November 27, 2009
In 1971, at the height of the brutal mass-murder of over 3 million people in south-east Asia which was called the Vietnam War, John Lennon wrote the song "Imagine" about a dream he had of a world without separate nations or separate religions or cultures.
Lennon´s wife, Yoko Ono told, the Rolling Stone magazine in an interview :
"Imagine" was "just what John believed -- that we are all one country, one world, one people. He wanted to get that idea out."
John Lennon was both right and wrong on this, I think.
Yes we are one world and one species, humanity. No national, ethnic or religious distinction gives one person´s life more value than another person´s life.
Lennon imagined, that ending all cultural differences and abolishing all borders would also end all war and violence among the people. What John Lennon didn´t know, was that his dream of an end to all national borders and all religious or cultural differences was shared by the very same war-mongering fascist elites which Lennon fought against with his songs and his political activism.
These elites also dreamed of creating a single culture and a single nation on earth. This "one global country" would then be under one global rule...theirs. They dreamed of "Full Spectrum Dominance", and what they "imagine" could become a nightmare for all other people on earth.
Lennon thought that it was the differences which divide us and move us to hatred and subsequently violence, and the borders which make us choose war.
In reality, the differences between us don't lead us to hatred, but our refusal to accept differences in others, tolerate them and learn to live with them.
Borders, national or otherwise, are actually great tools in setting limits to power.
It´s the aspiration for unlimited power in those who want to rule all nations and eliminate everything that would limit their rule, which drives us to war. Their striving for power and domination has driven the war-agendas time and again, as far back as rulers and empires existed.
Your differences from me enrich me. If I look at them, I get a new point of view, wider and less restricted. And mine can enrich you, if you allow me to have them. Both or ours will always enrich humanity. Humanity is growing, changing and evolving because of those differences.
While I accept the fact of your views being different from mine on so many levels, I do not want you to push them on me by the force of the power you might have over me. I do not want you to rule over me by either force or tricks and deception, and you don´t want me to rule over you in this way, either.
Of course, I know, that you and I, both members of the human race, often need to cooperate, and sometimes have conflicts of interest. Nobody can live on his or her own in this world and survive for long, or raise his or her children fully self-sufficient and independent from the rest of the world.
Cooperation, which is necessary, and most often a long-term deal, will eventually always lead to structures built around it and rules expected to be followed, written or unwritten ones. Social structures, which originally are built to serve everyone and make cooperation go more smoothly, always entail the danger, that in the long run they will become tools of power for the few over everybody else.
When I start to "imagine" a world of peace and a world where people are truly free, my dream is different from John Lennon´s. I dream of political power being limited by borders and concentrated in the smallest possible political units, in the communities.
In my dream, the United Nations is nothing more than a negotiation table, where nations send their representatives to negotiate with other nations on possible trade agreements or on conflicts of interest until a just solution is found for both sides. But the UN in my dream will never have an army nor any other enforcement power, nor will it be allowed to call any nation´s army to it´s service.
If a just agreement is made between two or more parties, why should it need enforcement? And if those who are involved cannot come to a common understanding of what is just, who can? Is the sense of justice of the would-be "enforcers" higher than of those who are involved? Or is, what is actually higher, only the "enforcers´" sense of self-importance and even supremacy? In my dream, when an agreement is reached, there will be a shared trust, that those who have agreed upon it, will honor their agreement.
In the same dream I see national-, and in large nations additionally state-, parliaments also as negotiation tables, where communities send their representatives to negotiate conflicts of interest between them or common goals among them while working together on temporary or permanent projects.
Participation of communities on common national or state- projects would be voluntary. But most communities who see a rational sense and a common need and shared interests or values would naturally do so.
Striving for cooperation to better accomplish common goals is an integral part of human nature.
It just happens, it doesn´t have to be enforced.
Communities would send their representatives to state and national parliaments on a mandate, voting according to the majority decisions made by either communities´general assemblies or by community councils concerned with the matter.
In this way national or state tax-funds, for whatever common projects are deemed to be worthwhile, will be under the control of the communities, who contribute the funding. In the same way will the decision of how and how much taxes are being collected for state or national purposes under the control of communities.
