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Joost van Steenis: Road to the future

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  • ummyakoub
    The following article will shortly be published in The Journal of Future Studies, http://www.ed.tku.edu.tw/develop/JFS The road to the future Humans
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 5, 2003
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      The following article will shortly be published in "The Journal of
      Future Studies, http://www.ed.tku.edu.tw/develop/JFS

      The road to the future

      Humans distinguish themselves from all other living beings because
      they can learn from the past, experience the present and dream about
      the future. To apply what they have learned, experienced and dreamed
      on the road to the future is one of the most important things they
      can do in the not yet hundred years they live. How society will
      exactly be organised over two or three hundred years is only
      academically interesting. The practical road towards a future
      situation is more human than discussions about a far future that may
      never be realised.

      Human life is movement from one situation to another. Humans petrify
      when they remain too long in one and the same situation, they lose
      their creativity, they lose what makes humans human. To travel from
      one place to another is more interesting than to reach a vague and
      fairly unknown destination. Far away places can often hardly be
      described from a distance but on the road to the unknown the
      traveller gets already a glimpse of what can be expected. The
      political future is even more difficult to predict. How society will
      then be organised is better left to people who live then. But in our
      lifetime we can cover part of the road towards the future. On this
      road we can already consciously introduce elements that should belong
      to a different and more agreeable future.

      I expect that in the future humans will be freer. Now they are fenced
      in but can liberate themselves when they take the right road to the
      future. This road should be paved by a new kind of temporary minority
      organisations of active, interested, independent, autonomous and
      involved masspeople who will act on the time, the place and about the
      subjects they choose. Then people will change their attitude and will
      become more autonomous and independent. This cannot be achieved by
      education alone but has to be inserted in human nature (and the human
      mind) by practical activities. By the way, by introducing the
      importance of minorities I distance myself from democratic ideas that
      are based on majorities, not in the least because I think democracy
      is a dead end. Democracy will lead to alienation and petrifaction, to
      a society in which people have even less to say than in the past when
      democracy gave people hope they could free themselves from the
      arbitrary rule of the leading class.

      People are not isolated individuals and should have contact with
      other people on just those subjects in which they are involved and
      interested. Because the interests of people are changing over time
      small groups of activists will be formed for a restricted period of
      time. In this way the autonomy of the group and the participants will
      be safeguarded. The present political organisations continue to exist
      for a long time and ordinary members are dependent on what leaders
      tell them. Deviations from established ideas are hardly permitted and
      others decide when, where and about what people may become active.

      Even in ordinary life temporary groups should be dominating. Not the
      family must stand central in society but temporary groups that have
      limited goals. I only write about political goals but the development
      that marriages more and more appear to become temporary connections
      between independent humans is already widely experienced and
      excepted.

      To determine which road has to be taken and which characteristics
      must be strengthened on the way to the future we have to consider the
      past and the present, analyse how society is up till now organised
      and think about how a new and different future should look like. But
      most of all we have to take into account the possibilities of the
      human mind and of the human existence. I will bring some points
      forward that I find of importance. Other people can advance other
      aspects but all characteristics will originate in the basic feeling
      that the present society is not ideal and that freedom to live one's
      own life is too much restricted by mighty and often anonymous people.

      Our world is divided into two separate entities, an eliteworld and a
      massworld. There is a great distance between the two and most misery
      and suppression is found on the massworld. The eliteworld is more
      prosperous, the inhabitants freer and elitepeople are driven by the
      idea to safeguard their privileged position of more power and wealth
      and to leave this position to their progeny. The masses that live on
      the densely populated massworld have hardly any future to live for,
      their first goal is to survive. Most elitist conflicts take place on
      the massworld and most damage in wars and economic conflicts is
      inflicted upon the masses. When the economic situation deteriorates,
      masspeople may fall from the massworld, elitepeople that fall down
      are saved by the massworld that can be found beneath the eliteworld.

      Elites have dominated humanity for many centuries. Gaetano Mosca
      spoke at the end of the 19th century of the circulation of elites, I
      prefer to say that there exists one nearly eternal elite that renews
      itself by new blood from the massworld. To be accepted this new blood
      must however to a great height accept the rules and customs that are
      already present in the eliteworld. In this way the power position
      (and the privileges) of the elite is continued and safeguarded
      through the ages. The development in the United States, the Soviet
      Union and China where complete new elites came into power confirms
      this idea because after some time these elites were hardly
      distinguishable from old elites.

      The coming into existence of democracy did not change the balance of
      power between elite and masses. The system was an improvement of
      other methods to organise society because old democratic countries
      are still more prosperous than the rest of the world. Though the
      general prosperity increased the prosperity of the elite increased
      even more. In most parts of the world misery is however still
      rampant. A slight downturn in the economy forces many masspeople to
      move nearer to the edge of their world and the chance to fall down
      into death and oblivion increases. The Asian Financial Crisis brought
      misery to the masses while the elite was hardly affected.

