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Barack Obama, Fractals and Momentum in Politics - Think Piece By Dr. Horace Campbell, PhD, Guest Commentator

Introduction and the force of Ubuntu

The new force of the youth has now made itself felt in US presidential politics in 2008. This force is manifest in the tremendous outpouring of the collectivities of different races, classes, genders, sexual orientation and ages coming forward to support the candidacy of Barack Obama. Barack Obama was born of an African father from Kenya and a mother of European extraction from Kansas in the heartland of the United States. Obama is drawing on both heritages and is campaigning to make a break with the binary categories that perpetuate divisions and the politics of exclusion. This break is a fundamental concept in fractal theory and opens up questions of the laws of unintended consequences in politics. It is the combination of the new energy and light that emerges from the Barrack Obama campaign that sparks questions on the need for a new framework for analyzing politics. This is the framework based on truth, justice, peace and a new mode of politics. In South Africa, the term Ubuntu emerged to point to the ways in which we share a common humanity.

At the British Labor party conference in 2006, the former President of the USA, Bill Clinton, told the assembled delegates that all that was needed to solve the problems of the world was Ubuntu. Bill Clinton declared that, “Society is important because of Ubuntu.” Characteristically, Bill Clinton has not carried this message in the USA. It is Barack Obama who has captured the spirit of Ubuntu in his electoral campaign. The word Ubuntu comes from the Bantu languages spoken in southern Africa - and is related to a Zulu concept - “umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu” - which means that a person is only a person through their relationship to others. It was Archbishop Desmond Tutu who sought to be a healer in South Africa who has written extensively on the question of Ubuntu. In his book No Future Without Forgiveness, Desmond Tutu noted that: “Ubuntu is very difficult to render into a Western language... It is to say, ‘My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in what is yours.’”

Ubuntu and Recursion are at the heart of fractals and at the core of recursion is the concept of memory. What memories are being unearthed in this campaign? How can these memories create a new reference point for the politics of the 21st century? How can a new movement inspire the peoples to tap into their creative energies to build a new peace movement, a new movement to make a break with the destruction of the planet earth and to make a break with the plunder of the present mode of petroleum production? This short statement will argue that after nearly thirty years of traditional republican and democrat politics, there is a desire for hope. It is hope that goes beyond the audacity of the campaign of Obama or the kind of balancing which is inscribed in his book, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream.

This hope cannot be quantified and this absence of quantification bears positive and negative possibilities. The positive possibilities can emerge from the intentionality of those forces who can build on the new self organizing tools for self emancipation and for moving the politics of this society to a new level. Without the involvement of a new constituency in politics, the Barack Obama campaign can only go so far to ignite the imagination of the youth but this fire will burn out if there are no self similar processes being developed in spaces of peace, spaces of hope and non-racialized spaces.

Even if Obama were to be elected President of the United States, the conditions/realities for the overwhelming majority of the citizens (especially Blacks, Browns, and First Nation peoples) will not change overnight. The economic recession, the joblessness of millions and the massive military machine will expose whether this election discourse on change can be transformed into setting in motion a new mobilization of popular forces to struggle for a new mode of politics and economics. In the conclusion we will note that although Obama is no revolutionary, he is caught in a revolutionary moment and his message of hope has tapped into the desire for peace, reconstruction and justice.

Politics of change challenges Newtonian mechanics

Barack Obama is campaigning on the basis of change. In this campaign, his ideas may not be totally formed in relation to the fundamental questions facing the society, but what is clear is that his movement has tapped into a force, energy force that at this moment is unstoppable. The same youths who have grown up in the era of the information revolution and the platforms such as Face Book and My Space are using new social networking techniques that baffle the political pundits, reared in the universities that taught the physics of Isaac Newton and the derivative mechanical concepts of Adam Smith and John Locke. Polling and the laws of predictability that emanate from this mechanical era have fallen short of grasping the new energy as thousands of new actors and actresses surge on to the stage of politics to identify with the break from the old politics of fear and so called War on Terror. Millions are no longer deterred by the fearmongering of the Bush/Cheney leadership or the imagery of Islamic peoples as terrorists. Decent Christians are now seeking the gospel of peace and love instead of hate and religious fundamentalism.

