Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Today is Bastille Day here in France, where the nation celebrates the act of toppling their old aristocratic class by the means of chopping their heads off. That is about all I know about the French Revolution, except that the king's wife, Marie Antoinette, is reported to have really pissed off the starving French peasantry by wondering why they couldn't eat cake if they didn't have any bread.
Nice one queenie! Perhaps they should have tucked into the caviar aswell.
I have to admit, I don't think it was too bad an idea to depose the entire exploitative class and make sure they couldn't come back. The relationship between the French state and the citizens is very different to that of the British, and possibly results from that period of their history.
An English perception of French politics
The government of France does seem to listen to the voice of the French people much more keenly that that of the UK, for example. The French will demonstrate or strike, and demonstrate or strike some more until they get their point across and something is done or government policy changes.
In their demonstrative way, the French influence their politics successfully and maintain a very high quality of life. Like having 40 days holiday a year, a well subsidised and highly participatory artistic culture, and the most beautiful cities and countryside you could wish for.
Naturally, the demonstrative approach of the French population is sometimes used for highly selfish and ignorant reasons by groups of lazy gits who are full of self-deceipt and who want to pretend the world is still flat. Nevertheless, the positive side is that this political culture has helped to steer the country away from such disasters as the recent Gulf War, and from the election of a xenophobic racist as President.
Meanwhile, in the UK even the biggest demonstrations in our history didn't convince our pathetic leader to stop listening to his greedy American friends.
Pissed off with our systems of government
In the final analysis however, the French are not very happy with their government. But can we name a single country where the population is happy with their rulers? I put this disillusionment down to the fact that there isn't a single nation on earth that isn't ruled by a self-propagating and self-interested elite class, which dominates and exploits their populations.
For me, this class includes the politicians, business owners, financiers, and media. It seems impossible to me that these elite groups don't get together and plan our exploitation. And surely this occurs on a global level?
Of course they don't discuss exploitation, or think about their actions in the terms I used above. In their world, their actions are explained within a structure of morality encompassing economic growth, development, education of the workforce etc. But it still all amounts to the same thing – the few deciding on the way the many live.
Musings on the nature of power
The way I see it, whilst we tolerate any political system that contains a single figure-head character who holds ultimate power, we will be perpetuating the domination and exploitation of ourselves and the planet we depend upon for our existence. Societies certainly need structures through which people can agree on forms of co-operation. But all current forms of government are based on the idea of concentrated power.
Concentrated power is an idea which attracts people whose instincts are to impose themselves and their wills upon others. Problems arise because the desire for power over others is a poorly understood subconscious urge. If anybody has any ideas what causes this urge, feel free to comment. For my side, I think it comes as a failure to admit to ourselves the sacred validity of other people’s lives and experiences – the validity of the infinite variety of life if you like.
Whilst we fail to understand this urge within ourselves, and I propose, whilst we continue to close our minds to all but our own experiences out of fear that we will discover that we are irrelevant, our conscious mind will continually invent a system of justification to explain the validity of our dominating behaviour.
Ideas on why politicians are so unpopular
Thus we live in a world where the unimaginative and insecure amongst us are attracted to our political structures in order to justify the self-images/egos they have built during their denial of the variety of human experience. And so we arrive at a situation where the implementation of power necessarily requires a denial of the experiences, capabilities and aspirations of those who are governed.
So the reason why we are all pissed off is simple: We are ruled by ignorant unimaginative psychopaths who think it is us who are stupid, not they, and who will do almost anything to prove to themselves that it is so, including killing.
Some solutions proposed
The French peasantry had the right idea - stop the whole system, and start again. We need to do the same, in order to introduce radically updated principles of organisation.
The fundamental basis of the new principles would be that all life is sacred. This includes all that is in the unknown and infinite universe, as well as what is on the equally poorly understood planet Earth.
To produce these principles, all of our culturally embedded prejudices will have to be reviewed, right through from the Hebrew belief that God told man to dominate the earth, to the Greek indulgence in the idea that only humans possess intelligence – a very questionable assertion whichever way you look at it!
In defining the shape of our new ways and means of co-operation (the details of a new ‘system’) we need to design a way of producing consensus decisions amongst diverse populations and cultures, in a process that considers all life as an equal partner in human decisions.
Regarding administrators and officials, my instinct is to try to avoid them in order to prevent a separation of human communities into the Rulers and the Ruled – the cause of all the trouble. This will require considerable decentralisation of decision making, as well as an ownership of responsibility. But imagine the brilliant diversity that will be its result! We will we free to exercise our collective imaginations in ways currently unimaginable.
If any official responsibilities must be assigned, we should have no single point of power for psychopaths to focus on. If we spread power in a decentralised system which requires mature co-operation, this will be unattractive to those who seek to dominate and impose. Furthermore, a rigorous psychological examination should be conducted for anyone taking up official responsibility.
The shape of the system and its use must be constructed so that whenever we operate the system, we symbolically encounter the belief that all life is sacred. For example, in order to remember the value of all life when making our community decisions, we should move outside our human environment. Perhaps the diverse communities making a decision could walk together into a forest to an area where nature expresses mystery and power.
That way, we would break down the barriers between ourselves and at the same time remember the voice of the planet upon which we depend for our existence.
Finally, in the process of changing our society, we should avoid chopping off people’s heads.
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