Pender Island or Pirate Island?
Musings on the globally pervasive quest for ‘more personal’ community: . . .- It seems that many people have grown tired of living within a system that is ‘constantly bickering with itself’ and seems, in many ways, to be growing more ‘internally intolerant’. The discomfort is not coming simply from differences in views and their associated debates, since these have always been accepted as part of normal living and the normal social dynamic. It seems instead to be coming from the growing un-civility of it all. We may applaud the significant extension to our ability to communicate furnished by cell phones and internet technologies, but these technologies open the door, as well, to an extreme impersonality [e.g. ‘bullying’ that exposes the private life details of an individual to a voyeur crowd that can easily exceed the capacity of the Coliseum] and to the infusing of discordant notes that continually accumulate and never seem to get resolved, engendering a lingering ambiance that is sort of graffiti like. In the new media, many speak in abusive and derogatory tones that ‘would not be tolerated in a physical space’. At the same time, the boundarylessness opens the way for new connections that have the potential to bring people together in a ‘more personal’ community.
What kind of change is in its birthing process?
Modern technology has improved the ‘practicality’ of central control. The administration of units of population of 2000 persons, the number of permanent residents in the community of Pender Island, by a central regulatory authority that is giving direction to 35,000,000, would make communities the size of Pender Island 1 in 17,500. Computing technology has made it a rather simple matter to scroll a list of 17,500 items and to fill in blank boxes that allocate funds and/or resources for the ‘life support systems’ of such remote (from the central regulating authority) communities. In the old days, administration depended more on a hierarchical, sparsely populated web of real people with the result that small local communities largely ‘took care of themselves’. The actual informality in the running of the centrally governed nation in those days made it look much less removed from the non-centralized five-nation Iroquois confederacy, wherein, as Friedrich Engels noted; “Everything runs smoothly without soldiers, gendarmes, or police, without nobles, kings, governors, prefects or judges; without prisons, without trials. All quarrels and disputes are settled by the whole body of those concerned.”
Technology has meanwhile given those ‘at the top’ in the centrally governed community, direct and immediate information and control over the most remote communities and constituents. The new technology-boosted, centralized ‘neural system’ has the potential, like a computerized airlines reservation/ticketing system, to be far more swift and ‘efficient’ than the informal personal ecosystem of the sort that developed naturally, in the absence of electronic coordinating technologies. Meanwhile, in the technology-enabled shifting of coordination for continuing development and sustaining of the ‘life support systems’ of distributed communities, to the central regulatory authority, local personal support infrastructure tends to disappear. If/when the central system ‘breaks down’ for some reason or other, we get the same sort of scenario as occurs when the automated airline reservation/ticketing system breaks down, the distributed web of on-the-spot inter-personal procedures no longer exists and thus can’t step in to pick up the ball. End-users of the centralized system are thus left in the lurch, frustrated and wanting to get things rolling again, but by the nature of the beast, unable to do anything other than wait on a resumption of central system support, that may be a long time in coming.
Protests around the world, whether we are talking about the complaints in Greece, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, or today’s protests in the US over the proposed removal of state workers’ bargaining rights, have in common that they reflect frustration with central regulation. Meanwhile, the shift to wholesale dependency on the global economy and central regulation have led to the disbanding of locally sustained community economies which means that, in the event of a glitch in the global economy and/or in the associated central regulatory components (banking etc.) the option to ‘fall back’ on local, on-the-spot inter-personal community processes no longer exists.
Interviews with protestors in the various locations suggest that the discontent is not simply from ‘poverty’, but perhaps moreso, from the feeling of being unable to do anything about it, as one’s brothers and sisters positioned at the bottom of our hierarchical socio-economic system are forced to live out entire lives in impoverished and under-privileged conditions, even as others enjoy a superabundance of wealth and privilege, the likes of which have never before been seen. That is, it is not the ‘poverty’ per se that most inspires protest, but being made an unwilling partner to the persistence and growth of it; i.e. it is not the case of being an ACTIVE participant in a ‘gang rape’, but more like having to sit in the bleachers watching it day after day and being told by ‘the government’ that ‘they are working on a solution’.
All of which suggests ‘another way out’ which is to turn one’s attention back to one’s own local community (where it all started) and help to make the conditions possible, therein, for a more merry life, an orientation more to the quality-of-life ‘in the moment’ (where long term security/duration is no longer the primary focus, since intuition suggests that we are not in control of it and that it will come following, as best it can, if we leave it alone, like Little Bo-Peep’s sheep). The bonus would be that if the restored focus on the quality of local community life ‘catches on’ regionally and globally, this would amount to a (bloodless) revolution that would subsume the sterner and less merry dominance of central government regulation and its partnership with the free market economy, that tends to replace the local heart, lungs and vitals of the local community with a piped-in ‘life support system’. As the local community re-stores more of its ability to take care of itself, the over-extended and thus often insensitive (to local needs) centralized systems can reciprocally and gracefully ‘atrophy’ and retire themselves.