Barack Obama is opposed to the hierarchies of the whites over blacks and browns and uses his own life as a metaphor for calling on citizens to come together to save the planet earth. Obama has gone on record to register his opposition to the structured existence that places humans as atomized individuals without responsibility to family or society. Atomized individuals are open to manipulation by the media and are open to the Hobbesian thinking that society must be based on conflict and confrontation or ‘war of every man against every man.’ This manipulation is one form of psychological warfare against the citizens of the United States.

Mechanistic thinking, whether predicated in its conflictual radical form of class struggles as dialectical materialism or in its crude form as ‘winner takes all democracy,’ stresses materialism along with the predictable and unchanging nature of society. This kind of thinking encourages the certainty and correctness of one point of view. According to one scholar who has written on Quantum Society, “Mechanistic thinking stresses the absolute center, with power radiating outwards, it stresses fixed role playing and rigid bureaucratic organization.” In this world view, Washington is at the apex of the power of the capitalist classes in the United States.

Scholars and activists from outside the mainstream of power extensively document the origins and consequences of such philosophies in Quantum Society, emphasizing the need for a “society firmly rooted in … the nature of physical reality itself- a society drawing its laws and principles, its self images and its metaphors from the same laws and principles underlying all else that is the universe”. The consequences of the influence of mechanistic physics to become “the central paradigm of the modern world” will be at the forefront of political, social, and economic issues for present and future generations - manifested in our current ecological crises [1] . It is for this reason that although Al Gore has been able to present the brilliant expose of global warming in the An Inconvenient Truth: The Crisis of Global Warming, he has been incapable of inspiring a new environmental movement to challenge the corporations that are in the forefront of the destruction of the planet earth. To make this leap, Gore would need to go one step further and challenge the certainties of the founding fathers on the United States Constitution and the principles of the enlightenment philosophies. Environmental justice would demand that the energy companies responsible for the crimes against nature be charged for the crimes while our schools would retreat from the wrong headedness of teaching about dominion, whether over other human beings, over other societies or domination over nature.

Isaac Newton and Francis Bacon, leaders of the Enlightenment, “drew nearly every influential social, political, and economic thinker of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries” into a “distorted perception” of nature as an other, “only to be conquered and used”. [2] As a result of mechanistic physics, which stress the absolute, hierarchies, and atomism (which “encourages a model of relationship based on conflict and confrontation on part against part”), the development of society during the Industrial Revolution further “extended this alienation to our very understanding of human beings and the nature of our labor”. [3] Binary concepts of race, gender, nationalities and sexuality have become interwoven with the concepts of supremacy and linear ideas of development. Quantum Society embodies central tenets of radical feminist thinking and fractal theory, particularly in the concluding proposal for a plural, holistic society that abolishes the individual/collective dichotomy. Feminist geopolitics seeks to forge a more inclusive mode of politics, one grounded in the local context and therefore honoring multiplicity of meaning in scholarly discourse. [4]

This kind of feminism enables the thinking citizen to distinguish between Hilary Clinton as a Sexual Decoy and the real questions of millions of women who want a society that challenges sexism, misogyny, rape and violence against women.

Apart from capturing the ideas of the politics and economics of caring that is central to any new economic dispensation in the 21st century, the new revolutionary thinking of the 21st century seeks to transcend the determinism and predictability that was based on the linear road to socialism. This revolutionary thinking seeks to draw from a new reference point for human society and it is in this tradition that F. Capra has called for a The Turning Point: Science, Society, and the Rising Culture. It is an attempt to capture major beliefs of traditional knowledge systems, such as sustainability (related to fractal conceptions of life), the honoring of all peoples’ voices, and an honoring of the spiritual: one which advocates the discovery of one’s purpose and direction in life, deepening our understanding of the “ultimate sanction and meaning of our actions and projects”. [5] It is this call for a change from the dichotomy between spirit and matter that is coming through from the millions that throng to the rallies of Barack Obama.

