12 Jul 2017

Decentralize Or Die: The Center Cannot Hold + It’s Time For Local Communities To Take Charge And Experiment + A Better Future Requires Higher Levels Of Consciousness

By Michael Krieger: Today’s release of Donald Trump Jr.’s emails with Rob Goldstone could very well represent a crucial turning point in American history. Not because I think they will lead to Trump’s impeachment, or because they represent some sort of treasonous offense, but because I think from this point forward an increasing number of us will come to the conclusion that America may no longer work as the largely centralized, semi-cohesive unit it has been for our entire lives.
In order to understand the long-term implications of these emails on the future of the nation, you need a good understanding of the primary warring factions in American politics today. We have Donald Trump supporters/voters, Hillary Clinton supporters/voters, and a resurgent left inspired and energized by the principles and ideals espoused by Bernie Sanders. The first two have absolutely zero overlap and pretty much hate each other, while the third group can sometimes identify with either camp depending on the issue, but pretty much think they’re both crazy and dangerous. The key point I’m trying to make is that there is no “center” in American politics anymore, and any discussion of this is pure fantasy.
Moreover, any remaining center that still exists, is unlikely to exist at all in a year or so as more and more people feel forced to choose sides. When you create an environment as charged as this one where everyone is accusing their political opponents of treason, this is what you get; and it’s only going to get worse. A lot worse.
The reason it’s going to get worse, is because the charged environment that’s been created in which everyone is suspicious of everyone else can only lead to awful outcomes. Let’s start with Hillary supporters/voters. They will honestly see the Don Jr. emails and expect impeachment proceedings to begin tomorrow. Since they were already convinced of treason, they will see treason here. Most importantly, because they believe so passionately that Trump is the root of all evil as opposed to a symptom of a rotten, oligarch-owned empire in decline, they will expect other people to see things the same way. They will genuinely believe that America will unite against Trump’s “treason” and boot him out of office. This is not going to happen.

In order to understand why this will not happen, you need to understand the mindset and motivations of most Trump voters/supporters. I’ve talked extensively to a few here in Colorado and the message is clear. They aren’t big Trump fans, but rather voted for him since he represented a symbol to them, a vehicle by which to express their contempt and dissatisfaction with status quo politics, as well as disgust with the bias and propaganda emanating from corporate media. In other words, there are fews things team Trump could do with Russia to make Trump supporters turn on Trump. From their seat, his win was the greatest political victory of their lives; he prevented another Clinton Presidency. So what if they went to the Russians for a little dirt?
Finally, there’s the resurgent left. While they pretty much find Trump an unprincipled boor and disagree with almost everything he stands for, they by and large share Trump supporters’ disdain for the Clintons and their neoliberal cult. So while there’s very little overlap on policies between Trump people and Sanders people, there’s a degree of overlap when it comes to the driving spirit motivating both movements — which is that the political system is a corrupt cesspool which needs to be dealt with immediately. Hillary supporters and Never Trumpers are unlikely to receive the support they might otherwise expect from these leftists with their treason calls and moves toward impeachment, irrespective of what is contained in the email chain.
If what I wrote above rings true to you on any level, it has dire implications for the future of these United States. The first two groups, Trump supporters and Hillary supporters have absolutely nothing in common and that’s not going to change. In fact, it’s probably going to get much, much worse. Trump supporters think the Democrats and the media have been gunning for a way to remove him from office since the day he was elected, while Hillary supporters think he’s a treasonous puppet of Vladimir Putin. How can these two warring factions come to any sort of agreement on anything? The answer is, they can’t and they won’t. Meanwhile, Bernie supporters are likely to largely stay on the sidelines hoping these two sides destroy each other in their madness.
What this means going forward, is that national politics will become even less about actual principles and polices than it was before (and it wasn’t really to begin with). Rather, it will become more and more like two rival gangs that absolutely despise each other battling in all out war for total power of the U.S. government. This is a terrifying thought.
As bad as that sounds, tremendous opportunities to build better communities and voluntary governing structures will present themselves in the chaotic political environment that exists, and is likely stick around for the foreseeable future. In a country in which there may truly be irreconcilable differences, I think the best option is to move to decentralize decision-making and political life as much as possible, while retaining certain key connections to one another while we still can. We must do this peacefully and amicably. All the other likely roads look horrible to me.
As I tweeted earlier today:

