I am familiar only with the governments in the USA, and know that some governments in other nations are better in providing some some services than in the USA.
No governments are omnipotent. Today, economic systems are often the most dominant; but neither are they omnipotent. All persons function within a network of Societal Systems, from local, through regional, state, and many international or global. These Societal Systems also interact.
The call of the 99% vs the 1% or 0.1% in terms of wealth is, unfortunately, a distraction too abstract. What is important to persons is the inequality of power over their own lives. And NOT primarily the power of a police state to threaten the life and freedom of a person, although that condition IS vital. NOR is it primarily the ability of a person to be “free” to do much of what they please. It is the power to design and manipulate their Societal Systems – which INDIRECTLY constrains or enables much of what they do in their life path.
I was motivated to write this by a radio program where a graduate student from Syria to the USA, not wanting to falsify his situation and claim asylum, has been denied renewal of his visa. A commentator, who once ran the immigration program now threatening this person, responded by claiming how broken the USA immigration system is, and it isn’t going to get better because of the USA House of Representatives. The “House” as we know, has been taken over by a coup that started with well organized (conspiratorial) gerrymandering.
The lesson about fish not being aware of water is apropos of Americans being unaware of what is really happening in their political and economic Societal Systems. Even the most astute analysts and commentators speak out-of-context. This is NOT A DEMOCRATIC PROCESS. Enough said, I avoid a major diversion.
Flawed immigration practice is but one of many thousands of injustices imposed on a great many persons by diverse “Societal Systems”. However, persons don’t directly observe these “systems”, they only observe images of individuals in power or seeking power. They never comprehend that these persons gain and maintain power because of “the system”, and in a way are also “part of the system”.
How do “systems” change, and new “systems” get established? This is a good place to insert this query, but a response will be delayed until later on.
The accurate histories of governments, local to federal, in the USA are not pleasant reads. Genocide of Native Americans and Slavery are two that stand out. There have been a few significant gains (abolition, women suffrage, unions, public education, etc.), but none of these gains are complete and “the system” continues to chip away at human rights.
“Systems” only give-in or accept a change when they can find a way to benefit from the change and have some control over the new situation. Corporations permitted unions when they were needed to discipline workers. Women gained rights when they were needed in the labor force. Powers will adapt, when it is for their benefit.
It is an accepted doctrine that freedom must be a continuous struggle, that “the system” can seldom be trusted and “the people” must always be alert and diligent. The popularity of Bernie and Donald in the 2016 USA presidential race highlights this. Yet, “the people” are manipulated to seek another “governmental system”. Even those who speak about “less government”, in practice seek it, and when in power, implement “more government” where they want it.
That governments are not the only means to have governance is in the blindspot of almost everyone.
Why is this an accepted doctrine? There are many answers, and this is more a query than a question. Queries call for ongoing exploration and not closure with a definitive answer.
The propagated myth, is that IT IS THE WAY IT IS. Most religious systems (yes, they are social/societal systems) claim original sin and justice will be gained only in heaven. “Human Nature” is defined, by “the system”, as having inherent flaws. Conflict and wars will always exist. Social Darwinism (a doctrine that doesn’t follow from a study of Darwin, and was not proposed by scientists, but by politicians) claims competition to be the primary process of life – there will always be winners and losers. This justifies the “freedom to neglect losers” by winners. This false characterization of human nature is the foundation of so-called “scientific” economics – THE most powerful “system” in contemporary humankind.
Those who seem to benefit from “the system” as it is, act to preserve the status quo (or strengthen their power). Those who don’t benefit much, and who are hurt by “the system” have no voice or power – and it is “the system” that enforces that condition.
In English, the continued use of “the people” reinforces the erroneous characterization of a unified body. Politicians, of all stripes, claim support from “the people”. I, diligently, try to avoid using that term; I prefer person or persons.
Although the real performance of USA “democracy” is severely critiqued, there are many who scream “constitutionalism”; as if a set of documents [written before electricity, fast transport and instant communication, intelligent technologies (computers), TV – at a time when women and slaves had no rights] — contains ALL that we need to govern ourselves well.
Scholars of the USA Constitution and subsequent documents point out that it was written explicitly to ensure dominance by propertied male citizens. The so-called “balance of powers” between the executive, congress, and judiciary has been shown to be open to hacking, primarily by economic forces. Honestly, there are no routes back to even past level functionality for USA governments – there already has occurred phase changes. And, there is no reason to return to an intrinsically unjust system, when there are far better options – if only our conditioning would permit their exploration.
