Corporatism, Deontic Scorekeeping and Collective Intelligence
Carl H. Flygt
The great world today stands under the sway of universal corporatism. How could it be otherwise? There are too many human souls expecting too much from life for anything other than corporate management of government, of business, of science or even of art and culture to hold sway in the world. Is there an alternative to the material abstractness, the impersonality and bureaucracy and the spiritually stultifying superficiality of life in corporatized society that yet can manage its weaponry, its wealth and its need for universal justice? I believe such an alternative is on the horizon, and that alternative will utilize a culture of Collective Intelligence.
Certainly much of the corporate solution to world problems has got it right. Undue powers in the hands of irrational or sociopathic actors are met by calculations based on other powers able to meet or exceed them. Examples include the checkmate of Richard Nixon in 1974, and the current problems with President Ahmadinejad of Iran. If many needs and wants of large numbers of people are satisfied by attractively packaging consumer products, there is no reason on earth not to produce and market them. Examples include sport utility vehicles and monster homes. If society or the environment is harmed by toxins dumped indiscriminately into the air, legal steps against the polluters are in order. Examples include the histories of acid rain, of ozone depletion and the future history, one hopes, of greenhouse gases. The virtue of corporatism is its capacity to respond intelligently and effectively to real problems in a complex and interrelated world. The problem of corporatism is not so much its concentration of wealth and power, which seem to come with competent management of any type, or with the fact that corporatism is itself responsible for the creation of most of the problems it then must solve, but with its ignorance of what human life on earth in general is actually for. Corporate consciousness is merely blind to spiritual and transcendental realities, and this blindness is what is fundamentally objectionable about it..
It appears possible to imagine a world run entirely by automatic intelligences. Almost everything that a corporate executive or a Supreme Court justice or even a head of state does, assuming the world in which these people each decide and act is reasonable and well-behaved, could be done by an artificial intelligence. Instead of a network of human actors with corporate commitments, imagine instead an all-seeing, all-knowing network of information gathering and Bayesian decision-making. Attach this intelligence to effectors controlling, let us say, a benign and sustainable system of agriculture, a zero-emission transportation system and a cradle-to-grave education and counseling authority, and it seems altogether plausible that corporatism’s essential intelligence may at some future point be translated into something purely artificial and transhuman. All-pervading artificial intelligence is the future of corporatism. This artificial intelligence, moreover, is likely to be substantially faster, smarter and more prescient than anything with which we are acquainted today, the decision-making intelligence, both domestic and foreign, of the current Bush administration, for example. So much so that one does well to ask, what becomes of humanity under conditions of regulatory communication and control that remains corporate in an important sense, but that supersedes it in all respects?
The essence of corporatism is the deontic scorekeeping people use to make social assessments of each other, to identify figures which are or are not acceptable to them, to organize their institutional life and to give their institutions a reality that transcends nature and the natural world. The primary instances of this scorekeeping are the authorizations and prohibitions established by the use of language simpliciter. If I say “Brenda is in Fresno,” my listener is entitled to the proposition that Brenda is in Fresno without any independent evidence he (she) might otherwise procure on his (her) own. He (she) may even claim an authorization of some sort based solely on such hearsay, the right for example to tell his (her) friend that Brenda is in Fresno. Language is deontic scorekeeping, and language use, together with material exigency, establishes the corporate world.
Beyond pure and applied language use, other forms of deontic scorekeeping also exist, the most salient of which is money. Money authorizes its possessor to take an action he (she) might not otherwise have the right to do, such as leaving a supermarket with an armful of groceries. Institutional status in general involves deontic scorekeeping. George W. Bush counts as the current U.S. President because he was legally elected as such, and for no other discernable reason. The principle and primordial use of deontic scorekeeping, however, is language. Conversational exchange and nuance are constituted fundamentally by this scorekeeping. Connotation, intension and metaphor in discourse all entail the upkeep and referencing of an ontological scorecard by the listener on the speaker updating who that person is and what he (she) is authorized in the listener’s mind to do, now that he (she) has said p. If someone says that Vice President Cheney brings a certain Mafia figure to mind, that speaker is noted henceforth, and until further notice, by his (her) hearers as having such a disposition toward the Vice President.
The unexplored opacity and essential privacy of much of this scorekeeping is the basic cause of corporatism in much of social life. Corporatism is factionalism, the tendency of ostensibly free and rational individuals to form cliques and clubs, cults and associations. That tendency of course is by and large unavoidable, and perhaps necessary, if the problem before one is to regulate a complex social system, such as the General Motors Corporation or the State of California. But as I have shown elsewhere, the tendency is fatal to smaller scaled social systems such as conversation. It is also fatal to any sort of Collective Intelligence of a living, cosmic and spiritual sort. Collective Intelligence depends not on the individual will or the corporate will, both of which may be appropriately deployed in a forthrightly factional manner, but on a will which is tangibly universal and non-factional. Collective Intelligence, if one follows Rousseau on the Social Contract, represents the step beyond individual and corporate will and into the General Will, the will of all.