Quantum leap and fractals

The idea of change that echoes from the Obama campaign has been calling for citizens to place themselves at the center and to empower themselves, firstly with their positive thinking, “Yes we can,” and more importantly by organizing to intervene in the political process. In response to this call, a cross section of the citizens of the United States from Iowa to Nebraska, from Idaho to Georgia and from Washington to Louisiana have come forward to seek the new ideas of 21st century change. In the process there are new constituencies that have found their voice. This has led to a level of spontaneity that one could see in the much watched video- Yes we can.

Can the old media and the old ideas blunt the quantum leap in the consciousness of the youth that is taking place at the moment? This is the question that emerges from the discourse of the political talking heads on the same television stations that were enthusiastic cheer leaders for the illegal war against the peoples of Iraq. These political commentators, who were brought up to reproduce the misinformation of the media that tormented young people and led them into depression and isolation, cannot fully understand the call of the Obama campaign to the youth that the change must begin in the youth themselves and that they have to believe in their capacity for change.

The political pundits of the mainstream media have been, in the main, brought up within the context of the hierarchies of Newtonian physics, have been confounded by the bottom up, responsive, plural and holistic message of the Yes we can campaign. These hierarchies have been at the base of the faulty democratic traditions of the United States that did not recognize native peoples as humans and rendered African Americans as three fifths of a human being. The same democratic tradition did not recognize women as citizens. Obama is not calling for this deformed reference to be the basis for change, he is exhorting all classes and all ages to be part of the solution, by drawing from a different tradition, the progressive traditions that sought to enrich and enlarge the meaning of democracy.

Fractal theory

In the novel, Kindred (Bluestreak Black Women Writers), the now deceased author, Octavia Butler, sought to capture the fractal relationship between humans in the United States. Butler had attempted to shatter the barriers of space, time, race and history to bring home the infinite relations between humans, nature and the universe. It is this link between humans, nature and the wider universe that is at the foundation of fractal theory.

In the most basic sense, fractals are defined as small parts that represent the whole while displaying the same level of complexity at any scale. One other definition of fractals is that they are mathematical models that mimic nature. Shorelines, mountains, snowflakes are fractals in shape and humans in the past have sought to develop ideas and principles that emanate from their link to nature. This is very different from the Cartesian ideas of rationality and the Baconian view of domination over nature. Ron Eglash describes five “essential components” to fractals: recursion (a process wherein the output of one stage becomes the input for the next stage), scaling (shapes which have similar patterns at different ranges), self-similarity (a measurement of just how similar shapes are at different scales), infinity (essential to the connection between fractals and dimension) and fractional dimension (dimensions are not just limited to numbers but could in fact be fractals themselves). [6]

While there has been ample discussion of fractal theory in numerous disciplines- including astronomy, computer science, medicine, anthropology, and mathematics, on the whole, these disciplines are as of yet underdeveloped, lacking an all-inclusive model for fractal theory. [7] In the tradition of radical and revolutionary politics, it is the Zapatistas of Mexico (EZLN), who have been propagating a fractal, bottom up theory of politics and change. For our understanding of the Barack Obama phenomenon we want to draw on the ideas of recursion. And in particular the self referencing that is at the heart of the concept of memory.

Is it possible that the political practice of Obama is opening up new possibilities for the understanding of fractal theory as the society begins the break from the old to unleash the new?

Self Organizing and pedantic organization

The unique experiences that Obama learnt when he was an organizer on the South Side of Chicago taught him the humility to listen to the ordinary person and it is this methodical organizing like the repetition of self similarity that one can discern in the organizational skills of Obama. The political victories in Idaho, Nebraska, the Virgin Islands and Missouri followed the scaling pattern of Obama that built up a profile in every district and in every part of the country so that he could not be pigeon-holed. After the land slide victory in South Carolina, Bill Clinton sought to compare Obama to Jesse Jackson and to limit his appeal to African Americans citizens. But the citizens of Washington State, Missouri, Louisiana and Maine voted with their heads and their hearts in response to new organizing thrust that is making the quantum leap in US politics a possibility. This leap has been reinforced by the nested loops of new social networks wired through the spaces of the information revolution.

