Theses Archive

Thesis Number: #10 (Page 1 of 8)

 Our societies are a thousand years behind their schedule of cultural evolution. We can catch up by building the world as it could have been. Paradise becomes practical once we banish the parasite in our midst. We just need to restore to good working order the financial feedback mechanism required by all healthy communities. It’s either that, or remaining hostage to a culture that is devouring the material and moral foundations of civilisation.

 

Paradise and the Parasite

 

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PARADISE is not a place. It is a state of mind. We have learnt that much from the failure of utopians like Plato and Thomas More. Their blueprints for justice-based communities could not be converted into practical solutions. But if we emancipate our imaginations, apply the basic tenets of morality and work with the plasticity of culture, we can create new ways of living. That means co-existing with each other and with nature in what we would happily call paradise on Earth.

An Italian artist, Michelangelo Pistoletto, evoked paradise symbolically by twisting the infinity sign into three circles. Nature was the first paradise. The human condition that emerged out of nature was the second paradise. And then, referring to the universal judgement portrayed in the fresco in the Sistine Chapel, Pistoletto argued that “the apocalypse does not end in nothing, but has a sequel: Heaven and Hell. For me the sequel is the Third Paradise, a heaven on Earth in which the reasons that have led to the infernal consequences which threatened to swallow up humanity today are absorbed and dissolved” (2010: 86).

Pistoletto does not rely on the religious concept of transcendence. His ideal is wrought through “the generative function of art”. But we need to fuse art with ancient wisdom, and test insights with the tools of science. By combining these elements, we would begin to reconstruct our communities. The moments of paradise would be extended into ever longer periods of contentment. Paradise would be perceived all around us, in the beauty radiated by nature and society: from a sunset to the smile on the face of a child. Paradise is a dialectical experience: achieved by emancipating our minds from the limitations that restrain us from realising our full potential.

Barriers to the transformation of our earthly condition do appear insuperable. Freedom of the individual is the declared objective of philosophy, a legacy from classical Greece. And yet, concurrent with the fine words was the violent disconnection of people from the natural rights that defined the state of liberty. Freedom is a hollow notion if children cannot grow into fully formed personalities because they are denied access to all of the social and ecological endowments that are necessary to achieve maturity.

We treat society as the subordinated servant of atomised individuals. Yet we derive our identities – and our pathologies – from both nature and nurture. Self-fulfilment cannot be achieved if the potential of the whole population is not realised. So the first step towards paradise begins by striking the correct balance between the needs of the individual with the collective rights of all citizens.

The pre-histories of early humans is encouraging. There were cul-de-sacs episodes, but our ancestors re-orientated themselves back onto the path of evolutionary development. Ominously, this time may be different.

Our central problem was identified by Cambridge University sociologist Gary Runciman (3rd Viscount Runciman of Doxford). Social evolution, he notes, can be constrained “by a parasitical practice which reproduces itself at others’ expense” (2009: 184). As we have explained in the Ten Theses, European cultures were deformed by a parasitic virus known as rent-seeking. That virus has now pushed our civilisation to the point where the characteristics of parasitism are analytically inadequate.

In nature, a balance is maintained between parasites and their hosts. Parasites do not devour their hosts, for that would extinguish the means of their existence. Early humans developed immune systems within their cultures to ensure the sustainability of their biological units. This enabled them to expand demographically into ever-larger societies. That process of growth could continue for so long as the immune system was kept in good working order. Switch it off and anarchy reigns. That is what happens when we permit rent-seeking to corrupt responsible behaviour.

Rent-seeking is an autolytic process (Box 1). It is the anti-social parasite that rewards behaviour that devours the host when too many people are lured into living off the labour of others. That is when people cease to produce sufficient means for their social existence. Once incubated, the parasite is unrelenting in its quest for privileged greed. The accelerating trajectory terminates in self-devouring death. This is how and why previous civilisations imploded.

 

Box 1

Self-devoured Civilisations

 

In biology, autolysis (commonly known as self-digestion), refers to destruction of tissues or cells through the action of enzymes that are produced within the organism. The term derives from the Greek words αυτό (“self”) and λύσις (“splitting”). This is auto-digestion.

