Here Thar Be Monsters!

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25.2.11

To Everything There Is A Season

As humans, we live in paradigms.  We model the external world around us and come up with concepts that seem to explain what might otherwise be random Universe playing jokes on us.

In science, we had Pythagorean geometry, then Newtonian calculus, followed by Einsteinian relativity, and now Quantum Mechanics, with its sacred Planck unit.

Religion has had as many models as there are cultures.  There have been the multiple deities, the single deity and the agnostic models.  All in some way are anthropomorphic and lead more or less back to self-worship.

Every aspect of our existance has had a model, a paradigm, to explain the way things work.  Our brains are hard-wired to find patterns in everything, and we try to make rules from those patterns, which hold until mounting exceptions lead us to making new sets of rules.  The failure of the old paradigms is rarely pretty.  People cling to them because we fear the One True Constant of the Universe: Change.

In the legal and business realm, we have labored under the Corporate paradigm.  A few hundred years ago, we began creating artificial 'persons' to use in the course of doing business.  The idea was to create entities that would outlast the life-span of the individuals who created them.  If the business model worked, why must it die with the originator?

Over time, those entities acquired the rights of human beings.  They were granted 'civil' rights (those which can be given or taken away by humans) and developed 'corporate' existance.  'Corporate,' of course, means 'in the flesh.'  In other words, corporations became physically manifest, much like the gods of old taking on physical form to interact with humans.

We developed the 'corporate veil,' which shielded the individuals running corporations from liability for the actions of the 'person.'  And what usually happens when humans are divorced of responsibilty for their actions?  They typically lose all moral and ethical balances.  It's the same problem as if removing the concept of 'hell' from religion.  Without punishment, what's to compel people to follow?  Humans will eat their mothers for lunch if there is no punishment for wrong behavior.

By the time we arrive at today, corporations have received supra-human rights with almost no responsibility.  They are, in every respect, merely a replacement for monarchs.  They are run by self-selected autocrats for the sole purpose of enriching the 'corporate' body.  They exist above legal, national and ethical boundaries.  As OJ Simpson showed us, justice is for sale, and there are few deeper pockets than corporations.

Like royalty, they marry and divorce (we call is M&A, but it's the same thing).  They have white knights and black knights.  They have blue-bloods (divisions and subsidiaries) that are beholden to the sovereign.  And they are immune from sanction for their actions.

Throughout history, Mankind has sought ways to centalize power without losing sight of humanity, and it has failed miserably at every turn.  We have tweaked and trimmed so that every conceivable permutation has been tried, and yet the mere act of accumilating power has created monsters that are all but impossible to destroy, a la Frankenstein's Creature.

What we can hope is emerging today is a new paradigm, one in which the finest aspects of communism (with the little 'c'), cooperatives and democracy (again with little 'd') are joined in a new Enlightenment.  I can hear the howls about being a 'commie,' but bear with me here.

Having been a Benedictian monk for a time, I have experienced first-hand genuine 'communism' and cooperative living.  Monasteries could be a model for the future of humanity.  Small, self-organizing communities come together around a common goal, becoming self-sufficient in the necessities of life, while trading with other co-ops for specialized goods and services.

If one looks at monasteries, which are a paradigm that has survived for millenia, they tend to grow and produce enough food and water for the community, and above that specialize in some product or service.  There are monasteries that produce very fine beer, wine and liqueur.  Some are famous for cheeses or cakes.  Others produce fine arts and crafts.  They sell their specialty items to earn the money to trade for yet other goods and services that they lack.

What I forsee as the future paradigm to strive for is a blend of the monastic model with the new age of networks.  Using the internet, there is no need for corporations or any of the trappings that go with them.  If you are reading this article, then the power to sell yourself and your goods worldwide is sitting right in front of you.

All we need to do is dismantle the centralized paradigm of power and wealth, and bring it back down to the neighborhood/village level.  Policing, security and the rules of communal living are all kept at the local level.  Each community sets its own standards and lives or dies by the success of its own paradigm.  If one community sees gambling and prostitution as the Golden Promise, like Amsterdam, then so be it.  If the next community over wants to be pious and intolerant, and it works for them, great!  If you live in one, but prefer the other, you move.  Simple as that.  If you live in one, but prefer to vacation in the other, everyone wins!

Just as in the Old West, each community establishes its own rules and standards.  They then contract someone to act as sheriff, who in turn, can deputize others in times of trouble.  If someone doesn't like the way things are done in one place, then they don't have to go there.  They can still buy the goods and services of the town through co-operative networks.  No need for hate laws over vast populations, because folks are free to associate with whomever they want in their areas, and they must abide by the rules of other areas when they travel.

While all of this sounds very retro, in fact it meshes perfectly with modern technology and communications.  Private companies provide transportation, cargo and freight handling, and manufacturing.  Employees are hired by contract and whatever compensation they get is based on their own negotiating power.  Everyone, from the top down is responsible for the products and services provided.  There is no limited liability or corporate veil.  By the same token, consumers are on their own.  No suing McDonald's because the coffee was hot.

The key to all this is 'personal responsibility.'  We have spent centuries trying to pawn off our duty to ourselves and others by delegating the responsibility to others.  Consequently, the act of delegation has given enormous amounts of power over to centralized brokers, who have used it against the very people who were hoping for protection.

Every effort at security ever tried over thousands of years has failed.  Every one of them.  Rome was sacked.  Babylon vanished.  Jerico fell.  Castles crumbled.  Forts destroyed.  Not a single one has withstood a concerted effort to breach it.  So why do we keep giving away the store for something that doesn't exist?

The ideal situation is the Enlishtened Village.  Folks grow their own food and stores for hard times.  They purify enough water to serve their needs.  They specialize in skills and crafts that they use to compete in a global marketplace.  They have ideas and get others to invest in them by contract.  And for defense, every man, woman and child is armed to the teeth and trained in their use.

It is a model that has served monasteries for millennia.  It was quite successful in the Old West, until the feds came along and stole everything by promising 'security.'  In fact, the united States were conceived as a cooperative of communities, who delegated certain powers to a central entity.  That was their one big mistake.  Keep the power at home.  Though the model was quite successful for a time, there are always those who are not happy until they own all the nuts AND the tree they fall from.  That kind of ambition is what must be checked, and how!

Sure, in its broadest strokes, this is a simplistic idea, and really the concept is simple.  How we institute it and grow it into a world of enlightened people living peaceful and fulfilling lives will be for us to decide collectively.  I'm just one lone nut in the jungles of Borneo here.  But, I see these concepts in practice every day in Indonesia, and I have lived the model as a monk.  I know it works, and has worked since history began.

What is certain is that what we have now does not work.  It always ends in death and destruction, with millions living their lives as slaves to corporate and government interests, which are often at odds with the needs and desires of the individual.

The Libertarians call it Enlightened Self-Interest.  I have to agree with the broadest outlines of the idea.  If you allow me to do whatever I think is best for me and mine, and I give you the same latitude, and we respect each other's rights to pursue Enlightenment, then how can it be wrong?

Let the family first, then the community in which it lives, be the final arbiters of what is good for the individual.  Mass government creating mass corporations that rape and pillage the planet for the profit of the few is a self-defeating paradigm.  History has show us this as long as there has been history.

Time to re-think our weltenschauung.  There are many ideas that have yet to be tried on a global scale  The time is ripe for fresh thinking.

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