New Geometry and the New Math
by Butler Shaffer
Recently by Butler
Defense of Clear Thinking
groups in Iraq] are very strong. Their approach is unique because
they have no leaders. They do not have a head or branch offices.
. . . This movement is made even stronger by not having leaders.
If one or two people lead it, the organization would weaken if these
leaders were arrested. Because there is no leader, it is very strong
and not stoppable.
~ Shirin Ebadi,
2003 Nobel Peace Prize Recipient
For a number
of years, I have been writing and speaking about the decentralizing
forces that are bringing about the collapse of our highly-structured,
institutionalized society. Such warnings must always be listened
to with skepticism, for it is the nature of any complex system to
generate unpredictable outcomes.
events of recent years provide confirmation of my prognostications.
Alternative schooling, dispute resolution, and health-care practices;
political secession and nullification movements; the decentralization
of management in business organizations; news-reporting moving from
the centrally-controlled, top-down model of traditional media, to
the more dispersed, horizontally-networked Internet; individualized
technologies such as personal computers, cell-phones, iPods, video
cameras, and other innovations that enhance person-to-person communication,
are just the more evident examples of how our social systems are
undergoing constant centrifugation. If the successful practice,
in a number of European cities, of abandoning government traffic
signs in favor of a motorist-controlled system does not impress
you, perhaps you will recall the collapse of the Soviet Union.
this phenomenon in terms of solid geometry, the pyramid is
being replaced by the sphere. Plato’s hierarchically-structured
world directed by philosopher-kings – long the favored model
of the intellectual classes who fashioned themselves fit to sit
at the institutional apex – has proven unfit for ordering the affairs
of human beings. It is not better ideas that are transforming
how we organize with one another, but real-world pragmatism:
the life system simply cannot operate on the principle of being
directed by centralized authorities!
expresses the essence of a world premised on vertical power, in
which interpersonal relationships are yoked together in systems
of domination and subservience. No more poignant image of a top-down
world – one in which institutional violence operates as a kind of
ersatz gravitational force – exists than this. Members of the institutional
hierarchy – who long ago learned that they could more readily benefit
by coercing their fellow humans than by trading with
them – have seen to it that others be inculcated in a belief in
the necessity of pyramidalism. Our entire institutionalized world
– from the more violent political organizations to more temperate
ideologies – is premised on the shared assumption that only in vertically-structured
institutionalized authority can mankind find conditions of peace,
liberty, and order. If you doubt the pervasiveness of such thinking,
recall your own learning – from childhood through adulthood – and
identify any voices who tolerated, much less encouraged,
your questioning of this article of faith.
The life system,
itself, constantly pushes the fallacy of pyramidal thinking into
our unconscious and often conscious mind. How foolishly we cling
to the belief that the state, for instance, exists to protect our
lives, liberty, and property interests, even as it continues to
slaughter millions of people, restrain their liberties, and despoils
their wealth. As we look around our communities and the rest of
the world and discover how much better decentralized systems perform
in providing what political agencies only promise, faith in the
pyramid collapses. Not willing to allow its violence-based interests
to decompose due to a change in human consciousness, the state –
along with the corporate interests that have long benefited as politically-created
parasites – desperately reacts to shore up its crumbling foundations.
To do so requires a restoration of the falsehoods and contradictions
upon which its power depends. Truth – and the free flow of information
against which the state is in constant war – becomes a "security
risk" or an appeal to "treason." In one personage
or another, the state calls upon its modern Joseph Goebbels who,
as Hitler’s Propaganda Minister, advised:
The lie can
be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people
from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the
lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all
of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal
enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth becomes the
greatest enemy of the State.
that have been taking place in such Middle Eastern countries as
Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Yemen, and Libya, carry a much deeper meaning
than what the institutionally-serving news media have expressed.
When millions of men and women can peacefully come together in the
center of major cities to protest the legitimacy of their being
ruled by others, one ought to ask whether we might be witnessing
what the pyramidalists would most fear: an open expression of
the decentralization of our common interests, not as "citizens,"
but as human beings. We witnessed an earlier example of this
when, on the eve of the American government’s decision to wage an
unprovoked war on Iraq, millions of people gathered in cities throughout
the world to protest.
I long ago
discovered the writings of the Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, and
the British physiologist, Rupert Sheldrake. Jung did much of the
pioneering work in the study of the "collective unconscious,"
wherein he posited that, in addition to the individualized content
of both our conscious and unconscious minds, human beings also share
an inherited – and identical – content of our unconscious minds.
