The current world order lacks stability. Symptoms of this include the increasing frequency of civilian protests, revolutions, coups, wars, threats of wars, brutal government oppression, invasion of privacy, spying scandals, security theatre, the weakening of democracy, resource/energy scarcity, etc.
One can examine this situation in many ways, but sometimes I prefer quick and simple ‘maps’. So long as we remember not to confuse them with the actual territory, they can help give us a sense of direction and chart a course with renewed confidence. The current political map used by many, of ‘left-right’, possibly including extremes and a centre, proves woefully inadequate. It has its uses, but people started confusing it with the territory. So in this analysis, I will be using my ‘5 point freedom scale‘ instead. I will look at each level of the scale, and see where its main power bases lie in the current world order.
Tyrant dictators. In the purest sense these no longer exist on a national level. Most tend to rely on the support of an ideological party, an organised religion, or at minimum some lip service to an economic or political philosophy to which they owe their support. Without this level 1 dictators exist primarily as leaders of small gangs, criminal organisations and terrorist cells. They may exist on a micro scale within the structure of a nation’s military or police, or even as a business leader within an organisation. But these are remnants. A legacy of level 1 political power also remains in the monarchical institutions of some nations, for example, the UK. However, even in medieval times these relied on an alliance with the level 2 institution of the Church.
China entered level 2 when it’s first emperor abandoned the Level 1 feudalism for legalism, replacing many hereditary positions with appointment by merit. The conversion to communism not only changed the ideology, but also removed another aspects of Level 1 imperialism, removing the hereditary nature of the rulership position itself. China therefore remains the biggest national example of a level 2 society. Non national Level 2 institutions remain wealthy and influential in the current world order however, as evidenced by the wealth power and influence of, for example, the Roman Catholic church. In the UK government, the Church of England retains direct political influence, even to this day, by holding a number of seats in the House of Lords reserved for Bishops. The economic structure at level 2 remains mostly feudal.
The USA remains the biggest level 3 player. The world banking system its biggest institution. The biggest corporations its major factions. The UK parliament has roots deep into the monarchical history of England, before it eventually exceeded the monarchy in terms of political sovereignty. The UK government passes as an example of how levels 1, 2 and 3 can co-exist within the same authoritarian institution. Level 3 grants corporations a certain amount of sovereignty over their own affairs, allowing for a certain amount of emergence to create a more efficient economy than is typically found on lower levels. Many parts of the EU and EC also exist to serve Level 3 interests.
The European Parliament however, by embracing a Level 4 PR democratic system. All countries with PR election systems can essentially be considered level 4. However, most currently remain at least partially in the influence of Level 3 corporations and banking institutions, and Level 2 religious hierarchies. Some even retain level 1 monarchical tyrants as ‘heads of state’. Clearly much work needs to be done before a true level 4 society emerges.
At this point I have to wonder whether level 4 can be ‘skipped’. The culture of the internet appears to be bringing in waves of Level 5 ideas. Anonymous, Bitcoin, Occupy all play their part in establishing exactly how a level 5 organisations can out compete lower levels of organisation. As does the Free Software movement, which has effectively offered the only viable competition to entrenched proprietary software monopolies. Free Cultural Works compatible licensing, such as some of the Creative Commons licenses, extends this idea into art, writing, music, film and other creative works.
However in practise I think any movements that move us forward into levels 4 and 5 deserve our support. Movements that seek to regress us to levels 1 and 2 or trap us in level 3, deserve our criticism.