Urban civilisations became possible when people learnt how to produce a net income (economic rent). That income was required to create the cultural and material infrastructures that sustain complex settlements. When the ratio of predators to producers reaches critical levels – when too many people want to live off the labour of others – civilisations tip into depletion mode. For a while, they survive by devouring the accumulated capital, or by displacing some costs of living onto future generations. Eventually, the system becomes too heavy a burden for the producers, and it implodes.

So, to construct paradise in the here and now, we must recover the natural and social laws that maintain our social galaxy in equilibrium. Early warnings of danger abound, but they tend to be ignored (EEA 2013). Too often, ignorance or complacency prevents action.

Thesis Number: #9 (Page 1 of 10)

Our community of nations needs a new doctrine of human rights. For in their present forms the nation-state, parliamentary governance and the rule of law do not authentically reflect people’s needs. England, more than any other nation, shaped the foundations of our globalised civilisation, but her people did not consent to the Social Contract that was crafted to favour the feudal aristocracy. A new Social Contract would empower people to create the quality-of-life that fulfils their aspirations.

Induced Ignorance & Social Change

 

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OUR WORLD is locked into an aggressive state of bi-polar disorder. The emerging half, centred on Asia, will continue to grow if it can avoid a military conflict over lumps of rock in the China Sea. The retreating half is centred on the trans-Atlantic nations. They are preoccupied with depleting their assets (human, cultural and material) to preserve the fiction of authority and prosperity. The outcome will not be a partnership of equals.

The fractures in our globalised civilisation are revealed by the civil disturbances: 843 of them between 2006 and July 2013. Most were protests over the lack of “real democracy” (Ortiz et al 2013). But proposals for reform advocated by think-tanks and governments will not banish deep-seated problems. The OECD (2014) classifies its proposals as “structural”, as capable of delivering “strong and sustainable growth”. In reality, they would dismantle arrangements that were originally intended to alleviate suffering. Labour markets, for example, would be de-regulated. No assessment is offered as to who would ultimately gain (the net benefits would be capitalised in the land market).

Change is needed, but the West will endure a deepening cultural crisis if it fails to reappraise the foundations on which power is constructed. For the prevailing economic doctrine is causing the West to haemorrhage its vitality. We see this in many tragic ways: the dispiriting effect on young people who cannot find employment; declining standards in schools; corruption in the law-making and law-enforcing agencies; the de-skilling of middle-aged men; families that cannot survive on their wages and must turn to food banks for hand-outs…the list goes on. Governments retrench, incapable of meeting their moral and financial obligations. In Britain, the health service allows elderly people to die needlessly, and money is saved by cutting the funds that are required for life-saving drugs.

With the exception of Germany, western governments are desperate. The implications are dangerous. The US justice department, for example, has confirmed “the legal basis on which the US government can kill Americans in a way that does not contravene a US government ban on assassinations” (Dyer and McGregor (2013). At the UN, member states discussed the use of battle robots – “fully autonomous weapons” – to kill people (Chivers 2013). These are anecdotal indicators that reveal a civilisation out of control. Geopolitical space is being fashioned for a power struggle in which everyone will lose.

Absolute decline in the West is proceeding apace. What would it take to reverse the process? The only way to develop sensible answers is to examine the formative process. Western civilisation is the accomplishment of the culture of rent-seeking.

The core of this process may be simply stated. Wealth created by working people is transferred to those who monopolise the assets which are (for most practical purposes), fixed in supply; on which we all depend for our existence. These are the resources of nature. Those who control the land are consequently endowed with the power to control the culture of the communities on those territories. Why does this follow? Populations fund and sustain their culture and physical infrastructure out of the net income they produce. This is technically called economic rent. Social rent is the organising principle that governs the fate of complex societies.

  • Correctly applied, social rent makes the Good Life possible for everyone willing to work.
  • Diverted from its social purpose, rent rewards behaviour that causes society to spiral out of control.

Thesis Number: #8 (Page 1 of 9)

The dispute over whether humans are responsible for raising global temperatures is a dangerous distraction. The fatal damage inflicted on the habitats of all species cannot be contested. The financial reforms that would terminate that abusive behaviour would also discipline the activities that generate toxic gases. But holistic reform depends on people’s willingness to recognise obligations to others as well as to nature. The stakes are high: current rates of income mal-distribution and resource depletion are undermining civilisation.