      The present situation is shocking.
      A billion people live in shantytowns.
      Many other masspeople are not living in houses in which they can
      develop an independent mind.
      One billion children live in poverty.
      Tens of millions of people are still dying from hunger while food is
      abundantly available.
      The position of half of the worlds' population, women, is in
      important parts of the world abominable.
      Illiteracy is widespread and the general standard of education is far
      below what people may expect of a decent society.
      Health problems in the Third World, and not only because of the AIDS-
      problem, are appalling.
      Billions of people still live on less than a few dollars a day.
      In many Third World countries (and nearly only there) devastating
      wars are being conducted.
      The future is not bright.
      It is time for a change.
      It is time to look for other roads to advance humanity.

      This new road will be long and a better world is still far off. The
      power relations between elite and mass did not change fundamentally
      over the ages and can thus never be changed in a fortnight. The minds
      of elitepeople as well as of masspeople, of rulers as well as of
      ruled, of dominators as well as of dominated can only become more
      equal and free over a long period in which more and more (mass)
      people become active. And they have one overwhelming and human
      purpose: all people should have right on an equal status because all
      are member of the human race (see Francis Fukuyama).

      Only movement can disturb the petrified power relations. Yes indeed
      petrified relations. Humanity has suffered greatly in the past
      because the elite held on to its privileged position while the
      political situation asked for a change. Life-long dominance (being
      dominated and dominating others) is contrary to human nature but
      promoted and preserved ancient social structures. By the way
      structures are dead entities and are only wheelbarrows for (powerful)
      living humans that want to realise their private benefits, to
      safeguard their privileged positions and to give this power and
      prosperity through to their progeny. It is not enough to change dead
      structures it is imperative to change (the minds of) living people.
      Otherwise comparable divisions as between the present elite and mass
      will reappear in the future.

      In former times many societies petrified, went down and vanished.
      Mandarin China, the Roman Empire and the Islam World stopped being
      the most developed societies. The petrifaction of Roman Catholic
      institutions and the Catholic leadership caused the rise to power of
      Protestants. When freedom, individuality, autonomy and creativity are
      being suppressed, society will die.

      The proposed activities of masspeople do not fall from the sky. Quite
      often masspeople unite for a short time to pursue a single objective.
      Success is however most of the time very small if any. Activities are
      mostly directed against dead objects as governmental or industrial
      buildings. Clashes in the street involve only demonstrators and
      police officers that all live on the massworld. The rulers that use
      the structures to preserve their rule are hardly influenced by people
      that demonstrate in front of their workplace. Actions are often
      controlled by leaders of big organisations as trade unions, NGO's or
      political parties that know a comparable hierarchical power structure
      as the rest of society. Freedom and creativity of individual
      activists can hardly be found and certainly not blossom.
      Organisations that control actions are lead by people who do not want
      to lose their relative powerful position and do all to prevent that
      still more powerful people threaten the benefits they get from their
      higher position in society.

      Already more than a hundred years ago Roberto Michels advanced the
      Iron Law of Oligarchy by which original free mass organisations
      transform in organisations that control the masses. The history of
      trade unions, the development in France after the French Revolution
      or in the Soviet Union after the Russian Revolution are clear
      indications that this kind of organisations give only limited
      advantages to the masses. A strict hierarchy prevents the free
      development of humans and leads in the end to petrifaction. It is not
      strange that in 1989 the petrified Eastern European regimes
      disappeared after the sudden and unpredictable Fall of the Berlin
      Wall.

      What to do on the road towards a new future must not be inspired by
      an utopian picture of a new world. Activities must in the first place
      be based on the idea how humanity in general and individual humans in
      particular can better use their unique characteristics as creativity,
      independence and autonomy. It must be based on the idea that all
      humans must reach the equal status that is embedded in their
      membership of the human race.

      The present social organisation is based on power. The elite can only
      maintain its privileged position because it possesses a surplus of
      power. So activities must be directed at the undermining of the
      unequal balance of power and against the division of the world in two
      parts, a massworld and an eliteworld. When masspeople advance on the
      road towards the future they will better realise what a society of
      the future will look like. But it can never be predicted when this
      point will be reached. When the conditions are ripe one small action
      can, according to the mathematical Chaos and Catastrophe Theories,
      cause a catastrophe. Then a new situation will come into being in
      which people see old facts on a new way (free after Thomas S. Kuhn).
      Then humanity will enter a new phase in its development that is now
      threatened by petrifaction. A catastrophe and a temporary chaos will
      open new roads to unknown but interesting futures.

      But what exactly can those temporary minority groups do? How can the
      petrifying situation be turned around? When we realise that the
      present hierarchical society is preserved by the power of the elite
      the target is clear: people from the elite that live in a distant and
      safe place that is called the eliteworld. The use of power is now one-
      sided and directed from elite- to massworld. It is all top-down, what
      for example is expressed in the monopoly on the use of violence by
      the state that is one of the instruments by which the elite maintains
      its privileged position. The same is true for communication. The
      elite has a firm grip on the media and alternative news is hard to
      come by. All news is seen from the ideas and the interests of the
      elite.