In my dream multi-national corporations will have ceased to exist. They will have been cut into ordinary companies, put under the rule of law of those countries in which they do their production.
The taxes being taken from the profits of very large companies, with profits above a certain limit, would be decided by the national parliaments. And those tax-revenues would be redistributed to the communities on a per capita bases. In this way the big companies could no longer blackmail the communities to lower their environmental standards and allow them to pollute water and air, just because they are large "tax-payers".
When political representatives in state or national parliaments will be bound in their voting by the decisions taken back home in their communities, they can no longer be bribed by lobbyists or blackmailed by special interest groups. Their only function would be to gather as much information as possible and send it back home, so that the people of their communities can make informed decisions. Representatives will be chosen for their efficiency in getting good and objective information across, not for their charisma in speeches they didn´t even write themselves, or for their good looks on TV. Campaign funds for them or any parties who´d put them in office, would no longer be needed.
There would not be any need for national or state governments in my dream, only parliaments with members representing their communities. In my dream there´d neither be any national or state law-enforcement. There would only be community police forces, which could cooperate with other community police forces, if need be.
And in my dream the laws to be enforced by courts or by the police would be laws the communities would give unto themselves.
Communities would be villages, or smaller or larger towns, or small city-districts. Populations in a community could range from a few thousands to maybe some tens of thousands of people in large cities, but not more. When communities become too large, the opportunity that most individuals have, to take part in the political and law-making process would shrink due to the size of the community.
In large nations or in supra-national organizations the chance of participation in the law-making process that ordinary citizens have nowadays becomes nearly zero. And the power of those who are in the position to make decisions concerning the many, has grown accordingly, and so has the ruthless abuse of this power, to the detriment of everyone else. A cross on a ballot paper or a touch on a monitor of a computer, with soft-ware which might or might not be rigged, is not, what real democracy is all about; not in my dream anyway.
Democracy for me means participation in the decision making process, at least in all those decisions which concern me and I feel concerned about. If things seem unimportant to me one way or the other, I don´t need to put my five cents in. I´d let others decide, who are more concerned and therefor have educated themselves more on the issue. These would be the decision making processes in the communities of my dreams. People would show up for the political assemblies when they are concerned about a certain subject and stay home when they are not. Those who are concerned would also be motivated to educate themselves on the subject. In this way those who would take part in decision making process would be those among the people who are indeed competent to do so.
Supremacists with a disdain for ordinary people have often called democracy a "mob-rule" of the stupid and un-informed, the easily deluded and manipulated. They used this as an excuse to prevent any form of direct democracy. Their distrust of humanity has led the western world to the verge of full-fledged fascism, to be ruled by elites who do not only want full control over us, but actually hate us to the extent of wanting to have a lot fewer of us around on this planet.
In my dream, it is in the communities where all laws are made in which the members of the communities will live. These laws might be made by elected representatives or by general assemblies, whatever the majority will decide to fit better to their needs.
The law-books would be slim, since there would be far fewer lawyers around to complicate them. There will not be a whole rat-tail of precedence-case, or of exceptions of law, or exceptions of exceptions, or of exceptions of exceptions of exceptions. There would just be laws. And, if there are mitigating circumstances to be argued in court, a jury of ordinary citizens would decide, if the points made are valid or not, using their own conscience, their traditional values and a bit of common sense.
In my dream most laws would be similar from one community to the next in a single nation, since the population in most nations share similar traditions and value systems. But still there would be differences among the communities. Some might be more conservative and others more liberal on certain issues (ln the western world those issues might be pornography, for instance, or prostitution or the use of certain recreational drugs). Some might be more ecological minded than others. Some might be more concerned about public health and the safety of food and medical drugs. Some might be strictly secular and others not. Some communities might have a tax-financed education- and public health- system or social system. Some would try a different form of financing for those purposes (for instance a system based on voluntary contributions to social or charitable organizations or a system based on voluntary insurance payments.)
All this would be decided in political processes, where every citizen of the community would have a chance of participation, having his or her opinion heard. Of course, how a community organizes it´s necessary work in the up-keep of social and physical infrastructure, would then automatically determine how high the tax-burden on everyone would have to be.
