Reality Based Community

Life in the Empire

Here’s how it goes:

C 3 = Community, Coercion and Capital

Since we stopped being tribal organizations of hunter-gatherers and embraced “Civilization,” the tripod that has supported Civilization consists of three elements: Community, Coercion and Capital. Community is people;
Coercion is brute force, and Capital is the liquid representation of “wealth,”
whether it is sea shells, wampum beads, gold or goats. We devised parable and
metaphor to deal with abstractions, and so far, it has served our purpose.

The question determining our survival now is an economic one, the balance between Community and Capital. The distinction between “real” and the symbol that represents it is important, especially now. Population or
community or a labor force is “real.” The armed labor force is “real.” “Money”
is an illusion that works only because we believe it does. Today the thread
between “real” and illusion is near the breaking point.

What is extremely important now is to recognize the “power dynamic” between Community, Coercion and Capital… which is precisely like the children’s’ game of “Rock—Scissors—Paper.” The population trumps brute force,
brute force trumps wealth, and wealth trumps the population. Without the
soldier/laborer, there is no army; without the army (or police) there is no
protection/ creation of wealth and without pay there is no labor force.

Now we come to the grand experiment of the “Free Market,” or “Free Enterprise System,” and whether the system is a misinterpreted good idea or a conspiracy of the “wealthy elite” is irrelevant. The point is that the
grand 30-year experiment with “deregulation” and “privatization” in the USA to
foster “competition” and “innovation” ended up stifling both. Regardless of
origin, the system has taken on a life of its own.

Now the force of law, the only part of the triad capable of controlling Capital is now subordinate as both police and military are mercenary, conjuring into reality the words of Jay Gould who said he could pay
half the working class to kill the other half. In the “Communist” empire,
Community and Coercion trumped Capital nearly out of existence. Now in the
“Capitalist” Empire, Capital and Coercion have suppressed the Community.

We are slaves to inhuman abstraction. We are “consumers” and “human resources,” chasing the capital carrot on the end of the police state stick. The load grows heavier, the reward remains elusive, and we bray for the
bulls and bears dancing in our heads like sugarplum visions. We rush back to the
Middle Ages, to a new Feudalism where Church, Crown and Merchants struggle for
power and use the peasantry as fuel.

We labor in our corporate fiefdoms, clinging fast to the illusion that we are free. Our choice is between serf or soldier, the only alternative is to become a priest in the Church of the Invisible Hand, where we
teach on command fellow peasants to parrot the dogma of supply and demand. We
are doomed to re-learn the lessons of the Enlightenment, that the longer
Illusion suppresses Truth, the heavier the price we shall pay in fire and blood.

In our postmodern malaise, we have either embraced uncertainty or ignored it completely. The balance between Truth and uncertainty has always been mitigated by Reason, and when Reason is lacking, mitigated by might.
Coercion has always held the balance between Community and Capital, and when
reason and Rule of Law is lacking, Coercion becomes a struggle between
mercenaries and mobs.

War is the greatest sign of human failure.

We must evolve to a state where Coercion is no longer necessary or we fail as a species. Evolution has given us our brain as our primary tool of survival. We must use it or lose it. We must find the universal balance between
Community and Capital, and if we do not, Civilization will not survive. It
remains to be seen whether Civilization is necessary for our survival as a
species. Tribalization will be our last stop before extinction.

Today in Western Culture, Capital must be regulated… by Reason if possible, by force if necessary. The suicidal consumer binge of unchecked greed has catastrophic consequences that no amount of chest-thumping,
flag-waving or throwing a virgin into a volcano can deter. The mythical “war”
that dupes, stooges and fools bawl, proselytize and glorify will become real and
dwell among us, the final supremacy of Coercion, and the death of Civilization.

When the relationship between Community and Capital becomes unrealistic, Civilization ceases to exist.

E 3= Energy Environment Economy= Peace

The dynamic between Energy, Environment and Economy is applicable to both macro and micro organizations.

Solutions on the Macro level might look like this:

Energy: a complete overhaul of the energy infrastructure, with the goal of eliminating dependency on fossil fuel. Energy should be the prime focus of every organization, from municipal to global, with
de-centralization of the energy grid. Imagine buildings like trees…

Environment: cleaning up not just the global physical environment, but the global mental environment as well. Imagine the information network similar to the energy network. Imagine a network of
researchers instead of a network of consumers where we seek active enlightenment
instead of passive entertainment.

