The Certainty Of Death, Or The Death Of Certainties

Posted in philosophy, Uncategorized on February 1, 2020 by jtoddring

 

It’s amazing to me, to see, even in thoughtful writings, even in exceptionally thoughtful writing, which is as far above the norm as the moon is from the bottom of the ocean, that even there, certain cultural constructs of the mind, certain prejudices or pre-formed and unquestioned assumptions, certain axiomatic, ideological presumptions and certitudes, are passed along without thought – as if the author were merely remarking on the sky being blue, and everyone knew it, of course, so such notions need no argument or support, but are taken as fact. These ideological constructs and presumptions are castles made of sand, but the authors, including most of the better thinkers and scholars, and virtually all people at all times, assume them to be as certain as the law of gravity. The blind, unconscious, unquestioning assumption of ideological constructs is almost shocking – at least when it is seen in otherwise intelligent people and otherwise intelligent writings. Concepts such as progress, development, civilization and civilized, freedom and liberty, democracy, evolution, or “evolved”, are tossed about with utter casual manner, with no rigour, no questioning of their actual meaning: meaning, in practice, their meaning has no meaning; or worse, and more commonly, their meaning means precisely the opposite to what it is presumed to mean. Orwell understood these things well. The fact that the vast majority, including the vast majority of intellectuals, do not, is very dangerous indeed, to say it mildly.

Fascism, war, slavery, cultural arrogance, and a culture of blindness, ignorance and shared delusion, the death of democracy and freedom, ecological holocaust, and the collapse of civilization (sic), are the likely results, the almost certain and inevitable results, and soon, if we do not begin to question far more, and assume far less.

Fortunately, all such concepts, ideological constructs and cultural certitudes are now being called into question. And none too soon. Our certainties are quite literally killing us. They are also a prison, and shackles and chains, of our own making. Let us shatter them now. It is time.

JTR,

February 1, 2020

 

Post-Script:

See my essay, Fundamentalism and Relativism, in my first book, Enlightened Democracy, for further reflections on the middle way between extremes, which represents basic sanity. Also, watch for my new book, The People vs The Elite, which is being released now.

Get ready for some exciting, but possibly quite turbulent times. The proverbial shit is about to hit the fan. And as usual, that will have both positive as well as negative consequences and implications around the world.

A Tiny Home Or Revolution

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on July 8, 2020 by jtoddring

Watching videos on camper van conversions recently, I think, I’m not ready to live in a camper van just yet; but having been a minimalist most of my life, I wouldn’t mind, either. I highly value freedom, mobility, adaptability, self-reliance and simplicity, and low ecological footprint living. The tiny home movement (on or off wheels, or on or off water) fits that bill as well as a cabin in the woods, which would be my first choice.

(I link an article here, below, simply to show camper vans, as one outdoor enthusiast option – because getting outdoors and into nature is fun, refreshing, life-changing, and critically important. Temporary or full time, one way or another, it is vitally important that we reconnect with nature, in order to reconnect with ourselves.)

The tiny home movement is growing expontentially for several reasons. I named six prime reasons above. But the big one is economics. People are being eaten alive by the billionaire 0.001%. Until we have a revolution, most people are going to have to be adaptable, and more minimalist, out of necessity.

So yes, for many of the more than 50% and rapidly growing majority of people who can no longer afford to own a home, many of whom are having a hard time with skyrocketing rents and collapsing incomes, unless we want insanely long commutes, or to be packing 15 people into a home like gerbils in a cage; it is either a tiny home, or revolution. I suggest both may be a good idea.

As Thoreau said, “Simplify, simplify.” And read, On Civil Disobedience. We need both now.

JTR,

July 8, 2020

The Gospel Of Thomas: A Key Text In World Religions & A Gateway To Mystery

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 26, 2020 by jtoddring

 

The greatest scholar of world mythology, and one of the greatest scholars of world religion, Joseph Campbell, introduced me to the Gospel Of Thomas, and made clear its monumental importance.

