Moby Dick, The Manufactured Man, and the Fate of Humankind

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 1, 2014 by jtoddring

“The permanent constitutional condition of the manufactured man … is sordidness.” So says Captain Ahab of Moby Dick. And Melville was right. This is what we are fighting. We are fighting the manufactured condition of man, and attempting to regain our true nature.

That is not romanticism by the way, but an expression of the perennial philosophy, the perennial wisdom which our greatest of sages and philosophers have seen and spoken of in every culture and every age. We must throw off our conditioning and rediscover the basic common sense of the natural good heart within, or frankly, we are doomed.

The environmental crisis we have set in motion continues to accelerate, and we continue to fuel the flames of the crisis – and we continue to ignore it. We have become the hollow men.

We are adrift at sea, racing toward such perilous shoals that surely our ship will break into myriad pieces if we do not awaken, and soon.

Everyone who is paying attention knows this. Yet, a paralysis grips most, while a kind of sleep-walking state of near comatose denial grips the majority of the rest. We are in an extremely dangerous position for these reasons.

Paralysis and denial are by now the most deadly of enemies. Only ignorance, greed and hate can match them, and our civilization is, unfortunately, also well-stocked in these.

Chris Hedges sums it up well, in a speech he gave, entitled, The Myth of Human Progress and the Collapse of Complex Societies, when he said,

“And so we plunge forward in our doomed quest to master the forces that will finally smite us. Those who see where we are going too often lack the fortitude to actually rebel. Mutiny was the only salvation for the Pequod’s crew [in Melville's Moby Dick]. It is our only salvation. But moral cowardice turns us into hostages.”

We have become the prisoners of our illusions. The great majority have succumbed to a kind of mass insanity of Stockholm syndrome – we have identified with our captors. We have forgotten our common sense, and accepted a profoundly abnormal norm as our new normal – a normal that will destroy us if we persist in it. We have allowed psychopaths to take over the world and steer the ship of our civilization, and we have adopted their madness, or at least, are numbed and blind to it. We have gouged out our own eyes, and in our blindness, run frantically toward a dark future of our own creation.

We either find our courage now, and rediscover our hearts and common sense, and by that means, rebel against the state of the world and its current direction, and remove from power the maniacal elite who are rapidly driving us toward the collapse of our civilization, and a very dark age, followed by human extinction; or face the fact of our cowardice, and slink silently into our slowly dawning oblivion, with nary a peep or a whimper. The choice is ours, and the hour is late. Let us choose wisely. And now.

I, for one, believe there is more within us than we tend to realize – far more. Draw forth your best now. The world needs you.

Stand.

JTR,
October 1, 2014

Scotland, Crimea and the Right To Self-Determination

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 18, 2014 by jtoddring

Do the people of Scotland have the right to vote in a referendum to determine their own future? Of course they do. Just as the people of Greece had, and have, the right to vote in a referendum as to whether or not to stay in the EU. And do the people of Crimea have the right to vote in a referendum to determine their own future? Yes, of course, likewise.

And they did vote. And they voted with an overwhelming majority of 97% to rejoin Russia, and to part ways with Kiev, understanding, very correctly, that Kiev has been taken over by a US staged right wing coup.

This is the central point that the Western media utterly fails, and refuses, to report. If the people of Guantanamo Bay voted to rejoin Cuba, then, according to international law and all common sense and common decency, this would have to be respected. The same holds true for Crimea, which was a part of Russia for a longer time than the US has existed as a nation, by the way. Maybe we should re-read the Declaration of Independence. All peoples have the right to self-determination. Crimea is no exception.

The same applies to Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, Somalia, Iran, the entire Middle East and North Africa, and, of course, to the entire world: no more US intervention. No more intervention by any super-power or foreign power of any kind.

International law makes it clear; as does common sense. If we wish for freedom, democracy and self-determination for ourselves, then we must respect the right of self-determination of all peoples. The founding fathers of the United States understood this. Washington has come to forget it, and this forgetfulness has been disastrous to the world, and also to the American people.

Remember 911. Blowback is inevitable if we allow our political “leaders” – and the business elite who control them like puppets on a string – to invade, bomb, or otherwise meddle in the affairs of other nations. Will we learn this lesson now? We had better, or things will only get worse.

Even the US intelligence agencies admit that the “war on terror” has increased terrorism exponentially, for this very reason. Let people determine their own lives and their own future. No more intervention.

