‘Escaping the Matrix’ reviewed in Rachel’s Weekly!


Richard Moore

Date: Thu, 8 Feb 2007 23:27:43 -0500 (EST)
From: •••@••.•••
To: Richard Moore <•••@••.•••>, •••@••.•••
Subject: Re: Rachel's News #893: Escaping the Matrix

Wow, richard, this is a truly remarkable boost for your book!  Editor 
Montague's review of your work is the lead story in the current 
issue. Congratulations. Rachel's News is very highly regarded in my 



Hi Nick,

Yes indeed! I was very pleased to see this. :-)

I'll be featuring it in the review section of the book's website, 
along with a plug for Rachel's Weekly, which I've subscribed to since 


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 8 Feb 2007 18:36:37 -0500
From: •••@••.•••
Reply-To: Rachel News <•••@••.•••>
To: Rachel News <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Rachel's News #893: Escaping the Matrix



       Thursday, February 8, 2007




By Tim Montague

In the movie, The Matrix, a computer hacker named Neo (played by 
Keanu Reeves) is living an ordinary life in what he thinks is 1999. 
However, when he is contacted by the enigmatic character, Morpheus, 
Neo learns that he is actually living in the year 2199 where some 
malevolent computers have created a realistic but totally false 
version of 20th-century life ("the matrix") to keep Neo and the rest 
of the population happily enslaved. It turns out the computers are 
"farming" the population to fuel a campaign of total domination being 
carried out in the real world of 2199. To gain freedom and justice, 
Neo must first make a decision to confront the awful truth, then join 
forces with Morpheus and others to figure out how to escape from the 

Like Neo, we have a choice -- to go on pretending that everything is 
as it appears, or to search for a deeper truth about the nature of 
our reality. In our matrix, we live in a democracy where everyone is 
created equal, with liberty and justice for all. Our school books, 
television shows and politicians assure us that if we work hard and 
play by the rules we can all get ahead and have "the good life." In 
reality we live in an economy that is wrecking the planet and 
destroying the future for our children, increasingly benefiting only 
a handfull of elites.

Richard Moore's slim new book Escaping the Matrix: how we the people 
can change the world (ISBN 0977098303) is an intriguing indictment of 
our 'dominator' society, how it's killing the planet and what we 
might do about it.

Moore's analysis of the situation -- a world on the verge of a 
nervous breakdown -- is that corruption by corporate and political 
elites is an inevitable aspect of societies like ours, based on 
domination and exploitation by a warrior class -- the 
"military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us 
about in 1961.

Moore begins by framing events and organizations as diverse as World 
War I, the World Trade Organization, and the United Nations as guided 
by capitalism. "Capitalism is basically the belief that those who 
have the most spare money -- the most capital -- should decide how 
our societies develop. This is a political belief, a belief about who 
should make the important societal decisions. It is an entirely 
undemocratic belief; in fact it is a belief in the virtue of 
plutocracy -- rule by the wealthy."(p. 54)

This has created a modern crisis. "...[C]ivilization is suffering 
from both a chronic disease and an acute, life-threatening infection. 
The acute infection is the unsustainability of our modern societies; 
the chronic disease is rule by elites -- a disease we've been 
suffering from ever since the first Mesopotamian kings, some 6,000 
years ago."(p. 58)

This pretty much sums up the first third of the book -- which 
includes a compelling recap of world events from this point of view. 
Recent events, like the decline of the American manufacturing economy 
and the war on terror, suddenly make very good sense. Capital is 
finding its way out of slow-growth markets into faster growth 
markets. Government's role is to protect those corporate interests at 
any cost, including manufacturing excuses to start a nasty oil war.

In the middle third of the book, Moore serves up a brief history of 
humanity and what led to our violent and oppressive ways. He asks, 
How did hierarchical society come to be in the first place? Were 
human cultures always so competitive and war-like? Citing the work of 
Riane Eisler, author of The Chalice and the Blade, Moore says that 
there is good evidence that prehistoric European humans lived in 
'partnership societies' that were egalitarian and based on 
cooperation not domination.

While the first agrarian societies were evolving in what is today the 
Middle-East (the fertile crescent), nomadic herding culture emerged 
on the Russian steppes. The herding cultures were inherently more 
aggressive than their agrarian counterparts by virtue of their 
nomadic lifestyle and relative scarcity of resources. "These were 
male- dominated warrior societies, with strong chiefs. Archeological 
evidence reveals that human sacrifice was practiced, warrior deities 
were worshipped, and that chiefs were buried with impressive caches 
of weapons. Eisler places these societies in the category of 
dominator societies."(p. 75)

When dominator (nomadic herder) society mixes with partnership 
(agrarian) you get a volatile mix: "Thus hierarchical civilization 
seems to have arisen as a hybrid between these two cultural strains: 
the partnership strain contributed the civilizing technologies and 
the slave to till the soil; the dominator strain contributed the 
ruling hierarchy and the dominator culture."(p. 77)

"With the production afforded by slave-based agriculture, rulers 
could afford to pursue conquest and expansion."(p. 79) Bringing us to 
where we stand today -- the product of 6,000 years of dominator 
expansion. And as we see, when dominator culture runs into more 
cooperatively based cultures like indigenous hunter-gatherers, 
dominator culture tends to absorb or exterminate the others.

