[This is an excerpt taken from Chapter 1 of my dissertation]
Activists are not only turning to social media to document unfolding events, they are increasingly mapping these events for the world to bear witness. We’ve seen this happen in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen and beyond. My colleague Alexey Sidorenko describes this new phenomenon as a “mapping reflex.” When student activists from Khartoum got in touch earlier this year, they specifically asked for a map, one that would display their pro-democracy protests and the government crackdown. Why? They wanted the world to see that the Arab Spring extended to the Sudan.
The Ushahidi platform is increasingly used to map information generated by crowds in near-real time like the picture depicted above. Why is this important? Because live public maps can help synchronize shared awareness, an important catalyzing factor of social movements, according to Jürgen Habermas. Recall Habermas’s treaties that “those who take on the tools of open expression become a public, and the presence of a synchronized public increasingly constrains un-democratic rulers while expanding the right of that public.”
Three Good Reasons to Liquidate Our Empire and Ten Steps to Take to Do So
1. We Can No Longer Afford Our Postwar Expansionism
2. We Are Going to Lose the War in Afghanistan and It Will Help Bankrupt Us
3. We Need to End the Secret Shame of Our Empire of Bases
. . . . . . . .
10 Steps Toward Liquidating the Empire (Abridged)
Dismantling the American empire would, of course, involve many steps. Here are ten key places to begin:
1. We need to put a halt to the serious environmental damage done by our bases planet-wide. We also need to stop writing SOFAs that exempt us from any responsibility for cleaning up after ourselves.
2. Liquidating the empire will end the burden of carrying our empire of bases and so of the “opportunity costs” that go with them — the things we might otherwise do with our talents and resources but can’t or won’t.
3. As we already know (but often forget), imperialism breeds the use of torture. Dismantling the empire would potentially mean a real end to the modern American record of using torture abroad.
4. We need to cut the ever-lengthening train of camp followers, dependents, civilian employees of the Department of Defense, and hucksters — along with their expensive medical facilities, housing requirements, swimming pools, clubs, golf courses, and so forth — that follow our military enclaves around the world.
5. We need to discredit the myth promoted by the military-industrial complex that our military establishment is valuable to us in terms of jobs, scientific research, and defense. These alleged advantages have long been discredited by serious economic research. Ending empire would make this happen.
6. As a self-respecting democratic nation, we need to stop being the world’s largest exporter of arms and munitions and quit educating Third World militaries in the techniques of torture, military coups, and service as proxies for our imperialism.
7. Given the growing constraints on the federal budget, we should abolish the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and other long-standing programs that promote militarism in our schools.
8. We need to restore discipline and accountability in our armed forces by radically scaling back our reliance on civilian contractors, private military companies, and agents working for the military outside the chain of command and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Ending empire would make this possible.
9. We need to reduce, not increase, the size of our standing army and deal much more effectively with the wounds our soldiers receive and combat stress they undergo.
10. To repeat the main message of this essay, we must give up our inappropriate reliance on military force as the chief means of attempting to achieve foreign policy objectives.
Phi Beta Iota: The second article is a stunning review of the intellectual life of Chalmers Johnson, who was among many things a net assessments analyst for Allen Dulles. He pioneered the study of “State Capitalism” and considered the US to be a greatly under-performing economy for its failure to move away from military unilateralism and toward sustainable development.
There is a very talented author, journalist, and speaker, Mike Southon, who publishes in the Financial Times. One of his articles, “Perfect Pitch,” 7 March 2009 was instrumental in crafting the below one-page “pitch.” Mike’s four web sites:
Koko signs: Smart men both, but neither of them has a holistic understanding of system design. In the jungle, connectivity matters. King of the Reflexive Practice Jungle, Dr. Russell Ackoff, would say this is a magnificent example of doing the wrong thing righter. Paying to connect these young men to a broken system makes no sense–funding them to build a new system to displace the broken one–now that is reflexivity. Good intentions, bad design. We have just two questions.
1. Has anyone asked the young men what they want?
2. In the context of a city failing the resilience test and likely to experience near-catastrophic unemployment in the middle class over the next ten years, is there a strategy for resilience?
I have worked for several months to develop the ideas in this article and to articulate them in an accessible way. They are fundamental understandings underlying the co-intelligence vision of a wiser democracy.
If the ideas intrigue you, you can find a longer version with more detailed guidelines and references online. I wrote the abstract below to make it easier for you to see the whole pattern at once. I hope you find both versions interesting and useful.
As a civilization we have tremendous collective power, but we don’t always use it wisely. We can make good decisions, but we face messy, entangled, rapidly growing problems with complex, debatable causes. Efforts to solve one problem often generate new ones. We need more than problem-solving smarts here. We need wisdom.
A good definition for wisdom here is
the capacity to take into account what needs to be taken into account to produce long term, inclusive benefits.
To the extent we fail to take something important into account, it will come back to haunt us. But often we only realize we overlooked something long after our decision has been implemented. Certain practices – because they lead us to include more of what’s important – can help us meet this challenge. Here are eight complementary ways to do this. The more of them we do, and the better we do them, the wiser our collective decisions will be. Continue reading “Tom Atlee: Making Wise Decisions on Public Issues”
In 2001 the Co-Intelligence Institute released a breakthrough compilation of more than 100 democratic innovations. At that time there was no other comparable resource on the web.
This year we decided — and began — to update this list, to fix its broken links, to add new innovations and resources, and to make it into a wiki to allow other people to add democratic innovations they knew about. You can see our initial progress online.
While preparing a grant proposal to expand the project, we researched the web for other lists of democratic and participatory practices and resources. We were surprised to find quite a few.
