The 1100th Movement

Let's all head to the tipping point axle and hang ten.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Self-Incorporation revisited

I have friend, Bill Barret, of Planet Bean Fair Trade Coffee, and Bill says he's an anarchist and is horrified by the whole notion of self-incorporation, largely because in facing the real politik of acknowledging that corporations have more rights than citizens, and by embracing self-incorporation as a solution, it merely adds to the whole corporate problem, rather than solving it. He believes that the lack of conscience that is permitted to corporations (which is why they can't sign affidavits in court) would cancel out my perceived benefits, since individuals on trial would plead that their inc. did it, and not them, and that such a split would hold up in court.
I certainly think it's a fair argument, since clearly citizens should have more rights than corporations, and if self-incorporation did enable the schizoid separation of Inc. from Self, and therefor created a mechanism that allowed people to escape responsibility for their own actions, then the whole point of a self-incorporation economy would be lost.

In the end, as a means of overthrowing the present corporate facade, I think self-incorporation remains viable, and that the law that says that a corporation can't sign an affidavit in court, would have to be changed when all corporations became individuals. Inc. and Self would have undivided access to the dictates of individual conscience.

The problem of self-incorporated individuals having more rights than citizens remains troubling, since it would continue to create a society in which economic relationships are more important than political relationships (the basis of civil society.) I think the easiest solution to that conundrum is for self-incorporation to be a right of citizenship, for which an individual is automatically signed up, free of charge, probably at the age of 18, so that it comes with the right to vote.

In the end, the ability to differentiate between the Political and the Economic without actually being able to divide them, would guarantee an equality of citizenship in the political economy of the future, and if individuals remained legally responsible for their own actions, despite being incorporated, then a more ethical business environment could evolve inside a more egalitarian society.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Incorporate Economy

I was talking to my friend Wayne F Smythe who was explaining that he had incorporated himself as a legal entity because he has more rights as a corportation then he has as a citizen. He said the business of Wayne F Smythe Inc. is running Wayne F Smythe's life, his expenses, his income etc. I thought to myself, that it's it, that's what has to replace the corporate economy, we need to create an Incorporate Economy in which only indidividuals can be incorporated. That's how you bring ethics to business. That's how you get around the problems of corporations with more rights than citizens but who legally have "no conscience to bind them" which is why they can't sign affadivits in court.
The Incorporation Economy needs to be an individuals only one, but those individual incs. can still regisiter businesses they form with one another. The business itself has no rights not guaranteed to all citizens. The individuals are thus responsible for their own actions, they remain protected as citizens by Charters of Rights and Freedoms, their purusit of profits is more easily governed by law, the whole tax system can be simplified, business and bureaucratic manageriats can be streamlined for greater effciency, and commonwealth benefits will flow more freely to all, entreprenurial innovations will be unleashed, labour unions would also change shape and character, and the disappearance of bad corporate behaviour internationally will create less stress between peoples.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Creative Commons

In the 1970's Elderidge and Gould developed a new theory of evolution because the fossil record showed no evidence that organisms gradually developed new traits like losing tails etc. The new theory was called Punctuated Equilibrium and was devised to explain the lack of data. According to Punctuated Equilibirum something more akin to quantum leapings occur. Symbiologist Lynn Margulis believed the evolutionary jumps were occurring at the level of the cell, where new symibiotic relationships between proto-bacteria in our cytoplasm and the DNA in the nucleus of the evolved creature resulted because of a critical mass of new genetic information exchanges. What Essayist Lewis Thomas called failed attempts at predation.
I look at the sudden emergence of Creative Commons
as a form of punctuated equilibrium. CC is the copyright software at the root of such sites as Flickr or Science Commons. The science site says it all
Accelerating the Scientific Research Cycle

Science Commons serves the advancement of science by removing unnecessary legal and technical barriers to scientific collaboration and innovation.

Built on the promise of Open Access to scholarly literature and data, Science Commons identifies and eases key barriers to the movement of information, tools and data through the scientific research cycle.

Web version 1.0 was largely about static information delivery, with interaction coming from email. It was itself a quantum leap from no web. It was also heavily corporate, and the web was used to consolidate the social darwinist dominant predator ideology of the biggest and the fastest winning the world and controlling the resources.
Web version 2.0 is the difference between dinosaurs and mammals. The great lumbering Dilbert-brained corporate dominance of the planet has already ended and the dinosaurs don't even know it yet.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Battle for the Commons

In the days of Henry VIII, after his excommunication, the common-laws of Europe underwent a process known as the Reception, in which laws founded on precedents gave way to Roman civil law. The only nation to resist the Reception was England. That is why only nations once linked to the British Empire use common law today. It was the English habit of writing everything down and keeping it, that preserved the integrity and continuity of common-law.
Civil law is by definition subject to changes depending on who controls the law-makings powers at any given time.
NAFTA, GATT, the Prosperity and Security Partnership are all forms of Reception designed to undermine and destroy common-law.
The battle for the Commons is going to be fought over one issue: water. If water becomes a commodity common-law is dead. I have been waiting for twenty-five years for the moment of crisis, the time to act, the fight to pick, the line in the sand. For me it has come. I attended a meeting called by the newly created Wellington Water Watcher's about the renewal and extension of Nestles' permit to remove 3.6 million litres of water a day from the common aquifer that supplies Guelph and smaller communities to the south of us.
This battle needs to be fought on all fronts, locally, provincially, nationally, internationally. Guelph is a funny place, it is large town masked as a city with a reputation for a vibrant arts and activist community. It has a sense of destiny.
If we win this fight, we will unify a movement that will change the world, that will focus the fight for water rights in Africa and elsewhere in the Third World.
Resist the Reception, help Preserve the Commons. "Build it and they will come."

