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Competition? Cooperation? A Role for Government?

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Message Louis Hale
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We need to get our heads on straight. We've been fed a lot of garbage justifying the view that greed is the basis of society and that the evolutionary step of representative government over a monarchical, feudal, or mafia style of social organization (Douglas North, 1993 Nobel laureate, economics) can be trashed in favor of transactional "self-regulation." No amount of wishing or utopian theorizing (or misinterpreting of Charles Darwin--see below) is likely to cause government to disappear any time soon. We have only two choices concerning government; use it, or have it used against us. Used properly, it can be a tool for enhancing personal freedom. Used as it is currently used, it is a tool for theft and enslavement.

We need a reality check. We need to use what we've learned in order to put our energies where they'll ensure our survival. First, we need to concentrate on freeing ourselves from the financial elites who have taken possession of our government and who maintain that control through an ill-considered, legislatively-granted power to issue our money and through keeping us arguing with each other over petty distracting issues. Second, we need to solve our country's next most important problem, specifically, changing the U.S. from an imperialist bully to a cooperative member of a global community of sovereign nations relating to each other with mutual restraint and respect. Our survival as a nation depends on solving these two problems, because the current concerted attack on the middle class and the poor by a wealthy and powerful few threatens the social stability of the entire world. As defined by too many "experts," "financial stability" (by their definition, the rich continuing to get richer while everyone else gets poorer) does not automatically create social stability. Social stability occurs when human needs are met or when there is genuine hope that progress is being made toward that goal. Our current course--the plunging of human beings into increasingly greater suffering--leads inevitably to violence.

We are highly intelligent animals. I use the word "animals" purposely because, despite our great intelligence, energy and creativity, we have yet to balance our instinct for competition with our instinct for cooperation. Our intelligence, energy, curiosity and creativity combined with our seemingly boundless hubris leads us off into chasing the "rabbits" of technological possibility while the "elephant" of necessity (eliminating war, hunger, poverty, racism, etc.) patiently takes up an increasing amount of space in the room and waits for attention from the distressed, rushed and thereby easily-led and -distracted group called the human race. If humans become extinct as a species, it'll look like this: three monkeys on a cosmic see-saw--two on the seat on the ground (competition), enthusiastically biting, kicking, pushing, punching, then finally bleeding to death over who gets to sit in front--one on the other seat (cooperation), "left up in the air," "left hanging," thus causing the third monkey to starve to death.

Government should be a useful tool--not a "big brother"--and survival is best served by cooperation. The following is from Lynette Yetter's Amazon review of Peter Kropotkin's Mutual Aid: "In a Google search for a free public domain downloadable copy, I found Mutual Aid on a site of anarchist literature. My knee jerk reaction to the word "anarchist' was probably what many people feel--a bit of fear. But, after thinking about it, I realized that true anarchism is not violent destruction. Anarchism is based on people developing their highest spiritual selves--to treat each other with the utmost respect. Treat your neighbor as yourself--the Golden Rule sort of thing. In other words--mutual aid...then we don't need to have government and police to tell us what to do. Like our mutually supportive indigenous ancestors on all continents, we can be guided by our inner wisdom, courage and compassion... (Concerning) "Social Darwinism(,)' (a)ccording to Kropotkin, Darwin never wrote that survival of the fittest means competing against members of your own species. Darwin was talking about competition between different species. On the contrary, he wrote that the survival of the species is guaranteed by mutual aid."

Working for our species' survival through cooperative efforts toward meeting the needs of all U.S. citizens, not just the wealthy few, is the path of truly enlightened self-interest. If government can't be harnessed toward this goal, it will surely continue to be used for the further enrichment of the already-wealthy, for obstructing efforts to meet the needs of the many and toward the enslavement of all but a few--a formula for self-destruction.

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The quote from Lynette Yetter's review of Mutual Aid is used with her permission. Her review was first published on click here

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Louis "Buddy" Hale is a semi-retired teacher whose activism includes monetary reform, national defense reform, and food and public health policy. He worked for eighteen years as a public school language arts teacher and sixteen years as a juvenile (more...)
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Competition? Cooperation? A Role for Government?

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