A Dissenting View on Basically Everything

John Brodix Merryman Jr.
8 min readApr 29, 2018


It occurred to me fairly early in life that the way society functioned was just not quite right. As someone more inclined to observe, than participate, I find myself off the beaten path, culturally and intellectually. This is a compilation of some thoughts that have accumulated over the years.

What truly distinguishes us from other animals is the ability to tell stories. When other animals communicate, it is about the present moment, from dangers to desires, but human civilization grows out of our ability to communicate about past events and plan for future ones.

This makes narrative foundational to humanity, yet it creates what I see as the most basic misconception about reality. We think of time as this point of the present “flowing” from past to future, yet it is change turning future to past, within this physical present. Potential, to actual, to residual. Tomorrow becomes yesterday because the earth turns.

Even physics assumes the narrative effect as foundational, but as it is physically unexplainable, time is treated as measures of duration and correlated with measures of distance, to create “spacetime.” The measurement is assumed to be more real than what is measured, action.

Duration, though, is the present, as events coalesce and dissolve. This is a significant debate in itself, so humor me and take the point at face value.

Reality could be defined as a dichotomy of energy and form (information). Energy manifests form, and form defines energy. Without the energy to manifest and motivate it, form would collapse into a void. Yet any description of energy is form/information.

As energy is dynamic, it is constantly changing form, which creates the effect of time. Form coalesces and dissolves, as the energy mutates into succeeding forms. So as form goes future to past, energy goes past to future. What we measure as time is also known as frequency. Lots of different frequencies co-exist in the same present. That is why clocks can run at different rates, as each action is its own clock and each clock its own action.

Evidence for this dichotomy of form and energy is that over a few billion years, we evolved a nervous system to process information and the digestive, respiratory and circulatory systems to process the energy propelling this information gathering.

Consider as well that galaxies, the most notable entities in existence, are composed of radiation expanding out, as mass gravitates in. Energy and form, going opposite directions.

Consider that relationship. Does it suggest a cosmic convection cycle? It does to me. Which is thermodynamics.

We evolved in a thermodynamic environment and it permeates every aspect of our existence.

So both time and temperature are effects of action. Temperature is only foundational to our emotions, bodily functions, environment and the rest of life, so we can afford to be more objective about it, than time.

The conceptual difference between time and thermodynamics is that time, as sequence, is linear, while thermodynamics is cyclical. We are very goal-oriented and when there are not clear cut goals to accomplish, we find details to obsess over. Yet there always seems to be ways our actions come back to us, whether it’s karma, or just that equal and opposite reaction.

We are not going to change from our goal-focused consciousness, but should learn to put it in context.

For instance, a primal split in society is between the political impulses of organic social expansion, aka liberalism and the tendency toward civil and cultural consolidation, aka conservatism. We are not going to escape that dichotomy, as under all the complexities and permutations, it is as fundamental as youth and age. They are sides of a larger cycle, of growth and consolidation.

What gives them salience is they reflect the two sides of our being: desire and logic. We are driven by desire and, ideally, controlled by logic. Yet logic often has to chose between competing desires and so the depth of the divide.

Our focus seeks some ideal, but cannot find it. Consider monotheism. God as the “all-knowing absolute,” in the words of Pope John Paul 2. The logical fallacy of this is an absolute, a universal state, is not an ideal, but an essence.

Consequently, a spiritual absolute wouldn’t be an ideal of knowledge and wisdom from which we fell, but the very essence of sentience from which we rise.

More the new born baby, than the wise old man. Organized religion though, is more about social order, as culture and community, than spiritual insight.

It is more about the narrative we are taught, than the elemental light shining through and illuminating it. So it focuses on the wisdom, rather than the consciousness striving for it. Society can only be organized around the ideal of wisdom, but knowledge needs to be kept in context. It has its drawbacks.

Good and bad are not a cosmic dual between the forces of righteousness and evil, but the basic emotional and biological binary of beneficial and detrimental. As on/off, yes/no, up/down, etc. are binaries. What is good for the fox, is bad for the chicken and there is no happy medium.

We have grown to be complex, focused organisms through cycles of expansion and consolidation. This is evolution and each generation is winnowed down to the progenitors of the next, but there is another dynamic at work, Stephen Jay Gould’s punctuated equilibrium.

The equilibrium stage is not static, but dynamically filling out every possible niche. As such, it selects more and more for specialization, to maximize every possible resource. Though when the punctuation occurs, it selects for flexibility over specialization and the reset button is pushed, as much complexity is erased.

