Escaping the Matrix:
How We the People Can Save the World
by Richard Moore

book review by Dan Shaw

On rare occasions, reading a book, you find yourself nodding your head in agreement, as you read paragraph after paragraph of agreeable ideas, eloquently expressed, and you keep thinking of people you want to share the book with, who would also be comforted and strengthened. Escaping the Matrix is one of those rare shining examples of books to be hungrily read in one or two sittings, and shared with friends of all political stripes. Richard Moore's whirlwind tour of the "Matrix", our modern dilemma of elite political and economic domination and ecocide, and his "Brief History of Humanity" are breathtaking for his depth, synthesis, and readability.

In the first two chapters Moore effortlessly brings us through the darkness of the Matrix and actually gives us the "red pill", the formula for waking up from the hypnotic illusion and seeing the painful truth of society. Moore shows how the dominator culture is overturned simply by changing our own human and community relations to embody partnership values.

Escaping the Matrix describes two "imperatives", the "Transformational Imperative" and the "Harmonization Imperative". By this he means that we must Transform and Harmonize, because our dominator society is destroying the natural environment and the social systems, and this is evidenced by our national foreign policy priorities, "oil-based dominance".

Harmonization is a strategy we already use in cooperative meetings, but our justice system and our political system are divisive and adversarial. Factionalism plays into the hands of those who are masters at "Divide and Conquer". Moore provides examples of "two promising meetings" where these principles were successfully put into practice: the "Michigan Conference" and the Rogue Valley Wisdom Council. "If everyone were to have this kind of experience," Moore says, "our culture itself would be transformed. Not only would this fill our 'cultural gap' as regards meetings, but also our cultural paradigms about competition and adversarial politics would be neutralized. Although our societal systems would remain unchanged, for a while at least, the culture that supports them would be gone. The elite's divide and rule strategy would be fatally undermined. No longer would we feel compelled to choose sides among political parties; no longer would we feel isolated as citizens. Our culture, beginning in the grassroots, would be transforming into the partnership category." [p. 135]

In the following chapters Moore clearly shares visions for a transformational movement and a liberated global society, with insights for even the most seasoned activists: "If a movement makes demands, then it is affirming that power resides elsewhere-- in the person or agency which is the target of the demands. If a movement creates solutions, then it is asserting its own empowerment; it is taking responsibility for its own welfare." [89]

"Only when they had achieved overwhelming success at the grassroots did [the Populists] turn their attention to the ballot box." [90]

Peppered with inspiring quotes from many sources, and with such a fluid style and sensible analysis, Moore's book ended too soon. It will be up to us to put this advice into practice and transform our political systems so that Moore can write the sequel.

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