One of the ‘signs’ of the times, in this rise of dependency on central government followed by local frustration when the central system ‘chokes’, can be seen in the statements of Somali pirates whose hostage-taking (people and ships) continues to elude the corrective will of the ‘world powers’. Such pirates are currently the popular target of philosophical study, and they bring back to memory, the ‘sea-rovers’ and ‘corsairs’ of the 18th century who;
“…created an “information network” that spanned the globe: primitive and devoted primarily to grim business, the net nevertheless functioned admirably. Scattered throughout the net were islands, remote hideouts where ships could be watered and provisioned, booty traded for luxuries and necessities. Some of these islands supported “intentional communities,” whole mini-societies living consciously outside the law and determined to keep it up, even if only for a short but merry life.”
The ‘pirate philosophy’ is evidently popping up once again, and national navies designed to engage with other similar national navies seem unable to deal effectively with this new breed of pirate. It is not simply to do with technology and strategy, it is the Dionysian nature of the ‘pirate philosophy’;
Daniel Defoe captured the ‘pirate philosophy’ in the following ‘speech’ of his pirate-Captain, Bellamy;
“I am sorry they won’t let you have your sloop again, for I scorn to do any one a mischief, when it is not to my advantage; damn the sloop, we must sink her, and she might be of use to you. Though you are a sneaking puppy, and so are all those who will submit to be governed by laws which rich men have made for their own security; for the cowardly whelps have not the courage otherwise to defend what they get by knavery; but damn ye altogether: damn them for a pack of crafty rascals, and you, who serve them, for a parcel of hen-hearted numbskulls. They vilify us, the scoundrels do, when there is only this difference, they rob the poor under the cover of law, forsooth, and we plunder the rich under the protection of our own courage. Had you not better make then one of us, than sneak after these villains for employment?
When the captain replied that his conscience would not let him break the laws of God and man, the pirate Bellamy continued:
You are a devilish conscience rascal, I am a free prince, and I have as much authority to make war on the whole world, as he who has a hundred sail of ships at sea, and an army of 100,000 men in the field; and this my conscience tells me: but there is no arguing with such snivelling puppies, who allow superiors to kick them about deck at pleasure. “
Bringing up this ‘alternative philosophy’ of the ‘pirate’ is not a build-up to proposing renaming Pender Island, ‘Pirate Island’, but there appears to be ‘some comparison’ here, in that people would like to break out from being under the yoke of an increasingly stern and unfriendly (insensitive/impersonal, elected representative-disempowering) central regulatory authority that too often leaves them in the lurch; i.e. the Somali pirates started off as a volunteer coast guard when the Somali government collapsed in 1990;
“Somali piracy in its modern incarnation had its beginnings in the early 1990s with the fall of the Mohammed Siad Barre dictatorship and the implosion of the Somali state. At that time, fishermen banded together to form local de-facto coastguards up and down the coast of Somalia in an attempt to counteract the overfishing of Somali waters by European and Asian fishing vessels and the apparent dumping of hazardous waste by Swiss and Italian firms. Indeed, pirate groups such as the National Volunteer Coast Guard actually adopted names to that effect.” – Future Directions International (Australian strategic analysis group).
The common point that I am trying to bring out is that the general migration away from local community self-sufficiency to fault-intolerant dependence (the opposite of ‘resilience’) on a centrally regulated system leaves the local community in a difficult situation if problems develop within the central system (i.e. if it becomes over-extended, in difficult financial straights, and/or undergoes a ‘collapse’ as in Somalia).
While naturally evolving communities tend to be like organisms with a complete local, eco-systemic web of life-sustaining organs, in a centrally regulated free market economy, large-scale consolidation of functions occurs so that the consolidated heart migrates over here, the lungs over there, the liver across that ocean, the kidneys over the mountains on the prairies, and so on, so that the local community is now on a ‘life support system’ watched over to some degree by a central regulatory authority, that tells us that this is ‘the best way to go’; i.e. the most efficient and economical way to go. But somehow, communities are unable to ‘feel the same way about themselves’ in these cases, because part of the value of that ‘old interpersonal, ecosystemic [coevolutional] way’ of community, was in the uplifting feelings of mutual support that came as problems developed within this organ or that artery, and people spontaneously ‘pitched in’ to keep the overall system ‘resonating/humming’. In the modern ‘life-support system’ mode where the intravenous tubes and electronic control cords are coming in from diverse directions, having permanently replaced the local resourcing that they took over from, responding to problems is mostly a case of sitting and waiting and imploring others for help, in the absence of an interpersonal eco-systemic support web.
Viewed in this way, the additional benefit from initiatives like Pender Community Transition (PCT) is that they can increase the probability of continued safe passage for oil tankers and freighters through Plumper Sound, although the images flow easily and swiftly to mind of who would be in what roles and dress, which hilly outlooks the cannons would be placed on, where the hostages would be barricaded etc. etc., were Pender Island to bypass the cultivating of ‘resilient’ community and instead become ‘Pirate Island’.
Who would be the swashbuckling pirate captains on Pender, who as Bellamy said, would “plunder the rich as men of courage and curse the ‘crafty rascals’ that rob the poor under the cover of law?” And who would be the female pirates like Mary Read, who, when asked why they lived a pirate’s dangerous life under the shadow of the threat of death-by-hanging, responded that she “supported the penalty of hanging because the fear of it kept off the high seas and out of the pirate’s game, those cowardly ‘crafty rascals’ that robbed the poor under the cover of law while allowing their superiors to kick them about deck at their pleasure”. Pirates such as Read and Bellamy were desirous of living in a community that would continue to be populated by men (and women) who wished to live by courage instead of subservience; i.e. in community that would continue to be the antithesis of that kind of community that the pirates had escaped from, “where people submit to being governed by laws which rich men have made for their own security.”
