Friday, March 20, 2015

phasing out political/financial systems

[video version]

Why support movements and initiatives (occupations, for instance) that could lead to the End of Money?

So often it has been assumed that a massive failure or shutdown of the political/financial system would lead to a collapse of civilization - mass starvation, violence, etc.

We can understand why people make that assumption.

But consider whether the opposite might be the case.

What would replace money and laws? Trust, relationships, communication, cooperation. Plenty of organizational methods exist that don't utilize political or financial capital. The political/financial systems have often crowded out, or driven out, alternative systems from various niches. Now we may be able to make a conscious, collective choice to retire the systems that evolved in an environment of harshness and mistrust, in favor of the abundantly available alternatives.

Let's remember that receiving or having money, by definition, confers no utility, creates no value, until you exchange the money for something from someone else who has agreed to use this medium. All of the utility of money derives from this agreement among us. We can collectively re-examine this agreement and possibly change or discard it. If we decide to discard it, this could save us a lot of time and energy, considering how pervasive and complex our interactions with money have become.

We've developed complex rules / expectations about when, under what circumstances, money is exchanged. Those rules and expectations are woven into our systems of distributing goods and performing services, but are they an integral part of those systems? I don't think so. In situation after situation, I think we could describe how each particular value-creating activity could proceed more effectively without money. There will be a certain amount of retooling, rethinking, reprogramming involved in this transition, surely. There will be radical reorganizations of many kinds.

I imagine there might be much more to be said about this. I'm interested in your take.

occupation movements

I'd like to dialog on, for instance, occupations of urban parks, vacant buildings. These have seemed to me, you might say, appropriate expressions of popular will, sensible logistical moves, under the circumstances, organized largely in a fashion of solidarity, freedom ("autonomy"), (direct) democracy. Although the occupations of 2011 were naturally reacted against in many ways, failed in many ways... connected by both opponents and some proponents to a distracting "99%" identity... real existential progress, significantly novel phenomena, did seem to emerge from those convergences.

I don't think we have to completely succumb to, accept, reify, our political/financial systems. Memetic engineering, guerrilla ontology, conversation, communication - these could easily (and nearly did) tip the scales in favor of uninstalling the "money"/"Master" programs from the noospheric computer, or obsolescing them, what have you - making room for, accommodating, other, more subtle, modes of organization - unleashing, I predict, a tidal wave of innovation, a renaissance even relative to the recent pace of change, a prigogenic leap.

I can grant the possibility that such leaps could come about even with the persistence of our current political/financial systems. But those systems seem to constitute one of the main constraints in our evolution. They're intimately connected to deeper psychological/social constraints - but noospheric evolution seems to me very possibly likely to include open discussions of the political/financial systems in particular - of whether we want to retain them or not - and to prompt alternative systems to be attempted.

I know that many, many people seem almost hopelessly ideologically invested, but realize also, their very fervor and pigheadedness belies the superficiality & vulnerability of their position. It's a house of cards, I'm trying to say. Those of us with the vision of an emerging, maybe inevitable, new phase of civilization, can help manifest it through dialog.


I think something as complex, and with such far reaching implications, as "the Occupy movement," rather than being treated as a historical phenomenon in which particular people were involved, might better be treated as an ongoing memeplex that we're all cocreating. So many different places have been occupied extralegally, by so many different people, in so many different ways - which of these are we including under "the Occupy movement"? Might it not be wise, compassionate, and forward-looking to voice general support for peaceful, extralegal occupations?

As someone fairly heavily involved in Occupy Portland, I agree that intellectually underdeveloped, politically skewed behavior was plentifully present in the movement (and in the reactions against it). I talked about some of the beautiful and less beautiful things I experienced at the occupation in this interview.

I think people sensed the imminent possibility that the movement would prove fantastically successful, and this contributed to the frequent ugliness in at least two ways:
 * People with longstanding grudges against the world, and ready-made, whiny narratives around those grudges, latched onto the dawning realization that this movement could prove successful in overturning the political/financial systems that they had so long felt oppressed by. Their voices, their ready-made narratives, were often portrayed as "voices of the movement" by media / commentators who felt nervous, ambiguous, or negative toward the occupations.
 * Power systems sensing their vulnerability may well have used various dirty tricks with the intent of defaming and degrading the occupations.

I think we learned some useful things about direct democracy. The general assembly model was given a real college try. In Portland, it gradually gave way to a "spokescouncil" model, then a much more informal "community assembly" model, then an even less formal monthly "meet & greet." In my opinion, the entire process of making formal "proposals" and trying to reach consensus on them was pretty convincingly demonstrated to be another form of bureaucracy that we can do without.

Some of the most constructive parts of these meetings seemed to be when people would announce "we're going to discuss / work on such & such, at such & such time & place - join us if you're interested."