rights groups call it slavery, but for a girl they use the term marriage in cases which are slavery by all definitions. Women and children’s bodies are also now a resource for the massive non-consensual porn industry, as product. Defining domestic and product slavery would require discussion of the roles of women and children in the wider society. The lack of autonomy of women and children in deeply patriarchal societies also makes it much more difficult to define the conditions which constitute slavery. If adult male standards were used, all women and children may be considered slaves in some communities.
Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was written in 1948 to abolish slavery. In 1966 it was modified to ensure it still allows slavery of the lowest class, in prisons. In the private prisons of the U.K., U.S. and Australia, people in prisons are chattel, actually owned by the corporate prisons, and their labour and their bodies can be sold through corporate contracts. With the scandals involving police and judiciary funneling people into these prisons for payment,[cite] it is evident the prisons are the new cotton fields in the United States and the judiciary and police in these cases are acting as slave traders.
Slavery, like genocide, is a problem that has been with us in every region and every era. To our credit, both are now almost universally recognized as something we need to overcome, but we are nowhere close to doing so. Both are largely ignored by both media and public, perhaps because those whose job it is to see that these crimes do not go on are helpless to stop them. Despite the attempts at creating peacekeeping forces by the United Nations and others, we have not developed a way for larger society to protect one group of people who another are intent on massacring. Neither do we have any way to stop a lucrative trade economy in any product, particularly when many of those profiting occupy powerful positions. It is easier to pretend these things no longer happen.
A 2014 study on population growth projections finds an 80% probability that the world population, now 7.2 billion, will increase to between 9.6 and 12.3 billion by 2100.[cite] Growth will occur primarily from nations which have suffered from trade pillaging, including indigenous populations in the Americas. In the wealthy states, as well as the rapidly growing economies such as China, Brazil and India, an epidemic of aging is projected instead.[cite] At the same time, income disparity has reached a point where “eight men own the same wealth as the poorest half of the world.”[cite] More than ever in history, there are far too many vulnerable people to meet the needs of the few who can afford to buy them. There is also a global gender imbalance[cite] which has been caused by the gynocidal[cite] actions of populations in China[cite] and India,[cite] the current and projected largest populations in the world, as well as other places. Since China and India are also two of the wealthiest economies, they can afford to spread their severe imbalance to other nations.[cite] More than ever in history, women are a global commodity.[cite]
The fact that population growth is stabilized or dropping in industrialized countries and increasing in developing countries and poor populations is used to justify both active and passive genocide by the people controlling the technology to wage war and stop disease. The number of displaced people reached 65.3 million in 2016 and is steadily climbing.[cite] It is no longer necessary to conduct raids into peaceful territories for the slave trade. Wars and famine are driving large populations of desperate and untraceable people into the arms of slave traders.
With the Australian government’s recent sale of refugees to Cambodia,[cite] human trafficking has become openly a government activity again, as it always has been secretly. The U.S. military and Canadian resource corporations have for years disdained justice systems in favour of monetary payouts for the lives of people they murder.[cite] The trade economy has normalized the valuation of people in monetary terms to the point that it is customary to reply with a dollar value when asked for a person’s worth. The underclass in earlier empires were valuable labour. In modern times the vast majority are expendable product. Replacing labour slavery with waged labour and automation has only expanded the uses people buy slaves for. People are bought and sold as products for militias, prostitution, marriage, organ trafficking and even ritual killings. People are tortured for ransom and charged for their passage as refugees.
There is no need for wise rulers to create community in a supranational empire. Trade can make problem populations disappear and bring profit too. Inconvenient populations were, and still are, packed on cargo ships and traded as slaves or indentured servants or settled in penal colonies far away from home. Bounties for neighbours helped fill Guantanamo as well as slave markets throughout history and today. One of the primary sources of income for stateless militias is still the ancient standby, kidnap and ransom. With the growth of criminal industry, human trafficking is far more versatile now than it has ever been. Stateless militias traffic people to sell for every criminal use, but use them as well as drug mules, for weapons running, as sexual bribes to militia members and as ‘suicide’ bombers. Both stateless and state militias use child soldiers. Boko Haram fighting against the Civilian Joint Task Force youth vigilantes endorsed and supported by the Nigerian military was a war of children against children, something none of Nigeria’s ally states objected to and something media seldom reported in their periodic hysteria about Boko Haram.
