The God Fetish, the God Phobia, and the Fetish of Words: Or, The Idolatry of Ideology

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 10, 2021 by jtoddring

There are some who will read my writing and think – he’s a dangerous right-winger! But if they read more, they will realize that is obviously untrue. Others will decide I am a dangerous leftist extremist; but if they read on, they will understand that I advocate non-violence, freedom, democracy and constitutional rights – and if that makes me a dangerous extremist in the minds of some, then I would say they are dangerously delusional.

Others will read my writing and declare that, while they may agree with some of it, or maybe most of it, they lose me when I venture into the realm of spirituality or religion. To them I would say, keep an open mind. “There is more to heaven and earth than is contained in your philosophy.”

And then there are the religious fundamentalists, the sectarians, and the religious ultra-conservatives, who will feel that I am dangerously open to foreign, exotic influences. To them I say, I don’t think God has a fetish of names, and He, or She, cares little for our cherished ideologies, dogmas or sects. She is far beyond such narrow confines of little minds.

As the Tao Te Ching says, “Naming is the mother of the ten thousand things.” “The Tao that can be spoken is not the true Tao.”

Keep your cherished ideologies, philosophies, dogmas, theories or beliefs, clubs and sects, if you wish, but hold them lightly, or you will see nothing at all.

As always, “There is more day yet to dawn.”

JTR,
January 10, 2021

Primary Influences

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 10, 2021 by jtoddring

What are my primary influences? Among them I would list these: Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Buddhism, Taoism, the perennial philosophy, Joanna Macy, Thomas Merton, Joseph Campbell, Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi and Thoreau, along with the values of the Enlightenment: liberty, equality, solidarity – which I would like to see both defended and preserved, and lived up to, and the sooner the better.

In short, we are our brother’s keeper. But if we fall either to callousness, or to authoritarianism and illusions of control, then there will be hell to pay, for we will make a living hell on Earth. That is the crux of what I believe, and what I have to say. The power is in our hands, as always. It is up to us how or whether we will use it.

There are myriad other influences; I’ve cited them in extensive footnotes and references, bibliographies and reading lists. But these are some of the primary ones. A quick search of my blog for “reading”, “philosophy”, and the like, or the short article, Flash-Drive Revolution, will provide a great many resources, along with my first two published books: Enlightened Democracy, and, The People vs The Elite.

“Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.”
– Henry David Thoreau

“I fear no truth, and fear no falsehood.”
– Thomas Jefferson

“We have it in our power to begin the world over again.”
– Thomas Paine

JTR,
January 10, 2021

The Definition Of A Warrior

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 10, 2021 by jtoddring

Here is a good working definition of a warrior. Chogyam Trungpa or the 13th Dalai Lama can explain it better. (See, Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior, and The Bodhisattva Warrior.) I am only a student of the sages, even if, as a scholar, my writing frankly has few peers. Nevertheless, I think the following thoughts are worthy of reflection.

A true warrior commits to compassionate action, for the benefit of all sentient beings, and commits to pursuing the truth, and speaking the truth, to that end. There is no other summary or definition of what it means to be a warrior that I feel has any merit, or at least, any real depth. That includes speaking the truth even when it is unpopular, even when it is dangerous to do so. To do otherwise means that you are not a warrior, nor even, a decent human being, but a hollow shell, a sham, morally bankrupt, and a coward.

When Chomsky said, quite rightly, “If the Nuremberg Trials were held today, every US President since World War II would be hung”, that was an unpopular thing to say, but it needed to be said. The same is true for the covid hysteria. The crisis is real, but widely misunderstood. Worse, the crisis is being cynically used by elites to advance their own agenda, and as always, it revolves around greater power and wealth for themselves – and a good 70-80% of the people are silently acquiescing to the new gospel narrative and the power grab which it covers, or are actively, though unwittingly, aiding and abetting it.

A few people question the official narrative, but not many. Most are either subjugated into unthinking obedience by indoctrination and propaganda, or are cowed into silence, fearing to raise their voices, lest they incur the wrath of the obedient herd. They are cowards, and they are endangering us all, far more than would ever dare to imagine.

Speak the truth. Seek the truth, and speak the truth, no matter how uncomfortable or unpopular that may be; or else surrender to the new normal, of vacuous obedience to power, and docile conformity, even at the expense of your own sanity and capacity for rational thought – even at the expense of your freedom, your dignity, and your soul.

The majority of people are motivated by ego and the pursuit of comfort. They imagine themselves to be moral and decent, but, at least in this decadent age, it is largely a ruse, and a self-deception. They have basically decent impulses, as Chomsky said, but no courage. When their conscience or compassion conflict with their desire for comfort, or to be liked, they choose the latter. But as Gandhi said, “Cowards can never be moral.”

They herd are terrified of being driven out of the herd. The herd instinct makes them strong, in that they naturally tend towards compassion, empathy, solidarity, cooperation and mutual aid; but it also makes the majority cowardly, because they are afraid to risk losing the perceived safety of the herd.

This is why all significant positive change in human society has always come, and will always come, from a small, dissident minority. It was the small minority that led the movements for democratic revolution in America and France, the movement to abolish slavery, to gain universal suffrage, to end child labour and racial segregation, and on and on the list goes. Only when the brave minority, through tireless action, and tirelessly speaking the truth, reach a tipping point in terms of getting their message across to the broader society, do the majority decide, and usually rather quickly, that they are now on the side of the right and the truth, and they join in, as late-comers, in the drive for positive social change.

So, keep up the fight. Non-violently of course. Seek the truth, and speak the truth. There is more day yet to dawn. The revolution has only begun; and so too, the new renaissance.

Freedom and compassion must be united, just as the people must be united, or our future is dark. This is the central principle upon which an enlightened democracy is founded. But in order to achieve that end, we must speak up. We must question more, think for ourselves, and speak the truth, as best we understand it. This will lead us to a better world. Nothing else will – certainly not technocratic plutocracy and fascism, which is what we have now.

J. Todd Ring,

January 10, 2021

#covid, #covid-19, #coronavirus, #propaganda, #Warrior

Rescuing Plato, Rescuing Ourselves

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2021 by jtoddring

Despite the fact that Western civilization (sic) has greatly venerated and virtually worshipped the ancients of Greece and Rome, in reality, they had little to offer in terms of philosophy. (I will qualify and elaborate on this broad statement in a moment.) That being said, modern philosophy, from Descartes through to the currently fashionable fascism and post-modernism – both of them being based in dangerous nihilistic delusions – is in general a dung hole, and should be suitably flushed, or at least, set aside for a couple of hundred years, until we can see it with fresh eyes.

In that context, it would be most helpful to rescue Plato and the ancients from the memory hole. Though the ancient Greeks and Romans have been overly emphasized, as well as dimly understood, they still have important things to teach us – if we have ears to hear, eyes to see, and, an ability to think critically, and do not simply worship at someone’s feet, or alternately, glibly reject them out of hand.

(I like rigour of thought; but I am not a fan of the narrow-minded and blinkered, authority-worshipping, pseudo-intellectual, prickly scholasticism that has come over Western society in these past few centuries since the Council of Nicaea, particularly within academia and “intellectual culture”, and which gilds the mind-forged manacles, as Blake so aptly called them, which we have come to worship in the place of knowledge, wisdom and truth, or any other sensible values. There are glowing exceptions to the general decline in Western philosophy since the Renaissance. Let Montaigne and Etienne de La Boite, rather than Newton, Bacon and Descartes, be considered the foundations of the modern world from hence forth, and we will be on far better and more sure footing. If you insist on a canon, which is always a risky thing to do, but valid enough, and useful, if done with intelligence, let these bright lights be among them: Spinoza, Hume, Emerson, Thoreau, Kropotkin, Aldous Huxley, Alan Watts, Erich Fromm, Joseph Campbell, Allan Wallace, Joanna Macy, Ken Wilber, Rianne Eisler, Murray Bookchin, Noam Chomsky, Morris Berman, Helena Norberg-Hodge, Vandana Shiva, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, and the writings and speeches of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. Is there room for democracy, freedom, constitutional rule, human rights, tolerance and diversity, and science and spirituality both, along with philosophy? Naturally, and these things should be considered to be fundamental – which they are. Maybe with a fresh perspective, in this new millennium, we can actually begin to live up to calling ourselves a civilization.)

Aside from Socrates, who asserted little of his own views, but instead urged us to question everything, and Plotinus, who was the last of the ancient philosophers, and the best, there is no single philosophy from ancient Greece or Rome that can, or should, be taken off the shelf and accepted as a complete, ready-to-use philosophy, on its own. Aside from Plotinus, all of them offered defective and confused philosophies, and the best we can do with them, is to take what is valuable from each, and leave the rest behind. That includes Plato and Aristotle, the two most influential of all.

Plato was rabidly anti-democratic, and urged a totalitarian elite rule, by what he called philosopher kings. This should strike any sane person as an extremely dangerous idea, destined to create tyranny and a nightmare society. (My first essay in philosophy, in year one of university, was to rebut Plato’s philosophy of benevolent dictatorship by philosopher kings.) But this idea of wise and benign dictatorship has been glowingly and eagerly embraced by generations of self-deluding elites, for centuries and millennia; just as it is again today, with the Davos/Bilderberg billionaire oligarchs, who literally call themselves the masters of the universe, insanely, thinking themselves to be on a messianic mission to save us from ourselves, through bringing in a benign, highly scientific, technocratic fascism (which Huxley warned us about) – ruled by themselves, of course.

The Western power elite seem clearly to be ruled by a set of delusions elaborated by a bastard hybridization of Plato – the idea that the wise and benevolent ruling elite, as philosopher kings, should rule; Machiavelli – power is the only value, and any means are valid to achieve it; Hobbes – centralization of power is is necessary and good, or, more delusions of self-justifying and self-serving elite rule), Neitzsche – yes, he fell into nihilism, and yes, the elite are nihilists, as well as egomaniacs and sociopaths, as all power-mongers are; post-modernism – polysyllabic psychobabble based in nihilism and relativism), Malthus (yes, the elite are neo-Malthusian, with all the grim horrors that implies), and above all, Spencer (the godfather of Social Darwinism, who put forward the view most beloved by elites ever since: the view that extreme inequality, and extreme concentrations of wealth and power, are natural, normal, and good – the view that the might makes right, and the powerful are justified in devouring the planet, the poor, and everyone else.

*

Aristotle was more sane, with regards to political philosophy, arguing for democracy and equality. But Aristotle leaned toward a materialist reductionist worldview, and hence, was also partially crippled in mind, and not at all to be embraced uncritically.

If, however, we approach philosophy, not as a canon, but as a body of thought, then we can perhaps think critically, and look at what is valuable, if anything, in various works of philosophy, and not be so naive, or unduly deferential and mousy, as to believe that it is impossible to separate the wheat from the chaff, or, heaven forbid, to synthesize and combine the best elements from various philosophies and thinkers.

For example, and chiefly, perhaps, we need to look at Plato and Aristotle more critically, and not simply embrace or reject them, but embrace and reject what is suitable to be embraced or rejected.

If we take Plato’s metaphysics, or ontology, if you prefer the term – which assert a unity of being, echoing the perennial philosophy, to use the phrase of Leibniz, or, the mono-myth, as Joseph Campbell called it – and reject his elitist call for totalitarianism; and we take Aristotle’s very sensible and prescient observations asserting that democracy is best, despite its flaws; but reject his materialist reductionism; and instead, combine Aristotle’s sensible love of democracy with Plato’s metaphysics of the unity of being: then we have an intelligent philosophy, based in the ancients, but not blindly bound to their mistakes, which can guide us well through the 21st century and beyond.

Aristotle, we should note, had the good sense to recognize that both wealth and economic power (which of course inevitably follows from wealth) tend to concentrate in a market-based economy: and if this trend is not checked, and policies put in place to redistribute wealth, then the rich will take over, and it will be a plutocracy, an oligarchy, not a democracy – and democracy will collapse, be eaten alive by the rising oligarchy (then as now), or alternatively, implode under the weight of civil unrest.

Aristotle presaged FDR. Roosevelt understood that if some measure of redistribution of wealth, and some measure of aid and protection for the poor, some degree of intelligent responsiveness to inequality, are not undertaken, then revolution would be the result. He was right. As JFK said, Those who make non-violent revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable. For those who fear or are averse to revolution (I am not one) this sage advice cannot be ignored.

In 2020 we were beset by a new problem, which is really an old problem, in a new form. A crisis is being cynically used by powerful individuals for personal gain. Hardly anything new. (See The Shock Doctrine.)Powerful elites are seeking more power. This is also hardly anything new, but as dangerous as ever – and more dangerous than ever before, because the power of the global elite is now far greater than that of the Nazis, the fascists of the 1930s and ’40s, or any of the kings or emperors of the past 5,000 years. If we cannot learn from history now, at this critical juncture in time, and learn from philosophy as well, then we are indeed headed, and in fact plunging, into an extremely dark and dystopian world.

*

The Stoics deserve a brief mention only, and only because there is a growing new fetish for that grim philosophy of complacency. Stoicism is indeed a grim philosophy. It is the valuing of silent acquiescence and servility as the highest value. How dismal and pathetic. It echoes Confucianism in the East – which is the still-reigning religion, in truth, of modern 21st century China: “Know your place. Shut up and do what you’re told.”

No wonder the Taoists have mocked the Confucianists for over two thousand years – as they should. Stoicism, old or new, as with Confucianism – or the neo-Confucian/Maoist/Leninist/neo-feudal corporatism of contemporary China – deserves to be mocked, and to be rejected entirely.

Of course, even in a sewage pit, you can sometimes find little treasures. It is no different with regards to philosophy. There are elements of Stoic philosophy which are valuable, though the whole is a stinking bog, and a cesspool of the mind. The valuing of inner calm and composure, resilience and inner peace, are of course appealing to many people. But the Buddha offered a sure path to these goals, without the self-castration or self-evisceration entailed in Stoic deference to power and the status quo – whatever that happens to be; and without the perverse worshipping of repression as a pinnacle value, or the deranged notion that anything good can come through the staunch refusal to feel either pain or pleasure, sorrow or joy, or any human feelings at all. No, if you want inner strength, inner peace, inner calm, composure and resilience, there are better places to look, and better approaches to take, than to submit to the eye-gauging and soul crushing philosophy of the Stoics. Buddhism is just one option which infinitely supersedes this dismal quagmire. (Taoism and Liberation Theology are two more, among many.)

Post-modernism, and the ever-fashionable fetish among elites which is fascism – both of which being forms of nihilism – have resurrected the rotting corpse of ancient Sophism. Let’s just say that if nothing matters, in our deluded minds, then the holocaust, and the killing of millions of people, was a perfectly acceptable act, and not a crime of any kind. Of course, most people have a basic sanity, and therefore, they recognize that mass murder is not an acceptable thing, but a horrific and despicable act by deranged and dangerous people who should never be allowed to wield power. The lesson has not yet been learned, however – either by the delusional elite, nor by the masses, who allow them to rule, and allow them to repeat the horrors of history, in ever new and more dangerous forms.

If we, the people, are at all sane – and I am convinced that, despite the mass propaganda and the mass indoctrination, most people still possess common sense and basic sanity – then we will remove the power-hunger elite from power, and restore democracy and freedom, and constitutional rights for all, and immediately.

If we are not so lucid or so wise, then we will simply repeat the worst mistakes of history, all over again, and the bloodshed, and the horror, will be on our hands, and on our conscience, forever.

“The greatest of philosophers have found answers to life’s problems,

not just in theory, but in practice.”

– Henry David Thoreau

Act now.

J. Todd Ring,

January 3, 2021

Further Reading:

(A very short and incomplete list, naturally)

C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite

Noam Chomsky, Necessary Illusions, Year 501, and Class Warfare

Peter Phillips, Giants: The Global Power Elite

Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine

John Perkins, The New Confessions Of An Economic Hitman,

and, A Game As Old As Empire

Joseph Campbell, The Hero With A Thousand Faces

Joanna Macy, World As Lover, World As Self

Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy

Allan Wallace, Choosing Reality

Rianne Eisler, The Chalice and The Blade

Murray Bookchin, The Ecology of Freedom

Erich Fromm, Escape From Freedom

Bertrand Russel, Roads To Freedom

and my own first two books:

Enlightened Democracy

and

The People vs The Elite

Knowledge Is Power. Panic Is Death. Reconnection Is Resilience

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

Amidst the current global pandemic of fear, what is most urgently needed is perspective.

What must be done? In sum, we must disconnect from a dying system which is sucking the life out of us, out of humanity, and out of the planet, and thereby stop supporting it, stop feeding it, and stop giving it our energy and our power. Power structures only have power when the people give them their power. When the people stop giving them their power, they collapse, as we saw in the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc. Remember that. That is the key. We must disconnect and decouple from dying, life-destroying systems, patterns and structures of power, and reconnect with community, nature, and our deeper selves. That will radically empower the people, while removing power from the system which feeds off the people and keeps them subjugated and in virtual chains. Only then can we begin to truly heal our world, and heal our communities and ourselves in the process.

Here are some thoughts on how we can make that shift, with the results being greater awareness, greater aliveness and empowerment, greater resilience, and a healing of ourselves, our families, our communities, our society, and the beautiful, fragile, highly resilient planet that is our home.

Belief in technology as salvation, or worse, technocracy as salvation, is a thought pattern stemming from poverty consciousness, scarcity consciousness, inner impoverishment, weakness, delusion, alienation and fear – and the belief that either technology or technocracy will be our saviour, will, I assure you, lead us into slavery, dystopia, and the slow and painful death of our species.

Knowledge is power. Bacon was right about one thing, at least.

People are afraid of wolves, coyotes, snakes, bugs, bears…the flu. Our ability to assess danger rationally in our modern, coroporate ruled, media manipulated, techno-entranced, deeply alienated society, is near zero, it would seem.

In terms of modern man’s fear of nature, it is, by and large, utterly unwarranted. Respect and alertness are needed – not fear. Nature is far safer than “civilization.”

Despite delusional and misplaced fears, which are pandemic, unless you do something stupid: like keeping food or toothpaste in your tent (bears will investigate anything with a scent that just may conceivably mean edible items), or feeding bears, or trying to pet bear cubs; or unless you’re in grizzly country, rattlesnake country, or polar bear territory, in the desert, British Columbia, the jungle or the far north; your chances of being attacked by dangerous creatures are nearly zero – in the wilderness, that is. 

