Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Shadow Knows: Part Four

The Shadow Knows

Civil Administration

As described in the introduction to this series, the concept of the Shadow is an extension of the idea of a “shadow government” to include all the basic functions that are necessary for what is commonly thought of as civilization. For the sake of simplicity, I have divided these functions into seven overlapping categories:

1. Civil administration
2. Education (primary, secondary, and post-secondary)
3. The media and mass communications
4. Manufacturing and commerce
5. Legislative bodies
6. Law enforcement
7. The military

I list civil administration first because it is the most important of these functions. Without it the other six can’t be drawn together into an effective society.

The aim of the Shadow is to begin a conscious and coordinated process of preparing for the social and political discontinuity that lies ahead. But how are we to simulate the functions of civil administration? One would think that we have more than enough experienced and skilled raw material available for the purpose, given the omnipresent bloated top-heavy bureaucratic entities that manage the affairs — both public and “private” — of the citizens of Western democracies.

However, the vast majority of the administrators of the existing structures are thoroughly committed to the maintenance of the entrenched system which is even now on the verge of failure. Their participation in the Shadow would require that their minds be violently wrenched from a well-worn groove and set on a new track, one that might allow them to examine the emerging crisis from a different point of view.

We may pick up a few outliers here and there who defect from the existing system, but most of the raw material for the civil administrative Shadow will tend to come from outside government, academia, the mainstream media, the large philanthropies, and major corporations — these are the entities whose very existence depends on the continuation of what has always gone before, but which cannot continue for much longer.

Fortunately for the Shadow, there is a large pool of talented people who are either outside the existing structure or work in the lowest levels of it. Some of them have had experience running their own businesses, or charitable organizations, or think tanks. Others are simply well-educated people of above-average intelligence, i.e. the brilliant and independent thinkers who have declined to become a part of the machine — or have been rejected by it.

When considering civil administration, most of us think of faceless bureaucrats in an immense hive-like state or other corporate entity. It’s hard to conceptualize anything different, since huge bureaucratic entities have been the norm for the last 150 years or so, and they now account for more than half of all paid employment in the Western democracies. Enormous sclerotic bureaucracies are not a modern invention, of course: the Byzantine Empire and the Ottoman Empire were synonymous with intricately corrupt bureaucracies. Ours have simply expanded to the functional limit of such structures.

Civil administration is much more than bureaucracy, however. Effective administration is necessary for all organized forms of human activity that require coordination and cooperation within groups of more than a few people. Administrative systems vary widely according to the cultural background of the participants — clan-based institutions are found in much of the Middle East, while caste and class systems play a large role in other societies.

The meritocratic administrative state is a relatively recent invention by European civilization and its descendants. Today’s crop of administrators — who are even now running the ship onto the rocks — are supposedly the cream that rose to the top of our societies based on their intelligence and training. However, several generations ago meritocracy gave way to rule by a clique, even in the most democratic and secular Western states. The meritocratic ideal is now only a pretense — any intelligent person who is not part of the system has only to examine it closely to realize that it is no longer run by the best and the brightest, if indeed it ever was.

The failure of the current trans-national financial regime may be attributed in large part to its insular nature and the mediocre intelligence of those who direct it and benefit from it. The job of the Shadow is to form a base of more capable administrators who are skilled enough to usher in an alternative model when the welfare state finally collapses.

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Suppose we were to launch a Shadow Civil Administration in earnest — what traits would we be looking at? What sort of skills will be useful and necessary to help restore civil society after the end of the modern bureaucratic welfare state?

Assuming that functionaries in all the existing gigantic bureaucracies will not be well-represented among our volunteers, we should expect most of our skilled Shadow administrators to come from small businesses and minor non-profit organizations. The latter group is the most interesting to me, because it is the milieu I currently inhabit.

For the past four years my primary occupation — in addition to writing blog posts — has involved working with various groups of Counterjihad volunteers, both in the United States and Europe. These dedicated people can be divided into two main groups: those who work (either for pay or as volunteers) for non-profit groups that actually receive some sort of funding, and those whose work is generally underwritten solely by themselves. Obviously these two groups overlap, but their organizational characteristics are quite distinct.

If you are an administrator in a non-profit organization, much of your time and effort is consumed with fund-raising — it’s the nature of the beast. In order to keep the organization up and running, someone has to find and court potential donors, while involving them in the activities of the group they donate to.

This both empowers and limits the actions of a non-profit. Obviously, the organization would be ill-advised to venture outside the comfort zone of its major donors. On the other hand, within those constraints its funding enables it to take effective action.