(Translations vary radically in quality of representing or mistepresenting the text, as is common. Stick with, or at least start with, the translation by Marvin Meyers. The church tried for nearly 2,000 years to bury this text, and is still trying. See the film, Stigmata, for an excellent fictionalized account of its importance.)

If you want to understand mythology, world religions, or religious philosophy, start with Joseph Campbell’s, The Hero With A Thousand Faces. Certainly it must be included as a key text to read, or chances are, little will be understood, and moreover, everything will most likely be misunderstood.

If you want to understand Taoism, of course you must read a good translation of the Tao Te Ching. Jane English is best. And to understand that enigmatic text, there is no better study or commentary than Alan Watts’, Tao: The Watercourse Way.

If you want to understand Buddhist philosophy, then of course you must read a good translation and commentary of the Prajnaparamita Sutra, The Heart Sutra, and Shantideva’s, Guide To The Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, at a minimum. (See Lex Hixon for the first text, the Dalai Lama for the other two.) Also extremely helpful are Alan Watts’, The Way Of Zen, Allan Wallace, Tibetan Buddhism From The Ground Up, and, Choosing Reality, along with Joanna Macy’s, World As
Lover, World As Self.

And if you want to understand Christianity, in depth and not just in superficial interpretations, or more commonly, misinterpretations and misunderstandings, then, along with the Bible – the official canon of scriptures which were selected by Emperor Constantine, the self-appointed editor under God; you must at least read the Gospel Of Thomas. (And again, the translation is critical.)

I would quote my favourite passages here, but I will leave the magic for the reader to discover. But I will say this.

If more people read this text, maybe the message of love and peace and radical liberation brought by Jesus, would have more of the effect it deserves to have – and the world would be transformed.

JTR,
June 26, 2020

Covid-19 In Perspective: An Open Letter

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2020 by jtoddring

The following letter I wrote and sent out in response to a virtual town hall meeting this evening with our local MP and a local environmental group. I am sharing it here because I think it summarizes a contextualization of covid-19 and other major issues which is critically and urgently needed. Our society is facing a pandemic loss of perspective, above all, I would argue, and that is the most deadly and dangerous pandemic of all.

The ruling business elite don’t care about issues of public health, justice, inclusion, peace, or the environment. They have proven by their actions that they care about power and wealth for themselves, above all; and everything else, and everyone else, is expendable. That means, we must remove them from power.

That means, we either address and resist the “new normal” which is corporate-run authoritarianism, and restore constitutional democracy, or we can forget about all our dreams of justice, health, or environmental protection, for they will be nothing but dreams, while our world is destroyed, along with our freedoms, while the middle class, the poor and the Earth continue to be devoured by the billionaire plutocrats who now rule the world. This is the new normal we must face, or we can forget about having any claim to be living in the real world, much less changing it.

This is not dystopian fiction. This is the real world. This is happening. We need to snap the people out of their stupor – and now.

JTR,
June 23, 2020

 

Hello to all,

Thank you to all for your time and thoughts. Philip, I am glad to hear your support for local economies, local farms, and buy-local and buy-Canadian programs and economic shifts, in particular, I want to say firstly. Rebuilding local, regional and national economies is critical; as is the greening of our economy, communities and society. But that is not what I want to focus on in this open letter.

I want to address something that will present a difficult conversation for a number of people, and I am glad to hear that you, Philip, emphasize that such conversations are essential to have in a mature and democratic society. They are.

My views are expressed more systematically, at length and in depth in my first two published books, and in more than 450 published essays. But I will summarize briefly here, echoing what others have mentioned in terms of the need for justice and balance.

Briefly, we cannot separate issues of power, from issues of justice, peace, health, or the environment. If we wish for positive change in any of these or other areas of our society, we must, most centrally, address issues of power.

