Saturday, May 26, 2007

The opposite of Republican politics is... not the Democrats.

I found this today, via op-ed
It speaks of something I've been breathing in the air, feeling between my toes, the source and cause of an apparently unreasonable and unjustifiable sense of optimism.

To Remake the World | Orion magazine

This is the first time in history that a large social movement is not bound together by an “ism.” What binds it together is ideas, not ideologies. This unnamed movement’s big contribution is the absence of one big idea; in its stead it offers thousands of practical and useful ideas. In place of isms are processes, concerns, and compassion. The movement demonstrates a pliable, resonant, and generous side of humanity.

And it is impossible to pin down. Generalities are largely inaccurate. It is nonviolent, and grassroots; it has no bombs, armies, or helicopters. A charismatic male vertebrate is not in charge. The movement does not agree on everything nor will it ever, because that would be an ideology. But it shares a basic set of fundamental understandings about the Earth, how it functions, and the necessity of fairness and equity for all people partaking of the planet’s
life-giving systems.

The promise of this unnamed movement is to offer solutions to what appear to be insoluble dilemmas: poverty, global climate change, terrorism, ecological degradation, polarization of income, loss of culture. It is not burdened with a syndrome of trying to save the world; it is trying to remake the world.

I found this followed a depressing IM conversation with a 20-something who found politics so "irritating" that she resents it even being brought up in conversation.

Well, hell, so do I. But I take a longer view, and I'm older and more set in my ways; I tend to see the political process as the way forward. But day by day, the news shows the amazing lack of interest the Democrats have in achieving any real change, of addressing real issues, of confronting real evil. Is she correct in seeing them as an irrelevant waste of time?

Would my time be better spent ignoring the political process as much as possible, save when working to achieve some real, practical, useful goal?

I've always been very impatient with ideology - and far more impatient with the ideologues who see the ideology as valid only to the extent that paying it lip-service places them in power.

Therefore my heart is gladdened that in a very practical sense, people have begun to pro-actively network around the political choke-points that seem increasingly to exist only for the sake of maintaining authoritarians in power. Over the years I've become very respectful of actual, practical authority and increasingly disrespectful of authoritarians, who seem to have become entirely divorced from the idea that merit, expertise and relevance are inherent to holding sway over others.

Or in other words, if I am to respect an authority - strike that, if I'm to notice an authority, it must be an authority that's interested in achieving something I wish to achieve in a way I find acceptable. These days, there are simply so many alternates that nobody has any particular reason to unquestioningly listen to and obey any authority, other than emotional attachment.

This is all gaining great momentum due to the Internet - and modern communications in general. Or in other words, it's unstoppable; it's not merely a new movement, it's a sea change in how humans connect with each other and organize themselves. Those vital roles that existed in the industrial age, boss, manager, executive, ruler - all these offices are now to some degree becoming vestigial, save where they adapt themselves to the new reality.

We will always need authorities - on things like law, and earthquakes and building codes, on materials science, on the behavior of animal species and genetics. We will need people who know and understand a great deal more than is common today among those with the large, impressive hats and who are yet willing to be humble enough to understand that they are not in charge; that in fact, nobody is "in charge," that there is no need for anyone to compete to "lead" humanity.

For each human can and should do that for themselves to the degree that they can - and to the degree that they cannot, they may freely choose a little less freedom.

And there will be no lack of useful and meaningful work for those who are led to have power over others. Indeed, given human nature, there will be a high demand for those skills. But they must start giving value for value, respecting the worth of the power and talents put at their disposal, for in our brave new world there will be no way to keep followers against their will.

Do I advocate anarchy? No, not in any usual sense. It's more that I'm predicting a condition where such laws as are needed are largely followed because they make sense and help make life easier. I envision a government that is at the service of the people rather than on their backs. I see it as being composed entirely OF the people. Of course, that's the case now, but those in government have become blinded to it and the proper relationships to other citizens this implies.
But sooner or later, our self-styled Lords and Masters will find that it's all to easy to simply ignore them, disregard their laws, ignore their diktats and avoid their taxes, so long as the people are willing to accept the cost of not having access to whatever services such government provides.

And as our government sees itself to be more and more the servant of Big - Big money, Big Special Interest groups, Big Corporations, it does less and less that is of benefit to poor and middle class persons - or indeed, of actual individuals of any level of wealth and power. We are seen by Washington as classes of person, of piles of various sizes of cog and screw. It's a very machine-age view, and it's a viewpoint as dead and as irrelevant as Karl Marx.

That means that what happens in Washington is of little interest to more people; it's regulations and rules more and more opaque or obviously biased towards large dollar interests, and therefore there is increasingly less motivation to respect the rule of law. Why should anyone, seeing as the law is obviously for sale?

And yet people need those things that government should provide, and therefore they will go about creating new and more flexible ways to provide those things without bothering to consult or consider the interests of Government.

What I do see is the rise of small governments and voluntary administrations that are made possible by Internet communication. For instance, it would make a great deal of sense to have two or three co-operative competitors in the field of approving and regulating prescription drugs, rather than having many separate entities. National association and sponsorship is nice, but it's hardly vital to the task; indeed, it obviously gets in the way. The same could be said for the Centers for Disease Control. Here, it would be much better to have a trans-national agency with a shared knowledge base and common procedures. It's also common sense that those areas least able to afford it's services are most likely to produce the threats that should be stomped on immediately, before they spread to areas that CAN afford it.

In other words, I see a pragmatic re-alignment, wherein services exist locally, regionally or globally depending upon need and the support of the people there, but with the caviat that whenever practically possible, they are available to any individual willing to pay to be an exception.

In the final analysis, government is not dissimilar in it's role and nature from an insurance policy - it amounts to a group of people coming together to pool their risks. And when an insurance company fails to pay out on claims, what happens? Well, ultimately, after a great deal of noise and hand-wringing - it goes out of business, to be replaced by a company that is better able, or at least more willing to manage assets conservatively so that it may satisfy it's customers liberally.

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