The city is far more dangerous than the wilderness. Bad drivers can kill you. Even if you’re just crossing the street. Or the smog and pesticides will give you with cancer, or the stress will give you a heart attack. 

Get out of the city. Read Thoreau. Don’t follow the lost herd. Definitely don’t follow the media, the government, the technocrats or bureaucrats, the elite, or the “authorities”.

Think for yourself. Eat organic, lower your stress, exercise, and don’t believe the hype.

Most dangerous of all, statistically, are obesity and poor diets, along with poverty and malnutrition, pharmaceuticals, and cars. Covid is no more dangerous than the flu, the figures now confirm.

0.26% mortality rate for covid-19, compared to 0.1% typically for the flu, so it is slightly higher for covid-19, but still miniscule compared to cancer, poverty, hunger, malnutrition, obesity, death by pharmaceuticals, junk food, or cars. Even bathtub drownings killed more people in Japan than covid-19. Check and verify the figures for yourself. Look at the Italian government study, for a start. (See Trends Journal and GreenMedInfo for further evidence-based information and analysis.) 

Yet the lemmings panic on cue, like Pavolv’s dogs, and stay rigidly in denial of the really big dangers: growing environmental disaster, pollution, war, poverty, obesity, fast food, junk food, pesticides, and fascism.

(See my essays: Importing From China, Any Enemy Will Do, Geopolitics 2020, Trump Says Up, You Say Down… Reality Check, and, Danger & Delusion From ISIS To Ebola)

Don’t be manipulated by fear-mongering media, or elites who cynically use fear to their advantage.

Remember:

Divide and conquer is the oldest and most essential maxim and strategy of control, used by all empires, including the latest: the global neofeudal empire of technocratic corporate fascist oligarchy.

And as we also know, in terms of the corporate-state media and the elite:

If it bleeds it leads.

Necessary Illusions are good for plutocrats.

Manufacturing Consent is the basis of elite-ruled pseudo-democracy.

And any crisis will do for Shock Therapy.

Stay calm, boost your immune system naturally, with real food, omega-3s and vitamins C and D, exercise, sunlight, love and joy – and question everything.

Above all, it’s what you put in your mouth, as in, “food-like substances” which really should not be ingested, along with certain pharmaceuticals and injections, which are the biggest danger.

Get outdoors. Do your own research. And embrace your power.

Real power comes from within – and it is quiet confidence, energy and strength, that does not need to be showy or to boast.

After inner power and inner resilience, comes the power of community, and the power of nature. Build your connections on these three levels, along with a healthy body, mind and spirit, and your empowerment and resilience will grow.

Read, reflect, make time for solitude and nature, build networks of mutual aid, and we will, in the process, heal ourselves, our families, our communities, and our world.

Disconnect first. Then only can you truly connect to others, to the natural world, to your deeper self, or even to reality. Dissociation from reality is the great plague of the modern 21st century world. We are enmeshed and entangled in webs of illusion, and in systems and patterns which alienate us from one another, from nature, and from ourselves. We must, therefore, disconnect from human systems that are, to a high degree, based in delusion and dissociation from reality, in order to better connect to the real world, to ourselves, and to one another.

If you have not yet, then begin now: learn to love books, reading, reflection, solitude and nature; and the nourishing of your body, your spirit, and your mind.

Rediscover your love for others, for community, for the natural world, for humanity, for the Earth, for learning, for creativity, free expression, and for yourself. We all had these things naturally as small children. We have been socially conditioned to lose them, to deny them, and to suppress them. But they can and must be rediscovered – especially now, when our world is in crisis. These are the core things which will heal our world, our communities, and ourselves. Not technocracy, not Big Brother, not plutocratic elites posing as saviours, not technology, not drugs: it is love and wisdom which will heal us and our world. That requires that we disconnect from certain things, and reconnect with others.

Disconnect, listen, observe, read, reflect – these things are critical. Make the time. Nourish your body, and also your mind and your spirit. Then you can reconnect with life in deeper, healthier, more joyful, empowering, and more meaningful ways.

We must disconnect and decouple from the systems, patterns, thinking, organizations, groups and substances which drain our energy, deplete us, divide us, further alienate us, exploit us, degrade us, or make us sick. That generally comes in small steps; although, many have taken great leaps, as have I, many times, and that works too. Sometimes small steps are all that is possible. Sometimes a great leap is required to save our sanity, our soul, or our very lives.

We must examine things for ourselves, question everything, and decide for ourselves what is truly life-supporting, nourishing, or life-enhancing, and what things merely give the illusion of being life-supporting, nourishing or life-enhancing, but in truth degrade, disempower, alienate, exploit or impoverish us, drain us or enslave us. We must unplug, pause, and reflect deeply, in order to even begin to think clearly, or to see what is going on.

Excessive time spent staring into electronic screens, excessive time spent in buildings or cars, the mainstream media in general, the corporate world and corporate culture in general, the fiat money system, the myriad “food-like substances” which are in truth more poison than nourishment, along with the fundamental, root poisons, which are ignorance, greed and hate: these are among the things we must disconnect from, and which literally and figuratively drag us down.

Some things require a complete disavowal and refusal, such as crack cocaine or hillbilly heroine, or other dangerous drugs and other addictions, for people who have succumb to them. I would place the major media and the Fortune 1000 biggest corporations in that category, as well: they are poison, and they are life-destroyers. They must be boycotted and renounced.

Other things, like the internet, the phone or the TV, simply require a more balanced approach, and frequent disconnection, rather than permanent disconnection. (Although, I respect people who choose to eliminate them entirely from their lives, especially TV, and there are good reasons for such a response.)

But I leave it to you to decide what we must disconnect from, either completely or periodically, for greater well-being, quality of life, health, healing, ethical standards, empowerment, fulfillment, the healing of ourselves and our world, and simply for greater aliveness and joy.

There is much entanglement and much debris in our minds and our lives. Clearing our minds and our lives of entanglements and debris, and clearing away physical and mental toxins, is vital now.

Disconnect: We must first disconnect in order to reconnect; and thereby, live and love more fully, and with greater empowerment and joy. Then only, come the revolutionary changes and the regeneration we urgently need.

Reconnect: with others, with nature, and above all, with your deeper self. That is where our true power, liberation and resilience lie. Not in drugs, not in money, not in material things; and certainly not in cynical elites posing as the protectors and saviours of humanity.

A global awakening of humanity is underway, and is growing with accelerating speed. Remember that. The people will triumph. The oligarchs of East and West will fall. Our world will be healed, and regenerated, and the people will be free.

J. Todd Ring,

September 9, 2020

Further reading:

My first two published books:

Enlightened Democracy: Visions For A New Millennium

And

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

And see my other recent essays:

Flash Drive Revolution

The Death and Rebirth of Freedom and Democracy

Covid Update

Any Enemy Will Do

Importing From China

Sinking All Ships (But Our Own)

Geopolitics 2020

Global Overview 2020

The Certainty Of Death, Or The Death Of Certainties

Also critically important:

The Hero With A Thousand Faces – Joseph Campbell

World As Lover, World As Self – Joanna Macy

Choosing Reality – Allan Wallace

The Protestant Ethic & The Spirit Of Capitalism – Max Weber

The Pathology Of Normalcy – Eric Fromm

The Corporation – Joel Bakan

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

Brave New World Revisited – Aldous Huxley

Roads To Freedom – Bertrand Russell

Mutual Aid – Peter Kropotkin

The Empathic Civilization – Jeremy Rifkin

The Ecology Of Freedom – Murray Bookchin

The Chalice & The Blade – Rianne Eisler

Wisdom of the Elders – David Suzuki

The Wayfinders – Wade Davis

Stolen Continents – Ronald Wright

Year 501: The Conquest Continues – Noam Chomsky

A Short History Of Progress – Ronald Wright

Collapse: How Societies Choose To Fail Or Succeed – Jared Diamond

Necessary Illusions – Noam Chomsky

Class Warfare – Noam Chomsky

The New Confessions Of An Economic Hitman – John Perkins

The Shock Doctrine – Naomi Klein

The End of America – Naomi Wolf

The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil & The Attack On American Democracy – Peter Dale Scott

Iron Heel – Jack London

1984 – George Orwell

Giants: The Global Power Elite – Peter Phillips

The Power Elite – C. Wright Mills

The New Rulers of the World – John Pilger

A Game As Old As Empire – John Perkins

Escape From Freedom – Eric Fromm

Shambhala: The Sacred Path Of The Warrior – Chogyam Trungpa

The Discourse On Voluntary Servitude – Etienne de La Boitie

Walden, and, On Civil Disobedience – Henry David Thoreau

The Plague: Then & Now

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

Europe did not respond well to the biggest plague in its history, in 1347-1351, to put it mildly – with anti-semitism, pogroms, scapegoating, witch trials, burning heretics at the stake, torture, self-flagellation, misanthropy, self-loathing, death cults, cultural morbidity and dark obsessions, paranoia, highly dubious medical practices, xenophobia, soaring cultural and religious intolerance, dogma, conformity and group-think, etc.

But, to be fair, the Black Death did kill 30% of the population. Many people were sadly but understandably panicked. We have panicked, in 2020, over what amounts, statistically, to the common flu.

(Nerves of steel, I tell you. Clear-mindedness under pressure – to astounding degrees.)

By comparison, fewer than 300,000 have died globally from covid-19, which is comparable in death rates to the annual flu – with 300,000-700,000 deaths per year. That’s fewer than *one death per ten thousand people* from covid-19, versus *one in three dead* from the Plague.

We have utterly lost all perspective. The people have broadly lost their minds. Mass hysteria reigns.

“The study of contemporary archives suggests a mortality varying in the different regions between one-eighth and two-thirds of the population, and the French chronicler Jean Froissart’s statement that about one-third of Europe’s population died in the epidemic may be fairly accurate. The population in England in 1400 was perhaps half what it had been 100 years earlier; in that country alone, the Black Death certainly caused the depopulation or total disappearance of about 1,000 villages. A rough estimate is that 25 million people in Europe died from plague during the Black Death. The population of western Europe did not again reach its pre-1348 level until the beginning of the 16th century.” – Britannica

One in three dead, vs one in 10,000, or less. Yes, we have lost our minds. The response has no sane or rational connection to the reality.

Orwell would understand, as would Huxley. This is not complicated; but it does require a willingness to fact-check, to question authority, the media, the elite, and the standard narrative.

It requires a willingness to deal with reality. So far, that has been lost by the vast majority. That is the real plague: a plague of the mind. And Blake, as well, would understand that.

Everywhere, “The mind-forged manacles.”

Covid-19 is literally one ten-thousandth as deadly as the Plague – and about as dangerous as the common flu. And yet, people have lost their minds to hysteria, panic and fear. Why? Because they are easily manipulated by fear-mongering governments, elites, and the media.

And they are not only losing their minds and their perspective, but also their democracy and their freedoms, as a result.

Pretty poor showing so far. We have definitely returned to the dark ages.

Witch burning, anyone? How about a nice burning of the heretics, hmm?

Worse, we have all that, in essence, along with a modern technocratic, highly Orwellian police state.

Yes, we are in grave danger. But it is not due to a germ.

In the 1930s, the first wave of fascism arose; and the people recognized it, resisted it, and defeated it. In 2020, we have the culmination of a slow motion global corporate fascist coup – and the people see it not.

Their minds have been high-jacked. The psyops propaganda war has been perfected. And this time, the fascists are winning, while the masses are lost in panic and delusion, over an “invisible enemy” – over a germ.

But it ain’t over ’till it’s over. The people are awakening.

JTR,

May 9, 2020

Moral bankruptcy in a time of “plague”

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

 

20,000 children die a day of hunger, and nobody notices, nobody makes a peep: outcry is basically zero. But a new strain of the flu (statistically less dangerous than the typical annual flu) scares people into thinking THEY themselves are in danger, and everyone loses their mind. Clearly, we are a morally bankrupt society.

We’ve had an international social, political, and economic order based on mass looting, conquest, rape and pillage for thousands of years – and nobody raises an eyebrow. But a germ comes along that might affect the privileged, affluent regions of the world, and everyone goes insane. 

Again, we are a morally bankrupt society, without question. All pretence of caring for the sick, and ending unnecessary suffering and death, is a joke and a deceit. If we were serious about such things we would end war and poverty. Clearly, we are not serious in the slightest.

6.5% of global GDP, according to the IMF, or five trillion dollars a year, goes to subsidizing the fossil fuel industry. Another two trillion, at least, goes to war, militarism, and the growing global police state. If we were serious about human health and well-being, we would end this mass subsidy to slaughter, planetary destruction, plunder and the police state, and end poverty and war. Clearly we are not serious.

As Chomsky has said, This is a business-run society, whose cardinal value is deceit. That is the problem. Anyone who cares about human health or well-being must first start by dealing with reality.

You who scream your venomous, hate-filled attacks on anyone who questions the new global police state, and in effect beg for your chains: your moral arguments are hollow. You surely, secretly know this, in your heart of hearts; which is why the venom and the screams are so extreme, and extremely insane.

JTR,

May 8, 2020

Flash-Drive Revolution – and – Who To Trust?

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

An idea for strategy is presented here in extremely concise form – an idea which could be decisive, and critical, to our survival, and our success.

Plus: Who To Trust?

Amidst Protests, Uprisings, Simmering Revolt and Revolution, and A New Renaissance Emerging,

vs

Reactionary Efforts of The Establishment Powers of Entrenched Global Neo-Feudal Corporate Oligarchy To Resist Change, and To Consolidate Their Power, The Question Arises:

Who Can We Trust, Who Is Worthy of Support, and Who Can Put Things Into Perspective?

*

Humanity is experiencing a global awakening, and the birth of a new renaissance, along with the birth pangs of a new, global wave of popular protests, uprisings, and democratic revolutions.

At the same time, and deeply inter-related, there is a deep and growing crisis of legitimacy facing the world’s business and political “leaders” – the elite – along with the media, political and economic institutions, and social systems, structures, institutions and powers broadly.

We are now, in 2020, entering the global showdown phase of that most central conflict: between a global awakening of consciousness and culture, an emerging new renaissance, and a new wave of global uprisings and democratic revolutions; and the elite powers and oligarchies that wish to halt them, and to retain their stratospheric power and privilege, their oligarchy, and their de facto global rule.

It is, in short, a global showdown between the people and the oligarchy – between the people, and the ruling elite.

Public trust in political and business elites has crashed through the floor, and are at historically low levels. Public trust in the media has likewise collapsed.

Pundits, academics and “experts” are now routinely called into question as well – and not surprisingly, when we repeatedly discover hidden motives, blind spots, outright lies or delusions, and frequent alliances with vested interests.

Everywhere, icons are toppling, people are questioning more and more – as they should, and must.

Everywhere, people are re-assessing basic questions, including, who can we trust? Who can be relied upon for generally reliable, as well as honest, thoughtful, and accurate information, and informed commentary and analysis?

Furthermore, who is truly worthy of support, and who is not?

In short, whom to trust, has become one of the central issues of our time, as old orders crumble and slowly die, yet fight to hold on; and a new world is not yet born.

For myself, as a Canadian, and after 35 years and more than 50,000 hours of intensive research, studies and reflection, I can offer a very short and incomplete list of some of the groups and organizations that I feel are most worthy of support, along with the sources of news and analysis that I hold to be most reliable. Remember, though: Think for yourself – and question everything.

Remember also, that good sources and worthwhile groups can be corrupted, co-opted, high-jacked, taken over, simply become lost, or positively go off the rails.

I don’t expect that to happen with any of my most trusted groups or sources, but we do live in strange and unpredictable times – so I would urge we take nothing for granted.

Question everything, and everyone. Trust is good, when it is warranted. It is good to have confidence in something, and in at least some few, as well as in the people and the Earth broadly.

So too, are vigilance, fact-checking, and above all, thinking for ourselves, very good, and essential, things.

*

Groups I feel are most worthy of support:

A very short and incomplete list, focused primarily on Canadian groups and organizations

Idle No More

The Canadian indigenous rights group that has transformed the environmental movement, positively fused the indigenous rights movement to the environmental movement, and brought non-violent direct action into the mainstream – where it belongs, and must remain, until the job is done, and we live in a just and free, clean and green world.

The Council of Canadians

Canada’s leading citizen organization: building grassroots activism for a clean, green, just and free, peaceful, democratic society

The Canadian Centre For Policy Alternatives (CCPA)

Canada’s leading progressive-left think tank, and one of the best in the world

Publishes the journal, The Monitor

The David Suzuki Foundation

The leading environmental group in Canada, along with Idle No More and others

Founded by the most trusted person in Canada, according to a nation-wide poll: environmental scientist David Suzuki

News and Analysis:

Trends Journal

Not even the best of the alternative media compares to Trends Journal for trend forecasting, trend analysis, and weekly news and analysis – and of course the major state and corporate media don’t remotely compare, being the propaganda systems for the ruling elite, as Chomsky has said, and thus, utterly unreliable.

Z Magazine & Z Net

News and analysis, in-depth commentary, activism, networking and solidarity for social change: Z Net is a giant David, or army of Davids, in the global movement for a better world. It’s now being censored and suppressed, like many other sources and individuals that speak the truth, but it is alive and strong, and you can find them. And you should.

The Monitor

In-depth analysis from the Canadian Centre For Policy Alternatives

Canadian Perspectives

News and analysis from the front lines of the grassroots movements for democracy, justice, sustainability and peace – from the Council of Canadians

Geopolitics & Empire Podcast

Quality varies with the guest, but generally excellent, in-depth global analysis here.

New Internationalist

Clarifying the real story on the biggest issues in the world for many decades now, NI is a rare gem, both as a journal, and as a grassroots networking organization, and also, as a publishing house

The American Herald Tribune

An independent media source that offers fiercely honest investigative journalism, news and analysis

(Watch for Anthony (Tony) Hall, Robert David Steele, Caitlin Johnstone, Philip Giraldi, Piers Robinson and Barbara Honeger in particular)

The Corbett Report

Another excellent source of independent research, news and analysis

The Centre For Research On Globalization

Also generally excellent for independent research, news and analysis

21st Century Wire

This source is new to me, but a recent episode of the weekly podcast was so exceptionally insightful, to such a rare level or degree, that I feel I have to list it here, among the best of the best. The host Patrick Henningsen has a level of understanding of global issues and power dynamics, and media manipulations, which is very rare. If one episode can impress me this much, like rare few sources ever do, then I am sure he must do a very good job of cutting through the fog on a regular basis.

