When things are not going well, until you get the truth out on the table, no matter how ugly, you are not in a position to deal with it. -- Bob Seelert, Chairman, Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide (New York), 2009
A Nation's best defense is an educated citizenry. - Thomas Jefferson, circa 1776
Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives. -- James Madison, circa 1776
The truth at any cost reduces all others costs. -- Robert Steele, 2010
In recent years, months, weeks, and days the confrontational convergence of 2012 has emerged with startling clarity. The key negative trends are these:
• Collapse of Complex Societies: catastrophe from disaster for lack of resilience & adaptation as well as corruption -- if we do not rewrite our social contract, harnessing both the truth and the collective intelligence of humanity (empowering the five billion poor) the human species is toast.
• Acts of Man creating Acts of God: natural disasters will be more frequent & more severe as we cement more land -- what we have done to Paradise is ungodly, and will not destroy the Earth but could surely destroy humanity on earth. When combined with the culture of wanton Catastrophe inherent in Industrial-era poisons, toxins, and waste, our challenge is great.
• Acceleration of Humanity's Demise and Earth's Diminishment: changes that used to take 10,000 years now take THREE years; absent Real Time Science and Real Time Public Policy (online, deliberative, transparent) we are creating our own tomb.
• Disaster Capitalism and Savage Capitalism continue to loot the Earth and has turned USA into a Third World country -- UAE (Dubai) was the new Switzerland and might yet return--we do have stewards and prophets of good (see the next section) but as Matt Taibbi suggests in GRIFTOPIA and other works, organized crime will beat disorganized democracy every time -- Wall Street has become organized crime, exceeding any justifiable social function.
• Political Corruption and Toxic Secrecy Ascendant -- 44 dictators world-wide, 42 of them "best pals" of the US Government acting in our name comprise an Axis of Evil funded in part by the US taxpayers; both Republican and Democratic parties are aGrand Illusion and unable to govern, only able to serve those who have paid up.
Fortunately there are strategic positive trends as well:
• Wealth of networks: The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, peace through connectivity, wealth from sharing information -- here I really refer to the possibilities of creating infinite wealth if we can suppress corruption -- Barry Carter, Yochai Benkler, Alvin Toffler, David Halpern, all agree.
• GreenMind: Biomimicry, beneficial bacteria, green chemistry, all are emergent but being repressed by predatory capitalists that benefit from Industrial Era domination. Herman Daly, Paul Hawkin, Bill McKibben, Alan Yeomans all stand out.
• Moral capitalism: natural capitalism, green to gold, cradle to cradle, home rule, eat local, end of corporate personality--John Bogle, William Greider, Thom Hartmann, Howard Bloom, Muhammad Yanus all show the way.
• Democratic Information: "true costs" at point of sale means that vendors can no longer sell cheap while externalizing costs that impoverish our environment, our society, and our children's future -- simiilarly, an end to secrecy and the elevation of transparency means that fraud and deception are exposed and eventually eradicated. Redirecting just half of the $75 billion a year we spend now on secret intelligence that is 96 percent irrelevant and wasteful would revitalize education, create public intelligence, and spark a renaissance in research oriented toward waging peace and creating prosperity. AFTER passing the Electoral Reform Act of 2011 we should start with the Smart Nation Act of 2011 that creates the Open Source Agency recommended by the 9-11 Commission, the WMD Commission, and implicitly the Aspin-Brown Commission. With democratic information-sharing and sense-making we can leverage Ideas & Integrities, Designing a World that Works for All.
• Faith-Based Dialog, Discovery, and Diplomacy, to include an obvious need to end of our support to 42 of 44 dictators and the shunning of cults -- faith really does matter, I point to The Left Hand of God, God's Politics and Faith-Based Diplomacy as examples.
• Peer to Peer People Power: from the Evolutionary Activism to localized Citizen Wisdom Councils to Blessed Unrest to Here Comes Everybody to the Clock of the Long Now. GroupOn is the latest manifestation, with huge potential as a public policy-budget and instant national ballot tool.
All of the above are, sadly, specious academic observations of little use to healing America the Once Beautiful, except as a call to arms for the public--there is hope. It is at the operational and tactical levels that we must discern the "clash of classes" and engage in the battle between public truth and private secrets.
NEGATIVE #1: No Labels and Americans Elect[its trademark registered by well-known lobbying firm Steptoe & Johnson] have been created as non-partisan organizations that are clearly misleading in their origin, their funding, and their intent. Both are apparatchik creations, a refined form of Tea Party subversion, both seeking "four more years" for Wall Street -- my previous post here at Huffington Post provides links to sources. They are a continuation of what one author calls the Empire of Illusion.
NEGATIVE #2: IndependentVoting.org, also known as the Committee for a Unified Independent Party (CUIP), has been co-opted by No Labels, beginning with a probable misrepresentation to the effect that a college student engineered the coming together of Jackie Salit and Nancy Jacobson. In fact both are wholly-owned subsidiaries of Michael Bloomberg. In just one day, in my view as a former admirer of this organization, years of integrity and independence went down the drain -- all honest Independents are now adrift -- my post at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog provides more details, the proof is in the social networks behind Bloomberg, and its stated financial goals that benefit the wealthy, not the public.
NEGATIVE #3: The labor unions and the churches, the traditional bastions of defense for the working class and the middle class, have folded. At the highest levels the labor union leaders have gone over to the enemy, at the lower levels they are in disarray from decades of diminution that kicked off with Ronald Reagan violating the rights of air traffic controllers to strike. The churches have divided into the cultish extremes on the left and right, and an empty near-atheist center. We have exported blue collar jobs, eliminated middle class jobs, and allowed the two political parties to legalize financial crime against the larger public while the religious orders -- notably the Vatican -- have stood silent or been co-conspirators.