The ‘romance’ of the ‘Robin Hood’ and pirate communities that gives this alternative life style a continuing place in our literature, is in some way tied up with current trends in our global social dynamic, including PCT, hence the current, serious (scholarly) philosophical inquiry into the ‘Somali pirate phenomenon’. Indeed, it appears as if it is somewhat of an Achilles heel of our top-down sovereigntist culture in that insofar as central authorities do not or cannot adequately address the needs of local community yet will not ‘let go’ of their nominal ‘control’, one of the ‘corrective’ mechanisms is the emergence of ‘pirates’ and ‘Robin Hood bands’. In this sense, PCT and ‘community resilience initiatives’ are less radical alternatives that can subsume the need for a growth in piracy. Meanwhile, there is more than a little of the same sentiment, of wanting to ‘live by courage’ rather than to hide within a system that ‘plunders one another under the cover of law.’ in local community ‘resilience’ initiatives.
Part II, … The Philosophical Underpinnings (for those interested in ‘going deeper’)
To pursue this philosophical inquiry further and deeper, it is noted that one person will say;
(a) ‘Don’t romanticize piracy. It is a murderous thing filled with abusive violations of civil rights.’ This would be the position of Bellamy’s captive that refuses to become a pirate, un-persuaded by the notion of living a life of courage rather than clinging to the security of the centralized organization, because “his conscience would not let him break the laws of God and man.”
While another will say;
(b) ‘Don’t romanticize sovereigntism. It is a murderous thing filled with abusive violations of civil rights.’
Here we have the juxtaposition of conflicting views as are exemplified by, ‘The Official History of the United States’ on the one hand, and, Howard Zinn’s ‘A People’s History of the United States’ (or ‘The Lies My Teachers Told Me.’) on the other.
Which is ‘more true’ or ‘more real’? Which is the ‘real’ Dorian Gray, the one in the portrait of himself that he has hidden, that is revealing the ordinarily hidden and invisible degenerative aspect of himself, or the bright and handsome image of Dorian Gray, the popular and seductive socialite?
We can continue to pursue/deepen this philosophical inquiry without having to think in terms of EITHER centralized, top-down moral-law enforcing society OR the decentralized “corsair information network” that ‘functioned admirably by way of a net of islands, remote hideouts where ships could be provisioned and booty traded, spawning whole mini-societies living consciously outside of sovereigntist law/control and determined to continue to do so, even if only for a short and merry life.”
That is, we know that a shift to a web of ‘resilience communities’ is possible, as was the organizational architecture of the Iroquois five nation Confederacy, which serious researchers into community architecture such as Thomas Jefferson and Friedrich Engels ascertained was a proven alternative to sovereigntist central control;
“To Engels, Morgan’s description of the Iroquois [in Lewis Henry Morgan’s Ancient Society and The League of the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois] was important because “it gives us the opportunity of studying the organization of a society which, as yet, knows no state.” Jefferson had also been interested in the Iroquois’ ability to maintain social consensus without a large state apparatus, as had Franklin. Engels described the Iroquoian state in much the same way that American revolutionaries had a century earlier: “Everything runs smoothly without soldiers, gendarmes, or police, without nobles, kings, governors, prefects or judges; without prisons, without trials. All quarrels and disputes are settled by the whole body of those concerned. . . . The household is run communistically by a number of families; the land is tribal property, only the small gardens being temporarily assigned to the households — still, not a bit of our extensive and complicated machinery of administration is required. . . . There are no poor and needy. The communistic household and the gens know their responsibility toward the aged, the sick and the disabled in war. All are free and equal — including the women. “ — Bruce E. Johansen, Forgotten Founders
These stateless Amerindian communities were not ‘pirate communities’ since ‘piracy’ and thus ‘pirate community’ is defined in terms of ‘being outside of the law’. As Bellamy maintained, ‘robbery’ was going on ‘inside of the law’, undertaken by ‘cowardly crafty rascals’ that rob under the cover of law and who ‘snivelling puppies who allow superiors to kick them about deck at pleasure’.
Philosophically, these ideas, articulated by 18th century pirates (or 21st century Somali pirates) are not new. e.g; the writings of Lao Tzu (ca. 500 BC) and Chuang Tzu (369-286 BC);
The more laws and restrictions there are,
the poorer people become.
The sharper men’s weapons,
the more trouble in the land.
The more ingenious and clever men are,
the more strange things happen.
The more rules and regulations,
the more thieves and robbers.
Chuang Tzu, put it like this:
The invention of weights and measures
makes robbery easier.
signing contracts, setting seals,
makes robbery more sure.
Teaching love and duty
provides a fitting language
with which to prove that robbery
is really for the general good.
A poor man must swing,
for stealing a belt buckle,
But if a rich man steals a whole state
He is acclaimed as statesman of the year.
Hence, if you want to hear the very best speeches
on love, duty, justice, etc.,
listen to statesmen…
and when the statesmen and lawyers
and preachers of duty disappear
There are no more robberies either
And the world is at peace.
Moral: the more you pile up ethical principles
and duties and obligations
To bring everyone in line,
The more you gather loot
For a thief like Khang.
By ethical argument
and moral principle
The greatest crimes are eventually shown
To have been necessary, and, in fact,
A signal benefit to mankind.