After these victories, the momentum began to build and citizens in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia signaled that they were another link in the chain of this momentous political intervention. Young people have organized themselves into new formations and have been energized by the promise that Obama would want to move in a new direction. In the past forty years, the established parties benefited from the demobilization of the youth and unlike most liberal democratic states, the numbers of citizens voting in the USA has been consistently below the numbers of other western democracies. Apathy and withdrawal from the system have been the outcome of the absence of realistic alternatives for the majority of the poor in the United States.  This absence of participation by the youth has benefited the corporations and special interests to the point where there had been no incentive for the two parties to remove the restrictions that deter young people from participating in politics. The advent of Barack Obama is generating the long sought after alternative, hence the unprecedented turnout for the caucuses and primaries.

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Fractal Theory and a new Peace movement

New experiences are being created in the midst of a new kind of political campaign that builds on these networks. The traditional media (newspapers, radio and Television stations) and the campaign of the Clintons have made clear statements about the organizational experience of the team around Hilary Clinton (Madeline Albright, Richard Holbrooke, Sandy Berger, Bill Clinton etc). Yet, it is this same experience, rooted in the mechanistic hierarchies of Newtonian physics, that is becoming the albatross of the political campaign of Hilary Clinton. Her experiences are very similar to the leader of the Republican Party, John McCain. John McCain is proud of his support for the wars against the peoples of Iraq and the merchants of death. Hilary Clinton has sought to demonstrate to the club of militarists that she would oil the war machinery while millions are without basic jobs.

Without fresh ideas when US citizens wanted a clean break with the militarism that brought the quagmire and fiasco in Iraq, Hilary Clinton could not understand that she had to tell the people that she was wrong in supporting the unjust war in Iraq. This is politics of truth that is now needed in the society. But from the position of Hilary Clinton on a possible military strike against Iran and more importantly, her base in the constituency of the financial speculators of New York State, exposed the fact that though she is campaigning to change conditions for women, she has not broken with the militarists of the society. Decency would require that Hilary Clinton rewrite her texts on her responses to war and genocide during the Presidency of Bill Clinton. In this campaign her character has emerged, especially in the case of the primary in Florida. Hilary Clinton’s willingness to claim a victory in Florida when she had said she would not, brought out her true character to all peoples, black and white, women and men.

The application of fractal theory introduces a concept known as politics of recursion, which emphasizes the nesting loops of iteration, wherein recursion processes produce an output which then becomes the input for the next process, as is exemplified by the political feedback loop of militarism, torture, Guantanamo Bay, private contracting (translate mercenary) companies and the lobbyists who would like to see the occupation of Iraq for another generation. The iterations of war and bluster from Bush to Clinton to Bush would be maintained if Hilary Clinton were to prevail as the nominee of the Democrat Party.

It was the noted physicist, Albert Einstein, who stated that peace was not just the absence of war but involves the presence of justice. Militarism, war, genocide and overseas occupation have produced the feedback loop for the celebration of the United States as a hyper power. The refinement of the military industrial complex as the basis of the reproduction of US capitalism resulted in a break from self-referential politics, which was self-determined by the first inhabitants of the United States. The celebration of genocide as progress that made the cowboy the hero in the killing of the First Nation Peoples incorporated the violence, individuality, greed and competition that characterize the culture of militarism, masculinity and violence. This tradition leads to the schizophrenia in the society.

The Obama campaign has been able to draw on the organizational capacities of those who want to turn truth into a political force so that the society can turn from war to peace. This is the basic force behind the momentum of Barrack Obama and his experiences of Chicago has been able to translate this (peace thrust) in order to build up the electoral profile, bringing new teams in every part of the country and creating new training spaces for the energetic to donate, participate and learn the possibilities for change. Yet, because of the limitations of the electoral system that mitigates against direct participation of the citizen beyond voting, it is urgent that those who have understood the need for a new politics build new organizations at new sites of politics.

This new urgency is especially the case in the peace movement that has been unable to build on to the aspirations of the masses of the people for justice. Five years after the illegal occupation of Iraq, the activists for peace yearn for new forms of expression and hence there is a slow learning curve that demonstrations without follow up will only frustrate those who want new organizations. In 2003 at the start of the war against the peoples of Iraq there were millions of peoples on the streets. Yet the established leadership of the peace movement was not able to take the question of the illegal war to the court of international opinion so that the immorality of the war could be brought before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Because of the intricate relationship between the US politics and the politics of the Middle East, there were elements of the US peace movement who have been constrained because they have failed to oppose all forms of occupation, whether in Palestine or in Iraq. One of the byproducts of the Obama campaign outside the realm of electoral politics will be for the thinkers and organizers of a new peace and justice movement to build a constituency for a thorough challenge to US militarism so that there can be a downsizing of the military and a conversion of the military industrial complex.

