Wednesday, April 30, 2008

isms and archys


I've been mulling over the concept of 'isms'. Communism, socialism, fascism, capitalism. Oligarchy, monarchy, you get the idea. It seems depending on who you ask, somebody somewhere will always have a problem with any major ism you bring up. There is plenty to criticize with capitalism, particularly in the form we have it now. It is wholly unethical no-holds barred cutthroat capitalism, not much different in practice than crime. That goes without saying for all of the archys too.

I'll admit not having read much of any of the more famous books on communism, nor have I studied socialism or any other ism to any great depth, for the simple reason I don't really care what somebody else said decades ago about something that obviously doesn't work anyway. If it did work we'd be using it.

I sincerely doubt that it's possible or even necessary to pick an ism to politically run a country. In fact it would be interesting to pick and choose from all of the isms and see if it's possible to cook up a whole new ism that would be something better than any of them are by themselves. Some parts of socialism seem to be very workable in my humble opinion, and some parts of capitalism are very beneficial but the point is it all seems to boil down to two basic ways of seeing the world.

The first way is sharing, which of course the oligarchs and raging capitalists hate so much they hiss at the mere mention of the word. Sharing is generally the perspective of the political left. The second way is a very brutal 'every man for himself and screw you if you're going to die' approach. This would be the favored approach of authoritarians and kings everywhere. It also seems to be the preferred general perspective of the right wing and libertarians.

The problem with either approach is that it excludes people. It either excludes the masses by allowing the well off and hence more powerful to prevail and make the rules for everyone with little regard for those the rules do harm to. Or it demands a form of humbled down sameness where everyone is watching everyone else's piece of the pie to make sure it's not bigger than their own and it runs many kinds of risks that can tend to become overly controlling of everyone in the name of 'fairness'. Either way there will be massive problems because wealthy elites will always take control in any case and screw the public, and neither of these basic perspectives will ever see eye to eye. So what to do? What to do?

The first thing I have to assert is that the model of global commerce is a death sentence to freedom everywhere. This is for the simple reason that all life is local. Our homes are local, our food should be local, our work and trades and communities all have to be local. Which means to me that it's obvious that political systems should be local too. I don't see any problem with letting towns and cities and communities decide their own politics and ways of doing things.

Diversity is essential to the health of any organism, and that goes for humanity too. The more we go global the more we lose control over our local lives. We don't have local food anymore and that is a direct and stupid threat for millions of people. If the crops fail in the one or two major places that would be growing food for millions for export, then a lot of people will die. If food is grown and controlled locally, there can still be trade and there will be a much reduced risk of millions of people doing without because crop failures won't be that widespread. In other words it would be easier to pick up the slack for communities who experience crop failures when crop growth is universal and local and under the direct control of those localities.

The same reasoning applies to home and work and community. These are not things that can be imported or exported, although with capitalism they have been to some extent, but not all that successfully. These require a lot of travel and time, more than one home in some cases, it burns a lot of fuel and it is very expensive. It's really not 'sustainable', or realistic or a very good use of time. Local culture has been replaced far and wide by corporate culture and that hasn't resulted in anything to write home about. A McDonalds and a Burger King in remote places is hardly thrilling. In fact it's depressing. Global culture eradicates local culture, and that's a really bad thing. We are not all supposed to be the same and live on concrete and eat preservatives and dress alike. I can't prove it off hand, but I'm sure of that much nonetheless. Culture needs to be local, that's what culture is.

I don't see how a central authority over an entire country even makes sense. If nothing else, it does effectively eliminate something I don't think we can do without, and that is free will. The ability to create our own lives and decide how we live them. This would have to be done locally and it makes no sense to have to put up with a central authority somewhere thousands of miles away which disallows local communities to rule themselves as they see fit. The question would always be the same, "Why not?" And it would be a good question. Why shouldn't individuals and cities and towns far and wide decide for themselves how they want to run their local reality? There really is no good answer to that question which means there's something else going on. And it's obvious what that something else is. It is about control and wealth, the territory of the archys of the world. The small group of people who want it all for themselves, all the power, all the money, and all of the authority to control everyone else. They want your money and they want your labor and your total obedience and otherwise they want you to shut up.

I think all of the isms are a smoke screen for central control, at least as they are preserved and presented.

The problem is that there really can't be any single, successful cut-and-dried by-the-book system of rulership for a very simple reason. People are not all alike. They share very different value systems and have very different ways of looking at the world. There really are the two types mentioned above, the ones who want to share and the ones who would rather kill you than share anything, even if they don't need it. It's really about whether or not people feel a connection to others, to humanity in general, or whether they really don't care about anyone but themselves. I'm not making a judgment about it, I'm just noticing it, it happens to be true.

If we can tell ourselves we don't care if we are surrounded by suffering, starving, uneducated others because we ourselves have a good thing going and don't consider it our problem if there are human bodies rotting alongside the road, then we would be on one side of the fence. But if we can't stand the idea of seeing anyone suffering when there is no reason, and we don't see it as an imposition in any way to share some small part of our wealth with good conscience then we'd be on the other side of the fence.