Just Prices and the Riches of Nature 

 


HUGE amounts of time and energy are devoted to the row over whether humans are guilty of raising temperatures on Earth. The dispute has spawned conspiracy theories galore, and some advocates of the “scientific consensus” have been willing to torture the evidence to prove they are correct. Ultimately, it makes no difference which side is correct, if both sides are sincere in wanting to enhance the quality of life of humans and the other species with which we co-exist on the planet.

The starting point for a debate that leads to effective consensus is the issue of whether humans have abused the planet. The evidence is beyond dispute: no matter where you look, the wreckage is there to be seen: from urban sprawl to decimation of rainforests, acidification of the oceans to the pollution of the air we breathe, all avoidable. That is why London lawyer Polly Higgins wants to hold corporate executives legally responsible for what she calls ecocide: the 5th crime against peace (Higgins 2010).

But both sides of the global warming contest are failing to focus on the fiscal philosophy that forensically identifies the strategies that would terminate the dumping of waste and the despoiling of nature on a scale that endangers all life-forms. Why? Who profits? A new appraisal has to start with the shocking realisation that the people who benefit from current property rights and income distribution have hijacked the green agenda. Wind farms are constructed not so much to produce clean energy as to reward the owners on whose land the mills are erected. The rush continues for the subsidies extracted from taxpayers. The costs are endured by people whose earned incomes are taxed. And now, after decades of international conferences, we learn that the target for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions will not be met by the end of this century (Crooks 2014).

Germany is a prime case of good intentions being turned to the advantage of people who profit from the culture of rent-seeking. That country designed its energy revolution to reduce CO2 emissions. Land owners were paid subsidies (the rental value of wind) to site mills on their properties. In 2013, carbon emissions were increased by 1.8% (Waterfield 2014).

Energy policy is in chaos; few people are satisfied, and the prospect of reaching an effective consensus recedes as the global economy continues to play havoc with people’s lives. Where do we go from here?

Thesis Number: #7 (Page 1 of 8)

Their formative role in the evolution of the human species was secured by customs and practices that guaranteed to females the right of access to the resources of nature. This enabled women to fulfil their functions at the heart of the family hearth. Their rights were degraded when the sacred status of land was profaned. A culture of violence replaced society’s nurturing, life-affirming processes. Re-allotting the right to share in nature’s and society’s riches is the pre-condition for resolving the war between the sexes.

 The Woman’s Lot

 

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PROTO HUMANS emerged out of the primate species by creating social networks that made possible the evolution of Homo sapiens. The social networks were fragile and yet resilient. They had to accommodate two imperatives. The first was biological: ensuring the continuity of families through the generations. DNA-based instincts were gradually replaced in importance by the wisdom that had to be transmitted orally, a wisdom that came to be framed by symbols and rituals. People ensured harmony with their neighbours so that the household economy could function effectively through generations.

The second imperative was ecological. Humans needed long-term stability within their habitats. They relied on the repetition of the seasons to meet their material needs. Respect for nature was one way of showing respect for other people. Nature and society were organically integrated through the realms of psychology and moral values, making it possible for early humans to fulfil their unique biological and intellectual potential.

The social network was the mosaic of life which could be enriched by the further accumulation of knowledge and resources. Dynamic change was constructed as people added value to the social galaxy that they were establishing within the natural universe. This additive process revealed a unique capacity in humans to create. This creative capacity drove the expansion of culture that enabled humans to extend their range of opportunities. This creativity was the essence of what is meant by freedom.

It was not possible to alter one of the foundation pillars of this matrix without disturbing the other components. A dysfunctional change would necessarily disrupt the social edifice, with potentially disastrous consequences. Such was the case when men ruptured the tenure rights of women.

The Biological Origins of Land Tenure

The earliest societies formalised the right of women to access the resources of nature. From this, it is tempting to subscribe to the hypothesis that those communities were founded on a matriarchal structure.

Through their fieldwork in the 19th and early 20th centuries, social anthropologists popularised the notion that pre-historical communities were matriarchal. Max Gluckman (1911–1975), a professor of social anthropology, provided a synoptic treatment of tribal law which concluded that “Matrilineal (as it became known) succession must have been the earliest stage of human society” (Gluckman 1971:12).

