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.

I Have A Dream

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 8, 2021 by jtoddring

I Have A Dream: surely, and unquestionably, that great speech by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is one of the most important, and most beautiful, uplifting, empowering, ennobling, visionary and inspiring speeches ever given. Listen again to these words. These words were never more relevant than now. 

Unity and love, unity amidst diversity, confidence and dignity for all, and yes, non-violent direct action: these are the things we most need now – and, I would say, more than ever. If we do not come to understand these words now, we are quite simply doomed. But if we do come now, to finally, truly understand them, and apply them, not just hear them, or mouth them, but apply them in our lives, our communities, our nations, and our shared, beautiful, fragile, yet deeply resilient world, then all things are possible, and we SHALL be free – truly free – and we SHALL see, and build, and create, a better world for all. 

This is a dream worth having. This is a dream worth sharing. And this is a dream worth BUILDING, worth fighting for, and worth turning into a reality, for the benefit, and liberation, of us all. Keep the dream alive. Keep your spirit, your heart, and your mind alive. Share the dream of freedom, and of justice, of a clean and vibrant, sustainable, peaceful, democratic and deeply green, flourishing world, based in equality, and based in dignity for all.

La lucha continua. La revolution no hay terminado. Y, el pueblo, unido, jamas sera vencido!

Hasta la victoria siempre!

Fight the good fight. Never surrender.

We SHALL overcome!

JTR,

May 8, 2021

Chomsky: Corporate Fascism Clarified

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

Exactly as I said this spring, in an essay titled, Sinking All Ships (Except Our Own), Chomsky is saying, as well, what by now should be obvious to all: the business elite are using a virus scare to vastly increase their already stratospheric wealth, and much more ominously, their already dangerously excessive power.

Never under-estimate the power-hungry few.

Yet, the people keep making the same mistake – they underestimate their own power, while simultaneously underestimating the ruthlessness of the power-hungry. The results are always disastrous, and grim.

This is a warning.

(See my essay, Importing From China, for an important update.)

Chomsky further clarifies fascism, as well.

I prefer my definition of fascism, I have to say, which is based on Mussolini’s definition – and he should know, since he invented it: fascism, he said, should properly be called corporatism, because it is the merger of the business elite and the state. And of course, that is exactly what has happened over the past 50 years, culminating in 2020: the business elite and the political elite, the corporate oligarchy and the state, have merged.

That is fascism. We no longer live in a democracy. We live under a new global empire of neo-feudal, crypto-fascist corporate oligarchy – an empire of the super-rich billionaire class, which is giddily and greedily devouring the poor, the middle class, and the planet, while proclaiming themselves the saviours of humanity, and the great benefactors of human health and wellbeing. The obscenity of their narcissism, egomania, infantile grandiosity, their self-deceit and their lies, and sheer sociopathic behaviour, should be shocking, and intolerable to all.

(Read my other recent essay, What Is Fascism?)

Chomsky says fascism is where the political elite control everything, including the business elite. That’s not what Mussolini said, to my knowledge. In any case, Mussolini’s definition is more useful, it seems to me. If you have authoritarianism (and we do in most nations now in 2020), and you have a merger of the business elite and the state (also unquestionably a fact in most nations today), then you have fascism.

Who has the upper hand in the marriage between political elites and business elites, I think, is of secondary concern. It is the merger of business and the state, combined with authoritarianism, which defines the essence of fascism. And only someone who is steeped in deep denial, or who has been living under a rock for the past 40 years, could fail to spot it.

Under fascist Italy or Germany, the political elite ruled an authoritarian regime, with the tight merger and full support of the business elite. It is very similar to China today: in the merger of business and the state, the political elite are in charge, with the full support of both the Western and Eastern business elite, of course. In the West today, it is the mirror image: in the merger of business and the state, the business elite are in charge. To me, it is worse than splitting hairs to say that these are radically different systems. They are not. They are mirrored systems, deeply wedded to each other, though in dangerous competition simultaneously; and they are both authoritarian, anti-democratic, elite-ruled neo-feudal societies. I prefer the short hand term of fascism for both, though it is clear they represent two different versions of essentially the same thing: which is, authoritarian elite rule, moving swiftly into totalitarian oligarchy.

Frankly I don’t think you or anybody is likely to be quibbling over whether “the new normal” should be better called fascism, totalitarianism, authoritarianism or oligarchy, when you are taken to a labour camp, and a jackboot is stomping on your face.

This is not a US problem. This is a global problem. It must be re-asserted. Trump is a tin pot dictator. The problem is much bigger than Trump. He is a pawn of the billionaire crypto-fascist oligarchy, which is now the global empire ruling the world – the same corporate oligarchy which rules most nations, most governments, all the major political parties, the global economy and financial system, and virtually all the major media today – including of course the Big Tech “social media”, since the Silicon Valley oligarchs are equally gleeful in their new-found power.

Until we unseat, dethrone, and remove from power the billionaire corporate elite, we can forget about any real change being possible. We can forget about things like justice, freedom, constitutional rights, peace, environmental sanity, or a future, for that matter, to say nothing of health, until we remove the billionaire oligarchs from power.

We must understand this, or kiss our future, our health and wellbeing, our democracy, our rights and our freedoms goodbye.

JTR,

August 4, 2020

PS:

Chomsky looks very different with a beard. And he has aged dramatically this year – maybe because, as he said in an interview earlier this year, he is haunted by the memories of the first wave of fascism, during his childhood: which is being echoed now.

