politics


It may seem like a detour from the usual topics of this blog, but it really isn’t. By and by, I will tie my thoughts regarding Islam into the overarching topic of uncivilization. But first, I need to share with you my journey, and what I have found.

I used to think that Islam was just another religion. Bzzt! Then, when I discovered it wasn’t, I thought that my exploration would lead to me separating the religion and its strictly religious concerns from the rest of Islam, and talk about the rest. But that too proved impossible. Islam is a political ideology firmly wedded to its religious aspect. But let’s begin at the beginning.

First, I discovered that Europe, and western Europe in particular, is in the throes of massive in-migration by people from Middle Eastern and African nations who are largely Muslim. And that there seems to be a major incompatibility between Muslims and the largely secular, post-Judeo-Christian Europe. This in-migration is a recent add-on to something that began in the 70s. Immigration policies were changed from protecting the locals and accepting people who were more or less compatible with local values, to aggressive multiculturalism that promoted people from far-flung parts of the world, and loudly deplored the locals as boring, not rainbowy enough, and racist. There were already Muslims in Europe at that time, in France from Algiers, in Germany from Turkey, and so forth. And in the Balkans, Muslim areas have existed since the Ottoman conquests. But from about the 70s on, progressive policies were implemented that over time made it possible for greater and greater numbers to come in, while enabling many of these incomers to live on welfare and to separate themselves into ethnic enclaves. The goal of integration was replaced by “sensitivity to other cultures,” and the rest is history.

Now, Europe has millions upon millions of Muslims who live in separate neighborhoods more or less according to their own rules. Perhaps most troubling, these areas are noted for their lack of women in the cafes, for plenty of burkas, rapidly rising street hooliganism and crime, and for sheltering those peculiar aspects of Islamic culture having to do with keeping women forcibly sequestered in the home, never learning the language of the host country, and never having a chance to participate in the rights and freedoms guaranteed to all women by that country’s laws.

Since I last spoke about Sweden, things have gotten both worse, and a little better. The wave of crime, said to be fueled notably by Somali and Afghani migrants, has gotten worse. The reports of rapes and vicious murders continue unabated, despite the efforts of the Swedish political elites to hush them up. But people’s voices are getting through. Just last week, a policeman published the details of the cases he’s been working on recently. The vast vast majority of those crimes were committed by migrants. He’s received massive support from Swedes on social media; nevertheless, the authorities are cracking down on him for racism.

In Germany, the critics of Merkel’s open door immigration policies have become more outspoken as well, defying intensive efforts of authorities to spy on them and to prosecute them for even slightly injudicious words. And the British have taken in many young men pretending to be children. When folks seeing who was coming in complained, barriers were erected to keep them from the public eye, and pleas for medical vetting were for naught. This after similar practices had been disclosed in the Scandinavian countries along with the abuse of the generous benefits that ought to be reserved for, you guessed it, children, and most grievously, after a “15 year old” 6 ft man in his early twenties had stabbed a Swedish child-shelter worker – herself a refugee from Lebanon — to death. Politically, anti-open-door parties are set to win in Holland and France, while even the teflon Ms. Merkel may be poised for a brisk slide toward defeat by a fellow Europhile.

In my bewilderment at the seeming madness of what I was witnessing, I began to study the Koran, and frequenting sites that were more “right wing” than any I had frequented in the past, mainly because they were dedicated to spreading information that was leaking one way or another from these various countries through social media, activists, and artists. And thus began my real education about Islam. I had trusted well-known religion expert Karen Armstrong, a former nun whom I admired for her honest portrayal of her early and miserable days in the cloister, to provide me with similarly honest information regarding Islam. But she let me down.

In reading the Koran myself, I suffered a shock. I discovered first hand all the hatred dished out in the Koran toward the likes of me, a kafir. Its incitement to violence. Its misogyny. Its vilification of Jews and Christians. And Mohammed’s unabashed and transparent use of the religious vehicle for self-aggrandizement, self-enrichment, bullying, lechery, lies and vengeful viciousness. Trying to recapture my shock now, so many months later, I realize I cannot do it justice. Islam needs to be experienced as I did, directly at the source. Do yourself and humanity a favor; please give it a few hours of your time.


A side note: when the Koran was compiled many centuries ago, it was organized from the longest passages to the shortest. This makes it confusing and virtually unreadable. That’s why getting a chronological Koran is essential. There are others besides the ones I point to below. Chronological Korans organize the contents by beginning with the early verses communicated when Mohammed was still living in Mecca, following up with the later Medinan verses. The verses are interspersed with the unfolding story of Mohammed to make more sense of the narrative. An Abridged Koran and A Simple Koran are the ones I have used, sometimes comparing the translation with others on the web.


Then, looking to communicate with Muslims directly, I joined one of the online forums dedicated to countering anti-islamic propaganda. It was a creepy experience. I ended up walking on eggshells for two months lest I say something I’d be castigated for, was castigated anyway, and had to leave the site because the stress of being in such a hostile environment was wearing me down. What I found was that honest and well-meaning if rather blunt questions were met not with a moderately-worded discussion suited for a forum ostensibly helping people see Islam and Muslims in a good light, but with vituperation. I was memorably told that we Americans are degenerates, our society a cesspool of immorality, and our values nonexistent. My every word was scrutinized and found wanting, and my free ranging inquiry resented as hateful American arrogance. Yikes! Later I found these folks are known for cyber stalking and doxing bloggers critical of Islam. I did meet one interesting Muslim there who maintained a civil discourse throughout, and introduced me to the fact that some contemporary Muslims cleave to the Koran only and are critical of the reliability of supporting information from the early hadith and the sira (collected sayings and biographies of Mohammed).

After that, my education came from several “counter-jihad” sites that I still follow regularly (here is one sample), and from reading a number of books, notably Irshad Majid’s The Trouble with Islam Today, Wafa Sultan’s A God Who Hates, and an obscure free online book that was once banned in the Netherlands, and speaks of the experience of a Muslim from Pakistan who once began a long trek west, looking for a culture more user-friendly than his own. He fell in love with the Netherlands, and makes no bones about his incredulity how willing the Dutch are to ruin the good thing they have. Wafa Sultan, a Syrian doctor who emigrated to the States, is an amazing woman. She became famous in the Arab-speaking world when she was interviewed side by side with a cleric who was all set to outshout her. Not a chance. She told him to pipe down, it was her turn! She is a sight to behold. These books not only opened up to me many of the issues contemporary religious and cultural Muslims struggle with, but they also shine a light on the mentality of people in heavily Muslim countries. I recommend them all, and commend these courageous souls for speaking so generously and freely of their experiences.