Send food, send medicine, send doctors, nurses, engineers and construction workers if you really want to “help.” But if your help comes in the form of bombs, bullets, mercenaries, tanks and drones, then the people of the world say, “No thank you.” We can do without that kind of generosity.

The founding fathers of America were taking a strong and courageous stand when they launched the American Revolution, in defiance of the world’s then-preeminent superpower of Britain: a stand for freedom, democracy, and the right to self-determination. And they knew very well that they could not do so with a straight face, without becoming a laughing stock, if they did not also and simultaneously respect the right to self-determination of other peoples and other nations. Can we remember their wisdom now?

The founding fathers of American democracy were far from perfect, and the democracy that they constructed was far from perfect. The extermination of native peoples, driving off of their land, the enslavement of millions of African men, women and children, the refusal to honour the natural right to vote for women, people of colour, or even white male adults who were poor and owned no property – on these points, the founding fathers of American democracy were terribly, horribly wrong. But they were right on some points, and this is one of them: we have no right to meddle in the affairs of other nations – and furthermore, to do so, all ethics aside, generally tends to entail very dangerous entanglements and serious repercussions, or blowback, to use the term of the intelligence services. They knew very well that foreign intervention is not only unethical, not only contrary to the spirit of freedom, democracy and independence, but also, quite simply, foolish.

Stand down. No more wars of aggression – and all wars that are fought, whether declared or undeclared, overt or covert, military, paramilitary of economic, that are waged when there is no direct attack on one’s own nation, are wars of aggression, by virtue of common sense as well as international law. And all such wars of aggression, according to the Nuremburg trials, are not only “the supreme crime,” but also, punishable by death. We should pay head.

Justice will come. The people will, it is hoped, be merciful, and repudiate the death penalty; but they will remove from power the unjust and the tyrannical, and all those who wage such wars – and most likely, and most justly, they will restrain them from causing further carnage or committing mass murder any more – by a lifetime prison sentence.

No more intervention. Can we be more clear?

Independence is for all peoples: not just for some. We either believe in freedom and democracy, in which case, we respect and honour the right to self-determination, not just for ourselves, but also for others, and we take a firm stance of non-intervention in the affairs other nations, or, our proclaimed belief in democracy and freedom is hollow, and a sham.

JTR,
Sept. 13, 2014

What do I want? Revolutionary change – nothing less will do at this critical time in our history

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on September 18, 2014 by jtoddring

I want nothing short of revolutionary change, a radical change, a renaissance. I think it is needed – urgently needed: and I do not think that human beings are going to survive at all without it. We have, inadvertently, pressed our backs against a wall. I think we need to rise to a higher level of awareness, or go extinct – and the choice is at hand, with zero time to delay. That is why I often sound so ferocious when I write: I believe, and feel deeply, and, I would say, I have seen, that we have no time left. The time for incremental, gradual changes has passed. We are literally in a do or die situation. Either we make major changes in our society now, or we cease to exist. Stand up now, people. As Thomas Paine said, we have it within our power to make the world again. We have everything we need to build a better world. We must simply act. And now.

JTR,
September 18, 2014

Referendum On Scottish Independence: Why it matters to us all – no matter who we are or where we live

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on September 18, 2014 by jtoddring

An excellent overview of the Scottish referendum on independence, which is happening today, was just pointed out to me by a friend - and, we should note that the referendum has great significance all around the world, and not only for the Scots. The article is well worth two minutes of your time to read, I would say. But I’ll briefly summarize what I think are the key points, and why I feel this is so important for both Scotland and the world.

Thank you Ann for the link to this excellent article from the Expat Diary, and thank you Kristi for the excellent article from the Guardian. (Not a paper I am generally impressed with, other than the articles by George Monbiot and a few others, but that article was right on the money.)

And yes, I agree Al Kennedy in her Guardian article: the vote for independence is not just about self-determination and democracy, which is paramount, and important enough in itself, but also a vote to part ways with Westminster and the City of London so that more progressive policies can be chosen and implemented – policies which actually benefit the people and the earth, and not just the corporate and financial elite who rule the UK and most of the world.

The article that Ann shared from the Expat Diary was equally lucid.

“97% of the population has registered to vote. Imagine that, my American friends. 97%! They’ve been estimating at least an 80% turnout but earlier this week I heard someone float 90%. That’s astonishing.

This, I think, is what brought the politicians up from Westminster in droves. They had a bit of a holy crap moment, realising that what they thought was going to be a fairly simple and straightforward win for the No position has spiraled out of control. A political scientist from York University in Canada characterised this as the first referendum on neoliberalism. What has emerged is a solid rejection of the orthodox finance-driven economic vision of the City of London (US equivalent: Wall Street).”