Enlightenment & The Power Of Emptiness

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 2, 2021 by jtoddring

OK, gangster punks, rebels and revolutionaries, free spirits and seekers of truth, hear this:

People don’t understand the power of emptiness. With all my heart, I wish they did. And I wish I were more firmly grounded in that awareness. I merely have a knowing, a deeply felt and directly seen knowledge, but not a continuous awareness. Yet, I can honestly say that I have seen directly the non-dual nature of being and reality, and not merely theorized about it, speculated, or read about it in books. It is real. It is the ground of being, the very fabric of reality itself. It is worth thinking about, and exploring. But don’t take anyone’s word on anything. As the Buddha also said, Examine things for yourself. See for yourself.

Emptiness is the greatest power in the world. The greatest power in existence. There is nothing that can remotely compare to it. It is not understood, even intellectually, by more than a few, and fully realized by no more than one in millions, but it is real, and it is the ultimate power. And by emptiness, of course, we must clarify what is meant: it is the non-duality of being, the fundamental unity of being.

(See Allan Wallace, Joanna Mcy, Einstein and Bohm if you want a secular, scientific discussion of non-duality, or Joseph Campbell, Aldous Huxley, Alan Watts, Spinoza, Nagarjuna or Meister Eckhart, if you are not afraid of a religious or spiritual approach to the ultimate nature of reality, or if you insist on a theistic discourse on the unnamable ultimate reality.)

Realizing emptiness means realizing that there is no self. That may sound frightening, but it means realizing that you are truly one with the cosmos – and there is nothing to fear, nothing to grasp upon, nothing to hold on to, and nothing to lose or defend. With the realization of emptiness, one viscerally, and not just intellectually, realizes, as Einstein said, that, “The perception of a division between self and other is a kind of optical delusion.”

And with that realization, comes tremendous fear, generally, at first, as all that we had clutched at falls away like dust, like a passing dream upon awakening. But after some time, after aclimatization, or familiarization – which is what meditation is all about – you slowly begin to realize that not only is there nothing to hold on to, but there is no need to hang on.

Thus begins the ultimate freedom – and the ultimate power. It is not the power of the ego and all its confused and deluded grasping, but the power of the universe, or Life, itself. And it is unstoppable, and unvanquishable. This is the death of fear.

As the Zen saying goes, “Men fear that in the abyss they will lose themselves. But it is in the abyss that they will find themselves.”

Have no fear. Plumb your depths. They are the very depths of all life.

Know thyself.

JTR,

May 2, 2021

Moving To Mexico

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2021 by jtoddring

I fell in love with Mexico on my first trip there in 1989, and was totally depressed to come home to my native country of Canada. El Norte seemed like a dystopian version of Disney Land, by comparison. Every trip since, I have felt the same. Now, 32 years later, I am ready to move to Mexico, and eagerly.

In this short essay I will look at the cultural, economic, and yes, political reasons, why millions of people are relocating to Mexico from the US, Canada, Britain, Europe and other parts of the world. What I do not cover here are the logistics or practical details of how to make such a move. I have included two playlists below, of podcasts and videos, that cover all of that extensively, for anyone who is interested. What I want to focus on here is the question of why so many people want to move, or have moved, to Mexico, over the past 40 years, and in exponentially growing numbers since the crash of 2008.

But let’s deal with the biggest prejudice or stereotype right away. Most people in the US and Canada will say, “Why would anyone want to move to Mexico?! Isn’t it dangerous?” Well, to put it frankly, most people in the US and Canada are idiots. Why do I say that? Because they live in a bubble. The know almost nothing about the world, or even what is going on in their own country; but they think they do, because they watch or read the mainstream media. They trust the major media to give them an accurate and honest depiction of what is going on in their country and around the world. That is what makes them idiots. They are not innately stupid – they just fail to use their natural intelligence; and that makes them functional idiots.

Most of the violence in Mexico is near the US border. That region is definitely violent, crime-ridden, and dangerous. But if you go south of Monterey, Mexico is peaceful, vibrant, and very safe. In fact, Mexico has the same crime rate as Canada, which is about the same as Europe. And Mexico has half the crime rate of the United States. South of Monterey, away from the US border, Mexico is safer than most US cities.

Every place you go, there is some degree of crime and violence, and especially in big cities. You have to use common sense. But Mexico overall is much safer than the United States, so long as you stay away from the US border, in the North. I would not want to even drive through that area, and if I did, I’d do it in daylight, and make the nine hour journey from El Paso, Texas to Monterey during the daytime. After Monterey, you’re home free.

Even petty crime, such as pick-pocketing, is uncommon in most parts of Mexico, unlike NY, Rome or many other cities.

Of course, Mexico has gangs and organized crime, like nearly every other country, but again, it is primarily in certain pockets, and mainly in the North. The US is riddled with organized crime and gang violence, and Canada, Britain and Europe have their share of gangs and organized crime as well. I feel far safer when I am in Mexico than I would in London, NY, Chicago, San Francisco or LA, or even Toronto, Ottawa or Vancouver.

The media parades crime in Mexico because it sells. If it bleeds it leads. But in Mexico, unless you are involved with the drug trade, or are in politics or journalism, or you’re in or near a border town, or another cartel centre, like Acapulco, you are safer than in most US cities.

Don’t believe everything you read in the newspaper or hear on TV. Only an idiot would do that.

So, now that we have dispensed with the primary objection of the lemmings, let us examine why someone might want to consider moving to Mexico.

Sorry to be so harsh, but conemporary American and Canadian culture, and British, European and Western culture of society broadly, simply needs to be questioned, and challenged. We face major problems, and we are not dealing with them seriously at all. Something has to burst that bubble of mass delusion and complacency. I hate to speak of sad and negative things, but reality simply must be dealt with. The consumer bubble of disociation from reality must be burst.

1. The stress level in Canada and the US was extremely high in 2019, before the covid crisis created mass hysteria. Now it is positively insane. Other than the Middle East, almost anywhere in the world is a better place to be now, than either Canada or the US, in my view. These two countries have drunk the kool-aid, en mass. The stress levels alone, aside from the more general insanity, are enough to make any sensible person want to get the hell out, and fast.

