rkm’s new book: Introduction


Richard Moore


I want to put together a book for publication in the Fall, when I will be able 
to afford to go through one of those on-demand self-publishing outfits that gets
you listed on Amazon and prints your books for you as needed. Bill Blum has 
scolded me several times, saying that ideas have been developed on this list 
that can't be found elsewhere and which need to be published. Unfortunately, I'm
not satisfied with anything I've written in its current form, not for a book. 
Most of the material is dense and abbreviated, giving some readers a headache 
from concentrating too hard. I think a book needs to go at a more leisurely 
pace, and it also needs to be written as a coherent whole. So once again I'm 
starting over, with the earlier material close at hand for reference and for 
borrowing.  As usual, I'll post the drafts as I write them, and as usual I 
believe the final product will benefit from your feedback.

I think it's important for the reader to have some idea of who I am, why I'm 
doing what I'm doing, and where my perspective comes from.  Hence the 
introduction below. It evolved out of the recent posting, "Interesting times".

all the best,

Introduction to the book and author

I grew up in Southern California during the boom years following World War 2.  
That was a benign world where you could leave the keys in your car, prosperity 
kept rising, and the education system worked. I always knew I'd be able to go to
the university and that there'd be a remunerative career after that. I believed 
in Truth, Justice, Democracy, and the American Way, hated the Commies,  and 
figured the whole world would be better off if everyone were just like us 
Americans. I believed that America was the moral leader of the world and that it
gave out generous aid to help other peoples live better lives. We had defeated 
fascism and now we were bringing democracy to the rest of the world while we 
protected it from Red infiltrators. I was fully inside the matrix.

There was little in my upbringing - or in the I-Love-Lucy & Ed-Sullivan media I 
was exposed to - to challenge this rosy,  All American perspective.  It wasn't 
until I started at Stanford University in the sixties that I began to find out 
there were differing points of view. And when the Vietnam War heated up and the 
protests and teach-ins started, I began for the first time to examine my 
assumptions and beliefs about America and its role in the world. And there was 
also the hippie culture, which led me to question my assumptions about the 
American Way of Life, with its dedication to work, success, and consumerism, and
its lack of interest in inner understanding. As it became apparent that our 
leaders were lying to us, I began to examine my beliefs about democracy, to 
wonder whether or not one could call the USA a genuine democracy, and to wonder 
what democracy really means.

I didn't pay much attention to the radical ideas going around in the sixties. I 
could see there was a dark side to the current US reality, but I still believed 
in the basic American system, the wisdom of the Constitution, and even the 
beneficence of capitalism.  Marxists and anarchists and the violent fringe all 
seemed crazy to me. I adopted the hypothesis that the problem was mainly corrupt
politicians, in league with the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower had 
warned us about. Based on that hypothesis, I figured that solutions would 
involve things like voter mobilization, support for honest candidates, and 
perhaps a new progressive political party. We needed to revive our revolutionary
spirit and put the Truth, Justice, and Democracy back into the American Way. We 
had fallen from our traditional path and needed only to get back on track, to be
responsible citizens. Those days seem long ago.

I'm not sure why, but somehow a life-long passion arose out of this line of 
questioning. Why isn't America living up to its ideals? How can that be fixed?  
I suppose the passion began as outrage - as an American Citizen - at being 
betrayed and lied to by our elected leaders. "They can't do that to us!  This is
a free country!"  By golly, I was going to do something about it!  I must have 
made an unconscious pact with myself to not rest until I figured out how we 
could get our happier world back again, how we could get home to Kansas. After a
while I could see that the outrage was naive, as I began to understand the real 
politik that has always guided the paths of nations, regardless of their system 
of government. And I could see that the rosy world of my youth was in some sense
an illusion, in that it was built on systems of exploitation and on human 
suffering of which I had no knowledge or understanding at the time. The outrage 
faded, but the passion remained. I now felt betrayal at a deeper level - at the 
level of a Civilized Being, a Creature of the Universe, a member of a 
highly-evolved Social Species. We deserve better!  The world deserves better. 
Civilization can do better. Why isn't it doing better?  What can we do about it?
My quest for useful answers to those questions has gone on ever since.

