Friday, July 09, 2010

From Bell to Barbell


The Bell Curve vs. the Barbell Curve

(I am rewriting the opening to People Without Borders)

By John Taylor; 2010 July 09, Rahmat 18, 167 BE

Pictured on a graph, our present nationalist world order would resemble a bell curve, with wealth and power concentrated towards the center. That is, the state, provincial, national and (in the case of corporations) the supra-national levels, reign supreme, whilest local and world governance, at the start and end of the line, trail off into nothing. We can expect that such a chart of power and wealth in the cosmopolitan condition would flatten out, and maybe even reverse itself. After a time it might start to resemble a barbell, with strong local and universal governance at the beginning and end, while there power and wealth in the middle are severely reduced.

This seems strange to us now because several levels do not exist at all as decision-making entities right now, in spite of the fact that they are closest to the individual, and could potentially involve the most people -- indeed virtually everybody. On the local level, these include the institutions of the family and household and neighbourhood or city block governments. Local governance could ideally become the only possible political expression that is truly universal, since every living human, by definition, comes from a family and lives in a locality or neighbourhood.

Nor does autonomous governance, or anything like fair political representation, exist at the continental level. If it did, if we elected continental parliaments for the Americas, Asia, Europe Australasia and Africa, it is clear that coming to multilateral agreements over complex but essential matters like reversing climate change would suddenly become much simpler. Instead of one hundred and eighty nations attempting to come to a single agreement, there would be a half-dozen entities. It seems that there was such an attempt at simplification with the recent G20 summit in Toronto. Unfortunately, as the contents of its agenda and the heavy security and protest that accompanied the meeting show, this was yet another desperate attempt by the bison hunters to regain control of the herd.

Needless to say, there is also a vacuum at the highest level possible, global government. The United Nations does not even pretend to be a government. Rather functions as it was designed to, as a loose association of sovereign states in pursuit of their own several interests. At best it acts like a shop steward, a paid-up advocate for a trades union serving many monolithic states. Far from advocating for the human race, our shop steward defends the interests those who pay its salary, the sovereign national state. This nationalist order effectively chops human governance up into over one hundred and eighty separate entities. Far from consolidating, the number of nations has more than doubled over the past century and a half, and steadily continues to increase.

In order to concentrate power into as few hands as possible, the machinery of democracy have been hijacked. Election campaigns are exercises in bribery, with the population at large only the first of many with their hands in the honey pot; they resemble a high priced whorehouse or, most to the point, a slave auction. The sell-out is so obnoxious that the vast majority of most electorates will have nothing to do with it and refuse to exercise their vote. All this is necessary, though, in order that the elites can continue to predominate.

The overall result is dire. The several billion people in the world have nothing to assure their overall survival. Even the power elites are increasingly aware that their dominance is leading to total destruction. The world is starting to resemble a vast herd of bison whose furious charge started off with a ploy by a tiny band of aboriginal hunters cleverly directing them towards a cliff. The elites cannot ignore the fact that peace itself is at stake. Global warming and the drying up of fresh water sources means that entire ecosystem will collapse. The immediate effect will be famine and fights over food and water. In effect, the hunters themselves will be swept over the cliff along with the bison.

Yet it does no good to blame the hunters. Bison are herding animals whose instinct dictates that they follow certain patterns of group behaviour. Human beings can choose to follow blindly, like the bison, or make our own path. The power elites could not have led us to this crisis without the willing collaboration of leaders of science, faith and politics. People Without Borders is a collection of my thoughts and speculations on how these leaders, who are much larger in number and power than the hunters, might lead us on a path towards survival.


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