Strategic Knowledge part 3

We are going through a list of facts, ideas, chunks of information that in so far as these are spread to and accepted by a large enough number of people, we will have made a revolution, we will have modified the goals of enough people, so that the goals of our political/economic system will be to provide a socially just distribution of the earth’s limited resources. Our goal here is to analyze these chunks of information so that we can determine which ones should be spread to whom first, etc. We want to develop a good strategy for spreading these ideas.

People have a strong sense of, a feeling for, justice, fairness which can be increased or decreased by learning. We have a strong sense of injustice, of unfairness, of cheaters, of freeloaders — people who are not doing their fair share in some cooperative human activity. This sense of injustice is a feeling we have when we discover someone cheating. We don’t like it. We will make various efforts, we will work to get the person to stop cheating and to do what he or she can to cooperate, to play, to work, by the rules. In extreme cases if the person won’t cooperate, we may force them to leave the game or the group. Almost everyone has this feeling. This feeling developed in humans through our evolution perhaps partially biological and partly cultural. That is, it may be partly coded in our genes and partly learned as we are raised in our culture. It doesn’t matter very much how we have come to have this feeling of injustice. Even if it is mostly genetic It, like most other behavioral traits, can be modified during individual development — it can be strengthened or weakened and it can be applied in different circumstances. From an evolutionary point of view we almost have to have it. Since we are a species in which cooperation is essential for our individual survival, we will have developed mechanisms to encourage cooperation and we will have developed mechanisms to discourage non-cooperation. So we have this feeling of injustice and thus the feeling for justice. We want justice in our dealings with other people. We don’t like cheating. We don’t like people who don’t do their fair share when they are able to, and we don’t like people who take way more than their fair share of what the group produces.

Since almost all people have this sense of justice, most people will easily agree with the goals of the revolution: Move towards a system which provides social justice — a system that provides basic human needs for every person, where basic human needs are food, clothes, shelter, health care, as much education as anyone wants,  the opportunity to work with others, peace, and maximal individual freedom consistent with non-violence — and all this compatible with protecting and sustaining the natural world.

And if the sense of justice is not strong enough in some people we can teach it.

Most economic talk and theorizing is total bullshit. First most economic theories start with false assumptions so we cannot rely on any of their conclusions. A large part of economics depends on utility theory as an explanation of human decision-making. And we have discussed how utility theory is not at all a correct description of human decision-making. In addition there are clear errors in the mathematics used in classical theories. The aggregate supply/demand curves do not follow from the individual supply/demand curves. (Read “Debunking Economics” by Steve Keen.) And modern economists still refer to these incorrect aggregate supply/demand curves. This is still taught to economics students.

And Milton Friedman said assumptions don’t matter. This has led economists to waste time and energy generating theories from absurd assumptions. (Google “Black-Scholes”, “Efficient Markets”. There are many others.) Then other people apply these absurd theories to decide how to invest or gamble with their and other people’s money.

Finally there is real world proof that economics is mostly useless: Consider the recent crash (2008) and following Great Recession, preceded by the housing/finance bubble, and then go back in history. There are booms and crashes at irregular intervals as far back as 5000 years ago. All a surprise to economists. All not predicted by economic theories. (Read “Debt: The First 5000 Years” by David Graeber.)

People need to understand that economic theories are almost totally wrong because there is great resistance to change by many people who believe in some of these invalid theories. Those who adhere to these theories limit their thinking to their particular theory. They refuse to consider any political/economic system outside their theories. They are trapped by their own ideologies. And they would like to trap the rest of us too. So it is critical that if we are to have the revolution we want we must not be limited in our thoughts by any of these economic ideologies. Management consultants used to say “Think outside the box.” It is critical for us to think outside of any and all economic theories. They are traps, they are “closed boxes”, they do not accept any information outside their theory, they are epistemically closed.

The superrich run things, or think they do. No one controls anything. At most we can have some influence. We see that our politicians, our representatives, our senators have almost all been bought and paid for by bankers, banks and other large corporations, the rich or the super rich. The rich and super rich contribute so much money to the politicians for their campaigns, and that money is used to buy advertisements from the corporate controlled (influenced) mass media that influence the people voting so they effectively have no real choices. It doesn’t matter who wins an election, the parties are essentially the same, we get the same results, the same policies, the same law changes to make the poor and middle class poorer (the 99%) and the rich (the 1%) richer.