Monday, April 9, 2007

Co-operative Commonwealth

In the end, this is what politics comes down to, to me.
Within the context of mutual benefit biology, the creation of a society rooted in both cooperative principles and commonwealth practicalities speaks volumes to me.
Theoretical Commonwealth began life in Hobbes' 'Leviathan', written and published just at the time that Oliver Cromwell's Protectorate of landed gentry began to emerge from the shadows of parliamentary opposition to the English Bureaucracy, the unproductive Lords and their king. Leviathan appeared in the full light of the revolution led by property owners.
For Hobbes, the issues were how to make Christianity into a communitarian practice. At first he was writing for King Charles and went into exile with him. Hobbes was allowed back into England because he was willing to redefine the word sovereign to include Parliament and not just the monarch. For Hobbes, a common duty to the state was everything, for without a belief in the common cause of the governed to accept the laws of the governors there could be no justice.
From my perspective that theory also leads to tyranny, as Cromwell's Protectorate proved in practice. His was what I would call an Uncooperative Commonwealth. The Parliamentary dictatorship of the gentry went out of its way to crush or betray the people, who were represented by two groups, the Levelers and the Diggers. The Levelers were tenant farmers who made up the bulk of the Protector's Army and who wanted access to the House of Commons, while the Diggers were itinerants who wanted rights of access to the historic commons - the land.
Cromwell betrayed the Levelers and crushed the Diggers. Reforms came slowly and through stages, and it took nearly three hundred more years for Levelers and Diggers to achieve the rights they wanted in the 1650's.
The commons itself is an ancient tribal concept in which clans divvied up their territory and in which all members of the tribe had rights to a share in the bounty of the land, a kind of extended family partnership, in which the chief chartered temporal ownership. That temporal chartering process passed to the Crown, so that any given common land became the chartered domain of a lord in a manor house, tenant farmers, farmed their own lease holds and in common and had access to the bounty of the forests and waters.
A commons enclosure system developed in which ancient rights were refuted and property once held only by charter became private, usually with a kickback to the crown, since sovereigns were always in need of money and what better way to get then to sell things they didn't actually own.
Much of Canada is still crown land, still chartered, and/or licensed for mineral or timber extraction. And of course, the friends of the crown still have ways of ending up with large private chunks of it.
As the earth races towards ecological disaster, Cromwellian Uncooperative Commonwealth represented by men like former Ontario Premier Mike Harris, will pit the new landed gentry against the majority of the people, only this time, Hobbesian philosophical/theological arguments about duty, will not see a populace willing to wage war on itself, there will be no sacrifice for their betters, they will not accept any sovereignty that does not include mutual benefit.
The only option is Co-operative Commonwealth, not quite a return to the primivatist extended family model where it all began, but nonetheless, an extended human family model, where everyone has a share, and a reason for ensuring the stability of the whole.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

The Chinese May Not Love Me

John Baker, a British crime writer, posted this , it's a way of testing to see if your site is blocked in China. Apparently The Independent Communitarian is. Why the commie rats. My grandfather was a commie, you'd think they'd give me a pass to the masses, but no, I'm on the purge list. (OR on the test-site's technical difficulties list. In which case my apologies to Beijing.)
Actually if you view my map-counters you'll see Chinese hits, it was because of them that I wondered in the first place. My friend who owns a server says they're probably just hackers. But you never know.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Heart Math observations on the Brain

Thursday, March 29, 2007
Why the Human Brain Is a Poor Judge of Risk

The human brain is a fascinating organ, but it’s an absolute mess. Because it has evolved over millions of years, there are all sorts of processes jumbled together rather than logically organized. Some of the processes are optimized for only certain kinds of situations, while others don’t work as well as they could. There’s some duplication of effort, and even some conflicting brain processes.

Posted by Tom Beckman on 03/29 at 08:49 AM
Amygdala • Brain • Emotions • Psychology • (0) Comments • Permalink
The Fit May Produce Less of Harmful, Stress-Related Chemicals

Unseen Hand

Over on my Guelphi blog I posted some of what is below, but since it was posted in relation to Guelph building issues I want to expand the concept here.

The part I'm focusing on is the so-called 'unseen hand' of the market, that mystical entity that is allegedly so good at deciding what's good for us...