John Pilger

Veteran investigative journalist and documentary film-maker John Pilger is a one-man media army. When the world is filled with the sound and fury of all-pervasive propaganda, lies, half-truths and illusions, and the echochamber of elite-spun narratives, which is the major media, seems to drown out all possibility for truth, or even basic sanity, you can count on John Pilger to cut through the fog and the lies and the convenient self-deceptions, to get to the truth, and the real story behind “the news”.

The Empire Files, with Abby Martin

A fiercely independent source of news and analysis, Abby Martin is what an investigative journalist looks like – along with John Pilger, Caitlin Johnstone, James Corbett, Jeremy Scahill, Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, and a handful of others left in the world.

GreenMedInfo

The most reliable, truly evidence-based source on health that I know of – in fact, the only reliable source remaining that I know of, now that most health information sources have fallen for the lies and hysteria that are broadcast and paraded, very much like a plague in fact, by the new axis of evil: Big Government, Big Media, and the Big Money powers that rule them both.

*

There are many other groups, movements and organizations in the world that are worthy of our support, of course. And there are a few other sources of news and analysis that are reliable – although, they are now extremely few, and increasingly rare, as well as increasingly censored and suppressed. But with even these few sources, and these few groups, and others like them, there is hope.

Everything is possible, and the future truly is in our hands.

What we do with that power, is entirely up to us.

Please be sure to read the important notes below, as well: sources for big picture perspective, and Flash-Drive Revolution.

JTR,
March 26, 2020

Post-Script:

Sources for big-picture perspective:

To compliment the short list of groups and news sources that I would consider worthy of our trust as well as our support, I would like to add a very short and incomplete list of authors and thinkers that I feel are extremely helpful in gaining clarity in terms of the big picture, and/or, in terms of in-depth analysis.

Again, there are millions and billions of voices out there, but only a handful rise to the level, in my mind, of being generally reliable sources of information, much less understanding and perspective. (Remember, few people are omniscient, to put it mildly. Let’s not expect infallibility. Question everything.)

These, to my mind, are among the best of the best, in terms of voices for big picture perspective, or in-depth analysis, or sometimes, rarely, both. Other people would present a different list. Here is mine. (In no particular order – and again, very incomplete.)

Henry David Thoreau

Etienne de La Boetie

Noam Chomsky

Peter Kropotkin

Bertrand Russell

Murray Bookchin

Rianne Eisler

Howard Zinn

C. Wright Mills

Peter Phillips

George Orwell

Aldous Huxley

Erich Fromm

Max Weber

Alan Watts

Allan Wallace

Joseph Campbell

Joanna Macy

Helena Norberg-Hodge

Vandana Shiva

Jeremy Rifkin

Naomi Klein

John Pilger

Gerald Celente

Michel Chossudovsky

Michael Hudson

Ellen Brown

Max Keiser

Yanis Varoufakis

James Corbett

Caitlin Johnstone

Abby Martin

Matt Taibbi

David C. Korten

David Suzuki

Arundhati Roy

Margaret Atwood

Ronald Wright

Maude Barlow

Paul Craig Roberts

Morris Berman

Stephen Toulmin

EF Schumacher

Gandhi

Martin Luther King Jr.

Peter Dale Scott

Anthony Hall

John McMurtry

Michael Albert

Chris Hedges

Cornell West

Piers Robinson

And my own writings, I would humbly submit:

my essays, here on my blog, along with my first two published books:

Enlightened Democracy: Visions For A New Millennium

and,

The People vs The Elite:

A Manifesto For Democratic Revolution,

Or, Survival In The 21st Century & Beyond

Both are available on Barnes & Noble and Amazon (though we should boycott the latter)

*

Flash-Drive Revolution:

As I have said before, and others have begun to say as well: censorship is increasing. The elite are scared – scared of change, scared of losing power. They are cracking down – especially on freedom of speech, and on dissent, as well as freedom of travel and freedom of assembly. (“Papers please.”)

I would urge people to begin backing up important texts, images, posters, data sets, videos, films, art and music that can be used in the fight for a better, freer, more just and clean, green, democratic world – and now.

Many of the best and most important writings, for example, are in the public domain. Others, like myself, are offering their work for free distribution.

Like most writers, I feel I am spiritually, intellectually, and culturally rich, but I am financially poor. Naturally I would like people to buy my books. But I certainly did not become a writer or a philosopher for the money. So, whether you do or not, and I ask that you do buy my books (mainly for my childrens’ sake); what is far more important to me is that the ideas and the writing be shared.

So, buy one copy, then share a digital copy with everyone you know, please. Hard copies, ebooks and audiobooks will be available for purchase, and I will also make electronic copies available for free, via Project Gutenberg, Librivox, my youtube channel and my blog.

Please take this document above, and my first two books, if you find them useful, and save them to a USB flash drive, along with other public domain writings you feel are  valuable or important  -Henry David Thoreau’s essay, On Civil Disobedience, for example, along with the UN Charter of Human Rights – or whatever you find relevant to the task at hand: and share them widely, everywhere.

These essays in particular I would encourage you to share, among others, from my blog:

Six Founding Principles Of Good Government

The Myth Of Progress – Pricking The Bubble

The Decline, Decay, Death and Rebirth of Democracy and Freedom

The Maxims of Empire (And the Maxims of Liberation)

The Failure of Propaganda

Decentralization & Localization, Or Collapse

Paradigm Shift

From Bankers Ruling The World, To The People Ruling The Bankers

along with several essays on mass digital addiction, the media, renaissance, enlightenment, and freedom of speech

If freedom of speech and dissent continue their current trend towards being censored and shut down, we will need alternative means of communicating. A Flash-Drive Revolution, sharing information and ideas freely, hand to hand, world-wide, by-passing the internet completely, could circumvent the oligarchs, and beat them. I think it is important, and it could imperative, and decisive. And I think we should begin right away – right now.

250 MB or even 1 terabyte USB flash-drives are becoming cheap. Use them. Bypass the closing down of society and free speech – while we still can.

Vive la revolution! For a just and free, clean, green, democratic society, and a better world for all.

And remember, We, the people, are the world’s other superpower – the greatest superpower.

Embrace your power now.

Let’s go.

Consider that the revolution has begun.

JTR,
March 26, 2020

With minor additions made in April 2021 – and an important note:

Some of the journals, organizations, individuals and media outlets listed above as being among the best, are no longer reliable, or have frankly become either addle-minded, or corrupted and co-opted – though it is hard to tell which it is – as was confirmed in 2020/2021: and that includes some of the vanguards of the progressives and the left. Where is the left in 2021? Largely lost, deeply befuddled, deluded, and profoundly confused. Question everything – and everyone. It is more imperative than ever.

Shatter the illusions of division, embrace diversity, and unity in diversity, and transcend the old partisan battle lines of conformity, hostility and group-think which divide us. Prioritize! Separate long term ideals from short term necessities – and uniting the people is the greatest and most urgent necessity of all. If we do not unite the people now, or very soon, we will all be slaves – make no mistake. Forget or at least temporarily set aside old notions of right and left. It is now the people vs the oligarchy. If we fail to understand that, we fail to understand everything. Do not be fooled by confused or deceitful narratives that divide us. Don’t succumb to fear, paranoia, or mistrust. But do question everything, and think for yourself. Above all, trust yourself. We build from there, or from nowhere.

The Certainty Of Death, Or The Death Of Certainties

Posted in philosophy, Uncategorized with tags , , , , 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.

Boycott Big Tech: Go To Purism & Linux

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on July 26, 2021 by jtoddring

This will definitely be my next laptop: Purism Librem. My MSI is still fast, reliable, and bullet-proof, after three years of use – while all my previous laptops bogged down and became useful, pretty much, only as a doorstop, after a year and a half. Nevertheless, the MSI runs on MicroShit, and I am thoroughly fed up and disgusted with their excessive, intrusive “updates”, their junkware, and especially with sociopath and crazed power-monger Bill Gates. I don’t want to support his evil empire building any longer. Apple is better, but still enmeshed with the global plutocracy and the global surveillance state. Google is even worse, so Andriod is out. It’s time to boycott them all. Say no to Big Brother. I’m switching to the Linux-based, ultra-secure Purism laptop and phone, asap.

JTR,

July 26, 2021

Buddhism: Surface & Depth; Or, Big Mind & Baby Minds

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on July 19, 2021 by jtoddring

Buddhist meditation and mindfulness are very popular now, and have become mainstream. Hospitals, churches and secular classes are now offering meditation and mindfulness training and practice. That is a good thing, and it need not go with any kind of religious conversion; and in Western popular Buddhism, generally it does not. That is all fine and good, and there are definite psychological and health benefits to such a stripped down version of Buddhism, but I think we would be mistaken if we assumed that that is all there is to Buddhist philosophy or practice.

If all you can relate to is a bare bones, austere, arid and superficial version of Buddhism, stripped of all ritual and metaphysics, and plopped down into a secular, atheist, hyper-individualist, atomized and alienated, materialist worldview, and you practice meditation or mindfulness, or compassion, in that small shoe-box of a limited conception, that is great! That’s wonderful! But don’t be so foolish as to presume that you have plumbed the depths of Buddhism, or that your understanding of Buddhism is anything more than that of an infant, barely out of the womb. Because it is not. You have barely scratched the surface. But that’s a great start!

If you want more depth, go to Chogyam Trungpa, the Dalai Lama, Allan Wallace, Alan Watts, Joseph Campbell, Ken Wilber or Joanna Macy. There you will begin to find the infinte. And it is much bigger than a shoe-box, I can assure you.

JTR,

July 19, 2021

Reclaiming Democracy In Canada – And Around The World

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2021 by jtoddring

In the 1960s, there was a cultural awakening which spread rapidly around the world, and Chomsky is right in calling it both a cultural awakening, and also, an outbreak of democracy. The civil rights movement, the women’s rights movement, the gay rights movement, the native rights movement, the anti-war and peace movement, and the environmental movement, either began or took on a whole new level of grassroots popular power, in the 1960s. This, of course, made the political elite, and the business elite who effectively rule them, shudder and shake with terror and rage. The Pentagon Papers – which were top secret and classified at the time, and which were written in and around 1968, and were leaked by one courageous man, thankfully – spelled out in detail how the power elite, as the great sociologist C. Wright Mills called them – the political elite, the military and paramilitary (the “intelligence” community), and the corporate elite who dominates them both – responded to the outbreak of democracy. They were unsurprisingly dead-set against it, and made it clear and explicit in their top secret planning documents, including the Pentagon Papers, that, as they see it, democracy must be rolled back, and once again constrained, so that the elite could once again rule, as they should, without the hindrance of democracy getting in the way. That was the 1960s. Since that time, the war on democracy has been continuous, highly conscious, and escalating. By now, in the early 21st century, by way of a constellation of methods and strategies, democracy has been thoroughly gutted across the Western world, with a few hundred billionaires in Davos effectively in control. As the leading business journal of the Western world itself admitted, Davos is now “the de facto world government”. Also, by now, after the crash of 2008 and the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the Bernie Sanders campaign (which failed to gain political power, but succeeded greatly in opening up free and critical thought and debate), the great majority of people now realize that we no longer live in a democracy – we live in an oligarchy, a global plutocracy, ruled by the bankers and the billionaire elite. The question is, of course, what are we going to do about it?

I have devoted four decades to research, reflection, and writing on this subject, and my first two books lay out a global and historical analysis, a vision for a better world, and a set of strategies for getting there. What I will focus on here, is the crystallization of the key steps that are necessary to achieve that goal: the goal of a rebirth of democracy, freedom, and constitutional rule, and a better world for all.

What are some of the necessary and unavoidable steps we must take, if we are serious about reclaiming our democracy, our freedom, or our rights – all of which are being systematically destroyed now, in the name of an authoritarian benevolence, which, of course, is always a lie, and always a contradiction in terms?

1. Create a free and diverse, open, transparent, and democratic media. This applies not just to the corporate media, but also to the state-controlled media, and the “public”, “alternative”, “independent” and “progressive” media – all of which, or 99% of which, are heavily dependent on money from big corporations, or from billionaire-controlled foundations: which, of course, means that they are not free or independent media, but are on a short leash, and are also part of the corporate-controlled media empire.

2. Apply strict election financing laws – banning all “donations” (which, for adults, translates as bribes) to elections from any corporation or organization, and limiting contributions to elections to $1,000 a year per person. This requires public financing of elections, which is something that has been tried in Europe, and works very well – much better than allowing the rich and the big corporations to buy elections, and buy politicians, political parties and governments, as they currently do now.

3. Implement proportional democracy. That means that your vote is not wasted by voting for a minority party. That millions more people would vote for an anti-establishment party.

If, for example, the Green Party wins 15% of the popular vote, the NDP receive 15% of the vote, and each of the dominant, establishment parties, the Liberals and the Conservatives, receive 25-29% of the vote – and this is a conservative estimate of the voting shift, since almost everybody mistrusts or hates both the Liberals and Conservatives by now, just as the majority of Americans now mistrust if not hate both the Republicans and the Democrats. The Greens would then get 15% of the seats in government, the NDP would get 15% of the seats, and the Liberals and Conservatives would each get less than 30% of the seats. Neither the Liberals or Conservatives would be able to form a majority government, and the two arch rivals would not likely form a coalition government with each other. The much more likely outcome would be a Green/NDP coalition government, which, while mild and tepid, white-bread and weak-kneed in nature, would at least make some minor reforms in favour of justice, pensions, elder care, child care, public health and education, and environmental protection – all of which, are regressing and have been under heavy attack by both the Liberals and Conservatives, ever since Pierre Elliot Trudeau left office, in 1979.

The British parliamentary system is a very good system in some respects, but it is systematically biased towards favouring established, dominant political parties. Across Europe, proportional representation is the norm. That is a far more democratic system.

If we are serious about democracy, then we must take these first three steps immediately. But there is more that is needed, if democracy is to survive – or, given that it is now effectively dead, we should say, these three steps and more are required to resurrect democracy, and allow it to be reborn.

4. Reject all “trade agreements” and other international agreements which surrender the sovereignty of a democratically elected parliament (or Congress) to foreign powers – namely, the multi-national corporations, and international organizations such as the NAFTA tribunal, the WTO, the IMF, the World Bank, the BIS and the WHO. We should note here that these so-called “trade agreements” are really corporate rights agreements. They are less about trade, and more about giving multi-national corporations the power to sue governments for loss of profits, or possible loss of future profits, if, for example, environmental, health or other legislation threatens or harms their profits. This means that all governments, and all politicians who have signed such agreements, which surrender the sovereignty of parliament to foreign powers (multi-national corporations), are, under the explicit terms of Canadian federal law, guilty of treason – which, under Canadian law, is the only crime punishable by death. I am not suggesting we resort to the death penalty, which I am firmly opposed to. I am, however, trying to covey the extreme gravity and severity of the crime of surrendering the sovereignty of Parliament or Congress to any foreign power, including multi-national corporations – or the WHO, BIS, ECB or WTO. We should, at the very least, remove these traitors from government, and elect only political representatives and true leaders who are sworn and committed to upholding both the constitution, and the sovereignty of our democratically elected government and nation.

Why should the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the Bank of International Settlements (BIS), or the World Health Organization, effectively set the policies, laws, rules, regulations and norms for Canada, or any sovereign nation? The World Health Organization is controlled by Big Pharma, Washington, and Bill Gates, who are its three primary sources of funds. Anyone who trusts these three, is bordering on clinical insanity. Bill Gates, even more than the other two, took over the WHO, over the past decade. Even the Financial Times, the leading business journal of the Western hemisphere, acknowledges that the World Health Organization doesn’t do anything without prior approval from the Gates Foundation.

The banking elites and other billionaire corporate elites control the WTO, the IMF, the World Bank, and the BIS, and Bill Gates controls the WHO. Are we going to allow a handful of ultra-rich plutocrats to control our laws, our rules and regulations, and to determine our policies and our choices? This is neo-feudalism. It is also an oligarchy, a plutocracy, a kleptocracy, and an empire, and it is increasingly authoritarian, in addition. The time to reclaim our democracy, our sovereignty, and our freedom, is now.

The World Economic Forum at Davos has publicly announced their plan for humanity, to be fulfilled, they say, by 2030: “You’ll own nothing – and you’ll be happy.” We, the people, the 99%, will own nothing – that is the plan. Who then, will own everything? The Davos billionaires, of course. As I said, this is the new feudalism. We must dethrone the corporate oligarchs, and take back our power, our freedom, and our democracy, now.

5. Tax financial speculation. We must invoke immediately, a tax on financial speculation, and currency speculation in particular. Without that measure, we will continue to have our current, pathological, anti-democratic norm, which is, that billionaires and hedge funds can continue to attack and devalue, or threaten to attack and devalue, the nation’s currency, and through this financial extortion, bring virtually any government to its knees. BlackRock alone, the biggest hedge fund in the world, which is the tool for managing the wealth of the super-rich, controls $8 trillion. The entire Canadian economy is only $1.7 trillion – and Canada is one of the seven richest countries in the world. We invoke this measure, along with the other vital steps I am outlining here, and BlackRock, and the billionaires, lose their power over us.

6. Keep the nation’s central bank public, and democratically controlled. The Bank of Canada, which is an exception in the world, in that it is a publicly owned central bank, must not only remain a publicly owned central bank, but even more essentially, it must be under the control of the democratically elected federal Canadian government – and not under the control of Davos billionaires, or the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) in Basel, Switzerland (which is the central bankers’ central bank). All other nations in the world, if they are intelligent, will follow these most vital and urgently necessary six steps to reclaiming their democracy, or not only will their democracy die, but also their freedom, their constitutions, and their rights, will be shredded, trampled, and burned to the ground – as is already well underway.

7. Apply serious and vigorous anti-trust legislation, especially and most immediately in key sectors: the media, banking and finance, Big Tech, Big Pharma, Big Agra and Big Oil. Teddy Roosevelt led a successful, populist movement to dethrone and reign in the powerful business oligarchs – most notably Standard Oil, which was and still is controlled by the Rockefeller dynasty: the most powerful family in the Americas, until the geek-barons of Big Tech came to rival and slightly overshadow them. But the anti-trust actions failed, because they did not go far enough. Standard Oil, for example, was broken up into numerous smaller corporations, but over time, the Rockefeller dynasty brought them back together again, like hydra heads merging back to their host body, and Standard Oil was reborn as the Frankenstein monster of Exxon-Mobil, the biggest oil company in the world. We failed then, because we were too timid, too limited in our foresight, and did not go far enough. What we must do, is not simply to (a) break up the big banks, media empires, hedge funds, Big Tech, Big Pharma, Big Agra and Big Oil companies – but also, and further, (b) revoke their corporate charters; then, most critically (c) seize all of their assets, and transform them into networks and federations of decentralized, democratically-controlled, worker-owned co-ops. That kills the beast which is the ruling global corporate oligarchy, because it gets to its dark heart, and cuts it out. Remove the assets of the corporate giants, and they cannot resurrect themselves from the dead. This is the stake through the heart, which is necessary now, if we are to have freedom and democracy, and constitutional rights for all, and not descend into the Orwellian dystopia, into which we are now headed. It is furthermore the most central, most vital, and most urgent of actions, if we are going to see serious action on the growing environmental crisis – or any other social issue.

