Think Horizontal

In the hopes of clearing the negativity of my fascism entry let us embark on the course for a cure. This is a thought exercise and I hope that you can take it with you a little everyday and think on it. Previously (March 17), in L. Britt’s article, we were introduced to his 14 observable fascist behaviours. If these 14 behaviours represent a common factor in 7 fascist regimes we can ask ourselves if they have a common denominator. I think they do.

Each behaviour depends entirely upon the concept of vertical organization, either as a pre-existing function (as in the nature of the State) or as relational cause (i.e., personal interaction). Vertical organization is literally up-and-down. Think classic hierarchy (or any -archy) in which there is a ruler (or system which rules) with the grandpoobah at the top, a variety of middle management and lords, and the vast ‘ordinary citizens’ or plebs at the bottom. At any interval along the ladder you can observe the relationship of ‘subject to’ another person. We can see vertical organization in fascism by the number of behaviours defined by words like:

control, nationalism, enemies, ruling, supremacy, elite, suppression, obsession

These are all vertical modifiers, i.e. words used to associate a vertical organization of people in a ‘ruling’ society. Somebody is always over you. You are kept under somebody else. In everyday terms the phrase “keeping up with the Jones'” actually means to keep them slightly under you (or at least to prevent them from superseding you = vertical relationship). Sexism is another obvious example of vertical organization as is racism. But what about the more subtle verticality of the State? Subtle in the way that we know it’s there, but we take it for granted that it needs to be there. The idea of vertical organization may seem natural and even good. After all, at times it’s apparent that somebody else just knows better, right? Somebody else deserves to govern.

I think not.

Vertical alignment is (a) not natural, and (b) leads to violence – on the personal and national level. We know now better than ever that this is true. What appears to be vertical organization in nature is actually cyclical and a cycle is flat. Think of the ouroboros – a symbol of undifferentiated unity. A cycle is like that. In Buddhism we talk about sameness and undifferentiated as egoless states. A cycle is flat, therefore, because in undifferentiated sameness nothing and no one can be subjected to another. It is the opposite of vertical in which everything is subjected to something. Nature is not organized vertically.

early settlers 1866 image

Early human settlements give us examples of societies with ‘degrees of flatness’ which also dispute vertical organization as a natural way of being. Alternative business models are running away from the traditional hierarchical model proving that the corporate world can not only function with greater ‘degrees of flatness’ but also thrive.

The thought experiment is to examine aspects of your life in which you find vertical organization. You can do this by sitting down when a few minutes of time is yours or try to do it actively – on the fly – when it happens and where. Try to understand the vertical nature of your experience. Next, try to come to an understanding as to why that particular structure is vertical: could be tradition, could be lack of known alternatives. Finally, decide for yourself if the vertical organization is necessary.

Don’t be shy. You may be surprised at just how much of your life is vertical and alienated when you realize that most of it doesn’t need to be. The Steam Punk fashion for example is thought of as weird, but is quiet the opposite, being old style and ornate. That is the flatness thoughts of the majority of us that need to change, to be accepting of all others, cultures, religions and even fashion.

Degrees of flatness above has been shorthand or foreshadowing for the natural alternative to vertical organization. I hope to explore this idea more completely as it has helped me understand how aspects of my life which had before seemed so dissimilar are in fact completely compatible. The problem was that they did not fit vertically – they fit horizontally.

My own thought experiment has lead to my current musings on

Marriage: Prototype for Anarchy through Horizontal Organization