Anarchy and Economy
3  
  Those who have been reading along since the first installment of Notes on Anarchy and Economy will likely have detected some cyclic recurrence: I can't seem to put three thoughts together without reoccupying the space of . . . time. The time of anarchy has come. Please don't read that last sentence with eyes aligned. A moment is not arriving, holding an idea, that moves over us, like a change in the weather. We have changed -- we've become the weather -- and grown new eyes, that

Listen

Everything is possible. "Never say never" is old. Now say "No say no."

Not "Nowhere" but "No."
Not "Never" but "No."
Not "Everywhere" but "Yes."
Not "Always" but "Yes."

It's not spatial or temporal.
It's spatiotemporal.
And
It's not a spatiotemporal continuum.
It's a spatiotemporal oscillating IT.
And
It's not an IT, or the IT.
Just IT.

IT

NOW
The form of IT is PARADOXAL
And the structure of IT is ANARCHIC.

 
  sent by David Bernstein: Octavio Paz says:

we need a new culture that has nothing to do with hierarchy

what cultures do you live in that have nothing to do with hierarchy?
 
     
Joan Retallack: not paradise now . . . paradox now
     
  The reason why anarchy is often seen as problematic is because it is often seen as an alternative to existing principles of organization and governance--like hierarchy and democracy--and in that alternative light, anarchy appears negative, anti-organization, leaderless, lawless. The problem is one of comparing apples and oranges. Anarchy is not an organizational principle. It is a structural principle that is pan-organizational, pan-group and pan-individual. It is larger in concept and application than nations, corporations, religions and the like, so much larger, in fact, that it encompasses individuals too.

Anarchy is a practice of living with yourself.

And

Anarchy is the way everything lives with everything else.

When we are talking about all the neurons, all the nations, all the people, all the markets, all the thoughts, all the sounds, all the organizations, all the words, all the patterns, and we are trying to best describe how best to let all these 'alls' function best so that each one of the 'ones' can function best according to its evolutionarily designed-in functional patternings, only anarchy fits the bill.

Hierarchies need constant maintenance. They're worse than gardens. All the temporal and spatial stalks and stems of a hierarchy are under the constant threat of disease, sabotage and abuse.

Anarchies appear gratuitously, like weeds. They're indifferent to disease: they've already adapted, that's how they came to be, that's how they'll cease to be.

Weeds can only be controlled by concerted and constant effort. Since THE BEGINNINGS OF HISTORY, that's what we've been doing.

Why?

Because throughout history, the weed of anarchy got in the way of the need for hierarchy, that need being based on the actual fact of limited resources spawning the actual necessity for competition over those resources. The history of history is the story of how we learned that resources are actually unlimited. History is the period in which we acquired the know-how to convert solar income to the satisfaction of all of our needs, along with the realization that as long as the sun burns we will never be poor.

 
  AT&T is downsizing. It is not just buying off, laying off or firing employees. It is breaking itself up into parts. The cost of keeping the parts composed outweighs the benefits. The board elected to eliminate itself. Hierarchy replaced by anarchy.

No conductor, no score, no barline. The cost of keeping the parts composed outweighs the benefits.

Anarchic harmony.

 
 
Why are we weeding now? Why do we spend so much effort controlling what doesn't need controlling?  
 
  The things that need controlling are very few: disease, and ignorance. They are the only real threats to humanity. Combating disease requires only seven things--clean air and water, good food, shelter and clothing, medical practice, and clean and safe energy conversion. Combating ignorance requires only one thing: removal of its access to hierarchy. These requirements are not trivial, nor can they be solved once and then forgotten. But they are not hard to define, and there are not that many of them.  
  In the strongly hierarchic world-system that is now in demise, those who rose to the top as leaders really were on top. They could look around and see almost no one else--those they could see were either subordinates or enemies. Not the Pope, not the CEOs, not even the Supreme Leader of the Peoples Republic gets a view like that anymore. When those guys look around they see: hurricanes of multicolored kids vibrating on MTV, jet planes full of non-leaders zipping overhead, hordes of calmly focussed masses doing who knows what on their computers, and everyone taking calls, beeps, faxes and email . . . Make room at the top, HCE.(1)

Anarchy means leaderlessness.

The hierarchies now in play are only of local importance, not because they have shrunk (although, interesting enough, contemporary hierarchies themselves tout downsizing as an important new ideal), but because an explosion in the number of individuals, groups and hierarchies, and therefore even more so in the number of interrelationships between them, in combination with the emergence of omnipresent and instantaneous and omnicapacious channels of communication to service all those individuals and their interrelationships, means that, just like in the brain, it is the patterns between the points and not the points themselves that embody what is happening. POPULATION + COMMUNICATION. I might be the biggest damn node on the net, but I will always be less critical than the smallest single interconnection, because there will always be more interconnections than nodes and it's in the interconnections that the network lives.