"Over the centuries we've seen warrior chiefs replaced by kings, and 
kings replaced by corporate elites, but always there have been a few 
who made the rules and the many who obeyed them, a few who reaped the 
rewards and the many who paid the taxes and fought in the wars. We've 
seen slavery replaced by serfdom replaced by employment, but always 
it has been a few at the top who have owned the product of our 
labors."(p. 83)

Moore then explains, "The source of our crisis is the dominator 
culture itself. Environmental collapse and capitalism are merely the 
terminal symptoms of a chronic cancer, a cancer that has plagued us 
for six thousand years. No matter what dominator hierarchy might be 
established, or which group of leaders might be in charge, things 
would always evolve toward something similar to what we have now. 
Such is the path of domination, hierarchy, and rule by elites."(p. 84)

Then Moore lays out a path back to "...a culture based on mutual 
understanding and cooperation rather than on war and conquest, a 
culture based on common sense rather than dysfunctional doctrine, on 
respect for life rather than the pursuit of profit, and on democracy 
in place of elite rule."(p. 85)

This clearly will require nothing short of a radical awakening and 
transformation of our culture. Moore then reviews two social 
movements from which we can draw important lessons.

The first is the anti-globalization movement embodied in the World 
Social Forum gatherings. But Moore is uncertain of this movement 
saying, "It is a very large choir, but it's not a quorum of the 
congregation. In its current form it is unlikely to have even a 
restraining effect on our descent into oblivion."(p. 87) However, he 
acknowledges that the anti-globalization movement will likely be 
embodied in whatever larger transformative movement does eventually 
shift us to a partnership society.

Moore believes that the populist movement (which began as the 
Farmer's Alliance) -- is another example we should study. "The 
Farmers' Alliance began in 1877 as a self-help movement in Texas, 
organizing cooperatives for buying supplies and selling crops. The 
cooperatives improved the farmers' economic situation, and the 
movement began to spread throughout the Midwest and the South. By 
1889, there were 400,000 members."

But the movement was hobbled by two things. First, it failed to build 
a broad and diverse base; it did not expand beyond rural farming 
culture. "Although movement activists sympathized with urban 
industrial workers, and expressed support for their strikes and 
boycotts, the culture of the Populist leadership did not lead them to 
bring urban workers into their constituency, to make them part of the 
Populist family. From an objective strategic perspective, it is clear 
that this was a fatal error of omission." (p. 93)

Second, it dove headlong into partisan politics -- a logical 
progression for this kind of social movement but one that created a 
no-win situation. "In order to promote their economic reform agenda, 
and encouraged by their electoral successes, they decided to commit 
their movement wholeheartedly to the political process. They joined 
forces with the Democratic Party and backed William Jennings Bryan in 
the election of 1896." Then the backlash: "Corporations and the 
elite- owned media threw their support to the Republican candidate, 
William McKinley, in what [Howard] Zinn calls "the first massive use 
of money in an election campaign." Bryan was defeated, and the 
Populist movement fell apart."(p. 90)

Harmonization -- group dialog

Moore believes that to avoid the fatal flaws of partisan politics we 
should build consensus through a process he calls 'harmonization.' 
Harmonization is a form of group communication where participants 
work together, usually with a trained facilitator, to solve common 
questions or problems.

You can learn much more about harmonization at Moore's website. 
Harmonization is about coming up with creative solutions to common 
problems -- solutions that take into account everyone's concerns.

There are a variety of techniques for achieving harmonization. One is 
the Wisdom Council, a technique developed by Jim Rough that brings 
people from diverse points of view together for an extended 
conversation. Through dynamic facilitation the group members achieve 
mutual understanding, respect, solidarity and community.

Another leader in this movement for creative dialog is Joseph 
McCormick, founder of Reuniting America which aims "To convene 
Americans from across the political spectrum in dialogue around areas 
of mutual concern to build trust and identify opportunities for 
collaborative action." As Moore point out, this kind of dialog can be 
readily facilitated in any group of people, and it is an ancient 
human tradition, capable of transforming conflict into creative 

Moore goes on to describe how we could scale harmonization up from 
the community level to the regional or national level. Moore believes 
that harmonization has the potential to become the basis of a 
'community empowerment movement' that would transform our current 
adversarial culture into a cooperative partnership culture.

The core principles of this movement are local sovereignty and 
harmonization. The local community level is where everyone involved 
finds a shared common interest and motivation to strengthen and 
protect the community. Regional or national issues can be taken on by 
creating delegations from local constituencies. Local wisdom councils 
would delegate individuals to represent their community's interests 
at larger regional gatherings, and so on, up the geographic scale. 
Moore argues that centralized governments, corporations and 
institutions that currently make most of the decisions will be 
unnecessary and counterproductive in this new partnership society.

Making the transition to a culture based on sovereignty and 
harmonization will require 'repossessing the commons' -- all the 
things we share together but none of us owns individually including 
air, water, wildlife, the human genome, and human knowledge. Moore 
also includes the financial and monetary systems in the commons. 
"Each community doesn't necessarily need to maintain its own 
currency, but it must have the right to do so at any time it 
chooses."(p. 174)

Moore argues that only locally owned and independently operated 
businesses are good for the community. And that non-local ownership 
is a pitfall to be avoided entirely. And though it's a radical 
departure from our current system, this form of sovereignty would be 
a huge step in the right direction. In the meantime we can get on 
with exploring harmonization techniques.

"Any movement, which aims to create a transformed and democratic 
society, needs to keep this in mind: when the new world is created, 
everyone will be in it -- not just the people we agree with or the 
people we normally associate with. A movement must aim to be all- 
inclusive if it seeks to create a democratic society that is all- 
inclusive. Is there anyone you would leave behind, or relegate to 
second-class citizenship? If not, then you should be willing to 
welcome to the movement anyone who shares the goal of creating that 
new world," Moore concludes.(p. 93)



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