Ideally, government focuses on foreign affairs, military strategy, problems that cross the whole nation, overseas commerce and other globe-spanning functions. It should do so exclusively, forsaking other issues. Government is centralized at the top in the capital; it focuses outward in space and forward in time. Good government deals with long-range issues in a disinterested and benevolent manner. It shines when disaster overwhelms local resources and when local needs boil down to basic sustenance, shelter and security. When it operates effectively, it reduces common misery whereas fear- and greed-driven locals tend to aggravate an already miserable situation.
This government capacity was dramatized in Frank Kapra’s movie version of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. The Feds could offer safe, sanitary and cheap housing to poor migrants while locals were neither willing nor able to do so.
On the negative side, government intervention tends to expand beyond practical use. In the long run, its bureaucrats take on responsibilities too delicate and diverse for them to handle effectively. When their failures begin to multiply, accountability blurs, cosmetics overcome common sense, corruption and hypocrisy replace ingrained wisdom.
After all, unless bloody revolution overwhelms them, they enjoy an uncontested monopoly and may accept internal defects which honest competition would eliminate. In a weapon state, the only effective form of competition is military revolt: the one least likely to come up with an efficient and peaceful replacement.
Official language becomes ornate and misleading. Bureaucratic copywriters use it to insulate themselves from obvious policy errors. They adopt a detached, third person point of view (for which no-one is responsible); the passive voice; long, complex sentence structures and meaningless, jargon-laden vocabulary. Their stilted prose has less and less to do with reality. Their bosses keep them busy tabulating meaningless statistics and generating makework rather than allowing them to reduce real world afflictions. Paralyzed by official language, these agencies become too inflexible and impersonal to protect anyone but corrupt special interests left carefully unnamed.
The advantage of passive voice in news writing is that journalists need not identify by whom and for whom the deed was done. Note this habit during the next news report of criminal misdeeds or negligence by special interests. “It was decided that (or it was not decided that) X … and therefore we must deeply regret that more children will starve.”
If such criminals were identified at every opportunity, their crimes would wither away along with the scope of their evil.
On the other hand, administrative functions include learning, police, health, support for the arts and crafts, as well as other utilities and services run by county and municipal facilities. Administration focuses downward and inward, it responds to small-scale problems with detail-oriented pragmatism, it corrects local abuses swiftly and gratifies private needs in a balanced manner.
Local Administration breaks down in times of disaster and war when they tend to intensify the bigotry of local elites by favoring a greedy few and their underlings at the expense of the powerless. Under such acute pressures, long-standing administrations bring out the flip side of carnivore pack behavior. Alpha/dominant locals take lethal precedence and Beta subordinates become their prey.
At their peaceful best, Administrations delegate management responsibilities to grassroots participants through independent news sources and public associations. De Tocqueville’s complex web of voluntary service and electoral obligation makes every participant personally responsible for local issues. Drawn into local info politics, good citizens learn its fundamentals by:
· voting often and in detail, and (my addendum) abstaining-for-the-record to confirm political disapproval when necessary;
· attending public debates in person;
· reading independent newspapers (news sources);
· fully participating in jury duty; and
· running for and serving in a multitude of equally empowering and restrictive public offices.
Most importantly, everyone would take their cue from high-minded peers as intent on mutual welfare as on their own benefit. Indeed, they would consider the two inseparable. “He benefits most who benefits others most.” Popular enthusiasm would expose hypocrites, thieves, manipulators, cowards and incompetents and chase them out of office. This transparency would be the greatest asset of Learner Administrations.
Governments cannot benefit from such transparency. Their size and weapon requirements forbid it unless they are held to the strictest peace mentality. PeaceWorld would be the only practical framework to let this happen.
In The End of Work, Jeremy Rifkin contends that voluntary associations are the glue that holds a pluralistic society together. Post-communist Russia thrashes in Mafioso agony because Communists never developed community networks independent of state power. He labels this civic activity “social capital” and compares it to government capital and market capital. Peace societies would balance each of these forms of capital.
Weapon states relegate social capital to fourth-class status while government and market capital vie for futile dominance over criminal capital (organized crime). Mr. Rifkin overlooks criminal capital, even though black markets have always paralleled or outgrown orthodox capital under adverse circumstances, in proportion to their relative efficiencies.