(The way of Chuang Tzu, transl. Thomas Merton.)
Evidently, the ‘two different views’ on how to organize the social dynamic, whether from top-down moral authority or by way of a web of peers and peer communities, have not only been around for a long while, the issue on which is preferable has not gone away (‘the jury is still out’). Again, the labelling of the ‘outlaw’ peer web as ‘piracy’ derives from first assuming that the norm is to ‘act within the law’, something that had no meaning to Amerindian society since the ‘Great Law of Peace/Harmony’ was never administered top-down by a moral authority but was a personal moral guideline captured in the ‘Peacemaker Myth’.
The individual was thus encouraged to model their own behaviour after that of the peacemaker, Dekanawidah, who ‘straightens out’ the crooked mind of the evil sorcerer Adodarhoh, who has been a prime obstacle standing in the way of peace and harmony and makes him the keeper of the eternal fire of the five nations. Dekanawidah has the same profile as a Nelson Mandela who, in spite of those around him urging him not to negotiate with the ‘evil white racists’ that stand in the way of peace and who must be eliminated or chased out in a program of ‘purification’, instead ‘negotiates with the devils’ on the basis that ‘both sides’ can let themselves transform in such a way as to allow peace and harmony to be restored to the land. This ‘peacemaker ethic’ was thus the basis for sustaining a harmonious peer-to-peer social ecology without the need for a top-down moral authority driven social organizing approach.
This Amerindian approach to social organization was, of course, overtaken by colonization which embraced the ‘secularized theological concept’ (the term used by legal historians) of ‘sovereigntism’, a top-down moral authority-driven social dynamics management schema that was formulated in the 15th century by European Royalty in collaboration with Christian Religious Authority, as historically documented, for example, in the Papal Bull ‘Romanus Pontifex, January 8, 1455;
“[W]e bestow suitable favors and special graces on those Catholic kings and princes, … athletes and intrepid champions of the Christian faith … to invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens and pagans whatsoever, and other enemies of Christ wheresoever placed, and … to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery, and to apply and appropriate … possessions, and goods, and to convert them to … their use and profit …”
With this background in place, we can return to the issue of, … which best captures ‘truth’ and ‘reality’; ‘The Official History of the United States’ (portraying the nation as a friendly, well-meaning giant) or Howard Zinn’s ‘A People’s History of the United States’ (portraying the nation as the perpetrator of pre-meditated war and genocide)?
This issue wherein it is possible to formulate two very different versions of ‘reality’, which crops up in a diverse multiplicity of situations, is central to the philosophical inquiry of Friedrich Nietzsche, who points out that the question boils down to whether we want to go with the ‘Ideal’ or the ‘Real’ and that what determines this is our ‘values’. The ‘ideal’ is the understanding of the object, person, state on the basis of the artistic image that seeks to capture the essence or soul of the entity, while the ‘Real’ is the understanding that derives from its actual relations with other things. In Nietzsche’s view, western society inverts the natural order of things by going with the ‘Ideal’ instead of the ‘Real’. In this manner, the ‘Ideal’ of a ‘Michael Jackson’ overlooks his paedophilia, and/or, the ‘Ideal’ of the U.S. overlooks its racism and perpetration of genocide on the Indians, much to the chagrin of those who experience the consequences of these behaviours. The debauchery of a Dorian Gray is completely hidden by his ‘prince charming’ social presence and he remains in favour with all those but his victims, who know his ‘dark side’ from their experience with him, but who are drowned out by his fawning admirers.
As Nietzsche observes in ‘The Will to Power’;
“An artist cannot endure reality, he looks away from it, back: he seriously believes that the value of a thing resides in that shadowy residue one derives from colors, form, sound, ideas, he believes that the more subtilized, attenuated, transient a thing or a man is, the more valuable he becomes; the less real, the more valuable. This is Platonism, which, however, involved yet another bold reversal: Plato measured the degree of reality by the degree of value and said: The more “Idea”, the more being. He reversed the concept “reality” and said: “What you take for real is an error, and the nearer we approach the ‘Idea’, the nearer we approach ‘truth’. “–Is this understood? It was the greatest of rebaptisms; and because it has been adopted by Christianity we do not recognize how astonishing it is. Fundamentally, Plato, as the artist he was, preferred appearance to being! lie and invention to truth! the unreal to the actual! But he was so convinced of the value of appearance that he gave it the attributes “being”,”causality” and “goodness”, and “truth”, in short everything men [of our culture] value.
The concept of value itself considered as a cause: first insight. The ideal granted all honorific attributes: second insight.” – Nietzsche, The Will to Power, 572
This ‘charge’ laid by Nietzsche, that we are infusing an inversion-of-reality that puts ‘Ideals’ into unnatural precedence over relational understanding in our (the western world’s) social organizing architecture, is not without its supporters. In fact, one might say that its supporters are a ‘growing minority’ in the overall global populace. The power of ‘image management’ continues to hold sway but it is nevertheless under siege. Michael Jackson will be remembered for the artistry with which he presented himself to the public, rather than for his paedophilic abuse of young boys. As for sovereign states, ‘everybody knows the deal is rotten, everybody knows the captain lies’, but it is only after the state is ‘brought down’ that ‘it will disclose, what everybody knows’ (Leonard Cohen, ‘Everybody Knows’)
The gap between ‘The Official History of the United States’ and ‘A People’s History of the United States’, the former coming from an approach which elevates the ‘Ideal’ above the ‘Real’, a sort of ‘image management’ approach to writing history, and the latter coming from actual relational experiences, is what prompted Amerindians to give European colonizers the label ‘speaks with forked tongue’. What determines which of these histories we take for ‘real’ is; … our own ‘values’. That is, it is our ‘values’ that determine ‘reality’.