We decided that to add the most value in the context of this great wealth of resources, our project should
Using wikis and digital fabrication tools, TED Fellow Marcin Jakubowski is open-sourcing the blueprints for 50 farm machines, allowing anyone to build their own tractor or harvester from scratch. And that’s only the first step in a project to write an instruction set for an entire self-sustaining village (starting cost: $10,000).
Here are my notes on points made by Senator Dallaire, followed by some additional personal views of my own with respect to the future of the UN, NATO, and regional organizations long overdue as stewards of their respective regions peace and prosperity.
+ Drawing on history we can project into the future (not in a linear fashion, but from an informed foundation). We need to do both, we cannot go on as we are with our short-term perspective.
+ We must achieve a communion of humanity in the larger context of the planet as a whole–this is a grand strategic vision in which nation-states are actually limiting elements.
+ National and regional planning must be integrated into a larger global planning and forecasting process; we must go global.
+ The will to intervene in important, and should be but is not, common sense. Refugees and displaced persons are vectors for disease and root sources of rage.
Is there a new anti-intellectualism? I mean one that is advocated by Internet geeks and some of the digerati. I think so: more and more mavens of the Internet are coming out firmly against academic knowledge in all its forms. This might sound outrageous to say, but it is sadly true.
Robert David STEELE Vivas: Digerati are not geeks. They are adept at social media, a process, rather than the substance of any discipline. Their scorn for the mandarins of knowledge would not be possible if academia had not lost its soul, sanctioned massive intellectual corruption, and fragmented itself to the point of irrelevance. The serious educational literature (not something the digerati read) is clear: inspiration and innovation
emerge faster, better, and cheaper from minds that are prepared, to include a foundation of memorization and a deep familiarity with the thinking of those who have come before. The digerati point of view half-right and is embodied in Smart Mobs, Wisdom of the Crowd, Everything is Miscellaneous, and Maria Popova’s latest thought, that “information curation is the new authorship.” The digerati approach splits the roles of originator of an idea and connector of an idea down, and assumes that “the collective” can replicate and even surpass the individual human brain, without recognizing that the whole is only as good as the sum of the part foundation plus whatever the collective adds. My own finding re Wikipedia is that the mob destroys intellectuals. My own efforts to enhance the Open Source Intelligence page there were destroyed by idiots that “assumed” that because I pointed to oss.net so much (to many of the 800 people whose work is there including the 144 that received Golden Candle Awards) I was “self-promoting.” The digerati are fragile and very shallow, and by Larry Sanger’s very interesting account, a new form of neo-Luddite. The academy is corrupt and fragmented–we are in an era where all forms of organization have lost their soul and whatever semblance of philosophical context they may once have possessed. We are suffering from the Paradigms of Failure that I discussed in the pre-amble to ELECTION 2008: Lipstick on the Pig (EIN, 2008). There is only one option leading to stabilization & reconstruction: INTEGRITY. The digerati aren’t–as a general rule–very appreciative of holistic thinking or in-depth expertise–they are a spoiled generation badly in need of some personal suffering and exposure to global reality–IMHO.
Phi Beta Iota: The industrialization/ chemicalization of agriculture, in combination with the corruption of every aspect of society beginning with governance and extending to the media, has allowed for the desecration of the Earth and the poisoning of humanity. This has been done with the explicit consent and encouragement of the so-called elites of the West, who have a vision of eugenics and the covert eradication of the poor and uneducated over time. These elites do not see that the brainpower of the three billion poor is the only thing that can restore natural harmony and sustainable agriculture as well as legitimate governance and natural capitalism. The time has come to create M4IS2–public intelligence in the public interest.
“The nature of cyberspace is borderless and anonymous,” R. Chandrasekhara, secretary of India’s telecommunications department, told a cyber security conference in London last week organised by a U.S.-based think tank, the EastWest Institute. “Governments, countries and law — all are linked to territory. There is a fundamental contradiction.”
Phi Beta Iota: The national secret intelligence communities mean well, but they are cognitively and culturally incapacitated in relation to both the global threats and the global infomation sharing and sense-making possibilities. It may just be that the solution has to come from a private sector service of common concern that can provide the integrity now lacking in governments and most corporation. Scary thought. M4IS2 is inevitable….delay is costing trillions.
The same people who brought you Wikileaks are back, and this time, they’ve created a virtual currency called Bitcoin that could destabilize the entire global financial system. Bitcoin is an open-source virtual currency generated by a computer algorithm that is completely beyond the reach of financial intermediaries, central banks and national tax collectors. Bitcoins could be used to purchase anything, at any time, from anyone in the world, in a transaction process that it is almost completely frictionless. Yes, that’s right, the hacktivists now have a virtual currency that’s untraceable, unhackable, and completely Anonymous.
And that’s where things start to get interesting. Veteran tech guru Jason Calacanis recently called Bitcoin the most dangerous open source project he’s ever seen. TIME suggested that Bitcoin might be able to bring national governments and global financial institutions to their knees. You see, Bitcoin is as much a political statement as it is a virtual currency. If you think there’s a shadow banking system now, wait a few more months. The political part is that, unlike other virtual currencies like Facebook Credits (used to buy virtual sock puppets for your friends), Bitcoins are globally transferrable across borders, making them the perfect instrument to finance any cause or any activity — even if it’s banned by a sovereign government.
You don’t need a banking or trading account to buy and trade Bitcoins – all you need is a laptop. They’re like bearer bonds combined with the uber-privacy of a Swiss bank account, mixed together with a hacker secret sauce that stores them as 1’s and 0’s on your computer. They’re “regulated” (to use the term lightly) by distributed computers around the world. Most significantly, Bitcoins can not be frozen or blocked or taxed or seized.