8. End all subsidies, tax breaks and tax loopholes for big business, the richest 1% and the large corporations. Government can and should support small business, which is the primary engine of the economy, and the primary employer, and can and should support entrepreneurship and new start-ups. What we cannot afford to do, is to continue to give billions of dollars a year – or in the case of the US, trillions of dollars a year – to giant corporations that are already excessively powerful. Aldous Huxley was right: the primary problem in society is the excessive concentration, or centralization, of power. We need to break up the corporate empires, and dethrone them, not feed them and fuel their further cancerous growth with massive subsidies and tax breaks. The crony capitalism and corporatism must end. Take the rich off welfare now. If either constitutional democracy or freedom are to survive, or be reborn, we must stop feeding the corporate oligarchs. That much should be plainly obvious, and undeniable to all.

Furthermore, by implementing a progressive income, profit and wealth tax on the richest 1% and the large corporations, we will not only balance all budgets and eliminate deficit spending, and be able to fully fund critically needed social programs, such as health care, and fund urgently needed environmental programs to make the transition to a green and regenerative society: we will also be able to reduce the greatly excessive tax burden on the middle class, small business and farmers, and eliminate taxes for new start-up businesses and the poor. The social, ecological and economic benefits would be, and will be, enormous. But the preservation of our freedom and democracy that it will also help to safeguard and renew, is priceless. Be bold now, I say, or watch our world burn, along with our freedom, our democracy, and our rights.

9. Implement a pollution tax, to be collected exclusively by local communities and municipalities. This will greatly help the environment while strengthening democracy, and strengthening local economies. Cities, towns, villages and municipalities are facing a growing nexus of problems and crises, including a growing financial and economic crisis. At the same time, we are in the midst of a rapidly escalating environmental emergency. We must create disincentives to pollution, and we must create incentives to switch from polluting technologies and modes of business, transportation, housing, agriculture and energy. By giving local communities and municipalities the power to implement and collect a pollution tax, we answer both of these problems in one stroke. It is true that the billionaire corporate elite want a global governance system with a global carbon tax, collected by the IMF. That would give the oligarchs exactly what they want: more profits and more power. But it is highly questionable if the technocratic, authoritarian answer they are proposing would truly halt the environmental crisis, or whether it would simply create a new, deeply dystopian society of global technocratic fascist rule, with the bankers then even more firmly in control of the world. We are already very close to that reality, and are being driven further into that scenario by the day. We must tax pollution, but we must also reject any global collection of a pollution tax, because that would ensure effective slavery for humanity, or at least, global servitude and the death of freedom and democracy. By allowing local communities to implement and collect a pollution tax, we can accomplish the vital goal of creating a shift away from polluting modes and methods and systems, and towards clean, renewable, sustainable and regenerative modes and systems of business, transportation, housing, agriculture and energy – without creating a global police state in the process, but instead, fostering a rebirth of freedom and constitutional democracy.

A pollution tax, along with a tax on the richest 1% and the big corporations, and a tax on financial speculation, will enable all social and environmental programs to be fully funded. And by making the pollution tax collected solely by local municipal governments, we will see local communities flourish, and lead the way in the transition to a clean, green, sustainable and regenerative, thriving and free society. Local communities will then have the funds to invest in community self-reliance in energy, food and water – which is critically important for adaptability, mitigation and resilience. Local communities will then have the funds for building community gardens, urban and peri-urban organic regenerative farms, community-controlled solar and wind power, excellent bus systems, walking and cycling routes, tiny green home villages, and funds for creating ponds, aquaculture systems, natural flood control and fire resistance, water reservoirs, rainwater catchment systems, grey-water systems, composting systems, wetlands and reforestation, parks, nature trails, community car-share co-ops, bicycle co-ops, child care co-ops and pedestrian malls, and funds for retrofitting every home and building for high energy efficiency and thermal insulation, along with funds for local community economic development and entrepreneurship seed capital. In short, a pollution tax that is collected by local communities and municipalities would positively transform our communities, and our nation, in short order.

For example, I live in a town of 18,000 people, and in North America there is an average of at least one vehicle per capita, disturbingly. That means there are roughly 18,000 fossil fuel burning vehicles in this small town, appallingly. A pollution tax, collected by local governments, on roughly 18,000 fossil fuel burning vehicles, set at 5% of the market value of the vehicle annually, with an estimated average market value per vehicle of just $20,000, would create an annual revenue fund from the locally-collected pollution tax, of $18 million dollars – per year, for one small city. The entire budget of a town of this size is roughly $36 million per year – and most towns, cities and villages are running a large annual deficit, which in the case of typical towns of this size, is easily $10 billion a year. That means, a pollution tax that is collected by the local community could eliminate the annual deficits, and still leave $8 million a year for investment in the community, or an additional 25% in annual revenue available, after eliminating all deficits. The transformative power of this simple, urgently necessary idea, is simply profound. Yes, of course, pollution tax revenues would gradually fall, if they work as a disincentive to pollution, as they are intended to do. And they will work, of course, because when you create economic disincentives, you reduce the social pattern you have disincentivized. But as pollution tax revenues fall, that is a good sign – it means we are making progress in reducing pollution, and creating a clean, green, sustainable and regenerative community and society. It also means that as pollution tax revenues gradually decline, the funds from that revenue stream have already been invested in creating clean, renewable infrastructure, and a thriving, resilient community and society. To turn down this idea would be short-sighted to the point of madness. It is time for such bold thinking, and for such bold action, and there is zero time to delay.

Would you rather have the IMF and the globalist billionaire elite collect a pollution tax, and remove the remains of your freedom, democracy and human rights along with it? Or would you rather have democratically-elected, local communities collect the pollution tax, while retaining our freedoms, our democracy and our rights, and strengthening them all, while strengthening and rebuilding our local communities, and making the shift to a society that is democratic and free, as well as sustainable? We are going to have one or the other. I would say the more pleasant medicine is the locally-empowering option, and the only option that is compatible with freedom and democracy. The path of globalized tax collection for a globalized government, run by and for the ruling business elite, will be more than a disaster, if we allow it to happen – it will make Chairman Mao’s China and Mussolini’s Italy look mild by comparison. Choose wisely, and choose now – as we must.

Community-based, town hall democracy – which Thomas Jefferson also advised and urged – along with referendums on all major issues, is the most direct, robust, and accountable form of democracy. If we truly value either democracy or freedom, to say nothing of thriving, resilient, sustainable green communities, then we will not only accept such a proposal as this, but passionately and resolutely commit to bringing it to fruition. Again, what do we prefer: thriving, green communities, based in democracy and freedom, or a global police state, run by the robber barons and the super-rich plutocrats? These are our choices now. Let us be very thoughtful, and also, decisive, in what we now choose, for that will determine our fate.

10. Respect the sovereignty of the individual over his or her person, body and mind. We cannot expect to have a free or democratic society, or a society based on constitutional rule and human rights, until and unless we recognize personal sovereignty as fundamental, and inviolable. The basis of all human rights and all constitutional rights, is sovereignty over one’s own person and body. That is the basis for the Magna Carta, the Great Seal, which is the foundation of 800 years of Western law, and all constitutional law. If we allow the sovereignty over our bodies to be violated, then all our rights, our democracy and our freedom, are all null and void. The basis for a free and democratic society is that the individual has sovereignty over his or her own body and mind. This is, and must be, non-negotiable. Informed consent is therefore fundamental to our most basic and fundamental human rights. Without that, we have nothing. Without that, we are mere chattel, mere objects, to be used, harvested, yoked, exploited and disposed of, at will be our masters. Life with freedom requires there be no masters and no slaves. That requires that we insist upon retaining our fundamental, God-given right to sovereignty over our own person, body and mind.

11. Tax the rich. Yes, this is both necessary and legitimate. Moreover, the great majority of people support such a move. Put a tax of 90% on all personal income over $1 million a year, and all corporate profits over $1 billion a year. Furthermore, we must now tax not only income and profits, but also accumulated wealth. There must be a reasonable cap on incomes and wealth, otherwise, inequality soars, and the super-rich become so vastly powerful that they effectively become the masters of the nation and of the world, in which case, both freedom and democracy will inevitably die, and oligarchy, neo-feudalism and tyranny will take their place – that is what we have allowed to happen, and now, we must remedy our mistake. We should immediately implement a wealth tax of 90% on all personal wealth over $100 million. (And all of those figures are incredibly lenient, by the way.) If that means redistributing shares in corporations more equally among all citizens, then that is the wisest and most prudent, and just, course of action. That still leaves room for tolerance of those who want to be wealthy in material terms, yet provides urgently needed funds for social programs, environmental protection, and the urgently needed shift to a truly sustainable, free and democratic, regenerative and thriving society. Close all tax loopholes for the richest 1% and large corporations, and implement a forensic audit on all of the biggest 200 corporations operating in Canada, and on all of the nation’s billionaires. This means tracking down all off-shored profits and wealth, and halting capital flight. When the wealth of the nation overwhelmingly accumulates in the hands of the giant corporations, the richest 1%, and in offshore private bank accounts, you can be sure the nation is slowly being drained of its lifeblood. Stop the blood-letting. You can be wealthy, you can be rich, you can be very successful in business or entrepreneurship; but obscene levels of greed and parasitism are not tolerable, and must be stopped.

12. Implement sound fiscal and monetary policies. The founder of the Bank of Canada was right:

“Once a nation parts with control of its currency and credit, it matters not who makes that nation’s laws. Usury, once in control, will wreck any nation. Until the control of the issue of currency and credit is restored to government and recognized as its most conspicuous and sacred responsibility, all talk of the sovereignty of Parliament and of democracy is idle and futile.”

– William Lyon Mackenzie

Sound fiscal and monetary policy necessitates that the central bank of the nation remain publicly owned, as we have said. Secondly, it necessitates that the central bank, the Bank of Canada in this case, be controlled by a democratically-elected Parliament – and not by any foreign powers, such as Moody’s investment firm, Goldman Sachs, Wall Street, the City of London, Davos, the IMF, the BIS, or the global financial elite, who control all of these institutions, along with the big banks, the global economy, and most nations and governments in the world.

Thirdly, in order to safeguard the nation’s sovereignty and independence, a tax must be imposed on financial speculation, and particularly on currency speculation. That protects the nation’s currency, and hence its economy, and hence, its sovereignty and democratic independence, from manipulation by foreign powers – principally, the global financial elite.

Fourth, to have a sound economy, among other necessary actions, it is vital to implement capital controls. That includes, above all, stopping capital flight, and halting the offshoring of profits and wealth in private offshore bank accounts and shell companies. Set a low limit for moving large sums of money or capital offshore. Moving more than a million dollars a year out of the country should require an audit, to establish that such a drain on the nation’s economy is justified. And that, again, is a very lenient figure! But it would be enough to at least stop the hemorrhaging.

Fifth, to have sound fiscal and monetary policy, and sound money, you must, of course, have sound money. This means the nation’s currency must be backed by real world assets, such as gold or silver – or by a combination of real world assets, including gold, silver and Bitcoin. Fiat currency is the policy of printing money out of thin air. No currency can remain stable for long under that policy. The fact that we have survived economically at all, after 50 years of such a policy, is surprising. We are pushing our luck to continue it any longer. Sooner or later the house of cards will implode. Better to build real-world assets to back our nation’s currency now – as China, Russia, and several other nations have done. Instead of selling off our nation’s gold reserves, foolishly and disastrously, we should be increasing them, and building reserves of silver, Bitcoin, and other real world assets, as well. Promoting the use of Bitcoin and local currencies is another important element in a comprehensive strategy to secure a sound and resilient, thriving economy, and this policy should also be implemented immediately.

Sixth, a policy of balanced budgets should be a natural target, and also necessary for stability and prosperity, or independence, is a balance in terms of trade. We can have cycles of government investment in the nation which run a short-term deficit, and later reap the rewards with greater economic prosperity – just as we invest heavily in spring to plant a garden or plant the fields, and reap the harvest later. But a policy of endless, perpetual deficits, creating endlessly growing debt, is a policy designed for failure and collapse. Just look at our neighbours to the south. The US is near to imploding, both for sociological reasons, for political reasons, and also for financial and economic reasons. You cannot offshore all production, and import everything the nation needs, without sooner or later going bankrupt. Buying local and buying Canadian, and investing in our communities and our nation, should be top priorities – for both ecological as well as economic reasons. Globalized supply chains, shipping food and other goods thousands of miles from China, Mexico, California, and from all over the world, when most of them we could make or grow ourselves, is a foolish and disastrous policy and habit, both in terms of ecology, and in terms of economics – and in terms of our sovereignty and democratic independence. If we want to be sovereign, democratic and free, then we must be more self-reliant – not isolationist, but self-reliant. If we have a sound economy – a green, just, and regenerative economy, and a sound economy – it is much more likely that we will be able to preserve our freedom, our democracy, and our independence. If we do not, then we are losing all of these priceless treasures, and rapidly. Buying local, first of all, and above all, and buying Canadian products and services, is truly, vitally important.

Unless we implement all of these steps to creating a sound fiscal and monetary policy, and a sound economic policy, our nation can forget about such lofty ideals as freedom, independence, sovereignty, democracy, or even economic stability, for they will all be sacrificed on the altar of the new global corporate-financial empire.

13. Abolish the absurd legal notion that corporations are persons. This disastrous and illogical policy, built upon a sham and a lie, has allowed corporations to overshadow, and then finally to dominate and control, virtually every nation in the world. End the fiction that corporations are persons, and end their legal status as persons, and their house of cards collapses. For the sake of our planet, for the sake of our future, and our very survival; and for the sake of our health, our children’s health, our democracy, our sovereignty, our human rights and our freedom, this fiction must end now.

14. Uphold the rule of constitutional law, and uphold the inherent, inalienable human rights of all. The UN Charter of Human Rights spells out our basic, inalienable rights very clearly, succinctly, and well. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Constitution and Bill of Rights in the United States, the Constitution of Mexico, and the relevant constitutions of nations around the world, should, and must, be upheld, and defended – against all threats, foreign or domestic. This is vital. Democracy without constitutional rights and freedoms in place, and limits on state and government power, becomes just another form of tyranny. And when both democracy and constitutional rights are gutted by an international elite of businessmen and technocrats, and their local political minions, then we have an abomination brewing, and a dystopia has arrived. That is where we stand right now. If we want something better, either for ourselves or for our children, we are going to have to fight for it.

15. Build self-reliance, adaptability and resilience. The world is faced with a nexus of interwoven crises – economic, political, social, psychological (in the “leading” industrialized nations, at least), ecological, and in terms of public health. These crises require of us a clear mind, above all, which requires that we slow down, unplug from the veritable tsunami of “news” and “analysis”, infotainment, “social media”, chronic distraction, restless busyness and entertainment addiction: so that we can pause long enough to think, and to reflect, and also, to do some serious research, and then reflect deeply again, on what we have discovered. None of this is happening, generally speaking, in terms of what is our present norm, although there are exceptions – neither in the realms of the political-mandarin elite, the academics and the intellectuals, or the business elite; nor among the general public. The elite are, in general, of one mind, slavishly conforming in action, speech and thought to the neoliberal globalization orthodoxy of the ruling elite. The power elite, despite frequently vicious in-fighting, in general behave as a pack, and think as a pack. The public, in general, is behaving little better. We have become virtual zombies, sleep-walkers, in our misplaced and malformed, distorted social instinct, which, in its positive side, expresses itself in the instinct toward compassion and mutual aid, and in its dark side, expresses itself as docile conformity to the herd, and an equally disastrous and unthinking deference and obedience to authority. This is the most critical task, if we want a better future, or any future at all: disconnect from the chronic addiction to infotainment, entertainment and distraction; take some breaks, to pause, reflect, research, discuss, and reflect some more. Nothing good will come of a befuddled mind – and that is the norm, for both the ruling elite, and for the masses. That is priority one: clear your mind, disconnect from the noise, in order to reconnect with your own intuition and common sense. If we fail in that, we fail in everything.

Reclaiming our democracy is task number one, because without that, we have no hope of success with regard to any issue, be it justice, equality, the environment, or anything else. This should be plainly obvious to all. But clearly, we cannot accomplish even that most fundamental and urgent of tasks, if we lack the sufficient and necessary clarity of mind. Unplug. Get clear. This is vital.

But there is more that is necessary if we are to address, or even seriously face and contend with, the very serious problems our country, our communities, our families and our world are facing. We need, above all, to regain a basic clarity of mind, which can only come by reconnecting with ourselves. Question authority, question the norm, question the milling, drifting flock. Question everything. Think for yourself. Disconnect, in order to reconnect. Then only will clarity be attained. And only through a regained clarity, confidence, dignity and perspective, is any positive future possible at all. Yet, there is more that is required from us than this most essential first step.

What we also need, if we are to successfully navigate the stormy waters ahead, beyond a basic clarity of mind, confidence and sense of perspective, is resilience. Resilience comes primarily from within. It is a matter of character. And we do not have to be passively, meekly, foolishly fatalistic about it. We can cultivate inner resourcefulness, inner strength, a quiet dignity, confidence, strength of character, courage, tenacity, resolve – all of the things that create inner resilience.

But resilience, of course, although it primarily comes from within, also has an outer component. I am not inclined toward personal anecdotes, but every rule has its exception. Here is a short, relevant story, and an example. When an ice storm hit East-Central Canada, some 25 years ago, in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, where I was living, most people had to leave their homes, because their homes had no heat, because the power grid went down, and stayed down, in some areas for two weeks. We were fortunate to have a wood-stove for heat, and a year’s supply of well-dried firewood, and a propane cook-stove, and we stayed in our home, without any problems, using candles for light. The environmental emergency which we have now entered – which, even with our best efforts, will in all likelihood continue to produce increasing waves of disruptions and disasters, until we can finally heal the Earth – makes it a matter of basic intelligence and common sense to be prepared for emergencies and for possible disruptions in the distribution of necessities, such as heat, energy, food and water.