He predicts that 20% of the population (at most and shrinking thereafter) will find decent jobs in the knowledge-based economy of the future. Meanwhile, industrial, administrative and bureaucratic automation will sustain fewer and fewer jobs. Will average people welcome this imposed leisure? Or will they suffer the familiar abuse of weapon state mass unemployment whose misery preps them for the next war?
He suggests that social capital, government capital and market capital should benefit from equal social status and resources. In this manner, more people would remain employed and productive. Otherwise, organized crime will step in. After all, breaking the law successfully and enforcing it against active resistance, those are acquired technical skills, especially in a no-jobs-otherwise environment. Criminal capital (which Mr. Rifkin fails to mention) is the routine weapon substitute for social capital — its darkside mirror image.
This triple suggestion provides three solid legs for a new Learner Renaissance. Three pragmatic justifications support this triad.
· It would rule out the dominance of criminal capital: an unacceptable overhead for peace societies. Yet this is a common social paradox in weapon societies, allowed to persist along with other prized contradictions. In truth, small doses of crime lubricate a rule-bound civilization where harsh rules should be bent in favor of average people and not enforced to their detriment. The best laws are draconian but rarely applied in full force because they can be appealed repeatedly. Amsterdam’s tolerant habit of Gedogen (illegal but tolerated) should be resorted to in every case where it could be safely applied.
· As fewer people find orthodox jobs, less and less income tax will be available with which to create new products and sustain industrial production.
· As worker benefits evaporate, shrinking retirement funds will provide less and less investment capital for industrial growth.
These three factors threaten to strangle dollar democracy in which a million dollars equal one vote.
This text sketches many infrastructures Mr. Rifkin and current dollar democrats require for their own plans. A predominant Laocracy might accommodate a subordinate dollar democracy focused on what it does best but little else. On the other hand, dominant dollar democracies will never host a subordinate Laocracy without smothering it.
According to Alexis de Tocqueville, both democracy and aristocracy produce tyranny; the former through the blind will of a majority, the latter through the will of a self-serving elite. Today, the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of government are supposed to prop up American government with their checks and balances. Tomorrow, Government and Administrative functions will counteract each other’s inclination to monopolize tax resources, responsibilities and power.
Learners shall nourish an enlightened popular will. Once it matures, it will claim political responsibilities in perpetuity. Once this popular will fine-tunes the productivity of the collective superconscience, they shall become as undeniable among Learners as the Bill of Rights is among Americans.
Democracy in America contains too many acute observations to go into detail here. Recommended reading.
However, De Tocqueville took his “before” snapshot during the 1830’s. At that time, the United States had a 6,000-man Army and an omnipresent Militia; it had no Navy but one of the largest Merchant Marines in the world. Its hatchling Federal Government was carefully nested in a malarial swamp.
Stirred up by the Mexican-American War, the Civil War and the failed Reconstruction, the American Weapon Party underwent meiosis into its Dollar Democrat and Banana Republican diploids; then split into its four self-replicating haploids: moderate, centrist, conservative and reactionary. Since then, these larvae have fattened on a succession of unpopular wars while its weapon tyranny matured by fits and starts between shrinking interludes of peace.
Currently – in the “after” picture – America suffers from military-industrial gangrene: an illness more toxic than that which afflicted France during De Tocqueville’s Third Empire, during which a corrupt regime dragged the French nation into decades of financial meltdown, political scandal, imperial adventurism and ultimate military disaster.
The U.S. can call on a million and a half troops in its Regular Forces, 800,000 or more Active Reserves and no real Militia (despite a Constitution that calls for the opposite). We have Naval and Air Forces at least twice the size of all the others combined, and no Merchant Marine to speak of. American militarists will point to the National Guard and call it a militia, when it is practically speaking a Strategic (and often Tactical) Reserve for the Regular Army with no local value, training or mission except perhaps to wage civil war in extremis.
We may have sealed our transition from republican to imperial tyranny when we shifted from a universal draft to an all-volunteer, career army. Whether it’s a mere symptom or a mandatory trigger, that may be all it takes to petrify a middle-aged weapon society into its senescence of empire. So in Rome, so in Americam (so in modern France?). How much longer will these new empires last: years? Decades? Not much longer, I don’t suppose.