Today’s post is the first in what is likely to be a three part series. Tomorrow’s piece will focus on why I think the current environment presents the perfect opportunity for political decentralization, and why we should agree to go down this path before we start killing each other.
As part of my efforts to move away from Google, I have intentionally disabled ads within the text of this post.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger



Part 2

It’s Time For Local Communities To Take Charge And Experiment
And when we mark the progress already accomplished in that direction, in spite of and against the State, which tries by all means to maintain its supremacy of recent origin; when we see how voluntary societies invade everything and are only impeded in their development by the State, we are forced to recognize a powerful tendency, a latent force in modern society.
– Peter Kropotkin
Before I get started, I want to emphasize that while the ideas in this three-part series focus on the U.S. and its particular structure of governance, the basic concepts can and should be applied throughout the world. If I believe in anything at all, it’s the idea that concentrations of power, whether government or corporate, represent the greatest threat to human freedom and liberty and this must be understood and resisted by all of us. Ok, so let’s get started.
Although many crucial functions are centralized, the U.S. still provides its citizens with various ways to exercise local power and we’ve already started to see a resurgence of such efforts across the nation. Whether or not we agree with the various state proposals out there trying to shake things up, we should all encourage the efforts. We all win from local populations experimenting with different ideas. Some will fail spectacularly, while others will pave the way for more reasonable policies across the nation.
Perhaps the greatest success of localized action in my lifetime was initiated by my adopted home state of Colorado, as its residents led the way with cannabis legalization in 2012, following the passage of Amendment 64. If we had continued to wait for the feds to do something we would have ended up waiting forever. Instead, Coloradans put the measure on the ballot and the public overwhelmingly supported it (it passed with a wider margin than Obama won against Romney). The enormous success of the initiative led to a cascade of other states adopting similar measures. Local action led to national change and will result in far more humane drug polices across massive swaths of the country, as D.C. fossils like Jeff Sessions continue to spew clownish and failed drug war narratives.
The success of Amendment 64 should be repeated on a variety of issues across the nation. We can then see what works and what doesn’t. People end up responding more rationally when they’re allowed to try things out for themselves.