What concerns me here is the convergence that is occurring as we move toward 2012, and whether it will culminate merely in confrontation or whether there will be an emergence, a renaissance of the American Republic, a coalescence of the public will, a reassertion of the principles of the Republic, Of, By, and For We the People.
There are three as yet miniscule positives, seeds if you will, that await nourishment from all those who are eligible to vote but who have to this point been content to be collateral damage.
POSITIVE #1: After decades of definition by Ralph Nader, Jim Turner, Christina Tobin and others, we now have the equivalent of the Magna Carta for the 21st Century: a single page with nine points defining the Electoral Reform Act of 2011. I list the points here, they are explained at the linked document, which offers other links in support of the basic propositions. If Barack Obama were to introduce this and demand a roll call vote in early February, it would be "game over. Failing that, its introduction by any single Senator and any single Representative, combined with an unequivocal public demand for immediate passage on a roll call vote, would change the national political dynamic for the better and immediately. In my view, this is the ONLY intervention needed, the collective intelligence of the restored sovereign public will do the rest. If this does not happen, GroupOn Plus is my fall-back suggestion (see below).
01 Open Ballot Access.
02 Holiday Voting.
03 Honest Open Debates.
04 Expanded Debates.
05 Instant Run-Off.
06 Full and Balanced Representation.
07 Tightly-Drawn Districts.
08 Full Public Funding of Diverse Candidates.
09 No Legislation Without Consultation
POSITIVE #2: After years of trial and error, beginning as a citizen-oriented Policy Tree, GroupOn has finally actualized the ideal of collective action for a common purpose. While still in its infancy, it has wisely eschewed an offer from Google and is poised to move to the next level, enabling participatory public policy-budget balloting by connecting all voters with all policy and budget information including "true cost" information, enabling informed self-governance.
POSITIVE #3: Joe Trippi's Big Bat first developed for Howard Dean as a means of inspiring bottom-up funding fully equal to corporate funding, is now ready for deployment as his own Big Bat 21; and Medard Gabel's EarthGame™, a modernization of Buckminster Fuller's analog World Game, are now ready for prime time, not in support of any particular candidate or party but as extensions of We the People. Imagine Big Bat 21 collecting $10 from each of 100 million American voters -- that is a billion dollars that is fully the equal of No Labels or Americans Elect, because it can be used to fund a public intelligence network, a public policy network, and a public budget oversight network effective with respect to all issues at all levels as well as all candidates of whatever persuasion. Similarly, EarthGame™ can do what the government has refused to do: specify the "true costs" of every product and service, and connect every mind to all relevant data from the local to the global, in this way helping us to design a world that works for all. We can play ourselves across any and all decisions we wish to influence while leveraging transparency to eradicate fraud and self-dealing in relation to any publicly-funded endeavor. Right now populist energy is being manipulated -- we have to get past that. Integrating Big Bat 21 and EarthGame™ into GroupOn Plus would be one immediately viable and potentially potent alternative to the fraudulent structures that present themselves as alternatives to the two-party co-conspirators subordinate to the financial networks that have hollowed out not just America, but the global commonwealth.
I have studied revolutions, both graduate-level original work that stands to this day, and in real-world situations across Africa, Asia, and South America. The United States of America (USA) is in a revolutionary ferment. Across the domains -- political-legal, socio-economic, ideo-cultural, techno-demographic, natural-geographic -- this country is poised to burn as angry white people make the Watts riots look like a high-school cheer-leading rally. There is a deep rage in America, both individual and collective. Apathy is not the answer--we must get the truth on the table and harness the collective intelligence of the Whole Nation, so as to avoid a catastrophic meltdown.
Lacking thus far is the precipitant for genuine engagement. Our institutions are corrupt, not in the sense of honor -- most are filled with good people trapped in a bad system -- but rather in the sense of lacking frames of reference and deeply-rooted humanity. They are working against us, not for us. We need to burn them down (metaphorically speaking -- this is about a mind-set change), clearing the fields of the weeds that have grown because of civic neglect and political crime, and start over.
Amidst the clutter of the media and the chatter of the pundits, one voice stands out, that of Tom Atlee, perhaps America's greatest seer, poet, and humanist. Recently he committed to addressing four questions, for which I personally beg your individual support to his sustenance:
1. What innovations would have to be in place for national and state governments in the U.S. to produce policies that (a) arose from public engagement and (b) proved to be wise over the long run?
2. What impact would such a participatory wise democracy have on the fate of issues that we are most concerned about, and on the well being and resilience of our country?
3. What would have to happen for such innovations to have a significant impact on the 2012 election?
4. What would need to happen for participatory wise democratic systems to become the main forms of politics and governance in the U.S. within a decade?
That are the right questions. Time is short, we need to start a fire and gather round.
We need a match. Anyone got a match?
Journal: Reflections on Integrity
Journal: Politics & Intelligence-Partners Only When Integrity is Central to Both
Co-Intelligence Transforming U.S. Politics
My Talk With Tom Atlee: Primer on Citizen Intelligence
Review: Open Space Technology: A User's Guide
Review: The World Is Open-How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education
Review: SMS Uprising: Mobile Activism in Africa
Army of Techies Taking on City Hall, Coding to Fix Local America, and Developing the Do-It-Yourself City
Journal: Rabbi Michael Lerner, Barack Obama, and the Washington Cesspool Update
The author is unemployed and seeking righteous work. Although elected Virtual President here at Huffington Post, that position is pro bono. Will speak for sushi.
Follow Robert David Steele on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@phibetaiota