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Nations Fall, Communities Rise

Saturday, January 28th, 2017: Philosophy.

In childhood, our schools taught us the version of history told by the victorious conquerors: the myth of progress from savage, superstitious tribes to civilized, scientific democracies; the heroic quests of explorers, colonists and pioneers seeking freedom from oppression and a better life; the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, Lincoln freeing the slaves, modern medicine conquering disease, the democratic Allies saving the world from fascism, the environmental movement saving the planet, and science and technology making our lives safer and easier and liberating us to seek our highest potential as individuals.

Now that we’re adults, the corporate news media – romanticized as the “free press” – demand our full, uninterrupted attention to the President and his national power structure, threatening that if we turn away, we risk apocalypse. And urban consumers, dependent on the massive support systems governed by those talking heads, believe in the threat. The media predict what consumers want to hear, and consumers rejoice. Then the media report the opposite, and the shocked and saddened consumers return to the same sources, now seeking solace, enlightenment, and guidance. Consumers come to believe they have actual, important relationships – however dysfunctional – with strangers they will never meet, who are known only as talking heads on the screen.

Peaceful societies like the Amish of North America, the Piaroa of South America, the Ju/’hoansi of Africa, the Rural Thai of Southeast Asia, and the Ifaluk of the South Pacific, are burdened with none of these misapprehensions. They know their existence is always subject to disruption by external powers beyond their control, but they remain self-sufficient, independent, and vigilant, and they have learned to adapt to crises peacefully, avoiding conflict and migrating away from it when necessary.

Likewise, minorities with a history of persecution know better than to depend on kings or presidents for survival or salvation. The self-sufficiency of the North American Anabaptists is the result of generations of violent persecution in Europe. Mormons encourage self-reliance and often require their children to learn indigenous survival skills. And while the Black Panthers were seen by the centralized power structure as violent revolutionaries, the majority of their work consisted of peacefully providing social, health, and subsistence services to their local communities.

Consumers’ dependence on the centralized nation-state derives from their belief in the nation-state as a bastion of security and stability, and their fear of chaos and apocalypse should it collapse. But this is a myth perpetuated by the power structure. A reality check on history shows that the nation-state is continually destroying itself and its environment. The United States was founded in violence: the conquest of Native Americans, a revolution against the British, the establishment of borders and the defense of them. The story of its growth to a world power is the story of traumatic conversion of resilient rural subsistence communities to cities full of isolated, vulnerable consumers, and the continual, ongoing destruction of healthy natural habitat and its replacement by toxic industrial tracts and urban sprawl. Consumers remain mostly unaware of this, since they seldom leave the city and are habituated to artificial environments.

During the Third Reich and World War II, the democratic Allies allowed fascism to spread and failed to prevent the Holocaust – nor did they save the world from fascism; they increased the devastation with a world war and millions more deaths, while the Nazi regime and the Japanese empire self-destructed through hubris, militarism, and overextension. Likewise, the democratic nation-states of Western Civilization pursued a policy of imperialism leading to the Rwandan genocide, and after more than a century of “progress” and “enlightenment,” the same nation-states failed to prevent it or stop it while it was happening.

The myth of societal collapse and apocalypse stems from the misrepresentation of the European “Dark Ages,” the misnamed period after the collapse of the Roman Empire which was in reality a Golden Age of local freedom and autonomy after centuries of oppression by the imperial nation-state. Citizens of modern democratic nation-states blame the ongoing failure of Egypt, Tunisia, and Syria on religion and superstition, whereas these failed states are themselves the artificial inventions of the European democracies. The destruction, misery, and refugee crises resulting from these societal collapses demonstrate the ultimate vulnerability of urban populations and the danger of depending on centralized, hierarchical power structures.

When the citizens of Western nations begin to sense their own vulnerability and begin to fear the apocalypse, they manifest their naiveté in dysfunctional movements like libertarianism and prepping – fallacies common to even the wealthiest and most powerful citizens. These ideologies result from historical Anglo-European competitive individualism and widespread ignorance of anthropology and ecology, holistic sciences which reveal the superiority of communal societies. When centralized societies collapse, people who selfishly hoard resources and weapons to defend their families are doomed to repeat the cycles of self-destructive violence, whereas people who cooperate and peacefully nurture their local communities, adopting the lessons of the peaceful societies, are likely to thrive.

  1. Mae Swanbeck says:

    Hi Max,
    You should read, if you haven’t already done so:
    “The Coming Anarchy” by Robert D. Kaplan which was written 10 years ago and first published by the Atlantic at a time when the Atlantic wasn’t so politically left correct.
    “Also by Kaplan, “The Revenge of Geography” and “In Europe’s Shadow”.
    Then go on to Micklethwait & Wooldridge “The Fourth Revolution” and the ever popular and not politically corraect “Political Order and Political Decay” by Francis Fukuyama out of Stanford.
    I see my Dr. tomorrow about getting rid of the catarac (sp)in my left eye like what took place with my right eye a year ago. I look forward to being able to read legislation and primary sources again without having eye blurring and tearing because one eye is stronger than the other which no eyeglass Rx can really adjust.

    And I am trying to track my GGGrandmother from the Nipmuk in Nova Scotia across the Canadian border in the very early 19th century. I think she married a Scotch-Irish relative (Elliott) from Europe who were getting out of Dodge when James the 1st took over England.

    Take Care.

    Mae

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