Minimum wage laws are another great example. This can be a very divisive issue, understandably so, given that what might make sense in NYC does not work in Clarksdale, Mississippi. As such, it’s the perfect local issue and we can all learn from the proposals of various cities. The Seattle law has gotten the most attention as of late partly because it set the highest minimum wage rate in the nation. Conflicting reports regarding the success of the law have recently come into the public debate, with one study claiming that it pushed too high and caused more harm than good, while others disagree. I don’t know what the answer is, but I know that if local people want to do it, then the experiment is worthwhile. Small experiments at the local level are preferable to gigantic experiments at the federal level.
Moving along, the Trump era is propelling local action in unexpected ways. While decentralization is often seen as something promoted by libertarian types, many of Trump’s most vocal opponents on the left are the ones encouraging local action following Trump’s election. This is a silver-lining to his victory and we should encourage such movements whether we agree with the specific policies or not. The more people become accustomed to local governance and community empowerment the better. We should encourage this in all aspects of life, not just when we agree with the actual policies. Freedom means the freedom for people to make mistakes and do things that we might think are dumb.
I wrote on this angle a few months ago in the post, How Donald Trump’s Presidency Could Inadvertently Lead to a Far Less Powerful Washington D.C. Here are a few excerpts:
When it comes to climate change, the views of Americans are very much divided by political party, which in turn tends to divide at the state level, which then divides even further at the local level. The point is, there are pockets of communities within the country overwhelmingly in favor of renewable energy mandates, and pockets vehemently opposed to them.
Communities can have a lot to say on the subject, so having the Federal government decide one way or the other should not be seen as the end all be all for this issue (or most others), but a starting point. Indeed, it is far more empowering to have grassroots movements take action at the local level on a range of issues as opposed to expecting the corrupt and unrepresentative federal government to do anything useful.
For proponents of clean energy, the best action is to stop hyperventilating about Trump and get off your ass and do something. This is particularly important if you think the ocean is about to swallow up half the world’s landmass. If you really expect this, there’s a better use for your time than lecturing Republicans who aren’t listening anyway about how they’re “anti-science.”
Interestingly enough, that’s exactly what some communities are doing and I applaud them for it. I applaud them for the type of action being taken, and the lessons we can learn in order to apply the tactic with regard to other issues. Rather than endlessly lecturing others on why they’re stupid and dumb, go ahead and walk the walk yourself. Lead by example, not by coercion. If you want more renewables, rally your community and build more renewables. Stop obsessing so much about the UN, Donald Trump and red states.
This is in fact happening, as reported by The New York Times:
Representatives of American cities, states and companies are preparing to submit a plan to the United Nations pledging to meet the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions targets under the Paris climate accord, despite President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement.
The unnamed group — which, so far, includes 30 mayors, three governors, more than 80 university presidents and more than 100 businesses — is negotiating with the United Nations to have its submission accepted alongside contributions to the Paris climate deal by other nations.
By redoubling their climate efforts, he said, cities, states and corporations could achieve, or even surpass, the pledge of the administration of former President Barack Obama to reduce America’s planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent by 2025, from their levels in 2005.
Just so this post isn’t overly U.S. centric, I want to flag a recent post by VC Fred Wilson about how global communities are responding to the challenges of crypto-currency regulation in a world filled with clueless bureaucrats who love to legislate against innovation and liberty. From the interesting post, Jurisdictional Competition:
The economist Paul Romer introduced me to the idea of jurisdictional competition about ten years ago and I’ve been fascinated with it since. His TED Talk about charter cities from 2009 is a good primer on the concept.
The basic idea of jurisdictional competition is countries, cities, and regions can compete economically with each other by adopting more favorable laws and social norms.
We are actually seeing this play out right now in the crypto sector with the Swiss Canton of Zug becoming the preferred location to domicile a crypto-currency business.
Zug has even taken to calling itself Crypto Valley.
We have watched the blockchain companies in our portfolio struggle to adapt their business models, financing approaches, and more to US laws. We have been working with them to come up with creative ways that they can continue to operate in the US while executing the crypto playbook. It has been quite challenging. Many have advocated just moving the businesses to Zug, like so many others have done. And that may happen. We are for whatever is best for the founder and the business they create and have no preference for US domiciled companies. We have invested in Canadian companies, Estonian companies, French companies, Dutch companies, German companies, and likely a lot more. Investing in a Swiss domiciled company or foundation would not be a big deal for us.
To conclue, it’s absolutely critical to read everything I wrote above within the context of my view that the U.S. empire is currently within the throes of what I believe to be an irreversible decline. This is why it’s so important to decentralize now, before total imperial collapse. If we wait, an overly centralized government ruling over disempowered, disconnected serfs will be what everyone turns to for all their “solutions” when the ship goes down. These solutions are likely to draconian and anti-freedom, so we need to plant the seeds of self-government right here, right now. We need to take charge and empower our local communities as much as possible before things get worse. If our response to imperial decline is to try to grasp onto its last remaining vestiges, the aftermath will be a hundred times worse. There are many ways to respond to adversity, and I hope we can choose the more conscious path. I will expand one this tomorrow.
Finally, I want to send out a special thanks to the 29 people who have become patrons of Liberty Blitzkrieg over the past week or so. Turning this website into a reader-supported project is a major priority for me, and I appreciate your willingness to help me demonstrate the potential power of such a model. If 1,000 people simply gave $1 a month, I would reach my goal immediately.

In Liberty,

Michael Krieger



Part 3

A Better Future Requires Higher Levels Of Consciousness
The first two posts in this series focused on what the current political environment looks like, and why it provides a perfect opportunity for experimentation and decentralization. Today’s post will examine what it will take to get there. While I think the future can be a very bright one, this is by no means written in stone and will take a herculean effort by millions of globally enlightened and motivated humans to achieve it.
In order to properly frame today’s post, I will be relying heavily on information discussed in my five-part series on Spiral Dynamics published back in February. While I will try to provide context, it might be helpful to check out those older posts before continuing if things start to get confusing.
Let’s begin by me quoting Ken Wilber in the post, What is Spiral Dynamics and Why Have I Become So Interested in It?