An important side note here, which is very important to me, is that the political Left is very much alive and strong in Mexico and Latin America generally. And, in Mexico and throughout most of Latin America, the left is both democratic, and strongly anti-authoritarian. In the US, Canada, Britain and Europe, the Left is now neo-Maoist, pro-censorship, and is cheering for authoritarianism. In other words, in El Norte, the Left has lost its mind. That is another reason I would strongly prefer to be in Latin America. Fascist lemmings give me the heebee-jeebees, to say the least. Kafkaesque is a better description of the state of things in the North. Creepy and ominous in the extreme.

Mexican people don’t do stress. They don’t do hysteria. The don’t rush, they don’t freak out, they don’t live in a perpetual consumer frenzy. They live with peace and calm, and take their time. They value family, friends, spirituality, food, and quality of life, over rushing about to make ever more money and buying ever more consumer goods.

The stress simply vanishes when I travel to Mexico. It is a COMPLETELY different world, and a far, far better one. Canadians and Americans seem like strung-out, deeply neurotic, narcissistic, self-centred, addle-minded, cold, repressed, mistrustful and suspicious, deeply indoctrinated, stress-ridden lunatics, by comparison. I am using strong terms, but I can assure you, they are not strong enough.

2. Mexican culture is incredibly vibrant. I have travelled through many countries – in Latin America, North America, Europe and Asia – and while every country has its charms and its strengths, and people are people everywhere you go, there are definitely very big cultural differences, of course. Of all the countries I have been to, two stand out above the rest, I have to say. They are Italy and Mexico. Why are they so attractive and magical? 1. They are extremely vibrant, vital, culturally rich, warm, and alive. And 2. They are incredibly relaxed. No other countries that I have lived in or travelled through compare to these two, for these two reasons.

3. Mexico and the Mexican people value freedom – in practice, and not just in theory.

The only things that would tip the balance for me between Mexico and Italy, are: 1. Italy is five times more expensive in terms of cost of living; and 2. Italy is part of the EU – and the EU, as with Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States, along with most other countries in the world, has now gone fascist. The Davos billionaires have taken over, and they are imposing a fascist coup. Again, the idiots cannot see what is before their noses, but that is hardly surprising. They are functionally brain dead.

Mexico, by contrast, is a country of people who are, in general, repulsed by fascism, or authoritarianism of any kind. The Mexican people lived through a dictatorship for three decades in the late 1800s – and they have not forgotten what democracy and freedom mean, or how precious and non-negotiable they are; and they have not forgotten what authoritarianism means, and they do not abide it or tolerate it.

The sad inhabitants of Canada and the US, by comparison, have never lived through fascism or totalitarianism, and moreover, they have forgotten the lessons of WWII. They are sheep being led to slaughter, and they are bleating merrily as they go.

And that is before the soma kicks in!

The people of Britain and Europe have also forgotten what fascism means, and they too, cheer for authoritarianism, and the “new normal” or global corporate fascism.

I will take my chances with the Mexican people, because, frankly, they tend not to have their heads up their asses, and they know what freedom means, and they value it – in practice, and not just in rhetoric and pretty speeches.

4. The cost of living in Mexico is in general 60-80% lower than in Canada or the US.

The middle class is getting devoured in Canada, the US, Britain and Europe. Millions of people are moving out of these countries and regions, to other parts of the world where the cost of living is actually affordable – and millions of people from Canada, the US, Britain and Europe are choosing Mexico as their new home: because it is relaxed, vibrant, democratic and free, and also a far more affordable place to live.

Millions of people in the US and Canada live on pensions of $800 USD a month, which is hard to survive on. In Mexico, it is livable, and with a much better quality of life. Retirement in Canada and the US, for most people, means poverty, if they can retire at all. But not if they move to Mexico, where they can live well on the same income.

The sad fact is that most Canadians and Americans will not be able to afford to retire. But if you plan well, and are frugal, many people can retire in Mexico at 55 – or semi-retire earlier than that. That is a world of difference in terms of quality of life. But whatever your age, with the same income, you can experience a whole other world of richness of culture, and whole other level of quality of life. That should be very appealing.

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Another note, as aside: The one biggest thing people coming from Canada or the US have to adjust to is the pace of life. Nobody rushes in Mexico. Mexican people work very hard, often with multiple jobs, but the pace of life is slow and relaxed. Learn to love the word tranquilo. Tranquil. Don’t expect things to move fast. They don’t. That should be seen as a God-send. The atmosphere is incredibly relaxed. Even in Mexico City, with a population the size of Canada, a city five times the size of metropolitan Toronto, a city almost as big as NY, LA and Chicago put together, people are relaxed, friendly and cheerful. Embrace it! Embrace the slow pace and relaxed way of life. It will transform your life – and heal you and bring you joy. If you are going to move to Mexico, learn how to slow down, be patient, and be relaxed. That is the biggest transition, and with the right attitude, it is a joyful one.

You will hear stories of people who have travelled in Mexico, or moved to Mexico, and were miserable. But remember, there are a lot of chronically miserable people in the world, especially in the US and Canada, for sociological and psychological reasons, and they bring their misery wherever they go. There are people who will be miserable no matter where they go. Don’t blame the country for the individual’s shitty attitude. Of course, a very small percentage of people have bad experiences in Mexico, but a percentage of people have terrible experiences in Canada, the US, Britain, Europe, and all over the world. For every one person who says that had a terrible experience in Mexico, there are 50, 100, or a thousand people who have had wonderful experiences. Keep it in perspective.

