To combat political exploitation requires that those exploited gain the tools to see for themselves how this abuse of the public trust proceeds in full view. Until the methods of exploitation are made transparent and the common source apparent, peace, security and stability will remain beyond reach.
Interfaith dialogue can help solve this problem provided dialogue clarifies how thought is targeted to manipulate behavior. This chapter describes how this mental exploitation operates in plain sight, offers examples from topical events and suggests a path of resolution.
(*) An author, attorney, investment banker, educator and consultant to government, corporate and union leaders worldwide. An adviser to pol- icy-makers in 35 countries, he served seven years as counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance. He is also the author of numerous articles and books including his latest, Guilt by Association: How Deception and Self-Deceit Took America to War. His previous books include Democ- racy at Risk: Rescuing Main Street From Wall Street and The Owner- ship Solution: Toward a Shared Capitalism for the 21st Century. (United States)
Redefining the Battlefield
The battlefield of the 21st Century is the shared field of consciousness. The relevant theater of operations is the realm where consensus opinions reside and generally accepted truths are shaped and sustained. It is there in that intangible domain where facts are displaced with the false beliefs—that targeted populations can be deceived.
With the help of mass media, political exploiters target the public’s mindset. That shared mental environment provides the game board for those skilled at inducing people to freely embrace the very forces that jeopardize their freedom.
Until such psychological operations (psy-ops) become apparent in real time, induced beliefs will continue to be deployed for political goals. The manipulation of faith to influence behavior dates from antiquity. Modernity provides the technological means to manipulate on a massive scale.
The use of deception to induce conflict offers a classic example of how thought can be exploited to displace facts in plain sight. In the duplicity leading up to the invasion of Iraq, we Americans were deceived to believe in Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, Iraqi meetings in Prague with Al Qaeda, Iraqi mobile biological weapons laboratories, Iraqi high-level contacts with Al Qaeda, and Iraqi purchases of yellowcake uranium from Niger.
Though all were false, only the last claim was conceded as other than factual prior to this phony intelligence dominating the political dialogue that induced the March 2003 invasion.
Emotions also play a role in this mental manipulation. The emotionally wrenching mass murder of September 11, 2001 was broadcast nationwide. Americans were shocked, grief-
stricken and enraged. As with the extreme emotions that accompany extreme beliefs, those intense emotions helped displace facts with plausible fictions that we now know were pre-staged years beforehand.
In response to a murderous provocation, this combination of external and internal forces-fixed intelligence and emotional turmoil-served as a force-multiplier to shape decision-making inconsistent with the facts. For specialists in political exploitation, reality is only an inconvenience to overcome.
The quality of political decision-making is no better than the quality of the information on which decision makers rely. Thus the inducement of false beliefs has long been a primary means of political exploitation. That is also why mass media plays a central belief-shaping role in this mental and emotional manipulation. For interfaith dialogue to wield real influence in shaping a humane and compassionate future, the “how” of such psy-ops must be understood, acknowledged and broadly communicated.
The serial wars and ongoing conflicts catalyzed by such duplicity imperil the transition to the Knowledge Society. Yet knowledge and dialogue can also be deployed as a counter- offensive to protect decision-making from this exploitation. If interfaith dialogue can provide the tools for a deceived public to see for themselves this mental and emotional manipulation, dialogue could become a means to expose this abuse and hold the perpetrators accountable.
Today’s Ancient Warfare
Facts are the foundation on which the rule of law relies. Displace facts with beliefs and governance reverts to the pre- Enlightenment era when fact-based dialogue and scientific
knowledge were unavailable to counter the manipulations of faith. At present, peace is endangered by a nuclear-armed superpower (the U.S.) that could again be induced with false beliefs to invade a nation that poses no threat. If the results of such political exploitation (bloodshed, death, widespread suffering, etc.) are not a relic of the Dark Ages, what is?
