Damned if we do — Double Damned if we don't ...

Submitted by zClark on Tue, 14/Nov/2006 - 19:38

zClark

Ultra tolerance for individuals – Zero tolerance for unilateral coercion!
* Searching for the common ground between brothers in arms *

Greetings Fellow Advocates of Jean-François Noubel's The Transitioner: I have gone through this site's entire “Who is Who” list and read everyone's introduction. Allow me to comment on two observations. First is the surprisingly encouraging caliber of the individuals supporting Mr. Noubel's undertaking. Second is the expected general sense of encouragement & positivism. Unfortunately, too many entries -despite an upbeat intro and promise of more to follow- have not been updated for over two years. Consequently, I beg your understanding if this commentary fails to substantiate the festive optimism traditionally sung by would be visionaries/futurist. First, I'm in enthusiastic accord with the basic concepts promoted here. In fact, I'm frequently inclined to take a winning concept much further that those who seek virtue in compromise & middle of the road postures. For example, if we concede that burning select women to death for inconformity (i.e. witchcraft) is a bit excessive, then a laudable legislator might gain glory for advocating a more humane demise (per a propitious poison for instance). My closed minded objective however, would aim for nothing less than total tolerance (i.e. malicious targeting of no one). Admittedly, such full fledged commitments could be construed as radical – which is also an apt way to characterize the grand social architects like Hillary & Hitler. So how does one turbo blast an agenda to dimensions opposite of the spectrum occupied but all those goodly idealist committed to compelling everyone else into their superior world views? Well, it's not all that difficult – we just need to take freedom seriously. I like to view it as the not-doing (a Carlos Castaneda concept) of Social Engineering. This simply translates to an absolute unadulterated respect for individual volition — a fundamental inviolable prerequisite for a truly rational society. As meritorious this train of thought is, further consideration need be deferred to my blog, or Lysander Spooner's No Treason. The pertinent point here is merely to underscore the fact that most empowerment proposals offered as an elective freewill option to individuals will not only be personally well received, but may even be advocated more vigorously by me than its originator.

