Authoritarianism vs. Fluid Decentralization: Lessons From the Pandemicby@djcampbell

Authoritarianism vs. Fluid Decentralization: Lessons From the Pandemic

by DJCampbellJanuary 21st, 2022
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Authoritarians have a habit of attacking free thought, especially intelligent free thought. The way to true Demokratia (people power) was the ability to devolve from rigid political and economic structures, but also to come together in a crisis and agree. Our financial system forces people to be selfish and damage the environment even when people value sustainability and community.

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It only took 15 pages of Kundera’s "Laughter and Forgetting" to get the grey matter working again. Intellectuals were seen by the communists as detached and cold, their head in the clouds, useless at practical things, and questioning the idyll - therefore they were a danger and would be hanged. Ironically their feet raised from the ground.

Is the attack on elites today any different?

Authoritarians have a habit of attacking free-thinking, especially intelligent free-thinking.

Regrettably, even I posted a comment on Facebook that said detached high-paid elites were controlling too much of public discourse and the mainstream media, and they all sound the same. Some of this is true but, I am starting to fall into that authoritarian bubble.

Don’t trust anyone, not even the scientists, not even the rulers, not even your family. This, of course, is what a ruler wants, confusion and distrust. That makes it easy for those already with power to dominate, to control. Behind the scenes, they can do things in their own best interest while we lose our freedom.

More people will die from the depression than the pandemic! This was a common publicized thought in 2020. There wasn't a recession; instead, a boom and a great resignation. Weird huh.

The fundamental of my book Fluidity - the way to true Demokratia was the ability to devolve from rigid political and economic structures and come together in a crisis and agree.

Many missed the importance of this. It is the ability to be both centralized and anarchistic, but as circumstances require.

A pandemic does require us all to do the same thing, wash our hands, stay at home, and work. Yes, this has been difficult for an anarchist or even democratic society to agree to do quickly. But Fluidity enables people to hand over control of their decisions to trusted others.

However, when the crisis has passed, they can take their democratic votes back without consent or even tell those they have given the power to. Of course, it also supplies all with money so we can survive not working for an income.

But would people give their vote away if it meant their freedom would be lost for a while?

The financial system may be part of the problem? A friend described some games they have designed to study people's economic behavior in different systems. He discovered that our current financial system forces people to be selfish and damage the environment even when people value sustainability and community.

Our system forces work-consume-work--destruction. It also sucks up huge amounts of time, not allowing us to think about what we are doing or act in our own (and communities') future interests. It stops us from acting on our higher values.

In Fluidity, I discuss this concept which has been called construal level theory. As more day-to-day pressure is put on you, it crowds out your higher, nobler values of love, community, sustainability, even honor, making you act in a survival mode. How can I tolerate another day?

Chocolate, new clothes, don’t speak up, meditate and work out - repeat.

So as we view the world from within this financial system of pressure and competition, perhaps we wouldn’t proxy our votes.  With less pressure more peace of mind, we may see the good in letting health experts decide our behavior for a while.

Can the current push toward authoritarianism be halted? Protests achieve nothing!

Protesting is a form of begging.

If anything, it allows the authoritarian to exercise more extreme power and reinforces the fact that the people have no way to change the power structure. It reminds the authoritarians how powerful they really are.

The protests in Hong Kong during 2019/20 achieved the opposite of their aim. They have lost what little autonomy they had.

The BLM (Black Lives Matter) protests have achieved very little to date other than the spread of coronavirus.

The anti-Iraq war protests in the early 2000s, the biggest protests in Australia and London didn’t stop the war. The leaders at that time got reelected.

Elites may control the media, and the studies, and the dialogue, but they have stopped effecting change. I think in part because they have become part of the financial system. The big paycheques come from businesses and the government currently in place. It isn’t in anyone's best interests to bite the hand that feeds them.

You can find data to support almost any claim, so it depends upon what you are funded to research what idea to push.

Critical thinking requires time, intelligence, and the freedom to backflip.

To say I was wrong. Few elites get that privilege today.

Maybe this is the difference between the intellectuals and elites, the intellectuals felt they must question the status quo, and often didn’t rely upon those in power for status or money. Also, they were less risk-averse. They had been through wars, doing the right thing outweighed personal gain. Today elites tend to nibble at the edges of a system they are scared to outright question. They are also unlikely to keep their position if they do.

Can it be halted? 

Some good may come of coronavirus. Working from home temporarily relieves the hierarchical pressure to kowtow and spin the usual drivel. Many poor have finally got some money.

We have had time to read, chat with our real friends and family, not our work colleagues. And we have pulled together; in a crisis, we can often feel more together. We have learned to bake.

We have also seen through some fallacies. Governments can spend a lot of money without the world coming to an end, actually, they need to in order for it not too. Many jobs are bullshit jobs. Makeup is not necessary and your skin improves without it. Supply and demand theory is hopelessly flawed, sometimes things just run out  - toilet paper, pasta, and flour (supply doesn’t rise to meet demand). 

Prices don’t reflect underlying value (the share market!!!! Why is it going up? - free money and herd mentality). Sport is not a required business but is so much fun, and we miss doing it. Nurses and delivery drivers are necessary and underpaid.

If GDP decreases, the sun will shine, the trees will grow, and there will be eggs from the chickens. And my two year old ( I started this essay in 2020 and edited it in 2022. He's 4 now) still wants to play trains and thinks the cat should climb the tree.

We have completely changed what we are doing, how we are doing it, where we are going, and what’s important to us - toilet paper is important. We can change. And it wasn't really that hard.

Do we really need self-interested liars to rule us? We can and should create a better world.

Through this vent I feel that Fluidity stands up as a good solution to authoritarianism and for a better world. It is not perfect and not an idyll, the way the communists wanted their world. It is definitely not a one size fits all. The ability to organise and follow, combined with the freedom to leave that organization, is good. We want a good system. We don’t have it now.

David J Campbell 20th June 2020

Edited Jan 2022