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<nettime> The World Public
human being on Sat, 12 Oct 2002 06:35:26 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> The World Public


These are very strange days, where the occasional
paradox becomes embedded in every word, statement,
action, event, and can become perplexing and also
debilitating, unchanging. That is the negative skill
of applying rhetoric for reasons other than truth,
those of power and influence, and questionably so.
Maybe that is why so many are so confused, and yet
so 'for' and 'against' all issues, politic parties,
ideas, and ideologies. Yet, it is this positioning,
this static vantage that becomes the impossibility,
as the default stance from decades of solid platforms,
now have a shake about them. Something terribly uneasy.
Complex and difficult and absurd and hard to grasp.
Quizzically, there is no possibility of a right answer
for anything, except as one is to believe, and thus,
will it so. Abstraction can take away all details, it
can blur distinctions, show generalities, map places
that otherwise are predetermined in interpretations.
So the question is repeated, for all on all sides of
every coin being tossed before the Big Gameshow, is
it possible for there to be a winner in War for Peace?

It has been said by anonymous and countless others that
they are glad they are not President (of the U.S.A.) as
then they would actually have to make the decision and
stand by it, for better and for worse, always, all ways.
The questions being dealt with today are yesterdays, and
tomorrows. Eternal questions, in some sense, the troubles
of a human civilization existing somewhere between total
war and total peace, in its development. And possibly it
will be this way, and has been, for time immemorial. If
one could imagine a sketch of the dynamics of the present-
day issues in very long and wide strokes of paint on the
collective imagination, if it can be attempted, various
issues may find some harmony to counterbalance what is
in all completeness a dismal and deadly situation we face
together, for and against, here and there, us and them,
past and future, as individuals and as a common people.

Speaking, voicing concern for the question that is indeed
posited yet never asked: what next? What is the plan for
the future? Where are we headed, and who's leading, if
anyone? Or is it another thing, its-own-thing, altogether?
There may be a reason for the silence, and 'democratic'
countries are not exclusive and above lacking the ideas,
and importantly, sharing dreams of a better brighter future.
In this abstract communication, let it be said that not
much is or has or will be said, given the givens. Freedom
of speech without free minds does not equal human freedom.
It is instead one of limits, a limiting of possibilities,
of potentials. A wall. An ideology. A construct that is
visible, or invisible in the mind even, and yet is strong
in its inherited position as a tradition interpretation.
A traditional world view, not primarily that of a specific
culture or people, but the baggage that comes along with
being somewhere without the roughshod story-line of how
such placement came about. The assumption is the rule.
The only exception is to increase the old as a way to
ensure existing ideas, of the status quo, to continue.
With bureaucracies, these easily become ideologies. And
things, tools, we may all share in some ways, identically.

Take the Middle East. And Iraq. And Oil. And the United
States of America. And Economics. And War. And Terrorism.
And Religion. And Non-Democratic Governments. And Politics.

Broad strokes.

How can one reconcile these, in a design of a tangible and
realizable peace, and if possible, if the universe wills it,
without the bloodbath of war, tragedy, misery, and suffering?
It may not be possible. But still, what if? What would be a
viable way to get somewhere near where, ideally, at the same
time as realistically, all sides may find mutually beneficial
agreement in a common procession, towards building a closer
and more engaged relationship between the different worlds,
of people, ideas, cultures, that compose our larger world?

Why is so much lament and opposition found, of which it is
likely necessary for those both close together and far apart,
while the common foundations are buried in the dusts of the
centuries, desert sands, blowing through the global warmth
of swathes of dunes, else, storms in silicon semiconductors-
Why silence? Why. Why.

There is one guess, that those who have and do attempt to
say, even in the most well balanced and intentioned way, are
either treated as a threat to be ignored or silenced, or as
a propaganda tool, from which ideas which are utilized only
for their political value, that is, for manipulation of an
idea or situation for political ends, takes what is a public
question, a public idea, a public dream or belief, shared,
and turns it towards private ends, in a democracy or not.
And thereby corrupts it through intention, through the lack
of respect for reflective thought, instead becoming just
another movie to be shown and sold on the world screen.