The inheritance of land rights through the female line is a well attested fact. That, however, does not necessarily mean that society could be characterised as matriarchal. That hypothesis is now contested (Lerner 1986:31). For the purpose of defining the conditions under which the traditional freedoms enjoyed by women would be restored, the dispute does not need to be resolved. What is beyond challenge is that pre-literate communities did recognise the rights of women to access the land that was needed if they were to nurture the food out of the soil to sustain their families. This was a natural arrangement. Inheritance was a human custom which combined biological imperatives (the need for stable unions between men and women to facilitate procreation) with the right to use land. Without land, life was impossible.1

This nexus – women and land rights at the heart of the household economy – was the building bloc on which culture-bearing evolution became possible. Women bore the children and suckled them from birth to adulthood. Custom and practises embedded the right of access to the resources of nature, first through gathering, then through gardening. Thus was the status of women established and preserved.

Superior rights over the resource base were held in common. The home hearth corresponded to specifiable plots of land, the rights over which were linked to specific individuals. Within this framework, women cultivated the nearby gardens. The extended home range was accessed by both male and female hunting bands. The community as a whole “owned” the territory.

Modern literature records ample evidence of how tribal societies passed land rights down the generations on a matrilineal basis. This practise was sustained through millennia to secure the capacity of humans to negotiate their way across the planet and into the future as they expanded their awareness of the natural universe. That consciousness enabled them to probe deeper into nature’s secrets, the laws which enabled the natural universe to reproduce the energy that is life itself.

As early humans plumbed the carrying capacity of their habitats, they further enriched their culture. This was an incremental process of voyaging upwards and outwards from nature into an ever more complex social galaxy, a process of discovery and invention that relied on the preservation of inter-personal harmony. As women fulfilled the biological role of reproducing the generations, men served as guardians of their communities. Threats from within the home territory came in the form of predator species. External threats might come at the edges of the territories from other humans whose intrusion could upset the delicate demographic/resource balance. Land tenure was at the heart of the symbiotic relationships that mediated the unique evolution of the human species.

The pre-colonial status of women in Africa was recalled by Nigerian barrister T. Olawale Elias, a commissioner for justice under the British. He noted:

In many African households the woman is usually, but not always, the mistress of the family. Her predominance is unquestionable in those social organisations which have the matrilineal and matrilocal systems of kinship arrangement, since the husband is then generally in a position of dependence upon the wife’s family. The man’s position is, however, often better where the kinship system is matrilineal but marriage is patrilocal (as among the Ashanti, for instance), although even here the woman retains and often embarrassingly asserts her independence of her husband. The children of such marriages look upon, or until recently used to look upon, their maternal uncles as more important than their fathers (Elias 1956:101).

African traditions before Europe’s colonial intervention reveal the rights and responsibilities associated with land. The general rule was that ownership was vested in the group, and the individual held rights of possession. Possessory rights were secure but not absolute. The non-use or ineffectual occupation of land resulted in forfeiture and re-allocation to someone willing to put it to productive use (Elias 1956:163).

Thesis Number: #6 (Page 1 of 8)

The world is on the cusp of the greatest redistribution of income in history. Infrastructure, which originated as a life-force, sent its value flowing through the ages to endow people with richer lives. When that social value was diverted into private pockets, people were cheated and their civilisations imploded. That catastrophe is once again unfolding in our midst.

The Art of Political Rip-offs

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MORE than two thousand years ago, Li Bing was appointed as the governor of China’s Shu Province.  His legacy is a canal: Li diverted water cascading down the Minjing River from Tibet. His canal waters the plains of Chengdu to this day. He initiated a piece of infrastructure that delivered a permanent increase in welfare for the peasants working the fields, by providing a steady stream of water for their crops. The original investment has repaid itself in terms that cannot be calculated. Who can doubt that the canal covered its costs? Since 276 BC it helped to generate additional food out of the soil, creating a “Land of Abundance”. Dykes and dams ensured homes and fields were never again subjected to floods and droughts.

But such monumental investments can be a mixed blessing. To maximise the social value delivered by investments like that canal required more than the engineering genius of Li Bing. If the gains were not shared on an equitable basis, the canal could be turned into a tool for exploiting the peasants who farmed the 25,000 square kilometres that were irrigated.

The water needed to flow alongside wise financial policy. Otherwise, the net gains – what Marxists call the “surplus” – would attract warlords. Those social renegades were always ready to unsheathe their swords and go a’huntin for the rents that emperors failed to collect and recycle back into the community to fund the common good. If we cannot compute the rents generated by the canal, we can examine more recent examples to gain a sense of the role played by infrastructure in enhancing a society’s productivity.