I can scarcely believe that I have to explain this most obvious fact, which our grandparents understood viscerally, as a matter of common sense; but, that is, sadly, the unfortunate case. People who exercise forethought tend to fare better in emergencies, hard times, or in almost any kind of change or disruption to their normal way of life. Not exercising forethought is simply childish, irresponsible, and foolish. Being prepared for contingencies, disruptions or emergencies is simply intelligent risk management.

Being prepared for possible emergencies or hard times doesn’t make you are insane – not being prepared for emergencies or hard times, is insane. Creating, or, that is, re-creating, a culture which exercises forethought and foresight, as the norm, is not only prudent, but simply a matter of basic intelligence, and even basic sanity.

My parents’ generation, who were born during World War II, grew up with the habits of frugality with regard to oneself, and generosity and cheerful, willing mutual aid towards others, along with forethought, savings, self-reliance, resilience, and preparedness in case of hard times, as the norm. We have surely progressed culturally in some ways since the 1940s, of course – racism, sexism, xenophobia and intolerance have all declined, violent crime has declined for fifty years, according to police statistics, a healthy questioning of authority and of social norms has increased, broad-mindedness and open-mindedness has increased, activism and volunteerism have increased, and support for war has declined sharply. But on the other hand, we have in some ways regressed. Nobody saves anymore; in fact, the great majority are going ever deeper into debt. Canadians on average spend $1.7 for every dollar of income. Clearly this is a recipe for mass servitude through debt bondage, followed by mass bankruptcy. Thinking about the future, planning beyond a few weeks, is now the exception, rather than the rule. Likewise, forethought and foresight are virtually obliterated in 21st century industrial society, along with memory, any sense of history, perspective, or self-reliance. All of these things must be reclaimed and rebuilt, if we have any sense at all.

In some ways, the Depression-era and war-time era had the better thinking: be frugal with regards to spending on yourself; be generous with others, especially in terms of being cheerfully ready and willing to lend a hand; avoid debt like the plague, and save what you can for the future and for future generations; think about the long term, and plan ahead; exercise foresight and forethought, and always be prepared, in case of hard times; keep a strong measure of self-reliance; and strive to be calm, confident, humble, hard-working and cheerful, even in the midst of difficult times – especially in the midst of difficult times. Not everything that comes later is better. We need to reclaim the best from our past, and combine that with the best of the present. To do otherwise would simply be nonsensical.

Build back better? What I am presenting here is something I have not seen anywhere from the left, the liberal centre, the conservatives or libertarians, or anywhere else: it is a plan that not only has heart, but also, a brain, a spine, and legs – not empty platitudes hanging in the air.

Build back better? The left is focused on pleading with the government for a few more crumbs for the 99%. After the wholesale gutting and evisceration of the middle class, this is not remotely adequate, nor even sensible, nor just. It is feeble-minded, superficial, and represents a mere skittering across the surface of things. Our sense of perspective is shot – completely gone.

Let’s not obsess with changing windows dressings, while our sills are all rotted, and while our foundations are either crumbling, or being actively ripped away. First things first: we must reclaim our democracy, or we will have no hope whatsoever of attaining anything, on any issue whatsoever. And in order to do that, in order to reclaim our democracy, our freedom, and our future, we must first regain and begin to rebuild our mental clarity, confidence, dignity, sense of perspective, inner resilience, forethought – and a strong element of self-reliance. That, of course, does not mean that we should not help one another. Of course we should. But mutual aid does not preclude rational, responsible, adult behaviour and adult attitudes, such as foresight and self-reliance.

On the level of the individual, the family, the community, and our nations, we cannot expect to have a good future, or even to retain our freedom, our sovereignty, or our democracy, if we do not have some measure of self-reliance. If we are dependent, we are vassals, or worse. Let that sink in. That is critical for us to understand.

Again, during WWII, most families had vegetable gardens – either in their yards, in town or cities, or in the countryside outside of the city or town. What we need to cultivate and rebuild, is a strong measure of self-reliance at all levels – not rugged individualism, not “me-first” hyper-individualism, not isolationism, not clannishness, but a degree of self-reliance. Better yet, is community self-reliance. At least in terms of food, water and energy, communities should make it a priority to be self-reliant. Without self-reliance in at least these three critical areas, there can be no true resilience, and we will be leaves in the wind, blown about, in whatever direction, by any storm or strong gust of wind.

On a national level, again, it is clarity of mind, confidence, dignity, perspective, forethought, and resilience – among the people, and not just the mandarins and talking head pundits – which is the highest and most critical priority. But beyond that most essential constellation of national resources, there are certain things which would only be intelligent policy choices and policy priorities. Shipping all of our manufacturing offshore to China and other lower wage countries, was tremendously beneficial to the multi-national corporations and the billionaires who control them, but neoliberal corporate globalization has, of course, de-industrialized Canada, the US and most of the Western world, with the obvious and predictable result that the middle class has been eviscerated, disemboweled and thrown to the gutter to die; while the nations of the once wealthy and prosperous West are now fragile shells of their former selves, unable to weather even a strong gale, much less the coming super-storm which we are likely to face. A little regaining and rebuilding of resilience – or a lot – is now in order. And to do that, we must become much more adaptable, and above all, much more self-reliant: as individuals, families, communities, and nations.

Self-reliance is not the same as isolationism, it must be repeated, and stressed. Isolationism is a legitimate choice, but I do not think it is a wise one. Self-reliance, however, means resilience – and building resilience in uncertain times, is simply a matter of basic sanity, and common sense.

Why do we have, for example, in Canada, one of the most popular furniture stores, Ikea, shipping our furniture from Sweden? Ikea may be “Swedish for common sense”, but the fact that we have no Canadian-owned, Canadian-made furniture store of equal or greater presence, is a sign that Canadians have lost their own common sense. We have some of the largest remaining forests in the world. Through sustainable forestry, we can be building our own furniture, and exporting well-made, sustainably-built, Canadian wood furniture to the world. Instead, we ship raw logs to China and Japan, and are busy clear-cutting our forests to ship raw wood pulp in vast quantities to the US, where US corporations will make the much bigger margins and profits, by turning raw pulp into paper products. Are we mad? We have lived as a colony, first to Britain, then to the United States; and now, Justin “Beiber” Trudeau wants us to become a colony of Beijing. We need to stop and think, and think deeply on this. A little more self-reliance means a lot more resilience. It also means a better ecological footprint. And it means more jobs, and a better economy, for the people and the country.

We could do even better. We could be, and should be, growing vast quantities of industrial hemp and bamboo, to replace wood as the primary building material, paper product source, and source of our textiles, clothing and furniture, preserving our forests, the lungs of the Earth, for use only by selective logging for high-value products, such as veneers and musical instruments; and in doing so, radically reduce our ecological impact, and sequestering carbon, removing enormous quantities of carbon from the atmosphere every year, while also cleaning our atmosphere of pollution, and thus healing our planet – saving ourselves from extinction, and creating a thriving, full employment green economy in the process: bringing high quality furniture, building materials, paper products, clothing and textiles to the world. Are we to remain exporters of raw wood, wood pulp, water and uranium, with a gutted manufacturing base, and a “service economy” primarily based on low-wage, part-time, insecure McJobs, at Wendy’s/Tim Hortons and WalMart? That would be madness. We need to rebuild our economy, our resilience and self-reliance, and our manufacturing base, and do so in ecologically sound ways that benefit all Canadians, and not just the rich. The principles and concrete ideas such as I have outlined here, and elsewhere, show us a clear and workable way to do that, and to do that in very short order. What on Earth are we waiting for?

Here is another example of policies gone wrong, versus policies that make sense. Bombardier, a Canadian company from Quebec, originally a snow-mobile maker, established in 1946, is a now leading manufacturer of trains, trams, subways, and aircraft – or it was, until January of 2021. Bombardier built the subway system for the world’s biggest city, Mexico City, with a population the size of Canada, 35 million. The Bombardier subway system in Mexico city runs reliably, fast, and has 50 lines, connecting every part of the city. In Mexico City, you can get anywhere in the city by subway or bus in 30 minutes. Toronto, the biggest city in Canada, with a population the size of Finland, seven million, has a subway system that routinely breaks down and is disrupted, may or may not get you to work on time, has only three lines, and connects only narrow slivers of the sprawling city. In Toronto, it takes an hour by car to get halfway across the city – three hours or more in rush-hour. Taking the VIA train into or out of the city would be perfect for commuters and travelers, but with regular service interruptions, due to the tar sands bitumen clogging the rail lines, VIA Rail, Canada’s pride in 1951, should now be rebranded as, Very Indeterminate Arrivals. Furthermore, the nations biggest city has a transit system is so grossly inadequate, that millions of people living in the city, commuting to the city, or visiting the city, feel compelled to drive a car, because the trains, buses and transit system are so grossly inadequate – thus causing ever increasing traffic congestion, smog, and planet-killing pollution. What is wrong with this picture? If Bombardier, a Canadian company, can build a world-class, fast, convenient, reliable transit system for the world’s biggest city, why do we have clogged arteries, smog-belching car-centric transportation, and transit and transportation systems in Canada that are, in general, and with few exceptions, as sad, backwards, 60-year out-dated, tragic joke?

Subways are now proven to be an extravagently expensive boondoggle, and they should no longer be built. State of the art bus systems (BRTs) outperform subways, and at a fraction of the cost, and can be made to pay for themselves, in terms of operating costs. The South American city of Curitiba showed the world that a Bus Rapid Transit system (BRT), which they developed and created – and then built the local manufacturing base to manufacture and export to the world – showed the world the most cost-efficient and effective way to provide affordable, fast, reliable, comfortable mobility for a city’s people. The point here was not to promote subways, but to promote intelligently planned mass transportation – to replace the era of the private automobile, which clearly now must draw to an end. We either replace the private automobile as our primary transportation mode, or we die of smog and planet-killing pollution. Reality is calling. We cannot avoid taking the call, any longer.

Bombardier, who until recently, made world-class trains, trams, light rail and Guided Light Transit, was permitted to sell a controlling share of 50.1% to the giant European consortium, Airbus – that was the first mistake of the Canadian government, with regards to Bombardier, which is, our should be viewed as, a strategically important partner in the coming decades ahead. Further, Bombardier announced in January of 2021 that it would no longer build trains, or any ground transportation systems, but would focus instead on building luxury private jets, which it said is more profitable. Sure, selling planet-killing luxury jets to the super-rich is probably more profitable – if you consider the death of the planet and the extinction of humanity an acceptable “externality”, as it is called in business, and in that most dismal “science” that is professional economics. What we need, is a federal government with a spine, and some basic principles which it upholds, and does not waiver from: including the principles of freedom, democracy, sovereignty, constitutional rule and human rights, justice, equality, non-aggression and peace, and a true commitment to creating a resilient and robust, prosperous, sustainable and regenerative economy and society. Those principles would necessitate that the Canadian government, for example, buy 1% of the shares of Bombardier, to make the company Canadian-owned and Canadian-controlled once again; and it would further require and necessitate that the Canadian government simply say to Bombardier, you must help us to rebuild our train system – which used to connect every city and virtually every town in Canada – and help us to build a robust and resilient national transportation infrastructure that places trains, light rail, Guided Light Transit, bus rapid transit systems, along with bicycle lanes, walking paths and walkable cities, as the centre-pieces of a low-ecological impact 21st century transportation system. Why would Bombardier comply? Because if they do – or rather, when they do – they will receive some degree of leniency in terms of the heavy pollution taxes they will be forced to pay for making luxury private jets for the super-rich.

We have, in Canada, an advanced technology sector, a cosmopolitan, highly literate and highly educated society and workforce, a well-developed transportation, communication and energy infrastructure, excellent designers, engineers, entrepreneurs, scientists and technologists, as well as artists, writers, musicians, actors, health care professionals, teachers, professors, thinkers and scholars. We could have, for example, self-reliance in essential, generic pharmaceutical drugs, available at low cost to all Canadians – even without a pharma-care plan for the nation, which is also achievable, and also a matter of simple justice. We could do this, if we valued self-reliance, if we valued justice, if we valued compassion, or if we truly valued public health. But all of these values must be sacrificed, and are sacrificed, so that the global drug cartel of Big Pharma, led by the sociopath Bill Gates, can continue to make trillions of dollars a year in drug profits. The corporate world, it should be noted, does not even use the term “health care” anymore. They use, internally at least, the term, “disease management”. And Goldman Sachs recently told its investors that curing illness and healing people is no longer profitable – or at least, is not profitable enough; therefore, we do not aim for that: we aim instead, for the more profitable approach, not of curing the sick, but of profiting from disease management. If that strikes you as vampiric, then congratulations, your common sense is intact. It is vampiric. And we can do better.

These are just three examples – from the forest and resource industry, the transportation and manufacturing sector, and the health and pharmaceutical industry – but the lessons and the principles apply broadly, of course, and they can easily be elaborated – and have been, in my previous books and essays. For now, three examples will suffice to show that there is a better way.

At the level of the individual and the family, the level of the community, and at the national level, it would simply be prudent, and intelligent, to have some significant degree of self-reliance, particularly in terms of the basic necessities for life: food, water, energy and health care. Self-reliance in these areas of course becomes much easier when we cooperate, and invoke the basic human principle and impulse of mutual aid – which is humanity’s greatest strength, and not merely our opposable thumbs.

(See Kropotkin’s, Mutual Aid, which in truth, is a much more important, landmark text in evolutionary biology, than Darwin’s, Origin of Species. Darwin merely told us about our physical-biological ancestry and evolution. Kropotkin told us the history of our social and psychological evolution, and highlighted the traits which makes us exceptionally strong.)

A much higher degree of self-reliance can be achieved, and much more readily and easily, at the level of the community than at the level of the family. And at the regional and national levels, we can achieve even higher degrees of self-reliance in the essentials of life. And doing so not only increases our resilience and security, while strengthening our independence, and thus our sovereignty, our democracy, and our freedom, but it will have positive and powerful benefits in terms of jobs and employment – including full employment, with shortened workweeks and better pay; in terms of creating both prosperity and economic stability; and in terms of thriving and stable, strong communities.

Read, or re-read, Emerson: Self-Reliance. Then read Thoreau’s, Walden, and, On Civil Disobedience. These three pieces of literature are among the most important things we can import from the US, or any nation, or that we can read from any source. Skip the “news” tonight. Read something that is actually worthy of your time. Self-reliance, simplicity, and conscience over obedience, are three principles that we need to embrace, and now, without delay.

After reading Emerson and Thoreau, it would be wise to read, or re-read, Margaret Atwood’s, Payback, and, A Handmaid’s Tale, along with Canadian anthropologist Ronald Wright’s, A Short History of Progress; then, set aside whatever preferences of taste you might have, and listen carefully to two songs by the British heavy metal band, Black Sabbath: Into The Void, and, Children of The Grave, which tells our current story plainly, in no uncertain terms:

Pollution kills the air, the land, the sea
Man prepares to meet his destiny.

Show the world that love is still alive,
you must be brave;
Or you children of today
are children of the grave.

The stakes could not be higher, and the message can scarcely be given in any clearer form.

*

Continuity and Change: A Bifurcation Point Is At Hand

It is important for us to realize that the great majority of people in Canada, like the great majority of people everywhere, are, in general, averse to change. The majority of people want a peaceful life, with few troubles. Chomsky is right: “The great majority of people have basically decent impulses.” That is true: the great majority of people are basically peaceable, and inclined naturally toward empathy, compassion and mutual aid, as Kropotkin demonstrated in his monumentally important work Mutual Aid, and as Jeremy Rifkin documented has been further proven and confirmed by recent science, in his important book, The Empathic Civilization. However, the great majority of people also want comfort and stability, and they tend to value comfort and stability above all. That means, among other things, that the great majority are (small-c) conservatives by nature, and they dislike change. They don’t like anyone rocking their boat.

This tendency to go along peacefully with whatever the present status quo happens to be, explains a great deal. It explains how fascism arose in Italy and Germany, and it explains how totalitarianism arose in Russia. It also explains how the great majority of people have gone along with neoliberal corporate globalization, with barely a whimper – even though polls show repeatedly that they have no confidence, faith or trust in it, they are increasingly angry about it, and they are fully aware they are getting a bad deal, and are in fact being eaten alive by the richest few and the big corporations. But most people would rather put up with almost anything, than rock the boat. There is a limit, however, to this great tolerance of the people, and we are rapidly approaching that limit now.

The majority of people want stability, but they should realize that what we have now, is institutionalized instability; and that instability is growing rapidly, and will continue to grow – until our civilization collapses, and the chaos is fully let loose; unless, and until, the people reject this newest of empires, which is the global corporate oligarchy. How much illusory security, how much illusory stability, how much illusory safety must we endure, before we set our course right, and end the growing instability which now threatens the very existence of humanity, as well as our freedom, our democracy, and our rights?

We should remember that no one predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union, but it happened. After decades of growing discontent, and a slowly deepening crisis of legitimacy, a tipping point was finally reached, and the people shook off the totalitarian regime, like a dog shaking water off its back. The entire house of cards collapsed, virtually overnight – in the span of just 18 months. The Western neoliberal corporate empire is now facing exactly this kind of crisis of legitimacy, and the clock is fast running out.

Revolution is brewing. And it is none too soon.

*

The Crisis of Democracy: On Reform and Revolution

Millions of people world-wide are busy trying to get mild reforms accomplished, that will slightly lessen the disastrous effects on nature which we causing, and will slightly lessen the brutality and the suffering caused by the global corporate empire. This is laudable, important work, but it is not remotely sufficient, and it is not remotely enough. Despite the dedication of millions of activists around the world, making millions of small victories, we must admit the truth – we are losing ground, on virtually every front. In terms of equality: we have skyrocketing inequality. World-wide, the working class lost roughly $3 trillion in the past 18 months, since the Covid lockdowns were invoked. The richest 1% gained roughly $3 trillion in the same period. Do the math. This is not complicated to understand. We, the 99%, are being devoured. We are being eaten alive.

In terms of equality, justice, freedom, democracy, constitutional rights, human rights, and the environment, we are losing ground. Our methods are failing, and have failed. We are fighting a rear-guard action, and we are losing ground. Any sane general or strategist would look at that, and say: Clearly, our methods and our strategies have failed – it is time for another plan. Sixty years of reformism, since the 1960s – six decades of trying to sway the governments to do the right thing, have utterly failed. In fact, we keep losing ground. We are not even holding our ground. We are fighting an advancing wildfire with a garden sprinkler, and running backwards as fast as we can. Clearly, this will not do. This is not an intelligent strategy. This is a failed strategy.

