TOPIC: The Seductive Promises of Counterfeit CULTures
The Seductive Promises of Counterfeit CULTures 9 months, 2 weeks ago #4793
The word "counterfeit" is defined as "an imitation intended to be passed off fraudulently or deceptively as genuine". Some counterfeits are bad and easily detectable, while others are very convincing. I would argue that the structures of modern society have evolved into almost indistinguishable counterfeits. Of course, in terms of the economic and political cultures of human societies, there must be a genuine model encompassing virtuous qualities of humanity for there to be a counterfeit of that model. So what is the genuine model?
There is reasonable room to disagree on the specifics, but most people would generally agree that this model should embody the following virtues – caring/providing for others (selfless orientation), equal treatment, equal rights, equal opportunities, personal freedom, proportionate justice, economic security, social and political stability and universal peace ("the virtues"). These are lofty virtues that have never been perfectly attained, but they provide the framework of the goals which should guide our thoughts and actions.
We don't need to agree on exactly what should be done to achieve those goals in order to articulate some basic principles of what their counterfeits would look like. Using the general principles that follow (in no particular order), I believe we can look at a society or culture, and specifically at the promises of groups of people operating within them, and discern whether they are serving as counterfeits of the virtuous model we would all like to see in reality.
1) Maintains exclusive understanding of the virtues
2) Superficially in favor of the virtues
3) Slightly alters or puts conditions on the virtues using propaganda
4) Marginalizes those who are critical of their prescriptions
5) Promises seductive benefits to followers and delivers on many of those promises
You may have noticed that many of these principles apply to what we call "cults", or sects of religious culture that exalt virtuous ideals while using the above methods to deceive and control their members. This is very similar to what occurs in other "sects" of our society and cultures, such as economics/finance and politics. In fact, many of these counterfeit groups truly believe that they represent the genuine and virtuous model for society.
When I started writing this article, I had planned on picking and choosing several different examples of influential groups/organizations that embody counterfeit virtues – ones that we must continuously be on guard against. But, as fate would have it, Ilargi put up a recent post focusing on a near perfect example of such an entity – Eurodystopia: A Future Divided. In this post, he explained Freddy Heineken's vision for the nation states of Europe, or what he called "The United States of Europe, a Eurotopia".
The general idea behind this vision was a "decentralization" of nation-states into autonomous regional units, combined with a simultaneous federalization of those units into a centralized Union – something akin to what we have with the 50 states of the United States. As explained by Peter Jan Margry in the quoted article, such a transition had already began to occur in the run-up to establishing the European Union, even though it never became a fully realized reality (yet).
Given the fractured economic and political situation in the Eurozone right now (which will only get much worse), as well as the predictable responses of disenchanted populations and desperate central authorities, it is quite likely that proposals for this Eurotopia will be renewed as a sort of last ditch effort. As Philib Ebels wrote in an article for the EU Observer – "But radical times call for radical measures. And the way things are going, I prefer utopia over dystopia" – and I'm sure many others feel the same way.
Can we really blame these Europeans for seeking a higher ideal that will divert them from the current unstable and agonizing path they are on? I certainly don't think that we can. Yet, we must also remember that what is promised to us by powerful groups is not always (almost never) what we end up getting. The charismatic politicians and officials who come to us in sheep's clothing will no doubt act as counterfeits of our idealistic virtues for society.
Maintains Exclusive Understanding of the Virtues
When the "compromise" of national decentralization in exchange for complete European federalization is proposed by ambitious leaders, they will claim that it is the ONLY solution to the current Eurozone financial crisis and all of the attendant social and political consequences. They will say that there is only one door to economic stability and security, as well as renewed peace and prosperity, and that they hold the key.
What's more is that they will be RIGHT in a limited sense. In the short-term, some sort of federalization scheme, i.e. debt pooling and centralized fiscal control, is the only thing that will keep the Eurozone intact. And the only way that is acceptable to both the Eurozone core and periphery is if some level of decentralization occurs to maintain "regional autonomy", even if it is largely symbolic.
