It has always been the case that the people I want to tell things are the least interested and the people who instantly get what I am talking about are the ones I would really rather didn’t. Organized crime understands most of my writing intuitively while those in the bubble called the middle class live in a world sanitized of the earthy realities of life.
Tag Archives: war
I missed you!
So after over six years of wishing I still had you all to talk to, I’ve decided to do something about it. Social media is exhausting, threatening, annoying and time-consuming, but interesting people are necessary and fun. Writing in an absolute vacuum is not fun and what I am writing is probably now unintelligible because I am so in my own head. So here’s my plan and it’s open for discussion.
For those who don’t know, I am writing a series of books all at once. It is kind of like being pregnant with a dozen babies at once but only being able to birth them at a rate of one every year or two. I’d give a lot to be able to speed up the process and get at least the first quartet finished and out there in months, not years. I also think I’d better start getting feedback before I hit publish on some of this.
In order to move at a reasonable speed, I need more time writing. Since my writing is (ahem) only appreciated by an exclusive audience, it doesn’t exactly pay the rent. Neither does it pay for such luxuries as decent book covers, translations, audio etc. If you’d like to help me deliver these books faster and in better form it would be very appreciated.
How I’d like to accomplish the above is by bringing back the Binding Chaos community and giving it a place to grow. I know a lot of you are very frustrated because you like the ideas but you have no one to talk to about them. A lot of you also would like to clarify some points or provide feedback and your emails and messages go unanswered far too often (sorry!).
So I am going to use a lot of the tools that Patreon now has (Discord, Discourse, WordPress limited access) and create a Patreon community where we can experiment with more open, two-way communication, where people can get involved at the level they choose but without the trolls and imaginative death threats of social media. Kind of like an epistemic community! Here it is, check it out.
I’m excited, I hope you’re excited and we can build something that really works for all of us.
Talk to you soon!
New book: The Creation of Me, Them and Us
The Creation of Me, Them and Us is available now at these locations:
The single greatest tool for making moral people commit atrocities is group affiliation. The single greatest tool for promoting global human rights and equality is to end group affiliation.
This book is an expansion of the thought above, written in Binding Chaos in 2013. In 2013, so many things seemed simple and self-evident. In 2020, the goal seems as clear as ever, but the road seems much longer and many things have to be examined in detail that were glossed over a decade ago. Like our journey, this book is more complicated than the book written almost a decade ago. It will take longer to read and longer still to debate, but like Spain’s 15-M movement used to say, we are moving slowly because we are travelling a long way.
When our quest for justice falls apart we, like Inigo Montoya, need to go back to the beginning. This book is the beginning. It is part of a series that will cover the structure of our institutions, but before we can discuss our institutions, we need to discuss who we are. This series begins by examining the nature of self, life, will, reality and power. The rest of the series looks at the societal institutions which have grown up around nations, economy, law, governance, architecture and technology. These books are all a further examination of the problems identified in Binding Chaos in 2013.
By the time we reach the end of this series, we will hopefully be back on the road to building a better world, armed with a better understanding of where and how we were derailed. I hope it is some help to each of you on your own paths.
The Binding Chaos series
A look at the world – Binding Chaos
Self – The Creation of Me, Them and Us
Life – Abstracting Divinity
Reality – Shaping Reality
Will – Free Will and Seductive Coercion
Power – Great Men, Commoners, Witches and Wretches
Nation – The Fourth Age of Nations
Economy – The Approval Economy
Law – Law and Chaos
Governance – Autonomy Diversity Society
Architecture – Rethinking the Moats and Mountains
Technology – Code Will Rule
The first of the new books is live now and will be available in other formats and serialized over the next weeks.
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Comments are open for those who just want to say hi or comment on this book or series, but I am not around here much so it is not a good place for promotion or lengthy discussions of things, people and projects unrelated to the work here. I have no idea who or what is being promoted in the comments, so don’t do that. Maybe start a subreddit or whatever it is people do now for wider discussion? If people use the comments to promote other people and projects I have to shut them because I don’t have time to moderate – also this is not the place for that. If you want to start a place for a wider discussion of this book plus other things, feel free to link it below.
Yay, someone did it! Here is a reddit forum for all of you that want to talk to each other.
The supranational empire
WHENEVER those states which have been acquired as stated have been accustomed to live under their own laws and in freedom, there are three courses for those who wish to hold them: the first is to ruin them, the next is to reside there in person, the third is to permit them to live under their own laws, drawing a tribute, and establishing within it an oligarchy which will keep it friendly to you;
but when cities or countries are accustomed to live under a prince, and his family is exterminated, they, being on the one hand accustomed to obey and on the other hand not having the old prince, cannot agree in making one from amongst themselves, and they do not know how to govern themselves. For this reason they are very slow to take up arms, and a prince can gain them to himself and secure them much more easily.” – The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli (1532)
The new supranational empire is possible because recent history and overwhelming coercion have rendered the majority of the world incapable of self-governance. The populations described in the first paragraph have almost all transitioned through the recommended procedures and they are now the second type which Machiavelli identified as easily controlled from a remote centre. Outside of a very few, very isolated first age tribal nations, there is no longer anything close to autonomy or self-governance anywhere on earth and memories and belief in its possibility have all but been erased. The transition through state control has made it far easier for the entire world to now be governed by multinational corporations.
First age tribal networks
For almost one hundred percent of human history, people lived in autonomous, networked tribes. Their feats of exploration and the knowledge handed down over generations were equal to or greater than more complex societies, even in highly specialized areas. The medicinal knowledge of the Kallawaya in pre and post Inca society included brain surgery in 700 CE and using quinine to cure malaria before anyone else.[cite] The navigation and seafaring skill of the Polynesians brought them to over 25 million square kilometres of territory between Easter Island, New Zealand and Hawaii and also took them to America and possibly close to Antarctica.[cite] Polynesians and probably many others were not following or seeking food. They explored even when their survival needs were all met. Kallawaya still travel great distances to share their knowledge and skill, not because they need to but because it is their accepted social responsibility to do so. Kallawaya traditional knowledge includes uses for almost a thousand plant species[cite] and Polynesian traditional knowledge allows them to navigate using 220 stars[cite]. All of this knowledge was preserved in oral tradition for hundreds or thousands of years and was shared by the tribe, held by those with the interest and aptitude to learn it.
When tribes created complex societies, their achievements were not always the result of imperial control or warlike competition. The water management and sewage systems of the Indus Valley around 2600 BCE have been called greater than what exists in the region today[cite]. At least two cities, Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, had flush toilets and wells in every household, public and private baths and very sophisticated sewage and water retention systems[cite] in cities with no discernible state apparatus, priests, security forces or significant wealth disparity[cite]. The Caral society of the southern Andes has so far shown no evidence of violence or defensive architecture but they collaborated on monumental architecture and were one of the most densely populated early civilizations in the world[cite]. Hierarchy and oppression were evidently not necessary for the evolution or progress of civilization.
However, many very hierarchical and warlike empires emerged all over the world in the third millennium BCE as population densities increased. Early empires brought infrastructure, education, social evolution, religion, technology, judiciaries, all of the trappings of civilization which could be used to prove the benefits of alliances. The Inca fed ten million people with no hunger over a vast expanse in one of the world’s most difficult regions and created tiered agricultural zones to provide great food diversity and climate resistance in a solitary site[cite]. Kush used a water wheel to create agricultural surplus[cite]. Benin brought dozens of languages and ethnic groups to co-exist in one multi-cultural centre[cite].
Each showed unique motivations and methods for collaboration but all of the hierarchical nations required great strategy to manage as they inherited all of the responsibilities of the tribes. To maintain control, these empires required constant military presence, puppet governments which must be kept loyal, or very involved and physically present imperial governance. Although few hierarchical nations seriously disrupted the co-dependency of nations at their most base level, the relationships of families to each other and the peasants to the land, they all entrenched stratification and some level of bureaucracy and began the dissociation of relationships in communities.
Second age hierarchical trading nations
In the third millennium BCE, the first long distance trade route appeared between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley.[cite] International trade meant other tribes and resources could be conquered for profit and trade provided motivation to produce and hoard more than any nation could personally use. With incredible speed, the great trade empires of the Middle East, China, India, Europe and Africa first obliterated all of the neighbouring societies not primarily built around trade and then spent the last two millennia fighting for dominance over trade routes, much as the same states and attempts at resurrected caliphates are still doing today.
The trade empires of the second age, like the Incas, Greeks and Aksumites, started by occupying neighbouring territory and sharing knowledge and systems of government, religion and philosophy as well as trade. While extensive tribal knowledge was always held by only a part of the tribe due to unequal ability and interest or tradition, the greatly increased amount of knowledge in the new complex societies required much more knowledge specialization. With the establishment of the trade economy, that knowledge specialization became knowledge ownership. Guilds and other traditions and laws were set up to protect that ownership.
