Ancient Classics

Thoughts about Technocracy

Let me be clear from the start: I am NOT anti-science or anti-intellectual. As you may well surmise, I think alot, I read alot, and I spend a great deal of time trying to ‘get to the bottom of things.’ I applaud science for many of the wonderful modern day technologies such as ovens, cars, computers which I love so much for there ability to bring me information that would else be very far out of reach and other such inventions without which life would be a hell of a lot harder.

But I also point my finger at science for such ‘abominations’ as nuclear weapons and waste, advancements in weaponry, Bioweapons, Chemical warfare, as well as processed foods, refined grains devoid of any nutritional value, the excess sugars pumped into dull and drab foods to make them sweet. And though this is not the place to go into it, I’ve got a thing against furniture that you wouldn’t believe. These are all scientific advances; their triggers and causes may have been economic, that could be true, but science is what brought them about.

My point is that some science, some technological advancement is good, but only if that tech is used in a spirit of cooperation and collaboration (A philosophy) which we as a human race have not, as yet been able to establish.  And if science was a bit more ‘philosophical,’ that is to say, if scientific baseball had on its team a few players who asked, “Should we?” Instead of always asking, “How can we?” then technology might evolve in a more hospitable spirit (ideology, mentality whatever literary symbol soothes your nerves.)
Technology would change, improve, and evolve at a much slower pace, that’s true (thank goodness), but its evolution would be conscious, focused, purposeful instead of what we have today which is, “Hey, let’s invent all this shit and wait to see its unintended consequences…. OHHHH! Nuclear technology… man that really came back to bite us in the ass hasn’t it?” Instead of waiting for yet another ‘miracle drug’ to be recalled from the market cause, ‘Hey its design was faulty after all… who knew?’ (that guy knew, and he tried to tell them) we could have a little ‘wisdom and compassion’ with our science.

(A side note, those three words feel weird together for me as though they don’t usually go together. Anyone else have that feeling?)

Philosophy is important. Its more important than anything else we’ve got going for us as humans (I would say that wouldn’t I), though the modern day academic attitude has all, but destroyed the art and science of philosophy. Hell, with what passes as philosophy these days, Universities might as well shut down there philosophy departments and move them all into Law or Mathematics.

All science, ALL OF IT comes from philosophy, the First Science, way back in the day (which was a Wednesday), before man had microscope and beaker; back when a rational man (gasp they existed back in those HEATHEN times) had naught but one tool at his disposal with which to explore his external (or so called external) world: His Mind.

And every technological tool invented since that is for acquiring information serves man as an ‘extension’ of one of his senses; it does not replace it. The microscope ‘amplifies’ his sight, it does not supersede it, mathematics ‘assists’ his logical mind to new heights. Mathematics IS logical philosophy. I think the philosophy that most people (and much of the empirical sciences) seem to disdain is the realm of metaphysics, and I won’t even go into the cognitive judo that explains that the rejection of metaphysics is itself a metaphysic. 🙂

All the problems that we have are philosophical. The proposed solution for our worldy ills, ‘Technocracy,’ is itself a philosophy. It is the ‘idea’ that experts should be running the show. That only those with skill should make decisions regarding areas of life (which are apparently all technical though they know fuck all about any spiritual crisis of which man has many) with which they have experience. This is the set up for what is in philosophy called dualistic thinking and consequently, dualistic living, since human society is philosophy in action. We’ve been doing it for almost all of recorded human history and its how we got ourselves in this mess to begin with.

Right now, one of our most basic and self-destructive form of dualistic thinking is deeply embedded in our monetary system: Those that are Wealthy as opposed from those that are Not Wealthy. Those that are wealthy have all the power and make decisions (are the causers) and those that are not wealthy are the followers (the eventers, the ones who more strongly and directly experience the results of ‘their’ decisions and causes).

In this hypothetical ‘Technocracy’ the stage is set for a similar dualism: Those that have Skill and those that do Not have Skill (I wonder what will happen to ‘useless’ and ‘non-practical’ skills like music, poetry, art, drama) . Those that have skill will make all the rules and decisions, while those that have no skills (or don’t have enough skill to have a voice) will just have to trust they ‘they’ know what they’re doing. This set up is a disaster, because its what we’re doing right now (only not so thoroughly and completely as full blown Technocracy would have us do), and it ain’t working.

We’re already outsourcing our decisions to ‘experts.’ When someone gets a tummy ache, the first place they go is the doctor (who charges you an arm and a leg) instead of looking at diet and nutrition, amount and quality of sleep… etc. When your toilet leaks; call a plumber. No, no, no, don’t investigate it first to see if you might be able to fix it on your own (which is notoriously easy to do), call in ‘the experts,’ cause they know what should be done. Car trouble? Screw figuring it out for myself, I’ll call a mechanic.

