I recently attended a presentation to a local group by the awareness.foundation. The event was well attended but somewhat chaotic – not unusual in activist circles. I left after a couple of hours (it started an hour late) because I’d had enough and didn’t need to hear much more. I was asked subsequently of what I thought. My response via Telegram follows:
Any initiative that draws power from and challenges the current centralised power paradigm is to be applauded but replacing one flawed structure with another isn’t going to get us far.
Why flawed? Our extensive research and analysis reveals three fundamental flaws that underpin the current global political economy:
- institutional hierarchy
- misallocation of the commons
- simple exchange money
These are covered in a paper published in the Islamic Economics Journal of King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah although we refer to usury rather than money – subsequent work reveals the problems arising from simple exchange money.
Reform Proposals in the Monetary System for Attaining Global Economic Stability
WHAT’S BETTER THAN MONEY?
The awareness foundation has some good ideas (challenging the lawfulness of taxes, fines etc.) but replicates the flaws of institutional hierarchy and simple exchange money.
In essence, there is little mileage in trying to improve the current pyramid structure because over time it will deteriorate into what we have today.
Where we are headed cosmically and in human terms is into distributed, autonomous but interdependent self-organising circles of trust and sustainability for all rather than the few (in the real sense not as per Agenda 2030).
This is already happening in the local groups we’re involved in today. They just need to grow and multiply.
We don’t need scale, it is self-defeating… I’ll try to put something more coherent together soon. 😊
Critical Thinking’s analysis was presented at an event at Birkbeck College, London in February 2016 and it covers a lot of what was in the Islamic Economics Journal paper.
Hierarchy and Political Economy – Birkbeck Presentation 2016 (video 51 minutes 28 seconds)
Video presentation of Critical Thinking’s analysis on hierarchy, commons and usury.
Handout of the slides https://www.outersite.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Hierarchy2Handout.pdf
One concern that people have and why initiatives such as the Awareness Foundation may appeal to some is vulnerability, that if we are working within distributed self-organising groups, how do we defend ourselves from abuse, particularly from the system (“authority”) itself?
The appeal of an “organisation” such as the Awareness Foundation is the ability to abdicate responsibility to someone else by paying money for “services” such as dealing with parking and speeding fines, avoiding unlawful taxes, debt repayments etc.
Obviously within and between self-organising groups there are people with differing needs and capacities. It is a question of bringing those needs and capacities into harmony within an environment of collaboration and co-operation, without “exchange” but through the complex money methodology described in the document, What’s Better Than Money.
Often this methodology doesn’t need to be formalised or recorded in any way because there is sufficient trust within and between people to ensure that everyone’s needs are met using the capacities readily available. It is when venturing beyond those circles of trust that a more formalised approach may be required.
The point is not to be prescriptive but to adhere to the principles of self-organisation.
Finally, here follows the paradox of government in all its forms, even as described by the Awareness Foundation:
Five Questions – video 4 minutes 23 seconds
In summary, we cannot abdicate responsibility for ourselves and each other to third parties by whatever means they are chosen or organised. We have to live in the present and be accountable for our own choices. That doesn’t mean we have to do everything for ourselves but we need to participate according to the extent of our capacities.
In practice, we have much more power than we may currently believe but that power comes from within each and everyone of us.