America’s capital city is a bloated travesty where the richest interests on Earth occupy maximum-security marble hallways while the worst slums in the country fester a few blocks away, administered without representation by those same bloated interests in Congress, against the public good and in favor of those interests.
These days, American Republicrats and Demoblicans run a consensus Weapon Party under central corporate control, in the name of “bipartisanship”. One side or the other can always find a reason to block government improvements, often in denial of ealier votes and campaign promisses. Thanks to their gentle ministrations, America has become a banana republic the administration of which has become their sole expertise.
Fifteen percent or more of the population earns its “income” from tax money and/or prison fare; a lot less than one percent owns almost everything and pays almost no taxes ― how “Victorian era!” A growing underclass claws for survival. Taxed directly and indirectly to the limit of its endurance, it can’t earn enough to keep body and soul together, even as its social supports are steadily defunded. A tiny, parasitic elite grows unnecessarily richer while the middle class evaporates from the heat of friction between those two.
Other civilizations have undergone a similar decay, notably the Roman. All of them reacted to perceptions of escalating levels of threat from their surroundings. The Roman Empire lacked maritime and mountain barriers, so it bankrupted itself to establish indefensible fortress lines more lengthy, elaborate and costly than the Great Wall of China. Ultimately, corruption and plague left a social vacuum inside this thin outer crust, which sucked in its destroyers from beyond.
People mention with hushed reverence the fact that the Great Wall is the only human artifact visible from orbital space (besides the stone alignments of Carnac and few gigantic open mine pits). This is just another monstrous outgrowth of weapon technology and its visibility, another weapon myth, since the Great Wall was built from local materials and broken up into shorter fortifications, thus indistinguishable from local terrain except certain latter-day radar images of it taken from low orbit. The Chinese government points to the Great Wall as a potent symbol of its national grandeur (weapon mentality). Meanwhile, the average Chinese citizen mourns (with decent peace mentality) the forgotten remains of starved laborers buried every few yards of this “Long Cemetery.” Similarly, the Imperial Canal with its two out of five million workers slain on the worksite, then passed in review by a flotilla packed with imperial luxury, sycophancy and self-congratulation.
Corporations demonstrate the worst traits of Administration and Government. Imitating ailing Administrations, they reward themselves for abandoning civic virtue and getting away with social and environmental crimes. Like overblown governments, they are too monolithic and clumsy to nurture delicate administrative tasks. They have also inherited the worst aspects of ancient farmer and herder mentalities. Like ancient farmers, they rely on social coercion, pyramidal weapon hierarchies and ruthless exploitation of expendable people and nonrenewable resources. Like herdsmen, they consider themselves highly mobile, tied to no particular territory and answerable to no one but their “elders”: a pack of greedy stockholders and self-overcompensated corporate executives.
Like criminal syndics, corporations are government organs in disguise. More or less wedded to orthodox control agencies, they fulfill the covert interests of powerful private sponsors — responding cynically, situationally and opportunistically to every unforeseen outcome they induce.
In the Virtual Agora of the future, corporations and special interest groups may pressure their members to vote en bloc. Voting should be kept secret and voluntary to counteract this tendency, even though secret ballots often conceal political wrongdoing. Public overwatch and private consumer groups will gain equal access to these political Networks. In other words, mere wealth won’t buy plurality in Learner politics.
Thousands of disenfranchised minorities boil and seethe across WeaponWorld. No wonder, since we allow five thousand nations on this planet to compete for less than two hundred sources of certified state power. Ruined peasants resist the most ruthless gang in their neighborhood or endure their abuse in imposed silence. Terrorized, they flee from ancestral homelands into sewage-soaked, cardboard-walled urban ghettos and across tinsel pseudo-borders into UN-sponsored pestholes.
On the ground, non-governmental organization (NGO) volunteers and UN employees serve heroically to reduce their misery. Quite often, these workers sacrifice everything including their lives. May their leaders prove half as good as Fred Cuny was before the psychopaths took him away from us!
Top-down weapon managers worsen outcomes with their routine realpolitik decisions. As a result, refugees swarm by the dozens of millions with more uprooted daily. It is no longer a question of managing their panic flight to reduce its horrific casualties and costs; it is time to rearrange local conditions in each home country so that they will feel secure enough to remain at home or return there if they’ve been forced to flee.