And now bear with me for a second,

"To someone like me, who insists that people need to understand that human beings are symbiotic life forms, with zillions of proto-bacteria in our cells breathing for us, metabolizing our food for us, the "unseen hand" is made up of the array of bacterial symbionts alive in every human cell. It is an array that is adept at transmitting and receiving myriad bits of energy-information, but in the end it has the understanding of a bacteria. Humanity derives mutual benefit from their existence in our cytoplasm, but human ingenuity in service to basic bacterial imperatives are what has brought us to the edge of the ecological Armageddon facing humanity.
And rest assured, bacterial symbionts will survive the disappearance of humanity, they are in every other life form on the planet.
The unseen hand of the market is mindless because it has the brain of a bacteria, it is unseen because we don't look for it in biology, in life, we look for it in economic abstractions.
The unseen hand of the market is simply bacterial life intent on eating and drinking and consuming every resource required by... human beings..."

In the other post I also talk about the issue of controlling growth, but speak of it in terms of extreme or moderate control. In essence, because we all need self-control for all manner of reasons from anger to passion to whatever field of human endeavor you want to describe, the idea of controlling the 'unseen hand' is one of moderating the future, facilitating sustainability. The 'unseen hand' as mystical force also tends to hide the reality of all kinds of economic machinations from all levels of the spectrum, those with money, gangster capitalists, buck-passers of the manageriat avoiding tough problems by deferring them to the future etc. etc.

The most common 'unseen hand' is the one concealed by the loudest proponents of unseen hands.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Fun with Syllogisms

If reason is the source of law,
then reason predates law;
if natural laws exist, then
reason must predate nature;
if reason predates nature
a reasoning awareness created natural law.

However, if time and space have always existed
natural law has always existed, and if
natural law has always existed no reason
was involved in its existence;
therefor if no reason predates natural law
no reason can be found in natural law.

But if humans are creatures of natural law,
and human law is created by human reason, then
human reason can only exist if
a reasoning awareness created natural law.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

On the Possibilities of Paradox

"A statement, view or doctrine contrary to received opinion; an assertion seemingly absurd but really correct..." Concise English Dictionary

I have a theory that the human capacity to endure paradox, to still be able to think while within the midst of absurd contradictions is one of the things that makes us human. And may be linked to our destiny as a species. Strict rationalists who think otherwise will assert that one of the contradictions is false, and that paradox is a screen for muddy thinking, but I don't think it's that easy to dismiss. I go back to the benobos and chimps of an an earlier post. At one point in the evolutionary chain we all had a common ancestor, the chimps went one way, the benobos went another, and we went up the middle. The chimps maintain their borders by killing chimps from other family groups, the benobos maintain their borders by having sexual relations with their neighbour. The common ancestor found the issue of border so fractious it slit in three. The human capacity to make love or war appears to have given us an edge over the chimps or the bedobos.
The existence of the Roman Alphabet is a case in point. It's actually the Latin alphabet. The Romans and the Latin's were at one point two distinct tribes.
They Romans conquered the Latins, and in the way of such things, the Latin men were killed, while the Latin women were kept alive. The mother tongue of new born Romans however became Latin. As Lewis Thomas points out in Lives of the Cell, symbiosis began as failed attempts at predation.
In other tribal instances, negotiated peace became the norm, and conflicts were avoided through marriage, and dynastic alliances, and mother tongues preserved the remains of lost cultures.
The contradictions of war or peace couldn't be abolished, they had to be negotiated in subtler ways than was allowed either the benobo's or the chimp's methodologies.
I'll come back to this idea of paradox and human destiny.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Randomness of Rand

I spent some time at New Critics in a long thread with some of Ayn Rand's supporters (not indigenous to New Critics). I came to the conclusion that there is a cult-like quality to her followers, in which she is a prophetess and they her adherents.
In a lot of ways it was a very enjoyable discussion, until it became obvious that they accept no argument that isn't already part of their creed. They use their version of the language of Objectivism, and the definitions that go with that language to create circular arguments, the discussion never really goes anywhere because their sole purpose is proselytizing the Randian POV as if it were theological truth, rather than just post-theological rationalism.
They believe Capitalism is good, collectivism is evil, and that man's right to do as he pleases with the environment is good, while environmental romanticism is evil; selfishness is good, altruism is evil.
I certainly don't profess to know much about Rand, and nor am I particular interested anymore. I was when the thread began but then I ran into her camp followers and realized I have better things to do.
The whole question of objectivism/rationalism intrigues me. I tend to be rather invidualistic in the way I have constructed my thought, for instance, from the theologian Francis Schaeffer I used his explanation of pre-suppositional philosophy to help me understand a statement by the Canadian rebel of the 1830's, William Lyon MacKenzie - who noted that 'a mind of character was created by the sequence of its ideas.' Schaeffer believed that there were three pre-suppositions about the nature of existence, and that depending on which of the three you chose, the rest of your ideas about life would flow from there.
The three presuppositions are that life was created, life is random and life is an illusion. By Schaeffer's estimations only a created universe could account for everything from rational thought to imaginative art. A random universe would only yield randomness and could only be said to produce a rational universe when a proponent left their presupposition behind them as soon as they chose it. That abandonment of the random choice immediately after its articulation enabled them to hop the tracks as it were and so ride the train that was pulling out on the tracks that followed the sequences of ideas of a presupposed created universe. Similarly no one can actually live in a world in which they think everything is random so too no one can live in a world in which everything is thought to be Illusory.

