Monday, January 25, 2010

Lessons from MINO


I feel like I've turned a corner over the past week. It's been a long time coming. Ever since I began to realise the nature of the predicament that Humanity is in, I've been searching for a solution. I just knew there had to be one. It was "like a splinter in my mind".
One of my favourite films is Chicken Run. It has a lot of parallels to what I was trying to do. It's about a group of chickens who, at the instigation of a very determined hen called Ginger, are trying to escape from the farm. They try plan after plan and things are looking bleak, especially after they realise that the farmers are planning to change their end product from eggs to chicken pies. In one scene, Ginger is trying to enlist the help of a rooster called Rocky Rhodes, who is on the run from a circus:

Ginger: Mr. Rhodes, perhaps I didn't explain our situation properly. We lay eggs, day in and day out, and when we can't lay any more, they kill us.
Rocky: It's a cruel world, doll-face. You might as well get used to it.
Ginger: Which part of "they kill us" do you not understand?
Rocky: Hey, I've got my own set of problems to worry about. Besides, this bird cage can't be that hard to bust out of. In fact, watch me.
Ginger: It's not so hard to get one chicken out of here, or even two, but this is about all of us.
Rocky: All of you?
Ginger: That's what I've been trying to tell you.
Rocky: Wait a minute. Let me get this straight. You want to get every chicken in this place out of here at the same time?!
Ginger: Of course.
Rocky: You're certifiable. You can't pull off a stunt like that. It's suicide.
Ginger: Where there's a will, there's a way.
Rocky: Couldn't agree more. And I will be leaving, that way.

All along, the solution I was seeking was for everybody. After years of obsessing over the problem, I did finally find it. The pay-offs were huge. It also required no effort or cost on most people's part, only agreement in principle. TPTB could not prevent it. I actually thought it would fly. I thought if people saw a way out, they would get behind it. Either that, or it would start a discussion that would lead to something even better. I thought the widespread apathy and hopelessness was due to a lack of ideas. I posted the plan on Evolver, and I thought people would get it. Almost no one did, and some that responded were actively hostile to it. Silly me. I failed to see that most people don't want to be free.

It's funny because everybody loves freedom, right? Or rather, they say they do. It is constantly celebrated in stories and films, in songs and speeches. It's champions are cultural heroes. And yet... when faced with the possibility of actual freedom, those same people recoil in horror. It turns out, they will do anything to avoid it, pay any price. They justify it by claiming that we don't have a choice. But that's a lie. By believing in the necessity for control, we have made a choice. We don't have to let a cabal of criminal psychopaths control us. We could stop playing their game any time we want to. But there's a catch. To do it, we have to really want to be free.
Hardly anyone wants real freedom, because it doesn't just mean not being controlled. It also means renouncing our control of others. The tyrant is no more free than the slave. Both are controlled by fear. If we abolished money and and made all work voluntary, we would strip ourselves of our power to force others to give us what we want.
Don't get me wrong. I'm still convinced that our souls' love of freedom is genuine. I don't think people are naturally cruel and selfish. But the false ego is. And as long as it holds sway, as long as we fail to recognise it and challenge it's insistence that it is "I", freedom will remain out of reach. Realistically, I don't see this changing anytime soon. Not unless conditions radically shift due to some unforeseen factor (which I don't rule out).
And that's OK. Because, as within, so without. If there is a solution for "the world", then I can apply it just as well to my own path. I can still be free on the inside, where it truly matters. I can't choose freedom for anyone else. Only they can do that. All I can do is point out the exit, which I have, then walk through it myself. Now the splinter in my mind is gone. I don't regret the time and energy I spent working it out. At least now, when people tell me they don't have a choice, I can show them that they do.

In another scene from Chicken Run, Ginger is trying to motivate the chickens:

Ginger: You know what the problem is? The fences aren't just round the farm. They're up here, in your heads. There's a better place out there, somewhere beyond that hill, and it has wide open places, and lots of trees... and grass. Can you imagine that? Cool, green grass.
Hen: Who feeds us?
Ginger: We feed ourselves.
Hen: Where's the farm?
Ginger: There is no farm.
Babs: Then, where does the farmer live?
Ginger: There is no farmer, Babs.
Babs: Is he on holiday?
Ginger: He isn't anywhere! Don't you get it? There's no morning head count, no farmers, no dogs and coops and keys, and no fences.
Bunty: In all my life, I've never heard such a fantastic load of tripe. Oh, face the facts, ducks. The chances of us getting out of here are a million to one.
Ginger: Then there's still a chance.