That may sound vague at first, but what I am referring to is the growing hyper-concentration of power in society – and a corresponding crisis of democracy – particularly over the past 50 years of neoliberalism and corporate globalization. The great sociologist C. Wright Mills wrote of this decades ago, in his monumental work, The Power Elite. Noam Chomsky has written of it extensively. See Necessary Illusions, Year 501, Class Warfare, and, Requiem For The American Dream. Peter Phillips also wrote a definitive work recently, called Giants: The Global Power Elite.

In short, the richest 1%, and actually the richest fraction of a percent, have acquired vast, unaccountable, oligarchic power; and democracy, constitutional rule, and freedom, are dying as a result.

Swiss systems analysis of the global economy, US ivy league studies, the best geopolitical, economic and sociological analysis, and even the Financial Times of London, have confirmed it: democracy is dying – that is, being destroyed – while we are being driven, at break-neck speed, into a new empire of global neo-feudal corporate oligarchy.

Now, in 2020, we have gone from a world which former Canadian Governor General John Ralston Saul described as being effectively ruled by the corporate elite at Davos – which he called, “the new royal court”, and “the new Palace of Versailles”, and which the world’s leading business journal called, “the de facto world government” – to an openly authoritarian society.

In response to a crisis, out of fear, we have imported the authoritarian social model of China – or allowed it to be foisted upon us. That should be deeply concerning to us all. Why is this not being discussed?

If we are concerned with human health, then we must: 1. halt environmental pollution and degradation, and stop climate change; 2. end poverty and malnutrition; 3. educate people on healthy diets and lifestyles; and most obviously, 4. fully fund health care in Canada – and restore the funding which has been repeatedly slashed over the past four decades, by both Liberal and Conservative governments, by the two dominant parties and our political elites, who frankly care so deeply about our health, that they had to massively de-fund and undermine our public health care system.

(It is called blatant hypocrisy, of course. Or sheer deceit. And of course, the situation is similar or worse in the UK and the US, regarding elite concerns for public health, where “austerity” programs likewise rule, while the feeding trough for the elite is bottomless.)

More deeply and more centrally, if we do not address the growing hyper-concentration of power, and the new normal of authoritarianism, then we will have no functioning democracy with which to address any other issue: including health, peace, justice, economics, or the environment.

What will you do, most fundamentally, to uphold constitutional rights and freedoms, as well as democracy, in a time when they are being swept aside in the name of security?

Let us remember the wise words, “Those who are willing to sacrifice a little liberty for a little security, deserve neither, and will lose both.” And we are now losing both, make no mistake.

And by the way, this statement and question is directed to all of us, and not only our local Member of Parliament.

This question, to me, is absolutely fundamental; and it is shocking, I must say, and deeply disturbing, that this most fundamental issue is being brushed aside. This must change, and immediately.

Respectfully,
J. Todd Ring,

Author of:

Enlightened Democracy: Visions For A New Millennium

and

The People vs The Elite:
A Manifesto For Democratic Revolution,
Or, Survival In the 21st Century and Beyond

 

Good TV?!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 20, 2020 by jtoddring

Favourite tv shows, anyone? Post your favourites below.

I do hate tv, but I love documentaries and history shows, and I make an exception for certain things, like Star Trek, hockey playoffs, world cup soccer, the Olympics…

In no particular order, I’d say my favourite tv shows (originals only; most of them old, from the ’60’s and ’70’s) are:

The Nature Of Things

Time Team

Star Trek – TNG & original

The Pink Panther

The Twilight Zone

The Outer Limits – new & old

WKRP

Cheers

MASH 

Get Smart

Kung Fu

I don’t watch much tv, other than periodic blitzes of documentaries: maybe 3-4 hours a week. But I’m loving Time Team & Star Trek TNG right now! 

Most tv is poison, like most media, internet and social media content. But there is good stuff, if you search. Some things are highly subjective; some things, like news and analysis, are not. Don’t ingest poison, is rule one. Rule two is don’t be a glutton – keep a balance. More than four hours of tv a week means other, more important things are being neglected – like your family, your health, your reading, or your garden. The same goes for “social media”, and most films, games and internet content. Choose well, and keep the balance, I’d say.