Faith to Schaeffer was rational precisely because presuppositional philosophy and the choice of believing in a created world was the only choice which explained why choice had meaning. The existence of meaning cannot be explained by randomness, not even the word random can be explained by randomness. It's like believing in 'spontaneous generation' on a cosmic scale. It's surprising how many scientists seem to believe in cosmic spontanenous generation.

I realize that notions of a created universe give some people the creeps, but as far as I'm concerned, as a presupposition it's still the only one that accounts for meaning. 'Creationists' like Objectivists come in many flavours. Those who choose randomness because they despise one flavour of creationism still have to
hop onto the creation bandwagon because the sequence of ideas that flow from a world governed by meaningful laws will not flow from spontaneous generation
Ayn Rand's philosophy is post-theological, and while she doesn't believe Man created the universe, for her, every individual is a god, and his reason is everything. Man's emotional intuition is not only meaningless to Randians, but appears to be regarded as conceptually evil. Rationalism is the source of understanding to them because intuition in their thought appears to be anti-rationale. Creative objectivism finds understanding in the emotional as well as the intellectual, because everything has meaning, and not just the rational. If it exists, it has meaning. And there is plenty of evidence for the existence of intuition, Ayn Rand's views notwithstanding.

Having said all that, the sequence of ideas that follow the presupposition of creation do not lead directly to 'Creationism' or anything else, each idea is chosen (in each case by an individual, whether by acquiescence to stronger willed people, or by conscious decision)thus what I mean by a created universe, while similar in some ways to what Schaeffer meant by it is distinctly personal.

Because Randians take the notion of evil from Theology to describe things they don't like, but place man at the centre of the universe, it is quite evident that their views of evil flow from Rand herself, or least from Rand's conception of Objectivism, which makes Randians practitioners of a form of Creative Objectivism, but with Rand has the creator of their sequential thought.

Evil, as a theological understanding is discerned by the spirit, not conceived through rationalizations. If fact, one could argue that rationalization is a demonic parody of discernment.

For Randians, common good is evil not because it can be discerned to be so by the spirit but because in the self-centric random-creative objectivism of Ms. Rand, she rationalizes it to be so because it gets in the way of self-fullment, and we should take her word for it, like her followers have. It remains however a random deduction made by a human god and in fact denies my rights has an individual to believe that self-sacrifice is sometimes the only thing that makes rational sense or intuited far-sightedness.
Granted, certain forms of self-sacrifice are not genuinely self-sacrificial at all, but rather a twisted form of 'other'-sacrifice into which people in authority brow beat or bully the impressionable, much like soldiers who believe political lies and lay down their lives for those lies, or like workers who die in unsafe working conditions because bosses demand they do things they shouldn't.
To the degree that Ms. Rand promotes a certain form of heroic selfishness I can appreciate what she means, to the degree that she condemns self-sacrifice itself as evil, I think she's an idiot.

The sequence of her ideas that led her to her random pronouncements can be traced back to the place she jumped off her random presupposition and onto the train that began with a created universe. She borrowed the idea of objective reality and then preceded to make random declarations of what was good and what was evil, and called it new Romanticism.

From my perspective, in a created universe I can look at the word Rand and random and find a metaphorical dynamism that produces both rational and intuitive sense: something wicked this way comes, and it is masked as a source of light.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Communitarian vs Independence

As I make my way around the sundry web logs that pop up while searching the word communitarian I am constantly struck by the rancour the word seems to arouse in some sectors. I suppose to the extent that I believe that most people are in fact independent communitarians who want to preserve some measure of their independence while working towards the common good I knew that separating the terms created two solitudes, and that like all solitudes, they breed distrust and distaste of the other.

I suppose it's no accident that most of the rancour that I find comes from American blogs that keep the terms firmly divided into irreconcilable political camps. I go back to my belief that Americans hate one another so viscerally that they can barely contain their contempt for each other. It's nation so deeply divided that I can't imagine anyone ever uniting it.

As I've said in other posts, Canada was created by Sir John A MacDonald using a coalition party he called the Liberal Conservatives. Doing so created a pragmatic, non-ideological nation founded more on the reconciliation of Europe's two warring religions, Protestantism and Catholicism, than it did on the uneasy pairings of the two solitudes of French and English. That rooting in religious reconciliation is at the root of our efforts to reconcile the world's religions within our borders in the past few decades.

For those who saw Pierre Trudeau's state funeral in that magnificent cathedral in Montreal, the television commentators went to some lengths to define the former Prime Minister's faith as Catholic Personalism. Which is essentially a form of high church protestantism. Curiously, his main ally in bringing in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was Queen Elizabeth, who inherited Henry VIII's pre-excommunication title of Defender of the Faith.

