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One life ends, and another begins.

Once in a while you just level up, see something that clicks, and nothing is quite the same after that. Those life defining shifts in perspective.

This one is not easy to describe. It’s about how we model and speak about power.
I had one of these about money in 2014, triggered by the COSMIC TRIGGER play put on by Daisy Eris Campbell and the gang. Left my underpaid thinktank job and went to work for the Ethereum team pretty much on the spot.

One life ended, and another began. Things *really* changed.
I recently defined power as "there is nobody I have to lie to" which took some people by surprise. I was surprised they were surprised.

Then I realized that to a lot of people, power isn't about self-determination, power is about control.

This is *extremely* deep for me.
I quit living for myself in 1998. I got enlightened. There was no "self" to live for, per-se. Blah blah lots of metaphors but it's a lot like being poured from a bucket into the sea: you stop worrying about the bucket pretty quickly once you're free in the ocean.

Life went on.
But in that condition of being, the idea of *forcing other people into some specific shape* makes no sense: shaping somebody else's bucket pretty much traps you against their bucket.

If I got out of my bucket, why do I want to spend my time pushing against yours.

We avoid it.
Let me try and describe this in a less metaphorical way. Take yelling orders.

If you get rid of the voice in your head which orders you around, the inner dialogues etc. it's very, very, VERY unattractive to spend your time ordering other people around.

It just does not work.
Most people are externalizing their own "inner authoritarian" which is, generally, just a tape loop of their father's voice (or, rarely, their mother) repeating endlessly.

If you speak aloud, the more people listen, the more that inner authoritarian feels heard and cared about.
So if you don't have one of those, what is power?

***Power is the ability to create spaces where people are not trying to make you conform to their own inner authoritarian.***

The more power you have, the less you feel controlled.

Completely different from "people obey" power.
Now this has been driving me up the wall for years, because my expressions of power are typically creating social spaces in which people are not trampling on each-other. It's tricky, but those are spaces I feel genuinely comfortable in.

Authoritarian spaces are poison to me.
So here's the insight. I've just been trying to stay free, and get people to listen to me. That's pretty much 100% of my activity in the world.

Even with Ethereum: I was an explainer. I couldn't *push* the way people wanted me to. I taught, but I didn't necessarily *persuade*.
Now, here's what I figured out, and it's a doozy.

The authoritarian structures of the world are not commonly agreed on. There are many different ones.

For most people, freedom is the right to pick which authoritarian structure controls you, not the absence of such control.
Now I want to drill down on that a little. The "tribalism" of society are zones where people's inner authoritarians agree with each-other.

For most, "freedom" is moving to a place where the authoritarianism that surrounds you agrees with your values.

Consider vegans in squats.
My company has been plagued by my inability to give orders.

You hear people talk about consensus leadership styles etc. Turns out they mean AS A LAYER ON TOP OF AUTHORITARIANISM.

I mean, I wouldn't *dream* of using the threat of firing people to motivate them. Fear kills minds.
Boy howdy if I'd understood that all that progressive corporate nonsense was built *on top* of the authoritarian framework rather than *instead* of it, how different my path would have been. I did what I know how to do, and in the good times it produced revolutionary creativity.
Now let's come to democracy vs. anarchy.

It's obvious from this stance that democracy is simply picking which authoritarian voice will control you. Ugh.

But anarchy is almost always about local consensus on authority, rather than absence of authority.

Why? "People need rules."
Now, this is very important and subtle.

Rule free space relies on people being incredibly aware of self-and-others. Some environments like Zen monasteries use rules to liberate consciousness, because the overheads of freedom-plus-complexity are absolutely immense. You need ways.
These methods of freedom are things which allow people to exercise their free will without interfering with the people around them.

A good example is "leave no trace" camping: you take care of your impact in such a way as everybody else is left in an equally advantaged position.
Now, let me split the hair here.

There are two ways to get to "leave no trace."

An internal authority-voice which makes that rule, or an internal aesthetic which says "removing other people's freedom is gauche."

Effect is the same, but the state of being is totally different.
Now, the part of this which is new to me, and which hit me like a hammer, is that *people want somebody to make rules for them* because _it removes their fear of divine punishment when they die_.