As Nietzsche said, in our culture, ‘men value truth and goodness’. This is a problem in that ‘truth’ is given meaning relative to ‘untruth’ (‘falsehood’) and ‘goodness’ is given meaning relative to ‘not-goodness’ (‘evil’). This philosophy of defining things by their opposites leads to dysfunction; e.g. By going with ‘the Ideal’ and ‘managing our image’, through which we wish to project the ‘ideal’ of ‘good’, we go into purificationist mode and attempt to purge the description/presentation, of ‘bad’. In our society, the purificationist approach, of putting ‘the bad’ in prison simply ‘hides the bad’ and we do not really remove the bad from ‘our society’ because our society includes its prisons. The purificationist approach is like ridding our sovereigntist kingdom (or privately owned property) of toxic wastes by discharging them over the kingdom walls that notionally separate ‘inside’ from ‘outside’, … but this split between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ is ‘Ideal’ and exists nowhere else but in our ‘idealizing’ mind. By artistically capturing the essence or ‘ideal’ of ‘the local kingdom’, we split it out, in our minds, from its real-world spatial relations. The same is true of a Michael Jackson, a Dorian Gray, and/or a storm-cell in the flow-plenum of the atmosphere.
The portraits of Michael Jackson on stage and of Dorian Gray in his fine dress and articulate form in the swirl of ‘high society’ are only ‘real’ insofar as our personal values embrace the ‘ideal’ as ‘reality’. The same is true of ‘the United States’ or any other object, organism and/or ‘organization’ (e.g. ‘the corporation’). The alternative reality comes by way of acknowledging the continuing relations of things with one another and with the common living space we all share inclusion in. In the following three part figure, in the leftmost portion, the multiple ‘cells’ share in a common ‘living space’; i.e. their developing form, behaviour and organization are shaped by their simultaneous mutual influence. This is the primary ‘reality’ and it is manifestly ‘coevolutional’ or ‘ecological’. ‘Mach’s principle’ articulates this in the terms that; “the dynamics of the habitat are conditioning the dynamics of the inhabitants at the same time as the dynamics of the inhabitants are conditioning the dynamics of habitat’. Or, as Nietzsche (and William Rolph) express it thus; “evolution is a process of diffusion, in which endosmosis predominates over exosmosis”. ‘Evolution’ is understood as the overall ‘becoming’ of the spatial plenum which includes all else, the development of form, behaviour and organization. The suggestion is that the living space dynamics we are included in, are in conjugate relation to the outwelling of our creative potentialities.
In the middle portion of the figure, we idealize the cell (one of them) as a locally existing thing-in-itself and impute to it its own behavioural trajectory and life cycle. Its ecological spatial relations are ignored and discarded in this ‘Idealized’ view. In the right hand portion of the figure, we see an example of the notional (‘Idealized’) ‘life cycle’ in the tradition of the Aristotelian ‘acorn-to-oak-tree’ view of evolution (in this case, the apple-seed to apple tree life-cycle). By ‘idealizing’ the acorn [apple-seed] in terms of local ‘being’ i.e. by artistically capturing its essence and ‘portraying’ it as a ‘local system with its own locally originating, internal process and purpose driven behaviour’, we discard and ignore its real-world ecological, coevolutionary spatial relationships. It is on this basis, by reducing the view to the ‘idealized’ ‘life-cycle’ view, that we get to the ‘hereditary lineage’ concept of evolution in ‘Darwinism’ that Nietzsche scorns in his ‘anti-Darwinist’ writings.
That this ‘idealism’ that has us confuse ‘reality’ with the artistic images of things, that we split out from their coevolutional spatial relations and re-baptise as ‘local things-in-themselves’, is infused in our biological sciences, is another reason why we are having such difficulty in acknowledging the ‘alternative’, down to earth, ‘reality’, in terms of spatial-relations. Modern biological research, as with stem-cells and regeneration in newts, the liver etc. is showing us that ‘genes’ do not determine their own development in an acorn-to-oak-tree fashion. DNA serves as a blueprint, but one that is not capable of implementing itself. The implementing of DNA, into proteins, is informed by ‘signals from the environment’. Thus the same stem-cells placed in three petri dishes containing three different solutions, will develop, alternatively, into muscle cells, bone cells, and fat cells. More than this, the same DNA can produce thousands of different proteins depending on how different ‘signals from the environment’ implement the DNA. Regeneration in newts and in other regenerative tissues/organs can be understood with this outside-inward shaping influence in mind, which brings spatial-relations to bear on cell development.
Also, the formerly curious finding that cell behaviour continues unaffected when the cell nucleus (the DNA and more) is removed, confirms that ‘genes’ do not determine behaviour. The cell with the DNA removed cannot, however, reproduce, therefore the role of DNA is in cell reproduction but reproduction and heredity are secondary phenomena relative to the outside-inward influence on development associated with ‘signals from the environment’. The theory of Lamarck (and Rolph and Nietzsche) wherein “evolution is a process of diffusion, in which endosmosis predominates over exosmosis” is far more in agreement with these current findings in biological research, than is the ‘acorn-to-oak-tree’ theory of Darwinist genetics.