Trade economies have always resulted in tribes protecting assets which could bring them trade advantage, whether it was a volcanic mountain as a source of obsidian or access to outside trading partners. The global trade economy produced a great increase in trade secrets from tulips, silk and ermine to knowledge on all topics. As trade expanded, so did the idea of ownership, not only of resources and knowledge but also of rights and access to trading partners. Militarized borders were created to protect this access, block competition and increase profit to merchants. Instead of walling cities and surrounding agricultural areas for protection against invaders, kingdoms began claiming trade routes and protecting economic markets. Later trade treaties created trade cartels and access to capital was restricted by strata.
The growth of trade meant occupation of huge tracts of land and control of populations were no longer necessary for great empires. Control of the trade routes was enough for wealth. With the move of the western Roman empire to Constantinople, Europe’s trade to Africa, the Middle East, India and China was controlled by one city. Instead of all roads leading to Rome, all roads went through Constantinople. The fall of the Western Roman Empire caused Europe to lose a great deal of the empire’s knowledge from the loss of trade and collaboration and also because stratification, guilds and literacy had locked knowledge into only a small part of society. This loss of knowledge plummeted Europe into a period their history called The Dark Ages. Long before Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Caliphate, when it was still simply the new seat of the Roman Empire, the Venetians found their control intolerable and sacked the city in 1204 with the help of the rest of Europe. The knowledge and plunder from the sacking and fall of Constantinople during the fourth crusade was enough to play a major role in kickstarting the European renaissance and Europe refused to go back to controlled trade access with the east.
During the fourth crusade, the sacking of Constantinople was said to be the result of a schism between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church with no explanation of what the plunder of gold and silk has to do with theological differences. After Constantinople fell again in 1453, this time to the Ottoman Empire, the European resistance to any control of their trade was framed as a Muslim vs Christian conflict, a ridiculous premise since both Roman and Greek empires had thrived (with aberrations) as polytheist states and the Ottoman Empire governed with millets, independent systems of law for each of the major religions under the empire. Intolerance existed, but the use of religion has never ceased being effective propaganda for wars to protect access to trade for the elite. Identical propaganda is still being used over the exact same trade routes today, by states and also by neo-caliphate groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram who use the promised second age of the caliphate to try to control trade once again.
Third age supranational empire
With the strengthening of Constantinople under the Ottoman Empire as the centre of trade once more, Europe was determined to circumvent the old routes and Ottoman control. Years of trade domination by the Middle East were finally broken by sea voyages from Europe which suddenly connected them directly with the entire world and allowed them to transport far more goods than had previously been possible by horse and camel caravans. As Europeans took to the sea in the late fifteenth century and established trade empires all over the world, they followed the Machiavellian maxim of occupation, slaughter or tribute until it became apparent that the old methods were not enough to hold a global empire.
The trade empires of Europe were hardly the first to exploit dependency or trade, but they were the first to use both to create a fully dissociated global empire. First, the trade empires would dismantle the entire social structure of a newly occupied people and establish dependency on trade at every level of society. Second, they would coerce the dependent people to trade something for nothing in the form of currency, debt payment, rights, intellectual property or other abstract, conceptual euphemisms for a tribute shakedown. The difference between these and former imperial tributes is that these new payments were to be made to corporations. Trade had fully abstracted the relationship between empires and the people they were exploiting. The newly dissociated and dependent societies would form the third age of nations, first under imperialism, then under puppet states and finally under a supranational corporate empire.
Excerpted from Autonomy, Diversity, Society. Citations will be transferred when I get a minute.
The fourth age of nations
Despite the prevailing philosophy of the last couple millennia, humans are far more of a social organism than a collection of individuals. Our knowledge is handed down and shared, not instinctive. No baby can raise themselves and no child can educate themselves to normative intelligence without social surroundings. The elderly cannot survive without the assistance of the young and the young cannot evolve without the experiences of their elders. The more knowledge and cultures are shared, the stronger each society becomes. Personal autonomy is only a relative degree of freedom in an individual’s reactions and interactions with society.
For societies to reach their full potential they must encourage the largest amount of individuals to achieve their full potential. This would require a balance between autonomy, diversity and society which we have so far never attained. Instead we have swung from extreme importance placed on society to extreme importance on personal autonomy and individualism. Diversity has been either eradicated or supported to the point of extreme sectarianism.
Societies are created through acceptance and shunning, the two primary methods of auto-coercion used to create a cohesive group of people with common social norms and understanding. If a society is small and intolerant, diversity and individual autonomy is shunned and the society provides fulfillment and acceptance for only a very narrow and homogenous group. Diversity has no room to express itself without supportive social structures. It is impossible to reach fulfillment or attain our highest potential without a supportive network of relationships to receive and reciprocate our thoughts and achievements. Diversity and movement between societies and stratification of societies has historically been necessary for individual diversity to thrive and for any individual autonomy.
The social structures and the continuum of dependencies that make up our societies have gone through three very distinct evolutions. The first tribal nations, barely removed from families, were the least abstract nations. They were real communities which provided for all of our social needs. Those tribes have achievements ranging from monumental architecture in complex societies to global exploration to achieving elite levels of specialized knowledge and passing oral history accurately through hundreds or thousands of years. Their social and cooperative strengths were unsurpassed but with few people to fill basic roles of survival there was limited room for diversity and extreme shunning or demands for conformity were typical. Personal autonomy was almost non-existent, but tribal autonomy was at its peak.
For hundreds of thousands of years, people lived in these autonomous and complete societies but also occasionally networked with each other. Every nation, including even those of archaic tribes such as the Neanderthals and Denisovans, was in continual or periodic contact with others and exchanged knowledge, goods, and DNA. Many tribes had periodic meetups where they would share knowledge and goods (and DNA). These tribes could be cruel or lethal to any in their societies they chose to shun but people shunned by one tribe were sometimes accepted into another. There were also people who moved from one group to another because of marriage, slavery, exchange, or war reparations. The Iroquois nations are famous for their adoption practices but these exchanges were not uncommon in most parts of the world. DNA analysis is finally proving that as people took divergent and separate paths to settle far away places, they continued to reconnect and network with each other. While the tribes people lived in were unmistakeably an ingroup, they were not invariably hostile to outgroups.
These earliest autonomous nations were typically governed by elders or councils. As they grew, they sometimes formed federations, complex societies and even multinational empires which ruled by controlling resources. As soon as populations grew to a critical mass, complex societies began to rise and fall all over the world. They completed huge collaborative projects, established agricultural advances, and allowed far more diversity of roles, wider perspectives and social circles and greater security while retaining some tribal social benefits. Freedom to reach their full potential was greater for some under a system with stratified jobs, greater leisure and larger specialized circles for knowledge sharing. Social fulfillment was also more likely for some within expanded social circles. Shunning and inclusion expanded to social stratas as ingroups and outgroups were created within each society.
Empires frequently promised protection and aid from dangers such as famine, enemy attacks and natural disaster. The price of imperial protection was submission. Empires and other hierarchical societies cost us our tribal autonomy, often forced stratification of jobs and society, and greatly increased authoritarian governance. Formerly autonomous nations traded their freedom for a child-like dependency on authoritarian figures. Societal coercion was replaced by hostile external coercion in the form of a military, religious or political authority. Centralized bureaucratic structures removed community authority over decisions such as food allocation, interrupting the direct dependencies between people and beginning the dissociation of relationships. With stratification, some roles such as lifegiving and caregiving were increasingly removed from the political and commercial power of society and the people who fulfilled those roles had their status and their access to power reduced.
Societal hierarchy was greatly increased with stratification and less dependent on age or skill. Centralization and stratification allowed specialized knowledge to be kept within certain groups, increasing powerful guilds and classes in society and contributing to the loss of knowledge whenever these societies collapsed. Hereditary and other secret knowledge was used to create elite classes instead of just elite individuals. Knowledge became a commodity to be hoarded and traded, both within communities and internationally.
The most powerful empires were those who became wealthy from trade. Goods had exchanged hands between tribes for as long as humanity existed and this is frequently referred to as trade, but it probably was usually just sharing. The tradition of state visitors bearing gifts is so long standing and wide spread it was probably present in our earliest societies. We know sharing was the only method of exchange between some tribes and it is hard to imagine most other early tribes conducting trades over their limited goods. Sharing is a social trait common to all people and it would have been easier to communicate and more effective than trade for meeting socially. No human would have grown to adulthood without a mother sharing with them, not as an exchange but as a gift. Since the elderly and weak would also not have survived without sharing, it can be surmised that this was learned behaviour practiced between all people, not just the parent – child relationship it has been reduced to today. Trade or reciprocal sharing did develop between neighbouring tribes with regular contact however, and this usually increased dramatically with stratified and hierarchical society.
