Escaping the Matrix- How We the People Can Change the World
The Cyberjournal Project - 2005
a book review by Don Eichelberger aka Donny Fix
Escaping the Matrix is methodical and informative, but breaks down in its quest to do too much in too thin a volume. It is a valiant effort, none the less, and I think worth the read.
The early parts of Escaping the Matrix are valuable for the historical overview they provide on how we have gotten to where we are today.It takes its name from the cult movie hit, "The Matrix", where people live an illusion while their real bodies hang unconscious, suspended in a solution that extracts the body’s energy to power the machine that produces the matrix. He calls upon us to look past the intricate “reality” presented as fact and see behind the illusion.
It reviews much of the current literature on alternative histories and globalization, drawing from Howard Zinn, David Corten, Francis Moore-Lappe, Jerry Mander and many others, as well as Internet resources. Examples chronicle the story we were being given, and the truth behind the illusion.
World War I, “The War to End All Wars” is shown to be really a plot to extend Western influence in the
After examining the role elites have taken to mold society and extend their power, the conclusion is that society is in crisis, with many of its very life-giving processes threatened by global corporations and their political benefactors. These ruling elites are seen as the central problem, which continue to stand in the way of very logical steps We the People can take to turn things around.
Looking back in history, he shows that things were not always defined by a “survival of the fittest” mentality, which rules our thought today. Early agricultural civilizations, which lasted peacefully over thousands of years, show that humanity has it in us to live differently than the dominator, hierarchical cultures that began taking over in the early ages.
This is where the methodical facade begins to loosen. A profound social change will need to take place before the reality this volume wants us to let in is seen. Once that change happens, Reality As We Know It will melt away and We the People will assume control.
Some of the vision here is attractive. It calls for a falling way of the political system, which, at its base is a mechanism developed by the Matrix to divide and conquer, and keep an elite plutocracy in power.
Instead of representatives voted in along party lines to work out compromises from two dominant points of opposition, he envisions ad hoc community councils that will hold facilitated discussions of community problems, called “Harmonization”, and offer solutions that have consensus approval. No candidates. No elections. Just skilled facilitation that can harness the energy in the room to pull people out of their normal thinking patterns and see the wisdom of the group.
Nice vision, but it begs the question of who calls the community meetings, how they are noticed, and what measure is used of accountability. His vision is that, when The Change comes, people will no longer be self-serving, and we will learn the importance of working selflessly on behalf of all.
Still, the model of empowering local action on issues through facilitated community discussion and adoption of common goals is something community groups can begin to do now. It is never a bad thing to empower local activity, especially toward a consensus position that is inclusive and representative of all the stake holders. As with all consensus models, it will work if there is a spirit of wanting to arrive at a common agreement because everyone feels part of something larger and more important that can overcome petty differences.
The anti-nuclear movement provided that sense in the 1970’s and ‘80’s. The power of the energy companies was enormous and the odds against us were high. We organized people to take part, even face arrest, by holding potluck meeting discussions and inviting people to join an affinity group and learn inclusive decision-making using consensus process.
This is a process that we as Greens have begun to explore through what we have been terming “Convergences”. We want to empower local, solution-oriented discussions on issues of urgent social concern and how to affect it.
The anti- nuclear movement had a basis of unity around using direct action to oppose governmental policies that supported nuclear power development. Today, there are so many “presenting problems” that it is difficult to find that kind of solidarity on anything, especially a political solution. Indeed, as mentioned,
We need to identify and work from new bases of unity, recognizing the fundamental thing that unites us is this blue orb that rides us through the cosmos, and will provide for the needs of us all, if not ostentatiously.
During the 2005 Convergence at Bohemian Grove, I was acquainted with a book by George Lakoff, The Elephant in the Room. It came to the same conclusion that we need to find our way past the differences that divide us through our realization that we are all in this together.
Lakoff characterized the major belief that distinguishes a dominator society from more cooperative ones is the sense that people are evil and out to get you and you need to work for your own self interests. If everyone does that, they claim, it distributes the resources of life more efficiently. Caring is a feminine principle that shows weakness and should be avoided for the greater good.
Of course, for progressives, it is care for the whole society, not only the individual, which should motivate individual behavior. A sense that no one should prosper until all are fed. That is anathema to the survival of the fittest mentality, which itself is a part of the Matrix that makes people believe that it is their duty to leave the weak behind.
To move toward a more cooperative ethic,