Eschew Obfuscation - Espouse Elucidation

Freedom of Speech Doesn't Ensure Freedom After Speech
DECEMBER 30, 2012 4:56AM

Things've Gotta Change! (But To What?)

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We know that our present form of capitalism, built upon a pyramid of power and privilege, has failed all but a select few of our population badly. We seem not to see that the "skeleton in the closet" is indeed a skeleton. It is the skeleton of the pyramid of power. And it lurks quietly awaiting any "change" so that it will again be the skeleton upon which any new society will be built.

This thrice cursed damned pyramid upon which we have so often built new social orders always seems to get carried over from the old. This is most unfortunate and indicates that it is just not seen by us as the destroyer, of our hopes and ambitions for having a decent society, that it is.

Take note of two things;

1) Every system that modern mankind has ever tried so far has failed to bring us a fair, equitable and decent society. Every last one… no exceptions!

2) Every system that modern mankind has ever tried has been built on that pyramid of power. Again, every last one… no exceptions!

Doesn’t this strike you as more than a coincidence? With all the various differences that there have been between all the many social orders that we’ve tried, only those two things have remained exactly the same throughout our history of attempting to build a workable civilized society.

I’ll not get into which systems that we’ve tried have been more successful or less so. It doesn’t really matter because not one of them has been sufficiently successful at creating a good, decent, honest, wholesome and healthy society for us.

It is really pretty obvious that “we’re doing it wrong.” Perhaps we need to examine this thing called power. There are a few things that we do know about it.

We know that power corrupts.

We know that any amount of power in human hands, held for long enough, will lead to a drive for more and more power.

We know that it makes the person who wields it insatiable for greater and ever greater power.

We know all this as well as we know anything. We've seen it happen time and time again.    

One would think that we would have sense enough to devise a way to stop power from being held for the length of time that allows it to become an obsession with the person wielding it.

We also need to rid ourselves of that “from-the-top-down” pyramid of power social structure. We must have done with vertical power structures and develop horizontal responsibility and authority. And in no case should we allow the exercise of authority, supported by the society, to be a career for anyone. As nearly as I can tell, no person should wield power in our society for longer than three or four years and this should happen only once in a person's lifetime!!

We need to educate everyone in our society to be able to take a few years of management responsibility, on behalf of his fellow citizens, at some point in his life. Positions of social authority must be spread around over the whole of our population and not ever concentrated in individuals or political parties for long enough that they become corrupted by the hunger for continued, ever increasing, power.

It is that hunger for power that makes them vulnerable to the blandishments and briberies of those who can offer a way to achieve that power; those with the money to help them get elected, re-elected and re-re-elected.

It also seems that we've also got to get as far away from the foolish exercise in futility that we call elections as we can get. Elections are what opens the door for even more corruption.

As we all have very good reason to know, those seeking election soon get “owned” by those who can put up the money to help them get elected. That alone defeats the whole idea that any person elected will work on behalf of those whom he governs; the citizens.

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Far as I'm concerned, anyone who seeks to run for public office should be permanently disqualified from doing so.
I agree that all political systems have largely failed to improve the lot of the citizens.

Why is it that in one-on-one discussions agreements are often
arrived at, but collectively they seem to be impossible?
One obstacle in the USA is the image of life as a competitive race, theoretically to the top, actually mostly to the bottom. When everyone sees themselves as in competion with their fellow man, a goal of equality or mutual benefit is lost completely. In fact, it is actively rejected. [r]
Power corrupts. Maybe there is a freshness date for how long one can hold power before it goes bad.
Yes! We should actually have to drag people, kicking and screaming, to plunk them into seats of responsibility. Those who want those seats want them for all the wrong reasons as far as serving the public weal is concerned.

Take care not to confuse a social system with a political system. Politics is an invention whose only purpose it to use the social system so that some can attain power over all. Its intention is to defeat any concept of equality and mutual co-operation. This is true even in socialist and communist societies.

Yes. Unfortunately, we in the western nations, have been mind conditioned by our basically 2-party system to see everything in terms of either/or.

I think that capitalism, strictly regulated and controlled, by the social system can provide a "share of the wealth" for every citizen as a birthright. This would not allow of a luxurious lifestyle but it would guarantee modest survival and any education or training desired by the individual.

After that basic is taken care of, I see no need to hinder, a carefully controlled capitalist economic system where we compete for all the goodies and extras.

Economic competition is actually a very good thing when not taken to extremes as we, in modern western nations have done. It offers incentives and rewards for innovation, ingenuity, and plain ol' hard work that socialism and other collectivist economic systems can ever hope to match.