Once hierarchical societies established centralized authority or ownership over commons property and resources, this resource hoarding could be used to create trade empires. Government by laws and institutions instead of tribal councils was used to enforce new rights to advantage only the higher stratas of society which made the laws. Permission to take goods from the community commons and trade them for personal profit was given to the upper stratas. The surplus goods people began creating for their own rulers were increasingly used to trade over long distances with the rulers of other societies, greatly expanding the occasional tribal exchanges. Because of the high cost of transportation, most long distance trade was for high priced luxury goods which increased wealth disparity and authoritarian power. Trade empires directed people to work for trade to the wealthy and those outside their communities instead of working for the needs of their communities and themselves. Eventually, trade led to the creation of currency and replaced dependency on society with dependency on currency. Freedom, autonomy and social approval were all now represented by the currency which could buy them all.
Trade empires created a new powerful merchant class which stood between artisans and the upper stratas who owned property and those buying their products and made vast profits from their parasitic trade. These merchants had access to foreign knowledge and access to those who controlled power and wealth in more than one empire. The widespread adoption of currency provided them with dissociated membership in multiple societies and access to all the privileges of membership. They also had their own networks within the merchant strata of many nations. They even frequently had their own international language. They were the first extranational class and the new societal structure they created became the second age of nations.
In time, the merchants grew so powerful and their extranational society so networked, they controlled the states. The merchant class created a higher supranational form of governance and law in the form of trade agreements and treaties which states obeyed. This is today’s sociopathic and fully dissociated global structure and the third age of nations. The higher authority allowed empires to continue without direct imperial control from any one state and gave the illusion of autonomy to formerly openly occupied states. This removal of authority was largely unnoticed because governance, law and resource ownership had already been removed from the people by states and was only available to the upper stratas who were all part of the new supranational class. Once governance and resource allocation had been taken from tribal councils and given to one strata of society, and governments were permitted to both represent a whole society and dispose of its property at will, this self-pillage was inevitable.
With the progression of our dissociation, wealth no longer follows tribal or imperial leadership, resources or even trade in resources. The basis for entrance to the elite supranational classes now is existing wealth, celebrity or power, in any form. The ability to write laws and treaties, control knowledge or manipulate the public is rapidly replacing the ability to directly control resources as the primary source of power. Tribal knowledge which was once hoarded by guilds is now copyrighted, patented and kept in the upper stratas, defended by lawyers and laws protecting rights which are unrelated to creation. Unlike power under the elite of the second age, the supranational class at the top of today’s global empire does not need to govern or be involved in any way with the divided state-societies below them. Power has become completely dissociated from governance or the well being of the people of the world. It exists simply to accumulate the currency which purchases dissociated entrance to any society. The supranational class is its own nation. Everyone not in their strata is their outgroup who they spare no empathy towards.
Autonomy is only possible as a whole society and as we have no more societies we are farther than ever from autonomy. There is no diversity under one grey, global empire. The prevailing culture around the world, in fashion, in music, in architecture and in lifestyle, is mass produced corporate ugliness, not evolved from any regional culture. We are educated in the same way for the same jobs and coerced by the same news and celebrities. We are all under the same empire but we have no great collaborative projects or joint plans for the future. We have lost our tribal societies but instead of receiving protection from outside plunder, the current empire has convinced us to plunder ourselves, to destroy our own homes and poison our own children and walk willingly into lifelong slavery with no chains. The global elite have no basis of authority but with no existing societies or system of collaboration that is not based on the trade economy, most feel helpless to change the underlying structure.
In the last decades, just as the third age of supranational power has become most invincible, we have seen the beginnings of a fourth age of nations. We have a new powerful technical ability to assist our still overwhelming human need to create societies and networks. Shunning and inclusion, our two most powerful social tools, used for millennia to create all of our societies, are currently up for grabs. The extreme dissociation that permitted our governance by a foreign strata of people has provided a structure that can be seized by anyone who can control currency, media or other forms of coercion. It is urgent that we all realize the power struggle happening over this control, the effects it will have on our societies and how, if we wish, we can collectively seize control of this power to create the new societal norms and structures we choose.
It is both possible and very necessary that we create a new framework for society building, more diverse, flexible and mutually supportive than the first tribal one and more rewarding and globally beneficial than the third parasitical, supranational one. This time, we must plan our framework and leave it flexible enough to provide many variations and iterations so we are never again trapped in one failed system. A fourth model for nations must meet both our social needs and our need to develop to our full potential, ensure local autonomy but protect global commons, and put social responsibility back in communities but provide a global safety net for those shunned or harmed locally.
We need nations which provide us with a balance of autonomy, diversity and society.
Excerpted from Autonomy, Diversity, Society. Citations will be transferred when I get a minute.
Autonomy, Diversity, Society
One of our most overwhelming impulses as humans is to belong to a society. The pain of shunning is the most powerful coercive tool we employ against each other. Shunning can motivate people to take their own lives or the lives of others. Solitary confinement can rapidly destroy mental health. An infant left without human contact can have all of their physical needs met and still grow up with physical and mental damage. The need to belong can be used to overpower principles, deep rooted morals and self-interest. History has repeatedly proven that the majority of people can be coerced to do almost anything to themselves or others by the need for social inclusion. The desire to be a part of something bigger than themselves is frequently expressed as a motivation for action and duty to society a frequent excuse for compliance.
Most people are born with ambition to reach their own full potential in the areas which interest them. Autonomy, the ability to choose ideas and society for ourselves and the freedom to spend our lives in the way that seems best to us is a basic human need. A society which locks people in or out due to location of birth or ethnicity and roles which are presented as the only acceptable paths require rigid conformity which does not suit our wide diversity of characters and abilities. Accepted diversity is not just morally just or strategically wise, it is also necessary for a complete society to fulfill all the roles required or desired. Diversity gives society the benefit of as many viewpoints and potential solutions as possible.
We once had a chance to achieve a balance between autonomy, diversity and society. Many societies of interwoven dependencies worldwide had the potential to evolve and allow both autonomy and society for all. Instead we created a global, sectarian, stratified class system where everyone must strive for the same goals and all but the few setting the goals would fail.
The trade economy has denied the value of any work benefiting those in need of assistance and denied the value of resources in non-western countries. Both caregivers and resource rich continents are depicted as being in a state of perpetual begging for handouts from the wealthy despite the obvious fact that no one needs the wealthy and everyone needs caregivers and resources. The same power that once denied ownership by the commons with the homesteading principle now denies the rights of homesteaders in favour of foreign multinational corporations. Laws are stratified to ensure the powerful have superior versions of everything, including immigration rights at a time when much of the world will need refugee status from drought, pollution, conflict and natural disasters. Even natural life expectancy is unapologetically higher for the chosen strata. The world is being funneled through a eugenics program of a previously unimagined scale.
This callous and deliberate exclusion of most of humanity, even for moral nihilists, is ignorant and ill-judged. Our only hope of a livable future is in a singularity produced not from technology created by a population of self-appointed Übermenschen but from the collaborative creativity and experience of all of the diverse minds in the world. Where very recently a qualified tradesman could, and was expected to, understand everything related to their field, it is now increasingly difficult for one human brain to comprehend the overall workings of any complete system much less the interlocking detail of every system globally. Given the required tools and societal structure, we could create a resilient collaborative network that could act as a real hive mind. We could audit, bridge and develop complex original thought and create solutions with the speed required to solve the urgent problems we face today.
Every revolution in history has simply installed new faces on top of the same paradigm. Societies ruled by the majority create oligarchies of Great Men, those two standard deviations above the mean in every field, just advanced enough to impress and not advanced enough to baffle, always from the tiny demographic group accepted as rulers. The voices and ideas outside the circle of demagogues, the ones that need and drive revolution in every case, sink back into oblivion. It is evident that if we are to stop the endless cycles of revolution, or even survive another cycle, we will have to change the paradigm. The current corporate empire is eager to install the latest messiahs who will promise reform which will retreat to moderation and then back to the status quo or worse. As we can already see, this population is once more leading us past democracy and back to the deeper prison of fascism. This time it is essential that we go deeper and create a genuinely new system, not just new messiahs and new names for old tricks.
Excerpted from Autonomy, Diversity, Society.
A mythical Manichean world
“I know there is a God because in Rwanda I shook hands with the devil.” ― Roméo Dallaire, Shake Hands With The Devil
In Shake Hands with the Devil, Romeo Dallaire, former head of the UN mission to Rwanda, described shaking hands with commanders of the Hutu militias responsible for the 1994 Tutsi genocide. He felt he was in the presence of evil, or, to his Christian outlook, the devil. When faced with incomprehensible savagery it is hard to find human nature behind it and natural to look for some invisible hand of evil. The same outlook is understandable to some in west African countries, where the leaders have for years been suspected of complicity in ritual killings, or torturing their own citizens and using their body parts as amulets for power. Compulsory membership of politicians in certain Masonic lodges and the undeniable power and wealth wielded by the powerful, support both the cult rumours and the presumed effectiveness of evil forces being invoked. These so-called powers are also sought by some militias.
