A Little Summary of my Thesis

FIRST
The dramatic social change necessary for modern cultures to survive more or less unscarred will not happen unless citizens change themselves – as individuals.
I can lobby governments and corporations to change – it does little harm, but if it distracts me from personal change, then it will do more harm than good.

.
Sometimes we must engage with authority, because authority is preventing our (or others’) steps towards the good life, but those steps must remain our principle focus.
Physics reacts to physics. I am physical. Governments and corporations are abstract. They do not exist. They can only become physical firstly, by the individual purchases and sales, which make up the fabric of a corporation and secondly, by distortions to my behaviour, which have been coerced by governing authorities.

.
I cause climate change. I deplete resources. I pillage ecosystems. Governments and corporations cannot. They can only do so, through me – through the physics of me.
However, in the realm of abstractions – of ideas, advertisements, manifestos, white papers, trade agreements, environmental and climate agreements – truth is important. So, I must engage with the falsities of those things – and even, on occasion, applaud their truths.

.
Even so, just as with the physics of personal behaviour, so it is with our inner lives – if we become distracted from our own thoughts, by entanglement with the thoughts of others, then that engagement will similarly do more harm than good.

.
Should we not be entangled with the thoughts of others – friends, colleagues, neighbours, writers…? Why yes – but the measure remains – if our own thoughts are stimulated then entanglement is good – if we become distracted from them, then entanglement is bad.
If deeply-held truth is not expressed cleanly and simply by ourselves – that is, one cell of the populace, how can we expect it to become a part of the popular gossip of let’s say, a market place?

.
I do not think I am extra-ordinary – the unique individual of self-empowerment manuals. I am ordinary – just a bloke passing by, so that when I truly express myself, I can express everyone. Often, I don’t express myself truly – I avoid difficult truths and invent self-justifications – that is, I lie – and so it is that I come to have the above conversation with both myself and with Everyman.

.
SECOND
Relatedly to the first, we apportion too much power to the powerful and not enough to ourselves. This is not to self-aggrandise – rather, it is to stir personal obligation. For instance, the powerful can only cause climate change through me, as their instrument. Their power is by my shopping basket; by my adoption of ways of consumption which are suggested, coerced, or imposed by them. Without my participation, the powerful can have no power.

.
Yet history does not record my actions. It records the fortunes of princes, lords, nations and city states – their generals & admirals and also strategic intermarriages. This leads to mistaken policies of otherwise benign campaigning individuals and NGOs who concentrate their energies towards what they see as the forces of history. Yet that history and that force, is a fiction.

.
How are cultures made – stories told, houses, bridges, harbours, roads, ships, churches, mosques, temples built? They are made by the unrecorded skill and ingenuity of ordinary people. Power may have a hand in restricting, taxing, bleeding and outright destroying those things, but it has not the means to make them. You say that power can pay for them? – How? Its wealth is derived from the above restricting, bleeding & etc. Without the skill and ingenuity of physical people, power can have no substance. Truly, it is a ghost in the machine.

.
Culture is what we do, not what we have, or profess to know. All that we do has an effect and so has a moral. Only we can know what we do and so only we can make truly-informed moral decisions.

.
With regard to campaigning individuals and NGOs, their focus should be on what makes a culture – that is on what people do. Without my purchase of a ticket, the airline will not exist and the crafts’ people who build aeroplanes will have no function and so must find another. To concentrate on the powers, gifts them a re-enforced credence. It says that if power responds, then the culture will similarly respond. I think that is untrue.

.
The ghost in the machine, which is power, cannot cause species loss and climate change. That is my choice. Power can prevent my good action, but it cannot act without me. It cannot build an aeroplane. So, when we engage with the powers, we should engage to restrict their restriction of our good actions. That engagement will usually fail, but nevertheless it is worthwhile to persist, so that we become freed to act more properly. We try by the ballot (new powers) and by suggestions for benign changes in taxation and distribution and in money markets. And we lobby for civilisation – for the commons; for environmental and human rights protected by law.

.
However, if we lobby to prevent that third runway, while simultaneously booking a business, or holiday flight, we provide a positive market signal for building the runway, we cause climate change and we demonstrate that we are not interested in the consequence of our actions but are more interested in posing as a counter to the powers – that is, to become another power – another ghost in the machine. We add to the false narrative of history – which is the ebb and flow of wars, borders and properties – which, once upon a time, were sung by court bards and now are sung by journalistic sycophants to the ghostly corridors of corporations, gangsters and governments.

.
***

.

I say that we engage with the state, but not with the powers (the powers of that wrongly sung narrative). The state is a system of taxation and redistribution, of rights and protections in law and of democratic accountability. Unfortunately, both the state and the ballot are often in the hands of the powers. The powers neither engage nor converse. However, we can converse about taxation and spending, negotiate rights for future generations and hope for a part of the ballot to represent those views.

.
We can only engage with the powers by power’s methods – by becoming a power or power’s dependent. If we succeed, or fail – both ways, we will swell the credence of power.

.
My accustomed example is engagement with super markets by market signals and by the direct lobbying and petitioning of populist NGOs.

.
The proper way for communities to revive self-determined towns and villages is simply to occupy them. That is to evacuate the super market and to populate proper trades, shops and market squares. We don’t engage with the super market. We disengage – and also gossip about the disengagement in the convivial company provided by that market square.

.
The more the super market provides our suggested good of organic and fairly-traded produce, so the more powerful it becomes and the more the dereliction of our centres of community swells. Further shops and workshops become boarded up with the cheapest wood and the cheapest sadness.

.
Similarly, the greening of the family car by reduced emissions, or by the electric car, re-enforces an impossible corporate dependency and an impossible way of life and work which has been built around a network of roads and family cars.
Of course, everywhere we look, naked power is rampant and moral commons are shrinking.

.
However we don’t defeat power by becoming it.
***

 

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s