I've always insisted that, “Regardless of what we do, a free system of money will necessarily emerge due to the demands/needs of an increasingly rational society.” And I suspect that this sentiment resonates true for most of those affiliated with this site. We can thank cryptographic key technologies and the Internet for this inevitability. The best any single person or group could hope to do however, is simply help establish a movement like this a few months or decades sooner (along with its advantages of less human suffering and no war). However, the lackluster popularity of “complimentary currencies” (if we need to call them that) along with this worthy WEB site causes other issues to be drawn into consideration. New approaches and fine tuning may help attract more active participation and support. But it is hard to envision the orders of magnitude improvements necessary to constitute a popular movement. In those abundant instances where small but active minorities have purportedly effected major historical turnarounds (such as the American Revolution), the axis point for these abrupt deviations typically revolve around the usurpation of power within preexisting coercive social structures (i.e. a highly leveraged power play aimed at the fulcrum of government). I don't see any of us advocating, looking for, nor expecting this type of power grab (certainly not myself). Instead, a popular revolution is sought comparable to email, p2p, or even the Internet itself. Unfortunately, I fear that today's populace lack the the awareness levels and strength of character necessary to give a decent damn about their own freedom much less practice any essential moral requisites (the latest techno-toys and vanity items seem to constitute the main allure/fascination in the world of the dazzled consumer). And while I still see major changes ahead for the monetary status quo, I'm increasingly concerned that these will be more pursuant to disastrous meltdowns of the current ridiculous system rather than any moral awakening. Any resulting new structures will therefore deliver nothing close to their true liberating potential (but will largely remain under the control of neo-cheaters). {an aside: While the late Frank R. Wallace's depiction of neo-cheaters is just too precious to abandon, I nevertheless have grave reservations concerning his would be cult. Felicitously, Luke Setzer has a wonderfully lucid analysis of Neo-Tech here}. I also concur with sentiments stipulating that any success of a grassroots monetary revolution would stem more from its superior utility than its moral imperative (actually two interlocked perspectives of the same virtue). Yet again, the mind of the masses is overly mesmerized by the incumbent mysticism. Consequently, it may be hopeless for them to amend their debt money slavery just as similar addicts embrace their plights/habits even to the death. Finally we have Reed Burkhart, who begins his introduction saying, “Transitions must connect past with future. Many transitions are first attempted by creating a future disconnected from the present. Please think about this for a moment ....” Well Mr. Burkhart, thanks to you I'm thinking about that just about ever day now (largely because I suspect that my pet proposition -the YeNom- fails to adequately heed your good advise). So where does all this leave us? Well, as originally insinuated, I'm not overly optimistic. At least not in terms of witnessing the formation of a popular free-money movement. In other words, my apprehension is that our best efforts may well be damned. Well - OK, even if that's true, is it necessarily so bad?? Like death & taxes, couldn't it just be one of those things we need to accept? (how do you like that for a ‘loaded’ question?) My quest in life has been about as modest as anyone could wish far; namely to merely recognize a few of the most simple and blatantly obvious truths (that is to the extent permitted by my meager abilities). I never thought of this as anything special or particularly different from the majority. In fact I was wholly clueless of the severity of my abnormality until my mid twenties. Within a few months, my father and then my wife both told me something I found incredibly disconcerting (the only other time I was that unnerved was almost two decades earlier when I was exposed to a graphic description of Sodom & Gomorrah). I was quite struck that they not only used exactly the same words to express themselves, but they both delivered their woeful insight with the same matter-of-fact emotionless expression. They said, “People believe what they want to believe.” When I heard it from my dad, I couldn't believe he was really serious. I couldn't imagine anything more objectionable and unacceptable. Hearing it the second time at least made me realize that they were both not only 100% earnest, but also in full acceptance of such blaspheme. I mean -as if it had to be said- when it comes to truly private beliefs – valuing anything (much less personal desires) ahead of the naked truth is worse than patently insane. The spector arising from the unlimited horrors attributable to such a psychological failing in our species has been enough to consistently draw me away from and minimize my involvement in any such anti-thought processes. Notably, the things we inevitably want to believe most are those that assure our acceptance by parents & peer groups, with the severity of this decadence fully exacerbated in matters of religion and politics (two sides of the same basic coin).
CONFESSION: There's a terrifically on point, pleasantly succinct yet admirably complete list of cognitive biases here, and I couldn't find a singly entry that DIDN'T apply to me! Anyway, to cut to the crux of all this, my conformity problems as briefly outlined above carries its share of curses. For instance, despite a world saturated with prisons and armaments, my perspective still recognizes money as the main means for controlling individuals, corporations, and even the majority of the other religious/political entities. Thus no known delusion could consequently invoke Lord Acton's dictum more adamantly - “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” And as if that isn't enough, there's 75+ great quotes targeting monetary honesty at Michael DeWoody's interesting WEB site. It should be stressed that I'm no ideological enemy of money. Indeed, I'm fond of saying that money is the second greatest invention of mankind. Money's life & death significance is buried in the deepest parts of human psyche. Accordingly, our primordial drive to worship power is relentlessly activated. So much so that less than one in a thousand appear to ever recognize that: 1) The miracle of money wholly results from its ability to advance human cooperation and the mind bending advantages of specialization through the division of labor (in other words -to belabor the obvious- the fountain of wealth & productivity is solely due to human action while money is merely an abstract lubricant). 