I am re-reading, again, Albert Camus’ “The Rebel“. I’m packing it with me during the next month or so of travel to many corners of the world. Strangely, I find solace and hope in a man’s thoughts who are sometimes seen as critical of meaning in life, and I concur with others who say he is deeply hopeful and celebratory of happiness and joy.
At the same time I am reading “The Art of Community” by Jono Bacon. The connections are interesting and as many of you know, I do find compelling meaning in connections from different authors across multiple time periods. This is one such case for Camus, Bacon and our Government 2.0 Community.
Camus makes an interesting point about rebellion and revolution in the book. I am not sure I completely agree with his conclusions, but his analysis is interesting when you think about the current debates about Government 2.0. His point, at least one of them, is that rebellion is an act that does not necessarily have an end goal in mind but is rather an act of passion built up after living in an unacceptable condition for a long period of time. He points to slavery and ultimate rebellion as an example. At the point of initial rebellion the activity is a reaction to unjust activity that had been tolerated for too long and as such is absolute and filled with emotion. While ultimately this becomes an absolute position, it starts with a spark of highly emotional retort. Which is where I find our Government 2.0 movement today.
He juxtaposes rebellion with revolution. He places calculated planning and goal orientation squarely on the revolutionary and notably absent from the rebel. His point about revolution always leading to tyranny is connected to the times in which he wrote. I am not certain I subscribe to his conclusions but they are worth consideration as we start to deal with the concerns that our movement has no concrete goals, KPIs, measurement or end state. While the rebellion cannot have a connection to its end state, revolutions do. Revolutions are meant to replace dominant paradigms, not simply rebel against them. We certainly need to protect against the potential of tyranny as part of our goal set, but the mood of the community right now seems to be turning toward a need for more ultimate structure, so that we know when we have won (we will see the artifacts we desire – Government as a Platform).
So, what is the connection between Camus and Bacon? Good question…
In “The Art of Community”, Bacon pens a great point, “There is an important connection here in which imagination and opportunity are close friends. Imagination offers the mind a vision of how things could be. If there is a viable path toward this future, we build a sense of opportunity. If there is no viable path, we enter the world of fantasy.” I see our current endeavors dominated by imagination. Folks creating the new world in their heads and talking about it. Painting incredible pictures of what we could accomplish. The opportunity side of things is starting to spring up now too, which is great. As part of that cycle some will succeed, some will fail, at exploiting that opportunity. We need to be accepting of that cycle and continue to be accepting of both our imagineers and our opportunity seekers as both are necessary to create a true open government revolution instead of simple rebellion. As some of us paint the picture of the future, others must *show* that there is viable path.
This is the resolution of the “too much talk, not enough doing” challenge we have been discussing. We need to have both. Don’t get me wrong, I do favor the doing side myself (a la Cypherpunks Write Code). But I deeply understand, respect, and, when I give speeches, channel the imagination side of things. If we embrace both, we will succeed in building the foundations of a great and global society. If we fail, it may only be fantasy.