The trade economy creates a market for whatever product it has to sell. No one needs to buy trafficked humans. The demand is created by the seller who convinces the buyer. The vast increase in the paedosadism market, where children are raped, tortured or murdered for adult entertainment is a horrifying example of created demand.[cite] There is a new and growing market in West Africa created by those who have convinced politicians that amulets from ritual killings are necessary for their electoral success.[cite] China is farming prisoners and political dissidents and harvesting their organs on demand to market them to a self-indulgent and wealthy population who have been convinced they deserve immortality.[cite]
One of the most interesting economic loops of the last century is in the paedosadism market. A very large number of powerful officials in governments and international organizations have been implicated in paedosadism,[cite] leading to much debate in the press as to the causal link between paedosadism and high office. There is an obvious feedback loop between a criminal underground which is in charge of human trafficking and those in positions of power who are either lured to participate or were selected for high office because of their blackmail potential. The frequency with which spy agencies are involved in these cases also indicates that they may be encouraging the election of politicians and others who they can easily control with blackmail. Besides the incredibly high number of politicians implicated in the UK,[cite] thers are accusations that children from Kincora boys home were used by MI6 for blackmail of IRA and Sinn Fein members[cite] and accusations that Joris Demmink, the Dutch Minister of Security and Justice, was being blackmailed by Turkey[cite] and others. There have also been multiple cases of organizations such as United Nations peacekeepers involved in paedosadism, in Bosnia, in Somalia, in the Central African Republic and more. It is obvious that a criminal industry as huge as human trafficking cannot exist without borders and bank accounts being accessible to the trade and that access is ensured by a blackmail and bribery loop fed by the industry itself.
States also have multiple ways to profit from large populations now that large scale industrial labour is no longer needed. They are used for weapons advertising, as seen in the huge increase in arms dealer profits from the weapons trade shows being held over the slaughter of people in Syria, Gaza and elsewhere.[cite] They are used to fill prison corporations, a circular trade that has taxes pay corporations to imprison the citizens and then prisons sell the labour of prisoners to other corporations at a vast discount.[cite] People are made ill and their illness is used to profit the pharmaceutical and medical industries.[cite] Their food security is destroyed and the resulting famines are used to profit NGOs, a cycle well planned years in advance.[cite] Cartels in America sell drugs to the poor in the United States in exchange for the guns flowing down the Iron River from the United States to Central America.[cite] Weapons manufacturers in the United States profit on the lives of the poor in both Central America and the U.S. and then convince governments they need even more guns to stop the violence. Water everywhere is stolen and polluted by Coca Cola so that people are forced to buy Coca Cola.[cite]
Since the years during which IBM profited from cataloguing people for Hitler’s concentration camps,[cite] the tech industry has catalogued and spied on and murdered people for the powerful. Intelligence and military agencies have been accused of or admitted to conducting mass and individual experiments on foreign and local populations for decades and the findings are frequently used to profit industry.[cite] Food, environmental, worker and infrastructure safety are reduced by corruption, incompetence, and corporate greed, but even more so when the ruling strata would rather the population was reduced.
As people become more expendable, the popular uses for them are ever more genocidal. Drugs are as useful for immobilizing a large public and funding their tyrants as they were in the U.K. – China opium wars or Japan’s occupation of Manchuria. Today, China is more likely to be the supplier, as they are in providing fentanyl to the United States[cite] or heroin to Burma’s Kachin people.[cite] The three biggest criminal industries are all genocidal, a great help in removing populations standing in the way of resource corporations or threatening the wealthy. The weapons for populations to destroy each other with greater ease and the drugs to increase the violence and incapacitate effective resistance have been supplemented with the rapid growth of the human trafficking industry.