Ginger is right. There is still a chance. It starts with each of us. It will happen when we free ourselves and free each other. That's what I intend to do.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

MINO (money is no object)


This blog is a sequel to an earlier one I wrote, entitled "The Economy Must Die". That blog exposed the false mythology of the monetary economy. This one will suggest a possible alternative. As I see it, the biggest flaw of a currency based economy is the presence of coercion. Currency use cannot survive without coercion. Any system that institutionalises coercion can never lead to universal prosperity, peace or equality. If we want these things, we need a new economic model.

I've named this economic style MINO (money is no object). It is a gift economy. I'll first outline the system in brief, then switch to Q&A format to fill in the details. Finally, I'll present some benefits of a MINO economy.

SUMMARY:
1. All currencies are abolished.
2. All work is 100% voluntary.
3. An interactive, world wide web based platform is created to allow people to connect with each other and locate opportunities for voluntary service. The platform would be designed so that you could suggest group projects and solicit help in making them happen. It would include a search feature capable of sorting requests by priority (how essential they are), popularity (as determined by a built-in voting system), region, and type of service (ie. infrastructure, innovation, education, hospitality, agriculture, etc.) Once you had decided which requests to respond to, you could schedule yourself into any vacancy.
4. Ownership is determined by use. For example, if you are living in a dwelling, it's yours. If you abandon it, it isn't.

Q&A:
Question- What would prevent some people from taking advantage by refusing to contribute?

Answer- First of all, this question is based on the assumption that there would be a labour shortage. In fact, adopting the MINO system would represent the largest lay-off in the history of the world. A short list of occupations that would disappear completely would include: banking and credit, stock market trading, billing, sales, insurance, cashiers, real estate, and taxation. MINO would also massively reduce the need for:
1. Health care. The number 1 cause of illness is stress. Other major factors are poor food quality and poverty. The MINO system would eventually eliminate these causes.
2. Policing. Most crime is undertaken solely for profit, ie. theft, fraud, extortion, prostitution, human trafficking, and environmental destruction. The purpose of police should be restricted to preventing coercive abuse of the vulnerable.
3. Advertising. Most of the energy presently devoted to advertising is aimed at manufacturing want for the sake of profit. MINO would reduce advertising to the promotion of group projects.
4. Manufacturing. Manufacturing for profit leads to poor quality goods, wasteful, destructive use of resources, and planned obsolescence. Also, many of the items are neither needed nor truly wanted.
5. War. Regardless of the reasons officially given, wars are almost always fought for profit.
This list is incomplete but substantial. There would be no labour shortage. There would be many things we'd want to change if money were no object, so we'd be busier in the beginning than later on. It's impossible to say what the average service contribution would be, but I would guess about five hours per week or less, and falling over time.

Question- What would motivate people to volunteer for the least pleasant jobs in the absence of money?

Answer- Gratitude would replace financial incentive. In the absence of money, generosity would become the main source of social status. Consider the person who picks up your garbage. Have you ever felt grateful to him/her for his/her service? You probably never have because he/she is receiving a pay cheque. What if he/she was doing it voluntarily? In that case, I expect you would feel very differently. The jobs that are least intrinsically fulfilling would carry the most honour in a MINO economy. I've mostly worked in the hospitality area (cooking, serving, bar tending). The main drawback of that type of work, aside from sore feet and exhaustion due to overwork, is disrespect and mistreatment from customers. If the people I was serving knew that my service was a gift, I doubt that would happen. If I were doing it for 10 hours per week or less, and voluntarily, it wouldn't even feel like work. It would be fun, like hosting a party. This is work I would definitely volunteer for. I'd also make a point of occasionally scheduling myself for one of the grottier jobs because I think it's only fair that I should.

Question- What about scarcity? If demand exceeds supply, and the difference can't be remedied, who gets access?

Answer- This should be determined by each community and case-by-case. For necessities, it would probably be best to ration and/or ask for help from other regions. For non-essentials, raffling might be preferable. In either case, it would be an improvement over the current system where the same people (those with the most money) always have priority access.

I'm sure there are plenty of other questions about MINO. If you think of any, please use the comments area and I, or whoever else wants to, can try to answer.