Philip Ebels, as quoted in Ilargi's article, gives us a very matter-of-fact statement of the problem and solution:
Superficially in Favor of the Virtues
This aspect of any Eurotopia proposals/promises is pretty self-evident. As stated before, it is likely that many of the people involved in such a proposal will genuinely believe that they are leading their people, and the European people in general, to stability, peace, prosperity and personal freedom, as well as some modicum of equality over time. Margry comments on this notion of "revitalizing and reframing" Europe:
Slightly Alters or Puts Conditions on the Virtues using Propaganda
We have already seen that the initial condition placed on reaching any virtues of human society in Europe is the federalization of European nations and regions. While much of the analysis is correctly focused on the problems with centralization of authority and "bigness" (complexity at large scales), it is also clear that there is absolutely no political decentralization without some attendant centralization of key economic and political processes. The propaganda is captured well in this sentence from Margry:
The idea here is that Europe must use two competing forces in order to attain a natural equilibrium point at which the virtues can be realized. Indeed, such an idea appeals to our superficial sense of "balance" and "fairness", just as it did to the somewhat skeptical founders of the United States who ultimately agreed on a Constitutional federation of the states. What the Americans living in these states were promised, though, was certainly not what they got over the course of decades and centuries.
Marginalizes Those who are Critical of Their Prescriptions
When these Eurotopian proposals are floated, there will certainly be people who are very critical. They will claim that the supposed decentralization of nation-states will be symbolic and ineffective at promoting local autonomy, while the federalization will predictably transfer more power to centralized institutions of governance and policy-making, including an unaccountable shadow executive. They will also say that the resources to back up such a federalization scheme simply do not exist, and that the scheme will only provide very short-term benefits before structural crises re-emerge.
No doubt they will point to the United States as a prime example of federalization gone awry, where the states lack any real sovereignty over their economic or social policy and the federal government has encroached into every sphere of the lives of individuals and local communities. They will also point out that the United States finds itself in an entirely unsustainable financial and fiscal situation, despite its ability to monetize sovereign debt and provide all types of monetary and structural support to the states.
These critics and their criticisms will be dealt with adeptly and harshly. They will be portrayed as the people who are resistant to any form of change and simply want to perpetuate the destructive status quo. Indeed, they may even be identified as shills of the powerful elites who are afraid of anything that may challenge their wealth, power and control. Every attempt will be made to convince the masses that anyone who is critical of Eurotopia is simply standing in the way of everything that is good and virtuous about European society.
Promises seductive benefits to followers and delivers on many of those promises
This counterfeit principle will be the cornerstone of any Eurotopian proposals. After all, there is really no way to convince the European population of a counterfeit system if that system does not really provide any measurable benefits to those people. Just like in many other parts of the developed world, we have a situation in which the European populations are already trained to expect a certain level of public protection and services.
As Philip Ebels notes, these traditional functions of the post-WW2 European state include protection of territory from external threats, upholding the rule of law (domestic justice), providing healthcare and education, maintaining public infrastructure and also distributing wealth in a somewhat equal manner. Some states have obviously been more effective than others at providing these benefits over time, but what's important now is that they all find themselves unable to continue with those provisions at the same scale and effectiveness as before.
That's where Eurotopia comes in – it will have to assure the European people that these things will continue and even expand over time, and it will also have to deliver some concrete examples of the benefits that Europeans can expect. Perhaps we will see proposals for a new continent-wide, universal healthcare program, or renewed efforts to construct inter-continental transportation infrastructure. Most importantly, people will have to see unemployment and debt burdens relieved to some extent before they are willing to commit themselves entirely to these "radical" visions.
When you think about it, these things can be somewhat easily achieved in the short-term. All that is required is for the ECB to commit itself to monetizing sovereign debt in its new Eurotopian role, and for Eurotopian authorities to give investors, speculators, corporations, etc. a reason to feel reassured about the Eurozone's financial situation. National politicians/officials will also have to play their parts in advocating and taking preliminary steps towards federalizing Europe, showing everyone that they are truly committed as well.
And when you think about it even more (perhaps too much), you start to wonder why any of this is such a bad thing. If the transition towards Eurotopia can actually provide some of the all-important virtues that we strive to achieve, and to a much greater extent than any of its alternatives (such as disorderly decentralization), then why should we fight it? Well, we must always remember that this mentality is exactly why the promises of counterfeit cultures are so seductive and effective, yet eventually become self-defeating and destructive.
In a way, they are starting from a fundamentally flawed premise – that the [short-term] ends justify the means. That it's OK to indulge ourselves in Utopian fantasies as long as we are provided some short-term relief from the struggles of everyday life. And while this article has focused on the situation in Europe, we will see similar counterfeit proposals all across the world, as the elite factions of global society run out of ways to placate the masses. There will be a few who remain critical all the way through, but I fear that the vast majority will be seduced by the counterfeit virtues of our global culture.