More recently, I have tussled with Muslims and their progressive allies online. I discovered first-hand the dishonesty that is described by counter-jihad folk as “taqiyya artistry.” Taqiyya as I understand it is a shia term for the permissibility of lying in the propagation of Islam and also to shield oneself from enemy backlash (the Shia’s main oppressor being the Sunni Muslims originally; Muslims all too routinely accuse each other of apostasy when opinions vary and feelings run high). I have come across people who will say anything, no matter how outrageous, in their effort at misdirection, at infusing Islam with a benevolent glow, or at casting aspersions at anything western. Since I follow Czech media, I ran into Muslims there who, relying on general ignorance, hit people over the head with a barrage of colonial guilt – this against a people who never had any colonies, were typically the butt of wider European power clashes, and suffered under the onslaught of Turk invaders who mercilessly pillaged southern Moravia and colonized neighboring Hungary for 150 years.

It’s not that Muslims don’t mean well. Often they believe alternative facts because western historians are not to be trusted, in their view. Or they are happy enough just to repeat islamic propaganda. Overall, though, it’s that their religion tells them all sorts of heinous acts – including crass deception — are piety itself, and lushly rewarded in heaven, if done “in the path of Allah.” Ah, there’s the rub of intensely self-righteous ideologies.

The left allies of Islam, on the other hand, deflect criticisms of Islam by venting scorn on Christianity, their usual whipping boy. They have a point; there are of course some equivalencies. But the intolerant Christianity of religious wars, burnings at the stake, and inquisition against heretics is largely and long since a thing of the past. In fact, Christians are now being shockingly brutalized, suffering frequent pogroms in many Islamic countries. Christianity no longer lives in the 16th century. As far as I can tell, Islam never left the 7th.

Looking back, it’s been for me a year and a half of shocks relating to Islam. Yet another such “rude surprise” concerns its history. But I will leave that for another time. You may ask – have I discovered any positives along the way? I am told that the language of the Koran is quite lovely in a whimsical sort of way, in Arabic, using puns and word play to get its message across. And my interaction with a small range of ardent Muslims gives me the impression that they are fellow utopians at heart, dreaming like us radical greens of a better social order, of that shining city on a hill that might usher us forth from this miserable time of Satanic mills gone doubling down. They certainly show a passion and a dedication to their task of spreading what they love we might do well to emulate. And clearly, their faith is a strength unto them.

There is something about human beings, when it comes to the unknown. We don’t seem to be able to just wonder about something and speculate creatively, maybe have a bit of fun with it. No, not us! Instead we like to decide beyond all possible doubt without a single shred of evidence.

We prefer to nail our colours to the mast before we even know if there is a ship attached to it, and often we’ll defend that position to the death.

— Pat Condell

German résistance (song, English subtitles):

https://vid.me/e/WBlA?stats=1

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The time has come, the walrus said, to reopen this blog. I promised a tribal post, but that will have to wait for final touches. Meanwhile, to go along with the current political frenzy (and yes, I am voting this time, in case you wondered), I offer you a timely post that emerged this afternoon from a discussion on the Small Farm Future blog, which itself was provoked by that blog’s response to JM Greer’s recent musings on liberalism.

First, I hastened to refresh my understanding of classical liberalism. I compiled this vignette from quickly perused sources.

Classical liberalism is a political philosophy and ideology in which primary emphasis is placed on securing the freedom of the individual by limiting the power of the government.

Main features: freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and markets; rule of law and equality before the law; government by consent (constitution, checks on power, robust autonomy of local governing bodies); property protection; and commercial and industrial activities of citizens not subject to “undue restraint” – which led many early classical liberals, but not all, to fight protectionism (e.g. tariffs) and collective organizations (guilds, unions, et al.)

Chris Smaje added something essential: “I think a more important point concerns what liberalism has had to say about the form of politics rather than its content. And in a nutshell, that form is – argue your point peacefully, using reason; if you lose, accept that you’ve lost peacefully, with grace; and don’t intrude on things politically that have nothing to do with public wellbeing, such as the private pursuits of the individual that affect no one else. In order to realise that political form, a lot of work was needed to create a public sphere where people met as citizens and equals, and could expect even-handed treatment by the state.”

Needless to say, I consider this old-fashioned liberalism, stripped of its way-out laisses-fairytales by the recognition of the need for  “due restraint” regarding commercial and industrial activities of citizens, as a fine summary of what is so admirable — in a very practical sense — about the foundations of America. This liberalism is about the values and habits that undergird political discourse and indeed, everyday life.

Strangely, Mr. Greer calls liberalism a “movement” which is fading. As far as I can tell, he is speaking about a movement that married liberal attitudes to progressivism. I would agree that this uneasy marriage is ending — largely because progressives have jettisoned the liberal part. But what comes next is not likely to be the end of classical liberal mind & heartsets, but rather their infusion into more populist conceptions of politics; not a crusading progressivism setting its sights on the elusive purity of vaguely defined “social justice” toward favored victims, but rather a politics of specificity, place, loyalty, and responsibility.

greendrop

Chris has himself identified as an agrarian left-wing populist. Having had my curiosity piqued for some time with promises of explaining what he means, I decided to wait no longer, at least for the populist part. Here is what I found, elsewhere and in myself.

At its root, populism is a belief in the power of regular people, and in their right to have control over their government, rather than accepting control by a small group of political insiders or a wealthy elite. Populists believe that the politicians are the people’s public servants, not just another, more modern, version of their masters.

Fareed Zacharia writes that “historically, populism has come in left- and right-wing variants, and both are flourishing today, from Bernie Sanders to Trump, and from Syriza, the leftist party currently in power in Greece, to the National Front, in France.” His article has very little to say about left-wing populism, which is perhaps not surprising since Syriza can only be regarded as an embarrassment, no better than faux populists and sellouts. On the other hand and predictably he has plenty of negative things to say about right-wing populism. After all, we all know that we can’t have “pandering to people’s worst instincts”, can we? And right-wing populism always seems to have that bugaboo hanging over it, that “rising support for a [demagogue] who would dispense with the checks and balances of liberal democracy.” As if left-wingers were immune!

I think it is more accurate to say that the French National Front, while regularly described as far right, is in fact, apart from their views on open borders and immigration, sticking to welfare state policies. Has it occurred to Mr. Zacharia that “we the people” do not want to dispense with the checks and balances of liberal democracy? Instead, we are angry to see these checks and balances routinely disrespected and eroded by the entrenched elites! What “we the people” want to dispense with are the corruption and special privileges that have saddled this country with unprincipled, cheating, lying, “living in a bubble” people with lots of money and high-level connections that enable them to lord it over us, and who end up making a lot of stupid, self-serving, counterproductive, even brutal and calamitous decisions without any accountability whatsoever, progressively “freer” from even the notion that they are subject to the same laws as the rest of us.

