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I think about this whenever I remember to notice the 24 video cameras on the highways between my house in Portland and the State Capital. For Bellamy this is just necessary and proper use of techno-logy. I should feel heartened knowing that officials are watching my every move so that the instant my 12 year old car breaks down during rush hour traffic, a courteous ODOT worker will appear shortly handing me an almond mocha latté, double tall, topped with shaved Mexican chocolate before volunteering to look under my hood, free of charge. You know, the Golden Rule, and all.
Bellamy also thought the governments system of credit cards was a great improvement over currency. Not only could benevolent overseers monitor all of your purchases for the purpose of replenishing inventories, but you could see how much of each item you were allotted to buy.
Alas, we have moved to Bellamys model, but what is wrong with this picture? For instance, once I made a purchase using a supermarket loyalty discount card. After getting all of 23¢ off a bottle of micro-brew, I received a coupon in the mail four days later for $1 off an overpriced can of salted nuts. The coupons arrived in an envelope with my full name on it including the incorrect middle initial I had deliberately entered on the application form to track the items I would be allotted to buy. Whats next? A bar code tattooed on our foreheads?
I dont want to be seen as just another one of Bellamys detractors spewing forth the worn-out criticisms directed at any reformer who shakes the status quo. The value of Bellamy is not that he got it right but that he had the courage to envision a better future that included everyone. He took an unbearable mess and dreamed a solution of prosperity being universally shared. His biggest mistake was underestimating the moral corruption of entrenched interests and the degree to which they would go to distort the message of the Golden Rule to read He who has the Gold, Rules.
Without discounting the widespread brutality and duplicity of the nineteenth century, I believe Bellamy would be utterly appalled by the degree of insensitivity, control, subterfuge, and fantasy that reigns at the turn of this millennium. The rot is so pervasive, it cant be confronted directly. Try doing so and it will swallow you whole. So whats to be done? The first step is to avoid being overwhelmed. Do this by whatever means necessary. Then watch out for the trap of cynicism. It will only denigrate your own integrity and that of those striving to get free. Skip the paralysis of demanding perfection in your self and others. Resist running away. Resist having the methods of transformation chosen for you. And dont postpone the vibrancy of your living until after the revolution. This is the Revolution! So have fun. Just look around. In the realm of Zero, Zero, its all hilarious. You couldnt make this stuff up.
William P. Benz is an Artist, Writer, and Poet living in North Portland. He Specializes in the Design of Information Filters, the Surfacing of Mental Models, and the Creative Reintegration of Defective WorldViews. For more info, visit his NEW WEB Space at http://www.aracnet.com/~wpbenz. Or send email.