The Way Out of This Mess Is the Way of Mahatma Gandhi
by Jeff Knaebel
by Jeff Knaebel
"Government is now a political anarchy, an anarchy inside power"
~ Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Democracy, the God that Failed.
My life is not about being a corporate biological robot servomechanism whose mind is stored in a computer disk, waiting to be told by The Machine how to live, what to fear, and whom to kill. I am here to become a man, alive and free to love and be loved.
THE LAWS OF LIFE
"Mind precedes all phenomena;
mind is their chief, all phenomena are mind-made."
~ The Dhammapada
The greatest wealth is a deep understanding of the Laws of Nature.
A look at biology shows the unitary independent nature of the human organism. We are born as separate units, one at a time. Likewise we die as separate entities one at a time. All our acts in between are separate units as well, even in cooperative endeavors. An aggregation of any sort into any form of organized group fails to blend even two persons into one unit, so long as there is life in each.
Even in a panic where the herd seems to operate as a unit, it is entirely individual persons who do all the acting. Every collective is an illusory construction. Biologists are helping us to see the concept of the social collective as an empty meaningless shell of imaginary form.
Liberty is the absence of coercion of a human being by any other human being. To have liberty means to be free without modification or qualification so far as social relationships are concerned. This is apparent when you consider the alternatives for any one social act. There are two possibilities: (1) you determine what you shall do; (2) you are prohibited from determining what you shall do. The second means that some other person or persons will decide what you shall do, and force you to do it. This defines slavery rather than liberty.
Man is a social being. The above-described liberty is not confined to self-willed conduct operating in isolation. All the forces of social cooperation operate to influence one's actions as a free man. I believe that such influences operate at their best and come to full fruition of nobility among men only under liberty.
Moral considerations have no place except where liberty exists. A person cannot do "right" except where there is option to do "wrong." No problem of morals can be resolved in absence of liberty. All that can be done by enslavement is to remove moral choice from the enslaved. As per Thomas Davidson, "That which is not free is not responsible, and that which is not responsible is not moral. Freedom is the condition of morality."
If we are alive in an ordered universe, the existence of universal, unchanging eternal truths follows from the premise. If these eternal truths and unchanging principles exist, then one may hypothesize the existence of moral truths — moral law if you wish, as part of the universe in which we live. This moral law would then be higher than, and rule over, our social, statutory laws of society, custom and tradition.
It would remain man's job to discover these laws by search, analogous to discovering the laws of physical science. We would deny as moral truth any prescription by majority rule, or kingly decree, or Executive Order. All these prescriptions would be denied as invalid sources per se.
Since the end is embodied in the means, no freedom-loving person can employ other than purely voluntary means. Liberty cannot be institutionalized. Only encroachments of liberty can be institutionalized. Liberty cannot be legislated, adjudicated, constituted, democratized or decreed. Liberty is liberty by law of nature.
We must never give up. If we should ever give up and say that liberty is dead, we have pronounced that human life no longer exists. The urge to be free is embodied within and intrinsic to human consciousness itself.
~ Adapted from F.A. Harper, 1957.
SERFDOM IS BY OUR OWN CONSENT ONLY
"Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place bands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer. Then you will behold him, like a great colossus whose pedestals have been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break into pieces."
~ Étienne de la Boétie, The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude
It would be good to absorb into our consciousness the insight of La Boétie that any State, no matter how ruthless and despotic, rests on the consent of the majority of the public. La Boétie observed that this consent of despotism is engineered, largely by propaganda beamed at the populace by rulers and their intellectual apologists. The devices — of bread and circuses, ideological mystification, exaggerated threats to security — remain today the same as in La Boétie's time.
"Gandhi saw that the power of any tyrant depends entirely on people willing to obey. The tyrant may get people to obey by threatening to throw them in prison, or by holding guns to their heads. But the power still resides in the obedience, not in the prison or the guns."
~ Mark Shepard, Civil Disobedience, Nonviolence and Satyagraha in the Real World, 1990
Leo Tolstoy's Letter to a Hindu was an important influence on Ghandi's thinking about mass nonviolent action. This letter in turn was heavily influenced by La Boétie. In The Law of Love and the Law of Violence, Tolstoy quoted at length from La Boétie, and summed up,
"It would seem that the [citizens], not gaining any advantage from the restraint that is exercised on them, should at last realize the lie in which they are living and free themselves in the simplest and easiest way: by abstaining from taking part in the violence that is only possible with their cooperation."
Two centuries after La Boétie, David Hume writes, Of the First Principles of Government,
"We shall find that, as Force is always on the side of the governed, the governors have nothing to support them but opinion. It is therefore on opinion only that government is founded; this maxim extends to the most despotic and military governments, as well as to the most free and popular."
~ Both quotations above are taken from Ending Tyranny Without Violence by Murray Rothbard
HAPPINESS RESTS ON TRUTH ALONE
Edmund Burke said in 1756, as did Gandhi in our time, "Happiness in the long run rests on truth alone, and that truth is the natural law of human activity and human relations."
He goes on to say that States violate the Law of Nature. In a nearly perfect match of the earlier quote of Gandhi, he says that injustice is grounded in the very nature of the State itself, because the State is necessarily supported by violence.
"To prove that these sorts of political societies are a violation of nature and a constraint upon the human mind, one need only look upon the instruments of violence which are everywhere used to support them. Review the dungeons, whips, chains, racks, gibbets with which every society is abundantly stored …. I acknowledge indeed, the necessity of such a proceeding in such institutions; but I must have a very mean opinion of institutions where such proceedings are necessary." (Works, 1900).
Look, now, at how far we have progressed since 1756. Look at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, rendition, water-boarding, rape rooms and a proud nation's legislation to legalize torture.
