News and AnalysisPodcast

What to do in times of extreme transition

 

This episode describes how we must behave during times of extreme transition.

 

Read transcript below 

TRANSCRIPT

Good morning, I’m Frank Kaufmann. I’m doing a brief piece today on living with change, governing our behavior, and living responsibly, especially in times of severe transition.

I have a very simple point to make. Both in our lives, in the whole course of our lives, in history itself, and in the entire length of history, periodically, we witness and live through times of radical transformation. There comes a complete alteration of entire systems. For example, the shift from monarchy to democracy in recent history. This is a massive, tectonic shift from the way life is lived in the world. Or the shift from the time in which, slavery was a normal institution in the world. If you read the texts, even religious texts from times in which slavery existed, you will find very clear guidance for the proper treatment of slaves. It was part of social, political, and economic reality. Slavery naturally is no way for people to live, entirely beholden to the good graces of another just in order to secure the minimum welfare of our lives and the conditions in which we raise our family.

But even in areas of slavery, there were times, circumstances, and conditions under which a slave could buy his freedom. When I use the word his, I’m reminded of the reality of the history of women in the world, and the increasing movement throughout the course of history, including throughout the course of American history, that moves towards the equality of women in human affairs, not only politically, but in the workplace and in opportunity. These changes are never perfect and complete when they happen. But history essentially moves towards liberating. Each and every single individual born, the natural flow of history. And this likewise should likewise be the natural movement of our own lives, in our individualized history of our own individual lives. The natural movement should be from less freedom to greater freedom, and ultimately, to complete freedom. This is the direction of history. It is, it also should be the direction of our personal lives. We should see it as a conscious and conscientious pursuit of gaining ever more freedom for ourselves.

So take a look at your decisions. Take a look at the things you choose to do, and the way you choose to live your life, and what you bring into your life. If it’s not contributing to the expansion of your ever greater personal freedom, then we are failing to grasp, effectively, the moments of our lives that are given us. It is the same when we function as members of society and participate in contemporary civilization. Similarly, all of our decisions, all of our considerations, all of our efforts should be to move the whole of humanity and our own particular society to  increase freedom for the greatest number of people. This is the direction that humanity takes, and the direction that we ourselves should take.

It is upon that assumption that I want to comment on a single thing. There are, as I said at the outset, times in which whole systems fundamentally change. For thousands of years the institution of slavery existed as an economic and political reality. Then, all of a sudden, the whole world changed, and the existence of slavery all but vanished, became a rare anomaly. These must be fixed if they exist somewhere. But essentially, the whole world changed. Suddenly, slavery is no longer an element, or part of the economic and political structure by which humans are organized. It just changed. When slavery existed, people within it did not have the capacity to conceive of life in the world, and political and economic society functioning in any other way. They just could not think that one through. They did not see the end of that coming. This was just how things were. This is just how productivity takes place. This was just how farms are managed. This is simply how different classes of people managed. That was their interrelationship. It just was, and suddenly it’s gone.

Monarchy, a system with the existence of a privileged elite. Just by dint of their birthright, it was  natural for them to have all the wealth in the land, and have entire populations under their control. These others were not necessarily slaves. Perhaps they were serfs. And then there were various gradations of society, of what are called “free people.” There was a distinction between landowners and other “free people.” There were periods in various democracies in which only landowners could vote. These things change.

Now, in the United States of America, at least until recently, everyone could vote. What I want to point our attention to, and in a certain way prepare us for, is that there are times in which all of history, all political culture and economic culture, all of society, all the structures change, and enter into the process of change. Things will undergo radical change. Even though this is happening, those of us within these times of radical change cannot imagine anything other than what we have now. We cannot imagine it. It’s not only that we can’t see putting new structures into place. We cannot even imagine what the new coming thing might be.

Presently the entire world presumes that democracy is the highest, truest economic, social, military and political system possible. Democracy is the be all and end all. It is that which must protect and preserve at all costs. It is the system under which human beings must live. Presently though, in the United States, and in other democracies around the world, especially if we look at Australia, we see all democracies, slipping into a growing extreme form of totalitarianism that has not existed in the world prior to now. Of course there have certainly been tyrannies and fascist control over people that made people disappear, imprison people without rights, times in which military and paramilitary forces beat, crippled, and killed citizens within countries. Yes, there have been tyrannies before. But the current threat to democracy is a form of tyranny and a structure of tyranny that has not existed in the world before now. This contemporary structure, manifestation, and conglomerate of forces and collaboration that currently threatens democracies is radically new and unprecedented. It is so complete and far reaching, that it may well have success in the destruction of democracy.

We may be living through a current situation and reality in the world in which democracy will no longer be possible. This may be happening to us right now. There is a form of tyranny, a form of oppression, a form of the diminishment and removal of human rights, that is unprecedented in history. It has a structure, nature and organization that is unprecedented in history. And it may be sufficient to undermine democratic life in the world.