If a person is thought to embody evil in themselves, the person is demonized in the eyes of the other. Once a large group has designated another entire group as evil, actions no longer matter. The ensuing war will have nothing to do with good actions and bad actions and everything to do with one side exterminating the other. Those facing the side designated as evil are then depicted as Good, and any behaviour of theirs will be justified thereafter as can be seen in the excuses made for Rwanda actions even today. Some groups can carry their indestructible Good status in the face of all evidence of their actions for generations and against completely different opponents, as we see with Israel and the fact that they still have defenders justifying their ‘right’ to torment and murder others.
Countries that have had an acknowledged atrocity are much more self aware and able to recognize and stop new ones. If an atrocity is outside the Overton window of what a people will believe about themselves they will deny it happened or ignore it. For Canadians, the pull of the manufactured self-image of ‘nice’ is too attractive to confront, even when faced with human rights and environmental disasters Canada is responsible for worldwide. To acknowledge that global mining atrocities are a fundamental part of Canada, that a Canadian child has now been tortured and imprisoned for the thirteenth year, that these actions cannot be blamed on one government but are part of Canada itself, is an attack on their self-image that many Canadians refuse to face. The US was previously the same with their acceptance of ‘freedom’ propaganda and their refusal to see their own police state as anything but protection.
A good guy / bad guy, personality based morality is very helpful for any who wish to wage wars or destroy the lives of others. No one has to think, just identify the Good Guys and the Bad Guys, be for the one, beware the other. We really don’t need legions of security analysts, militaries and intelligence to sort out Good Guys from Bad Guys. Bad Guys are destroying, killing, enslaving and robbing, Good Guys are creating, researching and caring for others. Bad Guys are capable of becoming Good Guys as soon as they stop the actions harmful to society and start the ones helpful to society.
The myth of free will and the myth of equality
I was one of those children forced into fighting at the age of 13, in my country Sierra Leone, a war that claimed the lives of my mother, father and two brothers. I know too well the emotional, psychological and physical burden that comes with being exposed to violence as a child or at any age for that matter. – Ishmael Beah
In order to designate someone as evil and deserving of any horror that the powerful wish to inflict on them, they must be held personally responsible for the actions of themselves and their ‘side’. In order to hold people personally responsible even for their own actions, the public must believe they had free will, something that does not exist. The idea of personal responsibility also depends on an assumption that people have equal access to information and the ability to process it. Propaganda and coercion which comes from the top is denied and blame is cast to those at the bottom who acted upon it. The propaganda masters convince the public that the weak-minded and the vulnerable must take responsibility for acting as the zombie army of the powerful who are absolved of responsibility.
For punishment to be applied equally to all, the public must believe that all are equal, which is also false. The myth of equality is essential for sustaining this binary outlook and careful censoring of information is essential to maintaining the myth of equality. ‘Hamas is evil, bomb Gaza’ cannot stand in the face of relentless social media pictures of babies, beautiful children and wonderful people well-known to the online community being blown up by Israel. ‘Boko Haram is evil, Nigeria military should kill them all’ is shocked by images of little boys fighting and being killed on both sides or Nigeria military torturing a little girl working for Boko Haram. Hillary Clinton deplores the loss of imperial control over information and Netanyahu bitterly calls his victims “telegenically dead“. The old media control which depicted all enemies of militias as adult men with guns was essential to justify any war.
We have a tendency to think of our villains as geniuses or assume they at least have the ability to predict the outcome of their actions but for those filling prisons and dying in wars that is not always the case.
While most people recognize the ability to rehabilitate child soldiers, what of those who are not rehabilitated? If they do not bear responsibility as children, why does the responsibility for their formation descend upon them as adults? How can anyone presume to know what has happened to the mind of anyone who has lived completely different experiences than them and possesses a completely different mind?
If it is agreed that charges should only be applied to criminals who have attained a certain standard of cognitive ability, why is the same penalty applied to all at that point? If the spectrum of ability and advantage continues above the line labeled competent, should the penalties not be a corresponding spectrum? If they must attain a standard of cognitive ability, why are moral imbeciles judged by the same standards as the socially normative? Why is sociopathy not recognized as a mental illness if insanity is? What if sociopathy is a physical disease? What of those with fetal alcohol syndrome and other forms of physical brain damage that currently fill prisons and militias?
The role of drugs in convincing militias to commit atrocities and overcome guilt is seldom reported. Not only non-state militias employ drugs, the US military even has a follow up anti-guilt nasal spray to prevent troops from feeling natural remorse.
Not all opponents are worthy of hate.
Few believe that all of their own ancestors should have been wiped out, but everyone has ancestors who displayed what we like to call inhuman characteristics. Why do we believe they are absolved from the personal responsibility we bear today if not because we accept the power of social coercion and social norms? If social coercion and social norms applied in the past, why is their power denied today? The US government acknowledged the power of seductive coercion with what they cynically called the battle for hearts and minds in Iraq. They of all people understand coercion and knew that their actions would have the opposite affect.
Any suggestion of deliberate social auto-coercion is met with howls from free will advocates, especially from the US, that bastion of personal freedoms perverted to suit corporate ends. Every intelligence agency in the world, all corporations and all militaries constantly manipulate public norms and behaviour, but an attempt for a community to regain control is depicted (by corporate media) as an attack on freedom and autonomy instead of the assertion of it.
People can somehow become convinced that if we only kill enough people, inherent goodness will shine from the survivors. In the end, we can’t kill enough people to make the world a kinder gentler place. We have proven enough times that there is no time and place immune to an outbreak of human savagery. UN peacekeeping is incompetent, political, and after the fact. We need societies resilient to violence. In the end we will need to understand each other and use social auto-coercion as we do after the horrors of every war in order to return to normal life. We need to start using it before the outbreak of any violence, not to stop Bad Guys but to stop bad actions. Instead of spending vast sums tracking individuals and their connections in the search for Bad Guys, we need to strengthen social auto-coercion and fight the coercion coming from sociopathic power.
For those who insist societies will never function without military and police hard coercion, societies worldwide did, very well. For those, usually the same people, who insist that seductive coercion is immoral, seductive coercion is what creates a society out of a group of disconnected people. For those who do not believe that coercion ought to be in the hands of the people, coercion ought never to be anywhere else. The only way to prevent coercion by a secret oligarchy is to use it as community.
“If we don’t harness their potential for good, their societies will continue to reap their capacity for evil.” ― Roméo Dallaire, They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children
Roméo Dallaire, Shake Hands With The Devill: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda (2003)
Ishmael Beah, Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (2007)
Roméo Dallaire, They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children (2010)
This article has been stigmergicly translated into French.
World War III: Stateless ponzi schemes of power
A continuation of thoughts from World War III
The European empires brought their system of states and state governance to every part of the world they occupied. The trade economy then removed resource governance and distribution from states to multinational corporations. Collapse of state power and relevance has naturally followed the loss of the ability to manage and distribute resources, especially in those states where the the multinational occupation is headquartered outside their borders. State borders now exist largely as a means of corralling, cataloguing and controlling the people in them, the last asset under state control. This control is slipping even as people become more and more a commodity, and those in power are justly terrified of state control slipping further. As people in collapsing states struggle to remember what self-governance was and fall repeatedly into the libertarian dystopia of rule by trade mafia, the world’s powerful are quietly establishing a new structure of stateless elite circles to uphold them.
From resources to labour to The Meritocracy
It has been a long time since actual resources were required in order to make a fortune in the resource industry.The progression of dissociating wealth from product, and further distancing resource rich countries from wealth, has been ongoing. Also for some time, knowledge based industries have been replacing resource based industries at the top tiers of power. The 2014 Forbes list of the 400 richest billionaires in the US is unsurprisingly infested with tech entrepreneurs. This ongoing myiasis of the upper strata has been hailed as a new era of capitalism with a new industrious breed of maggots removing the decay and rot and bringing us into a brave new world of stateless crypto currency and hyphenated ideologies promising liberty and equality for the fraternity. The knowledge based industries produce what are marketed as self-made billionaires, elevated as a natural result of their own youthful ingenuity, natural ability and service to society.
The most interesting feature of this new wave (we are told) is their new way of working, the holistic care of their employees, their intolerance of bureaucracy, love of autonomy, self actualization, peer networks (peer everything, really) and most of all, their ability to create ingenious apps from nothing more than their own autonomous brain cells. Their funding is freely given to them from sources such as angel investors and Kickstarter campaigns, the media is voluntarily worshipful and immigration laws around the world recognize them as a special class of citizen. It is small wonder that the greatly increased life expectancy they enjoy is accepted as a righteous perquisite for the long awaited Übermenschen.
The US holds 30% of the world’s wealth, Forbes tells us. The US most certainly does not hold 30% of the world’s resources. Even less does it contribute 30% of the world’s labour. If the means of production are simply brain cells, it doesn’t hold 30% of those either. All of the listed technology fortunes are from the US. Forbes tells us this is due to “how they foster innovation” and reassures us that these tech entrepreneurs are indeed that marvellous creature, the ‘self-made billionaire’. The only justification Adam Smith and ilk could use to rationalize this outsized wealth would be that the exchange value of the products from the minds of this exceptional group were of such great benefit to so many. Bill Gates has a net worth of $76 billion, the same as 156 million people from the bottom. This could only have occurred in a free market (we are told) because the services Bill has provided, all by himself from his own ingenuity, have been of the same worth as the combined labour of 156 million other humans.