How is it that our state of denial — our absence of shame — is so profound that we can even discuss our relationship to "civilization," when we have so clearly devolved to lawfully incorporated industrialized barbarianism? Again Burke, "In proportion as we have deviated from the plain rule of our nature, and turned our reason against itself, in that proportion have we increased the follies and miseries of mankind."
It seems to me that in the realm of social organization, mankind is at the point of a profound choice. It will be worked out to success or failure over a long time period — unless we earlier blow ourselves to kingdom come. Yet, the direction of intellectual and practical work I feel must be determined now itself.
The great divide is between a stateless society of free people in voluntary associations freely entered — Carl Watner calls it the voluntaryist society — or a statist society. Gene Callahan puts it succinctly in his essay, The Most Crucial Gap in Politics:
"Once one accepts the notion that initiating aggression is OK under any circumstances whatsoever — then the case for human liberty has been abandoned, and all that remains is to argue over what degree of enslavement is acceptable." (LewRockwell.com, 11 April 2005)
A SELF-REGULATING HUMAN COMMUNITY
As guides to the way out, as well as the proven designs for a self-regulating human community of love and reason, I am drawn to Hind Swaraj by Mohandas Gandhi, A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, Basic Call to Consciousness by John Mohawk, the Tao Te Ching, and socially engaged Buddhism, together with the village self-rule traditions of India.
Stop trying to control.
Let go of fixed plans and concepts,
and the world will govern itself.
The more prohibitions you have,
the less virtuous people will be.
The more weapons you have,
the less secure people will be.
The more subsidies you have
the less self-reliant people will be.
Let go of the law,
and people become honest.
Let go of economics,
and people become prosperous.
Let go of religion,
and people become serene.
Let go of all desire for the common good,
and the good becomes common as grass.
~ Tao Te Ching
Lao Tzu figured that the individual and his happiness was the key unit of society. If institutions hampered individual flowering and happiness, then they should be abolished. For Lao Tzu, the government — with its "laws and regulations more numerous than the hairs of an ox" — was a vicious oppressor, "more to be feared than fierce tigers."
"Take Care, Lest They Realize That They Can Do Without Rules"
Tracing our present sorry situation back to the time when the Constitution was imposed upon a free people by the manufactured consent of a few dozen powerful men, take note of the words of one the founding fathers to get a feel of "where they were coming from," and where they intended to put their less arrogant fellowmen.
"Gentlemen [of the Constitutional convention] you see that in the anarchy in which we live, society manages much as before. Take care, if our disputes last too long, that the people will come to think they can just as easily do without us."
~ Benjamin Franklin, quoted in Rebirth of Liberty, Carl Watner, 11 July 2005
ANCIENT THINKERS: THE SYSTEM ITSELF IS THE PROBLEM
Two centuries later Chuang Tzu reiterated Lao Tzu's opposition to State rule. He said,
"There has been such a thing as letting mankind alone, with success. Good order results spontaneously when things are let alone. The common people have a constant nature. They spin and are clothed, till and are fed. It is what may be called their natural freedom. These people of natural freedom are born and die themselves, suffer from no restrictions or restraints, and are neither quarrelsome nor disorderly.
If rulers were to establish laws to govern the people, it would be no different from stretching the short legs of the duck and trimming off the long legs of the heron — or haltering a horse. Such rules would not only be of no benefit, but would work great harm. The world simply does not need governing — in fact it should not be governed."
Chuang Tzu may have been the first theorist to see the State as brigand writ large, saying,
"A petty thief is put in jail. A great brigand becomes ruler of a State."
There Is No Ruler Comparable In Virtue To Non-Rule
Pao Ching-yen was the culmination of these anarchistic thinkers and lived in fourth century AD.
He contrasted earlier days of stateless society with his current times. "There were no rulers and no officials. People dug wells and drank, tilled fields and ate. They went to work at sunrise and rested at sunset. Placidly going their ways without encumbrance, they achieved their own fulfillment." In the stateless age there was no warfare. "Where knights and hosts could not be assembled, there was no battlefield … ideas of using power for advantage had not yet taken root. Into this condition of peace there came violence and deceit instituted by the State. The history of government is the history of violence, of the strong plundering the weak."
Pao wrote that the system itself is the problem. The object of government is not to benefit the people, but to control and plunder them. There is no ruler who can compare in virtue with a condition of non-rule. He also demonstrated that the very existence of institutionalized violence by the State generates imitative violence among the people.
The common idea that strong government is needed to combat disorder among the people commits the error of confusing cause and effect.
~ Quotes of the three Chinese theorists are from An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought, Mises Institute).
The American Experience Cut to the Chase
"Whenever a people… entrust the defence of their country to a regular, standing army, composed of mercenaries, the power of that country will remain under the direction of the most wealthy citizens."
~ A Framer — Anonymous ‘framer' of the US Constitution — Source: Independent Gazetteer, January 29, 1791 (here sourced from Information Clearing House). See also Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins, and When Corporations Rule the World by David Korten
"I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all members of the military profession I never had an original thought until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of the higher- ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service." [and also of a populace brainwashed by the compulsory public education system of the State. ~ Ed]
~ General Smedley Butler. USMC (Ret.), War Is A Racket
"Anarchism is not a romantic fable but the hardheaded realization, based upon five thousand years of experience, that we cannot entrust the management of our lives to kings, priests, politicians, generals and county commissioners."
~ Edward Abbey
"Liberty is the mother, not the daughter of order."
~ Llewellyn H. Rockwell, The Impossibility of Imposed Freedom, 8 December 2005
SITUATION AND PROSPECTS
"Humanity is now faced with a stark choice: Evolve, or die."
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth, 2005
Through my small window on the world, I see in the scientific and industrial revolutions a convoluted, enigmatic process of growth-decay-new growth pursuant to which mankind has constructed an institutional machine. To this machine he has become totally subservient. The machine has taken over. It is carrying humanity mindlessly along a road to self-destruction. I call this machine the Corporate Warfare State.