In contrast, to function almost entirely without funding necessitates a different sort of organization. Most of the people I work with have day jobs or live hand to mouth while they spend all their spare time working to oppose the Islamization of the West. A few of them do double duty, working for non-profit activist groups while moonlighting in the unpaid sector of the Counterjihad. But the majority of the contributors, translators, and video people familiar to regular Gates of Vienna readers — Vlad, Kitman, Gaia, Aeneas, El Inglés, Fjordman, Paul Weston, Seneca III, Henrik, Elisabeth, Steen, Nilk, Anne-Kit, TB, KGS, JLH, VH, and many others — are unpaid volunteers who shoulder this burden because they believe it to be the most important job they will ever undertake.

I have described from time to time the organizational structure that emerges under these conditions. We form a decentralized distributed network, which is non-hierarchical by necessity, since there is no one who pays to call the shots. Unfunded Counterjihad groups are resilient, flexible, and unconstrained by externally-imposed ideology. We collaborate to put together what seem to be the best course of action within our severely limited means.

Working groups are self-organized by skilled people who have the cooperative temperament required for group work. People who like to be in charge and want to give orders are quickly weeded out — such characteristics are suitable, and even invaluable, in a funded organization, but are counterproductive in an environment where nobody gets paid.

When we undertake a project — a Rosetta Stone subtitling effort in multiple languages would be a typical example — everything has to be done by persuasion. People with the necessary skills and resources have to give up their spare time to take part, so scrupulous care must be taken to accommodate their schedules and credit them for their efforts, since no other reward can be offered to them. Putting together the resources for such projects can take a long time, but once a seasoned team is in place — which is what we now have in the Rosetta Stone group — a new project can be executed with extraordinary rapidity.

One of the best administrative models to arise out of this work is the symbiosis between funded non-profits and the independent unpaid networks. From time to time one of our groups may be approached by someone from a foundation or think tank who needs help accomplishing a specific Counterjihad task. If the consensus of the group is that the job is worthwhile, then the network can be mobilized for the task. The non-profit organization can supply resources that we would otherwise lack, such as expensive server space on a site protected from DDOS attacks, or access to the best video equipment.

The flexibility and speed of the distributed network is thus harnessed temporarily to the needs of a hierarchical organization that shares similar ends. This kind of coordinated effort is the most effective use of our pooled resources.

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The description above serves as an example of administrative skills and techniques that may prove useful after the old centralized paradigm breaks down.

Whenever we think of centralized command-and-control structures, the old Soviet Union comes to mind. Western democracies supposedly operate according to a different model, yet political control is still exerted by the center.

Because our countries have no slave labor camps or firing squads, we think of ourselves as free. Yet an unexpected letter from the Internal Revenue Service tends to loosen one’s bowels, because the recipient knows the IRS can arbitrarily destroy his prosperity and ruin his life without any recourse to due process. How can this be reconciled with an ostensibly “free” country?

The West has perfected a system of control using financial means — call it “Totalitarian Money”. Those who play according to the rules and never rock the boat get the goodies, and those who might otherwise cause trouble are kept in line by the implicit threat of financial ruin. Whether it involves the denial of state benefits, legal action requiring expensive lawyers, or direct expropriation through asset forfeiture laws, the state has the power to restrain political dissent through the omnipresent but subliminal threat of financial ruin.

The flip side, of course, is that compliant citizens are showered with benefits — “free” medical care, a short work week, mandatory extensive paid vacations, generous pensions, etc.

The nature of the system requires that the beneficence lavished on the population must be constantly increased, in order that the same old rascals can be repeatedly voted into office. Hence the gargantuan load of government debt, and the enormous Ponzi scheme which is now on the verge of collapse.

The administrative functionaries in today’s system organize their activities around the distribution of government largesse. Even in the United States — which is theoretically decentralized and composed of plural institutions — state and local governments and non-government organizations depend heavily on the flow of federal dollars. Local school boards toe the federal line to make sure that “No Child Left Behind” cash keeps flowing in. Private non-profits depend on grant-writers who can pull in those generous federal grants. Church organizations are now hooked up to the “faith-based” gravy pipeline.

The concentration of fiscal assets in Washington D.C. has enfeoffed the rest of the country, with the exception of a few brave organizations who decline the money and thus escape the attached strings.

A similar situation exists in Europe, which is even more centralized, where governments often fund almost all political and social organizations — political parties, charitable foundations, media outfits, art galleries, social clubs, etc. When someone gets out of line — as Vlaams Blok did in Belgium back in the 1990s — the Powers That Be simply pull the plug.

We have become so accustomed to this form of control that we can hardly grasp how powerful and all-encompassing it is. When the fiat-money system finally breaks down — as it must, within a generation — what will all those millions of people do, who depend on the money-machine for their occupations and their prosperity?

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The ubiquity of Totalitarian Money has made it difficult to think of future scenarios that don’t involve some sort of apocalyptic collapse. But suppose the apocalypse doesn’t arrive? Suppose the system breaks down gradually in a piecemeal fashion, ushering us by stages into a less affluent and more repressive society?

Just for the sake of argument, let’s assume that we have a few years’ warning of what lies ahead. Let’s also assume that there is a pool of intelligent people who are aware of the problem and are interested in volunteering to save the best of what we have inherited.

These people comprise what I call the Shadow, and they are obviously quite numerous already. Suppose there were some concerted attempt to form the nucleus of a new civil society. How might we mimic the civil administration that will become so crucial when the day arrives?

In the previous installment of this series, M. Stirner left a comment with some thoughtful suggestions that we can use as a jumping-off point:

It might be best for your shadow organization to hide in plain site until the day of reckoning comes. Secretive organizations tend to attract all sorts of negative attention from the powers that be.

However there is one type of secretive organization that seems to fly under the radar for the most part: fraternal organizations like the Masons, the Elks, the Knights of Columbus, etc.

Casting a shadow organization as a fraternal organization could take advantage of the pre-existing legal framework that accommodates them, so during the decline phase they blend into the woodwork. Fraternal organizations also have things like secret symbols and handshakes (helpful to identify allies post-collapse), internal degree systems (helpful to differentiate the outer face from the long term organization goals), and cellular organizational structures (a system of privately networked lodges would be very powerful post-collapse).

Call it the Society for Civilization, and dedicate the organization towards the study and practice of the arts of civilization. Recruit members by making the Society as home for lots of disconnected people who are exploring these arts on their own.

In the long run, you could have seminars in permaculture and organic gardening, beekeeping, home brewing, handicrafts, blacksmithing, etc. Tap into the maker movement by building DIY machine shops in the lodge basements and teach welding, fabrication, backyard casting, etc. Teach basic self defense, archery, handgun and long arm marksmanship. Get the kids involved with a shadow scout system, or provide homeschooling and afterschooling curriculum’s in phonics, grammar, math, history, science, etc. That would be for a mature organization. More immediately the Society could simply tap into existing community activities in these areas in an organized fashion.

That would be the very useful public face. Just a bunch of hobbyists, nothing to see here! We’ll all be cleaning up the local stream on Saturday, so come and pitch in!

Inner circles of the group would have more of a focus on the long term view and the ultimate goal of the organization. By casting a wide net with a mainstream public face, you can both build a large network of allies, and have a large pool of potential recruits to bring into the inner circle, where there would be more of a focus on the longer term goals of group survival and the restoration of order.

This is exactly the sort of thing I was thinking of, and the “fraternal lodge” paradigm could provide the required framework.

I haven’t worried too much about secrecy up until now, because everything I do is still quite legal and aboveboard, at least here in the USA. But we can’t count on the situation remaining the same for much longer — most of our American readers are already criminal suspects under the new DOJ guidelines describing dangerous “right-wing extremists” and “potential domestic terrorists”. Flying under the radar is definitely a good long-term plan.

Europe is another matter. What is routinely discussed here may actually be prosecutable under the EU’s existing incitement and hate speech laws.

So there’s no help for it: we are increasingly being channeled into samizdat communications, and our actions will become more and more clandestine, even though they remain entirely peaceful.

So how do we proceed from here? How can people become well-informed and trained to rebuild if so much of the work has to be done underground?

The next two posts will examine these issues. Function #2 concerns education, and specifically what I call the Virtual Open University.

Previous posts about the Shadow:

2011 Mar 15 The Shadow Knows, Part One: The Discontinuity
    16 The Shadow Knows, Part Two: Additional Economic Background
    17 The Shadow Knows, Part Three: Survival Plus


Sagunto said...

Part IV already? I sure did miss a lot.. (saw that Egghead has returned safe and sound, welcome back Eggy!).

For me the most important thing would be not to repeat the mistakes of government in say, the past century: centralization, disrespect for freedom, too much respect for "professional" or "specialist" government. The scientific management of society, translated into politics, has always been the hallmark of proto-fascist progressivism and it will always set us up for the road to serfdom.

