Creating a fluid society is the way to pull the OCW’s 99% movement together with pluralism.
The occupy Wall Street movement has been lambasted for not having one set of demands but their lack of hierarchical organisation and lack of demands (an absolute is loved by an opponent wanting to pick apart rather than build) is their message. “[We] are a open, participatory and horizontally organized process through which we are building the capacity to constitute ourselves in public as autonomous collective forces within and against the constant crises of our times”. As The Economist put it when commenting on this “[it] sounds a bit academic , that’s because it is”. The Economist points out that an ethnographer and reader of anthropology David Greaber had studied the people of Betafo in Madagascar and liked the way they could rule themselves without a leader through “consensus decision-making”. According to The Economist Mr Greaber has spent some time organising the OCW’s movement.
Now I must admit I like this idea of egalitarian democracy no matter how disorganised or cumbersome it may be. I have read previous accounts in Jarad Diamond ‘s Collapse – why some societies chose to fail that the New Guinean highlanders had a similarly non-hierarchical organisation and prospered. They may have had a chief but his rule was mainly ceremonial, or just the point man in tribal disputes – a bit like the Queen of Australia/England, accept she no longer takes to horse to lead her troops . The chief was easily and often replaced (unlike the Queen). Diamond found that this flattened hierarchy encouraged experimentation and invention and this made them adaptable and able to flourish in what was considered by westerners as inhospitable highlands. Also as I mention in another article on Universal Values the highlanders are very generous, when tested in economic “ultimatum games” which test co-operation levels they give more to others than they keep for themselves. The egalitarian nature of their society encouraged benevolence.
So this all sounds wonderful but a bit like anarchy. And it may well fall into the anarchist dilemma, that being it can only work in isolation or in totality, all must agree with the cause or forcibly excluded.
Not so Good
Recently I have been watching All watched over by machines of loving grace the BAFTA winning documentary that looks at the ideology of Silicon Valley. It cuts to pieces the idea that the environment acts like a self organizing machine, instead it is full of chaos and randomness. It also pulls apart the egalitarian communes that sprung up all over Europe, America and Australia in the late 60’s and 70’s. Built on the idea of equality, and open shared communication they were meant to self organise and be fair and equal. However most collapsed within a few years because we are not all equal at interpersonal skills, looks or talents, some are better manipulators and orators than others, and sometimes people are just lulled into submission by beauty and sexual attraction. The Greek democracy had similar problems the great orators dominated the forum and even their system of ostracisation (which was menat to discourage tyranny) was often used to get rid of the opponents of tyranny rather than the most powerful.
The fact is dissent is as difficult in an equal society as a dictatorial one. The fact everyone depended upon the commune or polis for their wellbeing meant it was hard to leave and reform a more congenial grouping. So factions grow, antagonism builds and eventually the commune splits up, often angrily. The Greek experiment was ripped apart by war and eventual invasion by the military state Sparta. I hope this does not happen to the OCW group.
There is a solution. Fluidity! The two main problems are that people can’t easily leave a group being dominated by one or few to form another group because they practically (food, shelter and relationships) rely on the group they are in, and that not everyone thinks living in a egalitarian commune is right for them. These two hurdles can be overcome if we have a pluralistic fluid constantly moving system.
Solution is Fluidity
We live on a planet with close to 7 billion people who have different beliefs, different cultural habits and different strengths and weaknesses. Our diversity and free will are our greatest strengths which enable us to adapt to changing environments. And as All watched over… showed the environment is constantly changing and unpredictable. You know if a butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazon this could cause a hurricane in Miami. So in such a changing world it is best we have many different groupings doing many different things in many different ways, so if one fails there is another system that works and we can join the adapted sytem while we rebuild and get our lives back together. However the globe is heading down one path of plutocratic corporate oligopoly which encourages self interest and power as its only values (see universal values again). Struggling under the towering hierarchy are many diverse groupings that can be nurtured if they have money to stay afloat rather than be crowded out of a market dominated by a few.
Put simply fluid societies have one small overriding idea which a global representative government (a council of responsible elders could also suffice) ensures for all – Fluidity but nothing else. It makes this able by implementing a monetary Flow Siphon and Flat Payment which allows small seeds to stay alive and trims large trees so they don’t block out the sun for all others. The global body will also administer a simple global justice system based upon the universal value of life. Basically it will punish people who take, or endanger life.
Under this umbrella many small ever changing and passively interconnected hierarchical groupings will evolve and devolve. You may belong to many as you do now, some may have one leader others be egalitarian but you will always have the freedom to leave groups that become to domineering or do not follow your values because your means of survival will be guaranteed by the FSFP and global DemoKratia. It is dynamic, highly adaptable and allows freewill to experiment and play thus encouraging inventiveness while also allowing rigid stable institutions we can rely upon in times of strife or failure. Don’t forget the powerful will always adopt another follower. Those leaders amongst us can never become tyrants because as soon as the followers have their strength and confidence back they have the means to start new groups or go on their own.
As you can see this fluidity actually uses the tendency in some of us toward domination and greed for good without allowing them/us to subjugate. We can use the powerful for security in times of confusion, and we can use their monetary greed to add velocity to the flow of money and thus feed the Siphon which gives us Freedom.
We can and should implement Global DemoKratia now. For how see How to empower the 99%
David J Campbell
Adbusters Gets behind the Robin Hood Tax (The flow Siphon)
How did we get into this mess and how to get out of it. The arument against rigid hierarchies adn for fluidity.