It is made of all cold metallic machine parts, like a machine. Its command and control center is mechanically intelligent far beyond the capacity of the individual human mind. It is self-replicating and operates continuously through the cycles of human generations. The human tools for its construction have been primarily ignorance, fear, greed, domination, exploitation, deceit and violence.
Like a computer, it has a programmed operating system. Its program is utterly malevolent and purely evil. It mechanically devours all creatures great and small. Its preferred flavor is human flesh. Its program code is for the cannibalization of all living beings.
At the present moment, The Machine is in near-total domination of humanity. It is gaining.
As its operating technicians it attracts the most evil members of the human species. Men who are corruptible and who live by power and domination. To these temporary employees it offers the most sought emoluments of money, power, sex, public honors and total control. The men drawn to its service are those in whose heart the fire of love — while still existing — has been nearly extinguished by fear and greed. Measured by the standard of deeds, some of these men appear to be darkly evil to the core.
Our Work Is to Break the Egoic Pattern
"The moment is arising when you must find a basis of unity which is not political … There is only one history — the history of Man. All national histories are chapters in the larger one."
~ Rabindranath Tagore (writing four generations ago)
Measured by the parameters of clinical psychology, the men in offices of the Power Structure suffer from chronic paranoid delusions, kleptomania, a pathological tendency to commit murder and acts of extreme violence and cruelty, an obsessive acting out of ruthless domination. Diagnosis: criminally insane.
The Machine cannot be "fixed" or reprogrammed. Any attempt to replace its operators will prove fruitless. Any new hires will be men of the same character, for no other type of man wants the job. We have granted power of life or death to a machine whose only moral code is force.
I see our hope as being simply to abandon The Machine. Let it fall in a heap of irrelevance and disuse until finally it has rusted into the dustbin of history. The work demanded of us requires an ethical life of nonviolence and peace. This in turn requires withdrawal from the system and creation of a new human culture. Let this culture arise the way new grass springs up through the hulks of machines rusting in the world's junkyards. It is slow and organic. It is Life.
Our work is to break the egoic patterns that hold us in thrall of fear and greed. We must abandon ideologies and belief systems. Each must come home to the truth of self. We must abandon the lucre on offer by The Machine and tread the independent path of self-reliance, self respect and human dignity.
We must seek a transformation of our individual consciousness as contribution toward transformation of human consciousness. I feel it begins with reclaiming our integrity.
But first, we must ask — and answer — the question: do we really want peace? If we really do want peace, it is not difficult of achievement. Simply cease making war. Begin spreading compassion.
CONSUMING ANOTHER'S LIFE — THE PSYCHOSIS OF CANNIBALISM
"Civilization does not mean electric lights. It does not mean producing atomic bombs, either. Civilization means not killing people."
~ Nichidatsu Fujii, Hiroshima survivor, in "Columbus and Other Cannibals" by Prof. Emeritus (UCal) J.D. Forbes, PhD., 1992
All around us are examples of insane persons acting through the power of the State, killers and cannibals of the earth, users and abusers of fellow human beings.
The ethos of modern Western civilization seems to be satiation of material and sensual desire. The ethos of India — until quite recently — was restraint and control of the senses and material desires. The theme of a conference styled "Dhamma-Based Cultures Meet" highlights the concern of Indian elders. "Dhamma" here means laws of nature. I feel this theme also points the way out, as proposed in this present writing.
Background of the conference was concern for threats to human civilization posed by intolerant, illogical and violent thought patterns presently dominating.
For Us the World Is One Family and Not A Market
"Consumerism has spread. Materialism is gripping humanity. Our Indian value system is at stake. Permissiveness has become dominant. Terrorism has become global."
"Struggle for existence, survival of the fittest, exploitation of nature, struggle for individual rights seem to be guiding principles. This has led to two world wars, unthought-of terrorism and dehumanizing lifestyle. The danger is awful.
"Dharma is basis of cosmic and individual existence. Dharma principles are universal and eternal. They are nature-and-life friendly. Not struggle, but harmony has been our attitude. Serving those in need was natural. That fittest would ensure survival of others was an inbuilt feeling. Uniformity is neither desirable nor feasible. Diversity ensures richness and beauty. Nature was revered as Mother. Man could "milk" her as would a child suckle its mother, but could never think of exploiting her. Duty consciousness rather than rights consciousness has been our ethos. Everyone doing one's own duty implies fulfillment of one another's rights.
"We have been attacked, enslaved and exploited during the last ten centuries. In 20th century we became politically free. Now we must get rid of mental shackles. Legacy of enslavement still lingers. We are enamored by the consumerist glamour of the West. We are not conscious of our cultural potentialities. We have deeper value systems. They are inclusive, holistic and eco-friendly. For us, the world is one family and not a market.
"Evolution implies involution. Man's journey is from gross to subtlest to Beyond to Immanent.
Oneness exists at the deepest innermost level. This is not some intellectual belief, but is based upon invaluable sublime experiences termed by various names such as Nibbana, Moksha, Divine Light, Shunya, Universal Spirit. We don't enforce our views. What is important is that an elevating life spring flow through our traditions for the integral holistic growth of whole of humanity."
Our First Task Is Liberty
I believe that this conference theme represents the way out and the key to human survival.
It cannot be accomplished in the present regime of the Corporate Warfare State. It can only be accomplished through voluntary cooperation of free men living in a condition of liberty. Our first task is liberty.
The workshop of liberty is the mind. It is there we must begin. The political goal is a stateless society. We begin with our own mind. Then will we build a new earth from the grass. With Satyagraha — the force of nonviolence and love — with strong adherence to truth.