The only place leadership is happening is very locally, within the anarchically interconnected special case hierarchies (nations, corporations, religions, organizations of most every type, for example). So, if I am in, or contemplating being in, a leadership position, I owe it to my subordinates to be fully aware of just how unimportant I really am, and to communicate with the globally anarchic, myriad and mutable constellations of individuals, groups and hierarchies beyond my little hierarchy accordingly. The only contemporarily effective leader functions on the basis of imminent self-obsolescence.

 
  Systems that appear to have been in place for thousands of years (HISTORY), and were still in place just yesterday, are suddenly absent. Try to do anything these days and this perception quickly grows familiar. It rides the back of ambition, the back of despair, the back of enlightenment, whistlin', and it's name is PARADOX.  
  Just as anarchy is to human beings both the most individual practice and the most global structural principle, paradox is the dominant form of our selves and our systems all around. We can't quite put a finger on it, but it appears to be something we can't quite put a finger on.

Anarchy is what we are doing, and paradox is what it feels like. This is very challenging. We haven't got a lot of experience. There are no vocational schools. The bare necessities of life are distributed under the former system. A double paradoxal whammy.

We have a lot to learn. Fuller was right: lifetime research fellowships all around. I'm not kidding--I haven't got the numbers yet, but they will come: pay everyone to think instead of work and we will discover real cost effectiveness. Work will be exclusive to those who cannot do without it; their reward will be to see the product of their efforts actually carried out. If everyone else can self-educate to a point of self-respect for their own FREEDOM (Food, Recreations, Environments, Entropies, Devotions, Options, Mind, see MW 33) then the whole of us will be fine. Such self-education is nontrivial--that's why the lifetime fellowship.

(Evidence that ideas from Fuller's 1962 book Education Automation are nearing realization: a boomlet in online education.)

These lifetime fellowships do not exist yet. We need to see that they do. In the meantime, we need to act as if they do, according to the means available.

 
 
Emma Goldman: "The most violent element in society is ignorance."
 
  Let's call a few spades spades:

War is obsolete; therefore, the development of killingry is wasteful of ideas, resources, energy, and ultimately lives. Poverty is obsolete; therefore, the accumulation of wealth is unnecessary and ultimately counterproductive.

By 'obsolete' I mean out of date, no longer useful. To whom? To all of us. War and poverty are a risk to everyone. Bombs and viruses turn up everywhere. Through technology we have produced the means to total survival and total destruction and shrunk the distances--physical, communicative, viral, environmental, conceptual--in between. Even the rich, even the victors, cannot afford war and poverty when the global economy's most precious resource--consumers--are the victims. Wealth must be spent, otherwise it serves no one; and in being spent, it serves everyone (enters the consumer economy).

Unfortunately 'obsolete' cannot as yet be used in its sense of 'disuse'--with respect to war and poverty--because sufficient ignorance remains as to war and poverty's ultimate uselessness. Apart from their falseness, what is the nature of those two ignorances that give them effect? It is their social, that is, unanarchic quality. It is their access to hierarchy, which we give to them, and through which their harmful effects are felt.

 
  What does it mean, that ignorance can have "access to hierarchy", which is something that we "give" to it?

These are questions about the relation between ideas and hierarchy. When ideas are fed into hierarchical structures, they become impersonal. Hierarchy allows an individual to process an idea, that is, to act on an idea, without having to bear direct responsibility for either the source or the effect of the idea: a shot fired in war, for example. The classic soldier's defense--I was only following orders--is the hierarchical defense. We punish the soldier who brings too much guilt into the hierarchy, that is, onto the rest of us, under a similarly hierarchical construct: he was a "bad" soldier, rather than a "good" soldier.

The having of ideas is a human biological imperative. An idea is a pattern in the brain. Each brain has its own idea--its own pattern--even if the idea is ostensibly "shared". And since brains are alive, each idea has it's own time--its own momentary pattern--even if the idea is ostensibly "remembered". Not only do ideas travel poorly from brain to brain, they travel poorly from time to time.

The notion of ideas existing in separation from individuals is biologically impossible: an ignorance. Because every hierarchy tends to separate ideas from individuals, every hierarchy tends towards ignorance, both as a supporter of original ignorance, and as a converter of intelligence into ignorance.

This is why anarchy, which stands in opposition to hierarchy, functions in support of intelligence, as a practice that emphasizes the individual, the brain-endowed integrator of ideas, over the brainless and timeless collective.

