Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Marrano Option and Resilient Communities

One theme of Catastrophic Abundance and of a variety of posts here at FutureJacked over the past year has been a discussion about new ways of organizing society at a base level. In times of transition and economic upheaval, there is an incentive for groups to shear off from the main body of society and try out new ways of organizing communities - whether on a macro scale in the form of secessionist movements, or on a more micro scale in the form of small groups working on new ways to live, survive and thrive. We've termed these latter potential new movements "networked tribes."
Big Thinkers like John Robb and Richard Heinberg call them "resilient communities," or "rhizome communities," (per Jeff Vail's extensively worked-out theory) and the ideas have been discussed in a variety of places where you wouldn't always expect it, like at Zenpundit. It shows that the meme is spreading from the fringes into thought leaders, people that are presenting the big visions to policy makers and hopefully shaping ideas for the future.
These types of communities and utopian outfits have been scattered all over the United States since the colonial era and continue to this day - often known as "intential communities." The last major upheaval and transition was the Great Depression, where large, top-down government programs helped fill this role of providing a mechanism to reorder society - through income redistribution, direct payments to the unemployed and aged and the host of other programs that fell under the "New Deal" and later "Fair Deal" and "Great Society" programs.
It is my opinion that a new wave of communities - intentional and otherwise - will be taking shape as the economic and social landscape shifts in an era of expensive energy, expensive food and restricted transportation options.

Step out of line, the Man come, and take you away...
I come not to praise these resilient communities, but to warn them.
Any time you set out to reorder society and try to do it from the fundamental building block - the local community - you better expect The Powers That Be will not be pleased. Now, this is not some rant or conspiracy theory - it's just that when you want to try out new structures and new ways of defining relationships, of raising children, of building a future that does not involve materialist consumerism, 9-5 jobs, worshipping at the temple of Hooters on the weekend and processing your children through the public school mills, then you best be ready for blowback. Remember, these communities are striking at the heart of big companies who want to sell you stuff, of lawmakers and judges who want to tell you to live according to the old model, priests and pastors who see you leading portions of "their" flock "astray," and are a subtle insult to the great majority of men and women in surrounding communities who will view your project with extreme skepticism and view it as a repudiation of their "right thinking" ways of behavior.
Some of these communities very well may be run by whack-jobs and will be doomed for failure. Others may be little more than cults. But it is my strong opinion that new ways of organizing local communities are going to arise in the face of Peak Oil and the coming downturn in social mood.
I want to avoid judgment here and just remind people of the challenges that will face these "resilient communities."
Case in point - the recent raid by Texas officials on the Yearning for Zion Ranch, which was run by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
This is a community that holds many views that are incompatible with current mainstream thinking on how society should be organized. The focus has been on the practice of "spritiual marriage" involving underage girls. The raid was conducted by heavily armed SWAT teams and lurid headlines were the order of the day when the raid, inspired by a hoax caller, happened:
Now, I personally think a good number of this community's practices are creepy, but let's look at it strictly from the point of view of the government running a hit job against a budding "intentional community."
You had a community that was not, as far as has been reported, engaged in organized violent actions or fraud against surrounding communities. They had their spread of land on which they farmed, raised families and worshipped God in their own way. Taking down a bunch of pastoral communalists doesn't make for good headlines, so the raid needed to be framed "properly" by the Man - and it was, at first. The Info Ops against the FLDS has been well-orchestrated - underage girls forced into sexual slavery, a community cut off from the outside world, vague allegations of abuse against the boys swept up, the "class action" grab of the children and then the splitting up of the siblings to weaken them when isolated and questioned (and, for those of you who have never been interviewed by the cops, take it from me, a well-run "good cop, bad cop" session can get you close to confessing to a crime you never committed or to agreeing with their allegations, especially if you are young and impressionable) and the host of other nuggets that are in pretty much every story that has been written - that Warren Jeffs, the spiritual leader of the "sect" has been convicted of accesory to child rape.