The trade economy and borders have made both genocide and slavery much more difficult to control. Both slavery and human trafficking are now illegal in every state in the world, but the states do not control the trade economy. Human trafficking is now the world’s largest criminal trade, ahead of weapons and drugs. Like the rest of the supranational merchant class, this economy operates above state jurisdiction. The United Nations has estimated there are now about thirty million slaves worldwide[cite] but it is impossible to know the real number. Traffickers are often supplied by organizations working with the most vulnerable people, from NGOs to military to child protection services. They haunt places where people may have gone missing for any number of reasons such as natural disasters and refugee migrations.
We have always had sectarianism. The difference now is we also have hierarchy. Those who treat the rest of us as an outgroup they have no empathy for are at the very top strata of society and have control over every aspect of our lives. We have always committed atrocities on people in our outgroups. The difference now is we can profit from those atrocities. Whether our actions have social approval or not, they can produce currency which will bring social approval. As long as we can buy social approval with currency we are no longer as susceptible to societal coercion. As long as our societies are non-existent, shunning and inclusion have no effect on us.
A weed is a strong plant thriving where those in power do not want it. A witch is a strong person thriving where those in power do not want them.
The Inquisition was a centuries long movement to discredit and destroy the caregivers of communities and land and put all knowledge and power in the hands of industry. Wherever women or indigenous people possessed knowledge and influence they were labeled as witches, discredited and silenced. This still happens to both women and indigenous people today, especially those in caregiving roles, but today instead of fires, they are mostly kept in place by class. As the possessors of knowledge and social influence, witches were at the top of their societies. To keep these societies in a lower class, the top had to be decapitated.
Women in the last millennium were vilified, sexually terrified, driven from science and knowledge based fields and left with no purpose after menopause. The most powerful traditional careers for old women in Europe were forcibly stolen, taken over and commodified. For centuries, women and indigenous cultures were afraid and ashamed to share their knowledge, now ridiculed as old wives’ tales and superstitions. Photoshopped history and the centralized press entrenched the dominance of wealthy western men and laws regarding official certification, patents and copyrights kept stolen community knowledge from community use. Women and indigenous people who want to enter science now must enter a field controlled by western men and act according to their rules. They must study and accept that caucasian men have been responsible for every innovation in history. They must attend a university full of subjects whose histories teach they are inferior, imbecilic and inherently evil alongside the heroic Great Men who reputedly solved all of the world’s problems with one Nobel Prize after another.
Women are now accepted as token Great Men if they come from an approved demographic and are fully accepting of the teachings of the other Great Men. Acceptable roles are as representatives of all womankind under the label Feminism, that affiliation which is used as a club to push corporate strategy under the guise of helping women, or as promotional tools for Great Men, citing, interviewing, speaking about and generally acting as a reflective moon to their suns. Unless a woman sees a great need to distribute their own point of view, they probably will not as there is no benefit, it will not be heard and it usually leads to ostracization. They have generally learned to fear mobs, economic survival and social acceptance depends on acceptance by the Great Men and communication is too difficult without group support. They will rarely, if ever, see their vision come to fruition in the way they wished anyway and they will nearly always see their ideas co-opted for the glorification and empowerment of a Great Man.
In the debate over how much of Albert Einstein’s work was collaboration with his wife Mileva Marić, a lot of men decided she did not actually have anything to do with his work, pointing largely to the fact that she did no work after they separated. After they separated, she was a single parent of one schizophrenic son and another angry fatherless son, was responsible for a sister suffering pyschotic episodes and two parents and had no professional encouragement. Einstein had all of the adulation, time, resources and expert colleagues at his disposal and he also produced nothing comparable to their work in 1905. Even during their marriage, the relationship was obviously unbalanced enough that he felt the list of demands[cite] he presented to her were reasonable. Great Men are usually given a huge amount of time and resources to sit and think and study. Someone offering to take over Mileva Marić’s unpaid work while she thought is laughable even today.