The biggest complaints about Mexico, from people who have travelled there or moved there, are three:

1. Things don’t move fast enough. Well, if you’re a control freak, or you want a regimented, fast-paced life dedicated to instant gratification or the illusion of control, don’t move to Mexico. The slow pace of life is one of the best things about Mexico. But it can be frustrating if you’re not used to it. “Manana” is a common phrase. It literally means “tomorrow”, but in practice, it usually means, “Later”, or, “Some time in the future, and we’re not quite sure when.” If you can’t slow down, and you want every little thing to go your way, then yes, you will be miserable in Mexico. Stay home. Don’t be a drag for the Mexican people, or the other expats living in Mexico. Just stay the hell home. Keep your whining to yourself.

That makes me think of something a very kind-hearted, but no-nonsense friend of mine once said, when she realized why she didn’t like the kids’ TV show, Caillou. She realized it was because the parents in the show confused being loving, with being doting, and caving into the child’s every whim – which only creates narcissistic, spoiled, self-centred, ill-mannered, neurotic children, who grow up to be self-centred neurotic adults. Her response was, “Fuck you Caillou! Whiny little bitch!” I can sympathize. And how many “adult” people do you know who you’d like to say that to? I can think of a lot.

The second complaint about most places in Mexico is that it doesn’t have shopping malls. Really. This is a big complaint about Mexico. I’m baffled. I don’t live to shop, and I don’t make shopping a hobby. People who do, might want to stay home – or move to Mexico City, where you can spend all the time you want in shopping malls, if that’s what you like to do. Or order it online – preferably not from evil Amazon. And please grow up. Take the soother of shopping addiction out of your mouth. Life is a whole lot bigger than weekly shopping excursions. Live a little! It’s a big world out there.

Mexico City, of course, has a lot more than shopping malls. It has bustling markets, the most impressive city centre I have ever seen, palaces, cathedrals, architecture, art galleries, museums, loads of great music, a very cosmopolitan but definitely and decidedly Mexican atmosphere, with people and food from all over the world, and an incredibly rich history, heritage and culture. It’s like Toronto, New York and Chicago put together, but with an incomparably more relaxed feel. But they have lots of malls, if that’s what you like. I grew up in the country, and I don’t like cities – in fact, I hate cities; but I love Florence, San Miguel and Mexico City, and I would be thrilled to live in any one of them. I just happen to like small towns and the countryside better.

The third big complaint about Mexico is that in many places you can’t get the food you are used to at home. The food in Mexico is delicious, but in many places they might not have sushi, or great pizza, or hotdogs. Again, this seems to me a petty complaint, born of rigidity of mind. Adapt! Broaden your mind! Broaden your horizons! Try new things! Why would you leave home at all if what you want is exactly what you left?!

I call it the whiny gringo syndrome – and it is sadly commonplace in Mexico, and all around the world. Look, dudes, and doodettes, you are giving your home country a bad name. Lighten up. Try to show some gratitude and appreciation! So they don’t have hotdogs and sushi – big deal! Get a grip!

There are a lot of people who are miserable in their jobs, but are afraid to make a change, and there are a lot of people who just have miserable attitudes, and in either case, they spread their misery everywhere they go, and make everyone around them miserable. I am emphasizing the point because it has become pandemic – especially in the US and Canada. There are a lot of Don and Debbie Downers out there, and a lot of John and Joanna Joy-Killers. There are a lot of princesses, male and female, and a lot of prima donnas. And there are a lot of chronic complainers. They need to make a life change, or a change of attitude, or get some counselling – or all three. Some people can find the dark cloud in every silver lining.

Cry for your griefs, speak out for your values and the issues you care about, and share your sorrows and your joys, yes, but when it comes to the little things, try to keep some perspective, and don’t focus on the negative. Life is too short. And don’t piss on everyone else’s parade just because you have a shitty attitude or are unhappy with your life. Be a bigger person than that. Please.

The question is, do you want to be cynical, pessimistic, jaded, jaundiced, paranoid, spoiled and/or miserable ALL your life? Or would you rather have an adventure, learn to relax a little, lighten up, and see something of the world beyond your tiny little bubble? I’d recommend the latter, myself. Your life will improve radically if you just shift your attitude a little. Take up yoga, saunas, walking, meditation, journaling or psychotherapy, if you are so fearful, cynical or hard to please. Life can be a whole lot better, be assured.

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Another perception that most people have about Mexico is that it is a poor Third World country. Well, it certainly was. And still today, half of the Mexican people are poor. But what most people don’t realize, is that in 2019, prior to the economically devastating lockdowns, half of Americans were living below, at, or just above the poverty line. That number is now rising exponentially, and fast. The majority of Americans are now living in poverty, or are falling quickly into poverty. While the middle class is disappearing in the US, Canada and Britain, the middle class is growing fast in Mexico. So, Mexico today has less poverty per capita than the US. The US has become a Third World nation, as Chomsky predicted over 30 years ago; and Canada, Britain and Europe are following in that same path. Meanwhile, Mexico’s economy, prosperity and middle class continues to grow.

There are rich people in Mexico, of course, and some of them are extremely rich. There is a more obvious and overt disparity of wealth in Mexico than in Canada, or even the US, but impressions can be deceiving. In El Norte, we like to sweep all our problems under the carpet, and pretend they don’t exist. That’s one of the things that I find so deeply disturbing about the US and Canada – it makes it a surreal, dystopian Disney Land, a macabre hall of mirrors. In Mexico, and Latin America broadly, the problems are out in the open, and nobody pretends they don’t exist. That is refreshing, by comparison. A little reality therapy would be good for most Americans and Canadians. The dissociation from reality is pandemic and extreme, and it is very, very dangerous.

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In terms of housing costs, a beach house in Canada or the US will cost at least a million dollars USD, typically. But you can buy a beach house in Mexico for as little as $100,000, or you can rent a home, condo or apartment with a view of the ocean for $500 a month.