WHAT ONE CAN DO : If it is to be, it is up to me.
The path is made by walking ~ African proverb
A definition to keep in mind for part of what follows: pro-government teachers, preachers, journalists, and intellectual apologists for the State tell us that "anarchist" means one who favors "chaos" and "violence." This is not true.
In the common experience of humanity over several thousand years, it is the opposite of truth. In actual, observable fact and history, it is government that causes chaos and violence. Anarchism in fact means "absence of a ruler." The prefix "an" means negation and the suffix "archy" means rule, hence anarchy means rule by no persons.
Thus the original anarchist is one who believes that a society of self-governing members, in free and voluntary association, without coercion or force, provides the best chance for peace.
An Ethos of Dominate — Exploit — Kill — Hurt — Destroy Is Bound to End Badly
A Machiavellian mass society valuing wealth acquisition and characterized by exploitative relationships must inevitably be a violent society, using force to protect the "haves" from the "have nots" and outsiders. Such a society will destroy itself because its greed will cause it to consume its own resources and even its own people. Self-restraints cannot be effectively imposed because the very nature of the society — its internal dynamic — is to consume [which means to destroy]. Its voracious appetite will cause it literally to eat itself.
~ JDForbes 1973
We — each of us — are the co-creators of a peaceful humanity. As you live peacefully in your daily life, so does almost all of humanity. Who wants this war? It is not wanted by we common people.
It is the System of institutionalized structural violence that creates war. It is the very nature of the State to be at war. We do not want this horrible suffering of our children dying. We do not make war. States only make war. It is the System which must be changed to match us. We will either govern ourselves — responsibly and well — or we will be governed by others. What if we just laid down the State, as a warrior lays down his sword?
Note this fact: whenever you call upon the government to do something for you, the call you make is the bread and butter of the bureaucracy. On your calls and demands, it is nourished. Without that nourishment it could not grow. What you focus upon, increases. If you love your business and work and devote yourself to them, do they not flourish? And if you turn away and shirk your work, does it not wither and die? Likewise, if we can ignore the government, it will shrink.
The idea is to create a parallel economy with community justice based upon nonviolent voluntary mutual cooperation. Slowly we detach ourselves from dependence upon and involvement with the State, until it becomes irrelevant to our peaceful lives. When a sufficient number have achieved independent self-reliance, the State will go out of business for lack of customers.
If we can be strong, the future is ours. If we cannot discipline ourselves, the future belongs to the State. This requires serious introspection. Can we obtain the necessary mental objectivity and strength to devise a way — other than the State — to govern ourselves in voluntary mutual cooperation? Or, are we yet so fearful that we are addicted to the use of compulsion beyond the possibility of change?
Are we still at the level of clubs and axes — now become nuclear bombs — or can we use our tool-making ability to devise a better way?
Deeply Entrenched Power Will Not Voluntarily Abdicate
It will take long and be difficult. We are dealing with power deeply entrenched in every aspect of life and economy, connected to every chance for employment. The military-industrial complex is a massive network of defense contractors, politicians, lobbyists, manufacturers and suppliers which has a deeply rooted institutional priority in continuing the destructive foreign policies of the US. This is now being rapidly imported by India. These entities are not simply going to "bow out gracefully" in the name of peace. And this is only one of the "complexes."
The social welfare complex is a gigantic network of social workers, bureaucrats, NGO's and huge foundations whose raison d'être is poverty or recovering from war. They live by hustling the latest crisis. This complex oversees the distribution of multi-billion dollar programs which function to keep its recipients in a permanent state of dependency, while serving as a cash cow for administrators and managers. See the big bungalows and fancy cars of NGO managers hustling the poor of India.
This NGO-ism is an extension of the Corporate Warfare State, part of the payoff. "You bend 'em, we mend 'em." These entities will protect their self-interest. If there were no Total War Everywhere of the Corporate State, there would be no need of the Red Cross.
The following is taken partly from What Is To Be Done, Steven LaTulippe (LewRockwell.com 20 January 2006). His essay corroborates my sad personal experience. The public infrastructure complex is a web of slum lords, agencies, bureaucrats, construction companies, politicians and finance Mafia who manage public works projects. This complex consumes astronomical sums of public money and is highly motivated to keep the scams going.
All of these games are interconnected and interlinked. A grim statistic from my former home state provides a sense of scale: more than half of the jobs there are in the government or directly connected to the government. This was fifteen years ago — it is bound to be much worse now.
None of these scam-complexes is simply going to dry up and blow away. Preaching limited government to these people will simply not connect. They have no intellectual framework to understand the concepts. It would be like trying to explain calculus to a frog.
There is worse. The Corporate Total State has developed sophisticated methods of manipulation to continue its rule indefinitely. This establishment has co-opted the media (or simply bought it), captured the education system, and designed sophisticated, powerful, clandestine propaganda techniques to influence the masses, and to keep them simply distracted. The whole purpose of these operations is to ensure that the game will continue without effective opposition.
Eventually, like the old Soviet Union, it will collapse. It will run out of time, victims and money. Its fiat currency will collapse and the game will be called. Recent events in the great financial train wreck indicate that this process has already reached the end of the beginning.
For this we prepare ourselves mentally and physically to be self-reliant survivors. Our own work — to wean ourselves from State dependency, so as to starve it — serves the dual purpose of preparing for its inevitable self-destruction. The urgency of the time is to preclude it taking us down with it.
THE OBVIOUSNESS OF ANARCHY — SOME EXAMPLES PAST AND PRESENT
"Social institutions are but the projection or external manifestation of ideas and attitudes existing in people's minds. Change the ideas, and the institutions instantly undergo a corresponding change."
~ Edmund Quincy, 1841
From the Mises Institute we learned that Chuang Tzu (369—286 BC) was the first known to us to work out the idea of spontaneous order, "Good order results spontaneously when things are let alone."