We’re already doing something a lot like that on a daily basis, such that no one even cooks anymore, they all figure that cooking’s too hard and it’s better to pick up fast food, or get something microwaveable from the store.

I admit I was initially excited about The Venus Project and The Zeitgeist Movement and Technocracy, but upon delving deeper, I think these ideas stem from the same philosophies of perpetual frustration from which we already operate. In fact, at first glance I can see glaring and quite frightening similarities (from the point of view of one who studies ideas and where they come from) to Christian thought inlayed in the design of Technocracy.

I’m not sure how deeply you’ve thought about Christianity, but I’ve gone pretty far down the rabbit hole and the first and most important realization in rationally thinking about Christianity (as it is generally understood), is to understand how, in that mental construct one relates to Ultimate Reality. It’s an important question and in Christian baseball, man relates to Ultimate Reality as a subject to a King; and the King is the maker and shaper of the world; he’s a Cosmic Technician. In Christianity, God is an Autocratic Technocrat. That is to say, that God makes the world according to his own ideals and according to some kind of natural law; some kind of ‘higher order’ that he imposes upon a dumb and stupid world which He makes. And all his creations (subjects) are compelled by threat of punishment to comply with His law, which they may or not understand, but if they have concerns there is the Clergy and they know what should be done.

Now, I see the same gleam in the eye of Technocracy. Those who have Skill are going to be the movers and shakers of society. We hope that they’re unbiased in their ‘scientific’ (and not at all emotional) findings and therefore in the guidance in which they provide, but let’s be honest, humans are (after all) human. Who’s to say that the technological ‘experts’ calling the shots don’t have ulterior motives they’d like to push?

Even if you take money out of the equation and install a Resource Based Economy, getting rid of money, does not get rid of human desire or the whole host of problems that come with it, such as ambition, fuss over ones reputation, the attainment of and the desire to attain rewards and commendations… etc (Ha, ha, ha! Technological entendre… Install! As though society was a mere mechanistic ‘thing’ in which one could just swap certain parts, sigh, why does no one get that Life is organic and doesn’t work like machinery?)

Furthermore, who gets to decide which experts get to make which decisions? What ‘expert’ chooses other experts to inform society? And if the experts are informing society, then who is it that informs the informers? If these experts are to be the guardians of civilization, then who guards the guards?

Also, meditate on this: What about non-joiners? What if you have a selection of the population who decided that they don’t very much like the idea of Technocracy and that they’d like to do things their way and live in their backwater ancient ways and would really just like to be left alone? If it’s a small percentage I imagine Technocracy would be fine with it and could still function.

But supposing that the opposition is much larger say China, or a combination of Far Eastern cultures; what then? From what I understand RBE is an ‘all or nothing thing,’ the whole world has got to be on board or it won’t work. After all, resources must be allocated for the benefit of ALL people or else you get another dualism: those that have the benefit of RBE and those who do not. And those who do not have; have always wanted the treasure of those who have; thus we see the beginning of war.

Now, I should make it clear that my role, my Act in this Grand Drama we call Life, as a philosopher is just to put out ideas and get people thinking. I am not a Technocrat, nor am I a technician, nor am I really a huge fan of the empirical sciences as they exist today (mostly because they are based on the 19th century philosophies of Freud, Newton, Darwin… men who I would gladly strangle were they alive today, for convincing us that the Universe is dead, dumb and driven by blind brute force.)

I just want people to think about Technocracy before they cream their pants over it. If you think about it and it sounds like a worthwhile idea to you, then I wish you well in your endeavors; I wouldn’t presume to tell anyone what they should or should not do. I have my opinions of course, and when I write, I write with a voice of authority, but in the end I am never to be taken seriously; I’m not nearly that stuffy and full of myself. I also realize that my thoughts are taken sometimes to the extreme. I do that on purpose, I want to take my thoughts are far as seems to me reasonably ‘possible,’ though not necessarily probable. Again, the point is just to generate other thoughts and to stimulate contemplation.

So in closing, I am curious to know your thoughts? Those of you who really go to bat for Technocracy; let’s hear from you. I myself am curious as to how it would all work. I’m open to the idea that maybe its not as I imagine it to be.

Categories: Ancient Classics, Building, Character Development, Economics, Government, Leadership, philosophy, Politics, Self-improvement, Society, Spirituality, Technocracy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Thoughts about Religion Politics and the Idea of a Philosopher King.