Medical tourism to Mexico is booming, and people are moving to Mexico to live, in part for affordable health care. One retired couple from Texas were paying $24,000 USD a year for health insurance, for a bronze level coverage with $10,000 deductible, which is typical in the US, and in Mexico got better health insurance with global coverage for $2,000 a year. A four day stay in hospital in the US for surgery typically costs $189,000. Exactly the same procedure in Mexico with equal or better quality health care costs $8,900, or 0.5% of what it costs in the US. Major dental work in the US can easily cost $15,000. In Mexico it is a fraction of that. A house call by a doctor in Mexico is common, and costs $35 with medications included. Most people can’t afford to take the best care of their health in the US or Canada. In Mexico they can.

In Mexico, you can buy fresh organic fruits, vegetables and fish at the market that will feed one person for a week, for 100 pesos – about $4 USD, or $5 CDN. In Canada, the US, Britain or Europe, the same amount of money will buy one small piece of toxic, parasite-ridden, genetically modified farmed fish.

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Conclusion:

There is simply no comparison. Mexico is a world apart, and a world above what Canada, the US, Britain and Europe have become. I am very proud of my home country of Canada, and I love the people and the land, but I am deeply saddened, and deeply terrified, for its current state, and its current direction. Mexico has big problems, but is moving in a very positive direction. The other countries I have mentioned also have big problems, and are heading in a very dark direction. You take your pick.

While Canada, the US, Britain and Europe continue to sink economically, and the middle class is devoured by the super-rich and the giant corporations, Mexico has become the manufacturing centre for all of North America: the Mexican economy is booming, and the middle class and entrepreneurship in Mexico are flourishing, and growing fast.

While Canada, the US, Britain and Europe go ever more deeply and ever more rapidly into a corporate-ruled police state, and ever more deeply into the collective lobotomy of consumer culture and corporatization, alienation and disociation from reality, Mexico remains alive, vibrant, democratic and free.

In short, if you value your health, move to Mexico. If you value quality of life, move to Mexico. And if you value your freedom, move to Mexico.

By the way, Mexico has one of the lowest population densities in the world. It is half the size of Europe, with one eighth the population density of Europe. The health care system is at least as good as in Canada or the US, and probably much better. Health insurance costs about a tenth of what it does in the US. And even paying out of pocket for health care is affordable. You can get a doctor to do a house call, as is common, and it will cost $35, including all meds. And if you are concerned with hurricanes or floods, consider the Central Highlands, where those things rarely ever happen. What are you waiting for?

I plan to be gone from Canada in three years or less. I would leave tomorrow if I could. I would recommend people think deeply, and hard, about where they want to be over the coming 20-50 years. Some places will do well. Others, will be a living hell, and a fascist police state. For myself and my family, I choose Mexico. I can think of nowhere on Earth I would rather be – especially now, during the global corporate fascist coup.

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The cultural richness of Mexico is off the charts – but that is just a bonus, compared to the primary reasons for leaving the “developed” world. The main reason, for me, is to escape the corporate fascist coup, and to live in a free and democratic society. But it doesn’t hurt that in my favourite city in Mexico, with a population of just over 100,000 people, where fewer than one person in ten is a gringo, I can stroll the colourful, charming, safe and friendly, cobblestone streets, and find world class Italian food, or Thai food, or delicious Mexican food, and sit in a quiet courtyard in an utterly charming little restaurant, that is a million miles above MacDonalds, or any of the other McCulture chains of El Norte, and have a delicious and inexpensive brunch, while a Mexican three-piece, live jazz band plays Dave Brubeck songs – to two tables in the whole, tiny restaurant! Over brunch! Where in the world can you find that?! It’s like being in Florence, only with a small fraction of the tourists, and at a fifth of the cost. Why would I want to live anywhere else?

I have many dear friends and family in Canada, the US, Britain and Europe, and the great majority of people in these countries are good-hearted, kind people; but the sad fact is, the great majority of the people have been shackled and chained – and not just economically, not just politically, but culturally and psychologically. Their minds have been shackled and chained. The four horsemen of the apocalypse have arrived, and they are consumerism, corporatization, authoritarianism and escapism.

People might say I am escapist for wanting to leave, but there are most definitely good reasons, and good times, to leave a place or a situation. In the North, I struggle daily to fight off the sense of impending doom that hovers like a black cloud over these lands, and to dispel the darkness of the pervasive malaise, numbness, glumness, apathy, tension, stress, alienation, and disconnection from reality in this culture. In Mexico, I feel relaxed, peaceful, alive and strong – and as Sun Tzu said, it is only intelligent to place yourself where you are strong. Why would you want to do anything else?

Three decades ago, Chomsky saw what anyone who was paying attention could see: that the US, Canada, Britain and Europe, with the US in the clear lead, were becoming Third Worldized, and were moving toward a Third World model of society, where the richest 1% own the nations, a priviledged few are high-paid, loyal servants of power, and 80% are the underclass. That trend has only continued, and accelerated. And the other, parallel trend, of course, was and is, the big business take-over of government, the culture and the economy – which means, not only increasing inequality and increasing poverty for the people, but also, the death of democracy and freedom. Anyone who still cannot see this is, frankly, living in a dream world.

Mexico, as I have said, has big problems. What country doesn’t? Countries around the world are facing major crises: a severe and escalating ecological crisis, a continuing economic crisis, war, or the threat of war, crime and violence, a public health crisis that has very little to do with corona and everything to do with poverty, hunger and obesity; and widespread and growing pandemic of addiction, to name just a few of the bigger problems, along with a social and political crisis which is the result of four decades of neoliberal corporate globalization, better known as rape and pillage economics, or class warfare, resulting in soaring inequality, rising poverty, a deepening crisis of legitimacy for the ruling elite, and growing social unrest. These are global problems, and no country, that I am aware of, is immune to them.

