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Saturday, July 17, 2010

The tighter they grip, the more they lose

"The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."

-Princess Leia:

The classics never die. Okay, this way back to "Star Wars," 1977. Ancient history to some people.

The point is clear though. Attempts at tighter and tighter control allows more and more to slip through the cracks. The thought cheers me. There's hope even during the most dictatorial times.

Then there are the lessons from this book:

"Complexity, Problem Solving and Sustainable Societies," by Joseph A. Tainter, 1996

Societies, over time, become more complex. They solve problems by adding layers of complexity. It works at first, but as things get more complex, it takes more and more energy to sustain the society. Historically, at some point, the effort to solve problems cost more than they save. When a society bumps against its energy limits, things come apart. My overview doesn't do Tainter justice, he's worth reading.

How does this affect you and me? One question for everybody: Is our society becoming more complex and are more attempts at control being made?

I think so.

Freedom is constantly under attack. We are being buried under laws, rules and regulations.

However, I think the control freaks are bumping up against Tainter's limits.

-Oakland just issued a whole list of crimes they would no longer investigate. (they lack the resources)
-Medical marijuana outlets are defying Federal drug laws.
-It could be as simple as a farmer selling raw milk.
-People who run diesels on home brewed biofuel are not paying road taxes. Many states have decided it's not worth the cost to try and regulate them.
-Federal agents rarely pursue home distillers of booze.
-More and more people are working and living in the gray economy. They take payment in cash and don't pay taxes. Many don't even use cash but have established a completely parallel economy. (don't want to give away too much here.)

At some point the Powers that Be, freak out and lash out. It's happened in the past. When Solidarity (Polish trade union) fought against the government in the 1980s, martial law was declared. They attempt to shut down the movement. One of the government's tactics was to shut down all the fax machines as it was how the union communicated. It worked for a while, but in the long run the union was the victor.

China regularly closes down the Internet in whole regions. Authorities are terrified that riots from one region will spread. There's a lot more unrest in China than most people are aware of.

Now the US wants to have a "kill switch" for the Internet. Sounds like the sort of control freak thing governments like to do. The fist is tightening.

It makes me laugh. Should they use the kill switch, it will send a stronger message than every blogger on the 'net. Then they will lose.

There are many ways of spreading the word. The Polish Solidarity movement eventually worked around the communication problem. We can to. The methods might be slower, but they are fast enough.

Societies that replace complex ones are much simpler ones. Central control is replaced by extremely local problem solving. Transformation starts from the ground up.

The seeds are out there. Everybody who learns something new is part of it. Those who connect with family, friends and neighbors are the basis for a new system. Those who grow gardens are revolutionaries. Every local solution that solves problems government no longer can strengthens the grass roots. When central control is no longer worth the effort, it's only a matter of time before they figure it out. When that happens, the common people no longer play the game.

During the days of the Mayan empire, it reached a point where people just wandered back into the jungle. Maybe we'll wander back to the family homestead. If we don't have a family or homestead, we'll join with others and make one.

The Mayans figured out that giving their children to be sacrificed to the gods didn't solve their problems. Should US citizens figure out that giving their children to the military industrial complex isn't a good deal . . . well, then it gets interesting.

As Nancy Reagan said in a totally different context: Just say no.

When the empire requires you to give more and more, just say no. You don't have to rise up with guns in the streets, you can just pull the plug on their sources of power. When people drop out of the of the regular economy because it no longer serves their needs, the beast is starved. When soldiers refuse to shoot people they have more in common with than their politicians, the empire dies.

The path is becoming clear. Governments can stop squeezing their peoples in a fist, or they will slip away. The energy to squeeze the fist is going away. They can hold gently or not at all.



  1. The "kill switch" has been used already. More "Star Wars": Queen Amidalla (sp?): "So this is how Liberty dies, to the sound of thunderous applause"......

  2. Mayberry. They took down a lot of blogs, yet here we are, still running loose, a couple of naughty boys like us. Bet other blog hosts just picked up a boat load of business. They'd have to pull the plug completely.

    Thanks China.