So do the rich run things? Are the rich in control? Well they surely influence things. But they do not control everything. They cannot control everything. They cannot control our thoughts. They cannot control our communications with one another. They can monitor Facebook all they want. Information wants to be free. Information leaks, always.

They cannot control our behavior. This has been obvious for a long time. They pass unjust laws like alcohol prohibition and anti drug laws. We (the 99%) mostly ignore those laws. They themselves (the 1%) also pretty much ignore any laws they care to. There is not much respect for laws anymore. The whole system — laws/police/courts/punishment/fines/prisons — seems to be nothing but a cruel joke to harass, intimidate, control, the poor and middle class (the 99%) by the rich (the 1%). They can’t control us. They can only influence us in so far as we let them, only in so far as we buy into and accept the present system.

Many people have already been forced out of the system. The poor are only marginally in the system. The working poor are contributing by their work. Some of the non working poor are also contributing by their community activities, some by developing themselves in various ways such as education, developing artistic abilities. But many have been pushed to the edge of or out of the system — those who have no interest in educating themselves, those who may have an interest in developing themselves but who don’t have enough money and support to do so, those who see no prospects for “success” —  a steady job, enough money to marry and raise a family reasonably comfortably. We could go on and on here. The point is the system works well only for the rich and the upper levels of the middle class. And those for whom the system is not working have less and less incentive to participate in it. The system itself, in its deterioration, in its unpredictable future course, is promoting revolution. The system is pushing people to reject the system. If the 1% think they are controlling the 99%, they are seriously mistaken. They and the system they think they run are forcing people out, are forcing people to be way less than they could be. “Be all that you can be” says the military. Yeah. Right. The 1% don’t control shit. They don’t even know what they are doing. We must help them see that a socially just system will be better for almost everyone, even for most of them.

The present system is uncontrollable. The present system cannot be understood by any one individual. The same is true for any similarly complex system. The most we can hope to do is change our systems to ones that are more understandable and more controllable. The super rich do not run things. Nobody does.

It is important to understand this because if you believe the super rich run things, control everything, then you might believe change is impossible, that you are powerless, and you are less likely to work for a revolution. The truth is change is inevitable. Unexpected, unintended change is inevitable. But we can influence it. We must.

The remainder of the list is below. I’ll look at some of these in the next post.

Information leaks always. Most people are not stupid. Almost everybody can learn new things at any age. Force and threats are counterproductive. Altruism exists. Altruism can be taught. Generosity is taught. Excessive selfishness is taught. We must take care of ourselves. In everything we do we are helped by others. We learn and create only by building on the knowledge, the work, of others. We are almost never alone. Conflict and competition are not the same. Competition is a form of cooperation. Conflicts exist but they can be limited. Thinking with too much fear, anger, or hatred can lead to wars. Everything evolves. Everything changes only slower or faster. We can influence social change. From the day you are born till you ride in the hearse there is nothing so bad that it couldn’t be worse (or better). Depression is dangerous, even deadly and anyone with even a little depression should seek professional help. Mania is dangerous. Authority is dangerous. Ideologies can be, and probably most are, traps. Limiting your thinking is limiting yourself. Fear, anger, hatred, disgust are effective propaganda tools. Complex systems must be changed very carefully one step at a time. Complex systems can sometimes do very unexpected things. There are almost always unintended consequences when a change is made to a complex system. Some knowledge speeds up the evolution, the changes, in a society or culture. Freedom of speech should speed up the evolution of a culture. Freedom of behavior consistent with nonviolence should speed up cultural evolution. Both of these allow for increased spreading of new knowledge. Secrecy limits cultural evolution. There are many chunks of knowledge that if spread to enough people could significantly speed up the changing of our present system to a socially just system. Big changes can occur quickly. Some ideas, some chunks of knowledge, can spread very fast throughout a whole population, especially if the population has been prepared by being supplied with the intermediate knowledge required so that the new or radical idea makes sense. The foundation is already there and when the new idea is heard even once the reaction in the vast majority of people is “Yes!, Yes! That’s exactly right. That is what we must do.”

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