The Charter, which is essentially a charter between a representative of the Eternal Crown (Providence), and the commoners of Canada, bypasses the House of Commons, (which is essentially the will of the governing classes) and creates a new deal between individuals and their community. That deal is rooted in the same power dynamic as MacDonald used with the Liberal Conservatives, and is one I define as Independent Communitarian. We are each of us guaranteed equity in the commonwealth: we are individual before the law, and together, we form a community of customs and traditions that undergo constant renewal.

Afghanistan and the Cause of Service

While I have no problems recognizing that Iraq was an Anglo-American problem created and sustained by Anglo-American interests and therefore not in Canada's best interests to enter their stinking little world of secrets and lies, Afghanistan poses a slightly different problem for me.
I have no problem realizing that the Taliban arose because of the hypocrisy of Anglo-American interests in Afghanistan (and throughout the Arab world), but unlike Saddam Hussein who was essentially an American puppet who cut his own strings and found a demon willing to keep him dancing for a while, the Taliban is 'other'. They're religious hypocrites in the same way that the Bush League are, but that's not the real point of this post.
It is the question of Canadian soldiers being in Afghanistan and the notion of supporting our troops in the field that concerns me. This is one of the issues where Stephen Harper really doesn't speak for me. I'm being told that I must support a policy in which I am being asked (by extension of my being a Canadian citizen) to support the murder of individuals, and to support Canadian soldiers willing to die in my name (again on behalf of me being Canadian.)
People who want to kill on behalf of Canadian policy and people who want to die on behalf of Canadian policy need people like me who want to know what the real policy here is. I can sense for myself that there is something evil about the Taliban that needs to be opposed with force if necessary, not because force will necessarily make the situation better, but because the Taliban needs to be stopped, so that the possibility of betterment might exist.
But because I recognize that someone like Stephen Harper is only in power because he, like George Bush, has the support of oil industry interests which I do no share, I want the policy on Afghanistan to be rooted in something other than one hundred year old profiteering policies that created the mess there in the first place.

Granted, Harper didn't put us into Afghanistan, the Liberals did, and I trust their interests only slightly more than I trust the Conservatives. But the Liberals didn't make me feel that questioning the policy was an act of betrayal to the soldiers in the field.

There is a genuine policy of hope-making in Afghanistan, but there is also layer upon layer of lies and bullshit rooted in the love of oil money. It is not money itself that is the root of all evil, it is the love of money, and there are too many lovers of oil money making too many fortunes out of the misery of others interwoven throughout this whole issue.

So I can support the troops, but only to the degree that they individually serve a policy of hope-making, and it may be that the good that one individual does has more power than the evil that many others do, so I will continue to offer qualified support. And if our arms dealer Minister of Defense O'Connor wants to accuse me of a lack of patriotism, let him, he's an arms' dealer, what the hell do I care what he thinks about anything ?

Besides, I'm not a patriot, I may be a Canadian nationalist, but a belief in 'my country right or wrong' is demented.

Friday, March 16, 2007

George in Latin America, or the paradox of chimps and benobos

There is something profoundly sad about America's sense of itself as the leader of the 'free world', the defender of democracy etc. when most of it's friends in the world are dictators and bullies. Bush's foray into the hotbeds of democracy oppression is the latest example. I suppose it's the ability of human brains to live with paradox that explains how Americans can disconnect the self-perception of America-the-free with the reality of American-interests, which almost always appear to represent the worst kind of grubby materialist values.
The Christian Right likes to blame the left's immorality for America's troubles, I guess I'm that much more of an extreme protestant that when I look at individualism American-style the most offensive part to me is the worship of Mammon, and the idolatry of capitalism.
I'm more of a free enterprise now ! kind of guy. I believe in the state only to the degree that I believe that when I go into a store I expect there to be service people capable of helping me buy what I need, ie., the government are staff people, they work for the tax credit union that is the citizenry. I'm also a big believer in the notion that one day consumer cooperation will reduce even the most arrogant of corporations to bankruptcy court.
The notion of the human capacity for living with paradox reminds me of the chimpanzee/benobo/human evolutionary split. Allegedly, (therefor metaphorically, parabolicly, and therefor pedagogically useful) the three above mentioned hominids had a common ancestor.
As you may or may not know, one band of chimpanzees controls the borders of their own territory with violence, if they meet a 'foreign chimp' in the liminal regions of their turf a fight ensues: hence the belief that humans derive from a violent ape. The benobos on the other hand, control the borders of their regions with sex. They make love not war.
Humans are capable of either response. Dynastic politics, whether of the national imperialist kind or of the local family compact type, are a way in which the sex or violence option has been used to maintain relative stability among peoples.
The issue being paradox, rather than simply the paradox of sex and violence, and this web log being devoted to the paradox of being both independent and communitarian, then I shouldn't be too surprised that the essential paradox of America is freedom and tyranny.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Government as a Tax Credit Union

Politicians these days are fond of saying that government should be run as a business, what they fail to say is just what kind of business.