2) Money is not some sublimely arcane alien – but instead, a very human creation (re-invented ever so many times in diverse multiplicity). Now probe this proposition: despite the monumental benefits conveyed to mankind via money, this tool's most truly astonishing trait actually lies in its mind contorting utility for us humans. Two related examples follow: * First, is the veneration for victimization. This propensity is particularly evident when one's living environment is abruptly shifted from the blue chip corporate US sector to the the dirt hovels of Honduras' poor. Here's a world where racial prejudice is negligent, but the divide between rich & poor is quite another matter. My impression is that the rich typically consider the poor ill educated at best but are not overly uncomfortable with the status quo. The sentiments of the poor are considerably harsher, with their bibles providing ample justification for their antagonism. Yet for all the differences between the classes, the poor dwell on only one, and that's the money. I know areas where men will work 8 hours of hard manual labor for 40 Lempiras (less than $3) – kind of stunning, yet respectable in it's own way. Then they'll readily cut loose with a fourth of that wage for a Coca-Cola – doubly stunning, but respect diminishing. If the precious money is so scarce and the rich so wicked then why in the world would anyone sacrifice both their health and hard earned income to Coca-Cola? — is it not obvious that they're a filthy rich company? Yet this pales in comparison to serving the monetary system of the rich in the first place. 90% of what they complain about only exists thanks to their consent & support. * For an opposite mode of mindlessness, some of us seem to harbor such aggressive insecurities that the gravitation to money is all compelling — so powerful that there is precious little time for anything besides amassing yet more. These ‘money grubbers’ are essentially the archetype to which the good people in the first example would like to categorically cast all the rich. While the circumstances of these two extremes are indignantly opposite, they're alike in that money is the prominent obsession in their lives; the first because they have so little and the second because they'd be nothing without it. And “I can't decide which is worse!” These flagrantly inordinate life style patterns really have nothing to do with money per se. Instead they're psychological indulgences used to establish/defend one's self-image. And the money madness aspects are just some universally accepted defenses against assuming real control over one's life (i.e. a fear response to responsibility – to living honest & free). Viewed this way, it is understandable why seriously questioning the dollar is unthinkable for a rich money addict; and why LETS have not taken off like wild fire in third world countries where they could offer so much needed relief. The option of embracing a community currency threatens to eraticate the rich man's jealously guarded status. And for the poor, it could terminate a long standing victimization status within ones culture, along with any protective alibis that conferred. In other words, “... we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities ...” {Nevertheless I'd very much like to work at setting up LETS networks here in Honduras.} So, in answer to our outstanding question: until we come up with a cure for aging, death is an accepted inevitability. Whereas taxes, money monopolies, or any other coercion not personally ascribed to are instances of the triumph of moral derangement over unassuming reason. Thus apathy is no option here for humble truth seekers. Actually, there may be cause for hope from the least expected source. It is sadly insane how numerous and perversely prosperous the local banks are as a whole (even in the poorest countries). And these institutions are at the bottom of the monopolistic monetary pyramid! This system's audacious drive for evermore power and control is apparently beyond any restraint (particularly their own). The methodical removal of any semblance of value to back the currency is clearly not happenstance, but demonstrates a relentless drive to liberate themselves from any corporeal restraints and real accountability. Nothing short of unadulterated fiat is abided. Hard money advocates will doubtlessly find it difficult to find anything encouraging regarding these defeats. Oh-no, I just opened a back door to the gold-bug realm. Now isn't that on the opposite side of the spectrum from Time Dollars and LETS? Or is there some possibility of a common ground? A valid problem (confusion) inherent with “money” is the expectancy for it to fulfill multiple distinct functions. These roles are popularly delineated as 1) Medium of Exchange, 2) Store of Value, 3) Unit of Account, last & least 4) Standard of Deferred Payment (basically a mix of 1 & 2 as a hedge against fiat inflation). While Federal Reserve Notes (FRNs) are touted as money, they do a poor job of severing any of these four criteria much less all of them at the same time. The convenience factor of one vehicle serving all our needs is evident; however, dividing these functions up among several options promises to offer enhanced performance as is characteristic of component systems in general. So if gold/silver offer a solid store of value, and LETS work great for a medium of exchange, while time promises to be a reasonably good unit of account – then I can easily see a better world at hand with all of them in the mix. OK, while tangible (metal) versus intangible (LETS) define one spectrum; the contraposition that's more relevant to freedom is the open & elective versus the closed & coercive. And it's this latter camp -the ultimate Wizards of Oz- who have boldly cast aside their own veil — like an emperor with no clothes relying on our delusions to hide their vulgarity. So they've shot themselves in the head by showing the world that their FRNs can function based on dangerous geometric government debt, with zero positive worth backing it. Then there's the brazen audacity to refer to this ‘product’ as “hard currency” — what a joke! I mean, you'd have to be blind, asleep or in a serious stupor not to recognize the the conspicuous moral high ground occupied by LETS & Time Dollars. Now whether this hole in the head proves to be fatal or merely demonstrates the morbid immortality of social superstitions is entirely in our own hands. Yet alternate currencies obviously suffer the staleness of stagnation, hence the odds are clearly stacked heavily in favor of the established mystics. Even so, forsaking this timely opportunity to promote rationality through monetary liberation is personally impermissible. More forcefully, we're double damned if we can't find the fortitude needed to perform our conscience on this issue and fall prey to Shortened Force. Thanks, zClark