Even when a Great Man such as John Stuart Mill states that his wife, Harriet Taylor Mill, co-wrote his essay and it includes the same arguments she published years earlier, male scholars decide that he was lying and he wrote it all himself. Women must excel in their belief of this history. Their acceptance is contingent on their proof that they are in all respects, identical to men. Women who are disinterested in studying an endless and unbroken stream of caucasian men are chastised as being disinterested in politics, science, or other serious topics, despite the fact that they still make up the vast majority of voluntary action based labour in all of those fields. The ridicule of every woman who speaks in public as a big mouthed woman, the endless complaining about the sound of women’s voices, and the instant sexualization of any woman who speaks in public is still used to prevent women from escaping the role they were assigned by capitalism.
Media and corporations attempt to ensure that all women seen in public are under 30 in a continuance of the demonization of women past childbearing age. Women must do everything men do, with all of the above obstacles, before they are 30 and then be compared with men at the end of their careers. Men are shown billionaires in the media, women are shown plastic surgery. The token women in Hollywood films, half the age and exponentially more attractive than the men, are echoed in technology conferences and elsewhere in the business world.
Booth babes and women as display appear to serve no purpose other than a warning to women much as hanged cadavers once warned travelers away from city walls. The picture here illustrates, as does nearly every tech conference, that while fat bald old men are welcomed everywhere in IT, women over 25 do not exist and women do not exist except as an attractive display of body parts in any case. Since women were once equal in technology, writing the first algorithm, the first programming language, the first compiler and leading many important projects such as the software development for the first Apollo moon landing, the current demographics are not the result of ability or interest but the result of the drastic increase in power associated with the field.
Photo from Consumer Electronics Show 2013 via Mashable.[cite]
It would not be acceptable in IT to have constant headlines like How to explain the new data-leaking ‘Heartbleed bug’ to your mom[cite] directed at an ethnic group instead of a gender. Neither would it be acceptable to have a conference full of caucasian men decorated with naked bodies of men from another ethnic group. From funding caucasian men for being caucasian men[cite] to ensuring networking strongholds are as female friendly as frat houses,[cite] IT has aggressively driven women from its clubs just as medicine, the formerly most powerful profession, did.
It is common to point out that men score more highly in math and abstract areas than women to account for their prevalence in STEM fields. By that logic we would also expect almost all public speakers to be women since they score significantly higher in verbal areas. There should also be far more older women in all professions than older men since mental faculties in men deteriorate more quickly.[cite] Since both fields are completely dominated by men, especially as they become older, we can concede that there are plenty of both that are qualified for both areas but something is still sending far more men to the top in every high status field.
In 1996 Ellen Winner wrote: “… gifted girls have much more trouble socially than do gifted boys. For example, in one study, academically gifted boys were shown to be more popular than average ones, while gifted girls were less popular than average girls. In fact, the most popular of all four groups were the gifted boys, and the least popular of all were the gifted girls. The gifted boys were perceived as funny, smart, and creative, while the gifted girls were classified as moody, melancholy, self-absorbed, aloof, and bossy. What is seen as leadership in a boy is seen as bossiness in a girl.”[cite]
“Girls with high grade-point averages report more depression, lower self-esteem, and more psychosomatic symptoms than do boys with such grades. The conflict between intimacy and excellence is also felt acutely by children from minority groups in which it is not “cool” to excel at school.”[cite]
“… the striking decrease in the number of girls in gifted school programs in later grades. Girls make up about half the population in these programs in kindergarten through third grade, but by junior high school they make up less than 30 percent. Girls show lower self-confidence and lower career aspirations than do boys of equal ability. The ambitions of bright girls decline in high school, even though they tend to get higher grades than boys. And girls are more likely to hide their abilities in order to be socially accepted.“[cite]
If you ascribe to the theory that the extra X chromosome brings women an extra resilience from neurotypical deviation we can speculate that the very rarity of women who stray very far from the mean is grounds for their persecution. There are many factors yet to be eliminated before we can accept any such theory, such as the effect of poverty[cite] and chronic stress[cite] on iq testing, but whatever the cause, less deviation in women could lead to less tolerance of diversity. You may also consider that persecution of witches, whether women or other lower classes, may create a greater need for solidarity against a common enemy elite. It could be a cumulative rage against the idea of survival of the fittest in a trade economy which was designed specifically to exclude them that causes hostility towards elitism. Equality may evoke memories of the Commons, an idea which for women represents the last time they were recognized as contributing members of society entitled to their share, not just parasites dependent on charity or pale reflections of men. Or perhaps societies in which women were beaten and killed for incompetence and burned at the stake for attaining skill or knowledge have created a culture where pulling attention is taboo.
