“It’s not a war, it’s a rescue mission” Part 2

Posted by on March 8th, 2011 in rage against the machine, revolutionary optimism

This is the second part of a three part essay on the state and the fate of the world. If you missed it, the first part is here. Events discussed within it were true at the time of writing, but may already be out of date. Things move pretty fast when you’re in the middle of a singularity.

The World’s Most Powerful Man vs a Hivemind

Before we move on to attempting to integrate the network and the hierarchy, let us more closely examination how they function independently. Let us examine the actions, during these events, of two very different super individuals: President of the United States of America, Barack Obama (elected with a platform promising Change!) and Anonymous, the hivemind of unknown people, a flag which anyone and everyone may fly, a mask that all might hide behind, united by a shared philosophy.

As the events unfolded in Egypt, as its people fought and begged to join the Free World, its self-appointed Leader, Pres. Obama, spoke loudly and clearly with a silence that was heard around the world. Because it was not just Mubarak that had a confused look on his face; for US Foreign Policy Mubarak was a key ally in the region, making them completely paralyzed by these events. All their carefully thought-out policies, the result of highly intelligent think-tanks and advisors had nothing to help them deal with this eventuality. It was, to them too, a Black Swan. An event they were unable to deal with, that resulted in incredible scenes such as Pres. Obama being interviewed on FoxNews referring to Mubarak, a dictator, as “a good partner”.

That was how this man at the top of the USA’s hierarchy viewed the man at the top of Egypt’s. Lacking any sufficiently prepared statements, all Pres. Obama had to fall back on was the raw truth.

The truth of liberal democracies is that their existence has been dependent on the deprivation of citizens elsewhere in the world. That it has celebrated freedom at home while effectively supporting repression abroad. This is an inconvenient truth that has been carefully kept out of the mainstream ‘conversation’, which, when questioned at all has been deflected with the tired argument of all being for “The Greater Good.” The implicit statement being that some people’s freedom is worth more than others.

This is the native logic of the hierarchy, where everybody has a rank, but is absolutely abhorrent to the network, where all are peers. These hidden truths are what are kept out of mind, as part of the consensual hallucination that has been maintained in order to affect the status quo. The native logic of the network is not just equality, but also innately demands transparency, because when all are equal, nothing should be hidden.

What these events reveal about hierarchies continues the efforts of Wikileaks to show things as they really are. To explain this further, I shall quote Kevin here on this, from our correspondence on the matter:

Wikileaks’ goal is to not only reveal the nature of the beast, but to directly link the beast’s nature with the efficiency with which the beast can operate in an attempt to change its nature. A governmental organization that is threatened by the nature of transparency, due to its actions, will be a slow and lumbering beast compared to one that can embrace transparency. These things are of course tied to how badly each organization exploits others and how much shady dealings they have. If your diplomatic apparatus only functions at a basic level due to lack of oversight, human rights violations and espionage then, a world where transparency can be forced upon you is a world which you can’t operate efficiently. If a transparent environment can be maintained, then in theory, any government/organization that wants to survive will have to change how it operates.

Nightmares can’t abide the light of day.

Compared to Egypt though, Libya is a different story; Gaddafi has always fit into the West’s narrative of ‘bad guys’; not that hasn’t stopped them propping up their local industrial base by selling arms to him either.

These clips from Quantum of Solace sum up the situation nicely (and are why I hold this film too in high regard):

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Career and trade over values and ethics; all for the Greater Good.

Meanwhile, the legions of Anonymous have been far more proactive, first in helping the citizens of Tunisia be aware of and counter government monitoring of their internet communications, and later in helping distribute care packages to Egypt to defend themselves against repression.

Wikileaks and Anonymous are native entities of the Internet, of the network; both with noble goals to improve the gross human condition. To shine a light on the truth and help their fellow man. Yet, both are opposed and condemned by the existing order. But imagine if they could be integrated, or at the very least not be opposed and condemned, but celebrated. Wide reform it would require, but truly this would be for an honest, greater good.

This reveals just some of the fault lines in the hierarchy that is failing in varying degrees worldwide. The Global Financial Crisis wasn’t an accident, it is the direct result of a broken system. A system that both failed to regulate itself and be effectively regulated by Governments, the best defense against which is greater transparency.

Yet in seemingly every country more energy seems to be spent ignoring or deflecting or overtly distracting attention away from these problems, rather than making a concerted effort to fix them through reforms. Where they do exert energy is to prop up these broken systems; focusing valuable time and energy on trying to control the internet, for example, to placate and protect the vested interests of media companies.