In truth, there are only two differences I have been able to discern between left and right-wing populism: lefties are more likely to dwell on the misdeeds of the banksters and Wall Street and demand substantial monetary and financial reforms, while righties are more likely to demand restrictive and well-regulated immigration policies. We are all for localism, for having our voices heard, for more accountable democracy, and against remote and contemptuous elites, ruinous trade treaties, and galloping globalism that disregards real people’s wellbeing.

I propose that there is only one populism: the commitment to heed the voice of the people, and to govern with the consent of the governed by servant leaders who are responsive to that voice. Which turns us right back to classical liberalism, integrating it with better mechanisms for ongoing public deliberation that includes ordinary voices, and for heeding the results of this public deliberation, having those then reflected in the policies subsequently crafted.

Both illiberal, authoritarian left and illiberal, authoritarian right slide into selectively-tolerant intolerance and thuggery. They are no populists, they are totalitarians. The major disagreement dividing us populists is not over reining in banksterism and crony capitalism, but over immigration policies, borders (both economic and geographical/cultural), and Islam. This is the current political edge and nobody has yet arrived at anything close to satisfying answers. Recognizing that fact and embracing the ongoing open-minded exploration of these confounding issues in the best “classical liberal” sense of the word would end the divisive and demeaning split of populism into the “virtuous” left and “far-right” bigots. This is a “divide and rule” lie and cannot be allowed to stand. I propose that all of us populists stand by each other and dispense with the name calling and with pushing people out of the conversation that ought to be held by us all.

 

wethepeople

Mohandas Gandhi was once asked: “What do you think of Western civilization?” “I think it would be a good idea,” he replied.

Like a babe in the woods, I waded into the thicket of political correctness surrounding ongoing mass migrations and Islam. Statements that I thought unexceptional, like “if you have uncontrolled massive immigration from north-to-west African nations, known for their poor health care systems and widespread tropical diseases, new (and old eradicated) diseases will spread into Europe” (here I was told that Mr Trump is spreading these same bogus claims about South American immigrants) or that “if you have uncontrolled massive immigration to Sweden from nations where women’s rights are nearly non-existent and violence against women pervasive, you will those same problems coming in” where I was attacked on multiple fronts, apparently because to claim such a connection is plainly racist or islamophobic unless it’s “proven beyond the shadow of the doubt” — while it turns out that Swedish authorities stopped collecting pertinent data because to do so would be, yes, racist, and such proof is therefore unavailable. Don’t you just love Catch 22?

Not long after that heated exchange, Denmark announced that indeed, diphtheria, which had been eradicated decades ago, has staged a comeback, along with several other diseases. And a wave of women-targeted crimes has swept Europe, disclosing not only the issues touching on women vis-a-vis the newcomers, but also the extent of imposed censorship regarding such crimes. Coupled with the intransigence of European elites regarding massive immigration over the last year, and their painfully obvious lack of any preparations or plans for handling the refugees, much less for trying to integrate them, it all added up to a concerted effort, to my mind, to stubbornly NOT face any of the realities on the ground while hiding behind slogans — for example Ms Merkel’s “We can do it, we will do it” blithely asserted in her New Year’s Eve speech while the migrants were already out wilding. (Oh wait, it turns out the Cologne police did have a plan after all: to stand by doing nothing, erasing public camera recordings, and lying.)

Now, none of these actual happenings should surprise anyone. Migrating peoples from areas rife with poorly treated diseases will spread them. What’s to argue about?! The wall of denial, however, has an uncomfortable likeness to the wall of denial we crunchy greens have so rightly criticized regarding issues like resource limits, the destruction of planetary ecosystems, rapidly deepening inequality, and others. For a number of years now, I have been participating in the green/doomish community with the assumption that I am flanked by people who have both the courage and the intellectual acumen to face reality. So participating in the exchanges around Europe’s refugees, and by extension Islam, has been a rude awakening for me. My trusted allies, always somewhat prone to collapse porn and popular panics, seem to have wandered off on a tangent I find hard to understand, and harder to excuse. There is no blindness like politically correct blindness, it seems. Because I lived all my formative years in a communist system where serious problems were swept under the rug and empty slogans ruled the day, I have a nose for this bullshit even when it hides under other labels. If we (former or current) eastern Europeans don’t yell out a warning, who will? If not now, when?

I will begin by reporting what I have seen while out in the bush, exploring. You may have noticed some of these things before, but to me, having been busy looking in other directions, they were surprising or new. The shocking transformation of Sweden from perhaps-a-bit-boring but exemplary “spread the wealth” country to a state teetering on the brink of failure as profound problems connected with the “welcoming culture” have accumulated, and citizens have been silenced by a heavy blanket of aggressive anti-racist, pro-tolerance rhetoric. The impending breakdown of Germany, likewise a well-run, prosperous country where more than a million of refugees were taken in without any border controls whatsoever, in defiance of current laws, and where the authorities have been forced to admit that many of them (hundreds of thousands!) are completely unaccounted for. The transparent vilification of those who wish to peacefully protest the current state of affairs as racists, neo-nazis, extremists, and islamophobes lumped with the fascist fringe, while all right-thinking people should ignore their vile propaganda, or at least allow themselves to be intimidated into looking the other way. (I have watched videos of protests staged by the German anti-islamization group Pegida where the demonstrators had to be protected by the police from the physical threats by young people yelling “Heart over hate.” Irony? Nah. Shortly thereafter, a report came out showing that one of the political parties was paying a good wage for folks willing to go out and disrupt the demos.)

While hanging in the online anti-islamization underground, I witnessed the weirdness of disturbed men who used the sex attacks in Europe as pretext for putting women in their place, peevish as hell over the nagging they have gotten from us over the years for being male chauvinist pigs. Now, we feminazis need them to defend us from third world gropers and they are damned if they’ll lift a finger on our behalf! Never mind that men have abused women for millennia, quite notably in the ‘western civilization’ parts of the world, while we women have made a public fuss about it for a few generations at most. Bring out the violins!

Censorship in Europe is proceeding at a frightening pace now that the “real news” about refugees is out of the bag, thanks to the internet. And this narrowing noose of “allowable speech” – Facebook has begun eliminating disagreement with refugee policies from its medium in response to Merkel’s request, and a Saudi prince has just bought up a big share of Twitter — makes peaceful solutions less and less likely. Anecdotal reports are beginning to appear in the alternative media that folks in Holland are being visited by the police to warn them about their internet statements critical of certain government policies. And only yesterday the Guardian announced that when it comes to immigrants and immigration policies, comment is no longer free. No wonder; Guardian’s politically correct “welcoming culture” articles have lately been met with a solid wall of critical comments from readers. Monty Python’s John Cleese shares a few thoughts on the clampdown here.