Mexico has a big problem with organized crime and the illegal drug trade, yes. But who is the leading narco trafficer in the world? That would be the CIA, which has controlled the bulk of the cocaine and heroine trade globally for decades. (See Peter Dale Scott and Alexander Cockburn.) Who aids and abets this killer drug trade? All of the major banks, and all of the major governments of the Western world and the Global North. (See Max Keiser.) So, pointing a finger at Mexico is deeply hypocritical – hypocritical in the extreme. The heart of the problem is in the North.

If you want to get rid of drugs, forget it – it’s like alcohol prohibition: we tried that, and it doesn’t work. Treat drug addiction as the health problem that it is, not as a criminal offense punishable by being put into a cage. (See Michael Moore’s film, Where To Invade Next.) Get tough on organized crime, yes – and start at the top: abolish the CIA. That will reduce drug trafficking and drug-related violence by enormous levels, with that one single move. But nobody is serious about such things in the North. It’s all a game for social control, power politics, and the politics of distraction.

Mexico also has big problems with corruption, unquestionably. I do believe that the landslide victory for Mexico’s new President, Lopez Obrador, is a sign of hope and positive change, however far from perfect that is. But he is coming into office in a government where systemic corruption is deep and entrenched. It’s a little like the situation which would unfold if FDR came into office, sweeping Mussolini from power. Some people will think the comparison is inappropriate, but it is not as far off as one might imagine.

Meanwhile, in the Hallowed States of America – or the United States of Apotheosis… or is that Arrogance, or Apologetics, or Apoplectic Amnesia? …which is quickly becoming the USSR – corruption is also, and undeniably, deep and systemic.

Biden is no messiah, nor even an honest man. He is a war criminal, who has never met a war he didn’t like, for starters, and a self-confessed prostitute to big business. But he is a mere figurehead, in any case, like all heads of state in the North-West corner of the globe – the Deep State and the military industrial security complex has ruled the US since the CIA was created and the National Security Act was passed, in 1947. Presidents come and go, but the corporate business elite remain firmly in control. The federal elections are political theatre – they are like the world wrestling. It’s a farce, a charade. Whoever you vote for, you get the oligarchy.

The political elite in this North-West quadrant of the world which I am calling El Norte, are deeply corrupt, and are behaving as servile and eager pawns to the ruling corporate oligarchs – even as the billionaire oligarchs take us from neoliberal corporate rule to fully blown corporate fascism. The corruption in the North could scarcely be more extreme, or more obvious and self-evident. It takes real effort to avoid the reality here, but many people are quite willing and able to do it.

The third and greatest problem facing Mexico is the same problem that has plagued the Third World, or the Global South, for centuries: it is imperialism. (See Mark Twain, Howard Zinn, John Pilger, John Perkins, William Blum, MLK and Chomsky on the subject, particularly Chomsky’s, Year 501: The Conquest Continues.) This latest phase of imperialism began more than 500 years ago, and it has not stopped, but only intensified, and hidden itself behind the thin veil of “democracy” and “freedom” – which means, you can have all the democracy and freedom you want, so long as you vote for the party that we like – the party that will sell its soul to the international business elite, so that your country can be opened up to gang rape by criminal corporations and the truly sociopathic billionaires who control them. And they call that democracy. (See the song by Canadian poet laureate, Bruce Cockburn.) And yes, real democracy and real freedom are worth fighting for. The alternative is a world of exponentially growing horrors. (See also, my own books, Enlightened Democracy, and The People vs The Elite, and my forthcoming book, All Hell Breaks Loose: Global Geopolitics 1945-2045. Freedom and democracy can be won, along with a better world for all, but only if we want it, choose it, and actively build it.)

As Chomsky said of the US, and it also applies to Canada, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Europe, “This is a huckster, business-run society, whose cardinal virtue is deceit.” And it is true. At least in Mexico, India, and many parts of what used to be called the Third World, or the Global South, the problems are much more out in the open, and there are very strong movements to build a better world. Popular movements for democracy, freedom, social justice, environmental stewardship and peace are growing stronger in the North, but the complacency and denial are as thick as oily black smog. Again, I choose to place myself where I feel strongest. That is now in the Global South. The democratic revolutions which are brewing are global, as well as national and local. Choose your ground to fight on well, I say.

As my favourite heart-song says,

“Fight the good fight every moment

Every minute, every day

Fight the good fight every moment

It’s the only way.”

And know this:

El pueblo, unido, jamas seras vencido.

La lucha continua. Y, la revolution no hay terminado!

Vive Zapata!

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Heaven to me is Mexico. Canada and the US have become a fascist cultural wasteland, by comparison, filled with zombie consumers, and virtually lobotomized, hapless, clueless, repressed, paranoid, obedient drones. Why the hell should I stay in such a place, if this is what has become of my beloved country?!

Besides, it is only a four hour plane ride if I want to come home to visit. Time to get the hell out.

And that is not even considering the economic situation. But to recap again:

In the US and Canada, families with incomes of $2,000 a month, or far higher, are struggling to survive, and 90% are sinking. Meanwhile, in Mexico, a family can live extremely well for $2,000 a month – with extra funds for classes, excursions, trips, meals out, night life, etc.

In Mexico, only 1% of the people have an income above $2,000 a month. $2,000 a month makes you wealthy in Mexico. In Canada or the US, you can have a much higher income than $2,000 a month, and still be struggling, if not drowning.

A low budget home in San Francisco, Vancouver or Toronto that is going to be torn down, will cost over $800,000. Even in smaller cities, homes are typically $300,000-$600,000. In Mexico, you can rent a gorgeous two bedroom apartment with a view of the ocean for $500 a month, or buy a home for $20,000 USD.