Such treachery succeeds in the post-Enlightenment era by exploiting the very freedoms meant to protect freedom, including freedom of the press, assembly, speech and religion. When a seamless web of duplicity permeates the political process, misinformed dialogue only serves to advance a predetermined agenda. Such manipulation of the public’s shared mindset is a modern-day form of tyranny that succeeds through the exploitation of thought.
The advantage in such psy-ops warfare flows to those best positioned to wield influence over the mental environment. Thusthe strategic role in this deceit played by undisclosed bias in mainstream media. The undisclosed bias of U.S. Defense Department personnel fueled an “echo effect” by providing disinformation to decision-makers. That deception ensured decisions were shaped by a combination of false intelligence and phony news reports while policy makers were coping with an emotionally wrenching post 9/11 environment.
Those who focused on dominating media, as in the U.S, did so with strategic foresight. Their motivation is captured in a phrase coined by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates in October 2007. Referring to the most problematic combatants when waging “unconventional warfare,” this former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency described today’s most challenging enemy as “the people in between.”
In the Information Age, exploiters of the shared mental
environment position their thought-manipulating operations between a targeted populace and the facts required for their informed consent. A survey of media ownership in key coalition nations confirms what this analysis suggests: industry-wide dominance by pro-Israelis.
In addition to media, other in-between domains also play a role, including popular culture, academia, think tanks and politics. Each is briefly addressed below. The examples draw on Israeli and pro-Israeli conduct to chronicle how the informed dialogue essential to reasoned political decision- making can be corrupted from the shadows by an “enemy within.”
The facts confirm it was not the U.S. government that took Americans to war in the Middle East but a foreign government imbedded inside the tattered remnants of what remains of our representative government. When your numbers are few and your ambitions vast -as with Jewish nationalists- sustained political exploitation is critical to geopolitical success. The manipulation of thought offers these few-within-the-few a powerful force-multiplier.
Popular Culture: In the 1950s, Ed Gottlieb, a New York public relations specialist, commissioned novelist Leon Uris to write Exodus, a romanticized tale about the founding of Israel. Its publication helped obscure a dark reality after Jewish terrorists ethnically cleansed 400-plus Palestinian villages. That fact, if widely known by Americans, risked creating ill will with the U.S., an essential ally for the fledgling Zionist experiment.
Moderate Jews had by then taken a strong stance against the terrorist policies used by Jewish extremists to drive Palestinians from their lands. In a December 1948 letter to
The New York Times, Albert Einstein and other concerned Jews were candid in their appraisal: “This is the unmistakable stamp of a Fascist party for whom terrorism (against Jews, Arabs, and British alike), and misrepresentation are means, and a ‘Leader State’ is the goal.”
In addition to its history of terrorism, fanaticism and deceit, Israel had just played a key role in inducing the Suez Crisis of 1956. That “tripartite aggression” involved a conflict staged by Israeli, French and British forces. An outraged Dwight Eisenhower was forced to make a televised presidential appeal directly to the American public when he realized the control that the Israel lobby exerted-even then-over the U.S. Congress.
That political problem prompted the translation of Exodus into 50 languages. With film rights pre-sold, this public relations campaign included a widely promoted movie starring Paul Newman and Eva Marie Saint. The supporting cast featured Sal Mineo, a popular Italian singer who received an Academy Award nomination for his role as a Jewish émigré.
In combination, a best-selling novel and a blockbuster film successfully promoted an impression of Jews as sympathetic and honest heroes while Arabs were portrayed as conniving villains and dastardly evil doers, with the only good Arab a dead Arab.
To displace facts with fiction requires a period of preparing the public’s mindset to accept fabrications as genuine. Or, as with Exodus, the blending of fact and fiction in such a manner that a populace can be persuaded to embrace policies inconsistent with reality. In political parlance, mass media and popular culture are deployed to “advance the narrative.”
As with a movie script, political exploitation must include a plausible storyline.