Freedom makes them afraid, because of the threat of disproportionate retribution.
What this means is that "light touch" principles - rules which are intended as guides, don't really exist in our societies. The tendency is for rules to be interpreted as EDICTS. And freedom tends to get contaminated by repressed "id" psychological material erupting.

A Problem.
Now, let me try and frame this.

In this culture, *graduated* freedom is extremely hard to arrange, because you can *change* what The Authority says, but you can't generally vary how *seriously* what the Authority says is taken.

Can do less rules, can't do rules with less force.
And this is a critical distinction which has been breaking my interface to the world for years: *all the rules are interpreted as having equivalent force* and "freedom" is created by changing the rule set.


Not "the rules are gradually taken as guidelines."
Let me draw that out again one more time.

Mode A: rules are obeyed and freedom is a state with less restrictive rules.

Mode B: freedom is a state of taking whatever rules are around as guidelines, eventually ignoring them completely.

These are two *completely* different things
You give somebody a rule which says "you can do what you like" and they obey it, they're still obeying you, relying on your Authority to sanction their behavior.

Compare with "I'm not bothered what other people say, I just do what I like" which is one kind of absolute freedom.
Let me just completely explicate this.

Mode A: the rules I am given are less restrictive.

Mode B: I am less restricted by whatever rules I am given.

These two modes of freedom are continually misunderstanding each-other in society. They're two *entirely* different models.
For years I've watched Asian models of freedom (around enlightenment traditions) pancake horribly in the West, from Advaita to Trungpa. Never could figure it out.

So simple: Westerners wanted less restrictive rules.
Asians wanted to be less restricted by whatever the rules are.
What this produces is a constant western attack on rules and systems of rules, by those who wish "freedom" - they want THE RULES to be what they them to be.

Where as the Asian model of freedom is just to ignore it wherever possible, and the chaos of Asian freedom-cults is that.
And this is why the Asian freedom-oriented spiritual leadership tend not to go into politics: they don't have to make THE LAW say what they want to feel free, they just have to move to the edge of the map where enforcement is weak and then happily ignore THE LAW as suits them.
The Asian wizards are mostly at the edges, leaving THE LAW alone, where as the Western wizards are mostly in the corridors of power fighting to make THE LAW say what they want it to say.

This misunderstanding has left the Asians talking to clueless hippies for 60 years and more.
Here's where it hits me.

To me, money is the ability to walk off the map.

To most westerners, money is the ability to set rules for other people.

This explains close to 100% of the misunderstandings I have when dealing with my peers in business.

It's like a searchlight now.
And then this explains the way money is used in such close partnership with power: the Western model is to use money to pay people to obey you, until you're in government, then people pay you to make them obey you, which is a bit paradoxical really, but not if you think about it.
And this is the trap that Burning Man epitomizes.

It's got different rules, and different dispute resolution. It's an *alternative society* not AN ALTERNATIVE TO SOCIETY.

Different rules vs. no rules (or, rather, "feel free to ignore the rules.")

Different models of freedom.
I may not have communicated this clearly, but for me, this is unpicking decades of misunderstanding and miscommunication with freedom-seekers and people of influence about what they wanted to do with their lives, and how we might cooperate and work together towards mutual goals.
It's like learning to pronounce a word

The word I'm learning to pronounce is Power, in the western mode. Every fight that I've had on "stop trying to control me, I'm an adult, I do not need rules" where the local move was "Stop trying to control me. I am in charge. You do this."
I wanted to manifest my power as not being told what to do.

The world expected me to manifest my power as telling other people what to do.

What am I supposed to do now, write a book of law?
So that's cracked my head right open.

Because now I can add "telling people what to do" in my list of potential game moves. I have to figure out how not to get entangled in control (the main failing on this strategy) but, if people want rules and structure, I can publish mine.
As no less a poet than Bjork famously said, "I thought I could organize freedom, how Scandinavian of me."…

And now I can bug fix and finish “Cutting Through Spiritual Colonialism” - this is both of the critical pieces I needed to make that critical work completely legible to people. Now I know what they need to know!

Very pleased with that!…
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