These hierarchical systems will continue to fail in new, unusual and unforeseen ways. Just as the dictators deposed in Tunisia and Egypt had no idea what was coming. The apparatus of Western Democracy appears broken, but the politicians act as though they are completely unaware of it. The Most Powerful Man in the World, as the US President has so often been referred to, unable or unwilling, because of the nature of his own hierarchy, to affect change and support it elsewhere, even though it sits at the core of his own narrative.

Expecting its citizens to sit idly by while the politicians patch the system by adding new policies on top of broken ones, or bickering in the same old ways, is unsustainable and perhaps ultimately, criminal. Unless they address the core concerns and make a concerted effort to fix the faults in the system further collapse is imminent. It becomes the onus of the residents of the network, who add knowledge by seeing things from a radically different vantage point, to help them.

So we return to the question: how can we explain this to them? How can we help them, and in doing so, rescue ourselves from a grim future? Without change it sees a certainty that we will have to endure an ever more disastrous systemic failures: be it another collapse of the financial system, loss of food security or death and destruction from inadequately preparing for the effects of changing climate.

We need to persuade them to proactively face the future, to actively reform everything as fast as we can to create robust and resilient systems that cope with change and prevent crisis. That have built in to them a system of fairness, justice, equality and transparency. That the choice is reform or face full collapse. That it’s them, the Ruling Class, that have the most to loose; they can gracefully transition to a new age integrating hierarchy and network, or be forced aside and left out completely; remembered only as being part of the problem.

There is no They

The biggest card the hierarchy has always played to defend itself has been the demonization of an opposing hierarchy; in fact it’s a vital part of its continued existence. This is what drove the Cold War, the Crusades, and, well, every war really. It’s what a war is: us vs them. Even in its latest form, asymmetric warfare, this remains true.

The great truth of the network is that we are all connected, so there fundamentally can be no Other. Contained within this then is the possibility of a future without war.

Perhaps then it is a sign of its obsolescence that we see governments and political groups still employing the politics of the Other. The UK could appear to have taken V For Vendetta as an instruction manual. Or not, because this perception is being managed through a particular segment of the mainstream media, amplifying a vocal minority, rather than being genuinely and provably representative of the people’s opinion.

Equally, the much publicised rise of the Tea Baggers in the US makes great use of hating the other; appearing to be racist, homophobic and anti-science.

Clearly this is not the way create a brighter future for ourselves and our children; demeaning others, after all, only demeans ourself.

To be concluded…

* Note: Images that aren’t credited with hyperlinks to their source are unknown, but will be happily credited to, if and when, they become known. (ie I found this stuff on the interwubz.)

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8 Responses to ““It’s not a war, it’s a rescue mission” Part 2”

  1. [...] man [men] in the world > the very notion of “They”.  Here is Part I and Part II of “It’s not a war, it’s a rescue [...]

  2. Very interesting thoughts, I look forward to reading the final part of the article.

    I have a comment on your remark that "The native logic of the network is not just equality, but also innately demands transparency, because when all are equal, nothing should be hidden." Perhaps you didn't mean it like this but that sentence to me sounds as though, for the network, transparency were a philosophical choice or a moral imperative. I think it goes well beyond this. To my mind transparency *is* the network. Nothing can be hidden without automatically creating a species of hierarchy. Where some possess knowledge which is not openly accessible to everyone else you immediately have individuals of different value.

    Of course people possess different levels of knowledge in different areas, even in a network. We are not the Borg. But in a horizontal network all the relevant knowledge of every individual is openly accessible to every other, by definition. Access control is the nature of Hierarchy. Institute control on who is allowed to know what and your network, qua network, is dead.

  3. I'm not sure that Anon necessarily holds to the standards set here. While they do a lot of good, we have a tendency to forget the attacks on feminist sites and a few key others. I mean, at worst Anon is ambiguous, which is better than we can say for many. However, I think it's best not to rate them too high, lest overstating the virtues of existing hives lead to a corollary sin to nationalism.

  4. [...] “It’s not a war, it’s a rescue mission” Part 2 [...]

  5. This has been translated to Spanish: https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1RENZI77h…

  6. [...] part essay on the state and the fate of the world. If you missed it, the first part is here and the second part is here. Events discussed within it were true at the time of writing, but may already be out of date. [...]

  7. Liking the thoughts here, especially the non-violent, yet deeply rooted revolution ideas. I do have to say I have noticed a few details and perhaps, just leanings, that I think may be incosistant with your main thesis of anarcho-utopianism. However, if you haven’t already, I would urge you to head over to mises.org for a treasure trove of classical liberal works and commentary on currwnt events.

    Keep it up!

  8. Thank you for your kind words and support Randy.

    I must admit I am curious as to which details you found inconsistent with my thesis, if you wouldn't mind elaborating either here or via email.