President Barack Obama’s much anticipated June 2009 speech in Cairo was meant to impress on the Muslim world a change in U.S. foreign relations, including hope for settlement of the six-decade Israel-Palestine conflict. Yet he flew directly from Egypt to Germany for a Holocaust photo opportunity at the Buchenwald death camp.
In the impressionistic domain where media and popular culture shape geopolitical perceptions, which image had the greater impact? Which narrative was better advanced? Based on his post-Cairo performance in failing to hold Israel accountable for its expansion of settlements, which storyline gained opinion-shaping traction in the shared mental environment that comprises geopolitics?
Academia: The framing of dialogue begins with education where generally accepted truths are drilled into the minds of impressionable students by authority figures. Akin to the merger of church and state in the 4th Century Roman Empire, anyone daring to challenge generally accepted truths risks condemnation as a modern-day heretic and an enemy of the state or at least a foe of the widely shared mental state known as consensus opinion.
Consensus opinions often trace both their origins and their durability to academic doctrine. Over the past half-century, for example, universities in the non-communist world taught their students to believe that financial freedom is an appropriate proxy for personal freedom. Academic dialogue was framed around how money can be enabled to freely seek its best return. That shared faith in the infallibility of financial markets became-and remains-a consensus. At its
doctrinal core, that widely shared belief remains an article of faith.
Yet the facts confirm that unfettered financial forces were certain to create oligarchies by concentrating wealth and income worldwide, undermining both democracies and markets all under the rubric of freedom. As this “Chicago School” mindset was expanded to global scale, it was rebranded as the “Washington” consensus. The widely shared belief that decision-making should revolve around values denominated in money systematically hollowed out the U.S. economy. That narrow perspective also discredited the U.S. as American academics insisted on the globalization of this One True Faith.
The dialogue around development remains framed by this viewpoint. As oligarchies emerged worldwide, poverty became more intractable. The middle class shrank while this fixation on financial values steadily displaced those values essential to healthy communities-civil cohesion, stability, fiscal foresight, environmental sustainability, etc.
As these systemic dysfunctions deepened, dialogue became futile as policy-makers sought to solve problems downstream of a money-myopic mindset without questioning the validity of those upstream beliefs. To suggest that the consensus mindset is the source of the problem risked portrayal of the critic as a heretic.
Think Tanks: When waging war in the mental environment, think tanks also play a key role by shaping issues, framing debate and providing topical commentary. Professor Samuel Huntington’s theme-setting book, The Clash of Civilizations, first appeared in 1993 in Foreign Affairs, an influential opinion-shaping journal published by the Council on Foreign
Relations. By the time this article appeared in book format in 1996, more than 100 non-governmental organizations- including dozens of think tanks-were prepared to create a new consensus by promoting its conflict-of-opposites thesis.
As political dialogue segued seamlessly from the Cold War to the Global War on Terrorism, several well-placed Jewish- Americans published in 1996 a strategy paper for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu titled, A Clean Break – A New Strategy for Securing the Realm (i.e., Israel). Lead author Richard Perle, a member of the U.S. Defense Policy Advisory Board, was named chairman of that Board in 2001. A central theme of AClean Break: the removal of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein as a key barrier to Zionism’s expansionist agenda.
A hidden bias permeating the think tank community was revealed when Adbusters editor Kalle Lasn published in March 2004 a survey of the 50 top neoconservative advocates for the invasion of Iraq. Though the population of the U.S. is less than two percent Jewish (1.7%), 26 of the most senior “neocons” (52%) were Jewish. As an Estonian and formerly a New York advertising executive, Lasn understood how the mental environment can be manipulated to sell policies, politicians or consumer products. His article presented the facts as a question: “Why Won’t Anyone Say They are Jewish?” For asking that question, he was attacked as an “anti-Semite.”
