That's what I like...real ideas. Because in the world to come, that will be the new economy. People will trade on their original thoughts and concepts derived from other thinkers.
But, I digress. What I want to share is a very thought-filled letter I received overnight, to whit:
Hello Bernard Bearheart:
Just a note to praise your latest rant and to find out if you know about a brother living in Kalimantan named Imron Comey who recently wrote, "The Generosity Factor: A Message From Borneo."
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I knew Imron (from Subud) when he lived in the U.S. and my wife met him when when she was studying permaculture methods of gardening in Kalimantan about 12 years ago.
Do you remember Ayn Rand? I have already seen two glowing documentaries recently from Netflix about her life and a third one is on the way. There is also a new movie out, "Atlas Shrugged" in two installments, and the infamous Kock brothers along with an assortment of other multibillionaire "takers" are regurgitating her philosophy and force-feeding it down the throats of the new generation via the school systems through funding controls, and the mass distribution of her books. You can pretty much sum up her philosophy in her own words when she said she hates "altruism." According to her, altruism is the very root of all evil. Allen Greenspan and company, the Neocons, Zionists, neoBolsheviks, and oldMachiavellians, mostly adhere to the common thread of this idea.
If I read your latest blog correctly the aforementioned gang are in their death rattle and gasping for survival. And according to Imron Comey, it seems just in the nick of time God is about to reprogram our DNA so that we aren't so greedy anymore.
My old English professor lived in Kalimantan with her husband during the Kennedy administration as Peace Corp workers. She once told me a story about when they asked a group of Penans ( true hunter/gathers) what they considered the worst sin. The group went into a huddle for some time and finally emerged with their answer. The chief quietly said, "Not to share." --RF
Wow! A lot to digest there. I suppose we should launch at the beginning...
Just to address the initial paragraph, I have heard of Imron Comey, but I have yet to come across him or his work. However, based on this letter, I shall make a concerted effort to do both.
The next order of business is Ayn Rand. Now, since I never met her, I can't say I remember her, but I am surely familiar with her work. Among my crowd, "Atlas Shrugged" was required reading in 8th grade, along with "Lord of the Rings". We were a somewhat advanced bunch, I suppose. However, the book started a craze with us for a couple of years, and heavily influenced my thinking even until the present day. We considered it a sort of response to "The Wasteland", in that it showed a way out of the cultural dead-end that had emerged at the dawn of the 20th century and culminated in the 60's cultural revolution (which I daresay is a misnomer).
At any rate, Ayn Rand preached anti-altruism as ultimately ending in communism, where there was no private property, industry or social life. In other words, altruism ultimately led to Marxism, but to truly appreciate that statement, you must read Marx. For those who think the Soviet Union or any other political entity has ever been Marxist, you are sadly mistaken.
Ayn Rand proposed a middle road. If altruism led to Marxism, she reasoned, and capitalism led to totalitarianism, then there must be a happy medium. This, she proposed, was 'enlightened self-interest'. It is the central concept of true libertarianism and has aspects of both Marxism and capitalism woven into it, but which seeks a third outcome.
Enlightened self-interest (ESI) is a form of anarchy, which also has a bad name, but in its ideal form is rather appealing. Like Marxism, ESI envisions the complete unwinding of the State and all its control mechanisms. It would spell the end of borders and concepts like immigration and emigration. Any system of governance would be strictly local without any form of centralized power. Each community would set its own standards and then compete for economic growth based on the attractiveness of their system to other people.
Where Rand departs from Marx is in the concept of personal property. This, she reasoned, was the prime motivator for people to innovate and create and to engage in commerce. The ability to enrich one's self was the only reason to get out of bed in the morning. Within the confines of one's property, one was an absolute dictator, able to set the law of the land and enforce it however necessary, as long as that law and its enforcement did not encroach on the next guy's fifedom.
In a nutshell, if you took one part Marx, one part Rand and one part Robber Baron, shook it thoroughly and strained into a glass, you'd have the perfect way of life. No controlled markets, no authoritarian central governments and no communal ownership.
Here's the problem with Marx: you have a construction project at the house. All the community hammers are crap. The heads fall off and the handles break. So you go an buy a fine Estwing. While working on your project, you put the hammer down and go inside for a glass of iced tea. You neighbor walks by, sees the great hammer lying there and takes it for his project. The same thing happens, and in less than a day, your investment is gone without a trace.
Here's the problem with Rand: you buy a fine piece of land. Good dirt, running water, rolling fields. One day, your neighbor wants to build a nuclear waste dump. You have no say in the matter because it's his land, and as long as you can't prove damages, he is free to do as he likes. To prove damages, you need a judiciary of some sort. The judiciary forms a syndicate, and the syndicate forms a centralized political body. Then you're back to where you started.
Here's the problem with capitalism: I seel shares in a project to raise capital, but I retain just enough shares to have controlling interest, even though the shareholders put up the capital to do the project. Since the shareholders' interest is to make a profit, they really don't care what you do, as long as you show a profit. So now you are motivated to bend or break all the rules to produce a profit so all your shareholders keep their money in your project.
You can extend these examples ad nauseum. In all cases, you come up with abuses and legal conundrums that are virtually impossible to solve without resorting to a system pretty much like what we have.
The problem is human nature. Throughout all human history, and even among the ancient gods, behavior is the same. Ultimately, greed and avarice seep in and take over. Altruism is great until you are faced with having to enforce it. Enlightened self-interest is great, but you are left with the same problem.
Ultimately, I've only been able to derive a handful of solutions that involve modifications to what we have now.
The first is remove all concept of the Corporate Veil. Do not allow corporations to act in the collective as if they are individuals. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was a morality play about just this idea. By stitching together bits and pieces of dead matter to create artificial life, you inevitably create monsters that are nearly impossible to kill.
Next, remove the power of governments to create legal entities, to tax anyone or anything, and to create systems of tracking and identification. If people feel compelled to serve their communities, they should do so for altruistic reasons, not for self-enrichment. Take away government's incentive to grow, and it will not grow.
Do away with all centralized currencies. Let the markets decide how they will trade and allow people to offer competing systems, such as BitCoin, e-Gold and NotHaus' Liberty notes. Open up barter to trading ideas and concepts. Let people trade in anything they want. The best systems will thrive, and the rest will fall away, but in no case will anyone be able to monopolize currencies.
Finally, do away with the current concept of policing. Return to the elected sheriff system. In all cases, the voting ballots must be marked and signed (whether by hand or by electronic means), stored for 10 years and open to public scrutiny. If using e-voting, the code must be open source and viewable by the general public to ensure an above-board system.
This is not perfect, but it cleans up many of the current problems. Unfortunately, there can be no perfect system when those who create and administer it are imperfect. Until and unless there is some mass awakening, some fundamental change in the human condition, none of the ideal system will work. All we can do is create systems that encourage people to grow and expand until such time that we are a species capable of much bigger thoughts than the extremes of personal or collective property.
If the markets and the systems are open to encourage the invention and dissemination of such things as zero-point energy and Star Trek replicators, and the basic needs of power and food and clothing are rendered mute, then we will have launched our species on a new and fantastic path. But as long as we are scrambling around trying to get more than the next guy, we will never have the time to expand our consciousness to the point that mundane pursuits no longer interest us.
If altruism and self-interest were not mutually exclusive, we would be well on our way to something better. The keystone of enlightenment is educating one's self. The irony is that at the end of education, you come full circle to find that it is the child who is best able to see the world.