No wonder no one is saying anything, as it is all being
said, and turned in on itself, in double-talking rhetoric,
turning intentions inside-out, twisting truth and falsehood
for no apparent reason other than the idea of short-term
profit. And this technique leads to distrust of the worst
kind. The kind that cannot be regained, it is so destructive,
so blatantly against. And it places thought, human creativity
and imagination for the wrong ends, subverting goodness and
turning it into something so clearly devious that to offer
participation is to be met with ridicule, with deceit as a
payoff for being so naive, as to consider one's self human.

That is, that shared identity, working the mind's eye across
paradoxes of culture. For instance, a case-in-point is when
the Chinese government mentioned themselves as part of human
civilization as a rationale for issues with their homeland
opposition, which on one day the U.S. supported in the name
of freedom fighters, proponents of democracy, and the next,
became dropped into the terrorist category to suit short-
term requirements for a fast-track trade on the War game.
The issue may forever remain unresolved, yet it is not one
of 'democracy' but of human rights. And the U.S. response
to a significant philosophical commonality of the Chinese,
to speak in terms of a common, human, representative public,
was met with laughter and derision by the U.S. administration.
This is a failure in two significant respects: One being that
a common language and value system, as can be approximated by
a more public language, such as 'human', can help to relate
basic ideas of human rights, which basically are the things
which make democracy what it is- whatever the name may be.
The second failure is that the bridge of understanding, and
of the ability to establish a shared knowledge of events in
which there are paradoxical views, internally and externally,
are destroyed and instead, new walls are put up, in isolation.

This example is repeated, and its effects recreated anew day
in and day out, in most every exchange, until in the rare and
anomalous event, the private identification of states, of the
individual being, is surpassed by that of a commonality. It
may be described in various ways, but often 'humanity' is the
pinnacle that mortals can reach together, as well, in disaster.
Extremes of difference. Extremes of similarity. Too simple, a
person may say. And to that, yes, it is probably so. But try
to find any other concept, identity, commonality that bridges
so much in so many ways, and what would be better for founding
the shared commitment, good will, and secular belief needed
for a tangible peace that can begin again its own rebuilding...

It can also be too complex to factor in all scenarios for all
peoples from all perspectives of a given situation, to define
what _the_ human is. But there need be no definition in itself,
the word, the world, as it just is. It exists as a result of
the actions of many, for better and worse. The worse, today,
being that of children, dying for the beliefs of their parents,
to stand-against, in opposition, in either-or situations where
it is lose-lose, because the belief continues that one or the
other must win. There can be only one victor, in a privatized
world. One person's god is not another's God, one name or an-
other. Differences divide, and sometimes, irreparably so. To
kill a child is to kill the future. To kill ideas, all dreams.
To kill creativity, imagination, is to kill freedom, liberty.

And there is, and remains, all pervading silence. What if?

The disingenuous culture which rewards lies and deceit in its
pure pursuit of power and influence, begins to receive its own
worth in its bankruptcy of values. An ethical miasma, to hear
a political speech which remains silent in the prime reasoning
for choosing a certain path, only brings with it the haunting
and reoccurring questions about the oil, the wealth, the profit
to be gained from the ambitions of power, prestige, destruction.
How, to listen, and to not hear in words but to see in deeds the
very silence as a fulcrum upon which decisions are made, be in
turn siphoned off from the public mind, and to become another
private business matter, in which soldiers, here and there may
die, this being amongst the highest reasons, yet, beyond voice.
Unconscionable is the silence. To ask a question, to supposedly
undercut a President in one country, to protect public citizens.
In another, to question a Dictator is to lose one's only tongue.
Oil is but one issue, one might say, and rightly so. Rightly.
Right. Yes, that is correct. So why does the silence remain?
Why is Oil the one issue never discussed, yet which underpins
and undermines the logic and rationale of all actions to date?

Complexity.