So it is that the leading edge of consciousness evolution stands today on the brink of an integral millennium—or at least the possibility of an integral millennium, where the sum total of extant human knowledge, wisdom, and technology is available to all. But there are several obstacles to that integral embrace, even in the most developed populations. Moreover, there is the more typical or average mode of consciousness, which is far from integral anything, and is in desperate need of its own tending. 
I have, in numerous previous publications (especially Integral Psychology) given the details of many of those researchers. Here I will simply use one of them as an example. The model is called Spiral Dynamics, based on the pioneering work of Clare Graves. Graves proposed a profound and elegant system of human development, which subsequent research has refined and validated, not refuted. “Briefly, what I am proposing is that the psychology of the mature human being is an unfolding, emergent, oscillating spiralling process marked by progressive subordination of older, lower-order behavior systems to newer, higher-order systems as an individual’s existential problems change. Each successive stage, wave, or level of existence is a state through which people pass on their way to other states of being. When the human is centralized in one state of existence” —as I would put it, when the self’s center of gravity hovers around a particular wave of consciousness— “he or she has a psychology which is particular to that state. His or her feelings, motivations, ethics and values, biochemistry, degree of neurological activation, learning system, belief systems, conception of mental health, ideas as to what mental illness is and how it should be treated, conceptions of and preferences for management, education, economics, and political theory and practice are all appropriate to that state.”

Graves outlined around eight major “levels or waves of human existence,” ranging from autistic, magical, and animistic, through sociocentric and conventional, to individualistic and integrated. As is usually the case with Western researchers, he recognized no higher (transpersonal) levels, but the contributions he made to the prepersonal and personal realms were profound.
The first six levels are “subsistence levels” marked by “first-tier thinking.” Then there occurs a revolutionary shift in consciousness: the emergence of “being levels” and “second-tier thinking,” of which there are two major waves. Here is a brief description of all eight waves, the percentage of the world population at each wave, and the percentage of social power held by each. Remember, these are all variations on archaic to magic to mythic to rational to integral, which is the common “developmental space” revealed by most research.
But what none of those memes can do, on their own, is fully appreciate the existence of the other memes. Each of those first-tier memes thinks that its worldview is the correct or best perspective. It reacts negatively if challenged; it lashes out, using its own tools, whenever it is threatened. Blue order is very uncomfortable with both red impulsiveness and orange individualism. Orange individualism thinks blue order is for suckers and green egalitarianism is weak and woo-woo. Green egalitarianism cannot easily abide excellence and value rankings, big pictures, hierarchies, or anything that appears authoritarian, and thus green reacts strongly to blue, orange, and anything post-green. 
That last paragraph represents a crucial point with regard to today’s post. One of the biggest threats we face as American citizens is the centralization of a grotesque and dangerous degree of power in the hands of unrepresentative politicians and bureaucrats in Washington D.C. People who by and large work for oligarchs and large corporations, not the public. If I’m correct, and there is no longer a “center” in U.S. politics, just various competing gangs looking to rule over everyone else, real progress necessitates altering the centers of power themselves, as opposed to hoping for some mythical savior politician will ride into D.C. on a unicorn and save everyone. That is not going to happen.
Part of the reason it isn’t going to happen is too many Americans have very different views of how society should be governed and how certain emotionally charged issues should be resolved. They think their particular way of viewing the world is the correct one, and are simply vying for power in order to impose their particular pet paradigm on a population of 320 million very diverse people.
This is what humans operating on a first-tier level of consciousness tend to do. It’s not their fault, it just happens to be the stage they’re at. You can’t logic them out of their stage of consciousness. Centralized power combined with competing hordes of people who agree on virtually nothing is a recipe for disaster. Thus, decentralization is no longer just a quaint pipe-dream of an idea. If we want freedom and liberty to flourish, decentralization is mandatory.
That being said, a live and let live mentality does require some degree of second-tier thinking. So what is second-tier consciousness?
As described by Spiral Dynamic Integral the Netherlands (yellow is the first color tier in second-stage thinking):