Politics:. Both democracies and markets are dialogues across generations. Thus the deference granted legal precedents and commercialcontractsas foundations for the rule of law. Democratic self-governance, in turn, relies on a field-based premise that all of us are smarter than any of us, therefore let us resolve to reason together. Thus the enduring respect granted those venues
dedicated to public dialogue that date from pre-Roman times. As representative governments emerged as proxies for voting populations, the motivation grew to manipulate the mindsets of policy-makers as a force-multiplying “people in between.”
By framing debate (as with the “consensus”) and shaping the narrative, those skilled at“upstream” political exploitation can operate outside the realm of reasoned analysis and above the chain of command-as proven when the U.S. military was ordered to lead the invasion of Iraq on false premises.
In similar upstream fashion, the U.S. Congress engaged in a vigorous 2009 debate on health care. Yet the dialogue was framed not around health care but around “the uninsured.” The unspoken (“upstream”) consensus assumption: a national health care problem is best solved by increasing the amount of funds under management. That framing is certain to worsen the systemic dysfunctions that accompany the consensus model more financial fuel is added to the forces already concentrating wealth and income at a record pace.
Shaping the Post-WWII Dialogue
After World War II, the U.S. was home to 50% of the world’s productive power. That financial strength ensured that U.S. bonds would remain globally dominant for decades. In May 1948, President Harry Truman extended nation-state recognition to an extremist enclave of Jewish nationalists over the objections of Secretary of State George Marshall, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Central Intelligence Agency and the bulk of the U.S. diplomatic corps.
By 1962, Senator J. William Fulbright, chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, became sufficiently concerned about the role of Israel in U.S. politics that he
sought to force the Israel lobby to register as what it was and remains: a foreign agent. Fulbright and Attorney General Robert Kennedy failed in that task.
In 1963, President John F. Kennedy sought to force Israel to submit its Dimona nuclear reactor facility to international inspections. After the murder of JFK in November 1963, Vice President Lyndon Johnson was less concerned that Tel Aviv’s nuclear arsenal could eventually catalyze a nuclear arms race in the region.
When Robert Kennedy sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1968, it was unclear if he would follow in his brother’s footsteps and seek to shut down Israel’s nuclear arsenal. It was also uncertain whether he would again join forces with Fulbright to insist that the Israel lobby register as a foreign agent. His murder at the hands of a Palestinian émigré cleared the way to the presidency for Richard Nixon.
Lobbied by Golda Meir, Nixon agreed in 1969 to extend to Israel an “ambiguous” status that allowed Zionists to remain nuclear-armed without acknowledging their arsenal. Those events from the 1960s continue to shape geopolitical dialogue with ongoing consequences for peace, security and stability in the Middle East and beyond.
The Math of Political Exploitation
The science of political exploitation traces its enduring success to math and physics. Both must be understood in order to identify the source that enables manipulation of the mindset in full view. Evidence of faith-based political exploitation across generations suggests that this deception remains systemic and will not change absent a broader
understanding of the costs in blood and treasure of this duplicitous modus operandi.
Conspiracies are typically exposed when someone sells their account to a media outlet. Likewise cartels have proven difficult to sustain over an extended period. So how are the same methods of political exploitation sustained across generations? How does such deceit operate openly yet, to date, with legal impunity? With a grasp of the underlying math and physics, interfaith dialogue can make the “how” of this deceit transparent, its motives evident and the perpetrators apparent.
In brief, exploiters rely on game theory mathematical models to anticipate the response to staged provocations. Reactions become foreseeable in the sense that they are predictable within an acceptable range of probabilities. While outcomes remain uncertain, the results become “probabilistic” and mathematically model-able.
Israeli mathematician and game theory economist Robert
J. Aumann received the 2005 Nobel Prize in Economic Science. Co-founder of the Center for Rationality at Hebrew University, this Jerusalem resident conceded that “the entire school of thought that we have developed here in Israel” has turned “Israel into the leading authority in this field.” From the perspective of statistical probabilities, how difficult would it be for a mathematical model to foresee that the U.S. would deploy its military in response to the emotionally wrenching provocation of a mass murder on U.S. soil?
