As I contemplated getting down to brass tacks on this topic of creating alternative systems to route around the corrupted, despotic, or just plain broken ones of oligarchy, I quailed.
Such huge needs. Such a small blogger.
Even with the savvy of the blog Commentariat at my back, merely writing about this, let alone doing anything about it in the real world is a colossal task.
At first my thought was, “Shall I write first about the hardest systems to create or the easiest?” That is, do I plunge straight into the rock-and-hard place of how to route around the existing medical or judicial systems or do I cop out and cheer you good readers on by opening with a look at alt-systems that are already gloriously in process, like homeschooling and unschooling?
I got stuck there for a while. Like most of the week.
Then it occurred to me that there’s no such breakdown as hard and easy. Every existing system, no matter how formidable, has its vulnerabilities, its escape routes, its windows of opportunity for challenge. Every alt-system, no matter how easy or difficult to create, has its own opportunities and risks. Some alt-systems are relatively easy to create at small scale (everything is relative here), but darned near impossible at larger scales. Some existing success stories, like the aforementioned home- and unschooling, remain vulnerable by virtue of their very achievements.
I ended up breaking the problem down like this:
(Graphic courtesy of helpful reader JB!)
It’s still an approximation, at best. But it helps clear the brain. I should also not that all the items listed in the upper right category (“infrastructure”) are in a class by themselves, being (again relatively) easy to create on a small scale and darned near impossible to create on a large scale without colossal organization and budgets.
To be sure, nothing here is actually easy.
In the “easiest” category above, for instance, we have homeschooling, where families fought (and at least one individual died) before winning back the fundamental right to educate their own children. And heaven knows that the actual task of providing good, useful education for kids is no picnic. I also call alternate schooling low-risk, and at the moment it truly is. But the recent enormous COVID and post-COVID upswing in home- and private schooling is bound to have the totalitarians in government and their union-cartelista friends thinking that those millions of newly escaped students should be dragged back by force into the government system.
Also in the “easiest” category, we have communications – which is the product of decades of brainwork, experimentation, and technological breakthroughs. Again, not easy by any usual definition of the word. But creating alt communications systems for privacy and security is a) a solvable technological problem; b) already being worked on by many, many professionals and volunteers; and c) something that ultimately our tech-capable brethern will create for the rest of us – and when they build it (hopefully) we will come. And that’s only considering modern ecommunications. History has also bequeathed us many non-technical or lower-tech means of communications. Is there risk in routing around our current heavily surveilled communications? Certainly. But not risk on the scale of trying to route around, say, the justice system or the government-insurance-medical establishment.
So as we look at some of the needed alt-sytems (I’m not sure yet how many we’ll actually consider over time), we’ll often do it in terms of both easy and hard aspects, risks and benefits.
Another discovery I made in trying to think these issues out: The best approach to creating new systems is usually evolutionary, not revolutionary.
There are exceptions – times when you really have to re-invent the wheel because TPTB has confiscated all the wheels in your inventory – times when somebody re-invents the wheel, because by golly it turns out there really is a radically different and better alternative.
But for the most part – especially with the systems I’ve labeled both HARD and risky – the way to go is to watch for new cracks in the old systems and take advantage of them. Or in many cases, take advantage as those who rebel against or drop out of the old broken systems lay the groundwork for new systems right before our very eyes.
Too much that comes from ivory towers, bureaucracies, and idealistic bloggers and other fanciful theorizers is pie-in-the-sky and the very sort of maundering nonsense that gets us in trouble when it becomes custom or (heaven forbid) law. (Someone once described the Clinton administration’s policies as “government by late-night dorm discussions at Harvard and Yale.” And OMG how much worse off are we now, when government and corporate policy is set according to purple-unicorn whims, racist rage, personal entitlement, oligarchic interests, truculence, propaganda, and creeping senility.)
Let’s remember always to stick with what’s real, what’s practical, and what — if it’s novel — can be tested on small segments of reality without being imposed arbitrarily on entire planets by fiat.
Give the weary drop-outs and the gutsy rebels their due; they know something about what works – and what doesn’t.
With that in mind, I’d like to spend the rest of the weekend’s writing talking about what’s both easy and advantageous in one of the truly HARD and risky tasks: creating freedom-oriented alternatives to the government-insurance-medical establishment. Starting with opportunities that exist now, in the real world, and moving on to the way developing cracks in that seeming monolith present us with even greater future opportunities.
Because this is getting so incredibly long, I’ll split Saturday and Sunday’s painfully completed opus in two. Today’s blog will be Part II-a of the “Our Job” series, and the rest of my weekend’s work will appear tomorrow as Part II-b of the “Our Job” columns.
Now, I beg your pardon, but I’m exhausted, braindead, and going to bed.