Firstly, he noticed that a Yellow orientated lifestyle is much more free than a lifestyle in any of the other value systems. Yellow oriented people seemed to move and express themselves completely free and independent of their life environment. Contrary to people in other value systems, they were not afraid anymore to be rejected and they didn’t fear other people’s or God’s judgment. They didn’t show the need to make an impression on others and to reach the top at the cost of everything.
They also didn’t strive anymore for absolute truths and they didn’t have the need to belong to something anymore. In short: these were people without irrational fears, compulsive needs and compulsive behaviors. However, this Yellow freedom doesn’t mean that people in the Yellow value system are not connected to their environment. On the contrary, Yellow oriented people are very much involved and show a lot of compassion. The biggest difference with people from other value systems is that their life environment is not fearfully or compulsively leading them.
Even better, is Ken Wilber’s observations of what happens when you put a red, a blue, orange, green and yellow in a room at the same time. Makes perfect sense to me.
Audio Player
This is partly why a higher level of consciousness is needed for successfully ushering in a widely beneficial decentralized future. We can’t just profess support for political and corporate decentralization, we need to truly understand why it’s important on a much deeper and fundamental level. While that’s difficult enough, it’s just the first step in what is necessary to really create a better, freer more ethical world.
It doesn’t take long to come up with all sorts of huge issues that will need to be tackled for decentralization to be widely beneficial, as opposed to just successful for a few regions/communities that are already well positioned for success. Dealing with resource disputes between various areas, decisions on when to wage warfare (our current centralized model makes no sense), pollution from one area affecting a neighboring area, etc, etc. The issues are endless and figuring out how to live in peace and kindness with one another while maintaining more independent governing structures will take thinking on a level of consciousness far above what I can offer.
Fortunately, I think there are plenty of people out there with the vision and thoughtfulness to propose creative solutions. I became convinced of this with the emergence of Bitcoin. As I wrote in the piece, Why Increased Consciousness is the Only Path Forward:

If Bitcoin blew you away when you first discovered it, and continues to do so to this day, Spiral Dynamics can help explain why. Bitcoin was an expression in the physical world of the newly emergent leading-edge integral level consciousness. It drew lessons from history and attempted to take the best of orange and green worldviews and incorporate them into an entirely new form of money. We see the clear presence of free markets and individualism, as well as the intentional separation of the system from dominator hierarchies (bureaucratic government meddling), which had corrupted all money before it. Its greenness is evident in the fact that by design no individual or company controls the network. Global, decentralized, revolutionary technology. This is perhaps the perfect example of integral consciousness operating on our planet at this time from an economics standpoint, and why it has captured the imagination of so many, while at the same time being violently rejected by so many others (mainly those operating within the pathological green framework, with Paul Krugman being the perfect example).
I added to this a few months later in the post, A New Financial System is Being Born

My passion for Bitcoin was always framed by my ten years working in the financial industry. Many of us who lived through the 2008 crisis knew the financial system was dead. We knew it was corrupt, archaic and terminal, so many of us began bracing for what might come next. We did what we thought made sense at the time, which included buying precious metals like gold and silver given their historic track record of protecting wealth in periods of paradigm-shifting financial disruption. Others took more extreme measures to protect themselves from the end of the financial system, but a small group forward thinking geeks decided to do something much better. They decided to build an alternative.
The type of thinking that brought us Bitcoin, is the exact type of thinking that will be required to make an evolutionary leap when it comes to structures of governance and community. This will take the efforts of people far more intelligent, wise and conscious than myself. I’m really just a messenger trying to inspire people and get you thinking.
The way I see it, our national politics is dominated by different gangs each operating on levels of first-tier consciousness, with the ultimate goal of grabbing the centralized ring of power and imposing their worldview on the rest of us. This doesn’t make any sense to me, and I think we need to move beyond that. The first step is to tackle issues of power concentration, whether they reside in the corporate or government sector. The second, and far greater challenge, is to offer alternative, decentralized structures of life that make every day existence materially better for the vast majority of us. Anything less will be an abject failure.
This was originally going to be a three-part series, but I have found it necessary to write a fourth installment that I will write and publish tomorrow. It will examine the ways in which I am trying to apply the concepts of decentralization and second-tier thinking to my work here at Liberty Blitzkrieg.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger


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