Our inquiry into the nature and origins of ‘organization’ influences our views across all levels, from micro to macro, including the macro realm of human social relations. As biological researcher Bruce Lipton says in Chapter 1 of ‘The Biology of Belief’ , we have infused our assumptions of organization, not only into our biological theories of genetics and evolution, but also into our theories of social organization;
“Not only did Lamarck present his theory fifty years before Darwin, he offered a much less harsh theory of the mechanisms of evolution. Lamarck’s theory suggested that evolution was based on an ‘instructive,’ cooperative interaction among organisms and their environment that enables life forms to survive and evolve in a dynamic world. His notion was that organisms acquire and pass on adaptations necessary for their survival in a changing environment. Interestingly, Lamarck’s hypothesis about the mechanisms of evolution conform to modern cell biologists’ understanding of how immune systems adapt to their environment as described above. … One reason some scientists are taking another look at Lamarck is that evolutionists are reminding us of the invaluable role cooperation plays in sustaining life in the biosphere. Scientists have long noted symbiotic relationships in nature. …Suffice it to say that after four months in paradise, teaching in a way that clarified my thinking about cells and the lessons they provide to humans, I was well on my way to an understanding of the New Biology, which leaves in the dust the defeatism of genetic and parental programming as well as survival-of-the-fittest Darwinism.” – Bruce Lipton
That is, inquiry into these topics of organization and behaviour, and how the ecological aspect that is so important to our experience is discarded and ignored, touches on our most basic assumptions. As Nietzsche says; “He [Plato] was so convinced of the value of appearance that he gave it the attributes “being”,”causality” and “goodness”, and “truth”, in short everything men value.”
Note that images of ‘being’ such as DNA structures, notionally endowed with their own locally originating, internal process driven powers of causation, cannot possibly explain form, behaviour and organization that unfolds under the shaping influence of ‘signals from the environment’. No matter how impressed we are with the image we have captured of the storm-cell, there is nothing in its ‘being’ and in its notional ‘powers of causation’ that can capture ‘its essence’. That can only be understood in terms of its conjugate habitat-inhabitant relation, how it transforms and is transformed by the dynamic living space it shares inclusion in. All imputing of ‘goodness’ or ‘badness’ to ‘the image’ or idealized ‘local being’ is misplaced since such a notion depends upon being able to split the ‘being’ out of its conjugate habitat-inhabitant relation. The impossibility of splitting the storm-cell out of its coevolutional unfolding is easily discerned in the three part figure . It is only by ‘idealization’ that we do this. In the real world, the people of the United States are included in the same space as everyone else and are bound up in the same coevolutional unfolding, just as the storm-cell is. The notion of imputing ‘local being’ to the United States, and imputing ‘locally originating, internal-process driven behaviour’ to the ‘local being’ we create with definitions and words is all ‘idealization’ that should not be confused for ‘reality’.
Nietzsche’s inference is that this rendering of physical phenomena in terms of ‘being’, and ‘causation’ (‘doer-deed’) is all ‘upside down’. His contention that it is ‘Fiktion’ to portray the general ‘ecological/coevolutional becoming’ of our real-life experience by means of the ‘Ideals’ of “being”,”causality” and “goodness”, and “truth” is hard to argue with; i.e. it fits our experiential data whereas our ‘idealizations’ in terms of local ‘beings’ with ‘locally originating causal powers’ does not reconcile with experience. “Everybody knows the deal is rotten, everybody knows the captain lies’, but it is only after the state is ‘brought down’ that ‘it will disclose, what everybody knows.”
We know the reductive ‘idealizing’ process, and we can easily review it by reference to the three part figure of the multiple ‘cells’, bringing out the following four points;
1. We impute ‘local being’ or ‘I’ status to an emergent, developing form that is clearly included within an ecological, coevolutional dynamic; i.e. the ‘form’ is a ‘flow-feature’ or ‘ripple’ in the energy-charged plenum of space. This applies generally, according to relativity and quantum physics.
2. Once we have used ‘artistic idealization’ to split the form out of its ecological, spatial-relational experience and endowed it with ‘local being’ or ‘I’ status, we further endow it with the powers of ‘causation’ (doer-deed capabilities). The cells can then act as if they were local individuals with their own ‘free will’, and proceed to ‘strengthen’, ‘move north’, ‘wreak destruction’, ‘dissipate’ etc. (ignoring their inherent, inextricable inclusion in the coevolutional/ecological unfolding of the flow-plenum ).