Conversion of the military industrial complex and expenditures for reconstruction and transformation.

To draw from the ideas of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on peace and new possibilities makes a fundamental break with the ideas of the ‘thing-oriented society.’ It was forty years ago in the midst of the Vietnam war when Martin Luther King declared that,

“Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken -- the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investment.

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

In this speech made at the Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967 Dr. King asserted his view of revolution by declaring that,

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.”

The machines and computer technology of the time of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. have been dwarfed by the exponential changes in technology since the information revolution and the biotechnical advances. Millions of citizens are living in a society that is in the midst of a scientific and technological revolution but where the ideas around which politics are organized are the ideas of the industrial revolution. And, even though the industrial revolution brought about the destruction of the planet and millions are now rendered unemployable because of the new forms of economic relations, the economists are still wedded to the ideas of unlimited profit for a few (otherwise called trickle down economics). The promises of the convergence of biotechnology, nanotechnology, information technology and cognitive technology could open room for tremendous changes in the organization of society. But these changes are only possible if there is a break with the old ways of teaching and the old ways of doing business.

It is in this area of the new mode of economics where the advisors of Obama and Obama himself have exposed their subservience to old thinking about economic recovery. The speeches about recovering manufacturing jobs from all of the candidates do not reflect a real understanding of the depth of the current economic recession. Economic liberalization along with the casino type transactions on Wall Street that had lifted most forms of regulation led to the ‘scandals’ of Enron, Global Crossing, WorldCom and many others. Financialization of the economy had created its own recursive process to the point where the banks, investment houses and the insurance companies could not really explain the complex hoax that had been woven without oversight by democratic forces. This was the real nested loop of speculators.

Yet, it is this loop of hedge fund managers and speculators that influenced government policies and young people were called on to make sacrifices for these forces along with the top executives of the oil companies. The military expansion under the Bush administration has reached the point that in the proposed 2009 budget of US $3.1 trillion, about a third of this budget is being directed toward the military and security sectors at the moment when there are tax cuts for the wealthy and reduced spending on health, education and anti-poverty programs.

In the spirit of the old which is dying and the new which is to be born, these speculators have unleashed their thinkers into the campaign of Barrack Obama so that the ideas about economic restructuring falls woefully short of the vision for change. As in the old politics, the hedge fund managers and war profiteers are financing all campaigns so that whoever wins, they will continue to influence the politics of Washington. One of the fundamental errors of the Obama campaign is for Barack Obama to float the idea that under a Barack Obama administration there would be an expansion of the military by over 55,000 new personnel. It is now necessary to reflect and debate the ideas of Seymour Melman on the conversion of the military industrial complex as a starting point for new economic relations.

From all corners there are demands for a fundamental restructuring of the society in order to repair the human spirit. It is the escape from spiritual death and the repair of the human spirit which is driving the youth of today. This repair and healing of humans will inspire the repair of the spaces they inhabit so that bridges are built to connect humans and for cleaning up the toxic dumps. New Orleans stands out as an example of the inability to fully grasp the need for conversion from the thinking in politics and economics that brought us the apartheid engineering that dislodged millions after the Hurricane Katrina. However, a deeper grasp of global warming will alert us to the idea that Hurricane Katrina was but a warning that far more drastic restructuring of the society is needed to break from apartheid forms of social control and apartheid thinking. There are some economists who are putting forward ideas about the kind of infrastructural reconstruction that was similar to the New Deal of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The kind of reconstruction that is needed in the 21st century cannot reconstruct and save the old classes that created the problems in the first place. Again, we have to draw on Albert Einstein who warned that one cannot solve problems with the mindset that created the problems in the first place.