With pre-staged intelligence fixed around a preset outcome, how difficult would it be to anticipate that the U.S. response could be redirected to invade a nation that played no role in the attack? What would be the impact on predictability
if a complicit media also promoted the invasion of a nation (Iraq) key to “securing the realm”?
The math of political exploitation also involves the use of “correspondence theory” to convey a false perception of relationships. When waging war in the shared field of consciousness, the power of association is one of the most potent weapons that can be deployed. Thus, for instance, Secretary of State Colin Powell was dispatched to the United Nations Security Council in February 2003 to associate his credibility as a military leader with false intelligence that Iraq possessed mobile biological weapons laboratories ready for Baghdad to deploy on a moment’s notice as a weapon of mass destruction.
Correspondence can be used either to accredit (as with Powell’s testimony) or discredit. Note throughout the role of “the people in between” when deploying associative impressions as a means to manipulate decision-making. Geopolitical dialogue on the legitimacy of the March 2003 invasion was shaped by Powell’s U.N. appearance. Though he has since conceded that he was deceived, that associative ploy achieved its political purpose. Only by revealing the “how” of such deceit can the true perpetrators be held accountable.
Associative impressions (“correspondence”) can be deployed from the personal to the geopolitical level. When facts inconsistent with the desired narrative pose a risk to political exploitation, an attempt is typically made to associate the fact-finder with disreputable or salacious behavior. Thus the routine deployment of the toxic charge of “anti-Semitism” as an associative weapon in order to exclude such facts and analyses from the “field.”
Power-of-association strategies can do irreparable harm even to the strongest nation by inducing its leaders to pursue a path inconsistent with that nation’s interests and contrary to its values. Geopolitically, the U.S. has been discredited by its entangled alliance with Israel and the “rationality” deployed by its game theory war planners. Because the
U.S. is identified with the behavior of Jewish extremists, by
correspondence the U.S. is guilty-by association.
The Physics of Political Exploitation
When considering the physics component of political exploitation, Israeli manipulation again offers useful examples. Tel Aviv’s intelligence and foreign operations branch (the Mossad) has long been known for its game-theory mastery at waging war “by way of deception.” Consider, for example, the strategically well-timed entropy strategy deployed by Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion in June 1963.
President Kennedy’s June 15th letter to Ben-Gurion was anything but friendly. The words chosen were drawn not from diplomacy but from the judicial standard for criminal culpability. In that brusque letter, a U.S. Commander In Chief insisted that this purported ally demonstrate “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the Zionist enterprise was not developing nuclear weapons. The day after that letter was cabled to Tel Aviv for delivery by the U.S. ambassador, Ben-Gurion abruptly resigned citing undisclosed personal reasons.
His resignation was announced before the letter could be physically delivered. Jewish authors claim that JFK’s message failed to reach Ben-Gurion. That interpretative
gloss ignores what has long been known about Israeli operations inside serial U.S. presidencies and about Tel Aviv’s routine intercept of White House communications. Withthat strategically well-timed resignation, Kennedy was denied an opportunity for dialogue to negotiate an early end to today’s nuclear arms race in the region. The possibility of any future dialogue ended with his assassination five months later.
In July 2008, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert deployeda similar entropy strategy. When the agreed-to “Road Map” posed the threat of a final settlement, he resigned. That political entropy stymied negotiations while Benjamin Netanyahu was returned to office as Prime Minister. This Likud Party stalwart disavowed the Road Map, shifted negotiations away from peace with the Palestinians and focused attention on war with Iran. Predictably, the peace process stalled marking another victory for an entropy strategy.
In practical effect, U.S.-Israeli relations are dominated by the most fanatical elements in Israeli society. If U.S. policy-makers want an Israeli government with which to negotiate, they must please the most extreme parties in a coalition government led by extremists. Otherwise, yet another government will dissolve and, with entropy, the dialogue required to resolve this six-decade occupation will again be deferred. Even the possibility of another entropy maneuver affects negotiations in Tel Aviv’s favor.