And then there is the bizarre behavior of both American and European elites who have goose-stepped into a box that says, no matter what happens, repeat after me, “It Has Nothing To Do With Islam.” They seem to be emulating the memorable scene in Animal House where the marching band, led astray by pranksters, keeps on marching into a wall. As a cherry on top, there is the grisly freak show of the “Stolen oil-R-Us” Islamic State, accompanied by the war frenzy of all who have a vampiric stake (may it pierce them through the heart) in the weapons trade, and the utter destruction of Syria which knowledgeable people, ah irony, describe as one of the truly multicultural societies of the world — until recently, that is — and the descent of Turkey into tinpot dictatorship while it tries to impose blatant extortion on EU, Ottoman empire style. Well, those are just a few highlights to report, to give you the flavor of my travels, so to speak. Sleep? Who needs sleep when the Spectacle turns up its horror show?

Sorry about the run-on sentences. Lack of sleep will do that to ya, and I badly need to vent. I will say just one more thing, and leave analysis for next time. I have no loyalty toward “western civilization” as such. Western civilization went astray long time ago I my book, and its ugly underbelly should have become head-banging-against-the-wall obvious to anyone by the time Assyria rolled along. My loyalty is to civil culture where ever it may be found. Like Gandhi may have once said, western civilization would be nice. It would be nice if we stopped obsessing over our bogus, absurdly bloated standards of living, stopped pretending that we can be rescued by a pack of shills who in turn pretend to be statesmen, put a brake on the runaway train of consumption, filthification, and waste, stopped defending our indefensible and destructive “way of life” that’s really a “way of death” for the planet, and focused instead on civil, “civilized” behavior toward each other. And that includes dispensing with politically correct bullshit where ever it stinks up the body politic, and willingness to go out on a limb if necessary to stand against behavior that does not cut it. Earth to Europe: sane people defend their boundaries, personal, local, political. Those who don’t, get steamrolled.

steamrolled

I began a very strange journey with my series on civil culture, vs the culture of thuggery that continues taking over the world. (And no, by that I don’t mean Islam.)

In my last post, I originally included this paragraph:

I also don’t buy that people who criticize Islam are islamophobes any more than people who criticize Christianity are Christianophobes, or people who criticize Marxists are Marxophobes. That’s just plain old bullying. People’s thinking influences their behavior, and inasmuch as Islam inspires and encourages anti-social behavior, it ought to be criticized, as should any other religion or ideology. Islam is — in part — ideas, and no ideas ought to be beyond the pale when it comes to criticism. “Abusing” a religion may be offensive to some, but it’s abusing people that should draw opprobrium.

I ended up deleting it, because I wanted more time more to think it through. I do believe strongly that criticizing is overall a beneficial activity, and part of the necessary – even crucial – feedback loop that keeps human behavior within certain agreed-upon norms. In addition, we in the west, children of classical Greece which pioneered wide-ranging, intrepid exploration of abstractions, generally do not think any ideas ought to be shielded from challenges and outspokenness, and that the only kind of speech that should carry legal penalties is personal slander and direct physical endangerment (yelling “fire” in a crowded place, or telling an abused spouse “next time, I will kill you.”).

That line gets fuzzy when it comes to speech that vilifies people traditionally put-upon, and might contribute to their physical endangerment in the long run. We Americans have mostly held the line where angry verbal insults are not – apart from the most egregious exceptions — the province of the law. Europeans tend to side more with the “hate speech” paradigm due to some highly unpleasant historical events in the 20th century that relied heavily on hate-mongering propaganda.

I have sympathies for both sides. When push comes to shove, I defend free speech. But I am not insensible toward people who want to maintain a certain level of cultivated discourse, of civility in relationships. It’s been my own experience that when two married people begin to use brutal invective against each other, the good will within the relationship takes a big hit. So, similarly, within a society. To bring that back to the discussion of “insulting religion” – I feel that while to jeer at or to attempt to discredit people’s cherished religious artifacts should never be a legal issue, I see it nonetheless as an undertaking that sows division, and often leads the critics themselves to dishonesty, unnecessary vehemence, sectarianism, and just plain angry disrespect. Would you walk into a house where your neighbors have an altar to the elephant deity Ganesha, and because you disagree and feel offended, pie the statue? Clearly a dick move.

Ganesha

Why spend energy on denouncing other people’s holy writ, be it the Christian Bible, the Islamic Koran, or the Jewish Tanach? They are precious to other people, and even though you disagree with their estimation, why would you go out of your way to malign what others hold in such tender regard? This behavior becomes especially unproductive in view of the fact that denouncing other people’s holy writs makes absolutely no dent in their belief, and likely reinforces their stance under duress.

We live in a world plagued by ideologies that do mischief, no doubt about that. Cults, religions, and secular ideologies are all linked to grievous damage to human communities throughout history. But these same movements have borne good fruits too, depending on who was doing what to whom. It seems to me that it would advance the cause of “civilized civilization” if we got a grip on how to deal with ideologies in a way that defuses their malignant aspects while leaving the positives in place.

There is no question that our way of thinking influences our behavior. But true intentions are notoriously difficult to ascertain, especially when they are not your own but someone else’s. So why not focus on behavior instead? If a woman is murdered, does it makes sense to analyze whether the perp was inspired by a biblical passage, a sura, secular misogyny, or psychopathic entitlement? The behavior is what matters, and the harm lies squarely in the behavior. Anything less serves those who wish to obfuscate this basic and clear fact.

And so this is my prescription for those who wish to battle toxic ideologies: focus on the very human and fallible embodiment of the underlying script. Interpretations, and the behaviors they inspire, are never beyond the pale when it comes to critical questioning. However divinely-inspired the scriptures are held to be, their applications in the here-and-now are entirely and only human. No matter what Exodus 22:18 says, whether a heretic is tortured or killed depends on what the believer does with those and many other ideas. And once we abandon the war of words about the Koran, we can focus on what Muslims actually do with the writings and traditions they have inherited. It is this foundation I will use to explore, in future posts, some of our current cultural dilemmas.

old book

My personal confrontation with the refugee/migrant crisis in Europe has placed me in an awkward position. I don’t mean my going out on a limb with a non-PC exploration. I mean having to confront the dissonance between my unciv convictions – in other words, my opposition to civilization as we know it – and my gut-level reaction to those who privilege the interests of strangers over those of their home cultures, who are unwilling to make value-laden comparisons between cultures (or civilizations), and who promote the ideology of multiculturalism without regard to their policies’ consequences.