But a workable competitive economic system means that the competition must be organized, by the social system, in a fair and equitable way. All must have truly EQUAL opportunities without some starting our rich and getting richer while some get virtually no opportunity to advance at all.

The goals of the social system must have absolute priority over the goals of the economic system for the economic system is merely a tool to be used by the whole society for its betterment. The economic system should never be unleashed, as it is now, to provide a wonderful life for a few at the expense of everyone else.

Yes, I think there is. I think that if we all took a turn at sitting in seats of responsibility and it consequent authority for about 3 or 4 years, and only once in our lifetime, we can nearly eliminate abuse of power/authority that is prevalent in our present system where there are life-long power holders who have become addicted to that power and can be bribed by those who they see as able to help them get it.
Wow, another miracle. I can view (and apparently comment on) OS blogs today.

Sky, you have written a really thoughtful and provocative post, but I think your headline is wrong. You state really clearly what we need - a system that it isn't built on a pyramid of hierarchical power.

I think what you're really asking is how we get there - how we implement change without creating yet another hierarchical pyramid.

In the industrialized world, I think younger activists are headed in the right direction by rejecting representative democracy in the Occupy movement and insisting on a consensus-driven participatory democracy where people with more dominant personalities are prevented from running rough shod over more reticent members (that being said, this wasn't what happened in most Occupy encampments, which were mainly run by white middle class males).

I have been really impressed by the way the Zapatista's approached this in Mexico - and by some of the things Chavez has done in Venezuela.

As for the Zapatistas, from the outset Subcommandante Marcos very consciously decentralized power by setting up a series of local cells, many of which were run by women. I get the sense he did this not so much to make the organization democratic - but because he expected to be killed and didn't want the movement to die with him.

In Venezuela, Chavez seems to be more concerned about the point you make about educating people about management responsibility. One of his initiatives has been to set up self-governing housing cooperatives. He generally chooses middle aged indigenous women to run them - given that they all have at least a generation of experience running families.

I thinks we need to break up large countries like the US and Canada into smaller self-governing regions, as well as dumping representative democracy in favor of participatory democracy.

I think overall young activists in the Occupy movement have the right idea about running things via consensus (though according to many of the women in the encampments, it was still mainly white middle class males running things).
Good post and comments.
I like the idea but I guess there's nothing we can do when it comes to politics.
Dr. Bramhall,

Actually I have in mind an alternate to that pyramid of power that I so dislike. I usually refer to it as horizontal structure. (NOTE: There is someone else who uses this term. What they mean by it is NOT what I mean by it.)

Contrary to others who want to bring down the power structure, I am happy to have it in place as a framework for an operating society. B U T ... I want to see the occupants of those seats of authority come from the entire population - hence the need for good education - by means of a lottery system. Thus the people who sit in the seats of responsibility and authority are not selected by any way that gives the big money corporations and banks an opportunity to bribe them with campaign money. No campaign = no bribery.

I'd also have each adult, mentally competent, non-criminal citizen as likely to be chosen by lot as any other. I see the result of this as having an excellent chance of being fully representative of the entire population's demographics give or take a few percentage points due to the vagaries of such a lottery.

If 13% of the population is black people then about 13% of those chosen by lot ought to be black. If 51% of the population is women that too should be represented in the results of any lottery. The same would be true for seniors, young adults, middle aged people, employed, management, elite, chronic unemployed, etc., etc.

However, I also see this system working best with a system that I call Citizens Capitalism. This is capitalism brought under the absolute control of the social system - our lottery chosen one.

It's main differences from our present form of capitalism are in it being only a tool of the social system, and all wealth amassed by everyone during their lifetime being returned to the society upon their death. It would mostly be in the form of shares of corporations, just as it is held now by the elite, be divided up every 3 to 5 years among all children born during that time, and that wealth along with its earnings, held in trust for the children until they reach the age of 20.

At that point in their lives they'd get their birthright inheritance which is actually coming to them by way of all that the previous generation did to make the society viable and prosperous. A generational inheritance instead of a 'direct line' one.

That inheritance immediately puts them out of reach of those who would starve them into shit jobs for work-house wages. The young recipients of that birthright would be sufficiently well off to refuse to be made wage-slaves to the elite. No unions needed or picket line battles. Just equal citizens able to say a resounding "NO!" to any form of economic coercion.

With their basic needs taken care of, and enough money for training and education of any sort that they wish to have, they would be about as "free" as people in any society could possibly be.