Religion fascinates me, specifically the idea that people of religious affiliation are ‘grouped’ together. People born in America ‘tend’ to be raised Christian while people in China ‘tend’ to be raised in a Buddhist or Taoist fashion. I find it interesting that if my family, who are all Christian, had been born and raised in the Middle East they might have Muslim ideas. If they’d been native to India they’d probably have embrace Hindu philosophies.

 

It’s very interesting to consider how much influence social constructs (laws, religion, invisible geographic boundary lines, customs and tradition) have over our lives, and one must wonder to what extent their lives are actually their own. Do we live the way we do because we want to? Or are we just following the path that has been laid out for us? Even if one is not religious, how can one be sure that they are not still under the influence of ideas that originated in one’s native religion?

 

If one has changed spiritual paths, how can one be sure that they have not carried with them the philosophical seeds of the very ideas they strove to divorce themselves from and that they are not in fact, interpreting their new found spirituality through the lens of their old thinking and behavior?

 

Religion I do believe is a dangerous thing especially taught to children of young ages. Children are so… malleable, so blank and pure and when you consider the bloody histories of many of these religions, I think it is at best irresponsible and at worst completely evil to start uploading all these fucked up thoughts and mental structures into their pristine little minds. Especially if the teacher themselves has not critically examined their own beliefs.

 

And it raises the question, “Even if a child grows up and voluntarily decides NOT to be a part of the religion that raised them, can they ever really separate themselves from the effects of that religion?” They may not go to Church or attend their Wiccan Circles or pray at the Mosque, but do those ideas still influence their decisions?

 

Furthermore, what if one of these children becomes a man of wealth, influence, and power? Would they, completely unknowingly, foist their subtle philosophical principals upon the existing structure? I’ve been thinking about our culture and where our philosophical roots come from. Democracy is essentially mob rule, the majority wins, even if it is not ‘good.’ We take our political system from the Greeks and Romans, whereby those that were allowed to vote, debated on the issues of the time and cast their vote.

 

The result was supposed to be enacting decisions that were to be for the good of the community. But not everybody was ‘allowed’ to vote. Presumably only people capable of actually weighing the issues were allowed to vote, unlike today where anybody can vote; intelligent or not. This I think is one of the fundamental problems in our form of Democratic politics.

 

Now that was our basic political structure (ish). But the founding Fathers recognized another, very powerful social construct that if allowed, would graft itself to our political and legal system: Religion. To me it is quite clear that the FF (Founding Fathers) did everything they could to take religion OUT of the legalities and politics. Which is why there is the separation of church and state and why our initial political documents make no reference to a specific ‘god’ but rather use the purposely vague term, ‘Creator.’

 

Perhaps it was inevitable that Christianity as our basic spiritual framework would enmesh with our Democratic political framework. Consider this: Christianity very much contains an Us vs. Them mentality, that is to say, “Spiritual Power is on OUR side, so WE are right and YOU are wrong. If you are not with us, you are against us, and this is morally acceptable because our God can beat up your God.”

 

In Democratic voting you have all kinds of people who think many different ways. You think this way, and I think this way, and he thinks the other way and we’re all going to discuss it and try to come to an agreement about what should be done and this will be decided by voting for what we think is the best course of action. Sounds very civil, though it may not be effective if people’s votes can be ‘bought.’

 

But if you take Christianity’s Us vs. Them mentality along with their Power is on OUR side and you combine it with the Democratic system of voting, I think you would inevitably get a system that, even without religion’ devolves into “the Political Power (majority) is on OUR side, you are wrong, WE are right and this is Legally acceptable because under the rules of our particular political game, our party can beat up your party, and if you are not with US you are against us.”

 

Scary to think that even without the religion that we’re still operating under its influences. And remember the individual that acts as a catalyst for these ideas wouldn’t even be aware of what they were doing. They would have no clue that combining ideas is a lot like chemistry and that some should not be combined, lest they have terrible results.

 

What if the simple truth of people, the real low down on mass population, is that most people are generally unfit and not intelligent enough to act in a leadership capacity? If this is true, and it seems to be, then our entire political system is completely flawed, even without considering the underlying theocratic influences.

 

If we accept as true that most individuals are not capable of leading a nation (well and responsibly) does that statement imply an inverse concept? That it is possible for one man or a small group of individuals to lead a nation well and responsibly?

 

I think this is exactly true. What if a monarchy was really the best thing we had going for us, until religion grafted itself to the system? One man (and his advisors) ruled over things and made decisions, which if we accept that most people are not capable of weighing in on these decisions would really be the best thing. Free from political infighting a small group of presumably intelligent individuals (or at least intelligent enough to acquire power) would be led by one individual and when they made decisions there would be nothing to ‘get in the way.”