The ‘clash of civilizations’ meme has been assiduously promoted by mainstream media. “Our” western civ against Islam and its barbarian hordes. I am glad to see that this form of propaganda for “our way of life” has been firmly rejected by crunchy greens. At the same time, I have found it profoundly troubling that these same people, my allies, are all too ready to throw their concern for women’s wellbeing, or that of any group of peaceful citizens readily abused, under the bus when discussing crime caused by Europe’s flood of migrants.

I have clashed with people, normally friends, on Resilience.com over this issue, and felt quite betrayed by those who in other context say they promote “localism” but when it comes to protecting local cultures of Europe, that localism seems to vanish, making room for a reflex reaction in defense of a politically correct line against boundaries and for the indiscriminate acceptance of all comers.

But why, I thought to myself, am I standing up for a civilization that has let me down in so many ways? Where before, the faults of this civ loomed large but somewhat theoretical, now, in the clash of Europeans with the forces unleashed by migration out of control, I stepped into a box with a label that said, “compared with a culture that forces its women into harems, into sacks with openings for eyes, and into tolerating brutal violence against them as normal, hey, I’ll take western civ any day!”

Seductive though the clash of civilizations narrative is, I keep reminding myself of the fact that I loathe the way this culture treats women as well. I detest the hypersexualization of girls, the parading of women’s naked or near naked bodies everywhere one looks, from booze and lingerie ads to celebrities who vie for attention through concocting ever more risqué gowns. I choke on the backlash against us as some men brazenly return to jeering outspoken women who skip make-up as ugly broads, and on reports of politically correct campuses that manipulate elder feminists through threats of “no platform” simply for the “thoughtcrime” of disagreeing with trans definitions. The list goes on and on.

What a choice the ‘clash of civilizations’ story places before me: black sacks with eyes, or decadence and demeaning bullshit! Two faces of one civilization gone awry.

No, I don’t buy that Islam is evil. Religions go through their abusive, violent periods when many abusive, violent people use them as justification for their abusive, violent behavior. Islam is going through that now. Christianity went through it some centuries back; after all, it was a Christian pope who invented the holy war at a time when Christendom was launching the crusades, yet to gear up for the full-out persecution, torture and mass murder of its own brothers and sisters in Christ. Religion and power mix poorly. That’s why people came up with the separation of religion and state. Folks with first-hand knowledge warn against Islam’s violence as enshrined in its holy writ. I am sympathetic to that point of view as my younger self argued against Christianity on the same grounds. But I no longer buy the argument. Once, Christians used the Old Testament’s “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” as an excuse to torment and murder women and heretics. Today, they don’t. Once they used the Bible to justify chattel slavery. Today, they don’t. I am more persuaded that all religions have skeletons in their closets, and that the behavior of followers has to do with their everyday values and character; they will use excuses and justifications for their behavior when those values and character are lacking.

islam slander

Thuggery wrapping itself in religion.

There is a real clash of civilizations going on now, unreported. And that is the clash between those who are willing and able to behave in civilized ways in the best sense of the word, and those who are not – who would rather wreak mayhem upon the world. Western and other elites, all those who profit by wars and plunder without end, who pretend to be fighting terrorism while aiding and abetting it, all those turning our world into Orwellian nightmare, they are on the other side of this clash. So are everyday people – regardless of their ideological affiliation — who harm their fellow humans in innumerable small and sometimes large ways and find endless excuses for it; those who delight in demeaning domination games, taking advantage, pulling the wool over your eyes, making other people’s private worlds hell. They are with the Dark Side. Every other human division is just a diversion from this stark reality.

The first civilizations were built by people among whom anti-social behavior was firmly limited by boundaries created by the demands of community and survival. They were peaceful, more or less egalitarian (meaning a social arrangement that evens out native differences between human beings in the interest of crafting a low-conflict polity), and the surpluses and prosperity were broadly shared. By the time this civilization came along, those ancient peoples were but a faint memory. We can use that faint memory made more vivid with the help of recent archeology as inspiration to build a real civilization again. We can choose to raise a culture that is grounded in the values of being truly civilized, values that have been showcased in their best form by a number of tribal societies: generosity, trustworthiness, empathy and kindness, open-mindedness, fairness, civility, common sense, mutual respect, recognition of fundamental worth of all humans and other living beings, courage and resilience, loyalty, deep connection, love of beauty, gratitude, humility, willingness to accept limits and responsibilities as the other side of freedom, and a commitment to a lifelong effort to cultivate these virtues in oneself and in the local society one inhabits. This is the road ahead: walking the Path of Beauty into whatever the future holds.

oaks

Men, said the Devil, are good to their brothers:
they don’t want to mend their own ways, but each other’s.
— Piet Hein

Remember Darwin’s finches? From the ancestral finch population, Galapagos forged seven distinct species that provided for Darwin the impetus for his evolutionary theories. Out of one, seven. Greater diversity, as each group adapted to a different geographical and ecological niche. Greater richness and resilience for the living world, and a delight for human observers. [Actually, the web says there are 10 or more of these finch species out on those islands. And they are related to tanagers.]

Galapagos finches

Galapagos finches

Now, maybe these new finch groups are not altogether species, maybe they are more like wild landraces. After all, they can and do interbreed when thrown together. But who would argue against the notion that the finch world of the Galapagos grew more diverse and interesting than formerly? Who would argue that importing finches from, say, North America would be a good thing for the finches of the Galapagos, or for the diversity of the global finch family? Wouldn’t the “diversity of the melting pot” cause them to lose their distinct adaptations?

Similarly, we tend to believe that tribal societies, say the Mbuti or the Cree, ought to have protection from the western civilization at large, so they can maintain their culture and way of life, self-determined, rather than other-determined by the logic of modernity or conquest.

Yet when it comes to the societies of Europe or the local communities of the western world, another logic seems to apply. Apparently, if you have a “white European”-derived culture not protected by the aura of exotic ethnicity somewhere far away, your culture actually needs to import diversity from parts half way across the globe! Your culture is accused of being too uniform, too homogeneous, too close-minded, and paying no heed to the need for “diversity.” But what kind of diversity is this, that argues for giving up your own culture – a culture which contributes to a more diverse human world – for some abstract ideal of mixing people from a variety of cultures and ethnicities into a mishmash where nobody feels at home?