Proudhon worked on these ideas in 19th century and F.A. von Hayek of the Austrian School in 20th. Norman Barry wrote The Tradition of Spontaneous Order in 1982. Howard Rheingold's Smart Mobs (Perseus, 2003) offers hope for the present day, along with many references. He quotes Kropotkin, "Humans are predisposed to help one another without authoritarian coercion. A centralized government is not needed to set an example or to make people do the right thing. People were doing so before the rise of the State. In fact, it is government that represses our natural tendency for cooperation." (Kropotkin lived in former Soviet Union).
The redoubtable Murray Rothbard discusses early American experiences in The Origins of Individualist Anarchism in the US (from Libertarian Analysis, 1970: posted on Mises.org, 17 January 2006). He mentions Albemarle, Rogue's Island, and the "Holy Experiment" of Quakers in Pennsylvania. He reports that the Quaker minister George Keith had concluded logically from the Quaker creed that all participation in government ran counter to Quaker principles.
Rothbard asked: how could anyone professing in nonviolence serve a government in any capacity, since the essence of government was the use of violence? He saw that Quaker nonviolence logically implied not only refusal to bear arms, but complete individualistic anarchism.
As a consequence of their nonviolence, peace with indigenous Indians was preserved for more than half a century. There was no bloodshed. Voltaire wrote of the Quaker achievement, "It was truly a sight to see a government without priests, a people without arms, citizens as magistrates, and neighbors without jealousy."
According to Peter Dillard (Voluntaryist No.129), the oldest voluntaryist society existing in the US is that of the Hopi Indians of Arizona. They have developed a peaceful, nonviolent, anarchistic society that has endured for at least a millennium. I have worked with these people on their "Planting Stick Project." I found them to be a truly remarkable people.
Dillard continues, "The native system of government is in effect a practical system of anarchy. Hopi unity is expressed not in allegiance to a monolithic Hopi "state," but through a voluntary commitment to what is known as the Hopi Way. The structure ensures that authority cannot become concentrated in one person or group. Initiation is not forced — it is only offered. 'This is the very basis of our life, we must not force other people to change their ways.' (Yamada, Hopi Anthology, 1957).
Decisions are made without "arm twisting" (coercion). No votes are taken (no majority rule). The group attempts to find voluntary unanimity. The principled dissent of even one member prevents the proceedings from moving forward on a given issue. Faced by irreconcilable disagreements, Hopi go their separate ways without violence."
It Was Discovered That Man Could Live Without A State
Moving forward in time — to events that were told to me by mining camp friends only one generation removed from eyewitness — here reported by Carl Watner in The Voluntaryist, September 2006: Westward on the Overland Trail and in California during the gold rush, there was no government, no established law, no protection. Throughout the mining districts, the people met and adopted rules for their mutual security. In all the large diggings the established regulations were faithfully observed.
When a new area was opened up, the first thing done was to choose officers and extend the zone of order. "The result was that in a district five hundred miles long, inhabited by 100,000 people, who had neither government, regular laws, military protection, nor even locks or bolts, and a great part of whom possessed wealth enough to tempt the vicious, there was as much security to life and property as in any part of the Union, and a smaller proportion of crime."
"At other times on the American frontier, there was inadequate supply of government circulating currency. So businessmen set up their own mints and provided coined money that effectively competed with government coinage. While the western frontier was stateless, it was not lawless.
As Carroll Quigley observed, when public authority in the western world disappeared around 900 AD, society continued. It was discovered that man can live without a State. Economic life, religious life, law, and property rights can all exist and function effectively."
SURVIVING DESPITE GOVERNMENT
I think with people starting to take another look at the concept of money and feeling helpless, this would be a good time to teach people that there are other ways to live or survive. People have been told all their lives that they need money to live. Believing this statement has led many people to the addiction of money. Someone has to tell them about other possibilities. Like any other instructions you believe in, this habit is hard to break.
~ Lincoln Tritt, Gwich'in Elder, personal communication
I now turn briefly to India, where anarchy thrives within a power structure which itself is anarchic. This country is vast and tumultuous such as to defy description. I can offer only a tiny glimpse. One thing is very clear to me. Only through the order and web-like strength of successful anarchy do the people of India manage to survive, because they must do so despite their government.
The following is taken from Essays on Tradition, Recovery and Freedom by Darampal, Other India Press, 2000. The entire catalog of Other India Bookstore is a worthy resource for finding our way out of the present crisis.
"We have lost our identity, our anchorage in our civilization. This loss of identity afflicts us all. This is a pain that practically all Indians, including the Christians, the Muslims, and the others have to bear in common. We have to find some way out of such a state of rootless-ness. We have to somehow find an anchor again in our civilisational consciousness, in our innate chitta (the perceiving intellect) and kala (cyclical time under law of nature)…. According to our traditional wisdom and understanding of Universal Law, the spirit is the deciding factor in fulfillment of a goal, not the tools."
"It is only because of the ingenuity, the perseverance, and the robustness of our ordinary people, many of whom somehow make do without adequate shelter, or clothing, or even water, that we still survive as a people and as a civilization. We educated Indians do not seem to like what they do: the festivals and the fire-walking that they celebrate — and the various other things which unknown to us, are intimate parts of their lives. Despite all the obstacles which we elite put in their way, they still remain grounded in the soil of India. Our own alienation, indifference and high-handedness notwithstanding, a more worthwhile future can be expected to emerge [from this spirit]."
"Simply because our people by temperament were mild and tolerant, and did not throw stones at us, or murder us in our beds — even when they went without food, clothes and shelter — we had thought that they were nearly dead, or wholly inarticulate and assumed that it was for us to determine their future and to initiate them into prescribed activity. While we believed this to be the state of our people, we who had been left in positions of power, authority, and what we called knowledge, did not even know or certainly did not comprehend, the laws, regulations, procedures and plans which we administered and believed would herald this new India."