Benefits of a MINO economy:
1. Quality:
If money is no object, there is no reason to produce poor quality goods and services.
2. Sustainability:
Improvements in quality will reduce waste. Sustainability and quality are intimately connected and profit is the enemy of both. Take food for example. Small, organic farms produce better quality food and can more easily be made fully sustainable. A great number of people dream of such a pastoral lifestyle. The only barrier they now face is financial.
3. Education: This will be one of the main growth areas in a MINO economy. Everyone will have a lot more free time, and the opportunity to share and acquire knowledge and training will be available to all.
4. Social harmony and connection: The MINO system replaces competition with cooperation. MINO also inspires gratitude towards others. When all work is voluntary, it isn't taken for granted, and appreciation is intrinsically fulfilling.
5. Improved health and longevity: When people lead fulfilling lives, free of anxiety, and with strong positive connections to their communities, they are happier and more relaxed. This has huge physical and mental health benefits. Throw in better food and a healthier environment, and throw out the profit motive in medicine, and see what happens.
6. Research and innovation: Imagine if quality, sustainability and social benefit, instead of profit, determined which research and technology received support. Things like free, clean energy and consciousness technologies would advance very quickly. Weapons development would receive little or no public enthusiasm, and so would decline. In the absence of the profit motive, knowledge would be shared instead hoarded.
7. An end to animal cruelty: The only reason to mistreat animals is because it's cheaper that caring for them with compassion.


Why should we not adopt such a system as MINO? All it would demand of us is maturity and trust in one another. If you need coercion in order to function in a socially responsible manner, you have no right to call yourself an adult. Surely being a mature adult means you don't need to be told what to do. If we adopted a MINO economy, or something like it, we could build a civilisation worthy of the name. The timing for this could not be better. In many countries, the average age of the population is rising. This is a problem in a monetary economy, but an advantage in a MINO system, since education and skills training will be some of the biggest growth areas. The monetary economy is likely to catastrophically collapse in the near future. If we start preparing to transition now, we could avoid a great deal of suffering. Every crisis is also an opportunity. We have only to rise to it. What if money were no object? Just imagine.....

Monday, January 11, 2010

Synesthesia

There is a fascinating "condition" known as synesthesia. Basically, it is where information from one sense, such as hearing, is automatically reiterated by another sense, such as sight. According to the linked article, prevalence of synesthesia is estimated at 1 in 23 people. This is based on self-selection so it's likely higher than that. Studies show that the sensory correlations are not random.

"It was once assumed that synesthetic experiences were entirely different from
synesthete to synesthete, but recent research has shown that there are
underlying similarities that can be observed when large numbers of synesthetes
are examined together. For example, sound-color synesthetes, as a group, tend to
see lighter colors for higher sounds[20] and grapheme-color synesthetes, as a
group, share significant preferences for the color of each letter (e.g., A tends
to be red; O tends to be white or black; S tends to be yellow etc."


The phenomenon of synesthesia isn't that odd if you know that our experienced reality is really the brain's interpretation of a field of pure information made of vibration. Our senses don't perceive different things, but the same "thing" differently interpreted.
Ceremonial magick techniques make use of this by employing artificial synesthetic stimulation. Equivalent images, colours, shapes, numbers, scents and sounds are used to focus consciousness on a specific vibration. Advertising and propaganda use these also. So does Fung Shiu.

As far as I can tell, synesthesia research has only examined the relationship between "physical" senses. I think it also includes much of what we call extrasensory perception. Abilities like clairaudience, psychometry and clairvoyance all manifest through physical senses. Many people are able to see auras and yet the aura is a non-physical energy field. I started wondering about this because when I look at photos or video of certain people (people like Blair, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Kissenger, and most other serial killers) they appear so obviously wrong. Their faces are cruel and insanity glitters behind their eyes. I couldn't stop asking myself how anyone could trust them. The more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that I couldn't be seeing the same thing they're seeing. How common is this? I think it is very common, but most of us take our subtle perceptions for granted if they've always been there.

Some other common examples of subtle/physical synethesia:
Auditory- When listening to a piece of music played with emotion, it isn't unusual to "hear" what the artist was feeling. How can one hear an emotion?
Olfactory- It is a well known fact that certain scents produce emotional responses. It's partly associative but not entirely, since some smells have consistent effects. When I am asked how I knew that my partner was the "right one", smell was the deciding factor. That might sound riddiculous but it's true. It isn't just that he smells glorious. I've smelled glorious before. He smells right, and I can't explain it better than that. I can't even describe the smell itself, since it's not like anything else. I left my previous lover because his smell changed. About a year into the relationship, he started smelling like creamed corn. I'm not a picky eater and I could count the things I won't eat on the fingers of one hand. Creamed corn is one of them. I felt bad about having to do that because he is a lovely person and he didn't understand at all. Honestly, I don't know if this is a subtle/physical cross-over or simple hypersensitivity or both combined.
Tactile- This one is often experienced as "the sense of being stared at". The etheric body responds to touch even when there is no physical contact. Healing touch and some martial arts utilise non-physical touch.

All this would suggest that the distinction between physical senses lies in the mode of perceiving rather that the stimulus itself. Also the line between sensory and extrasensory is more conventional than real. It certainly makes me wonder how different the "worlds" we individually inhabit really are.