The Constant Confrontation

StateOutDate_Disinfo_300x250[disinfo ed.’s note: the following is an excerpt from The State Is Out of Date: We Can Do It Better by Gregory Sams.]

Whoever is in power got there because they fought their way there, whether using ballots or bullets, argu­ments or artillery. Those holding the reins of power at the top of the pyramid may change from time to time, but the power structure embedded in the bureaucracy of the state remains in place. This includes the military, the civil service, and the bankers controlling our money supply. The structure in which they thrive was originally brought into existence by kicking out a previous power structure or sometimes even an entire race. There are very few instances in history where power has been willingly relinquished without a fight—very few instances of these “public servants” saying “Hey, we’re not very good at this and think somebody else ought to have a shot at it.” Paranoid doddering old rulers will grip deter­minedly the reins of power until they are struck down either by disease, coup, or a popular uprising.

It is safe to assert that no government proper ever had a provision in its organic law for its own termination. – Abraham Lincoln, 1809–1865

The most unpopular regimes continue to exert their will upon a populace when all vestiges of satisfaction or support have gone—holding on until the final humiliation of being trapped in their office, bunker, or bedroom—and then being either shot, hung from the nearest height or processed through the courts they once controlled, and exposed to the contempt of a public they once thought to be “their people.” Our civilized elections are still bitterly fought, and often determined by the size of the combatants’ war chests, and clever strategic moves. The so-called democracy we enjoy today applies little more than a thin veneer over the basic mechanics of the state, and those mechanics have always hinged on the lever of confrontation.

Democracy is the art of saying “nice doggie” until you can find a rock. – Wynn Catlin (and other credited sources)

The handful of parties claiming to represent our best interests are usually locked in constant confrontation, only sleeping with each other in the interests of defeating a common enemy. Almost everything you read of the politics of the state is the story of a confrontation between two groups, usually bitterly opposed to each other. Should a government of the day “lose” the vote on a bill in the British Parliament, then it is deemed that they are getting weak and unable to manage the country. This state of confrontation is thought to be, and accepted as, the normal way of doing business for the modern democratic state. And even though the state is ostensibly there to “serve” us, the most common experience that many of us have is that of confrontation—whether over building permits, parking tickets, tax demands, or any other confrontation prompted by the state’s desire that we all fit neatly into their plan for the fine-tuning of society.

I do not mean to suggest that society should have no plan or order. When groups of people live together and share resources, they have always developed accepted modes of behavior as a social group. The threat of rejection by the community was at one time a greater regulating agent on our behavior than was the fear of being fined or imprisoned. Even in places where there is no law against going to the supermar­ket in your underwear, there are few who do so.

The police, as a force on the streets, only developed in most parts of the world towards the end of the nineteenth century. The numbers in prison per capita just a few genera­tions ago were a fraction of those incarcerated today, and the main reason for the increase lies in the rapid growth of laws against behavior or activities that have no actual victim (see chapter 17).

As our politicians promise to make us safer with more regulation and control, supported by higher police budgets, would it not be reasonable to expect them to project a need for fewer prisons resulting from the success of their policies? I would be curious to know if history has ever recorded this happening.

Our stimulus to create self-governing techniques is eroded as the state assumes more and more legislative responsibil­ity for our behavior and morals. When the state takes over morality, we lose it. Look at what we have evolved with­out confrontation but by ourselves—human to human. We have been singing tunes, beating drums, stroking strings, and blowing through tubes since time immemorial, creat­ing a vast variety of musical styles, with Wikipedia’s A–Z of them listing eighty-seven different genres under “B” alone. We can choose from classical, electronic, jazz, punk, opera, trance, rock ‘n roll, country, rap, brass band, blues, bossa nova, ambient, and a myriad of other musical styles to tickle our ears. We are allowed to purchase or create any, all or none of them—one has not had to supplant the other, even though they may “battle it out” in the marketplace. We can choose from whole wheat bread, white bread, French bread, naturally leavened bread, rye bread, rolls, buns, pancakes, and many other forms of flour and water to have with our meal. Most in Britain and America have chosen the sliced white loaf, for better or worse. In India the same flour and water options are possible, but the overriding choice is chapati, paratha, or puri. In Japan, they make rice balls. We seem to be managing all right, without legislation determining the shape of a bread’s loaf, the width of a slice, the curve of a croissant, or the thick­ness of a chapati.

There is no need in society for one choice or decision to confront and battle it out with all the other options. However, in the affairs of the state this is the basic mechanism at play, one group opposing another in each decision-making pro­cess. The state specializes in making decisions of an either/ or nature and this is not really surprising when we consider that the vast majority of politicians are lawyers, trained in winning or losing their case after fighting things out.

By contrast, in society we manage successfully with a both/and policy, allowing individual decision making to play the major part in shaping order. When I visited “commu­nist” East Berlin, just before it rejoined the Western half, the results of these different approaches were clearly apparent in the comparative restaurant menus on offer. There was very little to choose from in the East, where all key decisions were made from the top down, while in the West there was great variety. Likewise, the strategically conscious embrace of the both/and philosophy was a key factor behind the success of the user-friendly Apple computer against IBM, with its rigidly linear operating system.

We may have grievances and problems with existing aspects of our culture, whether they relate to racial aware­ness, attitudes to the disabled, male domination, dangerous drug usage, or corporate irresponsibility. But we cannot suc­cessfully deal with these problems by enlisting the support of the state in a confrontational attack on them. We need only look at the success they have had in their fight against crime, poverty, bank fraud, and in the War on Drugs.