Creativity and new potentials

The exciting possibilities from the new technologies being mobilized for solar energies can in the very short term break the destructive hold of the petroleum companies over the politics and the military of the society. Oil companies and other corporations have a vested interest in the old forms of economic relations. In the last year, one company, Exxon Mobil, posted profits of over US$ 40 billion when millions of citizens lost their jobs and millions of home owners lost their homes. Democratizing control over these corporations requires an informed population that is not diverted into day dreaming by the same corporations that control the old media. For fundamental democratic change to be realized, the insurgent political campaign that is now emerging needs to go beyond the political campaign to new areas of engagement. Lawrence Lessig, the noted scholar of Stanford University, has been one of the foremost campaigners for alternative thinking and the opening up of the Creative Commons to make knowledge available to all. The United States can never prosper when the society condemns half of its youth to the sidelines and millions are warehoused into the prison industrial complex. Knowledge for all and the building of a new educational infrastructure to challenge racism and sexism demand new thinking.

Because of the importance of the creative commons in the arena over the struggles for information freedom and cyber democracy the concepts, ideas and organizational forms of the new politics will have to open up the appetite of the youth for self discovery. There will have to be new schools for political change. These schools will challenge the promise to turn humans into cyborgs, robots and unthinking consumers. It is this mindless consumption that is driving the so called stimulus package that is before the citizens of the USA. A real stimulus can only emerge when the old power centers are degraded and new centers of truth, peace and justice arise.

The ideas of white supremacy promise to mobilize this scientific knowledge for a few at the top. These eugenic conceptions also inform and inspire some of the scientists who are researching the future use of cognitive technologies to develop super-humans in the era of technological Singularity. [8] Apartheid Medicine follows the apartheid conditions of the city and the so called health care plans of the candidates cannot deal with the fundamental change required to turn around the cancer epidemic in the society.

It is on the question of health for all (physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health) where the ideas of quantum society and fractals require a true democratization of information and democratization of knowledge. This democracy calls on citizens to be engaged in the struggles to reverse global warming and is far from the democracy of voting once every four years. Democratic control over the mobilization of the converging technologies will deepen the break and set a new recursive process where the creative commons and the democratic playing field will unleash new possibilities for human creativity.

Spirits of Peace and Spirits of Change

Enlightenment philosophies have undoubtedly shaped world history, and have remarkably excluded the Spirit, the driving force of human beings. One can point to the unprecedented scientific and technological changes since the dawn of the era of mechanics. However, the mechanical era has now brought humanity to the point of possible extinction or in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., close to spiritual death. It is this extinction that is also calling for a radical break with the old forms of economic organization. In many ways, the revolutionary ideas of the information revolution remain far ahead of the ideas of political organizing. This new organizing can, in the short run, draw on the will to peace and the spiritual energies mobilized for peace and justice.

This will to peace further underscores discrepancies between the vaunted Western ideation system and the rationality of the First Nation peoples: the former relies heavily on domination over nature and the latter relies on the nested linkages between humans and nature. In Africa, one of the ways in which this nested loop between humans and humans and humans and nature is expressed, is through the ideas of Ubuntu. In our introduction, we drew from the writings of Archbishop Desmond Tutu who warned that there was no literal translation for Ubuntu in European languages. Ubuntu in its literal translation means reconciliation, peace, love, forgiveness and willingness to share. This calls for all humans to recognize their self worth through each other. At the practical political level, Ubuntu can be translated in the United States into a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. What was the truth of the relations between the CIA and the Bin Laden Family? What was the truth of September 11? What is the true state of the economy?

Ubuntu and energizing millions

This short statement seeks to introduce a unified emancipatory approach: liberating humanity from the mechanical, competitive, and individualistic constraints of Enlightenment philosophy, and re-unifying humans with each other, the Earth, and spirituality. In tandem with much of the current discourse on fractal theory, this intervention calls for a revolutionary paradigmatic transformation - but one that is intrinsic to human knowledge and human capacity to intervene to stop the destruction of the planet. Is it possible that Barack Obama is drawing from a spiritual and intellectual force that is far more profound than his Ivy League training at Columbia and Harvard Law School?

