Georgia Kelly, founder of the Praxis Peace Institute in Marin County, has posted a fearful review of THRIVE on the Huffington Post. Ms. Kelly has been active in Liberal Democrat politics, and she mistakenly assumes that I am a covert Right-winger, and then goes about attacking that position and me. Her supposition is not true, so she seems to end up missing both the value of THRIVE and critical insights that can inform breakthrough solutions strategies to help humanity escape our lethal situation and flourish. Following is my full response to her review. If you want to read her whole piece, it is here.
Patrick Bruner, one of the Occupy Wall St. organizers, on a recent Nation panel, disagreed with both Naomi Klein and Michael Moore that a massive state intervention was what was needed now, saying that Occupy was rejecting the usual “political binary” and seeking solutions that were not dependent on the “corrupting institution” of government. I believe had Georgia Kelly been there, he would have disagreed with her, too.
I am grateful to Ms. Kelly for the impetus to explore publicly what moving beyond the “political binary” might look like, although I’m sorry about her substance-less name-calling that I will address later. I believe paradigm-shifting solution strategies are the most compelling issue of our times. They are also some of the most challenging to address because to question government’s role sounds heartless if the yardstick used to measure compassion is how many services the government should provide to those in need.
I will begin this exploration by stating unequivocally that my intention in exploring a new paradigm of social organization is to help eliminate human and environmental suffering and to have all people experience true liberty and a chance to thrive. I do not mean just the majority, or as determined by someone else, but in essence, as the fundamental building block of self-realization and justice.
What I had found with both left and right wing positions was that the bird that both wings are attached to is something called Collectivism.
Collectivists on the so-called Left and Right seem to agree that:
1. Rights are derived from the state
2. The group is more important than the individual
3. Coercion is the preferred method to bring about reform
4. Laws should be applied differently to different classes
5. Providing benefits (redistributing wealth) is the proper role of government
The main disagreement among them is over how those principles should be applied. Looking into the principles themselves is where the moral dilemma arises because so long as rights are derived from the State, then they can be taken away by the State. That is why the key distinction, I believe, for our survival is not between red shirt fascism and blue shirt socialism (which both want big government to enforce their own agenda on others), but between collectivism and absolute respect for human rights.
The Right grows government to wage war and subsidize mega corporations and the Left grows government to take over virtually every aspect of our lives. And the bankers smile all the way to...well, the bank.
To find a new way, I believe a deepening of logic and morality is required... along with a practical plan — based on principles rather than politics — to transition compassionately from where we are now to a truly free and thriving world. That is why I propose the 3 stage strategy in THRIVE and on the website, where we keep the goal of true freedom and voluntary association in mind, while taking care of those most in need with money saved by cutting way back on the military expenditures and getting rid of the Federal Reserve and its associated robbery.
Stage 1 generates greatly increased income for people by ensuring an honest money system and reducing the military budget, and uses the support of government to fund existing programs and take care of those most disenfranchised without creating further violations in the form of involuntary taxes. This is especially where social democrats like Georgia Kelly and Dennis Kucinich could contribute greatly as advisors in the short term transition, but only in the context of decreasing the size and authority of government as integrity and prosperity are restored. As people have more money they can afford to provide for themselves and each other some of what the government has been providing — and allows them to do it with ingenuity, diversity and without the control that government “support” always imposes.
Stage 2 shrinks government as people are increasingly empowered to choose for themselves how to create and sustain their communities. People would be able to afford and to choose the schools, healthcare, insurance etc. that they feel works best for them, rather than be mandated by force to be indoctrinated in state schools, vaccinated with toxins against their will, forced to eat GMO foods, drink fluoridated water, be deprived of natural supplements and all the rest. All of this, along with getting rid of the Federal Reserve and getting out of foreign wars of aggression, is where people like Ron and Rand Paul could be very effective. This staged process is an essential part of the strategy proposed in THRIVE. The key determining factor of the Stages is the essential concept voluntary — people can choose to have others make decisions on their behalf and pool money to do so. It is simply not at the threat of violence if they choose not to.