 

And maybe that’s what we need. Our cultural progress stagnates from Us vs. Them politics and essentially, ‘we get in our own way.’ If we paved the way for a handful of individuals to make clear decisions that could enact without opposition and jumping through hoops, we’d at least start moving in ‘some’ direction. Whether that direction if good or bad, we’d get there quickly and if it is good we allow it, and if it is bad I trust that the people would revolt and that Civil War would serve the necessary purpose of setting our governing back on track and would serve as a precedent for the future.

 

Future Kings and Queens (in my hypothetical monarchy) would think about making decisions and remember the Civil War of 2013 and think twice before attempting anything underhanded like taking our weapons. Because they’ll remember that the last time that was tried, the country nearly tore itself apart and it’s really hard to maintain power in a country that doesn’t exist. Therefore, it would be best NOT to destroy the thing you are trying to dominate.

 

The very idea of a monarchy scares Americans, because we think that one small group of rulers cannot be trusted and even less so one man. But in Greek philosophy there arises the idea of a Philosopher King. IF, and I admit it is a big if, one could put a Philosopher King on the throne, then everything will be fine as the leader would be a wise learned philosopher and would be intelligent and wise enough to know what to do and would theoretically be evolved enough as an individual to be above such petty things as the pursuit of wealth and political power.

 

The problem is in finding and installing such a Philosopher King. A Philosopher King by his very definition is enlightened and evolved and would presumably value the integrity of his spirit above the acquisition of power. He would be intelligent enough to know that power corrupts and that absolute power (which is what we’d want to give him) corrupts absolutely. Therefore he’d be wary of even the idea that he should be followed or allowed to wield such power.

 

In short, it would turn out that the right man for the job would be the very man that we can’t get to accept the position!

 

This individual would however possess a sense of honor and compassion towards his fellow man, such that the only way to make him take the throne (once we’ve found him) would be if there was no other alternative; that is, if the people were in such dire need enlightened guidance that our Philosopher King would be spiritually duty bound to accept the call against his intellectual Will.

 

And even then, because of his own fear of power, he would by nature establish means of checking himself and holding himself accountable. He would lead while adamantly asserting up and down that he ought not to be leading. And this would be to the peoples benefit as there would be someone in charge with the power to make things happen that would only make happen that which is good for the people and when nothing needed to be done, he would do just that: NOTHING!

 

Power should only be entrusted to one who is not looking for it, does not want it, would not use it, is actually afraid of personal corruption but if he absolutely had to, he would use power to be of mass benefit and then stop and go back to not using it.

 

Of course this raises the question of, “If the Philosopher King would not willingly take the throne, who should be the one to declare that such and such is the right man, and who should be the one to appoint him?

 

This leads to the idea that government and people must evolve together. One cannot have an enlightened ruler without having an enlightened society that would voluntarily and intelligently choose to put him there. The people may not be as evolved as the Philosopher King, but they would at least have to be enlightened enough to know that they needed one, and enlightened enough to recognize him when they saw him, yet not be enlightened enough to simply save themselves. For the PK would only accept the position if there was no other way and the enlightened society would have to be in incredibly dire straits that they (for some reason) could not (or did not) prevent using their own enlightened intelligence.

 

There we see an insight that gives us pause to ask a great question: IS government corrupt because it is government? Is it corrupt because the people are unenlightened and unevolved and put the government there in the first place? Did the people create their own monster that they now cannot control? And if the people did create their own monster, is it too late to rectify these mistakes, or is the beast to powerful to be tamed and controlled; must it in the end simply be put down?

Categories: Ancient Classics, Character Development, Fear, Government, Leadership, philosophy, Politics, Society, Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tao Te Ching Chapter 2

Everyone recognizes beauty,

Only because of ugliness,

Everyone recognizes virtue,

Only because of sin.

Life and death are born together,

Difficult and easy,

Long and short,

High and low–

All these exist together.

Sound and silence blend as one,

Before and after are mutual in sequence.

The Sage acts without effort,

And teaches without talking.

All things flourish around him,

And he does not refuse anyone of them.

He gives, but not to receive,

He works, but not for reward,

He completes, but not for results.

He does nothing for himself in this passing world,

So nothing he does ever passes.