The society need not have a huge government of civil servants who spend their time trying to level the playing field so "the poor" can survive - it would be levelled from the instant people got their birthright.

Once they have that in hand, they may, IF THEY SO WISH, engage in economic competition from an EQUAL starting point. No "rich man's kids" to compete with. It would be true, fair-n-square, competition for whatever. Some might compete for money; some for honours and recognition in the arts or in the academic world. Some for scientific kudos, etc., etc. That birthright opens all kinds of doors.

The huge expense of health insurance need not be borne entirely by the state; each person could manage reasonable payments. No unemployment costs to the state, no higher education costs to the state, no social services or retirement costs borne by the state. Think how low taxes would be!

All citizens would "own a piece of the pie" and derive his basic income from it. Imagine that! A form of Capitalism that shares the wealth!

Any individual who loved the economic competition game and amassed a great fortune would be hailed as a great benefactor to his society when he died and that fortune went to the next generation and got CIRCULATED instead of backed up in someone's portfolio! No more economic logjams.

Ah me....... I could go on all week......;-)
just phyllis,

Now that I've introduced the concept of Citizens Capitalism - a form of capitalist economics that is wholly subservient to both the individuals and the population as a social entity, and indicated some of the benefits that would accrue from proper capitalism that is not allowed to run amok by giving all the rewards of people's work to a small elite, we can open the discussion to the question of, "How do we get THERE from HERE?"

I think that it is possible to build an alternate economy by way of co-ops. I think that this alternate economy is already in existence but not yet as widely known or used as it ought to be. I also think that it can grow to the point where we - the people - can eventually just ignore the system set up for the benefit of the elite. Let them have it. With the majority of the people part of our co-operative social and economic system, we don't need them or their form of money. We'll have our own.

Even in the US - not a hotbed of co-operatives - there are some that already have grown to the point where they have their own form of currency and are involved in labour trading as well as trading of goods. This is very encouraging!

Best of all is that this is a way to change a society by evolution rather than revolution. No bloodshed. No "Heroes of The Revolution" taking over the pyramid of power after the present bunch are thrown out on their butts. No same-old, same-old becoming corrupted by power and authority that we're right back where we started. Just plain old ordinary people doing the new society instead of killing anyone to take their high places. We don't 'fight' our way into the future, we 'live' our way there.
It all goes back to Adam and Eve. Yes. Eve corrupted Adam. She pulled off a power play with one apple that has fallen into the lap of modern day calamity. She, pulled it off to a tee. Funny, how the gender collapsed intrinsically eve since, no matter the gains, the laws or the exceptions. So now that I have your curiosity peeked, how in the world are you?! I think I have been absent since last June or so. I have had the darndest time just getting logged on to this site. I thought it was gone! So, here I am. In. Now, I might be tempted to do some damage. Or, at the very least, beat the fruit of the apple; be tempted again. ;)
And, just in case I get distracted for several more months...
have a very happy birthday in about a day or so..
Have a fling!
Have a wing ding!
Have a twinkie, a cupcake or a cake ring...thing.
Have some - thing!
Sky appreciate your idea, maybe if we were still "small communities" like the 300, this cd be a possibility? We are far too many now is probably one of our problems? Maybe we shd start scouting planets and start spreading out starting colonies, in the galaxy, air, water, everywhere?
HI Cathy!!

I guess you were away during the GPB (Great Petulant Boycott) wen everybody stamped their little feet in a tantrum because OS was having a hard time fighting off hackers and spammers.

It's still slow in a lot of ways and logging in can be a bitch; as can commenting sometimes. Little by little management - such as it is - seems to be getting it back under control but it's a long hard battle.

Happy to see your smiling comments here again!!

Small communities? Why? I mean, I'd like to see both our countries break up into a handful of smaller, more manageable nations, but not for this reason.

The notion that co-ops only work small-scale is put about by the powers-that-be in an attempt to keep people from seriously looking into what they really offer by way of opting out of predatory greed capitalism. There are many very successful co-ops - right in the US - that have memberships in the tens of thousands already!

Google "Co-ops" in your area to see what is available to you right next door. You'll be amazed.

I like most of your ideas. They're practical and they make sense for the most part.

But when you say "we know that our present form of capitalism...has failed..." - who are speaking for? Isn't this a bit extreme? I don't think most people would agree capitalism has failed. It's not a like a burned out lightbulb that has to be replaced with the new energy efficient kind. It works well when it's done right.