3. once we have created, by artistic idealization, the local doer-of-deed entity (e.g. the notional ‘local system, notionally equipped with its own locally originating, internal process driven behaviour’; the Newtonian-physics based model of the biological organism), we can forget about its coevolutional relations and bring our own judgment to bear as to whether ‘ITS BEHAVIOUR’ is ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
4. the ‘truth’ of all of the aforementioned three points, is a ‘relative truth’. This ‘idealized’ version of ‘reality’ is of the type that delivers ‘The Official History of the Cell’ (i.e. corresponding to ‘The Official History of the United States’) which ignores ‘that other reality’ that acknowledges its Mach’s principle ‘inclusion’ within the spatial plenum wherein, when a million colonists move in and settle in a halo around a community of 2,000 Amerindians, the lives of the Amerindians are transformed, like that of sailboaters in a stormy sea, even without direct attacks by the colonists. This in accordance with Mach’s principle; “The dynamics of the habitat are conditioning the dynamics of the inhabitants at the same time as the dynamics of the inhabitants are conditioning the dynamics of the habitat”. Indians do not ‘live inside reservations’ and determine their own fates within this, their own space. There is no ‘inside’ to a reservation that is exclusive of ‘its outside’, and there is no such thing as ‘one’s own space’. It is all the same space, the notion of a mutually exclusive inside and outside is an idealist invention that is part of the idealist concept of ‘sovereigntism’.
“Sovereignty became “the dominant concept in the field of … political assumptions. … the essential qualification for full membership [in] the international community.” The concept of “sovereignty” provided state power with an “inside” and an “outside.” (Bartelson, Jens. A Genealogy of Sovereignty.). States claimed supreme power inside what they called their “domestic” realms and defined other states’ realms as “outside.” —D’Errico, American Indian Sovereignty: Now You See It, Now You Don’t, http://www.umass.edu/legal/derrico/nowyouseeit.html ]
So, this issue of ‘truth’ is a problem that comes down to how we envision ‘space and matter’, ‘habitat and inhabitant’. For if we idealize the colonizers as ‘local beings’ in the manner of points 1. to 3, above, then we cannot attribute the impoverishment of the Indians ‘INSIDE’ their reservations to actions on the part of the ‘colonizers’ seen as ‘local systems with their own locally originating, internal process-driven behaviours’, … because this artistic idealization-based view discards and ignores the inherent ‘connectedness’ of the colonizers and Indians by way of Mach’s principle; “The dynamics of the habitat are conditioning the dynamics of the inhabitants at the same time as the dynamics of the inhabitants are conditioning the dynamics of the habitat.” That is, it is only ‘idealization’ that gives the sense that real-world dynamics can be reduced to the ‘doer-deed’ (cause-and-effect) actions of locally existing ‘beings’ on one another. How the colonizers condition the common living space by working the ‘halo’ that envelopes the Indian reserve; e.g. how they clear land, farm it, hunt it, discharge into it, etc. conditions the behaviour of those creatures (the full ecosystem including humans) living within the Indian reserve; i.e. living within the common finite and unbounded space that wraps around and over the surface of the earth, the ‘thin blue band’ that wraps over the earth’s surface.
Now we can see what is involved in choosing between the two different ‘realities’ presented by ‘The Official History of the United States” and ‘A People’s History of the United States’, and likewise for the two different way of ‘presenting/representing Dorian Gray, Michael Jackson etc. etc. The choices can be seen in the three part figure of the multiple cells. Are we to understand visible material entities as coevolutional participants within a common living space; i.e. as ‘ripples in a spatial plenum’ (as in relativity and quantum physics) in which case ‘A People’s History of the United States’ is the appropriate ‘reality option’, or are we to understand visible material entities via a Platonic artistic idealization of them, as ‘local beings’ that move about and interact in a notional absolute fixed and empty reference space, in which case ‘The Official History of the United States’ is the ‘reality’ option’? A good photographer, film producer, sound crew can produce footage of Michael Jackson that infuses an image in one’s head that is so ‘good’ that there is no possibility that any mere gossip about what purportedly went on in some dark enclave is going to be allowed to challenge it. The voices of the victims will never be heard in the din of applause and, more than that, the admiring crowd does not want to hear them. Who would allow tales of genocide told by drunken, illiterate Indians and reported on in ‘A People’s History of the United States’ to taint the proud ‘Official History of the United States’.
Which of these ‘reality options’ is the ‘truth’?
In Nietzsche’s view, as in the earlier quote, the choice of realities in such cases derives from our values;
Plato measured the degree of reality by the degree of value and said: The more “Idea”, the more being. He reversed the concept “reality” and said: “What you take for real is an error, and the nearer we approach the ‘Idea’, the nearer we approach ‘truth’. “–Is this understood? It was the greatest of rebaptisms; and because it has been adopted by Christianity we do not recognize how astonishing it is. Fundamentally, Plato, as the artist he was, preferred appearance to being! lie and invention to truth! the unreal to the actual! But he was so convinced of the value of appearance that he gave it the attributes “being”,”causality” and “goodness”, and “truth”, in short everything men [of our culture] value.
But Nietzsche didn’t stop there. He pointed to the need for a ‘new, beyond good and evil [beyond absolutist idealization] philosophy’ that brings us back around to the Peacemaker myth, wherein behaviour is not governed by absolute laws from some centralized moral authority, but where such laws serve only as guidelines, like the DNA blueprint that does not ‘self-implement’, whose implementation is informed by ‘signals from the environment’ which capture its unique and particular situational inclusion in the spatial plenum. That is, like the wildgeese whose ‘V’ flying organization is orchestrated by the dynamics of space they are included in. The geese ‘give themselves up’ to the sustaining of harmony by letting their behaviour and development be orchestrated by the dynamics of space they find themselves situationally included in (they do not originate their behaviour within themselves on the basis of generalized laws decreed by some moral authority ‘above them’;
“The individual was thus encouraged to model their own behaviour after that of the peacemaker, Dekanawidah, who ‘straightens out’ the crooked mind of the evil sorcerer Adodarhoh, who has been a prime obstacle standing in the way of peace and harmony and makes him the keeper of the eternal fire of the five nations. Dekanawidah has the same profile as a Nelson Mandela who, in spite of those around him urging him not to negotiate with the ‘evil white racists’ that stand in the way of peace and who must be eliminated or chased out in a program of ‘purification’, instead ‘negotiates with the devils’ on the basis that ‘both sides’ can let themselves transform in such a way as allow peace and harmony to be restored to the land. This ‘peacemaker ethic’ was thus the basis for sustaining harmonious peer-to-peer social ecology without the need for top-down moral authority driven social organization.”
