to my friend, the anarchist - humanist @ roua.org :

to my friend, the anarchist

Written by Romeo Anghelache no comments

Dear anarchist friend,

I believe I am a friend of yours because we have similar experiences and, therefore, we (you and me) use expressions that have similar meanings for both of us: the wage slaves, the consumerism, the powers, the hierarchy, the State, the Spectacle, the religion.

Let me introduce myself so that you can easily understand where I'm coming from and where I'm going.

My experience can be described like this: in 25 years of adult life I only got to do what I intended to do only marginally, almost nothing; that's because some stupid people appear in the way all the time (most of them I did not meet), and they cover their own accepted slavery under hierarchical rules, so I understand very well, personally, what dangers lie in accepting a hierarchy or the decisions of a person that is conditioned completely.

I wanted to do theoretical physics (because I wanted to understand the world, I still do), ended up in the physics of condensed matter (superconductors) because there was no place in my country at the time where one could focus on theoretical physics, there still isn't; I accepted because it still was physics, and socially could become useful, but I ended up focusing on writing research reports and accumulating ISI points because that was the modern trend in research, it still is; then (9 years later) I revolted, because, beyond this issue, the research ended up being published through commercial enterprises who requested money for that public research to become available back to those who paid the research in the first place, so I signed a declaration around the year 2000 that I'll never publish in such places, but the ISI points, which became a measure of research quality by some idiotic administrators' decisions, are the points that decide if you can continue or not to do publicly financed research; so one ends up doing public research to actually enrich some private publisher and only in a few lucky cases the public would benefit from that; then (in 2000) I switched from physics to digital libraries, digital document semantics, thinking that Internet will make this theft obvious, I still do; problem is nobody was really concerned in the public administrations about what happens to this public research (it usually ends up in private hands which use this public research to get more profit from the public that paid already), this is still true; I was concerned with the long-term preservation of this knowledge: given the worldwide irresponsibility in irreversibly consuming finite resources in the name of a fake, inhuman and unsustainable growth, humanity will survive only in a small proportion, and that proportion should not start with a bible, but with a digital library of public research done by then; I'm still concerned. Other 9 years later, the overall result is that I'm still searching to get involved in a process of knowledge recovery or preservation with no perspective in sight yet, in any case nothing that is guaranteed to stay public and is not just a temporary and opportunistic attempt at adding to a wage slave's career points. It's more than a year now since I am jobless, I can survive happily, but I'm still not doing what I intended to do. Meanwhile, very well-paid people in public positions are routing public money into private hands doing actually nothing in this direction, or actively avoiding such activities (in libraries or "knowledge management"). I'm getting 45 years old and my optimism and energy are wasted because of corrupt and/or incompetent people covering themselves with the rules of hierarchy.

So, I think, you, my anarchist friend, will agree that I have grounds enough to sympathize with your concern that we, as a society, are forced or encouraged to live our lives in vain, being useful only at vainly "enriching" or empowering a few others. I understand your thinking that none of the rich people or the public administrators corrupted/conditioned by them will ever give up the public resource theft just because somebody explains that to them. I agree that, until now and for some time to come, human history is just the history of the power of a few over the rest.

Apparently, the only solution is violence against them. But what kind of violence? Do you seriously think that burning a bank or breaking some windows will make those in power think? They will think on how to protect themselves, that's it. And there will be plenty of others, following some implicit religious or traditional values (like having children, buying a home, a car) that will get indebted and, therefore, enslaved by the powers that be. These will "cooperate" in promoting the current humanity status as progress, evolution, you name it. In such an environment, even intellectuals are getting transformed into sellers of their "intellectual property", which, in fact, if you look around, isn't worth a dime.

So what kind of violence? The Stalinist, Pol Pot kind, of forcing the good principles of communism on the throat of people who barely understand anything more than the crave for property as a guarantee for life? The USA kind, of forcing countries to play a rigged game by corrupting public administrators, of using the atomic bomb or simply waging wars and killing presidents in the name of freedom to be a slave? That doesn't work, because humans get transformed from revolutionaries into agents of power or from corrupted persons into centers of corruption. So the overall suicidal system gets preserved: a few in power play and exploit the rest. This happens because there is no background of knowledge, a basic set of principles, that everybody agrees with. Obviously there cannot be many such principles, but if you don't have these principles agreed upon, there's no society, that's a set of tribes, kingdoms, turfs, a perpetual war of my family against your family over resources.

You, my anarchist friend, ask for the other anarchists to unite for putting into place a participatory democracy, and I want that too. But on what basis will anarchists unite, or anybody else for that matter, which are the basic principles that allow a participatory democracy? Freedom, you say? Freedom of having seven children with no means to feed and educate them, freedom to have an SUV for each member of your family, freedom of declaring that hill your own property, freedom of exploiting any human being that happens around, freedom to be a sadist, freedom to get so rich so you can buy other people, freedom to own exclusively a media channel so that you can brainwash masses of people into doing something they don't understand? Obviously, my dear anarchist friend, we need a minimal set of principles to agree upon, all of us, anarchist or not, but humans nevertheless.

The violence I was describing above does nothing to formulate and to preserve these principles. The so-called "political left" named a few honorable principles but failed to protect itself from people on the inside who did not understand them, therefore an abuse of power as a cover of incompetence or misunderstanding was the exercise of the day. The "political right" never makes any promise except to those who have the means to multiply their own means. How ridiculous, tragi-comical, can the average guy be in supporting the "political right".

I hope, my anarchist friend, that, by now, you understand that we humans have to agree upon something before doing anything stupid, again.

So what's the effective solution, what are the principles that can preserve a solution for humanity? I can only suggest two, with far reaching consequences: the limit principle and the humanist principle.

The limit principle has to be a principle that doesn't allow, or makes difficult, for anybody to control anybody else's life, including animals. This principle has to survive historically by its own. It should sound like this: no person can own more resources than necessary for one human's lifetime. In concrete, current, terms, this may be written like this: no individual can own, at any time in its life, a personal wealth larger than a human's lifetime of average wages. Given a limit like this, we can live our freedom without ever having a significant enough power, even if we want it, to control other people. We will need to associate, therefore to agree, with other people when we have in mind a project that can affect the lives of people around. This principle is a natural, ecological, sustainable, slowdown of our current gulping of natural resources. It is a principle which is elastic enough to allow any person be itself without letting a significant part of its life being controlled by anybody else except a group unanimously agreeing that this control is necessary. Anybody's decision to interfere or to control somebody else's life will be at the expense of its own effectively limited resources.

The humanist principle would cover the fact that none of us can be considered more than animals until we grasp what values are universal to humanity. This principle says that education (as human knowledge creation, preservation, accessibility and communication infrastructure/Internet), health (as survival information, infrastructure and training), common rule of law (as the minimal interpersonal rules of living among others), are the basic ingredients of a sustainable society if, and only if, the limit principle is already in place. I think this principle guarantees to make obvious the consequences of our actions and helps us live with some understanding of what's happening, what's worth doing and what should be discontinued.

A minimal public administration should be in place to provide these basic services and to monitor the upholding of the limit principle, that should be the State (a different way of saying that these services are public, i.e. cannot be subject of mercantile exchange or at the whim of any person, and are the result of the common values agreement spanning the whole society).

Freedom is what you get only beyond these two principles, no society can survive without unanimously accepting them or an equivalent of them, so, my dear anarchist friend, let's work for carving these principles in any human society's Constitution (that is, if you agree with them, if not, name the alternatives) before wasting your time breaking any more windows.

Stay healthy, think it over and write critically about it, the Internet is with you, but Time is on the opposite side.

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