"In the period between about 1919—1947, and again briefly in 1977 under the inspiration of Jayaprakash Narayan, large sections of the Indian people began to believe that they could at least build a world of their own, a world constructed according to their own concepts and ideas — that perhaps they may then even be able to help the rest of the world return to sanity. It is possible that many of the more reflective and imaginative types in the West also at times felt that India may have a relevant message, and perhaps could serve as a world model. But the habits and assumptions of the past, built over several generations, asserted themselves and India reverted to its unthinking imitative role. This role benefits not even half percent of Indian people, the political class. It maintains their privileges, but is certainly ruinous to the social and private lives of at least 80% of India's people. The initiative of freedom was snatched away form them after 1947, and what remained was allowed to erode in the flow of time."
"Freedom — or the relaxation of long imposed control leads to flowering of body and mind. It also results in re-manifestation of oppressed emotions and practices. It is possible that the percolating of the sense of freedom amongst the peasantry and rural folk may lead in time to rejection of the hideous and oppressive administrative structures built by the British. The need is that we the elite give up our rigid and frozen postures, achieve some appreciation of social urges, and prepare for change. The change, when it comes, will have its own logic and not be governed by our preconceived notions of it."
"We face two entirely different concepts of society. One is that put forward by Dr. Ambedkar and accepted as basis of the Constitution — the atomized and inorganic view of society which governs political theory and practice in the West. Political democracy is reduced to counting of heads. This gives rise to competing power groups, leading to government not by people but by money power.
"The other is the organic or communitarian view. This view treats of man not as a particle of sand in an inorganic heap, but as a living cell in a larger organic entity. It is natural that in this view the emphasis is more on responsibility than right, just as in the inorganic view it is natural to be the opposite. When the individual lives in community with others, his rights flow from his responsibilities. That is why, in Gandhiji's sociological thought, the emphasis is always laid on responsibility."
"A major aspect of the ahimsak (nonviolent) way of life is to minimize one's needs and to fulfill these as far as possible from within one's immediate neighborhood. His practice of relying on local availability is as important a part of the principle of ahimsa as the doctrine of non-killing. Thus for Gandhi, ahimsa and swadesi (of one's own locality) were not two different principles."
The preceding tour through part of India's philosophy (it is highly diverse, not a singularity) and its social reality provides some background for the situation facing the majority of the population, which is rural. The common people must push against the overwhelming weight of the political class, which inherited its power structure from the British. That they yet live is — to me — a testimony of the strength of anarchy. For the reality, as I see it, is an anarchy of the oppressed struggling under a corrupt power structure which is itself anarchic.
COMMUNITARIAN (VOLUNTARYIST) ANARCHY
What we would deduce is that "civilization" means something terrible indeed: a society in which there are so many evil or violent or dishonest people that massive deployments of armed force and unspeakable weapons of mass destruction acting through armies and police are required for control.
~ Modified after JD Forbes, 1992
For those with a serious interest in community level anarchy, check the publications of the Center for Science and Environment (Delhi) and the magazine Down to Earth (Society for Environmental Communications, Delhi). A few glimpses from my own observation and experience follow.
- "Irrigation projects are a major scam involving political parties in competition to corner public funds. The only solution is to initiate community based water-harvesting techniques …" [This is what happens. The people quit relying on government and provide for themselves, often against resistance of local political "Mafia."]
- "Village has withdrawn all disputes from courts, settles them locally."
- "Self-help groups formed, community agriculture undertaken."
- "Kids manage herbal garden."
- "Women market village garden products and share profits."
- "Our communal achievements have come with difficulty. We will not let them be undone easily."
- "Local law develops spontaneously out of natural law and need to cooperate."
- "I saw the villagers dig wells and tanks worth crores (one crore = ten million rupees) in a matter of days. The government takes a year to install a percolation tank."
- "Cooperative teams of five families work together on each other's fields and the landowner keeps the harvest."
These and similar communitarian projects occur in countless frequency throughout India. I have watched — and participated in — trail and bridge-building projects in which men of two nearby villages worked together voluntarily to connect the villages by a path that had to cross a gorge. They worked together in harmonious anarchy: there was no "boss." As each new challenge was faced, the man with the most suitable skills for that situation was spontaneously self-selected by the group. Among Native American people I have seen this happen without a word spoken.
There are some large-scale projects as well. In Sri Lanka the Sarvodaya Shramadana (shared work) Society organized by Buddhist monk A.T. Ariyaratne has created self-government and locally based economies in about 11,300 villages. These function as almost autonomous "village republics" or mini city-states.
The key to success is moral leadership, embodied in adherence to ten precepts: (1) Sharing — of wealth, knowledge, skills, power, authority; (2) Morality; (3) Beneficence, often as recognition and promotion of talent; (4) Straightforwardness; (5) Impartiality of judgment; (6) Composure in conduct (7) Non-hatred; (8) Nonviolence; (9) Patience; (10) Non-revenge.
At Ralegan Siddhi, the famous program of crusader Anna Hazare has completely transformed a poverty-stricken village into a model of sustainable development and healthy society. This has spread to other villages, selected on the basis of Shramdan (voluntary contribution of labor) and moral standards. Anna's message is to work selflessly without hope of fame or fortune. "Success comes naturally to those who are not greedy for it."
"In a nation where collective finger pointing at politicians and grieving at the slowness of democracy is the style, Rangaswamy Elango is an object lesson. He has chosen to evangelize village-centered development. He lives for his cause, Gram Swaraj — the Autonomous Village. He realized there can be no individual happiness if there is misery all around. He got elected head of his village, removed the outside contractor-political Mafia and embarked on village self-development.
