The Bikecast Episode #23: Getting from Here to There, Global Guerrillas
I’m more concerned about the state of transition – how do we get from where we are to where we want to be? This transitional state could last anywhere from decades to thousands of years. I largely agree with your stance when it comes to a stable society of rational, kind, post-religious humans. But getting there will be hugely difficult.
This comment kicked off a number of days of thinking about “Getting From Here to There.” Transitioning from violently coercive social structures founded on superstition and bigotry to a society of peers with no person in institutionalized control of another.
I don’t have a strong opinion about the exact course of events, but it’s interesting to think about and it’s pretty amazing the scope and depth of ideas–some actually being put into practice–that exist around the various levels of this topic.
I say, “various levels,” because the transition can be examined on all levels, from the personal to the global. How did “we” get from monarchic governance to corporate governance or from slave states to a world in which overt slavery is, mostly, abhorrent? How did we transition from a species in which females were owned by males to one in which female equality is the majority opinion worldwide? These event have narratives with individual, local and global scopes.
In most respects, I believe we’re mostly swept along by events, like a kayak in a flood stage river. We can make very small local choices that affect our disposition relative to the current of events, but we have very little control over the big picture.
I’m convinced that the destination is a “society of rational, kind, post-religious humans.” This end is inevitable given continued human existence–for more detail, check out Episode #7a: Human Futures, The Race Between Complexity and Chaos and Episode #7b: Human Futures, Inevitable Ideas.
At the level of global events, or the factors that, with or without our consent, will move us from here to there, I feel comfortable making a handful of predictions and outlining some likely scenarios. As far as the likely institutions and types of human organizations that are in existence or will come into existence throughout the emergence of a non-hierarchical society, I’ll point to some ideas and existing movements that make sense to me. As to the long term, I have some strong opinions about the aspects of present-day humanity that will explode into full expression and those that will fade away, never to return.
I hit on all these topics and more in the next couple bikecasts.
John’s claim to fame is that he predicted the failure of western military tactics to secure Iraq and Afghanistan for western purposes. He did so in the language of modern business: he claims that guerrilla groups are using
open source organizational models (drawn from the software industry), networked super-empowerment (freely available high tech tools, network information access, connections to a globalized economy), and systems disruption (the targeting of critical points on infrastructure networks that cause cascading failures) to defeat even the most powerful of opponents, even a global superpower.
He further claims that the western powers will be compelled to engage in radical austerity measures by the holders of sovereign debt. This is the model imposed on Argentina after their financial crisis and, more recently, on the bankrupt government of Greece.
These austerity measures will require the weakening and removal of social safety nets, police “protection” and other state services. Into this vacuum, something most go. Either it will be . “the predations of gangs, militias, and corrupt bureaucracies” or locally organized communities providing their own essential services and engaging with the rest of the world on their own terms–as peers rather than subjects or citizens.
This sounds alot like the ideas of agorists, mutualists, and syndacalists who favor worker controlled businesses, unregulated interactions between free agents, and a networked, prosperous humanity–in contrast, for example, with primitivists or survivalists who favor isolation and heavy armament during any coming societal upheaval.
From my limited exposure, I don’t believe John Robb is an anarchist and his political views are fairly conventional. However, he’s one of the most mainstream voices I’ve heard who is aware of and speaking about the reorganization of the western world that will inevitably come. Of those voices, he’s one of the even fewer hopeful voices that understands that the disintegration of a state has little to do with the well being of its subjects, so long as a critical mass is practically and philosophically prepared for the transition.