Child miner in Burkina Faso – PBS NewsHour
In order to be of any use to humanity, a mobile phone app needs a mobile phone. A mobile phone needs coltan for its tantalum capacitors. The Democratic Republic of Congo holds 64% of the coltan reserves in the world and obtaining this coltan, along with other minerals, has destroyed the environment and social structure and cost the lives of many people in the eastern DRC. This mineral has fed an inestimable number of militias and produced child soldiers, child labour and human rights disasters including war.
A mobile phone uses gold as a conductor. Children in Burkina Faso mine for gold in hand dug mines, sometimes no more than two feet wide, which sometimes collapse and kill them. If your phone vibrates, you need tungsten and for that you need wolframite. In the DRC, children mining wolframite are “as young as twelve years old…under the watch of the 85th brigade, forced to spend up to 72 hours in narrow tunnels, some of which do not exceed 70cm in diameter.” A mobile phone needs cassiterite to produce the tin used for its solder. Erosion, deadly floods and pollution from mining the commons in Indonesia destroy food security and homes for many to profit a tiny minority.
Once all of these people have had their lives, environments and social structure destroyed for the raw materials, it’s time to build the mobile phone. Perhaps it will be built by Samsung which leaks hydrofluoric acid, lead and organic solvents on its employees and neighbours and refuses to disclose what chemicals they are exposing people to. Or perhaps it will be built by people working up to 17-18 hours a day with no days off for over 10 weeks to profit Apple.
If it was acknowledged that every app was a global collaborative project, who would give billions to Pierre Omidyar and Mark Zuckerberg for their contribution? Their billions are of necessity spent creating a tiered society to protect themselves. IT professionals who justify the classist society they uphold bill it as a meritocracy, as though the work of Bill Gates or Pierre Omidyar is of more merit than a child down a mine shaft in Burkina Faso. Those with the indulgence of time, peace, health, education and a nurturing environment not only get the easiest, most rewarding jobs, their contribution in these least challenging jobs provides the greatest compensation and the only recognition.
The silicon valley culture does not stop at silicon valley. Silicon Valley has a global culture. Google works to extend the life expectancy of its employees while Samsung and Apple poison theirs and mining militias murder theirs. On the job health benefits include unlimited free healthy food and exercise at Google and dismissal and refusal of medical coverage after you contract leukemia from exposure to their toxic radiation at Samsung and Apple. Contracts specify ease of immigration to the world’s richest countries for software engineers and closed borders, death, torture and imprisonment to refugees of those countries destroyed by the violence and pollution of the resource mining. Software engineers have perks including global travel and domestic servants, Apple factory employees who kill themselves are denied life insurance for their families. Those destined to be software engineers have elite universities, mentoring programs and angel investors, those destined to mine the resources are frequently used up and already dead by the same age.
Every software app is a collaborative product. It includes the coders, the instructors, the hardware and software manufacturers, those that mine the resources and those that work in the factories. It includes the banks and venture capitalists who funnel all of the world’s money into the newest crop of boy billionaires from the same demographics as the old, the lawyers who justify the unjustifiable, the media who divert your gaze to the chosen ones and the governments who employ vast militaries to maintain what they call a natural order. It includes borders, racism, nationalism, relentless propaganda and lies. It includes complicity from the entire world.
The IT industry is a dictatorship. The billionaires at the top crush the peasants at the bottom, starve them, lock them into bordered ghettos and deny them the most basic human rights. They use their own technology to spy on them and force them into mines to produce the military instruments of their own deaths. The dictators feign benevolence in the form of Pierre Omidyar’s disastrous microloans to the world’s most impoverished and Bill Gates’s initiatives to eliminate food sovereignty in Africa. When it comes to those below them in the food chain, these billionaires celebrated for their love of autonomy and creative freedom become paternalistic tyrants.
Any attempt at revolution is co-opted by the chokehold this fraternity has on all forms of media and public platforms. The world is inundated with propaganda marketing ‘revolution’ as an all-caucasian boy band traveling the world selling their own technology as world changing. The only change brought by this group is the demographic at the top is ever more caucasian and male and their work has knowingly built the global panopticon needed to catalogue and manage an entire world population as corporate product.
The IT industry is a model for all knowledge based industries. With the globalization of the new empire there will be more and more closed global epistemic communities of elite knowledge and elite privilege, similar to academia but far larger and with a much greater divide from those below them. China’s new supercollider complex may very well be an early example. These epistemic communities will become a new form of nation, a new stratification not based on simply class or ethnicity but adhering to both as well. Rights once conferred by citizenship, based on the communal ownership of resources and participation in a trade economy, will no longer be available as states no longer own their own resources.
The stateless ponzi schemes of wealth and power are the building blocks which will uphold the coming global feudal structure.
The medium is the message
In a world where some lives are valued exponentially more than others, it is those most visible who are valued the most highly. More than any words, what matters in the media is who the media chooses to show. The news is their own celebrity, journalists win oscars, oscar winners do journalism, and both are chosen as the experts giving political advice over the heads of those affected. Their news is themselves and their solutions are also themselves in a world where Mia Farrow is playing Obama and Obama is playing Obama too.
No one is asking why is Obama speaking? Why is he in charge? Why does he matter at all? Exceptional lives are a necessary principle for the corporate future and maintaining the gates between the passive public and the people dying has never been more essential. If there were no sparkly personalities for the people to look at they would have to think about events which may even lead to them considering the ideas which led to the events. Without Bad Guys the public may instead judge bad actions which might lead to them judging all terrorism the same and finding no evil which is lesser.
The corporate media feeds an endless stream of binary news, Good Guys and Bad Guys, guilty and innocent, justifying action – reaction responses always on the same pendulum of violence. Beheadings by the centralized mafia are promoted as ‘the lesser evil’ as compared to beheadings by the decentralized mafia. Killing violence is as effective as cutting a hole out of a blanket but no alternatives to men with guns are ever shown. Destroying lives is the important business of government, saving lives is left to charity and obscurity.
People around the world no longer have elders and communities and are conditioned to await the arrival of a Great Man. It is no longer enough to have figureheads of states only, a stateless world requires roving Goodwill Ambassadors, playing with global problems like Marie Antoinette played in her peasant village. Personal experience is reduced to the voices of journalists or Thought Leaders and The Risks They Face. Wikipedia can be read for weeks without ever encountering a reference that is not to a caucasian man. Freedom of speech for all is forgotten in favour of freedom of the corporate press, co-opted messages are a celebrity prop and revolution is reduced to a seat on a panel.
Charity funding is directed to foundations grooming the new Thought-Leaders-in-training from all the right demographics. People donate to send amateur journalists from acceptable demographics to tell the story of those perfectly able to tell it themselves, ensuring no context, history and meaning in the result. Those with power act as gatekeepers instead of bridges, owning the stories of others instead of amplifying them. NGOs preserve their elite club status in their requirements for job applicants, effectively eliminating anyone who may be from the groups represented by demanding PhDs and elite experience. The Thought Leaders act as the new traveling evangelicals, preaching soundbite morality and selfie-solutions over considered participation and interaction.
Welcome to the new Children’s Crusade
Corporate propaganda since colonization in all parts of the world has depicted care and connectedness to the environment as ‘aboriginal’ sentiments, implying bizarrely that some inhabitants of earth are not aboriginal and even more bizarrely that care for one’s own home and life essentials is cultural. This served the dual purpose of both ghettoizing environmental concerns as minority issues and inhibiting those labeled non-aboriginal from speaking about concerns that were decreed the cultural property of others. This common ghettoization and marginalization tactic was also used with women, with destruction of families and homes first depicted as ‘feminist’ issues and then feminism redirected to uphold a corporate ideal instead.
The corporate media and politicians has for years directed all eyes to a steady feed of men with guns as both the problems and the solutions. Anyone not killing people, if shown at all, was presented as a prop, the ‘women and children’ that the Bad Guys were killing and the Good Guys would protect. The relentless messaging presented the trade economy mafia as the only reality and the only possible reality, supporting militaries as the only Good Guys over the obvious Good Guys in refugee camps and those caring for them. A public statement against men with guns killing people is always met with the response that the speaker must support other men with guns killing people, the only recognized alternative. Anything outside the debate on who should be killing whom is marginalized as a ‘minority issue’, not something that serious security analysts discuss. War is supplied freely by governments, the people are left to pay for the care of its victims.
Directing the public gaze to a selected minority effectively dictates the perception of reality and possible solutions. A blazing celebrity spotlight keeps those in the shadows from being seen and international celebrities prevent local voices from being heard. The celebrity stage also depicts international platforms as being more important than local ones. Activists leave their homes to be heard by US committees or talk circuit panels instead of staying and letting others build transparent bridges between local groups and curious outsiders. To appear on international panels you must be acceptable to those at the top of the celebrity ponzi scheme and their corporate owners so a homogenous message is ensured.