Most people can’t afford to retire at all in Canada or the US now. In Mexico, they can live well. Younger families can’t afford to live well in Canada or North America anymore, and most are strained or sinking. In Mexico, they can live with a vastly improved quality of life, for the same income. Yes, that means telecommuting or having a pension or an online business – but millions of people are now making that happen.

While the US, Canada, Britain and Europe largely de-industrialized, shipped their factories offshore, and gutted their middle class, Mexico’s economy, industry and middle class have all had explosive growth. And while these same “leading” and “developed” nations abandoned their artisanal crafts and liquidated their local economies, Mexico has retained a flourishing artisanal craft-based economy, along side their growing manufacturing and industrial sector – which was extremely intelligent – and has retained the vibrancy and vitality of local communities. While the US, Canada, Britain and Europe are experiencing a rapid growth of artisanal crafts and local resurgence, they are having to come back from near zero; unlike Mexico, where these extremely valuable things were never lost to begin with. For these two reasons alone – a flourishing manufacturing base, and a flourishing local artisanal craft economy and culture – Mexico is poised to meet the challenges of the 21st century far better than any of these “leading” “developed” nations.

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Between the years of 1500 and 2000, millions of people moved from Europe, and all over the world, to come to the US and Canada. Now that the world has radically changed, since the birth of neoliberal corporate globalization 50 years ago, over the past 30-40 years, and particularly since the crash of 2008, an exodus has begun out of the US and Canada, and lately, out of Britain and Europe as well. That exodus is only going to increase. The brave, the thoughtful, the creative, the adventurous, the free-thinkers, free spirits, rebels and freedom fighters, and the entrepreneurial, are relocating en mass. The brain drain and the cultural drain is now moving out of Canada, the US, Britain and Europe. The best minds and best spirits are leaving. I plan to be among them.

Mexico, like most countries, has big problems – but unlike most countries, it is thriving, and moving in a positive direction. In Canada, the US, Britain and Europe, the billionaires have taken over, and have deeply corrupted the governments and all of the major political parties, while the majority of the people have been virtually lobotomized by Silicon valley and the major media. They are heading into a very dark time indeed.

The Prime Minister of Canada, the less than honourable Justin Bieber Trudeau, the poster child for neoliberalism and smiley-faced corporate oligarchy, was recently asked what country or government he admires. He replied, with a straight face and with nonchalance, that he admired the Communist government of China. This is where we are heading now. Considering that all calls for revolution, resistance and revolt have fallen on deaf ears, it is time for intelligent, thoughtful people to leave.

*

While the populations of the US, Canada, Britain and Europe are aging, Mexico is a youthful country, with a median age of just 27. That youthfulness alone brings vitality, both economically and culturally.

The people of the US, Canada, Britain and Europe were force-fed austerity measures for the 99%, while the 1% received trillions of dollars in subsidies, bailouts and “stimulus” packages that benefitted the big corporations and the richest few, and while the US, Canada and Britain let their infrastructures go to rot and decay, and while these same formerly wealthy nations slashed their spending on health care, pensions and education, Mexico, meanwhile, is training 110,000 engineers and technologists a year, and has heavily invested in health, education and infrastructure.

Mexico is now a world leader in aerospace manufacturing and design, auto manufacturing, electronics, software, entertainment and agricultural exports; and its economy continues to boom, while the “leading” industrialized – or formerly industrialized – nations of the world, continue to stagnate and decline.

Detroit and Oshawa used to be the major manufacturing centres of the US and Canada. Now they are in mothballs. The auto industry of the US and Canada is now in Mexico. That was a deeply unwise move on the part of US and Canadian politicians (to sign NAFTA), but in more honest terms, it was simply a sell-out: it was corruption. Our politicians sold their souls to their corporate benefactors and masters. This is sad news for Americans and Canadians. But the other side of the reality is that Mexico is now a manufacturing powerhouse.

In Canada and the US, there is now heavy competition for part-time, minimum wage McJobs, as a Stabucks or Tim Horton’s coffee and donut slinger, a burger flipper or a Walmart greeter. In Mexico, the middle class has seen explosive growth, and is still growing, not disappearing into the underclass, as it is in El Norte.

Immigrants continue to stream into the US from the south, but it is poor immigrants from Central America, not Mexico, who are coming. For decades, large numbers of Mexican people came north to the US for better opportunities economically. But now that has changed, and reversed. Mexicans are coming home to Mexico, and are leaving the US for their homeland – the better opportunities are now south of the border. And, millions of Americans and Canadians are following them south, because Mexico is now quite simply a better place to live.

When I was last in Mexico, which, sadly, was an incredibly long two years ago, I came across a t-shirt outside a beautiful little cafe, and the caption read, “Relax, you’re on the fun side of Trump’s wall”. I thought it was hilarious, and also true. But that doesn’t convey even a sliver of the reality. Mexico today is simply a far better country to live in, than either Canada or the United States.

Mexico in the past was called a failed state. That was unfair and inaccurate then, and it is definitely inaccurate now. The US is a failed state, and Canada, Britain and Europe are following in the same path. That is the reality in the present.

Mexico had three decades of corrupt governments. That changed with the recent democratic election of President Obrador, who has not only promised to drain the swamp, but is actually doing it. (Editorial note: My recent discoveries about the new Mexican government put that in question, but at worst, the Mexican government is no more corrupt than the Unites States government – which is a low standard to beat.) The corruption in government and big business in the US, Canada, Britain and Europe is extreme and systemic, and there is no indication that these failed or failing states are going anywhere but further and deeper into corruption and corporate rule.