Let us admit it, reformism has failed. It is time for Plan B. It is time for a revolution.

*

What is a revolution? A revolution is a fundamental shift in the structures or patterns of a society, especially a fundamental shift in relations of power. Well, what is it that we need now? We need to remove the global plutocrats, and their political minions, from power. The majority of the people want environmental protection, strong social programs such as universal health care, pensions and education, and a society that is based in freedom, human rights, constitutional rule and democracy. In order to achieve those modest goals, which are far from utopian, we now need a revolution – a democratic, non-violent, grassroots revolution, to restore power to the people, where it belongs.

I don’t know how much clearer it can be said than that. We are now up against a wall. We are racing toward our collective suicide, and all that stands in the way to the kinds of changes we need, to preserve the planet for human and other species habitation, and to bring about some semblance of justice, and true freedom and democracy, requires that we remove the business elite and their political friends from power. That, by now, requires nothing short of a revolution.

You could say, as a venerable scholar friend said to me, that there is no time for building a successful movement for revolution, even though it is a principled stance to take. But I say, we do not have time for another sixty years of failed reformist methods, and another sixty years of failed efforts to petition, and sway, and persuade the governments to do the right thing.

The business elite have taken over, and they are sociopaths. They are concerned, above all else, with profits and power – and all else is expendable. That means democracy, human rights, freedom, the planet, and the people, the 99%, are also expendable. That is sociopathic. It is also fascist, genocidal, ecocidal, and suicidal. We now must replace the currently ruling oligarchy of billionaires and big corporations, with something at least similar to, or resembling, freedom and democracy. And I would say, of course, we must seek to bring about a rebirth of real, meaningful democracy, strongly upheld constitutional rule, and real freedom. It is that, or it is collective suicide, after a brief stint spent in a darkly Orwellian dystopia, of nightmarish nature, as the Earth slowly dies, and the human race goes slowly, painfully, fitfully, extinct.

Revolution now. It is that, or slow death. Only fantasy presents a third option.

Stand.

*

Remember, I must say again, in 1775 nobody in the United States wanted revolution. Not Jefferson, Washington or Benjamin Franklin. Nobody expected a revolution in America, in 1775. Nobody even wanted it. Nobody but one man. Yet, in January of 1776, Thomas Paine published his slim little book, Common Sense, and by July 4th of that same year, the revolution was born.

As the Scottish philosopher, David Hume said, the people always have the greater power – as Etienne de La Boite, Henry David Thoreau, Gandhi and Martin Luther King, also knew. This is what we need to realize now: we, the people, always have the greater power.

The second thing that we must realize now, is that:

It is time to take the power back.

JTR,
July 18, 2021

Who To Trust: The Short Answer

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2021 by jtoddring

Who to trust? That is always a perennial question, and particularly now, when not only government, corporations, politicians and corporate and state media have repeatedly been shown to have lied, grossly distorted or concealed the truth, and engaged in deceitful PR and propaganda; but also, alternative and progressive media, along with the left, the right and the liberal centre, have repeatedly failed, in glaring, very serious ways.

In terms of interpersonal relations and general human interaction, I strongly agree with Alan Watts: “People who mistrust themselves and others are doomed.” Absolutely correct. But we’re not talking about trust in that sense. We’re talking about who to trust for reliable information. I trust people as a rule, until or unless they give me reason not to. But that doesn’t mean I assume everyone is a reliable source of information, vision or analysis.

I also strongly agree with Chomsky, on most things, including his statement that, “The great majority of people have basically decent impulses.” Most people are decent. That does not mean they are reliable sources of information on world issues. Most are not.

So, who to trust, in terms of being reliable sources of information, vision or analysis? I’ve written an article exactly on that topic, on this blog, but I’ll mention just a couple of names here. Again, these are generally reliable sources. That does not mean they are omniscient or infallible. Above all, do your own research, examine things for yourself – and think for yourself.

Top picks for reliable sources:
(A very incomplete list)

Noam Chomsky
Vandana Shiva
Peter Dale Scott
Gerald Celente
Max Keiser
James Corbett
Whitney Webb
John McMurtry
Paul Craig Roberts
James Howard Kunstler
Richard Heinberg
Helena Norberg-Hodge
Joanna Macy
Allan Wallace
Alan Watts
Aldous Huxley
George Orwell
Peter Kropotkin
Bertrand Russell
Murray Bookchin
Rianne Eisler
David Suzuki
Maude Barlow
Margaret Atwood
Arundhati Roy
Ronald Wright
Mathiew Stein
Geoff Lawton
Erich Fromm
Max Weber
C. Wright Mills
Peter Phillips
Herman Daly
Michael Albert
EF Schumacher
Cornel West
Naomi Wolf
Anthony J. Hall
Michael Parenti
Abby Martin
Matt Taibbi
Aaron Mate
Joseph Campbell
Mathew Fox
Thomas Merton
Gandhi
Martin Luther King Jr.

And I would humbly add my own writing to that list as well.

That’s more than enough good sources to figure out what’s really going on, to stay informed, and to form, refine or retain an inspiring vision for a better world.

JTR,

July 17, 2021

Post-Script:

I forgot to mention a few other particularly excellent sources that I go to regularly, or as often as I can stomach checking in on this slow motion train wreck of a collapsing civilization:

David C. Korten

Jeremy Rifkin

Sayer Ji

Gary Null

Dmitry Orlov

Russell Brand

The Sheldrake-Vernon Dialogues (podcast)

Trends Journal – if you choose just one subscription, make it this.

Geopolitics & Empire (podcast)

The Centre for Research on Globalization

All of them are excellent. And of course, none of them are omniscient or infallible.

In Defence of Professor Noam Chomsky

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2021 by jtoddring


Chomsky is about as corruptible as Gandhi, from my perspective. Further, he is the precise opposite of a globalist – he’s a self-defined anarchist, a libertarian socialist. He’s not omniscient or infallible, however. Some people think that any error in judgment means you must be corrupt, and part of some secret cabal. That’s just delusional paranoia, at least in this case. Nobody is infallible. 


I’ve seen Chomsky make only three big mistakes in 60 years of activism, as the world’s leading dissident intellectual, and the most influential intellectual alive. (He ranks sixth in Western history in terms of intellectual influence, right below Plato and the Bible.) Making only three big mistakes in 60 years is something we should all dream of, but would be hard to match.


His only big mistakes, to my knowledge, were regarding the assassination of JFK, central banks, and 9/11. These are big issues to be wrong about, but nevertheless, making just three mistakes in 60 years is an astronomically high level of accuracy and success. Give the man a break. He’s been fighting power mongers for longer than most of us have been alive.


JTR,

July 17, 2021

Taking Charge of Your Own Health, Happiness & Well-Being

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 16, 2021 by jtoddring

It is difficult to be peaceful or happy when you are not well. Health is important. We need to take responsibility for our own health and well-being, not live as self-destructive children, then expect gods in white coats to fix us, when we inevitably become sick, due to our own self-neglect.

The future of medicine is integrative medicine. Here is a synopsis from the leading edge of health science.

(Short video below, by one of the three leading figures in holistic, integrative, functional medicine: Sayer Ji, founder of GreenMedInfo – one of the only three reliable sources on health information that I know of, along with Andrew Weil and Gary Null.)

Take charge of your health. Eat wisely, live well. As Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine.” Food is the best and most primary medicine. The rest is supplemental, complimentary or adjuctive, in most circumstances. Drugs, radiation, chemotherapy and surgery should be a last resort, not a first response. That is what the scientific evidence now confirms.

JTR,

July 16, 2021

Reflections on the good life – Simplify, simplify

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 14, 2021 by jtoddring

What brings true happiness? A healthy lifestyle; a positive attitude, outlook and philosophy; a simple life close to nature; meaningful work; time spent in solitude and stillness, reconnecting with yourself; and surrounding yourself with people, and an environment, a place, that fit with you: these things bring happiness and peace – not money, status or possessions. It really can be that simple. Don’t overcomplicate things. Unplug, take time to reflect; read Thoreau’s, Walden – and simplify, simplify.

JTR,

July 14, 2021

Big Brother Is Watching You – and Yes, It Matters

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 13, 2021 by jtoddring

I talked to my boy in the car this past weekend about what to do when he drives, if he has any problems; and he talked to me about the language learning, free software that he uses on his phone. Two days later, Virgin Mobile, now owned by Bell, sends me text messages telling me about deals on roadside assistance and language learning software. Creepy fascist bastards. 

Not everyone knows how routine and universal both corporate and government surveillance are, though they should. They can even remotely turn on your microphone and camera, on your computer or phone, record everything, then sift through your every conversation, chat message, search query and email with Big Data analysis, searching for key words and phrases. I will be glad to switch to a Purism phone and laptop: no more corporate or government surveillance, trackers or data mining; and it’s also maximum security against hackers, as well. Fuck you, Big Brother. Say it with me.

Switch to Brave Browser, Protonmail, Swisscows search engine, Bitchute, Minds, Telegram, and Purism for phones, laptops, servers, VPNs and chat. Boycott Big Tech now.

JTR,

July 13, 2021

PS: On a happier note: I had a great weekend of boondock camping on public “crown” land with my boy. Wonderful. The wilderness is the real world. This “civilization” is a bad dream – one that is passing away, and one, from which I am always glad to break free.

On Narcissism & Independence

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 4, 2021 by jtoddring

The fourth of July….I realize only now, that is today’s date, as I finish writing this short reflection. How fitting. Independence Day. Now, let us talk about where real independence comes from.

*

The real pandemic, or one of the many that afflicts the modern world, is mass narcissistic regression to an infantile state.

The Branch Covidians will not like to hear it, and will foam at the mouth and quiver in apoplectic rage at the mere suggestion that Covid is anything less than the “unprecedented” greatest plague ever to strike the world – even though the Great Plague of 1348 killed 30-50% of Europe, while Covid, by official numbers, killed less than 1/10th of one percent of the human population globally. But the reality is, there are far greater dangers facing us than Covid; and worse, we have collectively lost our minds, and lost all trace of perspective, in response to Covid. Our hysterical reaction is a far greater danger than the virus itself. If we cannot see that reality, then we really are lost, and are deeply dissociated from reality, steeped in an imaginary world of our own delusions.

All talk of independence, freedom or democracy become idle and futile when the people are shackled by mind-forged manacles, and when they scream in shrill shrieks of moral outrage, in defense of their masters, and their chains, any time someone tries to even mention their shackles and chains. This is the surreal world we live in now. Welcome to the Brave New World.

Soma, anyone? Ah, but they are already stuffed to the gills with that.

Viruses are real, and Covid, by official numbers, killed over 1.5 million people world wide in 2020, in its peak year. But there are much greater dangers than that to face. Air pollution kills seven million people a year. Automobile accidents kill 1.3 million. Poverty and hunger kill roughly 25 million a year. Obesity, unhealthy diets and unhealthy lifestyles kill even more. We would do far more for human health, and in terms of reducing preventable deaths, by eliminating poverty and hunger globally (which would require less than one year’s US military budget) and banning fast food and cars – but nobody cares about reality these days. Hysteria is all the rage.

Furthermore, either nuclear, chemical or biological warfare, or ecological destruction, could easily wipe out all of humanity. All these very real, very present, very grave dangers surround us, and all of them, other than car accidents, dwarf Covid in their gravity and their threat to human life.

But all of these truly great dangers have their roots in deeper problems. There are many such problems, including dualistic delusions, which are the root of them all – and the petty rivalries between nations, which could destroy us all through world war, are rooted in delusions of duality and separateness. The environmental crisis is rooted in a bifurcation of the mind, in dualistic delusions: in the delusion that human beings are separate from nature, that nature is an externality, as it is called in economics, and an externality which can be safely ignored. These are pandemic delusions, and they are killing us, and threatening our very survival as a species.

Another pandemic delusion is the belief that we are powerless. That is what underlies the near comatose state of the great majority of the people – including our business and political “leaders”, who are “leading” us into an ecological holocaust, as well as a darkly Orwellian society. The business and political elite are paradoxically drunk with power, and yet, seemingly powerless to change our course, and avert cataclysm. The 99% who are not among the ruling power elite, or the great majority of them, are drunk with another poison: the illusion of powerlessness. This is the pandemic that can wipe out human existence – not the coronavirus, but the mass delusion of powerlessness.

Another pandemic that is happening around the world, at least in the industrialized nations, is mass narcissistic regression. There are many causes of this sociological and psychological phenomenon, which is by far the greater and more dangerous plague of our time, but it is the profound alienation of modern industrial society – alienation from one another, from nature, from our own labour and creative powers, and from our deeper selves – which is driving the deep inner discontent, that in turn drives obsessive consumerism, materialism, chronic escapism, perpetual distraction, and the fragile and infantile narcissism which these things together engender and create.

What is at root of the global pandemic of narcissistic regression? It is a deep loneliness, a deep alienation and disconnectedness, a hollowness (see TS Eliot), and a hunger that is insatiable, because it seeks nourishment from sources that cannot ever fulfill the hunger. It is a loud baby’s cry: “Me! Look at me! Feed me! Love me! Take care of me! Me! Me! Notice me! I am hungry, lonely, and needy! Look at me!” This is narcissistic regression. It is heart-breaking to watch, and it is pandemic.

Another major driver of the trend towards mass infantilization, and its inevitable concommitant of naricissistic regression, is corporate globalization, neoliberalism and the commoditication of all life on Earth, including human beings, and our own bodies and minds. This constellation of deeply interwoven patterns is hegemonic, globally dominant, and is the latest, and probably the last, empire on Earth; and it systematically degrades and dehumanizes us all, while it simultaneously strips people of their voice, their power, the confidence and their dignity; and it furthmore systematically undermines, destroys, eviscerates and annihilates community, social bonds, families, all human connections, and our connections to both nature and to any kind of inner life, while annihilating all values other than profit, economic growth, power, egotism and consumerism. In that death zone created by the new global corporate empire, it is unsurprising, if not inevitable, that millions of people become desperate, and desperately unmoored, uprooted and untethered, and descend into petty forms of tribalism, in an unconscious but desperate effort to replace the wholesome and life-affirming, life-enriching forms of tribalism and community that we have lived with for virtually all of our 200,000 years on Earth, up until this last flicker of a moment in human history, spanning a mere 500 years; and it is equally unsurprising that mass adiction, suicide, violence, hatred, anxiety and depression, escapism, infantile narcissistic regression, and a sense of desperate helplessness, creeps over the peoples’ minds. This is obviously an enormous set of problems to overcome, but I would say that the short term answer is to reconnect, and to rebuild community; and the longer term answer – which by now means this decade, or very soon after, since we are ecologically running out of time – is to shatter the clay feet, as Daniel said, and to shatter the mould of empire itself, once and for all.

*

Another of the major causes of the mass regression to an infantile state, is the authoritarianism which now covers the globe, like a thick, oily black smog. Politically, the Western world has moved from being a set of business-run, corporate-ruled, neoliberal pseudo-democracies, towards what can only be accurately described as corporate fascism.

Among the minority of people who still have a pulse, and who are still capable of independent thought, or critical thought, there is a divergence of opinion as to whether to call what is happening Communism, fascism, technocracy, or something else. But we are mincing words here. All of these terms refer to a system of elite rule, marked by authoritarianism. In all of these cases, the people at the top make the rules, and the people below obey, or else have a jackboot planted in their face. The terms mean little. We are talking about different versions of authoritarianism, and they all amount to pretty much the same thing for the people being ruled over: a boot in the face.

The Davos consortium of oligarchs, which now effectively rules over most parts of the world, is simply trying to consolidate and protect its power: against rising power centres in China, Russia and the BRIC nations; and more essentially, against the rising tide of populist democratic rebellion from within. The PR face being presented is that Davos is trying to save the planet. The reality is that the Davos oligarchs are trying to save themselves. The people and the planet are expendable, as far as they are concerned.

Fascism does not have to come with jack boots and black uniforms. It can also come with a smiling face of benevolence, “sustainability” and “inclusivity”, which is far more insidious, and far more dangerous.

The simple truth is, however, when you treat people like children, they behave like children. If you value freedom, democracy, justice, or even basic sanity, you cannot treat people like children, or else they will revert to behaving like children – which means, you cannot abide authoritarianism, which is always, by definition, paternalistic, and always reduces people to the status of children, if not infants.

We have traded a little liberty, so we think, for a little security, not realizing that we will lose both in the bargain. And what is more, when authoritarianism rises, the cult of obedience to authority also rises. The result is that people become terrified of thinking for themselves, since that would mean questioning authority, which they dare not do. It leaves them, therefore, in an infantile state, where their reason and their ability to think are vacated – by their own refusal to question authority, but instead, to defer all thinking and all judgment to the holy ones on high. The trajectory here is not good. In fact, it is extremely dark.

*

We should note here that while the majority of people continue to descend ever further into a dissociation from reality, into ever deeper levels of narcissistic regression, and ever deeper into alienation and denial, there is a counter movement in the opposite direction, and it is growing, and growing rapidly and exponentially. I could not give an accurate percentage figure, of course, and it varies widely and greatly based on regions, but it is definitely a global awakening that is underway, even while the majority slide further and further into numbed, dissociative oblivion. It is that brave minority, who value truth above comforting illusions, and who value freedom as well as compassion, who are are best, and only hope, for a future worth living, or in fact, any future at all.

But I digressed into the hopeful side. That is important to note, and to keep in mind; but we were focused here on understanding the problem facing modern industrial society. What can cure this pathological hollowness that leads to a stupor of denial, and a regression to an infantile state?

The answer is not more consumer goods, more entertainment, more ego-fixation, more and better selfies, more clicks on a “like” button, more pats on the head, more status, more fame, more money, more sex, more gadgets and baubles and trinkets. We have tried all of that, and tried it obsessively, ad nauseam, and it has failed. What we need, is to get to the root of the problem, the root of the loneliness, the hunger, the loss of self-esteem, self-confidence and self-dignity, which is the root of all narcissistic regression. We need, in a word, to reconnect.

Reconnection must take place at all four major levels: we need to reconnect with one another, with nature, with our own labour and creative power, and with our deeper selves. And it is the last which is most important, though also most frightening for people accustomed to chronic, habitual, compulsive escapism and distraction, and constant flight away from themselves.