Those at the top of the celebrity ponzi scheme have no time for anything other than their own celebrity. If they are on a talk panel circuit they are not working on the ground, even if they once did. If they had an innovative or radical idea it would only have a tiny audience. They can only be at the peak of celebrity popularity if they are saying nothing complex or challenging to the audience’s existing world view. Popularity is not only not the same as influence, they are mutually exclusive. Popularity is only attained by riding ideas already at peak acceptance. At the very best, the celebrity ponzi schemes are a distraction, siphoning both money and public attention that should be focused elsewhere if we are to attain self-governance. At worst, they are a tool of the new system of global governance, dramatically influencing policy and global reactions with opinions based on no knowledge and easily manipulated by corporate messaging. In either case they are louder and more powerful than expertise or local voices and usurp the authority of both.
Your worst enemy is not the person in opposition to you. It is the person occupying the spot you would be fighting from and doing nothing.
The new nations and city states
What we are seeing is the logical, predictable, natural progression of the ponzi scheme of power that has been building since the world decided to allow itself to be run by trade.
The Islamic State is a caricature of governments around the world and shows well just how little difference there is between decentralized mafia beheading people and the Saudi centralized mafia beheading people, or for that matter, the US global mafia murdering people accused of no crime along with everyone standing near them. If the people have no say in the law and no choice in its policing, the street executions by police in Nigeria and the US or the mass trials in Egypt, China, and the US look no different from those performed by groups the old states call terrorists. As cyber-currency and social media showed the true nature of the algorithms behind wealth and celebrity with the controls removed, the stateless militias currently terrorizing the world show the principles of our trade economy governance in its purest form. At every level, the resource mafia follows the same principles and from Bitcoin to Twitter to the Islamic State we see how rapidly these principles when decentralized will recreate oligarchy. The ponzi schemes of power, celebrity and wealth resulting from every egalitarian structure are accelerated as the regulating structures are dismantled and the underlying principles remain.
Entrance to the new elite will no longer be granted by state citizenship alone. The so-called nation states will be replaced by real nations aligned by wealth, celebrity and power. Those privileged will be the officially sanctioned epistemic communities and those Great Men speaking for the masses, the NGOs, journalists, Thought Leaders, politicians and everyone else who can use the effort or need of others for their own self aggrandizement.
This new borderless elite are now multinationals in themselves and enjoy multinational privileges while the ever-growing stateless masses of refugees have lost even the rights of being the property of a state. The new castle walls and state borders are purely economic. Like the aristocracy of old, the elite will once again be confined to cities and neighbourhoods, protected by their ability to afford militia guards, to inflate housing prices and to be ruthless with the homeless. China already has economic city states which leave the rural poor in a bleak world of not just poverty but also no marriage partners and no parents, where they are trapped not only economically but by refusal of documentation and permission to leave. The population of the Philippines has acted for years as domestic servants to states they are not permitted to have citizenship or rights in. Cities and neighbourhoods like Vancouver, Hong Kong and silicon valley have established economic borders as do gated communities everywhere. The new elite fantasize about seasteading and other solutions to isolate themselves from the masses as the old elite still occupy exclusive retreats such as Mustique.
Anyone without citizenship in these privileged nations will be in the new ‘third world’, locked out by a middle class of militias. A largely labour free economy and population explosion has made Nietzche’s ‘superfluous ones’ truly superfluous. The collapse of states and their economies have left large populations in a stateless wilderness where survival is the overwhelming priority and they are stripped of all commons property and dependent on charity. Those outside the privileged nations are considered enemy nations and as such, espionage, competition and war is considered justified against them and charity towards them is voluntary.
We already live in a world where children scrape minerals from dirt and carry back breaking loads under the eyes of men with guns, children and babies huddle starving in camps with no sewage or water, the oceans are filled with the outcast floating endlessly and pushed from shore whenever they attempt to land and a global elite deeply do not care, protected as they are from the superfluous ones by a military shooting other people’s children for money to feed their own. The new elite is sold as a meritocracy. An unapologetic eugenics program will decide who is most worthy to survive the coming disasters but in reality it will not be based on contribution or value to humanity.
For those who wished to turn back time to a decentralized libertarian or peer economy, this is the world you hoped for. This is what those principles will result in every single time, as we have now spent thousands of years proving beyond any shadow of doubt. This is why every revolution has just continued the progression down the same path.
This is the trade economy.
Moroccans scale the border into Melilla, Spain
A phoenix is possible
The collapse of states is healthy and necessary as is the establishment of stateless epistemic communities. From this collapse it will be possible to build a new structure. If corporations and global empire prevails, this new structure will contain both stateless and governmental ponzi schemes of wealth, celebrity and power which are privileged and multinational and a huge unprivileged caste at the bottom of every state which will have no rights to commons property or social support and for whom survival will be a severe struggle. Between the two will be placed a military caste who will be coerced to serve by access to the basics for life.
Every oligarchy is built with the principles of a hierarchical ponzi scheme. The principles of hierarchy are counter-intuitively found in the slogan Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, which was used to erase Autonomy, Diversity, Society. To create a world without oligarchy we need to go back to a time before trade economy instilled rule by mafia and the ponzi schemes of power, celebrity and wealth.
The coming nations of epistemic communities need to be both permeable and transparent and the power of acceptance or rejection must always be with the user group, not the epistemic community. Epistemic communities must never govern. Their knowledge must be transmitted to the entire interested user group through knowledge bridges and feedback and acceptance or rejection must be transmitted back in an interactive loop.
Great Men must have their authority removed whenever they appear. Knowledge to aid in decision making must emanate by transparent knowledge bridges from either epistemic communities or local governance, not from celebrities and gatekeepers. To dismantle oligarchy, stop creating oligarchs.
It is impossible to have a trade economy without rule by mafia. To reinstate societies, the economy must be built on social approval combined with inalienable individual rights, voluntary association and clear social contracts. Autonomy means governance by the entire user group, including management of the resources of the user group. Ownership and control outside of or not including all of the entire user group is enemy occupation and theft. Every life must be accepted as having equivalent merit and equality must not be permitted to trample equivalence.
All ponzi schemes are upheld by a centripetal force caused by those orbiting the circles of power, celebrity and wealth and trying to get in. When the ponzi scheme reaches its point of maximum growth, the force disperses and the ponzi scheme collapses. Be ready with something better.
Omar Khadr: War criminal, child soldier… or neither?
Frames from Omar Khadr’s interrogation. via Flickr.
Omar Khadr made his first appearance in a Canadian court on Monday. After an 11-year journey from Bagram to Guantánamo to Canada’s Millhaven Institution, the Toronto-born man is now in Edmonton’s federal prison. He was 15 when he was captured and tortured at Bagram. He turned 27 last Thursday.
If you’re not familiar with the case it goes loosely as follows: When the Americans first arrested Omar in Afghanistan, he was accused of throwing a grenade that killed an American solider. For eight years he maintained his innocence, until he signed a plea deal in 2010 that got him out of Guantanamo. Omar was then convicted of five counts of war crimes for his actions, which were not recognized as such anywhere else in the world including Canada.
Omar’s case is wildly complex. While the American solider he is accused of killing was certainly killed by a grenade, there is no evidence showing that Omar ever had or threw one. While Omar certainly did confess to these crimes, it was after eight years of torture and given his option to either insist he’s innocent and stay in Gitmo, or confess to the crimes and see a judge in Canada, it certainly sounds like the terms of his confession were problematic at best.
All of this is important to note, especially in light of the recent Hamdan appeal in the US—which refers to the case of Osama Bin Laden’s former driver whose terrorism charges were thrown out—that pointed out war crimes tried by the Commission must be internationally recognized. This verdict may end up being leveraged effectively in the Omar Khadr case.
The Canadian Supreme Court has even ruled that our government violated Omar’s rights, but left the remedy up to the Harper government who of course declined to provide any solution.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been making strong statements on the preferred outcome on the day of the trial, in an apparent attempt to influence the court proceedings. Harper has vowed to fight the case “vigorously,” and used almost the same phrasing as that of Steven Blaney, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety.
Omar’s counsel, Dennis Edney, was in court to argue that he should be transferred to a provincialinstitution from a federal institution due to his age when the alleged crimes took place. In a confusing instance of legal doublespeak, the Crown’s prosecutors are arguing that Omar has not really been sentenced to eight years, but rather to five eight-year sentences served at the same time. Associate Chief Justice J.D. Rook has reserved judgment to a currently undetermined future date.
Heather Marsh, a journalist, was at Omar’s trial on Monday and wrote about it for us.
The media swarming Khadr’s lawyer outside of Monday’s hearing. Photo by the author.
