A companion blog, The Metacognition Project, has been created to focus specifically on metacognition and related consciousness processes. Newest essay on TMP: Goals and Problems, part two

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Gentle Manifesto

When I read the many, and growing numbers of, essays exampled by the argument in an essay from The Toronto Star a couple of years ago, “Don’t Fix The Economy, Change It”, I come away with the sense that something rather serious is missing from the formulations. As a bit of an amateur logician, I have come to realize that there is an implied premise in all of these arguments; it is: For the salutary changes posited to take place, the reins of economic power would have to be pried from the cold, dead and still grasping fingers of those presently in charge – they will give them up in no other way and they will make no changes of any consequence that would weaken their hold on power or on wealth without the direct and creditable threat of forces sufficient to deliver on the threat. As Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

I have argued for years in my writings that one basic way to understand economics is to look for the patterns and methods of the protecting and unprotecting of ‘wealth’: ‘wealth’ as the accumulation of raw material (even as in the most simple storing of body fat) and products of the imagination made manifest. Through the normal distribution of acquisitiveness, amplified by our large populations, there are small, but significant, numbers of people who, for multifarious reasons, need to accumulate surplus over their immediate needs; some are driven to do this to great excess. This creates a real and immediate need for others to collect surplus so to better protect themselves from those who are driven more by pathology than reality.

And so the race is on: we spend about half our time protecting our own and about half the time figuring ways of unprotecting the ‘wealth’ of the other fellow. We protect with weapons, locks and laws and we unprotect with weapons, lock-picks and laws. Obviously those who make the weapons and control the laws are in the best place to unprotect the wealth of others. And so again the race is on!

Our economic systems become ‘religions’ in the service of the protecting and unprotecting. Capitalism is hated rationally by those whose wealth is unprotected by it and loved irrationally by those for whom its designs allow them to unprotect the wealth of others. Socialism (meaning a socially responsible pattern of human relations) would limit the ability of capitalists to unprotect the wealth of the Great Many. But ultimately these economic designs are adaptations responding to technology, power, numbers and opportunity; they have never been determined by reason or by understanding of long-term sustaining.

The terrible meaning of this reality is that in the long history of natural economies before humans, economic adaptation was in the service of ecosystem integration and stability by virtue of the beneficence and violence of evolutionary process; human economies are also adaptive, but have disconnected from environmental realities in such a way that not only do they ignore the value of the lives of humans, they ignore the value of life on earth altogether. And in an even more terrible irony, the greater the disconnection from reality, the greater is the power to do harm in reality: a man living in a cave with only stone tools saw clearly his dependence on the world around him and was careful not to do it harm, and yet he had no real power to damage it. The man in a top-floor corner office with billions of Joules of power at his fingertips believes in his own ascendancy, the world not at all and, yet can in a stroke, bring down a species, a hundred species, an ecosystem.

The meanings here are dark, the actions called for difficult and dangerous. I tire of the mealy-mouthed lies from the political heights. I tire of the silly affectations of the simply angry – angry that they have been stolen from, but who would, in a heartbeat, steal from others.

A critical mass of people must come to understand and act with some reasonable and general comprehension of our situation: more the American revolution than the French revolution. The Great Frustration will come of a sudden and sweep unevenly through populations as it always has. This will happen, and is being prepared for by those who will want only to crush it. But it will not come easily; there is so much to lose.  Almost everything that most people believe will be challenged and changed.  Some will be economically and emotionally crushed, and some will die.  It would be best for the world if our capacity to imagine, our Consciousness Order powers, could be organized in such a way that we began to reflect on and anticipate the adaptive changes that will reconnect us to the environmental reality we have for so long ignored, but the cost will be dear.

First the ideas, from as many sources as possible, as loud as possible, as constant as possible; and then the forming of action. There is a promised land; not promised by any God, but promised by a new (evolutionarily new), incredibly powerful adaptation, the Consciousness System of Order. The human species is its present repository. We can imagine and then tangibly create that imaging; an entirely new way of being in the universe.

Let loose on the world and unguided, this adaptation has been running its course.  Since the limit of imagining is hugely wider and faster than other forms of change, this adaptation has disconnected humanity from Reality as one of its possibilities.  But it is within the possibilities of the Consciousness Order to reconnect to Reality in new and as yet unimagined ways.

We are entering the desert and it is uncertain in what form we will emerge. We can continue to allow the most insane and afflicted among us to determine our fate and future or we can imagine another way and make it happen.