Yesterday I was amused and interested to discover the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship.
This new grouping of the “well-meaning great and the good” (about 50 of them) seems to be financed by a Dubai based investment group (?) and Sir Robert Marshall (of Brexit fame). Its intellectual and philosophical musings seem to be powered by Jordan Peterson and Bjorn Lomborg.
The ARC has just held its first annual conference in London and is a broadly old-fashioned conservative/libertarian outfit. On the one hand it stands against the culture of fear and prospective tyranny of potential World Government and, on the other, it rejects the old-fashioned dogmas of the socialist left. What it does not have is a clear vision or “plan” for the future although it seems to believe that “godly” behaviours are generally good!
I was amused because so much of what the ARC wants mirrors the basic philosophy of the self-sufficiency movement which John Seymour pioneered almost 50 years ago. Basically, this assumes we can never expect meaningful change (progress?) to come from the top down through existing institutions. The vested interests are just too powerful. Our belief and hope is that myriad sensible and independent thinking individuals can, if they have the right knowledge and skills, change their own lives to bring about wider beneficial change. In all this the fundamental mindset should be one where humans cherish their own intelligence and creativity at the same time as they respect the power, beauty and unknowable complexity of the natural world and life's extra-ordinary cosmic journey.
I was amused because it seems even the greatest of our free-thinking philosophers so often appear to discover “God” as the easiest answer to the great questions of existence. Why are we here and what should we be doing about it? “God” is a strangely old-fashioned “cop-out”! To me (as an ex-theoretical physicist) it is plain as a pikestaff that we humans are extra-ordinary gifted wild things. Like the bees, termites, ants and dolphins, we are brilliantly able to work effectively in large disparate groups to create more beauty and complexity. It might be cathedrals, symphonies, artificial intelligence, gardens, computers, fusion power, medicines........ We (our bodies and our brains) are probably the most complex ordered structures the cosmos has yet produced. We know beauty and complex order when we see it even if we cannot define it. We already have all the knowledge we need to make our Earth an even more beautiful and wonderful place where all life forms prosper together in a great web of symbiosis. What we don't have is the wisdom, leadership or effective cultural institutions to bring this about. Our task now is to find these missing cultural forms and take “life” on to become even more complex and beautiful.
It seems so strange that the luminaries like Peterson, Brand, Carlson and Rogan (all with many millions of faithful followers) cannot come up with any significant positive suggestions for how their followers could change their own lives for the better! There is a HUGE and growing bubble of discontent amongst the people. What's going to happen when it finally bursts?
LOCKED INTO “VIRTUE” BUT SAVED BY A SWEET PAPER
Part history, part fiction and a hymn to the Mystery of Unintended Consequences (MUCs)
We all know the first part of the human story. It began 14 billion Earth years ago when, in the blank void of space, the Big Bang set the vibrant substance of space/time singing. Small vibrations coalesced into bigger vibrations. They sucked themselves together to make stars and the nuclear furnaces in those stars created the long-lasting stable patterns of vibrations we call atoms and elements. When the stars died and spat out their content, huge numbers of these atoms came together to make planets.
Where planets were in the right place (next to suitable stars) and had the right mix of atoms and elements, something we call “life” appeared. Things that are “alive” actively find the right resources to make more of themselves – they are beautifully organised complex structures. Random forces and mutations combined with “natural selection” to produce more and more complex entities until what we call “consciousness” appeared. Things that are conscious know they are alive and that what they do will affect the future. So far as we know, humans are the most complex (and beautiful) life forms so far produced by this cosmic story. We carry in our heads the most complex ordered structure ever produced by cosmic evolution.
OK – we all must live with this huge responsibility. We know that what we do can/will change the world We know that our clever consciousness enables us to work and live effectively in large groups. Our inventive skill in devising “culture” gave us vital evolutionary advantages. Those that live in successful cultures must live by the rules of those cultures. They have never been “free” to do as they pleased. We call the good citizens of successful cultures “virtuous” - they follow the rules.
In small tribes the “rules” could be enforced by the chiefs and the shaman. As smaller tribes came together to form nations (usually for self-defence or military conquest) more sophisticated systems were developed. For thousands of years (before police forces) the “rules” were enforced by Gods in complex religions managed by priests, kings and emperors. “Virtue” was enforced by fear – of hell or the wrath of the gods.
The clever invention of “money” (tokens of power) began to be an important influence on behaviour (about 3000 years ago). Nation states began to write down laws which would also govern behaviour. Here again “virtue” was enforced by fear of force and the power of the “market” as well as the rules of religions.
About 300 years ago the astonishing success of “science” and mathematics in explaining natural phenomena (which had previously seemed like “magic”) began to erode the power and popularity of “gods”. Secular law became more and more important but, at the same time, the extra-ordinary power of money began to dominate behaviour. The great mass of the people moved from a more or less self-sufficient life on the land to become “wage slaves” in the modern consumer economy. Money began to create a new class of power and what we call “democracy” encouraged popular short-term policies – the needs of the dominant urban population trumped the needs of the countryside. The “magic” power of the banking system created a new wealthy elite at the same time as it provided the where-with-all to finance war. The special legal status of corporations enabled them to become super rich with a global span. Humans began to think of themselves as “gods” - potentially able to fix anything and everything with the power of science.
About 100 years ago the money system had enabled a few lucky (often unscrupulous) individuals/corporations to acquire enormous power. Their “ownership” was protected by the power of the state using taxpayers' money. These individuals had no particular wisdom or desire to “do good” but they certainly had “skin in the game” and an over-riding need to make “profit”. Their wealth and their power to increase it depended on a healthy consumer economy (and sometimes war). By now the dynamic of the consumer economy and money had largely replaced “fear” as the dominant factor ensuring “virtuous” behaviour. Good citizens worked hard so they could pay their taxes and enjoy the wonderful fruits of the glitzy consumer economy and the new “religion” of the massive shopping malls. Advertising fanned the flames of greed and Joe Public rushed to spend in the super-markets.