Examined with any care, electoral democracy is an exceedingly poor process to determine “the will of the people”. It makes more sense as a means for elites to manipulate their populations with the illusion that they do have some say in what goes on. As the Toffler’s put it, continuous lobbying significantly overcomes the batch process of periodic votes.
That persons can vote on issues without adequate comprehension, and subject to questionable propaganda, is stupid. Emotionally driven, ideological opinion is not a good basis for policy decisions. There are many reservations about the adequacy of “representative” democracy. Yet, this simplistic model is offered to populations having just thrown off tyranny.
Only a competent and trustworthy population can safely govern itself with a process we might label “democracy”. Our current intelligent technologies provides us with tool to create a just process where informed persons can participate in their own self-governance.
As I write this, the UK has voted, by a narrow margin, to exit the EU. I read that supporters of OUT were similar to Trump supporters. If that is true, this is evidence that a significant UPLIFT in the global population’s competencies is desperately needed. Even if Trump doesn’t become POTUS, the substantial minority that support him is scary. To be fair, I’m not pleased by the knowledge and competency of most Americans, from far right to radical/progressive left (and this one dimensional ordering of “beliefs” is – itself – an embarrassment.
That the whole world appears powerless in the face of Abrupt Climate Catastrophe is evidence that humankind lacks adequate GOVERNANCE, which cannot be provided by GOVERNMENTS.
Earlier, I posed a query: How do “systems” change, and new “systems” get established? This query is the topic of whole academic disciplines, and I won’t attempt to explicate it here, primarily because it remains an ongoing query. Yet, a few remarks:
Our recorded “histories” are both incomplete and full of inaccuracies. First off, they are His-Stories. And they focus on the succession of rulers and the “rise and fall of civilizations”. Only recently has the story of persons (peoples) gained scholarship and reporting. It is difficult to “learn from history”, as so often recommended, when “establishment history” is all the the vast majority are ever permitted to know.
Elsewhere I have proposed that “Civilization” is the default mode for organizing dense populations of humans with diverse cultures. The mode of organization is characterized by its “class structure”: privileged elites, a tech-bureaucracy to serve the elites (with possible paths to become elites), and conditioned & controlled masses. There have been many different variation of this basic theme. Civilization is default because no knowledge of other options existed. Today, knowledge of options exists – but not well distributed within humankind.
I have identified another characteristic of civilization. Civilization systemically suppresses the actualization of the genotype of the population to the full expression in the emergent phenotype. Civilized humans are the only species that systematically suppresses the actualization of their children, throughout their lives. Even those persons fortunate to have experienced “quality” education and supportive families and communities are far from optimally actualizing their potentials.
I could go on with more examples, but we should consider how we might act on this information.
- We must learn to be realistic about what we hope to accomplish working within existing systems, including attempting to transform them. We must carefully examine our idealism about “capitalism” and”democracy” as flawed ideologies.
- We must learn to distinguish between our distribution of ready competencies and our potentials for acquiring new competencies. This includes honest assessment of current policies and practices in assisting others to acquire competencies – and what forces may block such achievements.
- We must learn to accept that our estimates on the rate and extent of human change are far from accurate. With new technologies and far better knowledge about the individual differences of persons – we might expect “magical” accomplishments in learning/development.
There are more, but this is enough to illustrate that the most important activity for us to engage today is LEARNING. Every person and the whole of humankind lack the requisite competencies to survive/thrive. But, we have great potentials to bootstrap ourselves to a sufficient distribution to survive, and then continue uplift to create/implement thrival in the distant millennia.
A special message to those who read and agree with this document: You and I are in the greatest need for uplift. Our past achievements and the competencies we have already acquired blind us to acknowledging the changes we yet need, the new learning/development we yet must experience – to do what we need to do. This is a special challenge for us, as we have no parents or mentors to teach us. We must bootstrap our own uplift, so we can be part of the larger movement to uplift the whole of humankind.
In no way am I disregarding the competencies we have already acquired. Many of us have already acquired some essential competencies and can seaf others in acquiring them. But, we each lack competencies that most of us all may be missing, or have not developed them to adequate levels. Many competencies are as tools, that work best in conjunction with other tools in quality technologies.
The knowledge of new facts is NOT what most of us need; although some new facts will always prove useful. It is premature to outline a curriculum for our uplift. We can all make recommendations.
One final word: OLLO. Organizing-for-Learning=&=Learning-for Organizing shines a bright light on the dialectical complementarity of learning and organizing. We learn to improve organizing and we organize to improve learning – cycling higher & higher.