It can’t be all politics and philosophy all the time – not for me, anymore. 30 years of total immersion is enough. Now I have to take it in moderation. Life is better that way, and the pace is more sustainable. 

Find time to tend your garden, and for sheer lightness. That’s important too.

JTR,

June 20, 2020

What Is Fascism?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 19, 2020 by jtoddring

Disturbingly, many people don’t know what fascism is. Many more think they know, but do not. Here is a brief definition. It is critical that we understand this, and right now.

Mussolini said fascism should properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of business and the state. Roosevelt defined fascism as the business take-over of the state. Either way you describe it, it amounts to the same thing; and that is exactly what we have now.

Why should we care?

Many people are apathetic, and most are in deep denial. It must be spelled out, why we should care that freedom is destroyed and fascism instituted. I will not do that here, in this brief essay, but I will say this.

We must not confuse outer trappings and distinctive types of fascism for fascism per se. Mussolini’s Italy and Nazi Germany are two examples of fascism, both hideous of course. But fascism requires no flags or uniforms or mass rallies. In fact, under medical martial law, rallies are now banned. The present day fascism in 2020 presents a democratic, cosmopolitan, multicultural, even humanitarian facade. But its heart is darkness.

All that is required for fascism is the merger of the business elite and the state, and the power hunger of the few. We have that now complete.

All that is required for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing. Tragically, we have that, too.

Unless…

JTR,

June 19, 2020

Marcus Aurelius & The End Of Empire

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on June 19, 2020 by jtoddring

To continue the conversation on Marcus Aurelius & The Delusions Of Authoritarianism (yesterday’s essay, or meditations)….

Reading more on the life of Marcus Aurelius I am softened in my views of him; but again, my critique was aimed at authoritarianism, not any one person, or school of thought, other than authoritarianism itself, which is always delusional and self-deceiving.

I can definitely love some of Marcus Aurelius’ words and philosophy; though flatly opposing other elements. I can even admire him as a person, from what I can gleam through the dusty lens of nearly 2,000 years of history. And I could imagine some people viewing him as a Good Emperor, as he has been called. (Remember, it was Machiavelli who coined the phrase, the Five Good Emperors, and he is the most vile and treacherous figure in all of Western philosophy, and not remotely what could be considered a reliable source.) But my point was this: there is no such thing as a good emperor, unless it is one who dissolves the empire into a federation of free republics; and there is no such thing as a good empire, since all empires by definition rest upon and entail domination, conquest and subjugation, pillage, plunder, slavery and servitude, which are the antithesis of freedom and of justice.

Maybe there are less evil emperors, certainly so; but there are, and can, be no good emperors. The same is true for empires. The Nazis were the worst, at least to date, but all empire is evil. They differ only in degree.

Was Marcus Aurelius the FDR of the ancient world, bringing in great reforms to increase justice for all? That would be a generous view. It would also be excessive. Again, Marcus Aurelius upheld the basis, principles, patterns, and power structure of the empire: he should be viewed in that light above all. That he made positive changes in culture, society and law in the direction of justice and equality is praiseworthy, but the changes were slight in comparison to the grave and extreme crimes against humanity, and war crimes, that were carried out annually and routinely by the empire, before, after, and during Marcus Aurelius’s reign. This marks him, sadly, as a war criminal, not a “Good Emperor”, which should be an obvious oxymoron, and a stark contradiction in terms.

People say good things come from empire. Foolish statement that is. Good things can come from earthquakes too; that doesn’t mean we pray for earthquakes.

Even terrible things can bring about mixed results, including some positive results. Still, no sane person wishes for terrible things for their loved ones, their fellow human beings, or themselves. Volcanoes bring fertlizing ash to regenerate soils, but we don’t pray for a million eruptions of Vesuvius.