To be sure, not even in my dream, will all communities be the perfect place to live for all people.
In the past local majorities have often discriminated against minorities. But then, whenever those minorities were persistent, when they stood their ground in a just cause, demanding equality from their neighbors, then in time they gained this equality.
Majorities aren´t written in stone. When a just cause is promoted long enough in a community by honest and decent people who live there, they will be joined by others and then the majorities will change. That is, if a community actually is ruled by its own members and not by outside forces. However, in a society, where the real powers are far away rulers, all movements for equality and justice can easily be corrupted and infiltrated by agents who are on the payroll of the far away power-center. Of course, other forms of corruption have in the past troubled many local communities as well. Local corruption seemed no different from the corruptions seen in national governments or international bodies.
But still, there is a difference:
In a community corruption cannot stay hidden for a very long time. If a community actually would have the power of self-rule, then those citizens hurt by corruption, would soon put a stop to it. But once again, if the center of power is far removed from the community, this power-center always supports those corrupt local leaderships, who enforce the foreign rule on the population.
What if a community administration was really, really bad, with a philosophy straight from the dark ages? Shouldn´t there be some outside force to stop them?
Well, I don´t think so.
Even in a worst case scenario, the harm such a leadership could do, would be rather limited to the community they rule over, and maybe in a lesser way to neighboring communities, while the harm those "enforcers" have done in the past, has always been much greater. (Just think about all the children killed at Waco by those law-enforcement agencies who wanted to "save the children" there)
Something else would limit the harm a "dark age" community leadership could do to their population:
It´s the chance people have, to just... leave. Even a child-bride in a polygamist compound-community eventually has that chance. With all those other non-polygamist communities around, she easily could make a run for it.
"But she is under some form of mind-control", you say.
True, but no mind-control works forever. If the pain of living under oppression becomes too great, the girl will eventually be able to shake off this manipulative control over her mind and then she´ll only need a little bit of courage.
In this day and age, no community can isolate itself totally and live without trade with others.
Trade-contacts also mean exchange of ideas and chances to leave.
While leaders of large nations or those with global aspirations might dream of a smaller population, for local leaders their people are assets, they can´t afford to lose too many of them.
(Unless the community is actually one of those very rare suicide cult, the leaders wouldn´t harm their people intentionally, they would want to keep them save and sound)
The need to keep their citizens reasonably happy, so they won´t constantly be tempted to leave, will limit the amount of harm even bad community leaders can do to the people they rule.
If the bad and oppressive community leaders would ever want to try to spread their bad rule over their neighbors, who don´t want to join their cult, they could easily be kept in check by a defense coalition of the neighbors against them. But for those who choose to stay put under the rule of what most everybody else around them would see as a really bad leadership... well, it would be their choice.
Freedom means having a choices.
And if nothing else would be left of your freedom, then still, in a world where power is concentrated in communities, the freedom to leave and live some place else would still be a choice you have.
In a world like ours not everyone has this choice. Even those who seek asylum to escape the oppression and the danger to their life back home will often be sent back, if they can´t make a good case before an immigration court. Most of those who seek to get away from economic oppression and hopelessness have no legal chance at all to escape.
Absolute freedom, the thought you could ever do, whatever you want and whenever you want to do it, is an illusion. Not even the laws of nature allow this.
Whenever you have to live with others, your actions will be restricted by some rules.
Freedom means you can take part in shaping those rules. Freedom also means having a choice between different sets of rules. It means that there are choices people can make because there are differences.
Peace means, when people in one community learn to accept the collective choices of people in other communities, even if they don´t like their respective choices.
This is the freedom and peace I´m dreaming of when I "imagine" a better world. I ask you, is this an unrealistic dream?The author is a frequent contributor to Aletho News and a human rights activist based in Iceland. An archive of previous articles is available at her blog. She deals with subjects like Zionism and the war against the Palestinian people, Western Islamophobia and the myths used to justify wars in the Middle East, imperialism in general, pseudo-scientific myths, falsification of history, the influence of religion on political philosophies, the human mind and how it is influenced by organized propaganda.