Hierarchy does not need evil designers to practice ignorance: left to be, it gets there anyway. This is why mass entertainment--inducer of mass complacency--is such an effective means of perpetuating the advantages some of us leverage over the rest of us. These advantages, essentially false, through hierarchy become real.

To allow or give ignorance access to hierarchy is the fail to practice anarchy, to fail to think for oneself, and to fail to dismantle hierarchy no matter how seemingly positive its effect.

 
  People say: there has always been war, there has always been rich and poor, there has always been violence. It is reality.

It was reality, but it no longer is. There has not always been a theory of relativity, quantum physics, instantaneous global communications, a global consumer economy, a human-executed snapshot of Earth from its moon, a science of ecology, a project to catalogue the human genetic code, a cure for TB, polio, etc., etc.

These are not just incremental changes. These are quantum leaps. We now live and work, in addition to inside of, outside of the wave frequencies which we are organically endowed to perceive. We now experience change, not as a boundary between conditions, but as the permanent, boundless condition of our lives.

This is all very new. What has changed? Everything.

Why is NOW now? Fuller said it best: we now know how to make the world work, so that all humanity is provided for at a level previously unavailable to even the most fortunate few.

Universal, unprecedented well-being.

Does that change everything? Absolutely.

Do I believe it? If "no" or "maybe" is my answer, then I must look around for blockages to change. Those that I am able to find become the ignorances that I, personally, must refuse to accept.

 
  People say: because we behaved a certain way in all the past, it is human nature. Well, it is human nature to survive. That used to require a certain amount of violence, a certain amount of ignorance.

But the ignorances that were useful once are useless now.

Ignorance needs helpers to really hurt. Sometimes those helpers are passive, allowing ignorance even though not actively propagating it. Allowing ignorance came from the old way of thinking, from the BETWEEN period, when hierarchy implied better and worse, and hope promised improvement.

In the BEWTEEN period, social, hierarchically-controlled morality was a big thing, because with well crafted morals in place, ignorance was forgivable, maybe even preferable. Until recently, war was profitable--a certain kind of killing was a good thing--the great systems of social morality handled the distinctions. Until recently, poverty was profitable--a certain kind of enslavement was a good thing--the great systems of social morality handled the distinctions. In both killing and enslavement, a certain amount of ignorance is necessary. The great systems of social morality (politics, religion) were ignorance's higher ground.

 
  If I accept hierarchy, I accept better; therefore, I accept worse. If I accept hope, I accept hopeless. Accepting these, I accept ignorance. But ignorance no longer serves any purpose--we now know how to survive without it--it is now an out-and-out obstacle.

Therefore, if I accept ignorance, I am ignorant. Therefore, I practice violence.

 
  FROM NOW ON hierarchy and hope are dying. The old social moralities based on them are dying. This is not bad news. The hierarchies that gave ignorance it's violent punch are dying too.

What is next for morality? We see it now: anarchic moralities, individual in their origin, content and effect. Esther Ferrer: "Anarchy is quite simply a problem of assuming individual responsibility".(2)

 
  I feel responsible for the whole world

and at the same time

unsure of my ability to take care of myself

PARADOX

 
     
  Andrew Culver
November, 1996 / April, 1997
 
     
  Postscript

There is a tone to this article--one of having arrived, a kind of certitude of reality--and it carries a criticism: that the realities I cite are less than certain and far from widespread. The Internet, for example, is accessible to a small minority of humanity, and worse, the barrier to those without access is principally economic. It is true, in the case of the Internet, that there are less than 15 million sites available, and that, while no one knows how many people have had access to those sites, it is certainly less than half a billion. Then again, only about a dozen guys have walked on the moon, yet we are all postmoonlanders (Fuller's term). Bucky Fuller's chart that follows the significant technological events of his lifetime tracks not each new technology's moment of majority access, or whatever, but its moment of first implementation. And Marshall McLuhan's observations on the new mind that is a product of the new media are positioned historically after first invention, but, pointedly, before widespread acceptance. This article is speculative. Its historical viewpoint is just a little ahead of now, and with its anti-the-good-old-days attitude pointing back at today's aging realities, it reveals that I have no trouble seeing new realities and reality as one in the same. As to economic barriers: I'm against them. Its personal. Anarchy and Economy.

 
     
  Footnotes

1. HCE, Here Comes Everybody, Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker, Haveth Childers Everywhere, etc., dominant character in James Joyce's Finnegans Wake, a stuttering Dublin tavernkeeper who turns out to be the historically-universal, globally-active progenitor of the human race.

2. Esther Ferrer, from her letter to John Cage on the future of anarchy, published in Musicworks 62.

 
     
anarchy and economy | home
anarchic harmony foundation