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Jackpine Radical

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Current location: Wisconsin
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 40,138

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Capitalism is dead. But how many of us is it gonna take with it? Look to OWS for answers.

The world economy as currently structured requires growth to sustain it. Capitalism has the same ethics as a cancer, and will just as surely kill its host if left unchecked. The host, of course, is the biosphere.

The species does NOT need growth to sustain it--either in population or in "productivity."

What we need is workable population control and a functional distribution system that ensures everyone has enough so they may live happy, self-fulfilling lives. If we have less attachment to useless, throwaway material possessions, we need to work less. If we have machines that absorb the work of production, then a major portion of the proceeds of that production ought to go to the people.

There is a path to a world in which everyone has the basics such as food, shelter, education and peace. People would not have to work as hard in this world. Everyone would have the time and opportunity to flourish as fully-functional humans. We just need wisdom to get there.

Unfortunately, the wise and fair-minded do not generally rise to power in this system, and perhaps not in any other.

The American Revolution was an attempt to build a more foolproof hierarchical system, based on a division of powers among 3 branches, those 3 branches themselves basing their authority on the consent of the governed.

But almost from the outset, the rich and powerful interests captured portions of the government and bent them to their own narrow purposes. Andrew Jackson & the smallpox blankets. Using cops & Guardsmen to bust strikes. Make up your own list. The point is that by now, the corruption is virtually complete.

So how can you build an incorruptible hierarchical system, one that is impervious to the toxic effects of money? The more I think about it, the more convinced become that you can't build such a system.

When I was a state employee, I used to say that the state's organizational chart consisted of a pyramid of boxes with names in them, each connected to the boxes below it by diodes. The system was designed to pass orders downward from the top, but not to allow any signals to arise into the system from below. It was a classic hierarchy. Shut up & do what you're told.

Nowhere was this hierarchical unidirectionality of communication made more clear than in the old Soviet Union. Right after the revolution, Lenin was faced with decisions about how to modernize his new nation in a hurry to elevate it from its quasi-feudal state. He thought about putting in a national telephone system. But he scrapped this plan. Instead, he wired the major cities for networks of loudspeakers--the ultimate one-way communication device.

Now, contrast any such hierarchical system with the system in place at an OWS General Assembly. In the GA, someone speaks and everybody gives immediate feedback on how they feel about what the speaker is saying.

Then there is the Human Mike. The "mic check" phenomenon is a very interesting one. One person's message is passed on to the crowd through the concerted, self-coordinated actions of those crowd members nearest the speaker. The speaker must have the consent of his "microphone" if he is to be heard. That's sure a bit different than Moscow, 1923. It's also different from any previous protest action in America. In the past, there were always defined leaders, whether Tom Hayden or MLK. Not this time. The power is distributed very differently.

The major difference between previous social actions and the present worldwide upheaval is the nearly universal access to the new social media. The 1% have their broadcast media, just as Lenin had his loudspeakers, and they have gotten very sophisticated in using these tools to shape public opinion. Classically, the public has had little capacity to respond. Oh, you could write a letter or make a phone call, but in general the public was limited to one-to-one communications, while the Mighty had one-to-many communication capability.

But the transpersonal environment is now very different than it has been at any time in the past. Each person has one-to-many capabilities. For example, I'm writing this in hopes that many more than one of my fellow-travelers will read it, and each of them will have the power to respond in kind, i.e. with one-to-many capabilities.

One way of looking at the massive one-to-many linkages among maybe 1 billion of us is that we have created a feedback mechanism unlike anything the world has yet seen. We are escaping the information filters that have always been imposed on us. We are making direct contact with each other around the world and sharing hour common humanity and our common concerns.

Learning occurs in the presence of feedback. Instant learning occurs in the presence of instant feedback. Learning means adaptability, constant change, constant updating of the information banks. No hierarchical system can coordinate an action as swift and graceful as a leaderless flock of birds suddenly executing a change in direction.

This is why I look to leaderless organizations such as OWS as experimental workshops for developing the new society.

Posted by Jackpine Radical | Thu Dec 22, 2011, 02:18 PM (14 replies)
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