Take the case of London’s Blackwall tunnel. It was dug beneath the Thames in 1897. Before it was opened, the productivity of nearby locations was measured by the selling price of land: £3 an acre. After it opened, the price jumped to £200 an acre (Tyler 2013: 158). But that increase in productivity was not shared by all the taxpayers who funded the excavation beneath the river. Over the past century, commuters who travelled into North London via the tunnel pocketed the enhanced productivity that they did not fund. Result: the burden on taxpayers was higher than it need have been.

The tunnel illustrates the way in which “public goods” like schools and highways are converted into instruments for redistributing a nation’s income. A democratic mandate does not exist for the policy of transferring wealth from those who create value to those who exercise the power to extract a nation’s rents. That is why the process is covert. Politicians fabricate myths about the need to raise taxes to pay for such projects without disclosing the ulterior motive: the quest to enrich those who own land, or who can manipulate the credit-creating system to share in the spoils.

One justification for increasing investment in infrastructure is the need to create jobs. But instead of improving people’s welfare, the boom in investment that is now in the making will inflict enormous costs. The world is on the cusp of one of the greatest redistributions of income in history.

Economists at McKinsey Global Institute estimate that, just to keep up with projected global growth of GDP, $57 trillion needs to be spent on infrastructure by 2030 (Dobbs et. al. 2013). Governments are planning investments that will turn into a rip-off on a scale unparalleled in the annals of capitalism. Natural habitats will be wrecked, and cultures impoverished, in pursuit of the capital gains from tax-funded investments. Here, we focus on the impact on culture.

Culture is a composite of two elements.

  • The software consists of the customs and practices into which each new generation is schooled. Children are inducted into their community’s language, belief system, moral code and “manners”.
  • The hardware consists of physical amenities like the highways, water and energy utilities, monumental structures (administrative and spiritual centres). These are public in nature, distinct from the assets owned for the private use of individuals.

Friction arises when the boundary that divides private from public assets is not respected. That boundary was eviscerated after Europe’s States were privatised some five centuries ago. A perverse model of statecraft was incubated that was then embedded (through colonialism) across the rest of the world.

Two hundred years ago, the infrastructure that supported Britain’s Industrial Revolution accelerated the debasement of culture’s software. Decisions were made to accommodate the appetites of those who dedicated themselves to the art of living off their community’s rents. Those people used infrastructure (like mass transit systems) to short-change fellow citizens by engaging in a psycho-drama. The trick was to persuade others to fund the infrastructure that would increase the rents going into their pockets.

The lead role in facilitating that trick was played by those who manipulated the statecraft of greed (Thesis #1). The drama, in the form of multiple rip-offs, illuminates how the public’s finances served as a malevolent force, one that now disrupts communities across planet Earth.

Thesis Number: #5 (Page 1 of 9)

Money acquires the power to pollute politics and injure people’s lives when laws are subordinated to the culture of cheating. Monetary reform cannot occur without an informed consensus behind the need to re-socialise rents, and re-privatise earned incomes. Democratising a nation’s finances would eliminate the incentives that drive governments into debt and people into abject poverty.

The Pathology of Money

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WHEN people allow their social income (rents) to be privately appropriated, a slow-motion catastrophe is triggered. Trauma is transmitted throughout the living space. Society’s foundations are undermined, culture is contorted and the collective consciousness is ruptured. The initial damage is then compounded when people are tempted by the emerging culture of cheating. This is why “money” came to assume a hostile role in modern society. A tool that is inert, with no intrinsic moral status, is exploited by those who find that it can be used to enable them to grab a share of rents. Once this is understood, the perception of money as a menace begins to dissolve.

In the 16th century, the bankers of Amsterdam and London were drawn into the culture of cheating by monarchs on the make. When their forces were combined, Europe was redirected along an evolutionary path that led directly to the financial crisis of 2008. The moneymen did invent a cannibalistic system that preyed on the people who worked to add value to the wealth of their nations, but they did so only after the lead was taken by kings who betrayed their duty of care to their people.