What I will do is poke holes in the idea that we can have an every man for himself way of doing things and expect it to be good for that many people. It can't be, we already know that, just look around. So the basic question is exposed. Do we as a planet care about our species, or don't we? Should we or shouldn't we? And to the extent we can not agree on the answer to this question I believe is the extent we will never find the right political system to guide the country. For between these two very diverse viewpoints there is no middle ground.

Personally, I don't see why we can't take what's good from each camp and have it both ways. There are certain things it makes good sense to share and there are certain things it doesn't. It doesn't have to be all one way or the other. It's a total myth that anyone living in the midst of civilization can claim they are independent, they aren't independent at all. They use the public roads and expect the services of public utilities, drive vehicles that others have produced, purchase food that others have grown and yet others have trucked in and so forth, so they are not at all independent of others. They cannot claim to be self-contained or self made. It's a fantasy based on a myth and is patently untrue.

We all depend and rely on others in our society. We can and should share the costs of certain things that would benefit everyone including those who cannot afford to put anything in the pot. That's especially true of health care, and it would benefit everyone in our society to live in a place where everyone has full access to good health. It simply makes our society a better one to live in, and that's not something we need to put a price on.

If we don't allow those who can't pay to receive certain critical services then we would have scenarios such as a house that catches on fire that would not be serviced by the fire department because it's owners can't afford to pay in to the fire control service. But the risk is that neighboring houses will also catch fire because of that; to say nothing of the fact that a family will be out of a home and be in severe need that would in fact be very expensive to rectify from our own pockets. So it only makes sense to establish a fire service that asks no questions and is not dependent on whether someone pays in or not.

I really believe this can be done reasonably and it isn't any real burden on those who are well off to put in a part of the costs for those who can't pay. Not being able to pay does not mean one is not a legitimate member of society. I would recoil from making any such judgments because it would be ignorant to do so. Money is not the sole determinant of someone's worth or value to society and there is reason to assume that everyone has a place and a function whether we can see it or not. Simply rising to the occasion of helping those in need has important value and that is a fact.

It is at minimum a fair expectation of those enjoying the abundance which comes to them from participating and living in our shared society to help those who need help. They do not and cannot achieve their prosperity alone, they achieve it from the benefits that are only possible by participating in society. When we attain more than enough to be comfortable we do owe something to those who don't have any chance of attaining similar prosperity and who in fact suffer greatly due to the way the system is set up. It is set up to favor the prosperous and negate those who are not prosperous and that's blatantly unfair. We border on serious hypocrisy when we whine about helping those in need and want others to believe that our greed is justified when in fact it's shameful. We must all give back to the whole that sustains us, it's simply right and fair.

We can carry certain basic things as a society because it's in our own best interests to do so if nothing else. The kind of selfishness and exclusionary tendencies of those who are comfortable against those who struggle is precisely what is at the heart of most of our ongoing and eternal political problems. The idea that we don't all deserve to get our needs met is unrealistic, of course we do and the fact is that if we're going to have rich people then we're going to have poor people and it must be part of the price one pays to achieve financial abundance in a dependent society to put something back for those who have no means and no chance of achieving any similar abundance. It's simply a fundamental concept that no legitimate complaints for rejection exist for. The dependency of the rich on the public cannot be seen as bona fide if the dependency of the poor on the public is dismissed as illegitimate. You cannot have it both ways.

We could undertake the project of making this question of isms one for public discussion to see if we could arrive at a majority opinion. That might make it easier to nail down the right ism for the majority. But then again, all we could really arrive at would be the potentially right ism for today. We couldn't know what people behind us would feel or want, and things can be very different with the passage of time. Our deals and agreements can't hold others obligated who had no say in our contracts. That's a major and harmful flaw in our system of laws today, almost none of us have ever had any direct say in any of those laws, much less the choice of whether or not we agree to abide by them. It's all too easy to just arrest people who don't feel compelled to honor agreements they were not a part of. Who could honestly find anything wrong in not feeling obligated to a contract one had no part in making? Only the social class that benefits most from forcing the rules to stay as they are, because those rules allow them and their class to maintain that ironclad control over everyone else and use them for their own benefit. You know, the usual.

The only ism we never read about or discuss publicly is the only one that I can see that makes any sense at all, and it's not really an ism. It's the system of free will, where individuals decide their own lives. Where communities of individuals decide how best to run their local community. The diversity that would bring to the picture would utterly preclude any outside control, or taxation that is not specific to that community and under their control. It would be the way to real freedom and real choice in this world, and it would open the way for all kinds of creative progress from all kinds of different communities.

Some people might call me an anarchist and accuse me of being against government. I'd disagree with that, at least to some extent. I'm not totally against government, I'm just against bad government and so far that's all I've ever seen in this world. It's a hefty bit of doublethink to call yourself free when you are obligated to obey rules you never agreed to live by. That's not exactly how I define freedom. It does preclude free will and there's nothing you can say to that. It's true.