There is only one business that government resembles and that is a credit union. Most governments these days seem to be run like private corporations, like banks, where people make their tax deposits and then sit back and watch their hard-earned monies gobbled up by vested interests

Credit unions are member-owned banks, managed and run by staff and management who are directly accountable to the membership. The money in the government belongs to people whose taxes constitute a tax credit union, whether the government in question is a municipality, a county, a province or a nation. It doesn't belong to special interest groups, it doesn't belong to developers, it doesn't belong to staff, it doesn't belong to management, and it doesn't belong to the elected board overseeing the activities mandated by the members.

The reason the people of Quebec can conceive of separation or sovereignty-association is because they own their own money. Alphonse Desjardin created the first credit union (Caisse Populaire) in that province in 1901, with only a handful of dimes and dollars. Catholic priests advocated credit unions from the pulpits as a way of preserving French Canadian society. The credit union movement spread so rapidly in that province that by 1920 they had assets of a billion dollars. Now they are the largest employer in Quebec.

Unlike banks, which are rooted in the corporate reality of having no "conscience to bind them" and in the pursuit of profit as their prime directive, credit unions are rooted in the cooperative mandate of serving their members.

As citizens we have allowed a bank-like ideology of 'banker knows best' to govern our lives. And try as they like to make banks more responsive to clients, the client relationship remains, and bank profits soar. Credit union profits don't soar precisely because the increasing value of holdings accrues to the members.

Governments need to run like credit unions, mutual benefit society, where genuine trust exists because it is founded on an equality of membership, whether you own millions or scrape by on subsistence wages.

The buying power of government does not belong to the government, it belongs to the members/citizens of the tax credit union and the sooner people realize that, the sooner they will realize that there are very few problems that cannot be solved by cooperative approaches.

Which is not to say that individual genius and hard work are not equally essential. This isn't some kind of State commune I'm talking about, in fact, I'm not much of a fan of the 'State', whether local or federal, precisely because the State is like a bank. It serves it's own interests using the accumulative power of its citizens, for good and ill.

WalMart makes a massive profit at what it does precisely because they use the bulk buying power of their consumers for the benefit of the company. That is why we have corporate wage slave compounds around the Third World, it helps them maximize their profits using other people's money. What we get in exchange is false economy. Wage slaves don't put much craft or care into products, and that's why the products are largely junk, but it's cheap junk, so consumers go back for more and more. Which is also why our landfill sites are overflowing.

A municipality is the most perfectly placed of all levels of government for citizens to harness their own bulk buying power precisely because it exists where people live. Counties and provinces and even nations are by and large abstractions, a municipality is home.

Trade Associations use their group power to focus their special interests,
trade unions do the same, food co-ops do the same, Chambers of Commerce, even social and sports clubs all do the same. What citizenship has that all the above don't, is sheer numbers. It's why I believe Marx was mistaken about the necessity of class war, we don't need to 'nationalize" industry, because the 'means of production' is actually our 'buying power'. Without the power to buy the machines needed to make something, to pay for the costs of doing business, no production can come into being.

Therefor buying power is the key to the economic equation, the key to cooperative commonwealth.

Our social power as citizens ultimately rests in our combined buying power; and when citizen-consumers run our governments, the balance of power between haves and have nots is equalized by the values inherent in cooperation.

The political philosophy of an Independent Communitarian is rooted in the notion that individuals remain individuals even when they act together.
Tax Credit Union government simply recognizes that it is citizen-consumers and not staff or elected officials who are the government.

Current Posts!

Saturday, March 10, 2007


My family's political roots range from Protestant Irish Orangeism, Hanoveran German loyalism, English indentured servitude, 19th century Austrian Jewish socialism, mid-20th century Ontario Labour Progressivism, 19th century Sir John A MacDonald era anti-Tory conservatism and 16th century Huguenot democratic doctrines rooted in freedom of conscience.

I have spent much of my adult life trying to articulate a political creed with which I can live. I regard myself as an Independent Communitarian, a political philosophy with some affinities to the Liberal-Conservative alliance used by MacDonald to create Canada. However, since 19th century political philosophies have become muddled in the 21st century, I use the word Independent instead of liberal since liberalism is rooted in personal liberty, and I use the word Communitarian instead of Conservative because of my trust in British constitutional traditions.

Like MacDonald I have no Tory beliefs: Sir John A. viewed Toryism as a cause rooted in it's original meaning, namely as a circle of government insiders in Ireland who supported the Stuart monarchs and their notions of the divine right of kings to rule. That meaning metaphorically mutated in MacDonald's age to include Ontario's Family Compact, political insiders appointed by successive Lieutenant Governors to run the colony until the creation of responsible government after the Rebellions of 1837-38. In modern usage, the Tory metaphor can be further updated as a feudally-minded insider intent on maintaining power for a tight knit band of cronies. I am not one of those.