Elango says that he has been deeply influenced by J.C. Kamaruppa's An Economy of Permanence. Now he is forming "village clusters" along the lines of Gandhi's "village republics." He says, "There is an emerging force not visible to the media and most people. It is at work changing India from below. This force cannot be stemmed."
~ Rediff.com News, 2004
Let us hope — for the sake of entire humanity — that Elango is correct in his assessment.
Indigenous people have demonstrated their aspiration to live in a direct relationship with the land, in a healthy community within a healthy environment, free of all outside domination and control, and with full right of self-determination in all aspects of human social function. ~ Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (Paradigm Wars, 2006)
This is perfectly congruent with M.K. Gandhi's vision of Village Swaraj — a vision of self-governing Village Republics.
THE WAY OUT: MIND MATTERS MOST
Though one may conquer a thousand times a thousand men in battle,
yet he indeed is the noblest victor who conquers himself.
~ Dhammapada 103
"We must be the change we wish to see."
~ M.K. Gandhi
The First Step Is Emotional
The whole secret of existence is to have no fear.
Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one.
Only the moment you reject all help are you freed.
I am grateful to Derrick Jensen (A Language Older Than Words; Endgame; Strangely Like War) for these insights. The first step is to give up all hope.
Give up all hope
- That the system will change
- That "they" will change
- That we can bring legal action
- That technology will save us
- That God will save us
- That those who exploit will "see the light" and stop on their own
- That the next election will be different
- That there will be a great uprising of civil disobedience against violence
- That there will be a sudden awakening and shift of consciousness
- That Bush will be impeached and Sir Galahad will replace him
- That mother nature will forgive us
- That we can negotiate with melting glaciers
- That anyone other than you will do anything
Accept the fact that the State is beyond redemption. It is a reflection of us. It cannot change until we change.
Hope, as per Derrick Jensen (Orion Magazine, 2006) is longing for a future condition over which we have no agency. It means we are powerless. To hope for some result means we have given away our power to do act, we have given up any agency concerning it. The use of any excuse to justify inaction reveals our incapacity of love. If we love, we act in defense of the beloved.
False hope keeps us chained to the system. One example: we can bring legal action in hope of forcing some change. But legal action works only with the tools which those in power grant us the right to use. Which means tools deliberately intended to be ineffective. We cannot prevail within the same framework of law whose design purpose is to oppress us. False hope binds us to unlivable situations and blinds us to creative possibilities — real, actual possibilities within our own power.
When you give up hope, you realize you never needed it in the first place. You become more effective because you cease relying on someone else to solve your problem. Since you died to the hope of rescue, those in power cannot touch you any longer. Not with empty promises, not through threats, not even through violence. You have become free. This makes you more alive, more powerful. You are no longer dependent upon those who exploit you. You no longer believe in the mythologies they use to facilitate their exploitation.
What can happen by this shift is that you let go of being the victim. You die to the conditioned, fabricated, molded, educated you. You reclaim yourself from the State system that taught what to think, what to feel. You think for yourself, search your own truth. You feel your own real feelings. You face yourself directly. You become stronger.
Don't Wait For Permission
That which is not free is not responsible, and that which is not responsible is not moral. Freedom is the condition of morality.
~ Thomas Davidson
You don't wait for anyone's permission. You begin now with your own hands. You accept the fact that the State is beyond redemption. Because it is a reflection of ourselves, it will never change until we change. You reclaim your morality from what was taught by the culture that is killing the planet.
When you come home to your own true self, when you center yourself in the love that is your core being, you become no longer vulnerable to the co-option of fear and rationality that Hitler inflicted on Jews, that Lenin inflicted on kulaks, that Bush inflicts on Americans, that the Project For A New American Century inflicts on the planet. You shift the paradigm of physical -social — emotional circumstances framed by these exploiters.
You break the exploiter-victim chain. You become like the Jews who created the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, like the Essenes who left none to be taken alive, you become like the Indians who marched with Gandhi to harvest salt from the beach at Dandi.
You turn away from fear. Once you have died to their emoluments, power cannot touch you. You begin to protect the people, the places, and the creatures that you love. You command the liberty in which alone love can flower. That liberty in which alone it is possible to love and be loved in free and voluntary mutual exchange of energy — without coercion, without violence, without compulsion.
PEACE THE PRODUCT OF LIBERTY. MIND THE WORKSHOP OF LIBERTY.
"Peace is the inner harmony which dwells in truth, and not outer adjustments. Man will become extinct if he does not make a conscious effort to regenerate his mind and spirit."
~ Rabindranath Tagore (writing four generations ago)
"Until now, human intelligence, which is no more than a minute aspect of universal intelligence, has been distorted and misused by the ego. Call it 'intelligence in the service of madness.' Splitting the atom requires great intelligence. Using that intelligence for building and stockpiling atom bombs is insane or at best extremely unintelligent. Stupidity is relatively harmless, but intelligent stupidity is highly dangerous. This intelligent stupidity, for which one could find countless examples, is threatening our survival as a species.
"The force behind the ego's wanting creates 'enemies,' that is to say, reaction in the form of an opposing force of equal intensity. The stronger the ego, the stronger is the sense of separateness between people. The only actions that do not cause opposing reactions are those that are aimed at the good of all. They are inclusive, not exclusive. They are not for 'my' country, but for all humanity, not for 'my' species, but for all sentient beings and all of nature.
"We are learning that action, although necessary, is a secondary factor in manifesting our external reality. The primary factor is consciousness. No matter how active we are, how much effort we make, our state of consciousness creates our world. If there is no change on that inner level, no amount of action will make any difference."
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth, 2005
The Battle Is For the Mind of Man
"Final freedom is achieved in a silence beyond all words, and rests on the realization that we are One."