Empire is evil. It needs to be abolished. That some good can come from great evil does not mean we should perpetuate evil. We should abolish it: quickly or slowly, but decidedly, and unhesitatingly, and as fast as we are able.

The Roman Empire brought roads, sewers, urban life, engineering skill, libraries, and highly centralized power, authoritarianism and elite rule – a very mixed blessing at best. It also brought mass slaughter, mass plunder, mass subjugation, and mass slavery.

When, for example, Julius Caesar very narrowly defeated the united forces of the Celts in 52 BCE, I think it was; there were three million Celts in Europe. The Empire killed a million Celts, and enslaved another million. The one third left alive and “free” were brutally subjugated. Of this act, historians and others say the Roman Empire brought “civilization”.

The empire had a “civilizing” effect on the “barbarians”, we are taught. So goes the official narrative. Who were the barbarians? (As Judas Priest ask, who is “savage”?) A “civilizing mission”? Can we be more self-deluded? We need more Bob Marley, less newspeak.

Mass slaughter and mass slavery: how “civilized” is that? Empire is always barbaric. It is always held up by blood, by slavery, and by slaughter – no matter how well camouflauged or disguised.

To admire the Roman Empire, or any empire, would be insane. To worship it, sheer madness. To reject empire, but take positive elements from the present and the past, while learning from our mistakes, and being heartened by our genuine triumphs, is the only sensible, just or humane course.

No more empire. It is time for freedom. That means the new global empire of technotronic corporate fascism must end too. And now.

JTR,

June 19, 2020

Marcus Aurelius & The Delusions Of Authoritarianism

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on June 18, 2020 by jtoddring

Marcus Aurelius is an interesting character, and in some respects I imagine he is deserving of the adulation that has been heaped upon him. (He showed the best and the worst of Stoicism, which is always a double edged sword, at best.) But in the end, he was an emperor, and he upheld imperialism, war and slavery. He should be judged for that, as well as his sometimes beautiful words.

I do not think people should be expected to be faultless, but to preach self-liberation, freedom and independence, while ruling over a brutally aggressive and repressive imperialist slave society, is a bit much. You could say this is the mind-addling effect of Stoicism, and it is; but it is also the sheer self-deceit and self-delusion that is common in all ages, and especially among authoritarians and the elite.

It seems to me that Marcus Aurelius was the Obama of the ancient world. He talks a good line, but what were his policies? They were an affirmation of empire, slavery, war and authoritarian rule. How little has changed in nearly 2,000 years.

JTR,

June 18, 2020

Church & State, Business & State: Restoring Freedom & Democracy, Before They Are Completely Devoured By Medical Martial Law, Or By Any Other Means

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 18, 2020 by jtoddring

 

In the near future, we could very easily see the kind of totalitarian society with a theocratic face that Margaret Atwood warned us about in, A Hand Maid’s Tale – but whether we do or we don’t, we already have what Chomsky has described (in January 2020) as a global dystopia, in a blending of the fascist-totalitarian nightmare worlds envisioned by Huxley and Orwell. It would seem that the majority of people, both spiritual and non-spiritual, or secular, are perfectly fine with that. This must change soon, or we will face great horrors ahead.

Separation of church and state, in light of this recent development, could be viewed as the least of our worries. What we need is a separation of the crypto-fascist corporate elite from power. That is the crux of it. Nothing less will do.

Any honest or sensible assessment of the present conditions of the world in 2020 will confirm the obvious. The global corporate oligarchy, composed of a few hundred billionaires, primarily representing the big banks, Big Pharma and Big Tech, along with the political, military, “intelligence”, and technocratic elites who are their loyal minions, have effectively staged a very successful global fascist coup. Only the willfully ignorant and the deeply deluded can fail to see it. A sensible, and bold response, is urgently needed.

Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi and Thoreau show the way: it is mass non-violent civil disobedience, mass resistance, and a non-violent popular democratic revolution; or it is a form of mass slavery ahead, and a gulag for all who are not among the ruling elite – with liberty and justice for none, unless you are among the 0.1% ruling elite.

*

Imagine returning to a time, not that long ago, when emperors selected popes and popes selected emperors, in a constant struggle for power; a time where war lords and the landed aristocracy, emperors, clerics, and the new moneyed aristocracy, struggled for centuries to see who would rule the land. That was our history for the better part of 2,000 years. Few would like to return to it.

Today we have a simpler, but greater danger facing us. The war lords, emperors and landed aristocracy have effectively merged under the new global empire of banker rule – facilitated by Big Tech, Big Pharma, and the military industrial security complex, with the liberal, social democratic and conservative political elite acting as loyal vassals and servants to their new neofeudal overlords.

We are in great danger, but the people are distracted and confused, and are terrified of the latest bogey man, what is essentially the flu; and they are busy sacrificing their freedom, in the name of an illusory security – and are about to lose both freedom and security as a result.

*

We could sleep soundly at night, comforted by the fact that the new global corporate empire prefers an unofficial state religion of nihilistic narcissism, escapism, materialism and consumerism – along with the obvious worship of power, authority, the elite, control and obedience, fame, money, cultish group think, conformism, technocracy and the state. I would not recommend such naive complacency, however, for a number of reasons. The price of both democracy and freedom truly is eternal vigilance – and we are losing both, right now.

The separation of church and state is an important principle to uphold, it should be remembered. And it means not only that the church cannot control the state, but also, that the state cannot control the church. Thus, the separation of church and state is vital to freedom of religion, and also to freedom of thought, belief, conscience and expression.

With the accelerating concentration of power in society under corporate rule over the past 50 years, which is coming to fruition now in the full merger of business and the state – which, as Mussolini said, is corporatism, and the proper definition of fascism – all principles of constitutional rule and limited government are being shattered as we speak, so anything is possible now, from theocracy to prison labour camps; although the latter is more likely, and likely more dangerous.

We must now re-assert the founding principles of constitutional democracy and freedom, or else live in a “new normal” that is an Orwellian police state, and a global fascist-corporate regime.

To do that, a number of things are needed. Most essential is to break up the Global 100 biggest corporate empires, including the big banks, Big Pharma, and Big Tech. Separation of business oligarchies and the state is imperative, or our future will be bleak, and we will indeed be slaves.

JTR,

May 29

Race, Class, Empire & Authoritarianism

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 9, 2020 by jtoddring

The new empire we live under is a global neofeudal corporate imperialism, which is now morphing into fascism, to be precise. It is systemically racist, self-deluded, and culturally arrogant in the extreme, but its primary allegiance is always to class. Everyone who is not among the 0.01% ruling elite is viewed as expendable.

Recent events in the US have a long history behind them, of course. The main question now, is whether issues of race and police brutality will further divide the people, or possibly unite them. If it is the former, then the US is a powder keg, primed for civil war, as I wrote in an essay in 2006. If it is the latter, then there is real hope for the nation.

The people must unite to reject hatred, violence, empire and authoritarianism, since these things endanger and injure us all. That is the one and only hope for a better future, and a better world.

JTR,

June 9, 2020

Authoritarianism & Medical Martial Law

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on May 29, 2020 by jtoddring

No to medical martial law. Fascism is never in the true interests of public health or safety, nor is it ever justifiable. Must we be reminded of this?

Authoritarianism always erodes and destroys good judgement, because conformity, obedience and power are valued above honest and open discussion and debate, among other reasons; not to mention that it destroys freedom and democracy in the process, two things which should be non-negotiable to all good people of sound mind and judgement.

In the end, authoritarianism is always driven to self-destruction and collapse. Aside from being intolerable, ethically repulsive and morally bankrupt, it is a fool’s errand. Only cowards and power mongers can support it, and both are delusional in their adherence to it.

JTR,

May 28, 2020

%d bloggers like this: