Richards about me page
Richard Kelly Moore
My daily life
My quest for understanding
For thirty years I worked in the computer R&D business (Tymshare, Xerox PARC, Apple, Oracle, my own start-up, consulting), designing software for each new wave of hardware technologymainframes, minicomputers, timesharing, personal computers, multimedia, etc. While hardware has always trended toward faster, smaller, and cheaper, software has trended toward bigger and more complex. Survival in software R&D has called for the ability to visualize and create increasingly complex systems,involving applications, external systems, and users. Perhaps more difficult, it involves being able to comprehend and repair complex systems created by others.
In this kind of work one develops a sixth sense regarding how systems are constructed. Just by using a piece of software one can learn to intuit how the system was put together and what kind of stratagems the designer employed. The deep structure always shows through, in subtle ways, to the surface of system behavior.
A well-developed sensitivity to systems and their underlying structures is one of the main lessons I took away from my software experience, and its a lesson that applies to many other domains. In particular one can look at the world of politics and economics as a system of interacting players and institutionsjust as ecology looks at the natural world as a system of interacting species and environments.
From a systems perspective I was intrigued by a certain oddity: the USA, the worlds leading power, seemed always to be bungling. American foreign and domestic policies frequently resulted in the opposite of their stated objectives. I began to notice that other, unstated objectives were being accomplished instead. These unstated objectives in many cases made perfect geopolitical and economic sense from a Machiavellian perspectivebut a sense that would not be publicly defensible. Increasingly, I discounted the interpretive aspects of news reporting, and focused instead on the raw underlying events being chronicled.
I began to perceive a degree of consistency in the behavior of governments, politicians, and institutions, that was far greater than what one would sense from news reports, pundits, and official statements. The rough contours of underlying strategies and goals emerged which made seemingly chaotic phenomenonsuch as US foreign policynot only understandable but rather predictable.
At the same time, the mainstream media itself began to take on added meaning. Rather than simply being shallow and biased, which is presumably obvious to any serious observer, it became apparent that the distortions and selectivity of official pronouncements, and of media coverage, were carefully coordinated with underlying political strategies.
The net consequence of mass media (both news and entertainment) is to systematically distract attention away from whats really going on, the way a magician draws the eye away from where the rabbit is being hidden. If you notice what stories are being emphasized, and focus on whats not being asked or said, media coverage actually reveals quite a bit about the underlying events it is so intent on disguising.
Regarding the current situation with Iraq and Iran, for example, the White House never talks about oil or petrodollarsas if such things had no relevance whatever in the scenario. When we are not supposed to notice an obvious elephant, we have a clue that the elephant might have a significance we are also not supposed to notice.
So over the years I began to develop my own model of what
Eventually I got to the point where I felt that my findings were worth writing about, or otherwise communicating to people who I felt could benefit from them. I left my career and environment (Silicon Valley), moved to Ireland, and began to use Internet as a learning channel for writing and further analysis.
I joined several online discussion forums, launched a few new ones of my own (See archives), and began spending full time debating and learning about political perspectives from all comersincluding historians, political scientists, economists, and people with all sorts of attitudes and agendas. I further clarified my analyses and observations and learned how to express them cogently, or at least thats the drift of reader feedback. My postings to Internet evolved into respectable essays, and I began to receive invitations from print (and online) publishers to turn some of the essays into articles.
After several years of pursuing these endeavors, and presenting an increasingly dismal view of global affairs, I was asked by a reader,
For years I had been looking at our global society as a complex system, and I had been observing that it is a system with serious problems, from the perspective of ordinary people everywhere. If the insights I had gained were valid, about how the system works, then I ought to be in a good position to help identify how the system might be repaired: the readers question was a fair one after all.
So, putting on my debugging cap, I began investigating how the system might be repaired. This new quest turned out to be again a systems study, but of considerably larger scope. It involved not only reading and writing, but also getting out and meeting people who were active in various movements, and learning about their motivations, visions, experiences, and challenges.
In addition to understanding how the current system works, I needed to learn about how the system typically defends itself against change, and how people have historically fared in their efforts to bring about change. I needed to learn what is known about alternative kinds of societiesby looking into archeology, anthropology, history, the variations in existing societies, political science, and the expanding genre of visionary systems thinking, e.g., David Kortens The Post-Corporate World: Life After Capitalism.
I was able to find workable solutions to many parts of the problem (e.g., as regards sustainable and equitable economic systems), but there were some very significant questions remaining for which adequate answers did not seem to be forthcoming. At the core of these unanswered questions were who questions: Who is it that decides what changes are to be pursued? Who articulates the options to be considered? Who is it that decides to pursue the chosen changes? Who will ensure that a new system doesnt deteriorate or revert to its old ways?
At a very general level, either explicitly or implicitly, everyone seemed to agree that the appropriate answer to who is in some sense the people. But what does that mean? Does it mean a wonderful program comes along, everyone buys into it, and off we go? Does it mean people generally participate in planning and strategizing? Does it mean everyone joins a wonderful movement or political party which is somehow guaranteed not to become corrupted or be co-opted? What about the fact that lots of people and movements are offering different programs and gathering competing constituencies? And if a vast majority of people did somehow come to a common understanding, can we really expect that governments and entrenched special-interests would yield to their will?
As I began to think seriously about what the people means, in the sense of an entity that can decide and take action, I found myself drawn into a deep rabbits warren, with lots of dead ends. I came to the conclusion that the people has no real meaning if we think of it in terms of public opinion, or the electorate. From that perspective there can be no coherence or creativity except vicariously, provided by a leadership cadre of some kind.
When I finally emerged from the warren into the light, I found myself in a quite different place than where I first descended. I had been forced to examine my fundamental assumptions about government, about what agreement means, about what ordinary people are capable of, and even about the nature of civilization itself.The conclusions I came to, from this particular rabbit-warren experience, are summarized in a blog I recently put together, Achieving real democracy through harmonization. I came to the realization that a profound synergy exists: the answer to the question,
What would a better society look like?is the same as the answer to the question,
How can such a society be brought about?This common answer has to do with the meaning of the people, and the means by which the people can manifest themselves as a coherent and intelligent entity.
My new book, Escaping the Matrix: how We the People can change the world, presents the results of my ten-year investigation into how the system works, why it needs to be changed, who must change it, and how we might realistically go about it. Ive tried to take the reader on the same journey I went through, warning about the blind alleys along the way, taking as direct a route as possible, and slowing down at particularly difficult junctures. Ive tried to write for general audiences, and Ive selected for the bibliography sources that are accessible to general audiences as well.
I would be myself surprised if Ive gotten everything right in a book with such an ambitious scope. Important parts of its thesis depend on scenario analysis, not all of which can be anchored solidly in real world experience. Theoretical speculation, alas, plays an inevitable role in such an endeavor--although Ive done my best to keep that to a minimum. I do hope that the book establishes a benchmark, as regards how deeply and broadly one must look, if one is realistically seeking a path to a more sensible global society.
The book, ultimately, is a call to action, and the only way to find out if its ideas are workable is by trying them out in practice. Accordingly, my own quest now turns from studying to doing. As a first step in that process Im doing what I can to promote the booknot so much to sell books per se, but rather to get the ideas out there, in the hope they will reach others who will choose to respond to the books vision in a concrete way.