Conclusion or Summary;
The romance that we can feel in the ‘pirate community’ scenario and/or the Robin Hood band scenario derives from the notion of ‘living by courage’ rather than by submission to the laws of moral authority imposed upon us by ‘those above us’. The Amerindians were a ‘stateless people’ who lived by a moral authority that was personal, and in the case of the Iroquois five nation confederacy, they were guided by the Peacemaker myth of Dekanawidah and Adodarhoh. They were not ‘outlaws’ or ‘pirates’ because the world that they lived in did not have the ‘norm’ wherein the individual was subject to top-down, moral authority driven, moral law enforcement. That is, ‘piracy’ is an ‘outlaw’ behaviour but there can be no ‘outlaws’ in a world where ‘moral law’ is personal rather than imposed from above; e.g. as with a ‘Robin Hood’ band in pre-colonial America.
Today, the entire surface area of the Earth has been taken over by sovereigntist regimes that organize the social dynamic by top-down moral authority. To try to live outside of this system is to be in violation of this top-down law enforcing system that claims control over the territory of the entire earth. Thus, to revert to living ‘by courage’ and by the guidance of one’s own ‘moral authority’ in the manner of the Amerindian culture is to be labelled a ‘pirate’ or ‘outlaw’ by the predominating system.
Global protests and piracy arise where such centralized systems fail to be sensitive to the needs of their members and which meanwhile, by processes inherent in the system, strip local communities of their own means of survival. Colonization has been imposed on the world. The tribal peoples of the world never voted to bring it in. It was mercilessly thrust upon them. Unfortunately, central control based sovereigntist systems, having stripped local tribal communities of their land and means of survival, are often unable to adequately serve those local communities via the central control based system. There is often favouritism and corruption or simply incompetence. The coastal Somali communities are a case in point.
One might expect that now that the ‘global rollout’ of sovereigntism (colonization) is complete, the time will come when there will be a review of the ‘philosophy’ that has given rise to this self-anointed top-down moral authority-driven approach to sustaining order and organization in the social dynamic. Perhaps the Amerindian approach which works through the moral authority of the individual has been dismissed too quickly.
A review, if and when it comes (the critiques on effectiveness [lack thereof] of centralized authoritarian systems abound, however, the philosophical foundations are not commonly being questioned) will have to address the dual optional ‘realities’, brought up by Nietzsche, the one based on ‘Idealization’ that represents the world dynamic in terms of ‘individual beings’ and their ‘interactions’ and the other based on ‘spatial relations’ wherein ‘individuals’ are included in an overall ‘becoming’ and are thus ‘centres of experience’ in the manner of ‘ripples’ within an energy-charged spatial plenum.
If Nietzsche is correct, it is a question of our ‘values’ that will decide which of these reality options we shall continue on with. What we personally take as ‘truth’ is bound up in this; e.g. whether we believe the universe is governed by laws from outside and beyond it, or whether we understand ourselves as participants in the evolving of the spatial plenum, whereby we let our unfolding behaviour be informed and orchestrated by signals from the environment in which we are each uniquely and particularly situationally included.
As he suggests, it is tempting for us, if we are situated within the upper wealthy and privileged classes, to opt for the truth that comes from the ONE above and beyond us (divine right), which would preserve our privileged ‘positioning’. By the same token, it is tempting for us, if we are situated within the lower impoverished and underprivileged classes, to opt for our own truth, the truth of the MANY (individual right). This is why he suggests that we are in need of a new strain of philosophy that is ‘beyond good and evil’;
“Admitting untruth as a condition of life: that means to resist familiar values in a dangerous way; and a philosophy that dares this has already placed itself beyond good and evil. … Little by little I came to understand what every great philosophy to date has been: the personal confession of its author, a kind of unintended and unwitting memoir; and similarly, that the moral (or immoral) aims in every philosophy constituted the actual seed from which the whole plant invariably grew. Whenever explaining how a philosopher’s most far-fetched metaphysical propositions have come about, in fact, one always does well (and wisely) to ask first: “What morality is it (is he) aiming at?” Thus I do not believe that an “instinct for knowledge” is the father of philosophy, but rather that here as elsewhere a different instinct has merely made use of knowledge (and kNOwledge) as its tool. For anyone who scrutinizes the basic human instincts to determine how influential they have been as inspiring spirits (or demons and goblins) will find that all the instincts have practiced philosophy, and that each one of them would like only too well to represent itself as the ultimate aim of existence and as the legitimate master of all other instincts. For every instinct is tyrannical; and as such seeks to philosophize.” – Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future
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This entry was posted by ted lumley on February 25, 2011 at 1:40 am, and is filed under APN. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.
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