To attribute the root of evil to the love of money (1 Timothy 6:10), is to distract from the source of society’s ills. This notion was revived by Pope Francis in his first address on “free market capitalism”, in which he condemned the “cult of money” (Squires 2013). But money was invented as a benign instrument 6,000 years ago to facilitate more satisfying, complex urban ways of living. It supplanted evolutionary sentiments when a few people were allowed to abuse the trust that is the glue that binds all communities.

Love, whether for money or any other object, is a psychological state. A personal proclivity could not assume social significance if customs and practices were not reshaped to elevate that psychic condition into an institutionalised process. In the case of the idolatrous treatment of money, the formative influences are not to be found in money itself, but with a statecraft dedicated to enhancing anti-social behaviour. That behaviour found its systematic expression in a culture of rent-seeking. As that culture was embedded deeper into the community, the pathology of money surfaced as distortions in inter-personal relationships along with the wrecking of people’s social and natural habitats.

Institutionalised arrangements for creating something called “money” are necessary for a dynamic economy based on exchanging goods and services to enhance the quality of life. But from the earliest city civilisations onwards, debts became a problem. In Mesopotamia, indebtedness stemmed from crises like droughts (that caused famines, obliging people to borrow money) or because of tribute exacted by imperial powers. This coloured the reputation of “money”. Disentangling that history is central to the restoration of sanity in society.

In antiquity, debts that fuelled crises resulted in the adoption of a custom known as Jubilee. Non-commercial debts were periodically cancelled. Debt was not recognised as a healthy feature of society, but one that destabilised communities (Hudson et. al. 1996, 1999, 2002). But we must stress that, at the heart of the Jubilee arrangement was the restoration of land to families who had lost it.

Our society has come to treat debt as even virtuous. People had to be sublimated into accepting this attitude, for a matrix of legal, moral and institutional arrangements was created that ruptured trust and dislocated people from the means of livelihood. Understanding this history is the key to applying the correct reforms.

If we follow the money trail, we are driven to an examination of the circumstances that formed the modern State. We discover that, at its heart, the political project of the State was one of income redistribution: resources of value were redistributed from those who created them to those who commanded privileged power. Today, that corrupted power is exposed by the way in which high finance devours the lives of those who pay their way by earning their living (Box 1).

Box 1

Corporate Cannibalism

 

The Royal Bank of Scotland became a victim of the financial crisis of 2008 because its mortgages had funded land speculation. It was rescued by taxpayers, who ended up owning 84% of the bank. In December 2010 it was announced that RBS would offer a “product” to enable people to bet on whether house prices would rise (Barrett 2010). In 2013, two reports revealed how RBS forced viable businesses into bankruptcy. In some cases, debtors’ properties were sold at favourable prices to subsidiaries of the bank.

Thesis Number: #4 (Page 1 of 8)

Nations that want to flourish must relearn the secret of the strong State. That strength is not based on military fire-power. It stems from the creative power of people. Their energy, which is mortally degraded by taxation, is emancipated when the public’s finances are based on the rents that people are willing to pay to use the services of nature and society.

Mortal Taxes or a Life of Liberty

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DEMOCRATIC societies are being undermined. Homeland security is not being compromised by crazed suicide bombers shouting blasphemous slogans. Vitriolic corrosion of national vitality may be traced to the actions of middle-class citizens who feel deeply aggrieved with the way they are governed.

The negative attitudes of a growing number of citizens are systematically weakening the State. The process has been taking hold for decades. The US Federal Government shut-down in October 2013 illustrated how a small group, voicing anger at tax policy, can shame a superpower and diminish politics to a crude game of horse-trading.

Taxation is the lightning conductor of popular discontent. Animosity directed at taxes is the sure way to unite people against their representatives. Taxes are inherently bad; at best, a necessary evil. This shared perspective drains confidence in government and weakens public agencies, a weakness that will be exploited by the emerging Asian powers which are seeking a larger share of the spoils from a new geo-political order.

A model of governance exists that would unite rather than rupture nations. The win-win formula is based on a structure of High Finance which, applied globally, would enable every nation to share prosperity. That outcome is predicated on the adoption a public finance system that emancipated all citizens.

The process of erasing popular awareness of that model of freedom originated a century ago. The initiative worked. Special interest groups are now free to engage in reckless behaviour that weakens public institutions. Those groups are not being effectively challenged because the experts – including professional economists – continue to shroud the wealth-creating process in language that impoverishes public debate.

