Kleptocracy’s Purpose: Reverse-Engineering Civilization

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org & Knatz.com / Teaching / Society / NoHier / Kleptocracy /
@ K. by 2003

The Schools’ Purpose section of my FIX / FLEX will show what I mean by “reverse-engineering.” I am not an engineer. I have no time budget to find out how close I am to any standard meaning: so I try to declare my own meanings, depend on feedback for confirmation, correction … I got the term from Florence Howe and Paul Lauter in their 1969 NYR article reverse-engineering the school system: ignore an institution’s claims regarding its purpose; see what the institution actually accomplishes: THAT is its real purpose.
As with any human symbolic system (and what else do we have but symbol systems?), there are dangers: such as reifying abstractions: is there really such a “thing” as a school system, a civilization, a government, a people, a church, a god … a collective, an individual …? (And if there’s no such thing as a kleptocracy, what harm can it do? Ditto school, church, people, god …)

(Actually, there are few real things that can do as much harm as any from our plethora of imagined entities.)

I remind the gentle visitor that the word kleptocracy is the coinage of Jared Diamond. The founder of the Free Learning Exchange, the inventor of FIX, of Macroinformation … this deschooler (opponent of coercion) … tries to fit his wake to Diamond’s wake: he’s the one who got published after all.)

Knatz.com, like pk’s adult life, has been filled with attempts to expose the harms of over-populated, coercive, institutionally-self-deluding human societies from its beginning. New points will accumulate in this file. I hope to live and work long enough to link to link with all of the rest from here. Meantime, the random quotes should give hints [Sorry, no longer functioning]. search features are salted here and there: the main teaching menu, for example.

2003 12 28 Kleptocracy — government by theft — would be difficult to maintain in a free society: that is, a society without coercion. Have there ever been such societies? Are any left? Thermopelae preserved the lesser of two evils; but that was rare, and long ago. Since then, “Big Horns,” “Vietnams” … have been the rule: use napalm to teach peasants how much they need some government they’d never heard of: law and order, you know.

Note: I really must copy Jared Diamond’s own statements about kleptocracy into my kleptocracy-quotes file!
Personally I fear that overstocked societies cannot endure without coercion, deception, eminent domain … (That might be a good reason right there to trim our numbers back to the census of 80,000 years ago: the modern species just emerging from Africa (I refer of course to the census taken by archaeologists today! A few bands, some perhaps as large as 250 individuals.)

One requirement for a legitimate free society was seen by the founding fathers of the American Revolution: no censorship. (But don’t most kleptocracies dream that they qualify: exceptions always being allowed for national emergencies, to preserve morality, to protect children …?) A more important qualification was dreamed by me: in 1970, founding The Free Learning Exchange: cheap universal access to publishing: no exceptions (but simultaneously strict restrictions on what ads can include: this is my name, this is my address, this is what I offer … propositions presented as facts: the feedback feature paired to facilitate the exposure of false “facts.”) Civilization’s first (! If I’m wrong, show me an earlier) offer of universal freedom was ignored: and now we all live and will die in the consequences. [note]

I set the file up, takes time … and already I’m deflected from my morning’s inspirational aim: to point out how societies protect their positions by scattering proxies between independents and the ears of the government. You can’t just tell the judge: first you have to tell a cop, then a lawyer. (And if you have anything penetrating to say, you’ll find the lawyer to be just another illiterate moron: one with degrees, licenses, and status.) You can’t tell the store owner, not with corporations: first you have to tell the clerk. Like the cop, the clerk is selected (by a complex of interconnecting forces) to be incapable of hearing let alone understanding all but the simplest and most familiar possible utterances. (I ask for couscous, the clerk goes and asks his supervisor if they have Couch Kiss. Finally the supervisor comes to me and says that they don’t have Kiss Kiss.) I can’t just discuss theology with the Pope; first I have to discuss it with some illiterate priest. Thus, the head of the kleptocratic society is insulated from the experience of the society.

Every time the citizen goes to the Bureaucracy, there’s a different bureaucrat.
Bureaucrat2 has no knowledge of what you said to Bureaucrat1
(and if he does, the Bureaucracy can substitute Bureaucrat3, Bureaucrat4 …)
So only the Bureaucracy’s records count.
Thus false memory erases the citizen’s experience, over and over.

2006 06 07 It’s astonishing! I have only one dinky Bureaucracy module! not a whole section. Actually, I have hundreds of Bureaucracy modules: and  is the section.

Bureaucracy has another trick, besides the one just noted of having an endless supply to switch on you. Crazy Horse defeats Custer and another white kleptocrat pops up onto Custer’s horse. Kill the horse and another horse will appear. The other trick is bring in an expert! Once the bureaucrat has brought in an expert, why all problems are solved and the Bureaucrat can go off to dinner.

I should have added, clarified: First Custer comes to kill Cracy Horse. Then some bureaucrat promises Promise1,2,3…. Then some other Bureaucrat jails Crazy Horse, more promises are made … But BureaucratX,Y,Z knows nothing of what BureaucratM,N,O promised … The bureau can change the deal at will; once confined Crazy Horse must accept whatever is dealt him.

Thus the displaced should always fight to the death. And eventually terrorism will be the only alternative to bureaucracy. The Bureau will control every single dollar. Either work for the lies; or die nowhere. (Thus, any day is a good day to die: living adds shame on shame.)

In the Jesus story the experts don’t have to be summoned, the experts are already there. If Jesus is the son of God, who better should judge than Caiaphas, the head of the Sandhedrin? Caiaphas was the expert. The Jews relied on Caiaphas to know what God said. So: if God had a son, the one person who absolutely should know about it is Caiphas, right? Notice: the Son doesn’t count; not when you have an expert to substitute.
Notice in this regard that the Church is the perfect bureaucracy: unless you’re a Gnostic, that is, a heretic, banished to the dungeon, God is NEVER heard from. Every word comes second hand: from experts.
Note: Initially this file will be a scrapbook; eventually I hope to compose it. This minute I’m going to interrupt these proceedings to compose a module on growth: planned and un-plannable. But I further hope to be right back to continue: including considerations on whether social homeostasis can be said to be “deliberate.”

Intention: [missing data?]


Freedom Was Ignored:
Why fault of course: you didn’t hear me; you didn’t understand me; I didn’t speak loudly enough … How could I while begging for scraps and for shelter? Didn’t the society have a little something to do with diverting resources away from me every time it was apparent that I was a critic? someone with something positive to offer?

Every time I kept my mouth shut, saluted the flag, murmured pieties … beaucoup bucks flowed my way. You don’t think Ivan Illich could have had a safe career in the Church if he had kept his mouth shut? Or Jesus with the Sanhedrin? the rabbis liked him when he was twelve!
I’m still begging for scraps, still not getting them. Don’t you believe that the universe keeps truthful records? exact accountings? Will “God” have to get his “facts” from the FBI at Judgment? don’t rely on it.


About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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