Keep it together

The second chapter of the Tao Te Ching clearly conveys to us a basic fundamental principle of the Universe: Everything is what it is, only in relation to something else. Hot is only hot when it can be compared to something cold. High is only high when in contrast to an object that is lower. There can be no THIS without THAT, and THAT does not exist without THIS. Like two sides of the same coin, they ‘go with’ each other. In a coin you have heads AND tails. There is no heads then tails afterwards; they both exist at the same time as a part of the same unit and they cannot be split apart without ruining the whole heads/tails system. And further more when an event happens, the mere happening of an event inexorably implies its exact opposite. Flipping a coin and getting heads up by necessity of the design implies that you also got tails down.

So in life good and bad go together. Just as it is pointless to think of one side of the coin and ignore the other, so too is it useless and just frustrating to think of only good without recognizing that the bad goes with it. What is bad draws its pejorative implications by being contrasted with that which we all agree is good. And things and events we call good find themselves hidden with that which we call bad.

The Sage.

Here Lao-Tzu seems to go off on a bit of a tangent and mentions the Sage. The Sage is an idea that Lao-Tzu will talk about many more times in the Tao Te Ching, and in fact one of the many ways the Tao Te Ching may be interpreted is as a guide to becoming a Sage. It is here in chapter 2 that we are told of the Sages attributes.

“The Sage acts without effort.”

It is clear from this that the Sage is one who lets simplicity and quick direct action guide his daily life. No effort. This does not mean laziness, but rather that the Sage does what he does so well, that he makes it look easy, and when he is observed doing it, we can’t quite be sure exactly how he does it, so easily does he accomplish his task. His success is rooted in both the Sages simple approach to his task and the simplicity of the tasks he would choose to complete. The Sage is not one to choose a big complicated thing to do. In Taoism if it can’t be done simply it shouldn’t be done at all. Of course that’s not to say it can’t be done, it very well can, but that if you actually carry out a huge, complicated ordeal then it will only be a matter of time before it fails, due to its own complicated nature. The Sage is one who is wise enough to know when things are too big and complicated, and disciplined enough to refrain from taking them on to begin with.

“The Sage teaches without talking.”

The Sage is a man of priceless wisdom, wisdom that stems from the simplicity of his daily life. Therefore one can learn from the Sage in the same manner as the Sage learned from nature: Observe, watch him live. The Sage is one who leads by example and if one observes his daily life and is inclined to think about what they see, then they will most certainly find that everything the Sage does is for a reason and usually that reason finds itself in some kind of a common sense approach to things that others view as complicated and sometimes impossible.

“All things flourish around him and he does not refuse any one of them.”

Openness and a very accepting nature are the trademarks of the Sage. By being compassionate and genuinely interested in those around him, he is welcomed wherever he goes. Things come his way, some things good, some bad, but regardless he accepts them all. He accepts good things with respect and humility and allows bad events to unfold as they would without resisting them. When the bad events pass as they invariably do, he moves on.

“He gives, but not to receive, He works, but not for reward, He completes, but not for results. He does nothing for himself in this passing world, so nothing he does ever passes.”

Humility is what the Sage excels in and it is with a humble heart that the Sage completes his daily task. Selfless in the nature, the man of character, the Sage does nothing for himself. Everything he does is for others, after all for the Sage, Tao provides all he needs. What more can he ask? Is there anything he could ask of people or of himself that Tao has not already taken care of?

 

Back to Chapter 1

On to Chapter 3

Categories: Ancient Classics, Character Development, Leadership, philosophy, Spirituality, Tao Te Ching, Taoism | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tao Te Ching Chapter 1

The way that can be walked,

Is not the Eternal Way.

The name that can be named,

Is not the Eternal Name.

Tao is both Named and Nameless,

As Nameless, it is the hidden origin of all things,

As Named, it is the mother of of all things.

A mind free from Desire,

Can see the essence, the mystery of Tao,

A mind full of Desire,

Can see only the mere physical forms of this world.

The essence of Tao and the physical world seem different,

But in truth they are one and the same thing.

The only difference between them is in what we call them.

How deep and profound is this unity, how great!

It is the truth beyond truth,

The secret of all secrets,

The gate to the heart of everything. Continue reading

Categories: Ancient Classics, Character Development, Leadership, philosophy, Tao Te Ching, Taoism | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Tao Te Ching Interpretation: Preface

This is the beginning of a series of articles that address one of history’s timeless classics, The Tao Te Ching. Roughly translated The Classic of The Way and its Power, or The book of The Way and Virtue, an interpretation of the book’s meaning is almost as difficult to grasp as its history is to tell. The Tao Te Ching was definitely written no earlier than the 6th century BCE and no later than the 4th century BCE.

Legend has it that the author, a man named Lao-Tzu which translates to Old Boy or Ancient Continue reading

Categories: Ancient Classics, Character Development, Leadership, philosophy, Tao Te Ching, Taoism | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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