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Visions of a Free Society

Month: September, 2013

Climate Science, Institutions, and Emerging Orders

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The long-awaited Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2013 report is now making headlines. The report is designed to inform the global community about the current state of climate science — the scientific debate, consensus and (most importantly) data.

We will learn of the latest scientific projections of temperature increase, sea level rise and extremes in weather. The report is seven years in the making and is currently the ultimate in climate science — not Al Gore, not Rush Limbaugh, but actual scientists who study climate.

So, expect three things to happen: Media sensationalism, arguments for government interventionism in the market and, finally, the continuing stigmergic revolution.

Media sensationalism has already started. This is nothing new. The media always presents, hypes and glorifies two sides of the environmental issue of our time (even though there is overwhelming consensus that anthropogenic activity is impacting climate). My advice when it comes to the media and climate change? Turn off the radio, turn off the television, put down the book Bill McKibben or Sean Hannity wrote and please instead devote time to the science. Mainstream media is not for news, it is for entertainment — sadly.

Then come the calls for government interventionism. Whenever climate change is in the limelight, liberals tend to champion the need for our great government institutions to once again save human civilization. Conservatives and other skeptics advocate that these same government institutions should save big business from the liberals. Both arguments are absurd.

Modern liberal visions of empowering the state to combat climate change are short-sighted to say the least. Empowering bureaucracy to combat something as urgent as climate change will only exacerbate our environmental problems. Bureaucracy is slow, un-democratic and ripe with special interests. Any hope of changing power structures so they act with benevolence will fall flat. In the face of complex wicked problems facing our entire biosphere we should act in ways that make our institutions unnecessary — to work around hierarchy and build a new society free of institutional supremacy.

Which brings me to my other point: On the other side of the very same bureaucracy we have modern conservatives advocating that “junk science” should not foster policy and any attempts to do so are just outright attacks on good ole American capitalism. In reality, what we often find is government supporting big industry. For just one example, liberal champion and US President Barack Obama is stomping around the country advocating natural gas as a clean burning “bridge fuel” — the answer to the climate problem. The administration has ignored methane emissions (by touting that they are less than projected as if that means there are no emissions), groundwater contamination and other environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing. Government institutions go out of their way to protect and support the economic ruling class. Big business has no better friend than big government.

In the face of our environmental crisis, however, we are witness to emerging orders.

The greatest of biological phenomenons — Spontaneous Order — is already at work solving the problems we face today. We see this in emerging ideas of food production in the form of local permaculture farms and the urban food movement. We see it in the emerging philosophy of Adaptive Collaborative Management in regards to the utilization of natural resources. We see social movements dedicated to preserving cultural and natural heritage. There is work being done that is changing our institutions to give communities democratic energy in the form of micro-generation and solidarity economies. There are many more examples of grassroots movements working to protect our ecology.

Climate change presents a great challenge to civilization. Where there is labor to be done, we will do it. Expect us.

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Join Hands, Unite the Riot

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The United States and Russia appear to have reached an agreement over the conflict in Syria. The powers have adopted a diplomatic resolution to bring Syrian chemical weapons under international control. For now, this development has calmed the rhetorical march to war as it is now unlikely to see a US military strike on Syria in the near future. According to US Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Russian official Sergei Lavrov, this agreement will be supported by the United Nations in the form of a Security Council resolution that could allow economic sanctions or other consequences if Syria fails to comply – war is not yet completely off the table.

The recent diplomatic gains are a breath of fresh air as the United States has essentially become a permanent war-time state.  Since the horrific events of September the 11th, the US has engaged in a “War on Terror” that has violently spread across the Middle East. The Obama era drone wars have seeped across numerous political boundaries and manifested as an aggressive, violent campaign in the name of United States supremacy. It is important for those of us under US government rule to remember that the terror we experienced on that September morning is being experienced by our brothers and sisters across the globe on a daily basis by US executive decree.

It is wise for the American public (every public) to challenge the spread of war – and we are.  Just a couple of weeks ago military action in Syria seemed inevitable, but the political elite were met with protest. It is my great hope that we will all continue to question war. It is my hope that war will no longer be embraced as a means of protecting our “national interests.” I pray we evermore are against the war makers.

War plagues human civilization because the caste that rules over our social order is dependent upon it. War is required for the existence of the state. The ruling class realizes war is necessary for their social order – not ours, for their political power- not ours, and their economic system- not ours.  State servants realize war is necessary for human dependence on centralized power. War is inevitable if a ruled population looks to power structures for protection. War, even the threat of war, is an incredible tool in establishing social “allegiance” to the state.

During war-time we see state power at its absolute maximum. A national “personality” or “character” is often part of every day conversation. During war-time a hyper sense of patriotism manifests itself in the public arena and the linguistic tricks of state officials ensures the public that “their” governments cause is just, promotes the welfare and liberty of its subjects, and that its violent actions are needed to ensure peace in the global community – freedom is slavery.  Indeed, this is the very rhetoric we have heard from the Obama administration and hawks in both major political parties regarding the Syrian conflict.

It is interesting, then, to contemplate the public back-lash to military interventionism in Syria. The American public has long been war-weary but, as of yet, there is no popular anti-war movement. Drone attacks are for the most part largely ignored (unless we are talking about drones over US citizens) and there are no large social movements dedicated to ending un-declared wars or reigning in the US military. This may finally be changing, however, as the past few years have proven to be challenging for government officials. The Iraq war is now largely viewed as a mistake, the escalation of the “security state” under both the Bush and Obama administrations is receiving negative press, and conscientious objectors and whistle-blowers like Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden have leaked enormous amounts of vital information to the American people. In the wake of these events, in Syria we witnessed a notable build up for a new war, a new conflict in a new nation, and we the people decided to dissent.

We are living in a very unique time for human civilization – for at this time in our collective history the path towards absolute liberation is clearer than ever. Though many liberals, progressives and conservatives still argue that stocking the government with the right people will build a better society, more and more people are turning their backs on centralized economic political power. The liberty movement is growing stronger everyday. Perhaps Kevin Carson describes best what is being realized:

The solution is not to seize the state, to seize control of the hierarchies controlling the dominant political and economic institutions, nor to displace the existing ruling class in control of them. So long as these hierarchies exist, they’ll simply create new ruling classes to replace the old ones. The only solution is to secede from their rule, to bypass them, to make them obsolete, to build a new society in which they are no longer needed.

States act in their own self interests – the interests of the ruling class. Those of us without power and influence are kept away from the bargaining table. Individuals, however, hope for a decent society, autonomy over our own labor, a healthy environment and safe communities for our families. Contrary to popular argument, aggression is not innate to human nature, but is instead innate to hierarchy.  War will soon be realized as an invention, a product of ruled civilizations, an achievement of centralized authority, an absurd social institution of recent origin and a forced form of behavior. As this is realized consensus can only grow in the public arena – more and more people will dissent. As we march towards liberty our individual actions will join and empower collective global social movements that exist to directly challenge systems of power.  The smallest of acts can build true change. The culmination of minor and disparate actions will build upon each other and raise consciousness, point out weaknesses and offer a coordinating effect for future actions. The coming social movement will define much more than a generation, but the future of humanity. Our movement will change our markets, liberate our labor, build orders of solidarity and allow humanity to achieve greatness.

A global revolution is upon us. Join hands, unite the riot.

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