So….today is the day. I am hopeful. Come on Scots! Vote yes, and let us see some much-needed, bold and inspiring change!

As Ann said (and I hope you don’t mind me quoting you, since you summed it up so well), “it would be quite lovely if Scotland could start us on our way to awareness and shake the “first” world populations of the globe out of their, for lack of a better phrase, “false consciousness.” Go Scotland! “

Amen, sister. People of Scotland, you are in my prayers.

Whatever happens, it would seem that the referendum debate has produced a broad consensus among the people of Scotland: that people and the earth must come first, and neoliberal corporate-driven policies must be thrown overboard for that reason. Whether the vote is yes or no, real change has been catalyzed, and that is a tremendous victory already. Now, the people of Scotland and all around the world must continue the drive to create a better world for all.

As Arundhati Roy said, “A better world is not only possible. She is already being born.”

http://expatdiary.typepad.com/my_weblog/2014/09/referendum.html

JTR,
September 18, 2014

Scottish Independence: A few thoughts

Posted in Uncategorized on September 12, 2014 by jtoddring

I hope the people of Scotland vote yes in the referendum on independence. And I further hope that they will avoid the fate of other countries that won independence politically, only to be subjugated by economic means – for example, South Africa and Poland, after Apartheid and Communism, respectively, where the bankers, IMF and international corporate sharks essentially shackled and devoured these nations. (See Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine.) If the people of Scotland are to gain true independence, they will have to be bold in both economic as well as political terms, and take cues from Iceland and Argentina, who told the neoliberals and the IMF to take a hike. Otherwise, even a “yes” vote will be only a paper victory. I’m hoping for the best. We will see.

I think Scottish independence would be a good thing; but I think it will require more than a referendum vote for independence from the UK. It will require a sovereign currency, for example. It will require leaving the EU. And it will require a total rebuke of the IMF and corporate-driven neo-liberal policies. Once again, it will take, in short, considerable boldness on the economic front, as well as the political.

JTR,
September 11, 2014

Raise the minimum wage

Posted in Uncategorized on September 11, 2014 by jtoddring

 

$21/hour should be the minimum wage - as it is in Denmark - if there is universal public health care, adequate pensions, subsidized child care and free universal education from pre-school through graduate school, as there exists in the Nordic countries. If these things are lacking, then the minimum wage needs to be even higher – much higher. We are far below the standards required for a decent society, even in Canada, where the quality of life is ranked as being among the highest in the world. The US, of course, is on a race to the bottom; and with repeated, ever-deepening funding cuts and austerity measures, Canada and most of Europe are racing to follow along on the same path. It is the corporatization of society, and the creation of a new feudal age. The current direction is bleak. Time to reverse the tide.

When CEOs “earn” up to $50,000 an hour or more, when the richest 1% pay little or no tax, and when large profitable corporations typically pay less tax than their lowest paid employees – and at the same time, governments give away hundreds of billions, and in the case of the US government, trillions of dollars in subsidies and bailouts to the biggest banks and corporations, then two things are clear: one, our present socio-economic system is radically unjust, and favours the richest few at the expense of the vast majority, who are being driven systematically into the growing underclass; and two, there is enough money available to make the minimum wage a living wage, and not merely a slave wage.

Make the richest 1% and the large corporations pay their fair share of tax; tax pollution and end payroll taxes which create a disincentive to hiring and employment; reduce or eliminate taxes on employment-generating small and medium size businesses, the poor and the middle class; and raise the minimum wage now. There are no more excuses.

JTR,
September 11, 2014

ISIS and The Real Terrorist Powers

Posted in Uncategorized on September 9, 2014 by jtoddring

 

The biggest terrorist powers in the world are located in Washington and London, as Chomsky and others have pointed out repeatedly. Millions were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan alone, to say nothing of the even more massive global death toll from the intensifying economic apartheid that is being imposed by the ruling corporate elite upon the other 99.99% of the world, with the aid and abetting of the world’s most powerful states and the political whores who run them. If the Nuremburg trials were held today, the political “leadership” of the US and UK would be hung. These are the stark facts. Yet, the media presstitutes scream about ISIS as if it were the Fourth Reich – and the people swallow the propaganda, and forget about the real terrorists at home, who make ISIS look as they really are: mere petty thugs in comparison to the Godfather.

JTR,
September 9, 2014

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