To make the process of reconnecting with our deeper, more authentic selves easier, we might want to start by reconnecting to nature first. That is less frightening for most people, than actually spending time alone with themselves, or even, truly connecting with others.

When we spend more time in nature, we become nourished, in body mind and spirit, and we become more peaceful, more energized, more healthy, more clear-minded, more inspired, more empowered, and more strong. With that renewed strength and vitality, and a little more peace and calm of mind, we can then venture out into the terrifying territory of actually relating to other people – directly, unmediated, face to face, and authentically, without distractions, and without escaping into our cell phones. Then, as we regain our strength, and our basic sanity, through reconnecting with nature and with other people, then we can be brave enough to sit alone in silence and solitude, and reconnect with ourselves.

Or, if you are brave, go straight into meditation retreat, or a solitary wilderness retreat, and reconnect with yourself first – that will heal all other levels, because that is the root of the problem: the disconnection and alienation from ourselves.

The flight into compulsive, constant distraction, escapism, entertainment and consumerism, which hollows out the soul and turns people into fragile infantile narcissists, is driven by a fear of being with others; and even more so, the fear of being alone with oneself. Get comfortable with yourself, face your own dark fears and inner demons, and nothing can frighten you – not even death, and certainly not solitude, or other people.

However we do it, this is what must be done. We must reconnect. If we want world peace, or inner peace, or peace in our families, communities, workplaces or schools, if we want justice, equality, human health or well-being, democracy, freedom, or ecological stewardship and environmental sanity, we must now come to realize that none of this will be possible, so long as we have a society in which the great majority have regressed to an infantile narcissistic state.

First, reconnect; then we can talk about reality, because we have the courage and the maturity, the presence of mind, and the strength of mind and spirit, to deal with reality. At the moment, it is painfully obvious that we do not.

*

Independence is a value to be preserved, not simply mouthed. Independence means more than waving a flag. And true independence requires freedom, it requires constitutional rights, and it requires real, meaningful, functioning democracy – and all of these are under full scale, frontal assault, and they are dying rapidly. If we care about any of these values, or even our own survival, in the face of a rapidly escalating environmental emergency, we must first reconnect with ourselves; reconnect with nature as a source of strength, clarity, inspiration and renewal; and reconnect with one another.

United we stand, divided we fall.

We are now falling, and we are falling because we are divided – divided within, divided from nature, and divided from one another. Reconnect. That is step one.

Now we know what to do. Let us make of this day, and every day, a celebration of independence, of freedom, and of our unity amidst diversity, which makes us strong enough to retain our freedom and our independence – or in the case of the present moment in time: to reclaim them.

It is true that government, big business, and international organizations such as Davos (the World Economic Forum), the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the ECB (European Central Bank) are the primary architects and joint rulers of our present world – and also the primary obstacles to the changes we urgently need. But it is not enough, nor is it honest, to place all blame with the ruling elite. We, the people, have a share in the responsibility. And what is important to realize is that if we refuse to own that responsibility, we also refuse to own our power.

You cannot be both powerless and powerful. And if you shun responsibility, you are shunning and disavowing your own power. This is another key dynamic in the mass regression to an infantile narcissistic state: as Aldous Huxley and Erich Fromm both understood, people are afraid of freedom, and they are afraid of their own power – they don’t trust themselves. But it’s a package deal. If you refuse any one of the three – responsibility, your own power, or freedom – you disavow and reject all of them.

That seems to be a perfectly fine arrangement for the majority of people: they are afraid of freedom; they are afraid of their own power; and they certainly don’t want to take responsibility – everything is always someone else’s fault. It’s the Republicans fault, or the Democrats fault, or immigrants….or your wife, or husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, co-workers, boss…. As Thoreau said, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” And there is always someone who can be scapegoated for it.

For the majority today, what matters is being comfortable and perpetually entertained. All else is expendable: including democracy, freedom, human rights….their own dignity. No wonder they are reverting en mass to infantile narcissists.

The ancient Greeks understood that freedom only comes with responsibility. You cannot have one without the other. But when the people fear and shun both responsibility and freedom, and forget the preciousness and the non-negotiability of freedom itself, then we are in a dark and dire state indeed. And that is precisely where we stand now. Or rather, we do not stand at all. We cower and cringe, and hide in the shadows, content to watch Netflix and eat cheesepuffs and pizza, so long as we don’t have to shoulder the terrible burden of freedom – which means taking responsibility for our own life, and our own thoughts, views, emotions and actions. Better to bow down to the authorities, and engage in the wishful thinking which we know very well is a self-deceit, and tell ourselves that the people at the top are competent, sane and benign, and they will take care of everything for us. Just give us a soother and put us to bed. Preferably with the TV on.

Democracy means the people share the power. This is the fundamental premise and foundation. Without that, we have elite rule, which is oligarchy, of one form or another; and historically, however well-intentioned that might have started out, it always ends in tyranny, and in a nightmare society. This is the historical lesson of all lessons. This should be taught as Civics or Political-Economy 101. But the majority of people have no sense of history, and now, we are doomed to repeat our worst mistakes – unless we wake up from our collective stupor, and very, very soon.

Democracy means that we share in the responsibility for our communities, our nations, and the world we live in. If we shun that responsibility, then we have no one to blame but ourselves. And worse, if the people continue to disavow their freedom, their responsibility for the communities, nations and world we live in, their power, and their democracy, we will see an Orwellian dystopia that could very well make Stalinist Russia look like a summer picnic at the park.

We should note here, also, that compassion requires freedom. Authoritarianism is rationalized by its claim to be compassionate, for the greater good. It is a lie. It is never compassionate to shackle people in chains, whether physical or mental chains. Furthermore, authoritarianism always ends in genocide. That can hardly be called compassionate. Respecting freedom is intrinsic to true compassion. Furthermore, compassion requires firmness, and at times, ferocity. Jesus did not drive the money changers from the temple with a limp piece of leaf lettuce, but with a whip.

*

Five billion people are living in poverty. Another billion are sinking. The middle class is being eviscerated by corporate globalization, neoliberalism, and the feeding frenzy of the super-rich, under the wealth-extracting assault of a vicious, and highly conscious class warfare. People are under severe stress, their hopes thread bare or gone. We have poisoned our air, water, soil and food with toxic chemicals, and our hormonal balance is shot, due to hormone-disrupting pesticides we are spraying into our food, air and water. We are living with perpetual sensory overload, due to our technological fixation, our “news” and “social media” addiction, and our addiction to constant stimulation, rushing, distraction and entertainment; and simultaneously, we are experiencing the pathogenic and disorienting effects of sensory deprivation, due to our alienation from one another, from nature, and from the living world. In fact, the alienation and disconnection from one another, from nature and from ourselves, which creates neurosis and pathologies, both physical and mental, and creates a kind of sensory deprivation, drives the addiction to chronic hyper-stimulation, which then causes an unrecognized and unacknowledged, chronic sensory overload, creating a numbing of the senses, which creates further sensory deprivation, and further alienation and disconnection, which drives further desperate addiction to hyper-stimulation, escapism, distraction, consumerism, and other surrogates for real life and real connection. It is a negative feedback loop, and a downward spiral, until and unless the cycle is broken, and we disconnect and unplug, long enough to begin to reconnect. All this is taking place while we face a truly existential crisis, and at least unconsciously, or semi-consciously, people are facing existential fear – not only from increasing economic insecurity, but from our continued assault on the Earth that sustains us. Considering all of this, and considering we have seen the social bonds which sustain us weakened, undermined and frayed, I would say that people are holding together remarkably well, all things considered. But what is abundantly clear, is that the avoidance of reality must cease – no matter how understandable it may be.

By the way, I say here to the people of the Third World – the “developing world”, the Global South, where five out of seven billion people and the majority of humanity lives: take a long, hard look at this picture of the “leading”, “developed” industrialized nations. It is not a pretty picture. There are many positive aspects to these societies, and I have focused on the dark side here, but the dark side is very real, and it is slowly killing us, killing the planet, and driving people into sickness and insanity. Is this really what you want to become? Do you really want to become like us? Think again. We must end poverty, yes, most certainly and most urgently. But it is equally urgent that we find a different and better vision of development, growth, progress, the good life, and success. Do not follow the path of the industrialized nations. They are on a collision course with reality, and are headed for collapse. Not even the industrialized nations can continue in their present course. The whole thing, as Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki has said, is a slow motion train wreck: “We’re headed for a brick wall at a hundred miles an hour, and everybody is arguing about where they are going to sit.” That is what happens when a society sinks into the rotting bog of materialism, consumerism, entertainment addiction, vicarious living and chronic, obsessive escapism, and loses the critically essential balance and integration between the individual and the larger community: the society decays from within, until or unless those patterns are corrected, or else, the society simply collapses. Apparently, up to the present, we have been too dim-witted and steeped in a stupor of consumer addiction, entertainment frenzy and denial to realize we are racing with break-neck speed towards a very high cliff. And it is not at all clear that we will change course in time to avert a collapse of our “civilization”. That is the picture of the industrialized North and the West. Don’t follow us. We will only lead you over the cliff. Learn from our mistakes. Find a better way.

The ruling power elite, to use the term of the great sociologist, C. Wright Mills, have become sociopaths. There is no milder term for it. The real rulers, who are the billionaires of Davos, are truly sociopathic – a million killed in Iraq alone, in order to control oil profits, proves it starkly enough, as do myriad other examples; and their loyal minions in government are simply well-paid political prostitutes. Meanwhile, the great majority have succumbed to what Eleanor Roosevelt called, “a sleeping sickness of the soul”. As Thoreau said, they have become wooden. And as the Hopi warned, “When the people become wooden, a great calamity will befall them.”

That great calamity is bearing down upon us now.

The great social psychologist, Erich Fromm, was right: in modern industrial society, “Normal only exists in relation to a profoundly abnormal norm.” The old normal was pathological and delusional. The “new normal” is even more so. And yet, we drift.

We have become what T. S. Eliot described, “We are the hollow men”. The zombie apocalypse has already arrived – and we are it. This is why the millions of dedicated activists, despite millions of small victories, are still losing the battle on virtually every front – in terms of justice, peace, equality, freedom, democracy, constitutional rule and human rights, and the environment: because the great majority have become the living dead, and are numb to the world. They are in a walking coma, and are sleep-walking toward the cliff which fast approaches.

This is the way the world ends
this is the way the world ends
this is the way the world ends
Not with a bang
but with the obsessive clicking of a mouse.

The opium and cyanide drip is too intoxicating. They refuse to pull it out of their arms. We are a society of addicts, and it is a perpetual escape from reality, from one another, and from ourselves, which is the essence of our addiction. That addiction is now becoming terminal. We either overcome the aversion to reality, or we will soon cease to exist – and death by addiction is never pretty, never peaceful, but always tragic, and grim. Yet, still, the deathly pall of living death hangs over them, and they remain numb, and in a stupor of denial, and avoidance of reality.

We are hell-bent on entertaining ourselves right into our own self-made armageddon. And we will be numbed to the core, with Netflix and Doritos, when it comes.

This is the stupor we must shake off, and now. Rouse the people, and now. Remind them of their power. Remind them of their better selves.

There is a folk story that is told in Switzerland (my roots are Swiss, English and Canadian), about a fisherman who sat on the end of a pier, happy and content, when one day a man walked up to him, and offered him some free advice (often a dubious proposition, at best). The man said, “Why don’t you buy a fishing boat?” The fisherman asked, “Why would I do that?” The man said, “Because then you could catch more fish.” And the fisherman replied, “Why would I want to do that?” To which the man said, “Because then you could buy another boat, and then another, and soon you could have five boats!” And the fisherman said, “Why would I want to do that?” To which the man responded, “Because then you could catch so many fish, you wouldn’t have to work anymore, and you could just relax.” And the fisherman said, “But I am relaxed now.”

Thoreau observed of modern man – I am paraphrasing here: He has set a very clever kind of trap, with which to catch some great treasure, but caught himself in it instead. There is a saying in Switzerland (I am making a post-script addition to the essay, many days after writing it, and there is a risk I am repeating myself, but I, too, feel too much time-constraint to go back and check! Aren’t we all a bundle of contradictions, as Emerson said?) – in any case, the saying is, “Complicated works too.” But it would be even more accurate to say, complicated works, until it doesn’t. Sooner or later, our complications become our self-defeat. Modern industrial society is experiencing the pain of that slow-dawning realization now.

Chogyam Trungpa was right: we are running in circles, with great speed – the first thing to do, is to slow down. Only then we can be able to pause long enough to reflect. And from reflection, comes clarity. From clarity comes intelligent response. Confusion, delusion, and great speed, are the hallmarks of our modern, technologically-entranced, digitally-fixated industrial society. And that breeds only self-destruction; not clarity or resolve, which is what we need.

Gandhi famously said, when asked what he thought of Western civilization, “I think it would be a good idea.” And he summed up the central problem of the world, very simply and succinctly, when he said, “The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed.” And when asked if he wanted his newly independent India to have the same “standard of living” as Britain, he replied, “It took a whole planet to give Britain its standard of living. How many planets would it take to give India the same standard of living?” We can have a clean, green, sustainable, regenerative and abundant world, if we can learn to share, and to live within our ecological means. But that is not the story the industrialized world wants to hear. That is not acceptable, and so, chronic systemic deceit, self-delusion and lies, become the necessary standard fare.

The former foreign minister of Nicaragua once said, “I have to believe the people of the United States are the most systematically lied to people on Earth. If I didn’t, I’d have to believe they are the most evil.” The United States has taken a lot of criticism lately for its foreign policy, both from within the US and from abroad, for its murderous wars, its coups, its economic and financial terrorism, and its stark imperialism – especially since the million Iraqis were slaughtered in Iraq for their oil. But the same thing can be said of the people of the Western world and the Global North in general. Neocolonialism, and imperialism – killing, looting and pillaging for profit and power – are alive and well, precisely because the culture of denial, and the culture of lies, persists.

The people of the Western world and the Global North are largely silent about the murder and theft that goes on routinely in the name of the global corporate empire, because they are systematically lied to, and have drifted into sleep. It is the same systemic lies, propaganda and deceit, that allows the billionaire corporate oligarchs and their loyal political prostitutes, to now loot and pillage the people of the West and the North, gut them and drive them into the poor house, while destroying their rights, their freedom and their democracy. The culture of lies and the culture of sleep-walking denial of reality, go hand in hand. That is what enables this dying last empire of the new global corporate oligarchy to continue on its rampage a little longer.

The answers are not complicated. The question is, do we have the moral and intellectual courage to face reality, and to deal with reality. If so, then our future is good. If not, then it will be a nightmare, and a living hell.

We are our brother’s keeper. And we are – or now must be, are forced to be, after the mess we’ve made – the stewards of the Earth. If we can accept these simple terms, and live in peace and goodwill, then our future is bright. This does not require a spiritual or moral transformation of humanity. It simply requires that the sleep-walkers wake up. Crisis always brings out the best and the worst in people. For most people, when presented with a crisis, it brings out the best. Which will it be? We can go out, numbed and vacuous, like the living dead, with barely a whimper. Or we can go out in mutual destruction, our fingers around each other’s throats. Or we can behave like men and women, and not as small, neurotic, badly behaved children, and live equitably, sanely, and in peace. Which option will it be? It truly is up to us. Fatalism is a fool’s game of escape from reality. Our future is in our hands. Only a coward or a liar will tell you differently. Make your choice now, and make it wisely.

What are the answers we are waiting for? I would say they are the ones that we learned, or were have supposed to have learned, in kindergarten: share, cooperate, clean up your mess, and don’t be greedy. If we actually applied these simple principles in our lives and in our society, the world would be transformed, and healed, in short order. The simplest answers are usually the best answers. We over-complicate just about everything. Moreover, we avoid the simple solutions, because they are the most challenging. They’re also generally the only solutions that work. We’d rather create complicated daydreams, than take simple steps to rectify the problems – and we become lost in our hyper-complex daydreams and schemes, because they are our soother, our pacifier, as well as our principle reality-avoidance mechanism; and so, our schemes and daydreams and gross over-complications, turn to nightmares of our own creation. This is not the way ahead. This is the route into ever an deeper quagmire – a quagmire of delusion, of tyranny, and of self-destruction. As Thoreau said, “Simplify, simplify.”

*

The challenges facing us are great, and the stakes could not be higher. However, despair, while understandable, is something we cannot afford. Giving up, continuing to avoid reality, indulging in wishful thinking, waiting for the government or someone else to fix the problems, or shrugging our shoulders: any and all of these responses amount to an act of soulless cowardice and moral bankruptcy. We must find our inner strength, and the strength of our unity, once again, and now.

Together, we have great strength. We have all the strength, talent, ingenuity, ideas, and resources, that we need to face and overcome the challenges that lay before us. What we do not have, is time to waste, or time to perpetuate our escape from reality, any longer.

Thoreau remarked over a century ago, that the plague of the modern world is that, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” And he went on to say, “…but it is uncharacteristic of wisdom to do desperate things.” Why are we in such a desperate rush, and in such a desperate rush to do, mainly, desperately useless, trivial and destructive things? We need to pause, take a breath, reflect deeply, and own our power. Thomas Paine was right in 1776, and it is equally true today: “We have it in our power to begin the world over again.”

What we need, is not a high-tech solution. It is not a Big Brother or big government solution. What we need, is that tipping point inwardly, spiritually, psychologically and culturally, that moves us from an unacknowledged sense of powerlessness and despair, to firm and utter resolve, to dawn in our minds and hearts, and very, very soon, if not now.

We can do this. We can face these challenges together. But we must reconnect in order to do that. We must reconnect with one another; with nature, as a great balm and restorative tonic to our spirits; and with our own deeper and more authentic selves. The answer is not more distraction. The answer is more reality. End the flight. Embrace your power.

J. Todd Ring,
July 4, 2021
S.D.G.

Acknowledgements and Afterword:

There are far too many acknowledgements to list here, from a lifetime of studies, research and reflection, and many, many thoughtful and important discussions with a great many people; and I have listed my major sources and references many times before, in any case. But I must give thanks here to the host of the truly world-class podcast, Geopolitics & Empire (who is so humble that I have yet to hear him give his name, and which is also not mentioned on his website). It was he who came up with the terms, Branch Covidian, and Covid-1984, which very accurately describe what we are living through and experiencing now.