Here again, contrasting requirements have taken hold. Weapon managers seek at all cost to intermix disparate groups into regimented wholes. The weapons ideal calls for a blended urban serfdom dominated by identical international elites (read identically corrupt: honest leaders are not so dependably compliant to special interests). To buttress this insane regime, they make “examples” and demonstrate what happens to people caught on the wrong side of the tracks. Thanks to modern “production efficiencies,” info elites dare to sentence entire peoples to surplus status and then ignore the monstrous after-effects of their verdict.
For no good reason, weapon technology demands an extraordinary collective achievement from the rest of us. At a moment’s notice, we must drop everything to produce mechanized divisions, air and naval fleets that outnumber those of World War II (sic). Their firepower and mobility must be many times more effective and must be manufactured in less time. In order to fulfill these fantastic, World War IV (sic) production quotas, we are forced to grow excess population and ecocidal industries in the most ruinous manner possible.
We are already fighting World War III (sic) as we speak: the War on Terror, the War on Drugs and the War of Us against Them: whichever endless one we’ve been gullible enough to pay for. Even if World War IV never breaks out, its bill will fall due shortly. None but Learners will be able to pay it down or better yet, renegotiate its fee, especially when our petroleum reserves collapse, practically speaking in a few short years.
Large weapon states have one overriding compulsion. Amass enough surplus capital, physical plant and personnel to support modern armies on a global war footing. All this waste is perfectly justified as far as these elites are concerned. Otherwise, the larger the weapon state, the less important their elites consider proletarian needs. In this they resemble most human aggregates. The smaller the nation, the easier it is for it government to maintain personal contacts, accountability and civilized dialogue.
“Equality could only be preserved by Federalism [see http://plato.stanford.edu/cgi-bin/encyclopedia/archinfo.cgi?entry=federalism]; and it occurs more often among them [the ancients] than in the modern world. If the distribution of power among the several parts of the State is the most efficient restraint on monarchy, the distribution of power among several States is the best check on democracy. By multiplying centers of government and discussion it promotes the diffusion of political knowledge and the maintenance of healthy and independent opinion. It is the protectorate of minorities and the consecration of self-government.” Lord John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, The History of Freedom, McMillan and Company, Ltd., London, First Edition 1907, pp. 20-21.
Hitler handily summarized the military advantage of larger states.
“The extent of the national territory is a determining factor in the external security of the nation. The larger the territory which a people have at their disposal, the stronger the national defenses of that people. Military decisions are more quickly, more easily, more completely and more effectively gained against a people occupying a national territory which is restricted in area, than against States which have extensive territories. Moreover, the magnitude of a national territory is in itself a certain assurance that an outside Power will not hastily risk the adventure of an invasion; for in that case the struggle would have to be long and exhausting before victory could be hoped for. The risk being so great, there would have to be extraordinary reasons for such an aggressive adventure. Hence it is that the territorial magnitude of a State furnishes a basis whereon national liberty and independence can be maintained with relative ease; while, on the contrary, a State whose territory is small offers a natural temptation to the invader.” Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. I, Chap. 4.
The smaller the area of representation, the more responsive its elected representatives would be to their constituents. Smaller, more independent-minded and self-governing bodies would meet their constituents’ needs more dependably.
Gandhi said something like this to a roomful of skeptical British administrators: “It is better to be misruled by one’s own than to be ruled wisely by foreigners.” It is far better to be ruled wisely by one’s own.
You might as well consign your vote to a hurricane as to today’s mass political parties. How can mere party bosses represent everyone’s interests with fairness, balance and accuracy? How dare we entrust our unique aspirations to self-serving politicians in smoky back rooms? It is ridiculous to think that one or two or less than thousands of political parties could articulate so many divergent needs.
We will need an Agora much better wired and informed; so raw, edgy, fact-stuffed and thrice-cross-checked that it would suffer paralysis under weapons constraints and only find true expression on PeaceWorld.
Insofar political parties redefined themselves and broke up into smaller groups, they would give more power back to their adherents. This redistribution of power will deprive weapons elites of their two most lop-sided advantages: economies of scale in influence peddling and control over monologue mass media. It will make redundant the one thing they must prove themselves really good at: raising massive armed forces quickly. This one talent justifies, in their eyes, every personal wrongdoing, institutional incompetence and unforeseen consequence for which they should blame themselves.