      Because power is very closely connected to violence (and wealth) it
      should be clear that activists should also use some violence in their
      actions. It must however be a special kind of violence that largely
      remains within the limits of the present society. An imprisoned
      massperson cannot exercise any pressure on elitepersons. Moreover it
      must be avoided that the elite can use organisations of mass
      restriction (police, army) that for the greater part consist of
      masspeople. Then the struggle will become a struggle between
      different parts of the masses. It should be a struggle between parts
      of the masses against parts of the elite. Attacks must only be
      directed at elitepeople and any attack on masspeople must be avoided.
      I have called this method "Small Violence".

      Small minority groups are tiny parts of the immense massworld where
      billions of people live. It cannot be expected that such small groups
      achieve huge results on their own. When many groups are active at the
      same time life becomes a sequence of ever different projects in which
      masspeople are consciously involved. Because of the constant pressure
      from the massworld in the direction of the eliteworld, from
      masspeople on elitepeople, small successes will take place.
      Elitepeople will sometimes change their attitude or even withdraw
      from the active pursuit of elitist goals. This will encourage
      masspeople and they will see that the future is bright when they
      become more active. The present action methods suppress human
      individuality and many activists have become so disappointed that
      they withdrew from politics and never again took part in any
      political activity.

      That is not right, people should remain political active. They should
      have the intention to disturb, to move and to shake society in such a
      way that petrifying is not possible. The minds of the elite must be
      disturbed in such a way that they are not capable to concentrate on
      the only purpose they have had up till now, the preservation of the
      privileged position of the elite. And because the minds of the elite
      are embedded in the bodies of elitepersons, actions must take place
      in those places where elitepersons are most at ease, in and near
      those places where elitepeople live, in their private surroundings,
      in the eliteworld. When the eliteworld is shaken, when it is not any
      more the quiet world on which elitepeople can live undisturbed and
      far from the havoc they have created on the massworld, the effect of
      the actions will become clear. When the elite has to spend more time
      at directly defending its living space, the living place of the
      masses, the massworld, becomes freer. The elite will then have fewer
      possibilities to control the massworld and the masspeople. The
      separate eliteworld will begin to disappear.


      By the way it is not the intention to replace the old elite by a new
      one. In our complicated society things have to be organised. When we
      want to build an aeroplane some co-ordinating people, you may call
      them leaders, must have the overall view of the production. These
      people must however never get such power that their decisions become
      in the first place inspired by the interest of the small elitist and
      privileged group to which they belong. The interests of all people
      have to be taken into account. In regard to property rights the
      present policy is elitist. Music is made by artists and consumed by
      consumers who all belong to the massworld. Some money has to stream
      from consumers to artists. But music producers want to earn as much
      money as possible even when they do not contribute much to the
      transport of music from artists to consumers. Internet provides a
      reliable method to get cheap music that excludes the music industry.
      Because the music industry is in the hand of members of the elite,
      the judiciary, also in the hands of elitepeople, tries to stop any
      cheap transport of music from artists to consumers that will make
      most of the music industry obsolete. It is clear that some action has
      to be undertaken, action that in the first place benefits masspeople
      interested in cheap music. The tycoons of the music industry and the
      supporting elitepeople of the judiciary will however not change their
      policies when they are not pressurised by those people that are
      interested in cheap music. And the biggest pressure takes not place
      in the courtroom but in the safe living quarters of the elite, on the
      eliteworld.


      To change the minds of elitepeople I propose that creative minority
      groups apply "Creative Disturbance". I propose that masspeople act in
      such a way that the mighty though petrifying eliteworld becomes
      disturbed. Because the chaos theory learns that a small disturbance
      can lead to a big change, society will not go down but will again
      begin to vibrate. A new world will come into being in which the
      divisions between leaders and lead, between rulers and ruled will
      have disappeared. But how this new world exactly will look like
      cannot be predicted. It will only be clear that the division of the
      human living space in two worlds, a mass- and an eliteworld, will
      cease to exist. Then humans become freer, more creative and more
      autonomous, they will become able to develop to an ever higher level
      those characteristics that uniquely belong to the human race.

      Joost van Steenis (powerelite@...)
      For further information about possible actions, the background of my
      thoughts, a deeper analysis of the present society and the roads
      towards a new society I refer to my site that I have named "Down with
      the Elite". You can find it on http://members.chello.nl/jsteenis


      Thomas S. Kuhn (1962). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions,
      University of Chicago Press, second edition 1970. Roberto Michels
      (1911). Les Partis Politiques, Flammarion, 1971.
      The title of the English edition is: "Political Parties", Free Press
      1949.
      The title of the original work was "Zur Soziologie des Parteiwezens
      in der modernen Demokratie - Untersuchungen ├╝ber die oligarchischen
      Tendenzen des Gruppenlebens", Alfred Kroner Verlag Stuttgart.
      Gaetano Mosca (1890). The Ruling Class - Elementi Di Scienza
      Politica. Arthur Livingston, 1939.
      Francis Fukuyama (2002). Our posthuman future - Consequences of the
      biotechnical revolution. Penguin Books, 2003.

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