Obama and his political team cannot bring about the change needed for peace and justice. Neo-liberalism has run its course and the chaos and ruin has forced citizens in all parts of the world to desire change. Obama is, however, correct to point to the need for citizens to get involved. Another fractal principle is here important, that of self organization.

The interconnections between momentum, fractal theory and the Einstein insights have created an unprecedented change in the politics of the United States.

One writer has used the equation, Obama equals momentum. This principle of momentum has taken root in the politics. Under this concept of momentum the faster the campaigning is gaining traction among all sections of the society, the harder it will be to stop the campaign. This momentum is generating positive vibrations among the youth. It is the kind of energy force that cannot be quantified hence difficult to verbalize with the mental tools inherited from the mechanical era.

Momentum means that when a person or object is moving, regardless of what it is... the harder it is to stop that person or object. When one consider "momentum" in terms of politics, this means that if a presidential candidate, such as Obama, sees and/or experiences a gain and/or surge in his message of peace, hope and change with millions singing, Yes we can, there could be nothing, not even bullets that can intervene in this momentum. This is the basis for a possible quantum leap in US politics to bring a new mode of politics for the 21st Century.

Obama is not a revolutionary but he has been caught up in a revolutionary moment in world history. The electoral campaign of Obama is riding on a wave of peace and change desired by ordinary Americans. There are limitations to the electoral project insofar as the task of restructuring US society is a gigantic one that cannot be done overnight. Obama may not be the solution, but is a small step in the direction of making the break with the old binary conceptions that dominated enlightenment thinking. It is the laws of unintended consequences that will emanate from this break that can lead to a new direction with the new positive, bottom up organizing for transformation to a democratic society where all can live in peace.

A clear understanding of the nature of US politics and the limitations of the structures of the in-built conservatism of the system means that Barrack Obama would only be trapped by this social system if those who are being drawn into the audacity of hope do not build their own political movement and political organization. It is only a bottom up movement that can prevent Barack Obama from becoming a tool for the Wall Street forces. Self mobilization, self organization and emancipatory ideas will create new spaces so that the political space will be expanded beyond the media, the lobbyists and the ritual spaces of the White House, Congress and the Senate Chambers. Safe and clean neighborhoods, children who are reared to respect all human beings and a society that support repair of the planet earth awaits these new self organizing forces.

The campaign of Barack Obama is the story of hundreds of thousands of ordinary people. These are the people who are participating because they believe that politics can mean something again. It is apt to conclude with the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,

“Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism and militarism.”

[1] Marshall, I. & Zohar, D. (1994). Quantum Society. New York: HarperCollins. Ch. 1

[2] Marshall, I. & Zohar, D. (1994). Quantum Society. New York: HarperCollins. Ch. 1

[3] Marshall, I. & Zohar, D. (1994). Quantum Society. New York: HarperCollins. Ch. 1

[4] For more on feminist geopolitics please see Gillian Rose’s Feminism and Geography: The Limits of Geographical Knowledge (1993), University of Minnesota Press.

[5] Marshall, I. & Zohar, D. (1994). Quantum Society. New York: HarperCollins. Ch. 1

[6] Eglash, R. (1999). African Fractals: Modern Computing and Indigenous Design. New Brunswick: Rutgers. 17-19.

[7] Connell, B. & Zeitlyn, D. (2003). Ethnogenesis and fractal history on an African frontier: Mambila-Njerep-Mandulu. Journal of African History, 44, 117-138.

[8] Singularity is the era of super humans propped up by artificial intelligence. For one version of this technological singularity see, Raymond Kurzweil, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology , New York: Viking, (2005) Guest Commentator, Dr. Horace Campbell, PhD, is Professor of African American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse University in Syracuse New York. His book, Rasta and Resistance From Marcus Garvey to Walter Rodney is going through its fifth edition. He had contributed to many other edited books, most recently, "From Regional Military de-stabilization to Military Cooperation and Peace in South Africa" in Peace and Security in Southern Africa (State and Democracy Series), edited by Ibbo Mandaza. He has published numerous articles in scholarly journals and is currently writing a book on the Wars against the Angolan peoples. Click here to contact Dr. Campbell.

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February 21, 2008
Issue 265

is published every Thursday

Executive Editor:
Bill Fletcher, Jr.
Peter Gamble
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