About 50 years ago we saw the first signs that the wealthy elites (both individual and corporate) began to realise that their consumer “game” would have to change. Excess “greed” had a serious downside. The “Club of Rome” produced the report called “Limits to Growth” and we learned that uncontrolled consumerism would have to become “sustainable”. It seemed that the “game” could only continue if there was some kind of “World Government” enforcing new kinds of control on polluting and wasteful behaviours. We had the first Earth Summit at Rio just 30 years ago with the United Nations pinning hopes first on Agenda 21 and now on Agenda 30. Those in the elites who favoured World Government needed to find ways to promote this ideal to the wider public (the masses). We saw the World Health Organisation flexing its world government muscles in the covid pandemic while the United Nations continues to promote “Net Zero”. When the elites came together under Klaus Schwab in the World Economic Forum, they found two possibilities that might meet their wish to manage and control the masses through fear instead of greed. These were Climate Change and Global Pandemics.
The elites soon realised that the old cultural mechanisms of the “free market”, the money system and popular democracies would not provide an effective infra-structure to enforce the new kind of virtuous behaviours which their plans required. Something much more powerful was required to ensure the masses were “locked into virtue”! At the same time, the elites needed tools to manage the global “game” more directly and effectively. How else could the elites retain their power at the same time as keeping the “game” going by preserving planetary eco-systems and rationing scarce resources?
The extra-ordinary power of emerging digital technologies provided a range of solutions. Information flows could be controlled by censorship on the internet. Movement could be controlled and monitored by a unique global I/D system. How money was spent could be managed by “smart” central bank digital currencies linked to all-embracing social credit scores. With the looming threats of Climate Change and Global Pandemics, strongly promoted by the “trusted” mass media (especially the BBC), the public could easily be guided into acceptance of these new cultural tools. Once in place the people would be “locked into virtue” and the planet (and the “game” of the rich) would be “saved”. On the downside, of course, many traditional freedoms would be lost.
This is exactly where we are today. The UN, WHO, WEF are getting “all their ducks in a row” – and events are moving fast as the amazing Meryl Nass keeps trying to tell us.
A Vision: The Sweet Paper and its MUC
Historians of the future will recall that the sophisticated plans of the elites were undermined and destroyed in a most unlikely way by the actions of a retired pensioner. It began on the day when he innocently picked up a plastic sweet wrapper – possibly a Mars bar or Kit-Kat. After he had picked up the red shiny plastic, a question came into his mind: “If he put the sweet paper down again near the busy footpath, just how many people would walk past before it was picked up?” Carefully he put the paper back near the path and retreated to convenient place to watch. 19 people walked past until the 20th picked up the paper.
“So…” thought the pensioner “that shows that 95% of people are content to rub along with the system but 5% are not. Perhaps the “sweet paper” test is a simple way to find the 5% who self-select and have the capability to think and act for themselves.” For those who do not enjoy being “locked into virtue” by the wealthy elites, these independent minds might be brought together to “fight for freedom”. As the great Chinese military thinker Sun Tzu advised: “The first rule of warfare is that the enemy should not know he is your enemy!” It seemed unlikely that the powers-that-be would pick up any obvious threat from a well-meaning group of litter pickers!
The pensioner's next step was to devise a simple logo (heart shaped outline with small globe in the centre – coloured gold) which would serve as a badge for those he called “Littereeros”. He paired this up with a dedicated website which would provide information This would provide a regular monthly update to its subscribers and a place to buy more of the littereero badges. With this in place he was then able to launch his simple plan. Once again, he took a bright plastic sweet paper and placed it down beside a busy footpath. When the first person finally picked it up the pensioner ran over to congratulate the first littereeros and give him/her a badge. The website address was on the reverse of the badge and the new littereero was given 5 more badges so he/she could continue the “chain letter” process of gathering more littereeros. Each new littereero would be invited to find 5 other littereeros (self-selected sweet paper pickers), give them a badge and invite them to find other littereeros. And so it would be that hundreds, then thousands, and finally millions of self-selected littereeros would be signed up to the website. The wealthy elites managing the world government's apparatus for digitally locking the masses into virtue would be perfectly content to let this seemingly benign process continue. The littereeros could recognise each other by the sign of their badges – a symbol that would appear increasingly on banners and graffiti.
Before long the littereero networks would be energised on a face to face basis with information being circulated in paper form to avoid the vulnerability of controls over digital communications. So, just as Michael Davitt organised the “boycott” of Colonel Boycott's harvest to free the Irish from British colonial rule, the new million-strong littereeros were able to progressively disengage and boycott key features of the corporate consumer economy. First it was leaving all plastic packaging at the super-market check-out, then it was taking all money out of the conventional banking system… and so the process of civil dis-obedience and dis-engagement continued steadily attracting more and more of those seeking “freedom”.
This is how the MUC of the sweet paper led to a massive peaceful resistance which was not foreseen by the monitoring and surveillance of the elites. The millions of littereeros were a self-selected miscellaneous group of independent thinkers who made their own decisions and chose their own local leaders. Among them were wise philosophers and cultural engineers who came up with new “life-enhancing” cultural institutions – replacing old style money, banking, free market pricing, ownership, corporations and last but not least democracy and leadership. Behaviours could be guided by the new 10 commandments:
Work less – live more
Spend less – enjoy more
Compete less – play more
Buy less – grow more
Argue less – love more
Waste less – recycle more
Drive less – walk more
Drink less – laugh more
Watch less – talk more
Hurry less – think more