The Questions Only Arise Post-Raid
This particluar "reslient community" node was smashed and scattered. This is a key point that future community builders need to realize. Should TPTB decide to target your community, it won't matter what facts may exist to muddy the black-and-white picture they are going to paint to the media and to the judicial branch.
Only after the community is crushed do the questions pop up - things like, if they were so isolated from the outside world, why did the women and children all have their cell phones confiscated? Cell phones? Cults demand that all information channels be routed through the guru... The 60 underage pregnant girls? Well, turns out many of them were adults... And to be honest, there were pregnant 14 year olds in my junior high back in the 1980's - but I guess it wasn't "organized" to knock them up, so it was okay...

The Fight Against Voldemort in Texas
As an example of the extreme lengths that TPTB will go to, witness another aspect of the Info War against the FLDS children, what I call the "Voldemort Protocol":
Sect children not to hear leader's name, Texas CPS says

By LISA SANDBERG and TERRI LANGFORD, of the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News
SAN ANGELO — Texas child welfare officials acknowledged today that the agency has isolated the children it removed from a polygamist community from any mention of the group's spiritual leader, who was convicted as an accomplice to rape last year for arranging the marriage of a 14-year-old girl.

The name of Warren Jeffs cannot be uttered, even by family members visiting their children in foster care at facilities around the state, a Child Protective Services attorney confirmed.

And Jeffs' picture cannot be circulated, even in religious literature, a CPS caseworker confirmed in court today during the first week of custody hearings for children taken from a Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints' ranch in West Texas...
This reslient community leader has been brought down to the level of a character out of the Harry Potter books. I wonder how the children of Warren Jeffs are supposed to refer to their father? He Who Must Not Be Named?
Texas CPS has some interesting folks running this op.

Community Builders: Implement a Marrano Option
Any community builders out there need to be ready for this type of attack, especially in the early days of any transition crisis that creates the kind of vacuum in society where such communities have a chance to flourish on a large scale. When groups of people are ready to walk away from materialist consumerism, you can bet that the social and political landscape will be tense. Scapegoats will be sought and you can rest assured that communities that set themselves apart from the herd will get their fair share of abuse.
That's why I suggest that every resilient community out there have as part of their ideologic training of new members a "Marrano Option."
The Marranos were Jews who, under threat of persecution in Spain after the Alhambra Decree in 1492, pretended to convert to Christianity, but retained their faith in secret. These Marranos would publicly be devout Christians, but behind closed doors they retained their allegiance to the faith of their fathers.
A Marrano option would allow for a node of a resilient community to be crushed in public, but provide a support system for those members who are caught up in the maelstrom of persecution and give them hope that in the future, once the dust has settled, they could join a new or different node in the network of resilient communities being built up by their group.
In the example provided by the FLDS community at the YFZ Ranch, a Marrano Option would encourage them to say anything that Texas CPS wants to hear, to publicly adhere to whatever plan that Texas CPS forces them to live by and to even publicly disown the FLDS if it came to it. All the while, both moral and financial support would be forthcoming, whether through charities set up as fronts to funnel money to FLDS members, through legal defense funds, housing owned by secret FLDS members, etc.
The Marrano option, in extreme forms, will require the ability to hide financial assets, to communicate securely and secretly (PGP? Steganographic methods? Other?) and some way of building trust that a resilient community member has not been "turned." It will also require some sort of indoctrination that spells out to members that they may have to act on their own, without direct orders at times from what little hierarchy a resilient community would have. Whether a few leaders are taken out by a Hellfire missile strike or the community is broken up and scattered, some sort of indoctrination and "us versus them" schema will probably be necessary - and can even be quite motivational.
Many of the tools necessary to implement a Marrano Option for a networked tribe/resilient community/rhizome community already exist in intelligence agencies across the globe. Should be interesting to see what kinds of hybrids grow up during the coming years and decades.
For those of you who would change the world, one community at a time, be aware that you are playing with fire and have a backup plan in place to deal with the inevitable persecution.


Justin Boland said...

This was an outstanding article and I'm really glad I found this site. Your breakdown of "normal" social forces was a gem, and this Marrano concept is something I'd only heard of from Hassan i Sabbah as "acceptable dissimulation" -- if memory serves, certain Christian sects adopted that, too.

Anyways, thanks for the brainfood, this is a great site.

Flagg707 said...

Hi Justin,

Thanks for the kind comments. If you ever have questions or suggestions, drop a comment or kick me an email at flagg707_at_gmail_dot_com.