I have been following, aghast, the invasion of Europe by people whom the PC crowd insist on calling refugees, and others call migrants. Aghast, not because Syrian refugees don’t deserve the support of their neighbors. They do. (They are a minority among the incomers.) But because the crisis has been insanely politicized to a point where anyone who disagrees with the official “welcome refugees” line is pilloried as a racist and a xenophobe, and a discussion of the issues has become near impossible.

Baffled, I turned to exploring the one society in Europe – widely known for its very inclusive and generous social safety net and rather egalitarian and progressive society – which decided in the mid-70s to implement a multiracial experiment. Feel free to pitch in, as I’ve never lived in Scandinavia and my understanding is imperfect. The Swedes, wishing to further improve their already outstanding society, and having been told in no uncertain way that to do so they must open their border and begin to take in people from a variety of far-flung countries in Africa and Asia because anything less would be churlish and mean, not to mention racist and discriminatory. As far as I can tell, they have brought on a disaster that is perhaps unique in the history of Europe.

The Swedes were told, and may have believed, that their culture was way too stale, pale, prejudiced, and in need of a drastic overhaul. At the urging of people who grew more shrill as the years passed, the multicultural vision began to be officially implemented from 1975 on. People of mixed racial parentage were celebrated, white Swedes were denigrated; those who wanted to craft a whole new society in Sweden and be done forever with the “old Sweden” prevailed. The influx of immigrants looking to partake of what Sweden had to offer grew until today it’s a flood. The result? In the city of Malmő, indigenous Swedes are now a minority. There are no-go zones all over the country, controlled by immigrant gangs. Police cars are the targets of grenades. There has been a housing shortage for quite some time, and Swedes are being told to house newly come asylum seekers in their garages. There are no jobs for most of these newcomers. Sweden is now contemplating borrowing large sums from abroad so that it can feed and house the influx, and its politicians are being slowly forced to admit that the ideology of compulsory anti-racism and anti-discrimination has turned the country into something that horrifies many of the immigrants themselves, not to even mention the feelings of the original inhabitants. Corruption is rampant; politicians live in wealthy neighborhoods with other ethnic Swedes while pontificating on racism to their less fortunate countrymen and women.

To add insult to injury, the country is under some sort of a McCarthyite spell so that the actual situation cannot be discussed openly; anyone who questions the status quo is accused of racism and bloggers, youtubers and facebook users are the only ones who dare to speak out against the monomaniacal, politically correct “party line”. And Sweden has long since stopped collecting and publishing the ethnic background of people committing the wave of crimes sweeping over the land.

Racist!

Racist!

Why is it that indigenous Europeans are denied their own culture going back thousands of years? Why is it that these various distinct regional cultures for which Europe has become famous, and which have fueled its tourism, have been under attack? The Hopi or !Kung deserve to be their own, but the Finns or the Slovaks do not? Why? It seems clear to me that turning Europe into a melting pot serves those who are enemies of diversity, in the global sense, and not the other way around.

And to bring the discussion to America, why is it when whites verbally attack blacks they are racist, but when blacks likewise attack whites, that’s ok? Why is it that American communities were long ago shorn of their local self-determination? Must the only vision be a forced integration pioneered by the school-busing fanatics of years gone by? What is wrong with communities that would rather be white, or black, or Latino, or green, hanging with their own kind? If these communities did not drain resources from others, what’s wrong with it in principle? In America, the only communities where people are allowed to hang with their own kind are the rich, in their gated neighborhoods, and the artsy-craftsy tourist traps like New Hope, PA or Sugarloaf, NY, where the locals determine together to sell or rent only to fellow craftspeople. Nobody else is allowed to choose their neighbors.

racism peanuts

I come from a nation (a group unified by history, language, culture and its own unique relationship to the land) that nearly disappeared in the conquering wave of germanization. It took a hundred and fifty years of massive effort on the part of the dreamers who wished to record and encourage the vanishing Czech culture. Even the dreamers did not believe it could be done. And yet, the dream swept the land with a reawakening that gives me shivers to this day. (Knowing that was possible, I know that a crunchy green awakening is possible too.) And now, all that – in its many European permutations — is being swept away by millions of displaced people from as far as Bangladesh, as far as western and central Africa. The Europe I knew is vanishing before my eyes, not only because of the intentional chaos caused by global elites permanently at war, but also because a fifth column of aggressive ideologues have turned their backs on the cultures of their birth in their quest for some crazy rainbow utopia. And we all know how much success radical utopians have had forging viable new sociopolitical systems.


This is a contentious topic, and last thing I want is for bullies to pile in here, abusing other commenters. Keep in mind the fundamental rule of engagement on Leaving Babylon: argue with passion by all means, but attack the argument, not the person. Thank you, and thank you for listening to my bewilderment and grief. Let’s help one another think through these difficult issues. Oh, and check out the animation (10 minutes) below. When exactly does “multiculturalism” morph into “genocide”?

 

We’re not trying to live like our ancestors, but to do something totally new: to preserve the most helpful complex technologies, while shifting to a political and economic system where power is fully shared.
— Ran Prieur

It seems like ages ago when I wrote about the logic of power. To sum up that post, I argued that it is not possible to fix domination by seizing power. When a group outdominates the current dominators, they become the new dominators. This really ought to be clear by now to anyone looking to “change the world.” It has nothing to do with faulty characters of the revolutionaries. It has to do with the logic of power. Boggles the mind, though; people still try again and again to grab power from their “oppressors.” And they are equally frequently admonishing fellow revolutionary spirits to “dismantle” power as though it were scaffolding.

dismantle power

What is power, anyway? It seems to me that power in its most basic sense is potency. Ability to do, to accomplish. We are all given power along with life, and all adults have, fundamentally, more or less the same amount. In the personal sense, of course, individuals vary somewhat, depending on their levels of energy, their vitality, strength and perseverance, and their specific talents. Their power also waxes and wanes depending on state of health, age, and other factors. But in the “state of nature” personal power fluctuates within a relatively narrow range.

So this type of power is often spoken of as “power-to.” Looking at the uses of power specifically within social settings, however, there appear to be two other kinds of power: power-over, the ability to force others to do one’s bidding against their will, and power-with, the use of power together with others in a variety of voluntary, collaborative ways. Much of the malfunction of “this civilization” has to do with its heavyhanded reliance on power-over.

Power is a form of energy, then. And as other forms of energy can be temporarily gathered up and stored, so can human power. Temporary power acquisition by individuals can be beneficial. The leader of the hunt is given the power to direct the day’s maneuvers. Back in the village, though, he gives that power back. He does not hoard it, bossing people around. And if he does try, tribal folk have in their repertoire a variety of tactics to put him back in his place, and will be less likely to grant him power next time around.