On Monday, the court was filled with what seemed to be exclusively supporters of Omar Khadr. Many were wearing orange or orange ribbons and I spoke to several of them. There was a high school student who said she was done for the day, students from several different universities skipping class even though they had exams next week, and people of all ages and ethnic groups. After the media were moved to the jury box and people were encouraged to squeeze up, 120 people were in the court room and a live feed was set up for more in an overflow room.
A security guard told Omar’s counsel that Omar would be available to talk to them in a private interview room outside—but Edney insisted it was an open court and Omar could appear. After a brief altercation he was allowed to be present.
Contrary to earlier media reports depicting him as a “giant,” Omar is an average sized man with a soccer player build and a neatly trimmed beard. When he came home last year he wrote to Seger M., an 11-year old supporter, “I play soccer too, but I don’t think I’m as good as you. I usually play defense or goal keeper.” He looks it, although since he came home he has been almost entirely in solitary confinement instead.
The author discussing the insanity of the crown’s arguments with Omar’s former chief prosecutor from Guantanamo.
Omar wrote to me when he was finally transferred back to Canada last fall, “At least we have a proper legal system,” and he told another correspondent this week that this would be his first appearance in “a real court.” He seemed composed and happy throughout the proceedings, smiling frequently at people. Most of the discussion I overheard during the breaks was regarding his appearance and demeanor, not the legal arguments. Omar and the gallery of supporters seemed equally amazed that they were finally meeting after 11 ½ years of hearing about each other.
During the afternoon, a man interrupted proceedings to rip off his shirt and say “Enough! He was 15,” and object to the endless paper shuffling and statute citing. He was escorted out with no acknowledgement from Omar or the rest of the court room. At the end of the day, after the judge had left and as Omar was being led away there was a spontaneous outburst from the room with people waving and calling “Good job, Omar!” and “Stay strong!”
After the hearing Edney met with media outside and told them Omar’s chances of parole would be much greater in a provincial institution as he would have access to the programs and the society he needs to rehabilitate himself. “If he remains in a federal penitentiary, where he doesn’t get any programs, where he spends most of his life locked away, where his life was threatened, he’ll never get out.”
An Omar Khadr protester in 2009. via WikiCommons.
As long as Omar is in federal prison he will probably be in solitary as necessary protection. As he wrote a friend last February about Millhaven, “My new place is different definitely. People are generally nice, but with a lot of bad habits. Life here compels you to live like an animal because it is like a jungle. I have to change a little to defend myself, but not lose my humanity and who I am.”
In order to be eligible for parole, Omar must prove he can thrive among those our society has deemed most unacceptable. During his trial the point was repeatedly made that he could not be released as he had been supposedly “marinated in jihad” as an inmate of Guantanamo and Bagram during his formative years. The catch-22 continues.
Canada famously violated Omar Khadr’s rights by interrogating him for the US when they knew he had been subjected to three weeks of severe sleep deprivation torture and other ‘softening up techniques’ prior to questioning. They also refused for eight years to provide even a pair of glasses to preserve the vision remaining in his one good eye or to provide any education for him to rehabilitate himself. After receiving no formal education past elementary school, he recently passed Ontario’s Grade 10 high school equivalency exams with more than 90 percent in all subjects, English, math, history, geography and science.
Solitary confinement is widely recognized as torture, and many years of studies have shown the permanent damage that can result. After over 11 years of almost entirely solitary, Omar appears to be one of the exceptions. He can even find benefit in the deprivation of experience, education and companionship. In April he wrote to Aaf Post in the Netherlands, “Usually we don’t appreciate the small things. We take them for granted. Once you lose these things like opening your window in the morning and taking a breath of fresh air or seeing a bird chirping, you really appreciate these things. Even though I’m in prison there are still a lot of small beautiful things around us. Seeing the sun rise or set or to see the snow fall.”
“Being back in Canada is, as you said, a wonderful thing. As big or difficult as change may be, it’s worth it. There are too many good things in this life (as hard as it might be) to worry or even care about the bad things. Things are what we make out of them. Prison can be a deprivation of freedom, or a time to enlighten ourselves. For me it is the latter.”
The author would like to thank the Free Omar Khadr group for research assistance.
Follow Heather on Twitter: @GeorgieBC
World War III: A picture
Member and observer countries of Non-Aligned Movement plus Russia are in blue.
Exactly two years ago, I started this blog with a post about A Stateless War which discussed an upcoming conflict of “The military industrial complex against the anonymous cloud, with an ignorant populace as the prize.” That conflict is largely behind us: few in the world are as ignorant as they were two years ago, and we are beyond the point where information alone can correct the social and political disasters we see around us.
Based on our current still entirely alterable trajectory, by the end of 2012 it will be apparent that we are in a new war, this time involving states. World War III will do as a name, or we can call it the Military States against the Resource States. Of course that sounds like something we’ve been in for decades; the difference is it is starting to look a lot more two sided.
Since the Cold War, the world has been socially controlled by methods which may have been lifted from Hollywood high school movies. The US state cables showed us a world in which the United States largely controls all international forums and debates with a mixture of threats and bribes and a circle of allies who do not dare risk expulsion from the inner circle by disagreement. The inner circle has largely echoed the previous imperial world, with IMF loans replacing direct occupation, but potential membership is held out as an incentive to others as well. Countries such as Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) are invited to the bigger parties, and given trade deals, military sales and social protection in exchange for their support of the inner circle. The BRICS countries then wield their own social power in similar fashion in their own regions.
As in all Hollywood movies, stability for the inner circle ends when the bullying gets out of hand. When social ostracization becomes so extreme it threatens actual survival, as it does for Cuba, Palestine, Iran, Somalia, North Korea and others, when no negotiation short of complete obliteration of self is acceptable, the entire social structure is threatened, more so as more members are outcast. The world has watched as Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and many others have been inhumanely tormented with no possibility of reprieve or negotiation and no defence from any stronger nation. If extreme bullying such as that detailed in the Palestine Papers is combined with any sudden unexpected weakness in the bully or strength in the bullied, the result is predictable and instant.
And so it has been.
The weaknesses in the US and other NATO countries have been very well researched and documented in recent years, but except for the obvious economic collapse they have not received widespread discussion. Here are some other points that may become key very soon.
1. The US does not actually control their own military or intelligence and the private corporations that do, do not operate from patriotic loyalty and are available to the highest bidder. They do not work if they are not paid. Many are not even citizens of the US. Not just the people, at the highest ranks, but even the military hard assets are frequently privately owned.
2. US trade relies heavily on intellectual property and increasingly draconian laws to protect and increase the value of that property. Intellectual property is a concept, not a good, and it does not exist if trade partners do not acknowledge it. Even loan interest typically comes with a contract and some trust which will be lost if the contract is broken; there is nothing to be lost by people who refuse to pay for intellectual property. For years the industry has tried to make the case that if intellectual property were not copyrighted and patented, creative activity would halt, but the open source and pirate movements have proven the opposite to be true. Since it is very rarely the creators who control the intellectual property rights to their own work, or have the resources to fight infringement, the moral argument that creativity ought to be compensated by IP laws is also very weak. This leaves the G20 countries, US particularly, with no protection other than force and increasingly controversial extraditions to claim income from intellectual property. In a time of war, this would be a very precarious basis for trade, particularly since the US is the sole beneficiary of the extreme laws today and the rest of the G20 would benefit from a relaxation of IP law.
All of the statistics on this site are very interesting. Here are a few:
74% of exports– or $1 trillion– are driven by American IP-intensive industries. (Global Intellectual Property Center: “IP Creates Jobs for America,” NDP Consulting, May 2012.)
Among the 27 tradable industries, only six industries reported trade surpluses—five of which were IP-intensive industries, generating an average $14.6 billion in trade surplus each year. (“The Impact of Innovation and the Role of Intellectual Property Rights on U.S. Productivity, Competitiveness, Jobs, Wages and Exports,” NDP Consulting, 2010)
G20 economies have lost 2.5 million jobs to counterfeiting and piracy. (Frontier Economics, Estimating the Global Economic and Social Impacts of Counterfeiting and Piracy, February 2011.)
India and Pakistan both made the “Top Ten Source Countries” this year due to seizures of counterfeit pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceutical seizures accounted for 86% of the value of IPR seizures from India and 85% of the value of IPR seizures from Pakistan. (Customs and Border Protection, Intellectual Property Rights – Seizure Statistics: Fiscal Year 2011)
3. As the world’s most capitalist economy, the US has arguably the least societal support in the event of a collapse. Years of competitive and unhealthy consumerism, in which consumers are divorced from production, in the world’s most addicted and most incarcerated population create a societal helplessness not seen in most places. All of the G20 countries have favoured corporations over people to the extent that surviving in a collapsed economy is difficult to impossible without rewriting many property ownership and usage laws.
NATO countries are in green.
The Acronyms and Isolation
As in the prelude to the past world wars, many economic and defence treaties have been negotiated over the years to protect US dominance in each region. A favoured bullying tactic has been to exclude countries from these international clubs to cripple their economies and ability to defend themselves. There has been increasing activity to combat this practise.