Economy: the law of diminishing returns was never repealed. Over-centralization will have the same result; whether with information, energy or capital. The pyramid hierarchy depends entirely on its
base for support. A more equitable distribution of wealth depends on a more
diversified production of wealth.

Peace: as long as it appears to be efficient to take what one needs by force, as long as slavery is regarded as “free labor,” until social costs are counted as well as capital costs, until peace is
idealized more than war, our world will be stained with greed and violence. With
energy creation instead of war destruction, the new cycle begins.

Now maybe if we can play this number before the party’s over, we can change the Culture!

Views: 24

Comment by waldopaper on August 4, 2010 at 2:03pm
Yeah- this is a redux. I thought I'd better get it out there in more places since reader interest seems to be picking up. Well... one person read it... who happened to be my sister.

Years ago after getting hip to Hubbert, Peak Oil, die-off and such... I came to the conclusion that we were all prematurely fucking doomed. Reaction took two forms... first, "but you don't offer any SOLUTIONS..." and second, "eeeewww... NEGATIVITY." So I worked really hard on the "solutions" part. I still haven't come up with a way to put a happy-face on "we are all fucking doomed" without getting aboard with the shysters who sell "religion" as a way to cheat death instead of cleaning up our own stink.

"He who farts in Church sits alone in his own pew."

So my hope is someday... somebody in the future will find this and say, "Wow. Some anonymous fucker had this all figured out 200 years ago!" That's right, Future Kids! We weren't ALL drool-in-our-cheetos stoopid-fuck ignorant bore-holes! There weren't very many of us, but WE WERE HERE! One guy even mocked us by calling us the "Reality-Based Community." "We're an Empire now," he said. "We make our own reality!"

We certainly did, didn't we?
Comment by Mouse on August 4, 2010 at 4:37pm
I've read it too, Waldo, and laughed at the end of your last bit.
Now I am going to read it again.

I'm with you on changing the culture.
I think we need more maps and diagrams that explain things in truthful ways.
Such maps could be beautiful, fascinating, hypnotic (and here I laughed till I coughed at the gentle irony that might have been. Alas.) But let us plod on. The tide will turn.
Comment by Mouse on August 4, 2010 at 4:38pm
Oh, the link didn't work for me, the orchestral finale?
Comment by waldopaper on August 4, 2010 at 6:26pm
Mousie, I think I fixed the last link. It's "Culture of Looting," which you have probably seen before.

There seems to be a great deal of hand-wringing over the mullet-heads who "just don't get it." To me, this is like "winning over the swing-voters." When "elections" are totally irrelevant anyway, why is this even an issue? Fuck 'em. Persuading folk within out own camp that "elections" are irrelevant will be hard enough. I'm not even sure that such a persuasion is even desirable or necessary.

Methinks (in me own limited way) that a focus on Energy is everything. Such as it is.
Comment by pan on August 5, 2010 at 8:25am
Energy is, essentially, artificial labor. The harnessing of energy allowed for less laborers to do the same (or more) amount of work thus, in theory, freeing the huge percentage of humans whose sole purpose was to labor for their feudal lord (remember all that excitement about labor saving devices in the home?)

Now, in the US at least, most of that energy is used, not to replace labor, but to replace human interaction and provide diversion, entertainment and mindless consumption of time and fiat currency.
Comment by BO on August 6, 2010 at 4:07am
"Persuading folk within our own camp that "elections" are irrelevant will be hard enough."

I'm actually surprised at the number of folk that have come to that conclusion. The only left-wing site (if you can really call it that) that still vaguely promotes the 'dems are the lesser of two weevils' meme is the Democratic Underground. Most lefties I know pretty much see voting as a futile exercise and see the US as being a lost cause at this point. Most are thinking...How obvious does it have to become?

I like your theorem though, Waldo. It surely is what needs to be done. But, it still won't save us at this point. We'd still need a reduction in global population by a good 80%. Not wishful thinking. But beyond changing the way we interact with each other as well as our limited resources, we also need to let the planet heal. And at these population levels that simply can't happen. If ever.

So, what's the answer? Keep your passions alive and live life while you can. When the planet blink out, it won't matter how 'rich' you were.
Comment by BO on August 6, 2010 at 4:10am
And one more thing. Personally, I think justice will always be worth fighting for, no matter how much time we have left.


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