During the 20th Century, once-dominant military, political and treasury specialists were forced to take a back seat to corporate managers who had mastered all the fundamentals of world war: mass culture, industrial production, resource extraction and scientific research.
In 1602, the Dutch Republic chartered the first joint stock (mercantile) company to seize colonial treasures and defend them militarily — closely followed by other imperial states. It wound up ruining itself over the hyper-inflated price of tulip bulbs (of all things!).
Today, equally supreme weapon technicians control every modern state if only indirectly. Many trans-national corporations outspend most nations ― and the economic bubbles that will burst and ruin them will be for stakes even more ludicrous than the price of tulip bulbs.
In earlier civilizations, every corporate clergy became hopelessly corrupt. This happened eventually, no matter how well disciplined, well intentioned and honest it may have been at first. This will happen to any organization that considers itself fit to rule unilaterally on every topic. Longstanding competence and honesty require permanent competition. Any “permanent victory” by one side or the other (which side and its particularities do not really matter) leads to the victor’s inevitable corruption and incompetence.
Under other circumstances, nobles and priests were disciplined more severely than the merchant class they despised. Those latter, with strictly limited means and corresponding morals, found their ambition rewarded by mercantile fraud, weapon usury, tax farming and famine brokering. Whether they made their home in Babylon, in ancient China or in feudal Europe, these people became tyrants’ favorite agents of repression. Descendants of the most prosperous of these miscreants formed the original bourgeoisie. During the Cold War, secret police and totalitarian bureaucrats recruited the same kinds of people just as successfully. As they became more powerful and well connected, their institutional crimes grew more blatant.
Their misdeeds highlight a frenzied tug-of-war between private, administrative, governmental, civic, corporate and criminal power. As each power group vies for preeminence, it denies the others the maximum effectiveness they could display within their optimal sphere of competence.
Global spendthrifts come in two categories:
· two hundred all-powerful governments that gather enormous wealth through weapons-based overtaxation. They undercut starved Administrations, dole out bare subsistence to info proletariats who live in planned misery, and grease the palms of the wealthy with massive public subsidies; and
· two hundred tycoons (or twenty, or two million) who control more wealth than the poorer half of the world’s population.
Learner Administrations will absorb most collective responsibilities by means of elective voluntary associations of the people most involved at the grass roots level. Their blueprint should be intratribal, egalitarian and anarchic (relying on personal compliance). Personal rights and responsibilities will dominate Administrative and Government priorities. Public ones will fall to the lowest level at which they can be handled effectively. Most delegations of authority (and especially tax revenues) should favor low level Administration over any higher level, and intermediate Administration over Government.
If political responsibilities devolve to too low a level (without enough funds to pay for them), people there should delegate them to the next higher one. If they become monopolized at inefficiently high levels, they must revert to the lowest one able to administer them effectively as determined by the electorate directly affected. Short of disaster and war, no political level should consolidate responsibilities that would work better on a more decentralized, lower one.
“A community of the world’s peoples, living together under government, will not be a society of nations but a society of men divided into subgroups only according to the divisions of local government.” Mortimer J. Adler, How to Think about War and Peace, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1944, p 120.
Learner issues will become computerized referendum measures open to public hearings throughout the community. Every budget item, directive and law will run a gauntlet of scrutiny and public veto by citizen majorities. Real-time votes will be tabulated daily. Absent these mechanical tabulations, political gatherings will be summoned as the need arises among those concerned. More and more conversations will flourish between info elites and proletariats until that dichotomy vanishes.
Individuals may dedicate half their taxes to favored projects and deny the other half to specific line items. In this manner, they will veto the worst laws and uphold the best by popular referendum at the Governmental and Administrative levels. Private and corporate interests will no longer benefit from administrative exemption.
Any proposal to hand out this kind of power would be unthinkable without first stipulating that all Learners must seek truth and justice relentlessly — and be taught to do so at every opportunity, especially during their elementary Learning. They must base their decisions on the very best data they can find. These stipulations would best be served by proper Learning. Such habits need to be relearned by everyone soon and quickly.
The mob – before which every dollar democrat quakes – would be much less fearsome if it consisted of well-informed, conscientious and self-disciplined citizens equally mindful of their freedom and responsibility, and systematically Learned in them.