Thus Benjamin Netanyahu’s success in persuading yet another U.S. administration not to press Israel on the settlements issue for fear that the most fanatical members of his Likud Party coalition may withdraw, collapsing yet another government. The extremist-driven, force-
multiplying dynamics at work in this entangled alliance are little known outside the ranks of game theory war planners.
Should those skilled at game theory warfare detect any possibility of a final settlement on the horizon, look for the collapse of yet another coalition government. Absent the capacity of this agent provocateur to catalyze serial crises and sustain regional conflicts, the expansionist goals of Colonial Zionism risk becoming transparent and unattainable. The motivation remains high to defer settlement by shifting attention elsewhere-to Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan-as a means to obscure the common source of this trans-generational treachery.
These examples of “field-based” warfare illustrate the perilous allure of interfaith dialogue when one party harbors a nontransparent agenda that progresses behind a veil of duplicity supported by an arsenal of state-sponsored exploitative techniques.
To point out the duplicitous skills of Jewish war strategists is sensible not “anti-Semitic.” At the core of such strategic deceit is found those skilled at the manipulation of entire populations through the manipulation of beliefs. As Judaism, Christianity and Islam share the same three prophets, it should come as no surprise that the oldest of these three faith traditions features those with the greatest proficiency at the craft of duplicity.
Assault on the Self
In combination, these manipulative techniques can also be deployed to undermine the self-confidence essential to self-governance. The target includes the confidence of the
governed in their government a particularly pernicious form of entropy. For example, the 1991 movie JFK was released to critical acclaim garnering eight Academy Award nominations. The storyline was taken directly from specious Kennedy assassination conspiracy charges filed in the 1960s by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison.
Garrison received funds from the New Orleans City Council to prosecute alleged conspirator Clay Shaw who, after a 1969 trial, was quickly acquitted. The initial funds required to commence this high profile case were provided by stock swindler Louis Wolfson for whom radio announcer Lawrence Zeiger couriered cash to Garrison. On his release from jail, Wolfson unsuccessfully sought the recovery of funds that Zeiger misappropriated. Zeiger – rebranded as Larry King – has since become a high-paid television personality specializing in celebrity interviews on Cable News Network.
Like Exodus, the JFK film injected into the “field” (the public’s shared field of consciousness) a beguiling fiction, a superficially plausible narrative that a targeted populace could be induced to believe as part of a far broader political manipulation.
One of the movie’s two Oscars was awarded to Jim Corwin for film editing. An editor of television commercials, Corwin had never worked on a feature-length film when he exercised great influence over how this fictitious storyline was conveyed. Within a year of the film’s release, more than 70% of Americans believed that their government (including the Central Intelligence Agency) murdered their popular young president.
Even now, many Americans distrust their government due in part to a film whose executive producer, Israeli Arnon Milchan, served as an arms procurer and intelligence operative for Tel Aviv. While the U.S. worked to end apartheid in South Africa, Milchan acquired media outlets to improve the image of its white supremacist government.
Americans’ lack of trust in their leadership retains its potency as a latent form of entropy corrosive of the social cohesion and the good faith dialogue essential to restore our national security. That distrust was reinforced by the fixed intelligence that took us to war in the Middle East on false pretenses in pursuit of an undisclosed agenda for Greater Israel. Polls confirm that with each passing year, fewer Americans trust their government.
Serial Conflicts of Opposites: This chapter describes the “interoperability” of the mindset-manipulative weaponry deployed to displace facts with what a targeted populace can be deceived to believe. Political exploitation draws on multiple components from this arsenal, including fixed intelligence, mass media, pop culture, academia, think tanks and politics.
Any one of thesecan undermine informed political dialogue. In combination, they can render dialogue impossible or even counter-productive when dialogue relies on flawed information and false beliefs to guide discussion and debate. Therein lies the danger of interfaith dialogue unless this belief-based manipulation is understood and acknowledged by dialogue participants.
In the aftermath of the mass murder of 9/11, the U.S. benefited from a global outpouring of sympathy and goodwill. As others shared our grief, the barriers that divided
us became a climate of compassion and concern that united us. In light of what is now known about the recurring use of well-timed crises to exploit political decision-making, one must ask: is this latest conflict-of-opposites (the global war on terrorism) yet another mental manipulation orchestrated by those chronicled in this account?
Dialogue and the Conflict of Opposites
In the abstract, interfaith dialogue offers a promising means for those of diverse religions, ethnicities, nationalities and cultures to know and understand each other, transcending the clash thesis that presently frames geopolitical debate. Yet that understanding faces a real-world challenge traceable to the ongoing duplicity of “the people in between.” Rather than confront this systemic treachery head-on, interfaith dialogue can create a parallel system of engagement to expose and counter this deceit.
The repetitive nature of this duplicity suggests an urgent need to focus dialogue on “how” political exploitation has been sustained across time, place and distance. The oft- recurring displacement of facts with beliefs suggests a strategic role for the faith traditions to examine how faith has been hijacked by those masterful at manipulating shared mindsets-regardless of faith.
Akin to the production of a film, serial conflicts-of-opposites featuring a series of requisite Evil Doers have successfully sustained warfare over generations while laying waste to the resources required to create the shared prosperity essential for peace, security and stability.
If, as suggested by the repetitiveness of the fact patterns,
such conflicts are often the product of those skilled at
manipulating thought and emotion, then the source of exploitation must be made apparent so that those complicit can be held accountable under the rule of law for crimes against humanity. Should this source trace to a nation state, the legitimacy of that state must be reappraised consistent with the moral tenets common to the faith traditions.
With a sustained focus on the “how” component of this systemic duplicity, interfaith dialogue may yet succeed in enabling mankind to free itself from the Dark Age that we are now experiencing at the advent of the Information Age. With the good faith and friendly dialogue required to address this deceit, progress can be made in accelerating the transition to the Knowledge Society. Absent that focus, international relations are presently on a path to more devastation and human suffering.
Interfaith dialogue without real-world results will only deepen the despair that people feel as poverty expands in the midst of a consensus model-induced global recession during which the world’s largest economy continues to dig itself deeper into debt to wage wars based on false premises. People worldwide seek security and yearn for some indication that their aspirations for a better life can be realized for them and their descendants. Thus this chapter closes with a “heretical” suggestion for a shared prosperity demonstration project.
Outlined in brief below is a proposal for re-framing dialogue around education and health care in ways consistent with the Knowledge Society and sustainable communities. By imbedding dialogue in the process by which money is created (“monetization”), this proposal offers a practical means for funding those two critical services while also setting a precedent able to identify, expose and displace “the people in between.”
Education and Technology Transfer: The Path to Preemptive Conflict Resolution
Education and health comprise the two largest budgets for communities worldwide. In the consensus model, those essential services must be funded with money issued by a central bank. That framing of the challenge ensures that such services are the first to feel the fiscal squeeze, particularly during economic downturns catalyzed by globalization of this flawed mindset. Yet meeting those needs remains critical for the sustainable health and stability of communities worldwide-particularly in downturns.
With the use of technology transfer, many of the costs for education and health care could be met with local currencies created to catalyze purchasing power in targeted communities. The consensus model of development assumes that all money must originate with debt, all money must be the same (“one size fits all”) and all currencies must be issued by a central bank.
Until this One True Faith prescription is challenged with practical demonstration models, that consensus diagnosis will continue to fuel today’s widespread systemic dysfunctions. Worldwide experience confirms that complementary currencies can be designed to stimulate purchasing power that responds to local needs and reflects local values. The purchasing power provided by these currencies, in turn, can be secured by the physical capital essential to healthy and sustainable communities.
Currencies need not, as now, be secured solely with debt. They can also be secured, for instance, with the future electricity generated by local hydrogen reformers. With
a development strategy focused on technology transfer, hydrocarbon-producing nations could accelerate the transition to the Hydrogen Economy while also hastening the transition to a Knowledge Society.
While meeting critical needs for education and health care (and affordable clean energy), the hydrocarbon-producing economies would also be well positioned to prosper in the Hydrogen Economy. At the same time, that strategy could catalyze the growth of two key sectors that employ women. For example, women in Saudi Arabia account for 84% of education sector jobs, 40% of doctors and 61% of the 2008 graduates in higher education.
This strategy has the advantage of considerable precedent and now the information technology is available to make such “monetization” strategies highly practical, widely adaptable and genuinely sustainable. For example, during the Great Depression of the 1930s, more than 5,000 different “monies” facilitated local exchange by matching unmet needs to underemployed people who lacked access to the national currency. By reframing the problem as an information challenge, local solutions were adapted to local needs.
Those “currencies” were often secured by physical capital ranging from livestock to lumber. Estimates put today’s worldwide figure at approximately 5,000 diverse systems of complementaryexchange. Many of thosecommunity-attuned systems address the needs of education and health care with the support of widely available information technologies.
Practical development requires a combination of both “hard” and “soft” technologies. The hard technologies, such as education facilities, health clinics and clean energy sources, provide the physical foundation to support healthy
and sustainable communities. The soft “operating system” technologies include the educational, vocational and institutional support required to launch and administer such complementary systems of exchange.
Interfaithdialoguecanplayakeyroleincatalyzingpractical, locale-sensitive solutions. Real-world progress requires education and technology transfer as a means to complement and gradually displace the consensus development model. With a sustained focus on the key components required for healthy communities, future conflicts can be anticipated and resolved in an anticipatory fashion.
The most direct path forward is for hydrocarbon-producing nations to calculate the present value of their combined reserves of natural resources. Each nation could then pledge a portion of that value to locale-attuned development. This development model would most usefully operate parallel with the consensus model-to catalyze local purchasing power for local services. With an initial focus on education and health care-two key job-generating services essential to healthy communities-a complementary development model could address those areas where consensus development is most clearly deficient.
By catalyzing a parallel form of monetization, demonstration models could also begin the essential process of displacing the “people in between” in the financial sector. That displacement includes the manipulators of debt who have long been-and remain-a recurring source of geopolitical exploitation.
By this process, Islamic nations could also take the lead in purging economic development of the fixed interest component (riba) that accompanies consensus monetization methods. Since antiquity, the “people in between” have extracted this levy from societies (also known as “the pound
of flesh”). In the transition from the Information Age to the Knowledge Society, complementary systems of monetization provide a means to liberate societies from this burden and from “the people in between.”
Needed: An Interfaith Design Solution
The hydrocarbon-producing economies have an opportunity to become a beacon of peace, hope and trans-cultural reconciliation. Their great reserves of physical and financial resources suggest an obligation-grounded in faith-to steward those assets to the greater good of community. The need is great for a design solution that anticipates and preempts the sources of conflict that accompany consensus-model development- including the widening divides in wealth and income.
The means for achieving success are known, viable and available. Finance is a matter of design, as is the possibility of a stable and secure future. The barrier to progress is the ill-founded faith in a development model that-predictably- created the dysfunctional results we now see emerging worldwide. Today’s mathematically foreseeable outcomes were certain to undermine the shared prosperity essential for justice, peace, stability and sustainability.
As the financial “in-between” domain is – by design- gradually freed from this political exploitation, the shared prosperity essential to healthy communities can emerge through focused and sustained dialogue. With guidance from the wisdom traditions, this systemic challenge can be met and that hopeful future attained. Prodded by interfaith dialogue, the practical means can be designed to create a genuinely sustainable foundation for peace, security and stability.