What if, what if the issues bearing their ugly head today in
each of the numerous incarnations of the gorgon's snaky locks
are in some way related to Oil, and these, to other issues,
in a flattened and equivalent system of common concern. And
yet, the word 'Oil', like the word 'God', say, was off-the-
table, or, out-of-the-question, to talk about. It was silence
itself, the word: oil=silence. Yet, in yet another world Oil
was abundantly spoken and understood in the language, and yet
'God' was possibly not similarly treated the same. For instance,
in the other world of many worlds, Oil functioned like God, and
the concept of 'God' functionally performed the role of Oil, in
a similar yet different way. The wording here is incorrect, and
impossible to clarify. And no harm nor judgment meant nor is it
intended. The point is that there is possibly a paradox between
'two worlds', that, as cultures, may perform similar roles for
similar sacred ideas, between the parochial and secular realms.
In these words, the disaster of interpretation awaits. Judgment.

How does a person convey, between two worlds, their commonality?

Well, for instance, as was shared by another, like the European
Union, so too there is an Arab Economic Union in the planning,
possibly proceeding in development in this half of the decade.
With such vast polarities in various mini-publics, as are found
in the many states of the world, it may be of concern for those
who, politically, may have to do business with those of greatly
different foundations in their understanding, beyond business.
That is, the differences between people, and the antagonistic
relationships they may equally project, the one to the other.

 From one part of the world, one could rightly guess that another
place would lop off one's limbs, and like a Monty-Python skit,
one would be struck in mid-passage, trying to get across the
bridge to the other side, while each limb is subsequently hacked
away in the attempt. This, today, non-fictionalized, could be
true on moral codes alone. In one country, someone may be fined,
in another, beheaded. Stoned. Whipped. Crucified. Eaten by birds.

The talk, the rhetoric detached from human intelligence, has
been of 'democracies' as a panacea to 'the World', as a problem.
Worlds, the many, will never find balance in sharing democracies
one in the same. The idea varies, between people, between nations.
The core, if it could be considered as such, is closer to those
ideas and rights shared by member nations of the United Nations,
human rights: individual sovereignty and shared responsibility.

Without a commonality, a shared humanity, those rights and the
responsibilities agreed upon on the world-scale, and understood
as fundamental to developments, past, present, and future- is it
possible to see beyond war, through war, without war as a passage?
It is very unlikely that a new commitment will arise out of apathy
and ignorance and greed and ill-will and lack of commitment to
the questions at hand, at mind, day in, day out, here to stay.

What is a dream, what is love? What is it to imagine that people
are united beyond divisive rhetoric. That leaders, as privatized
political units ever maneuvering and manipulating situations in
one's own self interest, regardless whether the state is a that
of a nation or an individual, function mainly out of contingency
planning, strategic fear, and battles for the long, hard fight
to keep whatever it is alive, alive, longer, forever, by duty.
And, might this be, even in the most disparate ends of civilized
governance, also be some spectrum of the uniquely human, beings
unlike any other, yet related to all, a gift, to learn from, to
embrace, to share through knowledge and experience, to treasure.
Might this be worth fighting for, even under the most inhumane
or unjust of conditions, to continue that long path to survival?
Never to accept the extinguishing of one's flame, no matter how
dim and foreboding the shadows and thunderheads become? Is this
a shared trait, a quality, an understanding about people, about
people as people. Iraqis as humans. Palestinians as humans. And
U.S. Americans as humans. So too, Israelis, and on and on...

Wars, if not fought over people, may be fought over land. And
yet land can itself be a liability. Oil may be a prime-cause,
in some minds, but that is a partial view, not helped by the
silence of the U.S. administration in clarifying the role of
oil in current conflicts, in order to defuse misinterpretations.
Or, interpretations at all. Any interpretations. Instead, it is
silence which performs that function. Silence, ignorance, not-
knowing as a type of cessation from shared, civic reality, and
into an ideal, pure state of being which rings hollow from the
empty oil drums lining the coffers of private wealth and power.

What if war, neither imminent nor unavoidable, was situational?
Meaning, what if Oil is one of many issues, and by itself helps
to explain all the missing or silent information, not flowing
through the circuits of shared understandings and interpretations?