Whatever you choose as the cause, it is impossible at this point to deny the hostility the majority of women feel for women who excel too far beyond them or lag too far behind them. If girls are now in some cultures more accepting of higher achievement among girls it is only as a class movement. There is still no support for relative excellence or originality or the independent thought that would lead to radical creativity. Feminism, like all group affiliation, preaches solidarity not individualism. There is also still the ancient divide between the good women who obey society’s strictures and the bad women who disobey. It is women as much as men who now police this binary divide.
“For it seems very evident that another person’s narcissism has a great attraction for those who have renounced part of their own narcissism … It is as if we envied them for maintaining a blissful state of mind.” – Sigmund Freud[cite]
Both women and indigenous people very frequently offer work anonymously to parasites to get their ideas heard through group work, NGOs or media, or as assistants to Great Men, partners or children. As Nietzche instructed,[cite] the greatest achievement women should strive for was to produce an Übermensch, not be one. Centuries of women’s and indigenous work unacknowledged and used freely by the commons has made it habitual for Great Men to pick it up and market it as their own. Any group that produces great content will also attract people who will attempt to use the content to become Great Men. In either case, control of the power created by the ideas will not be wielded by the originator and it is very unlikely it will be wielded in the manner they intended, one reason so many Great Men act in ways completely opposite to their original promises.
In medicine, women were allowed back much later as subservient nurses, providing care and forbidden to act without permission from a male doctor in a continuation of the fear that women with no male supervision would conspire to kill babies. This is typical of the class structure created where caucasian men are assigned the roles with titles, authority, credit and media attention while others have been permitted action based paths. A horizontal system of action based governance would remove the misplaced authority. As it is, the labour is dissociated from the authority. Part of the reason for this dissociation is that recognition and credit follow social approval which is overwhelmingly accorded to the top class of caucasian men, by all classes.
Women promote husbands, sons, friends and sometimes strangers as a matter of habit. Women sometimes promote other family members as a way to improve their own situations, but often they simply use their energy and skills to promote others since they aren’t going anywhere themselves. They sometimes marry or give birth to people they want to deliver their message or attain their goals, a frustrating experience all around. Women will work tirelessly to elect a man to a position where he may enable the social change they desire. They will do all the background for male journalists, NGO’s or others in a position to achieve their goals while knowing the camera will be on the man and they will never be acknowledged. They will provide ideas and assistance to men in power because they have the skills and will never have the position themselves.
Women very often promote men involuntarily by having credit for their work stolen. There are endless job descriptions filled primarily by women which essentially mean all of the credit for all of their work will be applied to the man who hired them. Women tend to fill these jobs due to lack of higher employment opportunities. Often credit is stolen and women lack the voice and credibility to stop the theft. While this theft may certainly happen to men as well, it happens far more often to women as there is less risk involved. It is much less likely she will ever attain a position of power so her ability to retaliate is limited. Women who want recognition for their own work are most typically dismissed as hysterical, having giant egos, and caring more for themselves than the cause, a throwback to the slave morality expected of women in caregiving roles.
Both men and women tolerate the idea that some people are going to be at the top and that those people will be men. They may individually resent the advancement of specific people, but there is no widespread feeling that no men ought to be advancing, especially among people with the power to promote. The strata ceilings which keep people from rising above their class are also strata floors to keep them from dropping, voluntarily or not. There is always instant social justification for a caucasian man who fails and hatred for a man who voluntarily lowers his status by being openly homosexual or a caregiver. Men who seek to protect those outside their class instead of exploiting them are ridiculed as white knights by the class protectors. Group narcissism and strata protection also ensures hatred from men when a celebrated man subsequently identifies as a woman like Chelsea Manning or glee when a celebrated woman is discovered to have previously identified as a man like Dr. V.[cite]
There is also a practical benefit to both men and women of promoting men as they may rise to the top of any ponzi scheme and elevate their supporters. There is no personal gain in promoting women and almost no one does it. If a woman achieves a position where a man would typically receive non-reciprocal promotion, they are resented instead of promoted. Women who expect other women (or men) to work for them with no recognition are commonly regarded as bitches and sabotaged instead.