Stage 3 is a fully voluntary system of social organizing that relies on the empowerment and prosperity of individuals that honest money systems and voluntary associations make possible.
If there were a way to have good roads, accessible quality education and healthcare, a respected system of justice etc. — without anyone being violated against their will — would you want that? There are brilliant people who have spent years exploring these new paradigm systems. Most have not adequately dealt with transition strategies and can sound heartless when they don’t address getting compassionately from where we are to the voluntary system they articulate. But we are capable of developing the transition strategies and taking advantage of the profound thinking they have done to guide our transitions to a new beacon of true liberty for all. The fact that their thinking is incomplete does not render it useless. Some Americans used to anguish that the economy would not survive without slavery. Then a moral imperative was acted upon. We are at a similar crossroads with the dictates and abuses of the State.
In the 3 staged solutions process we propose, there would be prosperity arising out of Stages 1 and 2 that would allow people to take care of one another much better than the State ever has. People have been shown to be much more inclined and able to take care of themselves and one another through civic, service and neighborhood organizations than State authorities — Katrina is but one example.
As for Kelly’s comment that I “lump democracy in with bigotry, imperialism, socialism, and fascism and says they all — including democracy! — violate the "intrinsic freedom of others." I welcome the chance to address this:
I spent many years stretching my own understanding in a quest for why our system of governance is not working and what principles, rather than politics, can steer us toward thriving. I had to let go of socially comfortable beliefs again and again to finally find what felt like the core that we have been missing.
I came to realize that in a democracy no one has inherent rights, no inalienable ownership of self. Their supposed rights are what the majority decides to let them do or have. A lynch mob, slavery, prohibiting women from voting are all acceptable, legal even, if they are the will of the majority, because the idea of the “State” is given pre-eminence over the rights of any individual... and thus creaks open the gateway to tyranny and destruction. Is Democracy better than fascism? Sure. But why should those be our only options?
I am confident from Ms. Kelly’s life and work that she is a compassionate person dedicated to a world where people can flourish. I asked her in an earlier correspondence if she was an avowed socialist and she responded, “I lean socialist because I find that philosophy to be more humane.”
It is easy to think that the State redistributing wealth and the means of production and distribution to the “people” would be better than the current state-subsidized corporate takeover. But note that it is the State granting this redistribution, not any intrinsic right that we have to ourselves and our livelihood. This so-called remedy requires violation and is a slippery slope, as history has proven. After all, Nazi was short for the National Socialist Party.
The only “true North” I know of is integrity — starting with recognizing and honoring the nature of true freedom. Both Georgia Kelly and I want the sick to be taken care of, the poor to be fed, and the children to have fruitful education. What differs is how we envision that happening. Currently the good intentions of helping people in need are being manipulated to support just the opposite results. The “State” always does lip service to this kind of caretaking, while taking more and more of people’s money and liberty, and then by the time people catch on, we are in a police state — and we are very close. So the usual liberal strategy is to hope for “enlightened leaders”...but it has never, ever worked that way, because in a system based at its very core on violence (taking away a lot of your income, at the point of a gun if necessary), that core authorization always leads to further corruption and violation.
Ms. Kelly has mislabeled me as “right wing” and started lobbing word grenades over a self-created ideological fence. What I want to explore is “What is just” and “What works?” So I challenge Ms. Kelly and any who are interested in this conversation to answer the most fundamental moral question I know of:
Just exactly when, for you, is it OK for one human being to take your property — be it your body, your wages, or your privacy — against your will and under the threat of violence?
That is what mandatory taxation is, though we are not taught to think it through that way. If some individual does not feel it is just to have a mandatory portion of their hard earned income taken away, they will be fined even more, and if they still refuse, people with guns will come and take them forcibly to prison or shoot them if they resist. Throughout history, when a group gets that power, it builds inevitably toward tyranny (Patriot Act, Military Commissions Act, Guantanamo, Torture, FEMA camps and now...The National Defense Authorization Act), and then ultimately revolution. But with today’s technological weaponry, a violent revolution could spell the end of life as we know it.
