The GNU Ethos

A shifting tide of multi-colored debris

The arrival of GNU, in 1983, despite the claims of some, is an example of the philosophy of Free, Open-Source software and as such, it represents perfectly the values of the new Ethos I am going to try and pencil in...

We find ourselves at last, on the shores of a Synthetic Universe.

We go to work in a giant Corporate hall of mirrors.

Our break times are spent in a toxic Forest wonderland of shops and commercialism, with Industrial effluence lapping at our heels.

And Nobody feels any Pain...cocktails of synthetic, inert substances, insidious and artificial swim through our brains.

As we slide seamlessly into our sveldt, Synthetic Universe for another day, immersing ourselves into a liquid world of screens and imagery reflected in glass towers, mobile phones, computer screens and store windows, we slip into the trance of unreality, into a world where everything is artificial, everything is fake, impermanent and transient, like a constantly shifting tide of multicolored debris...

Where slim secretary Mannequins with haunted looks, are being replicated like clones as they glide by in their ubiquitous, fluorescent-lit, bee-hive corridors...extravagant fake plants, fake Art, and imitation Roman columns litter the sterile atmosphere.

Where phones never stop morphing, and the furniture looks like wood but like everything else in Wonderland, its abstract, featureless and dead-blank to the touch...where even our idols and dreams are stolen from us, re-packaged and finally projected and sold back to us in slick, advertising cliches.

Fortunately, some of us are beginning to awaken from the trance, and are able to get off this Midnight Express train in transit, and look around... and some are beginning to suspect that our hamster-driven lives in the giant Wheel of Consumption, and our Game of endless personal acquisitiveness and materialism are equally artificial and contrived, and increasingly look as dead-end and empty as a Corporation's promise to care for our environment, or a pimp's promise to a new hooker.

In other words, these are commonly held social ideas and memes for our lives which are increasingly coming into conflict with our emerging collective reality.

I recently had an interesting conversation with a fairly astute friend of mine who had previously been an active member of movements for positive social change.

It was a conversation which forced me to examine my own actions and ask : Am I behaving in a manner which is authentic and legitimate to myself, humanity or both?

My friend suggested that my lack of material wealth could easily be remedied by finding myself a 'good job' which I enjoyed doing and that this, along with appropriating as much 'free-time' as possible was the secret to success and happiness.

He had earlier confided watching the entire 5 Seasons of "Breaking Bad" back to back, so I already knew what he was doing in his 'free-time'.

I think his shift back towards personal introspection and gain is a form of isolation which reflects on the increasingly menacing behavior of the Corporatocracy and the rise of the militarised Police State which violently quelled Occupy Wall Street protests all over the World, including here in Melbourne, and it also reflects on the fragmentation, unpredictability and general air of chaos and uncertainty which we are all sensing about our collective future i.e get what you can for yourself, while you still can.

But is it about Me, or about Us?

How can i possibly define myself without including my extended family and friends?

After all, I'm only a part of a greater whole and a larger, much larger picture...

My problem is that at its essence, at its core, the message is one of individual gain, of personal aggrandizement, and remains silent on the issue of our future survival as a species.

The philosopher Kant once remarked that in order to establish the 'correctness' or moral integrity of an action, we must apply this action to the rest of Society.

What if everyone behaved and felt as my friend did?

Obviously this is in conflict with the brand-new rising Ethos which is gaining ground across the Globe.

We need to realise that we are living in a World which is becoming increasingly entangled as, for example, radioactive marine life washes up on the American coastline.

Our species is expanding now at an exponential rate all over our precious globe, and the 'rocks and sticks' which we once hurled at each other in Neanderthal rage, are now much larger, can fly so much further and are vastly more lethal and destructive.

Distance has been conquered by our Technology.

This alone should give us pause to consider the direction of our growth and our future together on this precious ball of star dust.

The operative word being 'together'...

We have now arrived at a point in History where for the first time we are being forced to question 'The Game', so to speak.

We are being made increasingly nervous by the nature of our co-opted reality and the illusion and feeling of powerlessness it instills, and by the external forces gathering on the horizon.

It appears to me that our previous Psycho-social shift which commenced after the second World War, was a move away from the nurturing bosum of religion and the monarchy or the State, and replaced a sense of  'Community' with a sense of Individualism, and a move towards personal, materialistic aggrandisement and wealth as the true path to happiness i.e the 'Me' society.

This is the old Societal ethos, the tissues of which are now beginning to erode and fragment, and its cultural values appear to look ever more bizaare and thread-bare, as we all drift and slide imperceptibly along for the ride in our hedonistic, spiritual vacuum.

As current trends progress to their inevitable conclusion, there is a noticeable rise in tension as we come increasingly into conflict with our fellow man, due to our antiquated, traditional modalities of thought about the Game of Life.

As we continue in our inordinate expansion of destructive behavior across the face of the Earth I am reminded of a quote I recently heard on the brilliant and hilarious Internet Show i.e "Culture in Decline" on Youtube :

"True Freedom then becomes our ability to restrict the Freedom of Others"

This is unfortunately the new reality, and it forces us to recognise that as we grow in numbers, if we are to survive on this continuously shrinking Planet together, a new Ethos is required.

A moral, psychological and spiritual shift which takes into account these new realities, and which therefore sees an end to our culture of Greed.

A perfect example of the Gnu Ethos comes to us from Kalle Lasn who suggests that ; If, 'Corporations are people too my friend', and the head of a Corporation is composed of individual shareholders, then let us rewrite the Corporate Charter so that each individual Shareholder takes his or her share of Liability and Responsibility not only for the Profits, but also for when a Corporation behaves in a criminally negligent manner to cause harm to an individual, to the environment, or to society at large.

This is a part of the New Ethos, one which places the Common good above the individual, the Corporation, or the Government.

Lets take another example i.e Confidential Secrets or Intelligence.

Obviously, Secrets per se can never exist for the betterment of ALL, whether they are personal, Corporate or Government held secrets.

Information is Power, and Secrets are a restriction of that power, a censorship of knowledge, information, facts and data to ONE singular person, group, Corporation or Country.

All share the same common attribute, which is self-serving, egocentric, which again reflects the singular 'Me' cultural paradigm.

These secrets exist for the advancement of the individual corporations such as Monsanto, or the individual country such as Obama's Imperial America, at the expense of Everyone and Everything else.

They can never exist for the Common good.

American 'Exceptionalism' has never looked so ugly.

This again flies in the face of the currently emerging, but still largely underground cultural tide which is towards inter-connectivity and away from Consumerism and Corporate copyright, towards open free dissemination of ideas and transparency, towards sharing, and togetherness.

Surely these are memes which can lead to a better World and a new Ethos for our future survival?..

The old age of Selfishness and material aggrandisement, and the accompanying notion of success which this represents, may be at last swept aside, as we increasingly mobilize into a Gnu Age in ever greater numbers, whether in the physical world or in Cyberspace.


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