Yet the next stage retains many of the complexities, but rearranged in ways that cannot be predicted, nor fully explained, given what is lost.

As society evolved, its social central nervous system of executive and regulatory functions, giving direction and focus, evolved from tribal leaders and elders, through monarchies and other variations, to the semi-functional public utility of government we have now. Society also has a semi-evolved value circulation system, in money and finance.

When societies were very small, economics was reciprocal, as it was far more efficient to share, than try to store much personal value. As they grew, ways of accounting became necessary. As such, money started as variations on voucher systems. The problem this abstraction of value creates is that we individually experience it as quantified hope and security and reasonably want to save and store it. Yet if much is drawn out of circulation, the system slows and stops and the simplest solution is just to add more notes into the system, but these represent non-existent value. So financial systems tend to go through cycles of expansion and collapse, when faith is lost.

We can both store wealth and keep it in circulation by “investing” it. Which means finding someone able to take that reservoir of value and use it to create more value. When you think about it though, the amount of wealth everyone wants to save will likely be far greater than any number of bright ideas can usefully build on. Which means the impulse to believe in sales pitches is overwhelming and what results is mostly just bidding up asset values, creating the illusion of greater wealth, but really just inflating asset values.

The largest store of saved wealth is government debt, but does anyone think it can reasonably be repaid? Neither welfare or warfare seem like wise investments, unless you are selling what the money is spent on, from General Dynamics to Walmart.

Considering that budgeting is to list one’s priorities and spend according to ability, the government doesn’t do that. They put together enormous bills, add enough goodies to get the votes and then the president can only pass or veto them. At one point the “line item veto” was suggested as a solution, but giving that to the president would elminate much of the legislature’s power over the budget.

If they really wanted to make it work, they could break the bills into their various items, have every legislator assign a percentage value to each one, put them back in order of preference and then the president draws the line. “The buck stops here.”

Yet think for a moment if it actually worked? How would Wall Street function without an enormous cushion of government debt to use as the currency of the market? Then you might understand where the real motivation for excess spending comes from.

Government, as a political process, cannot have control over the financial system. Like the body’s nervous system and circulation system, they serve different functions and are distinct, but they both serve the whole organism.

It would be far too easy for politicians to inflate the money supply, when other promises are too difficult to fill. Likewise, having the private sector in control makes the entire economy subservient to banking and it metastisizes from the efficient flow of value, to the overproduction of notational value, that is siphoned off.

Money is a medium, like blood in the body. It is not a store. The body stores excess as fat and too much fat in the circulation system is deadly. Or for cars, roads are the medium and parking lots are the store. Turning roads into parking lots shuts the system down.

What we need to understand is that money is a social contract, holding the entire society together. As such, we own money like we own the section of road we are on, or the fluids passing through our bodies. Its functionality is in its fungibility. Even if it is felt as quantified hope, it is not just a commodity to be mined from society.

For example, just as a theoretical, what if government were to threaten to tax excess money out of the economy and not just borrow it? Beyond the fact that half of the population would have a heart attack and the other half would rebel, people would quickly have to find other ways to store value.

By and large, we mostly save for the same general reasons, from children and housing, to healthcare and retirement, so if we were to figure out ways to invest in these needs on a communal basis, than saving for them individually, we would be going back to economics as a reciprocal function, rather than our bank account as an economic umbilical cord. We, for better or worse, would have to learn to work together and for each other, not just for the money. It would be a less atomized culture, in which value is stored in healthy communities and the environments they require, not just using them to mine value.

Obviously, this is a long way from any society we can currently envision, but the one we have is running on debt and debt does matter, or we wouldn’t bother creating it. So we should start considering Plan B.

The wealthy do have a further plan already. When they do it to third world countries, it’s called disaster capitalism, or to the poor, when it’s called predatory lending. Essentially loaning them too much money and when it can’t be paid, foreclosing on public assets. When the US government can’t sell anymore debt at rates it can reasonably afford, they will kindly offer to trade their mountains of treasuries for public properties, from interstates, to water systems, to parks, etc. That is the real end state of privatization and the rest of us are going to be charged fees, if we want to use them.

Rich and poor, we are weaned on the notion of money as something to be mined and manufactured, from gold to bitcoin, but it is the essential contract holding society together and when it is drained out of most of society, the community dies. Even the bankers will eventually find that out. Just as monarchs found out they exist to serve the larger society, not just be served by it.