“States are parasites which always expand until they destroy their host populations. Because the state uses violence to achieve its ends, and there is no rational end to the use of violence, states grow until they destroy civilized interactions through the corruption of money, contracts, honesty, family and self-reliance.” —Stefan Molyneux
Many have heard the Einstein quote about problems not being resolvable at the same level that they were created. This, I believe, is one of those moments for each of us. If the one thing we can all agree with is that no one should be able to violate another, then it behooves us to evaluate the justice, even the sanity, of counting on a violence-based mandatory income taxation system to end violence.
We have been duped, you and I, and just about everyone else we know, by our schools, by our media, by our churches — from a very early age — to believe in the bank/corporation/government patriarchy as an absolute necessity, even our salvation.
We have bought into the puppet show portraying that the “good politicians” — the ones on “our” team — are going to save the day, and we should bail out the bankers for our own good. Barack Obama, with his promises of change and hope is the ultimate evidence of what the power structure and agenda really are. When he hires the guys from the Federal Reserve and Goldman who collapsed the economy to “fix” it, and the folks from Monsanto to head up agriculture, and a guy who advocated covert tranquilizing of the population through agents in the water supply as the health czar, and on and on...it is getting clearer to more people that he actually works for the five levels of corporate and banking forces above him who selected him to begin with.
Let me take a moment to address some of the unfortunate name calling in Ms. Kelly’s critique.
New Agey? - She complains without any explanation that THRIVE is “New Agey.” Was it the reference to love, harmony, and inner guidance? Since when did those get co-opted?
Pseudo-scientific? – I am unclear on what basis of expertise or evidence Ms. Kelly utters such a slur. We are receiving appreciations, papers and offers of collaboration from scientists from all over the world. One of the senior scientists at the Harvard Smithsonian Astrophysics Institute is now holding screenings for high level colleagues, stating on the record that,
“I would enjoy an extended conversation with [Foster], because I greatly admire and respect him for what he has done; I believe he has been on the correct path. I could hardly be more aligned with anybody in addressing such a vast topic.”
Reactionary? – The film responds to the lethal misunderstanding that a violence-based, coercive system, imposed against the will of many people will somehow lead us to non-violence and thriving. It seems the worn out, ineffective and dangerous right/left squabbling is what would be better termed “reactionary.”
Libertarian? - Not being a fan of political parties, I am not a Libertarian. My core commitment is to the freedom of every individual as the primary human ethic, and to not selling anyone out for the so-called “good of the group” (nice as it sounds at first blush), which is always the initial justification for tyranny. I ask you, Whose rights are you willing to violate for a majority vote?
Anti–government? - Government is the single most destructive force in human history, providing the means, motive and opportunity for killing over 200 million people in the 20th century alone, the majority of which was within the State’s own territory against “their own people.” Yes I have a big problem with Mandatory Government, where a few have rights that other individuals don’t have and are backed up by a monopoly on money and force. That is what has led humanity to the brink of self-destruction. Again the key distinction for me is voluntary. People should be free to form any kind of voluntary associations they choose — as long as it does not violate the rights of others. I am all for rules and regulations — if they are based on the protection of individual rights and the commons. I am against rulers in any involuntary form imposing their will on others.
Radical? - Ms. Kelly refers to THRIVE as radical. If she means radical like “violent,” it is exactly the opposite. If she means radical like “extreme,” I would argue that protecting everyone’s rights is fundamental, not extreme. In the sense that radical means getting to the root of the problem, I will accept that as an unintended compliment.
"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root." — Henry David Thoreau
I would love to see these solution strategies and ethics debated in living rooms and workplaces across the globe. I respect Georgia Kelly’s standing up for what she believes and I hope that she is also open to glimpsing something new that could finally lead to a world where ALL people can be truly free to thrive.