I won't claim that I have an exclusive understanding of how to achieve virtuous goals, but I will claim that there is no way these top-down centralization-disguised-as-decentralization schemes will work in the long-term. They will simply mask the structural financial, energy and environmental crises that continue to lurk beneath their thin veneers, and they will dangerously raise expectations and diminish local resiliency for the masses. The last few centuries of human history have been dominated by these types of clever counterfeits, so we must not expect to find the answers to our problems lying in there.
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The Seductive Promises of Counterfeit CULTures 9 months, 2 weeks ago #4798
The thing is, is that the forces of centralization are running up against entropy. Decentralization is a fact of our future. It will be.
What remains to be written is the level of federalism, but we can rest assured regional autonomy will be near total.
A problem, of course, is the time frame. But I am a big believer of just starting to do things because they are inevitable. It is inevitable we will all spend much more energy gardening, so we might as well start gardening now.
Re: The Seductive Promises of Counterfeit CULTures 9 months, 2 weeks ago #4799
Interesting line of thought...
I don't know how that could be played here...but in Europe?My concern,and I think it will be one that many would raise,would be the balkanization of regional differences...enforced by a soul-less milltary...with little imput from regions affected by "Executive Decisions"......
Isn't that one of the beefs that many have,decisions "MADE IN BRUSSELS" are implemented w/o any consideration/imput of those impacted?And no possible resistance from a county-sized region,rather than a state...I am sure that the smart ones would see the "old divide and conquer"played with a new twist...at least I hope they would..
Re: The Seductive Promises of Counterfeit CULTures 9 months, 2 weeks ago #4803
Again to quote the good Dr Gall:
"Systems are like babies: once you get one, you have it. They don't go away. On the contrary, they display the most remarkable persistence. They not only persist; they grow. And as they grow, they encroach...
SYSTEMS TEND TO EXPAND TO FILL THE KNOWN UNIVERSE
That this outcome does not occur in fact is due to the existence of various inhibitory forces." (caps in original) (From: John Gall, 2002, "The Systems Bible", p.17.)
The 'various inhibitory forces' in this case being nature... but I imagine a 'new regime' might well appear, one that might think it will 'last a thousand years', but on natures daily time scales even this is but a millisecond.
Last Edit: 9 months, 2 weeks ago by gurusid.
The Seductive Promises of Counterfeit CULTures 9 months, 2 weeks ago #4805
There's a pretty relevant example of a central state with something similar to our globalized trade network breaking down as the ever-increasing costs of maintaining empire cross with repeated wars of succession resulting in a massive devaluation of the currency reducing everyone to a barter economy.
All the current eurozone can-kicking really just eats away at confidence in the system. The current eurozone economic downturn is due (I believe) as much to debt as it is to a complete lack of confidence in what the future holds. As unrest spreads, economic activity will continue to retreat, nations will draw in on themselves, and our global economy will wither. Attempts at more centralization may just increase instability rather than reducing it.
As reported in the Third Century:
...this vast internal trade network broke down. The widespread civil unrest made it no longer safe for merchants to travel as they once had, and the financial crisis that struck made exchange very difficult with the debased currency. This produced profound changes that, in many ways, would foreshadow the very decentralized economic character of the coming Middle Ages.
Large landowners, no longer able to successfully export their crops over long distances, began producing food for subsistence and local barter. Rather than import manufactured goods from the empire's great urban areas, they began to manufacture many goods locally, often on their own estates, thus beginning the self-sufficient "house economy" that would become commonplace in later centuries, reaching its final form in the Middle Ages' manorialism. The common free people of the Roman cities, meanwhile, began to move out into the countryside in search of food and better protection.
Read the entire article to see what happens to the formerly free peoples of the cities. It's not ideal.
Last Edit: 9 months, 2 weeks ago by davefairtex.
Re: The Seductive Promises of Counterfeit CULTures 9 months, 2 weeks ago #4811
Just a clarification from my POV... "Selfless" is not a good thing. Caring for others EQUAL to oneself is the only attribute that will lead to peace, harmony and prosperity over time.
One needs to have a healthy sense of self - exactly equal to their sense of other people... which should also be healthy.