In real world practice, so long as money dominates deontic scorekeeping, very little in the way of a spiritually tangible Collective Intelligence and a General Will can be expected to arise between and among human beings. Money in the present epoch is generally tied to material values such as food, housing and luxury, and does not touch, in a very efficient manner, the values that are instinctively given by natural disposition to higher experiences and states of consciousness, to an unsullied clairvoyance for example, or to a magical invocation. The result is institutional religion organized in a top-down and static manner, receiving material support by means of a general mystification of the folk, or a New Age marketplace filled with inconclusive and occasionally fraudulent processes intended to do little more than give people a taste of cosmic existence. In the meantime, purely material contingencies driven by self-interest force the devotion of individual energy and attention not in the direction of higher, flowing, universal energies and entitlements, but in the direction of material survival or the exploitation of material possibility.
The solution to this world problem is to effect a change in the character of deontic scorekeeping practices, and to circulate a new form of currency. Ultimately, in a truly evolved human circumstance, sentences and thoughts need to function more or less in the way that money does. Under Collective Intelligence, the actual semantics in play during well-formed conversation annoints the individual with higher order cosmic nutriment that is instinctively and universally valued. This semantics is available to anyone able to produce and consume it. Under such conditions, the individual human being, semantically and ontologically prepared, becomes a social value in himself (herself), a form of capital. The words he (she) articulates with force and beauty, the gestures he (she) performs with cosmic significance, the intentions for world evolution he (she) carries become something tradable. Society supports him (her) because his (her) self-consciousness, his (her) Darshan and his (her) speech and intentionality is valuable per se. He (she) rises on the scorekeeping scale, with increasing social commitments and increasing social entitlements, in a way analogous to Bill Gates’ economic performance from 1975 to 1995, but in a cosmically lawful manner, without any ruthlessness and self-seeking. Under Collective Intelligence, economic capital and its distribution is expanded to include the individual’s capacity to comprehend and transmit cosmic commitments and cosmic entitlements (supersensible cosmic realities) that satisfy spiritual and not merely material wants and needs.
The material seed for this future economy of consciousness, where impressions of the various and multifarious nooks and crannies of the cosmos are traded for food, for shelter and for institutional status, is undoubtedly gift money and gift capital. Gift money is the most efficient form of money because its recipient is not obligated to gain it by labor or to repay it from capital. The problem of gift money is placing it correctly. Not everyone in this world is prepared to receive and to utilize gift money, and gift money in the wrong hands can amount to mere waste. The market, moreover, contains no mechanism to ensure the efficient placement of gift money. That function appears to be something that only human judgment and human intelligence can handle appropriately, and probably something with which Collective Intelligence can excel. In all likelihood, Collective Intelligence and the cultural administration of gift capital represent some sort of fit by cosmic design. What progressive and liberal Western society requires, as an adjunct to its great achievements of the market economy and the rule of law, is the cultural administration of gift money and economic surplus by some form or forms of Collective Intelligence. For this function, one can imagine a Counsel of Elders, their feet on the ground and their heads quite literally up among the stars, making decisions about the capacities and the destinies of younger people, giving them tasks and responsibilites in life to draw out their capacities and giving them material support, at the right time and in the right quantity, so they can step in to their own social and cosmic functions when they are ready to do so.
Two things then, given the advent of Collective Intelligence, appear likely to mark the evolution of corporatism. The first (call this Scenario 1) is its wholesale translation into cyberspace, with a cradle-to-grave educational, health and economic system regulating individual freedom and forestalling individual pathology. Such technological intelligence appears to be the inevitable outcome of logical problem-solving which Western cultures have proven their capacity to utilize and direct toward progressive, humanistic and generally benign ends. The second is a pull in the direction of Collective Intelligence. The reader will have noticed that the advent of Scenario 1 leaves us with a certain problem. With all decision-making of material importance taken care of and handled by a superordinate artificial intelligence, what do people do with themselves, with their competitive and territorial instincts for example, and with their free time, which for many will be present in abundance? The answer is: they learn to live like angels. They learn to adapt to the etheric domain of life, light and Collective Intelligence in its cosmic spiritual forms. They learn to materialize their ideas, to produce art and to become works of art in themselves, living sources of universal wonder and amazement. They enter the corporate life of the cosmos, the politics of the spirits and the Ladder of Evolution, which uplifts material existence itself, absorbing it into a self-radiant domain of color, harmony, personality and unfathomable creativity.