Disinterested men will tolerate women advancing. Many of these men feel they work to help women advance, but at very best, they do not stand in their way. A man devoting his life to furthering a woman’s career with no ulterior motive is extremely rare. Even those men that treat women equally generally expect far more ego-stroking and recognition in return for their magnanimity than they give. Women who promote men typically receive nothing in return and this is commonplace throughout the world. The reverse simply doesn’t happen outside rare isolated occurrences.
Many men actively work against the advancement of women. One reason is real or perceived gain for themselves. Either they do not wish to lose the unreciprocated support which is propping up their own success or they fear the advancement of women will create more competition for themselves. Another reason is group narcissism that sees women as a competitive outgroup.
Many women loudly proclaim that they promote other women. Usually, they do not, and they do not even tolerate it happening. Women very rarely promote the advancement of women past their class. They guard their strata ceilings as much as men guard their strata floors. Women certainly do promote and support each other but it is very much a reciprocal exchange. Where distribution deviates it must be based on their perception of fair. They will offer up those within two standard deviations below the normative mean as candidates for promotion while undermining and bringing back those above the mean. If men say another man was born with more ability, it is acknowledgment of superiority. If women say another woman was born with more ability, it is a demand for compensation. Hollywood depicts men and boys in terms of unchanging social strata. The hero usually remains a hero and even when the nerd gets the popular girl, he remains a nerd. Girls are depicted in conflicts over their social stratas: the unpopular girl is transformed into a pretty and popular one or the popular girl is humiliated and brought down. Successful men tend to tell people of the positive things in their life, successful women tell of their challenges. This is not humility, it is justifiable fear.
This does not mean most women are haters of elitism. They are equally vicious to those below them. When homely becomes ugly, fat becomes obese or stupid becomes learning disabled, these women are again more vindictive and vicious than their male counterparts. Women with poor social skills or incompetence are treated with derision, while for men these weaknesses just reaffirm their masculinity. Women will also happily promote elite men all day. It is just other women that need to stay within the acceptable range for their class.
Class war really occurs between stratas, not arbitrary assignments of gender or race. Women and others trapped in lower classes attack those who attempt to rise and try to knock them back into their place much as gangs and cults will murder people who try to leave and some men despise other men who lower themselves to the level of women. In stratified society, the stratas are the real societies and those attempting to leave are shunning their society. Retaliatory shunning is the reaction. Even with no further attack, shunning is one of the most effective punishments humans have devised for each other. It is possible that the effects of shunning are felt more by both women and those in indigenous cultures because of vulnerability to outside threats, a greater biological or cultural workload to share and more poverty. Shunning and lack of approval from the vast majority of class peers and a lack of class peers in higher stratas is enough in itself to strongly discourage women and other lower stratas from offending their class with any attempt at excellence or achievement. Women with superior ability either accept inferior roles or learn that other women are their mortal enemies.
Witches, whether women or other lower classes, usually never realize they are intelligent, as they are more likely to be told they are arrogant. While potential Great Men will be hailed as leaders and class examples, witches will be destroyed by their peers as class traitors. If witches excel they must downplay, apologize, minimize and hide it. Beautiful women must stress their stupidity, brilliant women must hide their sexuality. All women must be shown as having sacrificed their family life or career, and the word sacrifice is usually explicitly and accurately used to describe an offering made to appease their class. Women and other lower classes are consistently criticized for not promoting themselves but the risks in doing so are too great.
Women at the top are the ones chosen to be there by men and not eliminated by women, a dual filter that excludes most witches: those with brilliance and originality and those capable of disturbing the class structure.