All my policy positions derive out of notions of cooperative commonwealth. Pre-cooperative commonwealth political philosophy begins with Thomas Hobbes' book Leviathan, essentially a Christian treatise on governing humanity inside the Fallen World, but which Oliver Cromwell applied to the Protectorate he created when he executed Charles I in 1649. Cromwell dissolved the House of Lords, and used the House of Commons to establish a system of governance that was run by his friends and supporters amongst the landed gentry, the so-called squirearchy. That system of government is essentially the one still in operation today.

In Cromwell's day two other groups of people, the Levellers and the Diggers, tried to gain access to the House of Commons. Levellers were Commoners, ie tenant farmers and Guild tradesmen, while the Diggers were itinerants, an underclass that had been displaced from their homes by Enclosure Laws, which were used by the gentry to privatize former crown-chartered common lands. Cromwell betrayed both the Levellers and the Diggers, while the Levellers in turn betrayed the Diggers.

The Levellers, who by and large abandoned the land in the 1800's in order to become workers in newly industrializing England, eventually gained access to the House of Commons in part through the Reform Acts of the 1830's, but largely through the 20th century Labour Party. Similarly, in Canada during the twentieth century, the right to vote was granted to non-land owning men and women by conservative Prime Minister Borden after the mass slaughters of such classes during WWI. Canadian Tories like Arthur Meighen, and Guelph's own Premier George Drew, fought long and hard against any and all rights being extended to the working class or the under-classes.

When an alliance of Labour and Farmer progressives created the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) in 1932, they had to fight a long, and ongoing battle against Tories who convinced the public that the CCF were Bolsheviks instead of heirs to a long and honourable British tradition of constitutional evolutionaries. The CCF became the NDP, a combined British-style Labour Party and a neo-American Democratic Party, but in doing so lost sight of Cooperative Commonwealth.

Mike Harris and his so-called Common Sense Revolutionaries can best be understood as Ontario's landed classes waging a Cromwellian war against both the Levellers in the working class and the Diggers in the underclasses. Harris' battle against the Indians of Iperwash, and the killing of Dudley George is as pure an expression as can be found of the betrayal of British Constitutional evolution by those supporting the Meighen Streak in Canadian Toryism.

Current Posts!

While I'm On the Topic Of the American Right

While I'm on the topic of the American right from a Canadian perspective, I remember a story I've been mulling around for some time. A decade ago after my marriage fell apart ie. around 1997 I got involved with a Vineyard Church up in Collingwood, Ontario. I was in a desperate state and the people in that very small congregation, being a bunch of misfits and outsiders harmed by the fundamentalist churches they had escaped from, were very kind to me and let me cry my brains out while hiding under some tables at the Lions Club where they held their services. A long story short I got involved with Renewal Christianity for about a year, which led me down to an Intercessory Prayer Conference at the Toronto Airport Church, a former Vineyard congregation, grown huge and self-certain. One of the speakers at the conference was an American Evangelist, a woman whose name escapes me, but who was big in the 'Praying for City's' movement that was part of renewal theology.
This woman had noticed the mosques on Airport Road and she urged us to pray against them as they did in Washington, because there were mosques along the roads around the airport in that city too.
Personally, I wanted to boo her and tell her to go back to America, but since I was in a room full of 5000 religious enthusiasts I decided not to. I'm not saying that everyone in the room agreed with her, I'm just saying I didn't say anything because I think I spent too long digesting what she had said to speak out. Theologically, I'm of the opinion that when St. Paul said Christians were not given a spirit of condemnation I believe him. Therefore I took this evangelist's call to condemn Mosques as indicative of the very fundamentalism that the renewal was meant to transform.
By 2001 when 9/11 happened (not that September 11 doesn't occur every year) I was living in Guelph, near my ex-wife and son; one of the first things I thought of when my ex phoned me to tell me to turn on the TV because something terrible was happening, was that the Christian Right had reaped what they had sown by calling on God to condemn mosques around American airports.
Curiously, while helping to write and direct a satire of George W. Bush and the American War on Iraqi Television (the war ended when Iraqi TV was killed) I happened to take out a 1970's Paul Newman movie called The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean. In the movie there is a brief shot of a sign on an oil derrick that reads 'Oil was Discovered in West Texas on September 11 1912'. (I could be wrong about the 1912 part. But September 11 was there.) And then there was the movie Godspell: Jesus and his Disciples are on top of one of the still unfinished World Trade Center buildings singing about the need to take the plank out of your own eye before complaining about your brother's inability to see. As far as I'm concerned the American Right has only themselves to blame for what they reaped.

Current Posts!

For the Record

To the best of my knowledge I am not related to Dennis Prager, and from everything I've read about/by him I wouldn't want to be, although, heaven knows that if I actually was related to him, I might be a little more long suffering, as it is, his name clogs up my search engines whenever I do a vanity update, and I find that annoying. Maybe it's because I'm Canadian, but I find the parry and thrust of American politics vicious. In fact, I think America is becoming ungovernable. Perhaps it's just the decline of common courtesy over the past twenty years or maybe it's the backlash to the flowering of American fascism during the 'war on terror', but I think Americans hate one another so deeply that their country will eventually tear itself apart and drag Canada into Hell with them. Or at least that's what I think when I stumble upon Dennis Prager and his enemies desecrating one another and the rest of us.