Election reform is needed but not everyone who wants to be a part of the governing process becomes "owned"; there are a lot of people who go into politics with good intentions and become stymied by the process and how difficult it is to get things done. That's what needs to change, from the top down.
I also like this: "We need to educate everyone in our society to be able to take a few years of management responsibility, on behalf of his fellow citizens, at some point in his life."

But how would you put this into practice - would you force people? Because not everyone would want to do this; nor would they be cut out for it.

Oh you naughty girl! You can't just take a few words out of context and ask me to "explain" their meaning! The whole sentence is.....
""We know that our present form of capitalism, built upon a pyramid of power and privilege, has failed all but a select few of our population badly.""

However I'm going to assume that your real question is, "How did our present form of capitalism fail us?" I'll try to answer that, although if you're not one of the privileged few, it ought to be obvious.

Capitalism is an economic system. Its purpose, as is that of any economic system, is to provide the means whereby the society - the people - can survive and (hopefully) prosper. It is a tool that society uses to create wealth.

Now, capitalism is a very aggressive means of creating wealth. So aggressive is it though, that it wants to dominate the people as individuals as well as the society built by people for mutual assistance and co-operative effort towards shared goals. Capitalism, if left uncontrolled is like a fire started in your living room. If unconfined by a fireplace and just allowed to burn anything it can, your house won't last long.

Raw capitalism will do the same. It is doing that now. That is not good for people and other living things.

However when capitalism is properly confined and controlled it is an excellent tool. The difference is in it being controlled and regulated and put to work for us or in it being left to do its own thing and burn everything in sight.

As you can see, the problem is not with capitalism; it is with how it is controlled and regulated. This is why my statement contained the phrase, "our present form of capitalism." We have let capitalism get out of control. It is not serving the best interests of all the society and the people who make up that society.

Too much of the wealth that is created by ALL the people of our society goes into the hands of too few of the members of our society. Too much of the wealth created by us ALL is used to give a few people a luxurious lifestyle while 1/3 of our population live in, or near, abject poverty.

When a society adopts a certain economic system - in our case capitalism - it is the duty of that economic system to serve the best interests of ALL of the people by means of the wealth created by ALL of the people.

As you can see there is, in our society, an unbalance. The people who create all of the wealth are NOT those who are served sufficiently well by that wealth. That unbalance makes "our form of capitalism" a "failure" at the job of serving our citizens.

This does NOT mean that capitalism per se has failed us - only that our form of it has. So it's not the economic system - capitalism - that needs to be changed; it's our form of it.

In its present form it is the enemy of the people it ought to be serving. We need to get control of it and regulate it so that it is our servant. No economic system should make slaves out of the people it is supposed to serve. Far, far too few people are benefitting from our present form while having to become rent-a-slave workers bound to it by hunger and need.

As to your second comment: Yes, I would make public service mandatory. In many civilized nations - Switzerland for one - young people are required to enter into military service for a few years. This is for the benefit of the society. I see no difficulty with requiring of all suitable citizens the duty to serve their society for the benefit that society. There are hundreds of thousands of civil service jobs that anyone could do. In order to enhance the training that people get in school, I'd have overlapping terms of service.

What that means is this: Let us suppose that you are doing your service to your society in some civil service job. One year before your term ends, the next person would be chosen. For their first year they'd sit beside you and be guided by you. Your years of experience would be passed on to them. If the term of service were 4 years, each person would get one year of training by the person they'd replace, then do the job for 2 more years, then spend their last year training their own replacement. This would ensure continuity and allow pretty much any mentally competent person to handle their job.

I can also see no problem with people, who have been selected by lottery to serve their society, presenting their qualifications for certain levels of social management. A person with a degree in medicine might thus ask to be assigned to a position in a field where that knowledge would be useful to have.

A person with a degree in accounting might be better placed in the IRS than in processing building permits, if you see what I mean?

But "yes" again. All competent citizens, male/female, gay/straight, old/young, black/white/red/yellow/brown/purple with pink polka-dots, all would contribute to the society from which they obtain so many advantages.
I actually did agree with you - when I said capitalism works well when it's done right, this is what I meant:

"This does NOT mean that capitalism per se has failed us - only that our form of it has. So it's not the economic system - capitalism - that needs to be changed; it's our form of it."

Initially I thought you were saying we needed a completely new system, or that you were advocating something like communism.

And your call for mandatory public service - I think it is an excellent idea with far reaching benefits for everyone. Starting some form of it in high school would be a good idea too like ROTC - to help kids figure out where they'd make the most difference and give them an idea of where their interests lay. I think it is a superb idea, especially since some schools are looking at increasing their hours and staying open year-round.