So too, what if issues of religion and government, also known as
church and state, or even the private and public realms of being
in an individual and collective state, were fundamental to the
problems between worlds, bridges, always fragile, with explosive
charges at either end, and lit afire by the passions of difference?

What if economics, and the lifting up of people by people, not by
forces or agencies but by determination, liberation, freedom, were
also part of the stalled planning, lacking the will because of the
limitations of the past, by the void created by stagnant creative
forces within people, a sense of belonging, an ability to be one's
unique self, in one's unique state, and relate to other worlds,
through a development process that creates, and thus, owns itself.
Humanity can accomplish that which nations never will be able to.

Why do the good things always get lost in the bad, also? How can
so much of the richness of life be boiled down into mediated news
which glosses over problems at home, and projects evils all abroad?
Making, producing, manufacturing silence, and the silent majority.

There talents of a whole world sit in silence today, at the same
time when the world has never been more interconnected, except in
that mythical state when some very distant ancestors may have met.
And yet, beyond the political state, it is this social state of
being one, and many, at the same and different times and places
that makes being human all the more perplexing, difficult, and real.
It is an anonymity in the collectivity, yet a belonging. While one
may be targeted and killed for any number of things in the worlds
of difference, being human is likely lower on the list than most.
That person, they are me. I am them. In our difference we can find
our similarity, and in this commonality our uniqueness is found.

What if.

What if dreams were unleashed. What if ideas were given, to be
shared, not sold, to cross worlds, to build the bridges of peace,
to put down with the strength of destiny the fires and insanity
now boiling, to pursue the shared belief, the shared vision, the
shared identity, the shared public and its, our human, interest?

What would it require of groups and individuals to choose the real
and achievable path of tangible ideals, rather than succumb to the
lowest, most degrading and dehumanizing task of eternal horrors?
It would take something other than silence. It would take something
other than difference, as the primary tool of relation. It would
take the equivalent of a psychological shift in international and
national relations, and individual and group relationships, defining
the public and private realms of interaction that are proactive and
which retain uniqueness while gaining the benefits of collectivity.

It is beyond or before the idea of democracy. It is about rights.
The rights of individuals. Nations. To peace, to equality, dreams.
It is not to impose, yet not to presuppose, also. It is an idea,
part discourse, reflective, while including action, decisions and
movement, change. Challenges. And will to succeed, succeed together.
It is not about the greatness of one, but the greatness of many to
work as one, and even greater still, of a shared similarity that is
greater than all differences, when combined. The world of many worlds.

This is to posit the idea, the question of a world public, it could
be a representational public, a republic based upon a very simple,
foundational, and profound awareness of the value of humanity, and
protecting the rights this knowledge encompasses, across cultures.

North, South, East, West.

Today, people that otherwise may have implicit understanding of the
nature of such interrelations, existing, juxtaposed in difference,
in the dance of death, each to fall into the never-ending chasm of
the fates that fill the storied past, now because of the rhetoric
of ideological control, of passive aggression, of threats and of
counter-threats, have similarities so great in the paradoxes that
to ignore them, as with oil and 'god', is to camouflage them in a
holocaust of silence. Some of these, silences, reverberate in the
landscapes, of mind too, memories throbbing, pangs of despair so
great that no world could ever save what is lost- unless- it is
regained- the humanity. The moving beyond. The forgiveness. And
that abstract love of the anonymous other, who is always already
known. Brother, Sister, Mother, Father, Child, Wife, Husband, Lover.

There are great worlds beyond the present understanding, stuck in
time, in silence, stuck in pre-interpretations, in biased systems
which are limiting the outcomes possible for human beings to decide.
Because, these our worlds function autonomously and by default can
decide what is best for their own survival, at any cost, including
those of others. Whether it be a homicidal dictator or the "world's
greatest superpower"- any one can become a menace to any other at
any point, and abuse its role if leadership comes from and for the
private benefit, of individuals, or countries, at the cost of others.
That is not profit, that is the loss of human dignity, of caring for
each other, and while social, it is also economic in nature.