Even in our culture, such ad hoc power acquisition can be a force for good. The fire brigade captain alone directs the action during a fire, and the team is better off. It can be argued that temporary concentration of power in an individual or group is one of the ways healthy power can be used. It is when someone begins to accumulate power the way an alcoholic hoards booze that things go awry.

Power, like water, needs to flow to stay healthy. When it is hoarded and congealed, it goes stale and eventually poisonous. And when it turns toxic, we find ourselves in a grim fairy tale: the person who hoards it will be sickened by the power he wields, and anyone who tries to grab that toxic power away from him will be poisoned and corrupted in turn. Once you touch that poison, its evil magic will turn you into yet another marionette goose-stepping in the domination death march.

How then do we deal with power gone toxic? How can we change the world without touching that poison, without trying to “dismantle” it, without any involvement with it at all?

Congealed power is an attractor. You cannot seize or dismantle an attractor any more than you can seize or dismantle a whirlpool in a river. When the river no longer feeds energy to that particular whirlpool, the eddy will weaken and disappear. Attractors are ‘dissipative dynamic structures.’ They need constant input of energy to keep going, just like a lightbulb needs a constant flow of electricity to keep emitting light. Once the flow stops, the light goes dark. There is no need to seize the lightbulb, nor to dismantle it, right? If we want another type of light, that’s where we direct power and attention.

If we want our power to flow and stay healthy, we pass it from hand to hand; we share it. We pay it forward.

flow

While thinking about tribal structures, and at the same time arguing against the patronizing, patriarchal vision of the future some novelists irritate and intimidate women with, it occurred to me that those of us learning neo-tribal living patterns should pay attention to how tribes dealt with key gender issues: division of work, and power.

That in turn led me to muse over how modernity has assiduously promoted “everything coed.” Until relatively recently, even within western cultures, separate men’s and women’s worlds still existed. Then, an avalanche of pressure came from all those modernizers relentlessly pushing coeducation and comingling of the sexes in work, play, and everywhere. Anything less than enforced heterosociality — constant male-female interaction in virtually all spheres of life — was decreed hopelessly old-fashioned and outmoded, even unfair. I’ve decided to give it another look.

In tribal situations women’s society and men’s society tend to remain distinct. Sometimes, there is also older children’s society as well, and room for other-gendered people. Women work and talk together, do their own rituals together, and are steeped in the lore and wisdom that women have shared from time immemorial. Their power in society derives in large part from the very fact that they have a separate vibrant culture of their own. A tribal version of “sisterhood is powerful,” if you will.

Among the Iroquois, for example, the men were hunters, warriors, and chiefs. The women were farmers, anti-social behavior watchers, allocators of common resources, and the makers and unmakers of chiefs. Each gender had its own sphere, but neither’s work was devalued, and neither was out of luck politically.

What strikes me as really important is that the insistent co-mingling of the sexes in our society has fed the gender wars — neither sex has a sphere where women can hang easy with other women, or men with men. And men and women must compete against each other economically in the increasingly vicious workaday world. No wonder we get on each other’s nerves! We’ve got to find a way to end the gender conflicts, because the resource constrained world of the future will see those come ahead who are part of effective alliances, and able to duck the efforts of the elites to “divide and conquer.” Learning from tribal knowledge that enabled women and men to live at peace with each other, cooperating successfully in times good and bad, may be crucial.

While I don’t expect that people will flock to living in matrilineal longhouses, I see a trend returning to the tribal affinity clusters of friends (both kith and kin). Blood/marriage families are unsafe for women trapped in abusive relationships and ongoing power struggles; many men are conditioned by the culture they grow up in to expect entitlements from “their” women they never would dare insist on with others. Moreover, blood families are unequal by definition; younger people are expected to defer to the authority of age, eldership, experience, convention, and property. But groups of friends are groups of equals. When groups of equals form the self-organizing foundation of society, then the larger social formations — bands, clans, tribes, as well as villages, small towns, neighborhoods — tend toward equality. If I were 20 again, this is the pattern I would choose. Husbands come and go, but good friends remain.

Women’s and men’s cultures have staged a small comeback with women’s and men’s therapy and support groups, women’s moon lodges, and men’s gatherings such as the ManKind Project. Once, there was a flurry of women’s communities, but that did not last. Perhaps militant separatism does not stand the test of time. I have followed with interest reports on a Brazilian village where the men work in distant towns during the week, and the women have formed a cooperative and run the place according to their rules. Apparently, this is a something of a trend in many rural settlements in Brazil, as government payments and land transfers go mainly to women. (The story surfaced as the crassest click-bait, the worst I have seen, of a “women-only” community looking for men. Lurid come-hither pictures taken out of context.) This village of 300 has existed as an unconventional community for over 100 years. Perhaps it gives us another model to work with… women run things in place — not the home; the entire community! — while men go out to hunt down the money. It allows for the creation of a strong women’s culture, yet also brings men and women together in a way worth celebrating.

Which brings back to mind a memorable book, Sherri Tepper’s The Gate to Women’s Country. In this utopia/dystopia the women and their gentle men friends have pulled off a big one. Outwitting the warriors, they contained them and gained power of life and death over them. Yes, the means are underhanded and the results are tainted by the means. That part rubs many of us wrong way. But it is one of the very few realistic fictional takes on what it may require to turn society back to one that is run by “reasonable” people, after we’ve been hijacked by warmongering, egomaniacal bullies for thousands of years. Like the baboons, we must find a way to reset. We need to grow a powerful women’s culture, far more imbued with solidarity than is the case today. And we need a strong alliance of gentle(r) people of both genders, and a way to give the warriors scope for who they are while constraining their ambitions to some extent so that they stop wreaking such havoc with the planet and our human world.

Here is how one society has done it. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present the Mosuo of China, a matrilineal, agricultural, tribal ethnic group of Yunnan high country, bordering Tibet.

The Mosuo language has no words for murder, war, rape, or jealousy, and the Mosuo have no jails and no unemployment. Although the Mosuo culture is most frequently described as a matriarchal culture; it’s more accurate to refer to it as “matrilineal”. Accurately speaking Mosuo have aspects of matriarchal culture, in that women are the head of the house, property is passed through the female line, and women tend to make the business decisions. Political power, however, remains in the hands of males, creating a gender-balanced society. Mosuo women carry on the family name and run the households, which are usually made up of several families, with one woman elected as the head. The head matriarchs of each village govern the region by committee.

Probably the most famous – and most misunderstood – aspect of Mosuo culture is their practice of “walking marriages” (or “zou hun” in Chinese), so called because the men will walk to the house of their partner at night, but return to their own home, within their own tribal family, in the morning. The man will never go to live with the woman’s family, or vice versa. He will continue to live with and be responsible to his family, and the children of his sisters and nieces; she will continue to live with and be responsible to her family. There will be no sharing of property.