I began the quest by following my intuition, but in retrospect I can see that my
procedures were modeled on standard scientific methodology. In fact, the methods
parallel those used in studying the universe. A cosmology researcher comes up 
with a theory of black holes, for example, and then examines relevant parts of 
the sky to see if evidence for or against the theory can be observed. If the 
theory has merit, its further development can lead to increased understanding of
how the universe works. The development of such a theory always proceeds in two 
domains in parallel: the observational and the theoretical, the external quest 
and the internal quest. Those are the yin and yang of science, inseparable 
according to quantum mechanics. The sophistication and usefulness of the theory 
co-evolves with the increased knowledge gained from purposeful observations. If 
the mature theory is finally proven - within some limits - to be valid, then 
that can give us a new tool to use in future research. It gives us a new 
discriminating lens so that we are able to extract more meaning from future 
Similarly, my own quest has been a matter of allowing theoretical models to 
evolve in my mind (and in my writing), informed by my investigations into the 
historical record and my observation of unfolding events - and my overall life 
experience. The quest started when I began to critically examine my beliefs and 
assumptions, to ask honestly if they fit the data of my accumulated experience. 
I began to turn to more pragmatic hypotheses, emerging naturally out of the 
patterns I noticed in my observations. 

This investigation went on as a kind of background activity during the years I 
was employed in the workaholic software industry in Silicon Valley. My friends 
would sometimes get annoyed at my habit of bringing up political issues in 
conversation. For several years my main means of investigation was to listen to 
recorded books during the daily freeway commute. That provided time enough to 
listen to one unabridged book each week. I went through countless histories and 
biographies and all sorts of educational non-fiction.  I wanted to know the 
whole story of humanity and of civilization. This period was like an 
undergraduate university course, a total immersion into new information and 
data. I made a few futile attempts at writing during this period, but I just 
couldn't find the time to do anything useful. And without writing I found that 
my understanding remained raw and undeveloped in my mind. Reflection and writing
were the missing vehicles that could elaborate and clarify the latent ideas. 
This dimension of my investigation was languishing, and this became gradually 
more frustrating over time.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, the Gulf War came along, and Bush the First 
mysteriously announced the establishment of a new world order, my sense of 
urgency about pursuing my quest grew. The pace of history was speeding up at an 
alarming rate. Finally in 1994, I quit my job, took along my savings, and moved 
to Ireland to begin writing. I had worked out some provisional hypotheses and 
that gave me a starting point. 

By fortunate coincidence, the Internet was just then coming on line as something
that was available on a mass basis for nominal cost. The number of users was 
growing rapidly, and academics had a strong presence since they had been hooked 
up to the predecessor Arpanet. I found that from my Mac in Wexford I could tap 
into a kind of Open Global Academy - open to all subjects and open all the time.
I soon learned that this environment provided an ideal vehicle for 
systematically pursuing my quest. I found out that dialog was the key to my 

Here's the research procedure I came up with. I first find some discussion group
of informed academics where their topic has relevance to my quest (history, 
economics, politics, anthropology, social movements, sustainability, 
international relations, etc.). Then I join the group's email list and follow 
their discussion for a few days. After I get a sense of the group's general 
perspective, I write a brief essay and post it to the list. The essay is a 
statement of my current working model / perspective, expressed in terms that 
make sense to that audience.  I try to relate my thinking to the group's 
perspective by first pointing out areas of agreement.  Then I present the 
evidence and reasoning which distinguishes my understanding from theirs. Finally
I present my own synthesis: the new formulation of my model informed by what I'd
learned so far from the group discussion.