For instance, if there was a massive shift in Oil it may destabilize
the economics of countries in the chain of supply and demand. And,
as a seen or unforeseen result, eventually such shifts could also
influence the political and social structures of all countries that
are involved in this exchange. One potential concern, say, from a
U.S. American point of view might be that, should an Arab Economic
Union occur, and a dictator or extremist religious group be in the
lineup to take over broader power structures, through this mechanism,
it may threaten that which is currently invisible, but not unsaid.
That is, the antagonism between worlds may rise, and chaos may ensue.

Another possibility could be that integrating highly but differently
religious societies in an economic union, may also have to address
the aspects of a social union, and thereby would cause the moderate
bases of religions in various countries to lose influence, and, to
further equate the relationship between money, oil, and religion in
ways that may make it impossible to establish a secular society in
which common, human rights, would be valued as an established order.

Likewise, the beauty of worlds, beliefs, and cultures, difference,
which is sustained through monetary and political connections may
be held in the cross-fire of conflicts, in which the oil wealth
which goes to fund the monuments and cultural heritage, and Mecca
itself, would potentially be held in jeopardy if rash decisions
were made about whole peoples, whole beliefs, whole worlds for
being different, and possibly, as a result of situational awareness,
being on the other side of the cultural bridge, it is hard to see
how cultures, and worlds, respect and influence and regard each-
other, and support each other. Silence does not help change this.

The dreams are missing. The imaginations of the travelers. The
unhindered thoughts which relate, surpass, span the moment and
bring worlds together into one, interrelated and integrated.

There is something beautiful that is standing in silence, all
around us, all of the time, waiting to be dreamt and released.
It is possibility. It is the talent of many working as one and
the chance to make better changes, through making better choices.
Silence cannot do this. And what if leaders, today, are out of
touch with this idealistic hope, as they battle day in and day
out with the sheer and overwhelming facts of the complexities
of such naive dreams? Theirs is a realism too hard, too cold,
too calculated to be free. If the voices could be heard, if
the ideas and dreams were of value, these, our leaders may
be able to see the situation anew, the possibilities abound,
it is waiting to happen, and it takes conscious and sustained
decisions, to make hard choices, for the longest of periods,
in order to achieve fundamental progress in the human condition.

It is not a division of labor, or of mind. It is not economics,
nor politics alone. It is not just about money. Or any one issue,
such as Oil. It is a complex, volatile present-moment in which
the polarity of world views collide. And it is here where the
effort need be made to understand, and to change the basic rules
of engagement for the end-game: a win-win scenario, as improbable
as that may be- it is the best bet that can be made for humanity.

And it will take the efforts of everyone, of every stripe and of
every discipline, to realize in some small way, a way to bridge
the gap between realities, with shared goals and ideals as the
materials, and our minds and bodies as tools to find the common
peace between states of being within this endless ideological war.

To bring the resources of many into a shared commitment would be
to imagine that there is something good from the other side that
may not otherwise be seen. And the distorted rhetoric of power,
greed, and corruption decays the fabric tying worlds together,
and the citizens with one another, and their own consciences.
It is beyond the time for leaders to prove themselves. They have
shown an ability to cease total annihilation, for the moment, and
in this window of possibility, it is time for imaginations from
beyond the limits imposed upon us by silence, by institutional or
other constraints, to limit those ideas and efforts which may go
beyond, go through, work with the complexity, the differences,
towards the dreams, and back into the world of the past and
future, to bring home the ideas, wishes, the love, lost so
many times in the desperate grasp to hold onto the unique life.

The real without the ideal is not a world, but a word engraved
upon every thought, transcribing experience into limitations,
and in so doing creating illusions that seem impassable. Yet,
to go beyond the words, and into the realm of deeds, we could
by working together, dreaming together, bring the world home.


The Oil Commentaries. No Copyright 2002. bc
--------------------------------------------------------------

Article on Arab Economic Union:
http://www.ahram.org.eg/weekly/1999/411/op4.htm

Ideas for Arab-EU (and other) interrelations:
http://www.geocities.com/iren_knehtl/energy_for_technology.htm

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