The United Nations and all of its arms have served to protect the inner circle on a global level. In 1961 the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was formed to represent countries not aligned with either the US or the USSR. In the Havana Declaration of 1979, Fidel Castro identified the purpose of the organization to ensure “the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries” in their “struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony as well as against great power and bloc politics”.
The 120 member countries of the Non-Aligned Movement represent nearly two-thirds of the United Nations’s members and contain 55% of the world population before adding the 21 other observer countries. The Summit last week in Tehran included representatives from 130-150 countries, shown in the map at the top of this article. (There are only approximately 192 countries in the world.) Attendance at the highest level included 27 presidents, 2 kings and emirs, 7 prime ministers, 9 vice presidents, 2 parliament spokesmen and 5 special envoys as well as the Secretary-General of the UN. Resolutions included condemnation of the blockade of Cuba and the Paraguay coup, support to Argentina regarding the Malvinas, known in the UK as the Falklands, support to Ecuador over the UK’s threats to its embassy, calls for transformation of the United Nations, calls for the US to stop its illegal drone attacks in Pakistan, calls for disarmament and much more. The reaction in the NATO countries was to ignore the Summit except when deriding its relevance, but it is hardly possible to seriously deny the relevance of a gathering of over 7000 people from the top levels of approximately 150 countries creating a final resolution which included over 700 clauses on world policy. If these countries were all to leave the UN, or begin to vote as a bloc at the UN, there would be a split between NAM countries and NATO countries.
There are many lesser alliances that have worked to enable US and NATO domination in past decades. One of the oldest alliances, created in 1948 out of previous pan-American alliances formed since 1826, is the Organization of American States. This is the organization the US used to create an embargo on Cuba in 1962, an embargo refused only by Canada (who was not a member till 1990) and Mexico. In 2013 there will be 41 member states in the OAS. In 2004 the Cuba-Venezuela Agreement was signed and it proposed an alternative to the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). The alternative coming out of the Cuba-Venezuela Agreement is known as ALBA and now includes eight (soon to be eleven) countries. In 2008, the 12 member Unasur agreement, which includes a defence treaty, was signed, and in 2011 CELAC was created. CELAC members include all members of the OAS except the US and Canada.
In 1947 the Rio Treaty (TIAR) was signed for ‘hemispheric defense’ and was later invoked by the US against Cuba. During the Malvinas (Falklands) war, the US sided with the UK, and during the Iraq war only four countries joined the US. Mexico and Canada are not members, all members of ALBA withdrew in June of 2012, and the treaty is now largely ignored in favour of the Unasur defence agreement.
These new organizations come amid objections to the US and Canada preventing any resolutions from going through at the OAS. These two countries have repeatedly blocked resolutions agreed to by all of the rest of the 35, such as inclusion of Cuba, new solutions to the drug war and solidarity with Argentina over the Malvinas/Falklands. The OAS is a consensus based organization, so it can and has been run, in the words of Venezuela’s Chavez, as a ‘dictatorship’ by those who refuse to negotiate, the two NATO countries.
In August of 2012, an emergency meeting of the OAS was called to decide whether to hold a second meeting to discuss a resolution on the embassy dispute between Ecuador and the UK. The US and Canada (and Trinidad & Tobago) argued against a subsequent meeting and were overruled this time by a vote. After a weekend of hurried meetings of ALBA, Unasur, and others, the OAS meeting in Washington DC was held and also put to a vote. The US delivered a sullen agreement and Canada a more petulant refusal, but in a population of 33 the one consensus breaking vote was irrelevant. While media in NATO countries concentrated on the resolution itself, calling it largely ineffective, the resolution was not the point. The two countries which had ruled the 35 country bloc with their vetos were this time made irrelevant. The message in both the vote and the rhetoric was clear; if the OAS is to survive in any form and not be replaced by CELAC, the NATO countries will no longer be permitted to simply block resolutions.
The two countries which excluded Cuba from the OAS have become, as a direct result of an organization started by Fidel Castro, the two that are now themselves excluded. The countries that have lobbied for sanctions against Iran have been ignored by the 120 members and 21 observers of the NAM which have selected Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the current chairperson. In 2015 the chair will be handed over to Venezuela, another arch-enemy of the US as the organization continues to define itself along lines set out by Fidel Castro in 1979. Ecuador, a member of ALBA, Unasur, CELAC and NAM as well as many other alliances, has already threatened sanctions against the UK over the Malvinas/Falklands.
The NATO countries are suddenly in very real peril of having sanctions imposed against themselves. How real is the threat of solidarity among NAM members? Within days of the summit, Canada had closed the Iranian embassy in Canada and Netanyahu was berating Obama over not delivering stronger ultimatums to Iran. Iran does not think that is a coincidence.
Does the 1% need the 99%?
It is very evident that in terms of population and resources the side I will call the NAM countries are in a superior position. It is equally evident that in terms of military, the NATO countries are vastly superior; NATO countries control over 70% of the world’s military spending. So while resource trade embargos could quickly plummet NATO countries into what they would probably consider dystopia, or a state resembling that of the global south, NATO countries could also use their military to wipe out populations in the NAM countries, using unmanned and even autonomous drones, and they could create embargos by blocking trade between NAM countries.
What is the loyalty between the NATO countries? How many will stand together in the face of embargos? In the case of the intelligence, defense science and technology sharing countries, particularly the countries known as the five eyes, their governments’ loyalty to each other has been shown to be similar to that of a gang or a cult. What they know of each other is probably enough to ensure allegiance unless their governments are completely taken over by new people and trials started for crimes against humanity and war crimes. More importantly, their corporate ties are far too strong to break. At the moment they are too invested in protecting each other for a split.
Japan’s spat with China coming at this time may put them firmly on the five eyes’ side. Or not. Japan rejected bilateral or regional agreements for many years and has far less explicit ties than most countries. As the third or fourth largest economy, they may also be able to afford independence. And their biggest trading partner is still China. Trade relationships are handy to help us make predictions, although they are by no means the whole story, potential trade relationships may be an even bigger influencer at this point as many countries try to back away from troubled economies.
The key then becomes whether individual NATO countries feel it is easier to back a new BRICS led empire, or back the existing US empire, since none of the core NATO countries is strong enough to build a new empire on its own and their corporate powers will not back a real democracy. At this moment, none have shown any inclination to prefer a BRICS led NAM alliance, but the EU members may be far too preoccupied with matters at home to involve themselves in global issues, on either side. Many NATO partners will choose individually as they have conflicting agreements, while some like Israel are easy to predict.
The corporations control the money and therefore the military and the NATO countries. The people provide labour for the corporations, including the military. There are far more people than the corporations and the few who control them actually need for labour, but the world in general is facing an imminent shortage of young people to care for their aging populations. Whether care for aging populations will be a priority remains to be seen. Automated warfare has made it much harder for people to regain control of their own military. The general populaton would have to track the few people who control the corporations, the governments and the military and regain control by removing control from those who hold it currently.
What is the power of the people over the corporations? On the NATO side, very little to none. On the NAM side, that is possibly the most interesting place to watch, which countries, if any, will attempt co-operative governance which benefits people ahead of corporations, and whether that will break the NAM alliance in two or even completely disintegrate it into many civil wars. Or even possibly work in some countries, and if some countries do implement governance by the people, will it look again like communism, with a corrupt central core and a corrupt military required to stop the capitalist imperialists from invading, or will there be a new model? If there is a new model, how will it stop the corporate invasion?
The NAM countries are hardly a unified bloc either. While they are largely all against NATO dominance, most of them (particularly BRICS countries) want a ‘multi-polar’ world, or a world with multiple tyrants including themselves. Outside of BRICS, the smaller countries want a place for the elite of every country. There is no real political representation of control by the people which has any power at this moment. How can governance by the people gain control in this conflict?
Who will win? At this point, it hardly matters. If NATO wins it is status quo, if some form of NAM wins it will quickly become the new NATO, using the threat of the old NATO to justify its own imperialism. This is the pattern we have seen in every revolution since the beginning of society, sometimes appearing instantly, sometimes edging forward in a few decades.
How can we create real governance by the people out of this conflict?
The word crisis is derived from a word meaning ‘turning point’. For all the crises we think the world has been through, there is very rarely a turn. Indeed, history can appear more like an inexorably straight path with predictable periodic bumps. The tools to effect a real change are available now, but real change would require a real direction and goals. Without these, this revolution will end as all the others eventually have, with new tyrants.
The latest crisis will disrupt every corner of the world. By the end of 2015 we will have either a new system or new tyrants. For us to create real change from this, there needs to be a working venue, an uncensorable place to communicate both locally in person and globally online. There needs to be a new system of collaboration that will be stronger than the systems of governance we have had so far. We need a system that can react quickly and powerfully enough, with enough knowledge and expertise, to allow collaboration on a massive scale and still provide enough autonomy for local governance.
I will be writing a lot about both the communication and the collaboration soon, starting here.