Of course "capitalism" is not responsible for the ruin of our financial systems, not now and not in the past, if by capitalism one means true free market enterprise. State run "capitalism" is the culprit here: an overambitious centralized state with too much public money on its hands (stolen through taxes), and what it couldn't squeeze out of the people it printed through the central bank, just out of thin air. That's a recipe for disaster (called monetary inflation, i.e. the ruining of the currency).

A shadow that remains very very small, protecting my natural rights to freedom, the fruits of my labour and my private property, that's all one needs for civilization to flourish. Truly free markets are a natural corollary of freedom itself. "Community cohesion" should always be the result of private initiative by individual citizens, it can and must never be the result of govt. intervention, i.e. social engineering.

Kind regs from Amsterdam,

Sagunto said...


One suggestion for the cause of our current economic crisis and pending financial collapse that gets parroted over and over by defenders of the wellfare state, is that "greed" - often accompanied by the pejorative label "capitalist" - is somehow at the root of it all.

If that were the case, if "greed" really lay at the basis of our current problems, then we would find ourselves in a permanent state of financial crisis. The thing is however, that crises tend to occur in cycles, they have a pattern, and "greed" is not the causative ingredient.

Kind regs from Amsterdam,

Zenster said...

… since huge bureaucratic entities have been the norm for the last 150 years or so, and they now account for more than half of all paid employment in the Western democracies.

The obscenity of this goes beyond words. A direct implication is that the "other half" of America's citizens are, through their tax burden, paying the salaries of that half which is employed by the government.

When you factor in how so many corporations and wealthy individuals effectively avoid paying even a fraction of the taxes that are supposedly due from them, the dimensions of this monstrous financial encumbrance upon regular taxpayers becomes apparent.

Now, consider how government employees enjoy pensions and other perks which have largely disappeared from the world of private employment and the magnitude of this grotesque farce finally makes itself clear.

However, several generations ago meritocracy gave way to rule by a clique, even in the most democratic and secular Western states. The meritocratic ideal is now only a pretense — any intelligent person who is not part of the system has only to examine it closely to realize that it is no longer run by the best and the brightest, if indeed it ever was.

This trend has been mirrored to an even more devastating extent within the industrial and professional sectors. Where, at one time, workplace or "shirtsleeve" experience was regarded as equal — and sometimes even superior — to an academic degree, most corporations now hold college graduation as a minimum requirement for prospective employees.

This academic chauvinism is a top-down phenomenon with concomitant unseating of quality and innovation wherever it takes root. Whereas executive boardrooms used to have members from all corporate stripes of sales, manufacturing and research, now their "gold standard is the Harvard MBA, an individual who has never done any heavy lifting, broken a sweat or even knows which end of a screwdriver to pick up much less how to build something useful with it.

The deleterious effect of these bean counters taking the reigns is more than obvious. Product quality and durability have taken a nosedive into the cesspool of planned obsolescence. The benefits and high wages of seasoned, long term employees are viewed as a bottom line liability and non-executive hiring candidates with more than ten years in their current position are deemed insufficiently mobile within the workforce. Many companies will not even consider hiring someone who is currently unemployed, considering them to be tainted merchandise.

Quailing in the face of often frivolous employee lawsuits, human resource managers now place higher priority upon a candidate's ability to "get along" with others than their actual talent or job skills. This corrosive practice has led to entire departments being staffed with inoffensive drones who could not innovate their way out of a paper bag if their miserable, innocuous lives depended upon it.

So there’s no help for it: we are increasingly being channeled into samizdat communications, and our actions will become more and more clandestine, even though they remain entirely peaceful.

Within that statement, there appears to be an intrinsic implication that, given enough external pressure or persecution, said actions might not have any further choice about remaining peaceful.

This is not to say that peaceful means aren't best and most useful, just that they have their limits when anti-Constitutional apparatchiks take their meddling a bit too far.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Sagunto! Very good point about greed. Ascribing motive to markets is akin to personifying an animal. An animal does what an animal does - without motive - but with the single goal of survival.

rickl said...

The failure of the current trans-national financial regime may be attributed in large part to its insular nature and the mediocre intelligence of those who direct it and benefit from it.

I have to disagree with that. I think many of the people who are running the financial industry have very high IQs, such that they can create extremely clever and complex financial instruments that people of average intelligence can never hope to comprehend.

Likewise, the people who write the laws (as opposed to elected officials, who are often dunces) are intelligent enough to craft multi-thousand page bills chock full of hidden loopholes for those "in the know" and hidden costs for the rest of us rubes.