As we now understand from chaos theory and the study of complex systems, the systems that are both stable and flex­ible are those that cooperate with other systems through an intricate and self-organized network. Cooperation, interde­pendence, freedom, and flexibility are the key elements to any successful and sustainable system, and they are all quali­ties notably absent in the confrontational activities of today’s state.

If the present Congress errs in too much talking, how can it be otherwise in a body to which the people send one hundred and fifty lawyers, whose trade it is to question everything, yield nothing, and talk by the hour? – Thomas Jefferson, American Founding Father, 1743–1826

State out of date

Check out the new disinformation book The State Is Out of Date: We Can Do It Better by Gregory Sams.
About the Author: Gregory Sams has been changing the culture from the age of 19, when he co-founded SEED, the UK’s first natural and organic restaurant in 1960′s London. It led to Ceres Grain store, where customers could buy these foods to cook at home. Within a few years he had created the nation’s first natural and organic food enterprises, including Whole Earth Foods. He was founder publisher of Harmony Magazine, to which John Lennon dedicated an eight-frame cartoon, and co-published Seed, the Journal of Organic Living. In 1982 he created and christened the original VegeBurger, initiating the market for vegetarian food. In 1990 he founded Strange Attractions, the world’s only shop ever dedicated to new science “chaos theory.” His interest in that science planted the seeds of this book in Gregory’s mind. Visit Sams at He lives in London.

9 Comments on "The Constant Confrontation"

  1. Echar Lailoken | Apr 3, 2014 at 7:56 am |

    A negative/critical and partially cryptic comment, and or it’s all America’s fault. Partially mispelled of course, because magick and shit.

  2. Anarchy Pony | Apr 3, 2014 at 10:09 am |

    Yeah, lot’s of people in power also bought their way there.

  3. BuzzCoastin | Apr 3, 2014 at 12:46 pm |

    in our recorded histories of the psst few thousand years
    the same pattern emerges repeatedly
    which is
    weapon toting thugs offer protection from weapon toting thugs
    protection fees are requisite from the protected
    soon the weapon toting thugs (now the government)
    need to protect you from ideas, false gods & immorality
    while at the same time enriching themselves by fleecing the sheeple
    this has been pretty much SOP for several millennium
    wee seem to lack enough collective intelligence to stop the pattern

    as far as I can tell
    the only way out is personal & not collective revolution

    • Absolutely agree – their core reason for existence is to protect us from other versions of themselves. Everything else is an expensive and ineffective add-on. Change can only come when people stop expecting the weapon-toting thugs to solve the problems of the world that are often of their making.

  4. Rhoid Rager | Apr 3, 2014 at 1:56 pm |

    The supposedly ‘conflictual’ system is actually supported by intensely bound cooperation. It takes incredible loyalty to wake up each day and plod through life working in an office or some other dehumanizing environment. It’s more than a rational, utility-maximizing instinct that drives us to do that. It’s loyalty to something beyond one’s self that constantly tugs against our painfully developing individuality. This cooperative instinct has been channelled to the core, our intellects diminished through feigned confrontation and competition, and a culture of the diminuted individual fostered. As Buzz says, the individual has to walk away from all of this. When we act collectively, our social instincts are too easily channelled in the current social system insanity we swim through. We must learn to be very selective about the way we cooperate, rather than simply assuming that we aren’t already. We’re always part of something bigger than ourselves–that’s the basis for the human condition.

  5. emperorreagan | Apr 3, 2014 at 9:49 pm |

    Apple and IBM is a funny comparison for both/and and either/or.

    IBM chose a path of open architecture, picking among manufacturers for components in the market for their assemblies where it made sense on a cost basis and manufacturing things internally where that made sense. Third parties were free to produce peripheral devices that users could change at will. That continues today in the PC market, though the players have changed over the years.

    Apple, on the other hand, has pursued a path of closed architecture after the initial Apple II. They’ve continued down that path with the closed eco-system of iPads, iPods, etc. Decision making is taken away from the user; you decide you want Apple and all subsequent decisions occur in the Apple branded playground.

    So for the end user, the choices are between a closed ecosystem (Apple) and varying degrees of open systems.

    The user-friendly nature of Apple doesn’t necessarily say anything about its internal structure, either. That simply says something about its target market. And the closed eco-system, where Apple regulates everything from hardware components to what Apps you can install on your iPad is more analogous to an entity legislating what one can do.

    From a corporate stand point, Steve was quick to talk about collaboration. However, the final choices were from the top down – as one sees in the post-Steve Jobs Apple, where most of their new product announcements and introductions have been products or changes that he previously poo-pooed (iPad Mini, changing iPhone screen sizes, etc.).

    IBM, on the other hand, hasn’t done too badly in the innovation department though they’re not worshipped by consumers everywhere, leading the world in patents for 20 years straight

  6. wow. adblock missed a BIG ONE.

    • fuck a hoverboard, where is the goddamn extension to hide mongotards from my existence!?!?!

      guns are bad
      drugs are bad
      sex are bad
      loud sounds are bad
      human collective efforts are bad
      conceptual frameworks are bad
      tools are bad
      ideas are bad

      can ÿ have book deal now? ÿ will accept an advance via ÿ-approved, patent-pending wireless currency tranzfuir if a corresponding cash donation is made to mÿ favourite charity.

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