The confusion over taxation is not an accident. It serves the rent-seeking culture that relies on property rights that privilege one section of the community. Preserving those rights depends on the ability of rent-seekers to retain control of the State’s law-making functions (see Thesis ♯1). In that State, democracy is nominal. People are neutralised to prevent them from demanding the reform that would emancipate everyone: scrap the bad taxes and raise revenue from rents that people are willing to pay to use the services provided by nature and society.

The vision of a strong but fair State emerges, once we expose the lies that have been embedded in our minds by the guardians of the rent-seeking culture.

Thesis Number: #3 (Page 1 of 10)

Corrupted power must be tamed if humanity is to progress to the next phase of evolution. Early humans engaged with the divine life to arm themselves with the moral code that made it possible to create their social galaxy within the natural universe. Today, the Covenant with God, married to quantum physics, offers a cosmology that would restore the discipline needed to trigger further evolution. First, we must renegotiate the social contract to establish an authentic people’s democracy.

Divine Right & Betrayal of the Covenant

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GOD can fall asleep, according to Pope Benedict XVI. The pontiff advanced this proposition in Rome on the occasion of his retirement. Could that explain the existential crises facing humanity? Or does responsibility fall on the three Abrahamic religions which no longer honour the founding Covenant on which monotheism was based? Someone or something must be responsible, because our societies are out of control.

The challenges we face include economic cannibalism, globalised poverty, abuse of Earth’s eco-systems and conflicts over resources in other people’s territories. Might these have been avoided if the three faiths had remained committed to the founding Covenant? That Covenant was a land deal: God gifted land in return for the promise to honour a moral code of conduct.

Alternatively, should responsibility be directed at scientific materialism? The secular approach to public policy has prevailed for three centuries. Forget Jesus, declaims Lawrence Krauss, the professor of theoretical physics at Arizona State University: “The stars died so that you could be here today” (Krauss 2009). The atoms in our bodies came from exploding stars. We originated as stardust, rather than as twinkles in God’s eye. So forget Jesus, and learn about carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and iron – all the elements that were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars that exploded in the universe, and initiated life on Earth.  But as a tool for aligning our relationships with each other and with the natural world, scientific materialism has been found wanting. What is missing from the secular approach to life? To answer that question we need the anthropological context: we must return to the beginning.

Metaphysics empowered pre-civilised humans to evolve self-consciousness, develop their physiques, deepen their understanding of natural habitats and refine the rules for organising communities. The core of that metaphysics was a reverence for the divine, infused with the mystery of the universe. The key issue was one of relationship – to Earth, and to each other. Relationships had to come with meaning, which emerged through the stories that were recounted to make sense of life. Deities were at the heart of the narratives. Thus, humans were guided by their gods through time and space.  In populating a divine world with deities, our ancestors revealed their pragmatic wisdom. This device served two purposes.

  1. Ownership of the planet was assigned to the deities: this removed land as an asset over which people might otherwise kill. Everyone would be treated as equal in relation to natural resources. Prosperity depended on sharing nature’s riches, not cheating by depriving others.
  2. Rules attributed to divine authority provided feedback mechanisms to create harmony. The Jubilee, for example, was an early practical device for securing social stability.

When gods ceased to be of service they were replaced. Finally, in the contest of the gods, one deity offered a deal that was too good to refuse: a new narrative of creation was born.

Thesis Number: #2 (Page 1 of 8)

Human rights and the Welfare State are abused to consolidate the power of those who are enriched by the culture of entitlements. Shorn of corresponding obligations, that culture corrodes morality, hollows out family life and degrades the economy. To reverse social decline, the statecraft that legitimises “transfer incomes” must be challenged, to emancipate people so that all may live by their labour. The integrity of public property rights needs to be restored, and the social contract revised to affirm personal responsibilities. Evolutionary progress is not possible when people are denied the right to create their own authentic culture.

The Cheating State

Download Thesis 2: The Cheating State [PDF]

GREED is not embedded in the DNA of society. In its cultural form, it has become the DNA of what is now a globalized civilization, the triumphant achievement of a statecraft that manipulated people’s minds and manners to the point where most people do not recognize that they have been co-opted into a routine process of cheating.