I would urge everyone to read, at least, Chomsky’s, Necessary Illusions, and Class Warfare, and to give a listen, with an open mind, to the Geopolitics & Empire podcast. You may not agree with everything that every guest says, nor do I, and nor does the host; but it will be thought-provoking, you can be guaranteed, and it will broaden your mind. In fact, it is very refreshing to hear very diverse people from very diverse perspectives; and what’s more, to be reminded that despite our differences of opinion, there are still a great many good-hearted, thoughtful and intelligent people in the world.

Infantile narcissistic regression may be the disastrous norm and the trajectory of the great majority of the people at present, as Aldous Huxley, for one, would surely recognize, but this too shall pass – and an awakening of humanity has already begun. Moreover, know that the American Revolution was started by a single man – Thomas Paine. Not even Jefferson, Washington or Benjamin Franklin wanted revolution, until Thomas Paine published his slim little book in January of 1776. By July 4 of that same year, the revolution was launched. And it was launched by just a handful of men and women. Despite the grim state of things, it only takes a small dedicated group of individuals to change the course of history. As Margaret Meade said, in fact, that is all that ever has. Never forget that fact. And as Yogi Berra said, and I am fond of quoting, “It ain’t over ’till it’s over.”

Wisdom from the East, Clarified: Paradigm shifts, dying ideologies, and real feng shui vs fast food feng shui

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2021 by jtoddring

(Some people will think that talk of things such as feng shui is frivolous. To them I say, bracket that distaste – feng shui is a very small part of this discussion, which covers very important ground in terms of philosophy, the philosophy of science, history, anthropology, sociology, political-economy, ecology, science and scientism, and the state of modern industrial society. Please read on.)

Many people who think they are scientific, and even think they are scientists, have an out-dated view of the world, based in a pre-Einsteinian and pre-quantum physics paradigm of materialist reductionism. They are actually the great majority of “scientists”, doctors and academics. They are over a century behind. And they are stridently dogmatic in defending their dying materialist ideology.

Things like feng shui, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), or yogic, Buddhist or Taoist philosophy, are branded heretical and unscientific by these medieval high priests. But in fact, all these things fit perfectly well in the new paradigms, or models, arising out of modern science itself. (Science is the slow man in the race, and is only now catching up with the mystics.) These things don’t fit with the old materialist reductionist model of Newton and Descartes. But that 400 year old model is dying now, and that model itself does not fit with modern physics, ecology, systems theory, epigenetics, or recent mind-brain research.

How then, should we view these things that were previously thought heretical or taboo? Firstly, we must clarify that there is no linear causality. That means control is an illusion. It also means that the position of the stars or the design of your home, for example, do not singularly cause or determine your fate. They are an influence, among many other influences. If we are intelligent, we will take a holistic or full systems approach, and try to maximize positive systems influences and dynamics, while reducing or mitigating negative influences or dynamics. That is what yoga, Ayurveda, TCM, t’ai chi, chi gong, meditation and feng shui seek to do; exactly as permaculture or intelligent systems design seeks to do. The principle applies to ecosystems, landscapes, gardens, farms, homes, buildings, communities, relationships, study, work, spirituality, prosperity, resilience, and health. This is the logic behind feng shui, for example: intelligent design of systems for maximum harmony and well-being.

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E=MCsquared. Energy = mass x the speed of light squared.

What does that mean? Among other things, it means this. Einstein showed matter and energy and inter-convertible. In fact, both Einstein’s famous equation and also quantum physics show that matter is, in reality, condensed energy. Hence, not only does every living being have an energy field, and every thing, and every material substance, has an energy field, but all beings and things are in fact energy fields. Materialist reductionists quiver and foam at the mouth at such talk, but modern physics proved what I am saying over a century ago, and the materialist reductionist world view or paradigm is crumbling now, in any case.

Feng shui, like Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda and yoga, is based on a knowledge of how various patterns or formations of energy interact. If we are intelligent, we will be curious, and look into these bodies of knowledge, with an open mind and some serious humility, since they fill out the radically incomplete, grossly inadequate, and dying modern Western model or paradigm of science, and of health.

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There is no longer any question that acupuncture works. (See David Suzuki, The Nature of Things) Western conventional medicine has been forced to acknowledge it works. It has been used successfully for addiction recovery, and has been used as a replacement for anesthetics for surgery, so it definitely is proven to work. That should logically lead us to conclude that the medical model of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is sound, since that is the basis of acupuncture. TCM is based in Taoist knowledge and philosophy, acquired through meticulous empirical observations from more than 2,000 years of field experiments. That should then give confidence, logically, that Taoist knowledge and philosophy is sound. Feng shui is also based in Taoist knowledge and philosophy, and hence, we should have confidence that that system is also sound.

The hubris of modern Western society must be shattered, and now. Time to grow up. We have been boisterous and arrogant adolescents for far too long. It is a much bigger world than we were taught to believe. Our minds must now become open to the East – and on an equal basis, as Bertrand Russell urged decades ago – along with the Global South, indigenous knowledge, and knowledge from the past, particularly from the Enlightenment, the Romantics, the Renaissance and the ancients. Clearly and undeniably, the modern Western and Westernized world is drunk with power, suicidal, ecocidal, imperialist, and hell-bent on a course leading to the collapse of our civilization (sic). Our hubris will be our self-destruction if we carry on like this any longer. It is time for a little humility, and a good deal more open-mindedness.

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Science did not begin in Europe in the 17th century. That is a conceit that needs to be laid to rest. The Islamic, Arab world preserved science from ancient Greece, and further developed it, before passing it generously to Europe (which was still by and large in an anti-intellectual dark age) through Moorish Spain, in the Spanish Renaissance of the 8th to 13th centuries, and then, 500 years later, to the Italian Renaissance. We owe, not the birth, but the rebirth of science, therefore, to the Spanish and Italian Renaissance, and to Islamic, Arabic society, and only secondarily to people like Newton, Bacon and Descartes. A little humility now will save our skin. It cannot be emphasized enough.

If by science, we mean an empirical method of investigating life, then science began in ancient Greece, and India and China, and probably in many other places, thousands of years ago. Modern science, which is a mere 400 years old, has produced great knowledge, and powerful technology. But we are foolish in the extreme and dangerously deluded if we equate technological power with wisdom, or even understanding. That surge in scientific knowledge and technological power has made modern society arrogant and filled with hubris, presuming we understand more than we do. That is error number one.

Science requires an open mind, and that requires humility. Dogma kills science, and dogma is what we have descended into. That is not science. It is scientism: which is the dogmatic and anti-scientific clinging to presumption, orthodoxy, high priests, official doctrines and an official canon.

Scientism is a form of medieval scholastic dogmatism, which is an ideology, a form of secular fundamentalism. That is what reigns now, not science. That is the second error: to take our over-confidence, and turn it into a religion, and a cult.

The third big error was to adopt Cartesian dualism. The fourth was to adopt a Newtonian mechanistic, atomistic, materialist reductionist model, paradigm or world view.

The fifth great error of modern science was to elevate that which can be measured, to the status of the only things worth investigating. The sixth was then to assume that what cannot be measured is either unimportant or unreal, non-existent.

These six errors, plus the common problems of (7) group-think, (8) egotism and careerism – it is more important to defend one’s ego than to value the truth, (9) corruption by conflicts of interest – science is overwhelmingly controlled by big business and the state, both of which have their own agendas, and truth is not high on the list; and (10) cultural bias, cultural arrogance, or simple racism – modern Europeans know best, therefore indigenous knowledge, Eastern knowledge, ancient, medieval and Renaissance knowledge, must all be worthless… These ten errors, we can now count and list, have blinded science, and have blinded the great majority of scientists, academics and intellectuals, and have blinded modern industrial society more broadly. That blindness will be our downfall, if not corrected immediately.

Again, humility and open-mindedness are imperative, and urgently needed. We are myopic blind men, quarrelling in the dark over shadows on a cave wall. And we will remain so, until and unless we redefine empiricism more broadly, and more thoughtfully, and until we admit our ignorance, so that we can once again learn.

Remember Socrates, the founder of Western philosophy. Socrates famously said, “I am the wisest person I know, because I am the only one who realizes his ignorance.” Begin with an open mind, and an admission of ignorance, or at least, an admission that what we think we know, could turn put to be entirely wrong. Otherwise, we are not practising science, nor are we even practicing basic intelligence.

There is a Zen story worth conveying here. A scholar comes to a Zen master and asks to be taught. The Zen master offers the scholar some tea. The scholar says yes. The Zen master pours the tea into the scholar’s cup, fills the cup to the top, then keeps on pouring. The scholar exclaims, “Stop! My cup is full!” The Zen master replies. “Precisely. Your cup is full. You mst empty your cup before it can be filled.” We are that bombastic scholar, heads too full of preconceptions to learn anything, or even to see or to hear.

As geneticist David Suzuki said, we really have very little understanding of life. He was talking about modern science. But ancient, Eastern, mystical and indigenous knowledge traditions have a great, immense understanding of life, in vast scope and tremendous depth. Modern science, by comparison, is obsessed with the dust on the lens as it peers obsessively through a microscope at the molecular structure of the bark of a single tree. “What is this forest you speak of? Sounds like flakey, voodoo mumbo-jumbo to me!”

Watch Mr. Magoo. That is modern science. Too narrow, too myopic, and therefore, stumblng blindly along. We must take a step back, and broaden and deepen our perspective. As Shakespeare said, “There is more to heaven and earth than is contained in your philosophy.”

To abandon science would be asinine, to put it bluntly; but to worship what we narrowly define as science, and hence, to turn science into a quasi-religious cult of scholastic dogmatism, which we have done, and to presume that what we narrowly define as science is the only valid means of acquiring knowledge, and the only valid body of knowledge, is even more asinine.

Science, to be truly worthy of the name, must be empirical, not dogmatic. But science, even then, can only tell us how the world works, and even that in a very limited and superficial degree. Science, even when practiced well, which means empirically, cannot tell us how to live, what is meaningful, what is ethical or virtu or what is wise or unwise to do. Science offers no values, only facts, or more pften, presumed facts and partial truths. Science therefore, even at its best, must be subservient to philosophy. And philosophy, to be practiced well, must be subsevient to experience, and to a radical empiricism. This is not a circular argument: it is taking empiricism to a much deeper level.

We can call it mysticism, or prophetic vision, but I prefer the term, radical empiricism, borrowing from William James and Allan Wallace. This means we take figures such as Jesus, the Buddha, Shakara, Moses, Meister Eckhart and Hildegaard of Bingen, Mohammed and Lao Tzu seriously. And we take our own experience seriously. Science now proclaims itself empirical, while invalidating direct experience. The radical self-contradiction is not perceived, but that is the root of our blindness in the modern world.

If you want to understand where science went wrong, read William Blake, There Is No Natural Religion. And read Emerson and Thoreau, America’s two greatest philosophers, for good measure. Until we admit our mistake, and radically expand our conception of empiricism and valid sources of knowledge, both science and modern “scientific” industrial society will remain blindly destructive, and we will continue to be on a collision course with reality, with full steam ahead.

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This short essay began as a brief musing on feng shui, but then I remembered that many people are very narrow-minded about such things, so I wrote a short preamble. That preamble has taken on a life of its own now. But that is ok. Let’s continue.

As I have said before, and written before, the old paradigm, model or world view of Newtonian-Cartesian materialist reductionism, is dying, and we are in the midst of a paradigm shift which has been going on for over a century. (Old dogmas die slowly.) But… What is wrong with the old paradigm? Well, besides the fact that it no longer fits with the scientific evidence, the mechanistic, materialist world view has been blamed for being one of the root causes of our destruction of nature, and for the growing environmental emergency we face. That indictment holds water, and can scarcely be denied, since the mechanistic, materialist world view reduces all living beings, ecosystems, plants, animals, forests, wetlands, oceans, rivers, and human beings, to the level of mere objects, mere things, to be exploited and harvested, and disposed of at will.

For the same reason, the materialist world view has led to a deep alienation between humans and nature; which means, between ourselves and life. That alienation is in turn driving people into mass addiction, addictive consumerism, compulsive escapism and perpetual distraction, mental illness, suicide, anxiety and depression. So yes, for many reasons, aside from purely scientific reasons, the old model needs to be discarded, post haste.

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One example of the utter failure and disastrous results of the grossly flawed model, paradigm, or world view of mechanistic, materialist reductionism, is the growing environmental crisis, as I have said, and as many have pointed out. Another example is the tremendous failure of modern “scientific” medicine. Despite all our much-vaunted scientific knowledge, we still have essentially zero success in treating the skyrocketing prevalence of chronic degenerative diseases, or mental illness and emotional distress. We can and do push freight train loads of pharmaceutical drugs, but these treat only the symptoms, and even those with patchy and poor success. The underlying causes remain largely ignored, because they require a holistic perspective, and that contradicts the official cannon and dogma of materialist reductionism. People are living longer, yes, but they are in general deeply unhealthy, both physically and psychologically, and they are living longer while saddled with multiple pharmaceutical dependencies, each of which has its own, often serious side-effects.

For context, a couple of figures that are not widely known, should become known. the US government has reported that 80% of pharmaceutical drugs have not been adequately tested for safety or effectiveness. That should be alarming. But why would this be the case? How could this be the case? It is the case because the big pharmaceutical companies are driven by concerns for profits, over and above public health. And it is the case because the pharmaceutical industry took over the medical colleges and the medical industry a century ago. It is corruption above, and dogmatic group think and indoctrination below – in the medical health field, and in our very much business-run society more broadly.

Worse yet, according to the US government, in the US alone, every year 200,000 people die from taking pharmaceutical drugs – correctly prescribed and correctly taken. That’s the equivalent of a fully loaded jumbo jet crashing every day. The US government report never made it on the news media, and the governments and the corporate and state media don’t mention it, because Big Pharma is too powerful to cross. Meanwhile, the much-decried natural health and traditional Eastern (TCM and Ayurveda) medical-health methods produce zero documented deaths per year. This is one of the many reasons why conventional Western pharmaceutical-obsessed medicine is in crisis, and is furthermore seeing an exodus to natural medicine and Eastern methods.

Andrew Weill is right: the future of medicine is integrative medicine. That means, we take the best of modern Western conventional medicine, and integrate it with the best of natural and Eastern medicine. The faster the dogmatists accept the fact, the better off we will all be.

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Now, to briefly discuss feng shui – from a layman’s perspective.

It seems to be the case that Western feng shui is a modern Western pop culture, New Age invention, and is not in accord with classical feng shui. So, if you are going to use feng shui, which in essence is a practice of harmonizing energy in homes and buildings and landscapes, make sure it is classical feng shui, not fast food feng shui. Second, it must take into account the specific home design, compass orientation, and natal charts. I’d say this is too complex to do on your own. Get a consultation with someone knowledgeable in classical feng shui. Otherwise, it can be like wiring up your own electrical breaker panel – too risky for novice hands. Consult a pro. 

Normally I’d say you can do everything yourself. You can design and grow a garden, and grow your own food if you want to. You can build your own home, design it and build it yourself, even wire it, if you study up. But for wiring a breaker panel, get an electrician. It is out of bounds for laymen and novices. And for feng shui, consult someone who knows what they are doing. Otherwise, you could cause disharmony and harmful negativity when you wanted to do the opposite.

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I would offer the same advice with regards to yoga and meditation: stick to the classic methods, tested and proven to be effective for over 2,000 years. When you are fully enlightened, then you can invent your own style. Until then, bow your head before the true masters, and humbly learn what they have to teach.

(Be wary of New Age MacThis and MacThat. It is far too unreliable, to hit and miss, too much a case of Russian roulette, to entrust your health or spirituality to it – even though there may be, and are, some gems among that heap.)

For yoga, I know of two schools that are definitely reliable, who teach classic yoga: Sivananda and Kripalu. Other approaches or styles may not harm you, but you may not get the same depth or benefit, either.

For meditation, I would stick to Zen, Theravada, or one of the four traditional schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Again, New Age meditation teachers may not do you any harm, but you may simply be wasting your time, and likely are.

Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Not in this case. Not with yoga or meditation. Those systems and methods are based on thousands of years of experience. Stick to the classic techniques that have been developed over millennia. Avoid the fluff.

Modern society is addicted to novelty and newness. Everything must be the latest fashion – even in spirituality or health. But this is foolish. The best things remain unchanging. Only the superficial things change. Do not be superficial. Stick to what works. In home design and construction, sometimes in technology (though not always) and in many fields, new ideas are sometimes better ideas. Not when it comes to yoga, meditation, or spirituality.

Remember the saying from Aikido: “Big lake, but shallow. Small lake, but deep.” It is depth you should be looking for, not novelty. This is not a shopping mall approach. Find a path that works for you, and that is not based in some New Age egotist’s self-aggrandizement scheme, and stick to that. Find novelty elsewhere in your life. (Plant a garden, and read widely.) When it comes to health and spirituality, you need to focus, and you need depth. Don’t jump all over the place. Don’t dig shallow wells. Study broadly, think broadly, discuss broadly – but pick a spiritual or health approach that works for you, and go deep. That will produce results. Skittering across the surface of things will not.

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For clarity sake, let me add this. While it is now imperative that we allow the East into our minds on an equal footing, as Bertrand Russell urged many years ago, and do the same for indigenous knowledge, the Global South, the Enlightenment, the Renaissance and the ancients – because if we do not, modern Western, and Westernized industrial society, will most likely destroy the very basis of life on Earth; that does not mean we must have a mass conversion to Eastern or native spirituality. We must become renewed in our confidence, our dignity, and also our humility, yes. But we can still keep our own spiritual traditions, or our secular traditions, if that is what you prefer. It simply means that we must, of necessity, now broaden our minds.

The stakes now, are not only our wisdom, or capacity for wisdom, or our health, happiness or well-being, but our very survival. We need to draw upon the best of human knowledge and wisdom, from across the world, and across the spans of time. It is truly that imperative. And it should be exciting. No doubt this is a very challenging time. But it is a very exciting time, as well. We are witnessing nothing short of a rebirth of our world. And that is both painful, and also joyous.

JTR,

July 3, 2021

For more up to date scientific models than what the dogmatic materialists are offering, see:

Einstein, Schrodinger, Wheeler, Bohm, Vandana Shiva, Joanna Macy, Ken Wilber, David Suzuki, Rupert Sheldrake, Rene Weber, Michael Talbot, Thomas Kuhn, and Allan Wallace, as a foundation.

Unfortunately I am too new to feng shui to give specific references on that subject at this point, sorry. But stay tuned! I am always learning, and you should be too! That is, after all, the true scientific mindset, and the only intelligent approach to life. Shun dogma. Stay open-minded. And… Keep learning!

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