Notes from Windward: #64

The Fellowship versus the Bilderberg Group

Relating a Real World Contest for Hearts and Minds
via an Allegorical Tale

by A. Allen Butcher, Denver, Colorado, January, 2005



     The intent of the material appearing on the website, where a version of this paper will be posted, is to provide foundations of understanding, methods of articulating, and structural models for building lifestyles of sharing and cooperation. This paper serves that purpose through identifying the two organizations that this writer believes best represent the dichotomy between the values and lifestyles of sharing and cooperation, and of possessiveness and competition.

     By relating the contest for hearts and minds between the two values structures identified in the previous paragraph to a well known allegorical tale of good versus evil, it may be more likely that readers will grasp both the scale and significance of the issues involved.

     The specific motive for this writing is to create a mental relationship in the minds of readers between a fantasy of epic conflict and a real-world contest. The contest is between two economic systems in the real-world, which are monetary exchange economies and non-monetary sharing economies. Toward that goal this paper is an introduction. For more detail see:   Time Based Economics


Once Upon a Paradigm…

     In our time of increasing privatization of institutions of mutual aid by governmental agencies and nonprofit organizations, such as in the health care industry, the proposals for social security, and the continuing assault on education, we are seeing the power of the ideals of possessiveness and of competition displacing the ideals of sharing and cooperation.

     On the individual level, the trend in industrial, service and information-based economies is toward people living alone, with single-parenting becoming increasingly common. In the United States the 2000 census shows that just over 26% of all households are now of people living alone, without children present (14% women, 11% men).

      The number of single-parent families in 2003 was 32% of all families with children (26% single-women and 6% single-men family households). The number of classic nuclear-family households (father, mother and children) has been declining from 87% of all families in 1970 to 68% in 2003, although the drop has been leveling off since 1995. (See: source and source )

     Even for the American Dream nuclear family, the African proverb of "it takes a village to raise a child" can be an impossible dream, a utopian ideal, far from the reality of the suburban commuter lifestyle. The simple, human-scale village has been lost by enclosure of the commons and the commoditization of everything that families used to do for themselves or together as extended families, neighborhoods and small towns.

     It isn't just simple proximity that makes a "community," it is interactions of residents, especially in the context of some kind of commons, along with mutual aid and forms of local self-reliance, that creates community.

     The typical housing development since the Second World War, whether tract development, apartment or condominium complex, has tended to emphasize privacy over community, and the loss has impacted our quality of life in many ways from the growing prevalence of violence, domestic and otherwise, the increase in stress, depression and a corresponding reliance upon medications, and a range of other problems experienced by adults and children, not to mention environmental problems.

     It is interesting to see, perhaps partly in response to the desire for some kind of community (not to discount the motive of economic necessity), that the number of non-family, non-related households is increasing. The Census Bureau defines a "nonfamily household" as either a person living alone or a "householder who shares the home with nonrelatives only; for example, boarders or roommates," this latter household construct being called "other nonfamily."

      And the increase in the number of "other nonfamily" households is from 1.7% in 1970 to 5.7% in 2000 (see resource citations above). With the prevalence of "other nonfamily" households increasing, the question is when is such a group merely a circumstantial community, living together by chance or out of necessity, and when is it an intentional community, deliberately forming a society based upon common affinities and mutual-aid?

     The idea of community has been lost as we've tended to pursue other values. Individual freedom and independence from the responsibility for maintaining any community has a predictable outcome. Yet changing times lead to cultural innovations in response to the needs and opportunities of the day.

     In the past the village community or the neighborhood was circumstantial in nature. People happened to live in proximity by chance, more than by choice. Today, with multiple immediate and ongoing communication channels we have increasing methods and opportunities for finding and choosing those with whom we most like to associate, focus upon commonalities of values, interests and lifestyle, and deliberately build community.

     As we seek we may find others willing and able to make commitments to collectively building intentionality into our lives, thereby displacing the circumstantial nature of a cultural system which breaks down community and results in the atomization of society, with cultural designs expressing the values of sharing and of cooperation.


The Allegorical Coin

     Mere circumstantial community is created and maintained by an economic system based upon the profit motive, emphasizing possessiveness and competition. To help in understanding this dynamic, take a quarter out of your pocket and consider for a moment its mass in your hand, notice how shiny it is, the imprint upon it and its inscriptions.

      Think for a moment about what it represents in your life. What power do you give the system, of which a quarter is one small representation, over the choices you make in life? Where is the balance between how you use that system to create and maintain the lifestyle of your choice, versus how it causes you to arrange your life in service to its imperatives?

     How precious is this monetary system to us, as it promises freedom while it binds us to a global economic reality that few of us, if any, really understand.

     In response to a challenge by spiritual authorities of the day about paying taxes, Jesus Christ once had his audience consider the imprint upon the coin of their day. Jesus made the distinction between individuals serving as appropriate both the temporal authorities' systems via its coin and taxation, and individuals serving the spiritual ideals and beliefs that they all shared. He made clear that we live in two different worlds, the material and the spiritual and that each affirms different imperatives.

      That remains an important lesson for today, part of which may be interpreted for the purposes of this paper as being, if we want community in addition to housing and family, our status in two separate cultures must be carefully balanced and maintained. Those two cultures are the possessive/competitive-based monetary culture and the sharing/cooperation-based non-monetary culture.

     How we manage the balance between possessive isolation and sharing community in our lives remains a personal choice, and for many of us the choice is compartmentalization. Our material values are kept separate from our spiritual values, and in practice if not intent the balance between the two may increasingly, overwhelmingly, emphasize material over spiritual.

      How can we reverse that trend, in order to accommodate community in our lives? By what spiritual awareness and practice, what art or craft or lifestyle can we emphasize sharing and cooperation over possessiveness and competition?

     The spiritual institutions built upon the life and teachings of Christ have only accommodated themselves to the monetary system, beginning with Christianity becoming a state religion, much later with Catholic complicity with fascism, and now with Protestant complicity with global monetary economics. For many Christians the obvious answer since the time of Christ has been Christian intentional community, yet the question remains of how to build community, whether Christian or any other.

     The challenge of the coin of today is not so much taxes as it is the service of debt. Through advertising and consumer culture we are enticed into making purchases on credit, the long-term cost of which can be much more than the original purchase. This is the binding mechanism of the economic system represented by the coins we carry in our pockets.

      And the more we are controlled by debt, the more we seek to rise within the system to be among those who control other's lives in service of our own economic fortunes. It's an insidious system, and it's not just consumer debt, it's also the problem of rent and the landlord-tenant as well as the landowner-mortgage company economic relationships.

     The credit reporting bureaus and their formulas for assigning our credit scores have an amazing degree of control over our lives. And if we haven't been paying attention to that, such neglect can result in problems for us. Our use of credit cards offers intimate details of our lives to anyone with access to those financial records. It's an all-seeing system that we serve, it's a matrix of surveillance and reporting that seeks to determine our world view, and everything is twisted or spun in service to the monetary economic matrix, from scientific data to electoral voting systems to spiritual beliefs and expression.

     It may not be possible for any one religious faith or any ethical system of belief to stand alone in advocating sharing and cooperation in opposition to the possessive and competitive values of global monetary economics. A multi-faith expression of the common values of sharing and cooperation may be the best foundation upon which to build a world view counter to the increasingly globalized economic system.

      Yet it's not simply a question of beliefs and world views, it's the application of ways of thinking to the actions we take in managing our time and energy that determines whether our lives serve the values of sharing and cooperation versus possessiveness and competition.


Light versus Darkness

     We can divide these two different moral systems today between two organizations representing the different world views or paradigms. The older of the two is the Fellowship for Intentional Community, originally formed in 1947 in response to the World Wars, and reformed in the early 1980s  (Fellowship for Intentional Community).

      In advocating community the Fellowship is supporting lifestyles of sharing and cooperation, and the methods that different communities use in their organization for affirming these values involves different forms of time economies.    ( Time Based Economies).

     The Bilderberg Group, also called the Bilderbergers, was formed in the 1950s (it evidently sponsors no website) originally to help protect the West from communism. It supports lifestyles of possessiveness and competition through the monetary system. Increasingly the Bilderberg Group is supporting globalization of the monetary system.

     As it is said that "money is the root of all evil" one can squarely place any organization that advocates economic systems based upon possessiveness and competition on the Dark side of contests between good and evil, light and darkness. The terms used in describing the monetary system including "rational self-interest" (Adam Smith) and "comparative advantage" (David Ricardo) clearly specify selfishness and taking advantage of others, even though there are many rationalizations for how these may be seen as positive values. The coins and credit cards we carry around with us tie us into the global monetary system, and when one scans a credit card it can almost instantly recognize and record who you are and what you are doing.

     Much like the "lidless eye of Sauron" in J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings," all cultures of the world are increasingly coming under the domination of the monetary economic system, and by extension, the Bilderberg Group.

     Although it is not generally known, it may be observed that the monetary system actually cannot function without forms of common-ownership of property and of time economies. In fact, 43% of all economic activity in the US is due to the combination of government spending and the activities of nonprofit organizations, both of which are forms of common ownership of property. 20% of the gross national product (GDP) was federal spending and 12% of GDP was state and local spending in 2000 (source).

      In 1995 11% of GDP was by nonprofit organizations including hospitals, schools, churches and research organizations (source) and that percentage has been increasing according to the Internal Revenue Service's Statistics of Income Division.

     Volunteerism and donating everything from money to blood is continually advocated, and housework and other unpaid family nurturing processes are essential to the maintenance of the labor supply for the monetary economic system. Add non-monetized labor and easily half of the US economy involves common-property ownership or time-based economics.

      In short, time-based common-property economies can exist without monetary economies yet the reverse is not true; monetary private-property economies are dependent for their existence upon common-property economies using taxation and donations of money along with time-based labor-sharing systems. Yet our government is continually working to privatize the economy and reorganize everything under the profit motive.

     Although there is a graphic of a "lidless eye" on the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States, and printed on the dollar bill, it is essential to not confuse this image with evil as its original intended meaning is good. This graphic actually represents the concept of Divine Providence and so is a positive image, as long as it refers to individual election and respect for each person's "inner light."

      Yet just as competition and self-interest can be spun and twisted in positive ways, so also does the monetary system justify its agenda by using spiritual ideals. One may reject fascism just as vehemently as one would communism (as opposed to "communalism" the form of common-property ownership using participatory governance, as opposed to communist authoritarianism) as neither can justify association with anything Divine, and the potential for monetary economics to become fascist has been realized in the past.

     The problem of course is in specifying when monetary economics becomes fascist. One determining factor is when an individual is not permitted to remove their consent to participation in the monetary economy and instead freely choose to give it to the sharing and cooperative economic paradigm when ever they desire.

     The problem with debt, of course is that it ties one to the monetary system. By comparison, the problem with living and working entirely within a time-economy is that one may accumulate little or no money with which to leave the time-economy and become established in the monetary economy. Fortunately, skills are transferable between the two economies, and this facilitates individual's transition between the two.

      In most First World, market-based countries people are able to choose to place their consent as they wish, either entirely or partially, upon time-based economies rather than the debt-based monetary economy. And in most such situations people are involved in both economic systems, the global monetary system and the local non-monetary time-based economy of their community. Here one may see again the balance of values: sharing and possessiveness, cooperation and competition, Light and Darkness.

     If one accepts the analogy of the Fellowship for Intentional Community as representing the fantasy role of the Fellowship of the Ring as portrayed in the story "The Lord of the Rings," in opposition to the Bilderberg Group in the fantasy roles of Sauron and Morgoth, each in both cases being in conflict for the hearts, minds and lives of the races of beings on Earth, then we can fill the rest of the fantasy roles of the allegory. Consider:

      Coins and credit cards in our pockets serve as the One Ring in a Hobbit's pocket.
      To destroy the One Ring by casting it into Mount Doom is an analogy for removing from our minds the power that money and its values of possessiveness and competition have upon us, enabling us to turn to forms of time-economies supporting the values of sharing and cooperation. Accomplishing this can be of varying degrees of difficulty depending upon one's intellectual and emotional constitution.
      The Fellowship of the Ring  /  The Fellowship for Intentional Community. Both represent societies dedicated to building lifestyles of freedom as opposed to domination.
      Elves /  Members of Spiritual Intentional Communities. These may be Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, New Age, Pagan, Native American Spiritual Communities or other.
      Dwarves /  Members of Survivalist Communities. May be isolationist and even politically conservative (e.g., Libertarian), yet may also resist the Dark Side.
      Humans / Members of Secular and Multi-Faith Intentional Communities: Ecovillages, Cohousing Communities, Community Land Trusts, Anarchist and other Political Activist Communities, Collectives, Rainbow, Native Tribal Cultures and others.
      Numenorians / Members of Egalitarian Communal Societies. These are few in number yet have much to teach and valuable aid for building societies based upon the values of sharing and cooperation.
      Hobbits / Those who ignore or who are oblivious to the contest of values between the Light (sharing and cooperation) and Darkness (possessiveness and competition), which may include average citizens, members of the military, police or other civil servants.
      This may be due to being far removed from the actual contest, or to being self-absorbed, or to being in denial of the contest, yet individuals may find themselves suddenly in the thick of it of no intent of their own, and may end up serving either the Light or the Darkness.
      Wizards / Those who seek to understand, frame and teach the issues involved in economic systems, whether debt-based or time-based. They may serve either the Light or the Darkness.
      Trolls, Goblins, Orcs, Urka-hai / Those who prey on others in any way: thieves, predatory lenders, terrorists, etc. This includes those serving the Darkness unwittingly.
      Ring Wraiths / Upper and mid-level managers of the monetary economy, such as the Federal Reserve and other central banks, the World Bank, etc.
      Sauron and Morgoth / The Bilderberg Group, Tri-Lateral Commission and other associations at the highest level of global monetary economic coordination or consultation.
      Dragons and Balrogs / Powerful natural forces hindering the work of the Fellowship.
      Ents and Eagles / Powerful natural forces aiding the work of the Fellowship.


     Allegories have always been used to aid the explanation of ideas and the teaching of moral principles. If one is to consider that time-based economics offers the only complete alternative to the possessiveness and competition of monetary economics, and that understanding the difference is essential in devising communitarian responses to the demographic changes at least partly resulting from the negative aspects of the monetary economy, then devising instructional aids based upon contemporary fantasy stories, accompanied by census statistics about changing lifestyles, may be helpful in the effort to increase our experience of mutual aid and of local self-reliance.

     Building intentional community out of the circumstantial culture is an adventure. And the efforts through the ages to live by the values of sharing and cooperation within a dominant culture of possessiveness and competition is an epic story of classic proportions. For each individual who accepts the journey, it can be said that one never knows where the road to community will take us among the many side paths and people sharing them.

     Today the Fellowship offers aid, and the adventure beckons. It is our choice, each of us mere hobbits, to close the door and continue to be "stretched" as Bilbo described it, or to resolve to either cast away the burden and explore the ideal of the non-monetary, time-based lifestyle, or at least work to balance in our lives the debt-based economy with the time-based economy.

  The Road goes ever on and on
      Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
      And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
      Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
      And whither then? I cannot say.

           -- J R R Tolkien

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 64