So how free are we? And is our government giving us back what it takes from us at gunpoint? It looks to me like our government sucks us all dry and takes us out if we don't like it. So I don't see that as very free. We don't even have the choice to opt out and go do it differently somewhere else and be left alone. That's what seals it for me.

So what do you think? It's just something interesting to consider, I think. And since I was thinking about it again, which I've done many times I thought I'd just throw it out there and see what sticks.

2 comments:

  1. For a dummies guide to isms and archy's, see below.

    SOCIALISM
    You have 2 cows.
    You give one to your neighbour.

    COMMUNISM
    You have 2 cows.The State takes both and gives you some milk.

    FASCISM
    You have 2 cows.
    The State takes both and sells you some milk.

    NAZISM
    You have 2 cows.
    The State takes both and shoots you.

    BUREAUCRATISM
    You have 2 cows.
    The State takes both, shoots one, milks the other, and then throws the milk away...

    TRADITIONAL CAPITALISM
    You have two cows.
    You sell one and buy a bull.
    Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows.
    You sell them and retire on the income.

    SURREALISM
    You have two giraffes.
    The government requires you to take harmonica lessons

    AN AMERICAN CORPORATION
    You have two cows.
    You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows.
    Later, you hire a consultant to analyse why the cow has dropped dead.

    ENRON VENTURE CAPITALISM
    You have two cows.
    You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows..
    The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to
    a Cayman Island Company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company.
    The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on
    one more.
    You sell one cow to buy a new president of the United States, leaving
    you with nine cows.
    No balance sheet provided with the release.
    The public then buys your bull.

    THE ANDERSEN MODEL
    You have two cows.
    You shred them.

    A FRENCH CORPORATION
    You have two cows.
    You go on strike, organise a riot, and block the roads, because you
    want three cows.

    A JAPANESE CORPORATION
    You have two cows.
    You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk.
    You then create a clever cow cartoon image called 'Cowkimon' and
    market it worldwide.

    A GERMAN CORPORATION
    You have two cows
    You re-engineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves.

    AN ITALIAN CORPORATION
    You have two cows, but you don't know where they are.
    You decide to have lunch.

    A RUSSIAN CORPORATION
    You have two cows.
    You count them and learn you have five cows.
    You count them again and learn you have 42 cows.
    You count them again and learn you have 2 cows.
    You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.

    A SWISS CORPORATION
    You have 5000 cows. None of them belong to you.
    You charge the owners for storing them.

    A CHINESE CORPORATION
    You have two cows.
    You have 300 people milking them.
    You claim that you have full employment, and high bovine productivity.
    You arrest the newsman who reported the real situation.

    AN INDIAN CORPORATION
    You have two cows.
    You worship them.

    A BRITISH CORPORATION
    You have two cows.
    Both are mad.

    AN IRAQI CORPORATION
    Everyone thinks you have lots of cows.
    You tell them that you have none.
    No-one believes you, so they bomb the **** out of you and invade your
    country.
    You still have no cows, but at least now you are part of a
    Democracy....

    AN AUSTRALIAN CORPORATION
    You have two cows.
    Business seems pretty good.
    You close the office and go for a few beers to celebrate.

    That list made me laugh, but we all know its no laughing matter. Ang, I think your model works well, but you needn't do anything to let it happen. With the majority of us being pushed out of the economic model, it won't be long before we seriously start decide to live in a more local way. Just let the fuel prices rise, and this will happen automatically in my mind. The less people are able to travel, the more they will use their locality more and more. Whats important is to support locally produced goods and services because local businesses will also suffer if we keep using the multinational chains for our goods/services. Let the markets crumble, let the fuel prices soar.

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  2. Sounds to me like you are suggesting a little of all the "isms", socialism especially. Except maybe this bastardized form of "capitalism" we are currently employing that is nothing more than fascism. It really is remarkable if you look at the blue print for the rise of Hitler, Mussolini, Pinochet, and Israel especially, that the US is using the exact same methods.

    In the case of many US back coups such as in Latin America under Reagan and Bush sr., that those were nothing more than practice runs for our own country. The difference being that now seeing latinos rise up, this past decade have drugged half our population with SSRI's, jailed 1 in 100 people accounting to 3 million incacerated, beating out China and Russia combined despite 3 X the population, dozens of brain damaging vaccines by the time you're 2 years old, and years of spraying highly toxic biologicals and heavy metal particulates on our populations.

    TELl me it's not insane that just 50 years ago, autism only showed up in 1 in 100,000 births and now it's showing up in 1 out of every 66 males? Counting females, 1 in 150. Why the focus on males? Because males start revolutions.

    Birds, bees, frogs, whales, coral reefs, all dying in record numbers the past 3 years? These people really are luciferians and psychopaths and it is infuriating that our media won't tell us about the armaggedon that is currently happening right before our eyes.

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