Institutionalized greed was incubated in Europe in the 16th century. It mutated over the following centuries, and was transplanted through colonization. In the late 20th century, the cultural virus captured post-Soviet Russia, and is now being seeded in China.

As individuals, we are all susceptible to over-indulge ourselves. I am not referring to that kind of behaviour. The greed that is authorised by statecraft is the art of living off the labour of others. Slavery, one of its rudimentary forms, was outlawed once its beneficiaries realised that there was a more efficient way to cheat people of the fruits of their labour. Today, the statecraft of greed is continuously schooled into the minds of the young, to create a new generation of acolytes.

There are two ways to demonstrate that greed has rendered society dysfunctional. The first would be to compile a dossier of indictments. Files on individual cases from countries like Greece, Italy and Spain would be thick with evidence drawn from politics, business, the media, and so on. The problem with this approach is that those who would not want to face the awful truth about their societies would rationalise the corruption as the failings of individuals, rather than symptomatic of a structural flaw in their culture. They would settle for the prosecution of individuals as “rogues”, believing that this would cleanse the system. That is the favoured ending to Hollywood movies: blame a few villains rather than accept the need for fundamental changes to the pillars that support our communities.

More effective is the forensic examination of the law, and of institutions, and the collective psychology of the population, to excavate the sources of systematic corruption. This reveals the processes by which people are lured into greedy behaviour, the kind that causes people to cheat.

This approach identifies the solutions that would erase the propensity to cheat. But how may we recognise the kinds of behaviour that encourage cheating? Tony Blair, the man with a mission to change society, had no doubts about the answer to that question.

Thesis Number: #1 (Page 1 of 7)

The West shaped a global civilisation whose operating mechanism is a culture of greed. Societies are regulated by a statecraft that is incapable of adopting the policies needed to challenge the existential crises of the 21st century. Financial mechanisms that would enrich people’s lives are politically taboo. Democracy must be reconceived as a therapeutic process, empowering people to escape the trauma inflicted when their ancestors were ruptured from authentic cultures and natural habitats.

Dynamics of the Statecraft of Greed

Download Thesis 1: Dynamics of the Statecraft of Greed [PDF]

NATIONS are governed by a culture that was incubated in Europe in the 16th century. England played the leading role in enabling that culture of greed to mutate into a statecraft that propagated chaos through its laws of the land. The statecraft manages the anarchy that was embedded in traditional communities as a result of the violent transformation of people’s rights of access to the commons. Understanding that history is the pre-condition for addressing what the CIA calls the mega-trends that threaten all our futures.

The doctrine that rationalised the statecraft of greed was called the social contract. This philosophical device was constructed to argue that when people came out of the “state of nature” they consented to a particular kind of authority. The arch exponents of this myth were the philosophers Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. Their discourses justified the violent re-distribution of land by monarchs and their courtiers. In Britain, the aristocracy used Parliament to justify the enclosure of the commons. Comparable trends occurred in most parts of Europe. People’s authentic cultures were ruptured as an alien order was imposed on them. The social creation myth legitimised and sanctified the power of the aristocracy.

The erosion of liberties was directly related to the erasure of people’s rights of access to land. The monarchs silenced opposition by claiming that they ruled by divine right. Their courtiers then employed devices like “the rule of law” to secure their monopolisation of land. They executed coups against kings in a struggle over the power to tax. It was imperative for the barons and knights to control taxation, so that the Land Tax could be reduced and the fiscal burden shifted onto peasants. They succeeded. The outcome was the statecraft of greed.

Now, politicians exercise sovereign power through “democracy”. That power is conditional: we know from the cut and thrust of 20th century history that they are not free to transgress the material interests of those who appropriate the rents which were traditionally reserved to fund the services shared in common.

Today, governments are not free to institute the one reform – to the financial system – that would enable people to resolve the crises of the 21st century. Global under-employment of labour and capital, debilitating mass poverty, suicide on an epidemic scale in southern Europe, planetary degradation of natural habitats, all are symptoms of a pathological social structure. The guardian of that structure is the culture whose agents are embedded in the seats of power.

If people are to successfully challenge the statecraft of greed, they first need to understand the terms on which healthy societies evolved over the past 100,000 years. For what is today regarded as “normal” is pathological. And without the restoration of the ancient rights and the code of natural justice, there is no prospect of remedial action capable of undoing the damage wrought over the past five centuries.

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