Unfortunately, this kind of posting has usually been perceived by members of the
group as an attack, and many of the responses have been superficially articulate
while being in substance defensive and characterized by ad-hominem and 
non-sequitor outbursts. The reason for this defensiveness was that my arguments 
inevitably involved a challenge to the group's basic assumptions - the very 
nucleus of ideas that binds the group together. That challenge could not be 
avoided - it represented the essence of the difference between my working model 
and the understanding of the group. Their rebuttal to that challenge was where I
was likely to learn something useful. If they had good reasons for their 
assumptions, then I was always willing to update my working model. Fortunately, 
there were usually one or two in the group who had the patience to respond with 
reasoned rebuttals, and in some cases with a bit of agreement.  I'd usually then
post a follow-up essay, pointing to more agreement if possible, and including 
counter-rebuttals elsewhere.  I'd usually find takers for this kind of 
back-and-forth as academics tend to love debates - it gives them a chance to 
show off their knowledge and cleverness to the rest of the group. And their 
defense of the core principles serves as a tonic for the group, renewing their 
bonds. So feeling no guilt from my perceived trouble-making, I'd eventually bow 
out of the discussion when there was no more to be learned. 

By this procedure I was able to efficiently tap into the most relevant knowledge
of each group, and adjust my model to incorporate any new evidence or insights 
that were available. The procedure gets right to the point, and it elicits 
passionate responses because it is perceived as a challenge to the group's ego 
identity. I seldom reached agreement with group members, because of their 
stubborn attachment to their shared assumptions.  Those assumptions so colored 
their interpretative apparatus that they literally could not perceive contrary 
evidence. But I appreciated their contributions to my quest nonetheless. These 
episodes were like a series of graduate seminars in the various academic topics,
each involving a cast of informed experts and one lucky student. My 
understanding advanced considerably and my working model became more 
sophisticated and better substantiated.  All thanks to the convenient forms of 
dialog enabled by the Internet. And I learned a lot about writing and rhetoric -
how to articulate arguments and how to deal with anticipated objections from the

I set up an email list, "cyberjournal", intended to be a journal of my ongoing 
investigations and evolving theses.  The list has been going for nearly ten 
years and has attracted a loyal community of subscribers and contributors. 
People regularly send in articles they come across for possible posting, and 
other email lists and websites typically pick up on our postings and distribute 
them more widely.  I always post my own essays and articles first on the list, 
and in between I post articles that have been sent in, and responses to previous
postings from subscribers. The list has the flavor of a study group. We have 
various topics under investigation and we discuss each in turn, depending on 
what new evidence turns up. I owe a lot to the subscribers of this list, and I 
consider any progress on my quest to be a joint effort with them.

In all humility, I must say that the material going out on cyberjournal has 
generally been of high quality. I have a file of several hundred spontaneous 
messages sent in over the years by enthusiastic readers, expressing gratitude 
for what they got from the discussion - it  opened their eyes, changed their 
thinking, gave them encouragement  - comments like that. And some of the 
subscribers are editors of magazines and journals. I began to receive 
invitations to write articles for their publications, based on essays I had 
published on the list.  Overall I've published over two dozen articles in a wide
range of periodicals aimed at widely varying constituencies. The most popular of
these articles was "Escaping the Matrix", first published in Whole Earth Review,
and I've received many letters from readers who found that to be an eye-opening 
"red pill". 

My quest has converged into three lines of investigation. The first is aimed at 
understanding the current world system, how it got that way, and what agencies 
and forces are guiding its course. The second line seeks to envision a 
transformed world - not by dreaming up a utopia, but by trying to understand the
obstacles, constraints, and opportunities that any successor system would need 
to deal with.  The third line seeks to understand what kind of social processes 
might be capable of bringing about transformation, and seeks to find ways by 
which the emergence of such processes might be encouraged.

This book is a status report on this quest. It's presented as a narrated 
overview of various historical episodes, developing evidence for my current 
understandings, and giving us terminology and scenarios to refer to as the 
narration proceeds. As we go along I'll mention books that significantly 
influenced my thinking, but I'll keep detailed citations to a minimum. Your 
feedback or ideas are welcomed, and I can always be reached by email at 

Richard Moore
Quay Largo St.
Wexford, Ireland