It had been presumed until now that democracy was safe in America. Personally, I think, a close look at the current situation in America would at least invite the consideration that democracy is not safe here. Look at a person (Nicki Minaj) who asked her friends and followers to pray and do research before you make a medical decision, the outcome of which you’re not sure what will happen. She asked only that her friends pray and do research. She said, “pray and do research.” And she came under the greatest attack that we’ve ever witnessed to any single entertainment figure in our lifetime. This reality, the possibility for things like this to happen, are closely connected to the possibility that democracy cannot survive under such circumstances. People are fighting for their lives to preserve democracy, preserve places where people are allowed to express opinions without being destroyed socially, or even imprisoned without rights, as is happening to a particular community in the United States of America. There is a community of people who have been imprisoned without rights in the United States of America now for over eight months. With such things happening unchecked, can democracy survive? This tyranny, oppression, disappearing and destroying people, silencing people is of the nature and organization that has never existed before in history.

All right. So, this is a radical expression of mine, a radical thing to put forward, that there might be a force in the world, an organizational direction of things that has the possibility to destroy or undermine democracy as we know it. I personally happen to think that this is a possibility. The reason why I made this podcast is to consider together with you, how do we behave when the very best thing we know is possibly under time of transition, possibly under threat, possibly will be removed from history, How do we behave when faced when a way of being in the world better than which we cannot imagine better than which we cannot conceive might be destroyed? We can’t conceive of anything better. We believe that the only hope for free human beings is democracy. And if we are watching circumstances in which that will be removed from human history, and from human affairs, and from contemporary political structures might in fact happen.

If the best we can possibly conceive is under threat, what should our behavior be? This is what I want to talk about. I ask that people who believe that democracy is the highest possible ideal, political, social, economic structure under which we can live, to think about how best to live now, even if democracy is being removed out of history, even if it were destroyed. The only way we can live our lives conscientiously, effectively, sacrificially, and committed to the good of the greatest number, is to support unconditionally, and to fight at the cost of our lives to protect and preserve the greatest and highest thing we can imagine. If we believe democracy is good. We must be ready to fight for it at the cost of our lives, and never surrender to any force that participates in the possibility of removing democracy from human affairs, as is happening everywhere in the world, as we speak. All we can do is work as hard as we can, and be courageous as we can, inventive as we can, creative as we can, sacrificial as we can to protect and preserve the greatest system we know.

Now, if democracy is successfully destroyed by the forces that are presently operating, primarily in what once were countries which guaranteed human freedom and no longer do, countries like France, the United States, Australia and elsewhere. If there is a new form of tyranny in the making, that is capable of destroying democracy, I would like to ask our understanding of this. I know I can’t assure you, but I can assure myself, and I can sit in confidence that the power of humans to make ourselves free will prevail, and will conquer whatever tyrannical forces are combining now to undermine and remove human freedom. No matter what these forces are, no matter how great, no matter how perfect is the surveillance over you, no matter how forceful is the army is being sent to your village to club, your wife, your daughter and your grandma for making a medical decision, no matter how much force is being used to remove human freedoms, in the end this will not prevail. It cannot prevent the rise of truth and freedom. The suppression of human development and progress, and pursuit of freedom cannot be suppressed. It cannot.

Eventually, if democracy has successfully been destroyed by the forces of suppression, censorship, and tyranny that currently operate today. Even if democracy is successfully removed, and if we are witnessing a massive tectonic shift in human affairs, similar to the change from monarchy to democracy, this cannot end the chapter of human beings becoming free. For the longest period of time, no one could conceive of anything other than monarchy. They thought monarchy was the best possible social organization under which we can conduct our efforts. The concept of democracy was inconceivable.

Similarly, there may be a system coming up now that will have to replace democracy, but we cannot yet imagine what that might be. But the pursuit of human freedom must take on a form that is superior to the forces of oppression that have organized themselves under the conditions of democracy. Nevertheless, there will eventually come to exist a system greater than the capacity of paramilitary forces on the homeland, greater than the capacity to observe the pattern of your steps when you are  walking, greater than the power to listen to your every word even when all your devices are off. There is a form of human organization that is superior to the most perfect capacity to suppress, oppress, censor, remove, kill, and silence. There is such power. We may not know what it is. So far we have not been able to imagine what will be greater than the current fascist, surveillance state in which military oppression is used on people in their own homelands.

Since we cannot conceive of what is required in order to establish the foundation for a newly emerging human social structure, then we have to treat democracy as though it is unconquerable. We must fight for it with all our passion, all of our finest efforts, all of our prayers, all of our educating our families, all of our sacrificing our money. We must pour out our all in whatever is the best we can conceive. It is not up to us whether democracy survives or fails or a new social, political, economic system arises. That is just part of the evolution of history. What is up to us is to identify the best we can imagine, and fight for it with our lives. This will be the root of whatever eventually emerges. Perhaps we can save democracy. That is what we are supposed to be doing now. That’ is what we are supposed to be doing now, like we’ve never done anything before. Whether we succeed or not, we will not have lost an iota of our energy. Because, either we succeed and democracy successfully reestablishes itself.Or, in our effort to preserve and protect and save democracy, we plant the seeds of human freedom. The infinite human individual lives with infinite power at the center of ourselves. God lives at the center of ourselves that cannot be oppressed. And so, for now we must work to save democracy, regardless of the outcome of those efforts.  Either we will succeed or we will plant the seeds of greater human freedom than we’ve ever seen in history until now

Thanks a lot for listening.