Current Posts!

Groucho Marxists ?

Someone who wouldn't join a party that would have them as a member.

Current Posts!

Friday, March 9, 2007

Biz Stone and The Symbiosis of Blogging

In reading Biz Stone's book Who let the Blogs Out ? (St. Martin's Griffin Publ.) it is quite evident that the blogosphere is a electronic creature rooted in mutual benefit through the feedback loop/site link process.
From my own perspective however technology is, was and ever more shall be no more than a metaphor for the state of human consciousness. Being symbiotic beings living on a Symbiotic Planet, humans are actually arrays of feedback loops between the lifeforms that breathe for us and metabolize our food for us, and us - their traveling companions. But since most people don't know that, the blogspehere is allowing us to learn it.
I personally suspect that the energy requirements of the Internet will be become so extreme that when the rest of the world's environmental/energy problems come home to roost in 25 years or so that the whole internet will collapse. But when it does, the cause of mutual benefit will be so far advanced, that the energy each of us has inside of us will be used to transform life on earth, not through technology (although obviously there will be all kinds of people re-using the pieces of the past to sustain themselves and their loved ones.)
The new 'brane'/superstring theorists have charted a theoretical world of wonder in which we live already, but which suggests a universe created by energy dances so minute that technology will never be able to take advantage of the science.
I think the problem is arising because the physicists are looking at the problem in the wrong way. Even the choice of the word 'brane theory' over the original 'membrane theory' helps explain why. Brane is like brain, something for brainiacs only, something to be abstracted to the finest degree by the finest minds. Bigger and bigger particle accelerators are required to smash life into smaller and smaller pieces.
Given that all life on the planet is symbiotic, made up of gadzillions of feedback loops vibrating across the membranes of living creatures, the search for proof of 'brane' theory will be most productive in 'membrane' theory. There are scores of levels at which measurements can be taken and controls established. We have circadian - daily rythmns - all the way up to circa-annual and all the way down to circa-micro second rhythms, and all of them are producing an array of frequency patterns, each link enlarging the feedback loop.
The human body alone, has seventy-five trillion cells and a multi-zillionic array of symbionts floating around inside those cells in our protoplasm, each sending bio-chemical/electronic signals across the membrane of our nucleus and to the others, creating gadzillions of signals out through our cell walls and on through the feedback loops of our emotional-intellectual neural peptide links that in turn emit ions that are in turn triangulated by the three electromagnetic fields that the human body produces (the smallest, is the brain's, the next largest the lungs, and the largest, is the ten foot spherical field of the heart.)
Christiaan Huygen's theory of entrainment, which the HeartMath Institute has proven can be consciously applied to creating both individual and group coherency in stressful situations, is yet another means by which 'membrane theory' can be studied.
My personal guess is that the discoveries awaiting membrane theorists will tell us more about our spirit/bodies than about the next generation of gadgets for the masses. It is also my belief that when our consumer/techno world collapses of its own weight, the metaphors of 'membrane theory'' will be there to help us become new creatures in a new creation.


Current Posts!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Death Knell for Social Darwinism

We are entering an age in which the ideology of dominant predator capitalism and politics will inevitably give way before the realities of symbiotic biology. There are seventy-five trillion cells in the average human being and there are symbiotic lifeforms with their own DNA floating around in the protoplasm of every one of those cells. There are more of their cells than there are of ours. Ours are just bigger.
Human beings don't breathe for ourselves, we don't metabolize food for ourselves, the symbionts in our cells do it for us. They used to be called organelles, but they have their own genetic codes, their own purposes.
There are only a few types of symbionts in us, but they are in every other animal on the planet, their kin are in every plant on the planet. They got there through failed attempts at predation. If there is one common purpose all life on Earth has it is to regulate the atmosphere in which we all share, dead or alive, we are atmosphere producing beings. Living Breath transmitters.
Insurance companies began their existences as Mutual Benefit Societies. They were communities of independent individuals cooperating for the good of their loved ones.
Like the rise and fall of religions and the rise and fall of government, the rise and fall of the corporate economy shall likewise pass, and with the need for unions. In the same way that bloggers are taking back control of the Internet, co-operating consumers will eventually take back control of the market.
What's a Chamber of Commerce but a collection of cooperating entrepreneurs ? We are associational lifeforms. But as in the chemical theory of opposites, where the colour red is identified by an after image of green, which proves that we are seeing red, the after-image of association is dissociation.
The ability to dissociate ourselves from the whole, proves not just our individuality, but our commonality, for not only can we all dissociate, we need to do so now and again. That is what enlightened self-interest is really about, its why the green movement is growing by leaps and bounds. We all need clean air to breathe, we all need clean water to drink, we all need healthy food to eat. And the best way to get it is by recognizing that what benefits us all benefits us individually. And yet, if individuals don't dissociate themselves from the common cause the uncommon cause will remain undiscovered.


Current Posts!