I bet that's probably the concept you meant when you used the word "selfless," but it can easily be misconstrued as valuing others as more worthy than oneself.
I believe that view is quite unhealthy.
IMHO, a paradigm of equality is where it is at longer term.
Re: The Seductive Promises of Counterfeit CULTures 9 months, 2 weeks ago #4815
IMHO, a paradigm of equality is where it is at longer term.
I agree, one should not diminish oneself. The Golden Rule counts as "selfless" in my book.
Re: The Seductive Promises of Counterfeit CULTures 9 months, 2 weeks ago #4816
IMHO, a paradigm of equality is where it is at longer term.
I agree, one should not diminish oneself. The Golden Rule counts as "selfless" in my book.
Hi Ash, I thought so, however, I'm pointing out that "selfless" is a word that will confuse some of your audience as it implies, well, "self" and "less."
What you think it means isn't very important, it is what your readers will think it means. Some will "get it," others will not.
My kid read a biography on Socrates. I asked him to tell me about Socrates. He said, "He thought a lot." I asked what he thought about. "Words."
The kid of 1,000 words, I know.
Then it was made even more clear that one of the most powerful manipulation tools the social engineers use to manipulate the proles are the building blocks of the language itself.
In almost all instances, words/phrases like communism, free market, democracy, republic, capitalism and socialism are used incorrectly and confuse the listener(s).
None of those words or ideas express the truth of the world we live in - each is an engineered deception to prevent the proles from realizing the truth.
More accurate words are plutocracy, fascism, soft oligarch controlled dictatorship, hard oligarch controlled dictatorship and corporatocracy.
But the accurate words reveal the truth - and the truth is bad. So the false narrative is repeated over and over and over - even by well meaning people who are just reflecting the false narrative that inundated them throughout their lives.
The system promotes the lies... Since people don't want the hassles that go along with the truth, they are apt to not only accept the lies, but embraces the lies.
Words are important - Socrates had some incredible insight when he made it a priority to simply sit back and meditate on the meaning of words, the building blocks of language, and how they could be used to create a false reality that benefits the dictators (be they soft or hard).
I guarantee you the average duped Republican envisions something far, far, far different than the average duped Democrat when the word "socialism" is expressed. Same word - very, very different meanings. That's a very big problem and the [D]elites benefit from proletariat confusion.
I'm not immune from using words that fall short of my intended meaning. I created the term Debt Dollar Tyranny, but RE pointed out that wasn't accurate as more than the dollar is effected by debt money fraud. He suggested Debt Money Tyranny was more accurate.
That's the term I use now - Debt Money Tyranny - because it is simply more accurate and will result in less confusion.
Last Edit: 9 months, 2 weeks ago by TheTrivium4TW.
Re: The Seductive Promises of Counterfeit CULTures 9 months, 2 weeks ago #4817
What you are saying is true - the language and words we use are very important to the underlying mentality we have.
I kinda take back what I just said, though. Treating people equal to yourself is, of course, a great and admirable mentality to have. But, IMO, there is nothing wrong with being selfless to the point of valuing the interest of others more than the interest of oneself in certain situations. A prominent example would obviously be those who have sacrificed their lives for the lives of other people or in the name of higher virtues. Selflessness also implies a sense of trust to me, i.e trusting in higher values/principles to the point of unconditionally surrendering yourself to them. In some ways, it is recognizing that you do not truly belong to yourself, but someone or something else.
I know there are times in which such a mentality can be abused by the wicked against the unwary, such as in counterfeit cults, but that doesn't make the genuine model of selflessness any less genuine. If you still feel that is a bad thing, I wouldn't mind hearing why.
The Seductive Promises of Counterfeit CULTures 9 months, 1 week ago #4818
You guys all want to play by the same social system rules, albeit different set of rules to what we have now. How about something completely different...
Through the short term pain we learn that the only way to organise ourselves is through a significantly heightened sense of service to humanity and the planet - our values attached to individualism is reduced in direct correlation to the devaluing of our egos.
Use that as your golden rule and John Lennon's 'Imagine' starts to ring true. Don't need boundaries, just respect. Don't need money, just trust. Don't need a war either BTW. There is no rule out there that says we need to go down pain street for a long time.
How about we use this pressure cooker experience to evolve rather than at best stay the same (only smaller) or devolve a 1000 years or so.
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