I have chosen Paine's quote to lead this
preface, since he has put the sentiments so well that I wish to express to the
reader. The notion that tradition of itself gives validity should continually
be questioned. The Egyptians kept slaves for thousands of years; for centuries
it was tradition to bind women's feet in
As a child I remember thinking it perfectly plausible that if it was possible for one person to bring about a great World War, as it seemed Hitler had recently done, then it must be possible for one man to bring about a great World Peace. I know better now.
Jesus, Mohammed and other prophets and interpreters of divine truth sought to give us some pointers to peace but the religions that developed after they died have not yet brought peace and brotherhood to mankind. Most religions are still based on the premise that, if only we would all follow the exact same version of the divine interpretations of one particular prophet, then we would have world peace and global harmony. But people are different and times change.
Like many, I used to hope that one day some inspired leader might come along, political or spiritual, and that somehow this person would get the ball rolling in the right direction and unite us all behind them and their pure inspired actions. Perhaps some combination of Christ, Gandhi, the Buddha and Richard Branson would do the trick. In despair of this miracle ever arising on earth, some even hope for an imminent Alien Contact with a Ten Commandments type of scenario broadcast simultaneously in all languages to all televisions and radios around the globe. But would even this, an ultimatum from space, do the job?
After many years' consideration it now seems clear to me that whilst one person's actions can demonstrably plunge chunks of the world into war and disorder, a state of peace can never be constructed or created by the action of a single person. It may come as a surprise to discover that a state of peace is as much the natural condition of our world as is the stability that develops in the natural rain forest. A state of balance and harmony arises as the eventual result of billions of people's activities and interests interacting with each other, and the rest of the world, in a free condition. One person or group of people, however chosen and however enlightened or inspired, cannot determine the specific route to this state of peace. And somewhere in our soul we know that peace is a possible condition - something that our species is capable of achieving, notwithstanding our lengthy catalogue of failures.
I suggest that is not a natural condition of being human that we must kill and maim each other for really unnecessary reasons. After meeting thousands of people in travels across different continents, cultures, and sub-cultures, I have formed the opinion that the vast majority of humanity are not natural-born killers.
Our incessant attempts to forcibly put order into the chaotic and constantly changing mix of our civilization is the reason, I suggest, that we experience so much disorder, suffering and what is often referred to as "chaos". For too long society has been "run" on the basis that we are actually able to govern and control something so complex by setting ever more complex rules and regulations - linear controls which often serve to obstruct the natural evolutionary changes that a successful development of our species demands.
This book is not all about some dramatic new way to run the world. It is unlikely that there is a way this can be achieved according to a plan, dictated from "above". The world can look after itself and support us if we work within its basic operating framework, which is a fundamentally free system. The reason we threaten the future of the planet that sustains us is because we have become a significantly dominant species and yet still work in ignorance of one of the most basic operating principles of the universe - one that has recently been recognized in the new science known as "chaos theory" (Ch.4).
There is a way not to run the planet and it
might seem self-evident that the way it is being done today is a good example.
Nevertheless, the usual approach to this situation is to assume that a change
of figurehead or even a severe re-arrangement of the knobs and levers, will
sort things out eventually. These pages will seek to convince you that no new
combination or rearrangement of the complex controls of coercive power will
work. Consider the number of states there are in the world, each run by people
who believe they know what they are doing and each tweaked to its local
circumstances. Now consider the minor and major tweaking that has gone on
throughout the history of the state (pharaoh, church, senate, king, emperor,
president, military junta, parliament, etc.). It is apparent that there have
already been many many thousands of different
combinations attempted. None of them have worked in the long term, though some
lasted more years than others.* Now do we really believe that, for instance,
Version 273,584 is going to be the one that finally works?
*Though the empires of the pharaohs or the Romans were long-lived by today's standards, they existed on conquest or subjugation, and when they finally changed they did so in a collapse from grandeur to obscurity, losing most of the culture and civilization that had been developed.
At the time each new government or state takes control, it was generally believed by the instigators/originators of this new state that they had the right policies and programmes to get everything working just perfectly or at least a lot better. Should these programmes collapse or fail, as they have usually done throughout history, the blame is most often placed on "outside influences" - starkly showing the inability of these statesmen to recognise that we all inhabit the same small planet. I will seek to convince you that there are far too many complex elements involved in the system we call society and civilization, for any group of people to determine its course and evolution with coercively-backed regulations and rules, made either locally or globally, made with good intent or bad.
The state does perform functions that are necessary to society. It claims the monopoly on these vital functions and does an increasingly bad job of them. We can see crime proliferating as more and more money is spent combating it. We see our true health decline as more and more is spent on sickness care by the state. The notion that more hospital beds and doctors are the sign of a successful "health policy" is the sign of a sick nation. In education, agriculture, the roads, social security, nuclear power - wherever we look, the determined hand of the state can be seen to twist and distort that which it seeks to improve.
My proposition is that the means to deal with vital functions can and eventually will arise in a freely operating society so that, for example, thieves and murderers do not run amok, nor polluters have a free license to destroy our environment. Whilst we need mechanisms to deal with these areas, it is apxparent that the current mechanism upon which we rely is proving inadequate. The state, local and national, is far more diligent and effective at raising taxes than it is at pursuing polluters, crime, graft or corruption. Many of the state's laws are unnecessary in any event, filling our courts and prisons with perpetrators of crimes that have no real victims. A free society would have no difficulty with many things now thought to be unacceptable by the state. It could tolerate herbalists, street traders, gambling clubs (we live with the Lottery), prostitution and many forms of activity and enterprise now banned, discouraged or licensed. Much of what consenting adults do with their own bodies and minds, in their own time, is still regulated by criminal law. There are many nations where homosexuals are jailed, or those who question the prevailing religion or state.
The state's priorities will not change. As you will see, self-interest, self-survival and self-advancement will always be the primary concern of any ruler or government and of the individual power exercisers who are manipulating the controls. The next election will always be the politician's foremost consideration. The short-term interests of society will take a poor second best, with our long-term interests hardly considered. When a government is said to be "in power" it holds that power for the simple reason that it has the ability to force us to do or not do that which it decides is best. I will argue that whether this power was won in a political bunfight or brutally acquired through military force, it makes little difference in the long run. Once a new state is seen to have a firm grip upon the reins of power, the world will recognize it and welcome it to the family of nations.
There are more questions than answers in this book and more problems aired than solutions given. This is not a pessimistic view, but one based on the premise that our current methods of attacking the problems of the world actually block the emergence of organic working solutions. Nor will every aspect of every subject be aired, or copious examples delivered on every principle. The intention is to stir the pot rather than draft a finished recipe with measured ingredients. Were I to cite evidence supporting each point or assertion, then many of these chapters would fill an entire book, and sentences stretch to entire chapters. You can view it as a jigsaw puzzle with a few of the pieces missing. The picture is there, and as you see it you will be in a better position to fill in the missing pieces yourself. Do not be a slave to anyone else's thought just because they make a good argument. Think for yourself - it's your life.
(entire text free on-line_