Among the Mosuo, since neither male nor female children will ever leave home [to marry], there is no particular preference for one gender over the other. The focus instead tends to be on maintaining some degree of gender balance, having roughly the same proportion of male to female within a household. In situations where this becomes unbalanced, it is not uncommon for Mosuo to adopt children of the appropriate gender (or even for two households to ‘swap’ male/female children).

According to patriarchal macho Argentinean writer Ricardo Coler who decided to find out what it was like to live in a non-patriarchal culture, and spent two months with the Mosuo in southern China: “Men live better where women are in charge.”

mosuo

a Mosuo woman in festive garb

I cannae not mention Scotland as it nears its incredible referendum tomorrow. Will the Scots secede from Great Britain?

I have been watching the politics unfolding through various blogs over a couple of years. I have seen the push for indy go from a tiny hope to a massive groundswell. A grassroots political campaign, a passionate, everybody-is-talking-about-it, whoosh of energy kind of political campaign — who would have thunk it possible?! The young, all fired up! It gives me goosebumps.

No matter who “wins” tomorrow, Great Britain will never be the same. Scotland will never be the same. Because what’s been happening is politics-as-culture, politics-as-fun, politics that rises from the people. After the massive betrayal of Scottish mainstream press, of whom all the dailies supported the fear-mongering from Westminster, after the absurd lies put out by the “impartial” BBC… how could the ‘status quo’ ever recover its status?

What lies? For example, when the Glaswegians staged a massive, exuberant “pouring into the streets” — I would not call it a demonstration, it was a joyful huge party! — the BBC news gave it a few seconds, finagling to downplay the impact. When a demonstration gathered outside the BBC building in protest of its coverage, they did not report it at all on news that night. Someone — BBC web site? — claimed there were hundreds of police protecting the BBC building, all lies. Even the police are now protesting against the wave of biased coverage. When a BBC reporter claimed the Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, refused to answer his pointy question, hundreds of thousands had already watched the clip on the internet, where Salmond gave the reporter a run for his money. The negatives just kept on coming. “Project Fear,” the indy blogs called it. Pathetic, pathetic, pathetic and venal. (By the way, the two major politicos in Scotland in support of indy are named, improbably, Salmon(d) and Sturgeon. Surely, this is as good an omen as the fact that Scotland’s animal is the unicorn! 🙂

When Czechoslovakia came to an end, I did not support the separation. Perhaps because, like the English, I was part of the dominant majority. It felt like a loss; it still does. But I could see that the Slovaks were tired of all the mean jokes, tired of playing second fiddle, first to the Hungarians, then to the Czechs. Wanting to have a go at self-governance.

Now, with Scotland (and Catalonia), I am a big fan of independence. Because I’d like to know what the Scots can do on their own. Because I am for local autonomy and bioregional cultures everywhere. Because, like they, I am sick of the gray politics of “nothing ever really changes,” of watching the beast of power-hungry centralization creep and lurch on. Because the incessant disinformation of the last year, particularly against Russia and pro-Kiev, has grown so shrill and shameless that all I can feel is fury at America’s Powers that Be who have shed all pretense of political fair play and opted for naked, clumsy, brutish propaganda.

Saor Alba! Free Scotland!

saor alba

[part 3 of a series]

Two friends and long time residents of the small town of Lake Wobegon looked at each other nearly a year ago, and said, ok, it’s time to quit bitching. The town hall ain’t gonna do it. If we want our town to be resilient in the face of all that’s coming our way in the near future, we have to do it ourselves.

So they began to invite their neighbors and coworkers to movie showings and presentations with discussion afterwards. The group grew slowly at first, but 9 months later, they have about 25 people who are showing a high level of commitment and eagerness to get going. They want to make the leap from study to action. And they don’t want to wait past the time when the group grows too large to gather in one place and set the foundation.

They are all familiar with sociocracy as they recently took a two-day workshop. There is a strong feeling in the group in its favor. Plus, some people are already gathering into small groups following their interests: local food, water, and alt.energy. What’s our next step, they ask one another?

Their sociocracy trainer who has agreed to stay in touch and help them during the first year, suggests they form another small group for governance implementation. It is this group that puts on a “Resilient Lake Wobegon in one afternoon” extravaganza. A pleasant room is secured, munchies and drinks, and one afternoon in late winter, all 25 people pile into the room and lay down the foundation of their organization in one fell swoop.

They already know the consent process. All the 25 gather into a big circle, and consent to several foundational proposals that were prepared ahead of time by the organizers. One of them of course being about accepting sociocracy as their governance method, for how long (say a year) and setting the criteria for evaluation.

Then people break up into the four groups already informally established. Each group selects its log keeper, facilitator, and two linkers. Then each circle decides on its aim. Vision, mission, and main responsibilities are just sketched out, to be fine-tuned later.

The two linkers from each group come together in the center of the room, and the general circle is born. They too select their log keeper, and facilitator, and decide which of the eight people will be the ops-linkers which will represent the general circle in each specific circle. The remaining four linkers will be the rep-linkers, representing their specific circle within the general circle. With the rest of the group watching and contributing, they come up with a vision, mission, aim and domain of responsibility for their circle. But only the eight general circle members engage in the formal consent sequence.

To finalize the afternoon, the general circle walks one proposal through all the steps from start to finish, seeking to consent on how to welcome new members and prepare them to participate in the sociocratic process. Then the organizers draw a quick chart of the organization with double links.

lake wobegon

Done! Time for champagne and fireworks!

Sociocracy makes creative new solutions possible. There are many ways that this group of people could alter this particular pattern to customize it to their needs as those needs emerge.


Well then. Hm. It was a nice exercise for the anal part of me (here is a step by step list, yish!), but does a group of friends wanting to increase local resilience need a governance structure? When does a group need one, and when would it be better for the energy of the group just go and do stuff? And how about letting governance evolve rather than imposing it in one fell swoop?

It is dawning on me that sociocracy really is a culture. And a culture cannot be imposed; it can only be nurtured and evolved. And it can only be nurtured and evolved if it is internalized and embodied. I will be thinking about how sociocracy can be gently seeded among people seeking to share power within collaborative endeavors.

And my advice to our friends at Lake Wobegon? Gather into a small circle to do something that excites you. That’s your aim. Learn the consent process for making decisions. Then go implement them. Toggle back and forth between thinking and doing. Have fun. When you run into a possible sister group, double-link with them. Let it all grow from the grassroots.

moving to sociocracy

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