In an inquiry that parallels Jung’s, Sheldrake has developed the
study of what he calls "morphogenetic fields," in which
members of given species connect up – both spatially and temporally
– to determine subsequent biological forms and behavior. If there
is validity to their respective conclusions, might their inquiries
be expanded to explore the question: is it possible for humans to
have unconscious channels of communication that might motivate us
to express our common needs to resist the forces that war against
I must admit
to having no conclusions in this regard, although I believe, given
the destructive and dehumanizing history we humans have thus far
generated, it is imperative that we begin expanding the range of
our questioning. Perhaps it is reflective of mankind’s capacities
for tool-making that, rather than plumbing the depths of our thinking,
we have created technologies that allow us to share the contents
of our respective conscious and unconscious minds. Our computerized
technologies are not only the products of our thinking, but
the means for expanding its content to exponential levels
of awareness. They have done more than anything else to dismantle
the pyramid and give life to the sphere. As we are rapidly discovering,
there is nothing quite so liberating and life-enhancing as the free
flow of information!
Not only is
the geometry of our world being transformed, so is the mathematics.
Decentralizing information makes it much easier for more individuals
to communicate with millions of other individuals. One source
estimates that the number of Internet websites in the world rose
from 100,000 in 1996 to 234,000,000 by 2009. The capacity of the
millions to generate information and ideas heretofore confined
to the thousands, has proven discomforting to members of
the institutional order. Each one of us now enjoys the technological
means to directly communicate with every person on the planet,
provided (a) they have a computer linked to the Internet, and (b)
desire to communicate with us. In other words, mankind enjoys
what the political establishment regards as that most destabilizing
influence: a genuine marketplace in ideas.
What this has
done is to unravel the mindset upon which the state has depended
to maintain its control over people: the belief that political change
could only come about through the so-called "democratic process."
"Democracy" – the illusion that my wife and I, combined,
have twice the political influence of David Rockefeller! – is premised
on the proposition that any meaningful political reform must secure
the electoral support of tens of millions of individuals, a situation
most unlikely to occur. How often have any of us given up on the
prospects of "working within the [rigged] system" to bring
about change, when we are reminded that we must get 51% of our neighbors
to vote with us? The difficulties associated with organizing precincts,
trying to get ballot-access, and as Ron Paul discovered three years
ago, trying to be heard within political parties and the media bent
on maintaining the status quo discourage most. We quickly discover
the truth of Emma Goldman’s observation that "If voting changed
anything, they’d make it illegal."
But the "law
of large numbers" that keeps the powerful immune from the protestations
of the subservient, loses its forcefulness in the face of the unrestrained
flow of information. This is why – as Goebbels reminds us – the
state has had to resort to such practices as censorship, the crushing
of dissent, and the "secret" classification of documents
exposing its corrupt behavior. It also explains the efforts of so
many establishment politicians to control, if not destroy, the Internet;
as well as their resistance to Ron Paul’s proposals to audit the
has changed the mathematics from "51%" to the lone individual
as the catalyst for change. Because of the herd-oriented nature
of the political mind, the state has always enjoyed a symbiotic
relationship with an organized mass of people. In the words of Doctor
Murnau, in the movie Kafka, "A crowd is easier to control
than an individual. A crowd has a common purpose. The purpose of
the individual is always in question." The truth of Murnau’s
observation was seen when Julian Assange – the founder of "Wikileaks"
– used the Internet to make known to the world some of the "secrets"
the state did not want revealed to its citizens. Assange was allegedly
assisted in this effort by an army private, Bradley Manning, who
had access to some of this information. Two individuals – not a
"silent majority" or even a vocal one – not only
"spoke truth to power," but to the powerless who
it has always been the state’s purpose to keep uninformed and subservient.
of the establishment do their best to destroy the liberating influences
of the Internet, others remind us that technology, itself, may have
its own immune system to protect this life-serving network from
the statist virus. Columbia University law professor, Eben Mogle,
advocates a more decentralized Internet technology, in which
the mechanics for what has become known as the "social media"
are dispersed into the hands of each of us. The current technological
forms he tells us, "are too centralized; they are too vulnerable
to state retaliation and control." In words that Shirin Ebadi
would welcome, Mogle adds: "It is not hard, when everybody
is just in one big database controlled by Mr. Zuckerberg [of Facebook],
to decapitate a revolution by sending an order to Mr. Zuckerberg
that he cannot afford to refuse."
the math changes, so does the geometry by which we organize ourselves.
What is almost humorous to consider is that the defenders of the
dying order – be they the neo-Luddites trying to destroy the Internet,
or those who would confine the Bradley Mannings and Julian Assanges
to a modern Tower of London – don’t grasp the reality of what confronts
them. The statists operate on the notion that these two men are
to blame for the revelations that are inherent in the new technology.
For all of their supposed wisdom that they believe entitles them
to sit atop Plato’s pyramid, they are in truth as lost as "flat-earthers"
sharing their collective ignorance in trying to calculate the sun’s
revolutions around the Earth!
© 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.