~ Mansoor Abdullah, Yoga Teacher, personal communication
War is caused by ignorance of our own true nature, which is peace. When we let go of grasping, we can experience an insight of that true nature of peace. This can be done by introspection: mental purification through self-observation. From this comes the realization that war is something we create. When anger ceases, what remains? Peace.
Consciousness is not a culturally conditioned phenomenon. It begins at birth and is experienced through our bodies. When we are born, we don't see ourselves as Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, male, female, and so on. We acquire perceptions of ourselves later. If we judge another culture, it is through the values of our own culture — values which are relative. Consciousness is that which remains when there are no attachments of any kind. Consciousness is not cultural — it is the point where we all merge. To experience this unity of consciousness is the way out of humanity's crisis.
~ Adapted from Ajahn Sumedho, Abbot of Amravati Buddhist Monastery
From Ajahn Sumedho above, we can see that the real work is within and must be done by each one of us. Ultimately, it comes to this. Yet, for me, our current crisis requires that we also simultaneously engage with work in the world. This is where we build the foundation of morality upon which must stand future generations. This morality is the foundation of peace. The work immediately in front of us is to spread peace and nonviolence. Now is the time.
The battle is for the mind of man. The prize is not in vanquishing some "other." The battle is either all against all, or all for all. There can be no "other." We are all in it together. We either grow a garden together, or we cannibalize each other in the process of turning the earth into desert. We can either plant trees together, or race to be the last person standing as he cuts down the last tree.
THE WAY OUT: ABANDON THE STATE
Freedom is not an ideal located outside the individual person. It is rather the indispensable condition for which the human being quests for completion.
~ Paulo Freire
When faced with an irresistible corporate force, imbued with an irredeemable malevolent intent demonstrated across a span of centuries, to exploit and destroy preceding cultures across all areas of politics, economics, law, tradition, and spiritual practice — and with clear evidence that its cumulative actions are destroying the land base which provides us with life — and whose products are poisoning our bodies, minds and souls — what then does a rational human being do?
What does one do when faced with a huge, ravenous, rabid dog, coming at you with its foaming mouth and fearsome jaws click-click-clicking?
To get out of the Destroyer's way and build up a wholesome life requires a life of voluntary simplicity in direct relationship with the land, as exemplified by indigenous people around the world. Living in this simple way, one is not involuntarily contributing to planetary destruction by paying taxes. Likewise, one is not living at the expense of others.
Build a Moral Safe Harbor
When human beings embark upon this shift in sufficient numbers, forming an archipelago of light within the ocean of darkness, they will then embody themselves as the irresistible force of good, and of life — in the manner of grass that springs back even after the Nice Government Men have walked over it with their jackboots.
As Paulo Freire (1971) notes, oppressors cannot exist without their host's consent. The oppressed internalize the image of the oppressor, and adopt his rules, becoming fearful of freedom. Freedom requires of them to eject this image and replace it with autonomy and responsibility.
WHY THIS GREAT AND ARDUOUS STRUGGLE?
What we have seen from past millennia is not a rise in civilization, but the rise of brutality and barbarism overcoming resistance movements led by such as Buddha, Tecumseh, Chitto Harjo, Sarah Winnemucca, Handsome Lake, and Emiliano Zapata.
~ JD Forbes 1973
First, it is because we would live, and not die killed by the State Power Machine.
Asked why the attempt to climb Mt. Everest, the pioneering mountaineer George Mallory said, "Because it's there." Thus does freedom's quest beckon the human spirit — because it's there — planted within our breasts by the Great Beneficence which has ordered this Universe in the harmonics of the spheres.
The quest for freedom is also the quest for beauty, and from this quest there can be no turning back. The realization of beauty is the touchstone of our humanity.
Freedom's beauty is akin to the beauty of love, accompanied by its nigh unbearable ecstatic pain. The exalted beauty of the flower is in its gift freely given.
The beauty of freedom is so great that one cannot contemplate it without the pain of great longing to merge with it forever, and thus achieve Self Realization.
As in these lines modified from the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa di Avila, one's body becomes itself the burning torch of freedom...
"An angel very beautiful
and so aflame he seemed to be all on fire...
and left me utterly consumed
by the great love of God...
The sweetness of this intense pain
so extreme that one cannot
wish it to cease
nor is one's soul content with anything else..."
Carrying this mind, we won't be able to kill anyone, because we will recognize them as ourselves (T. Thalya, personal communication).
This freedom can be won only from a state of deep humility, accepting that I don't know who I am, where I came from, where going, and therefore certainly possessing no right to tell another who he is.
"I am made wise by the knowledge that I am a fool."
CLOSING LINES OF AN AMERICAN WAR RESISTER IN EXILE
Camped at Dhangu Kharak ~ Jeff Knaebel, 2002
I once wore a three-piece suit
and bid for contracts
at the feet of Multinational Power
and visited Washington
and swam there
in the sea of lies
my dignity far beneath
Himalaya's simple shepherd
as he offered in his work-worn hands
a cup of tea for me
his uninvited guest.
Eyes direct and honest
broad smile beaming friendship
"Auram se" quietly said,
"Take rest, brother."
I know what I know
from my own direct experience
the change can happen
only from the inside
from quotidian introspection.
It must be done
one by one
no other can do it for me
nor I for any other.
Only this carnage
may cause me to turn away
at what we have become
and thus to begin again
the long inward journey
to the One Source
of all Compassion.
Our ultimate power is the profound legitimacy of our cause, the strength of our struggles, and the foundation of our organized communities.
~ Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (2006)
May you walk in beauty,
October 15, 2008
Jeff Knaebel [send him mail] is an expatriate American domiciled in India since 1995. He formerly practiced as a registered professional engineer, having been trained at Cornell Univ. and the Colorado School of Mines. Visit his website.
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