Mexico’s new president, Lopez Obrador, by the way, and the broad-based movement which supports him and put him in power with aclandslide victory, has demolished the two formerly dominant political parties of Mexico, the PRI and the PAN, both of which are deeply corrupt. His only strong opposition is from a sector of the Mexican business elite, and of course from the multi-national corporations, who always seek to devour and control every nation and every government. They present a major challenge to any positive change, but Obrador seems to be navigating the dangerous waters very well. The one weakness of his government is that he must do much more to genuinely include the indigenous peoples in shared power and decision-making. I am not one to dismiss or denigrate him for that weakness, but it nevertheless must be overcome. On the whole, however, he is truly moving Mexico in a more just, democratic, and prosperous direction, and that should be celebrated, not condemned.

Mexico today is like the US or Canada were in the 1960’s: prosperous, economically robust, thriving, culturally rich, democratic and free – except that Mexico does not have anywhere near the same level of racism that has plagued the US, or even Canada, Britain or Europe. Where do I want to be? There is absolutely no question. I choose to be in Mexico.

Plastic people, in a plastic, consumer-driven, deeply alienated and indoctrinated, corporate fascist culture, goodbye. Hello Mexico! And, Vive Mexico!

*

As another aside, where would I like to live in Mexico? Well, the beaches are gorgeous, and the tourist-heavy areas are wonderful places, despite being overrun with tourists. But I prefer to be off the beaten track, outside of the cities, towns and beach resorts, immersed in Mexican culture, and living a quiet country life, getting to know the Mexican people better. But to each his own. To me, the cocktail demographic is not my interest, nor are the tourist havens. Give me Mexico raw and real and vivid. That’s what I love the most. And I hope to give more than I take, and I certainly plan to.

The high desert and the mountains call me, and lead me south. Give me Edward Abby, Mexico and Thoreau. There are my kin.

*

Why is Mexico such an amazing and wonderful country to visit or to live in? There are many reasons, and climate is only one of them. The beauty and diversity of the land is another. But what makes Mexican culture so attractive, aside from the glorious landscapes, the beaches and the climate?

I would say, and I am not Mexican, nor have I lived, yet, in Mexico, that in three decades of intensive global geopolitical, political-economic, sociological, cultural, philosophical and spiritual studies, research, reflection and meditation, that there are several major factors which make Mexico exceptionally rich, vibrant and strong in terms of its culture.

1. Maybe the first and biggest reason why Mexico is such a wonderful place to visit or to live, is that it is less “developed”, in all the negative senses of that word, than the North. Mexico is a manufacturing powerhouse, and the primary manufacturing centre for all of North America, but Mexico has not allowed industrialization or corporate capitalism to thoroughly dominate the country, the culture, or the people.

A) Mexico has been far less overtaken by global corporate powers than in the North, which is now, in essence, a single empire of corporate oligarchy, moving swiftly into corporate fascism. That alone is a world of difference.

There are oligarchs and trans-national corporations in Mexico, of course, but the people of Mexico have not allowed them to thoroughly dominate them, the culture or the nation to the extent of what has happened in the North, where near total subjugation by the corporate oligarchy is the pervasive norm.

In other words, freedom, democracy, and cultural diversity, have not been obliterated as they have in the North. I realize the North is also diverse, but in reality, the cultures in the North are primarily consumer cultures, and are heavily corporatized. The diversity is less real than is perceived, because consumerism and corporatization have taken over, pervasively, sadly, and tragically. And consumer-corporate culture is the death of culture. Mexico, meanwhile, is very much culturally alive, vibrant and strong.

In Mexico, people warmly and cheerfully say, “Good morning”, or “Good afternoon”, or “Good evening”, and they greet people with warmth, friendliness, responsiveness, and with presence of mind. In the North, people stare into their phones, like zombie addicts, or walk with eyes cast down, or stare straight ahead, afraid that anyone might want to make eye contact, or, heaven forbid, to talk with them. The paranoia and alienation in the North is so extreme, by comparison to Mexico and Latin America, that it seems like a different planet – a dark and dismal, sad and lonely planet. Mexican people have retained their sanity. In the North, you have to look hard to find that basic sanity, and it is disappearing fast. I cannot find adequately strong words to describe the difference. It is the difference between life, and living death. For myself, I choose life.

B) Mexico has done a far better job, although far from perfect, of blending and wedding industrialized cities and urbanization, with rural life, local communities, spiritual life, the arts, history, heritage and tradition, peasant life and culture, indigenous cultures and peoples, and artisanal culture and grassroots economics, than in the North, where all of these things were decimated and largely wiped out. I am painting with broad strokes, but if you cannot make generalizations, then you cannot see the big picture, and if you cannot see the big picture, then you have no perspective whatsoever, and are completely lost.

2. Closely related, Mexico has preserved, in practice and not just in rhetoric, its deep valuing of spirituality, history, tradition, the arts, creativity, indigenous culture (yes, there are major problems, but they have done infinitely better than the US or Canada!), artisanal culture, cultural diversity, local culture, local economics and local life, close ties to the land and to nature, nature preservation, and cultural preservation and heritage, to a far greater extent than in the US, Canada, Britain or Europe, where all of these things, to a great extent, have been steam-rolled by corporate-industrial consumerism, and a very distorted and generally perverse notion of “progress”.

3. Indigenous peoples and indigenous cultures have remained strong, and were not exterminated or buried as they were in the US or Canada. Indigenous movements in the US, Canada and around the world are resurging, healing, and rising in power, thankfully, but they are coming back from near annihilation. In Mexico, the crushing of indigenous culture was far less complete, and the strength of indigenous cultures in Mexico has brought an extremely important grounding to the entire society, which is by and large absent in the North. The North is untethered – from the land, from nature, from history, from its own spiritual, artistic, intellectual and historical treasures – and from reality itself. Mexico never became divorced from reality, or the land, or history, or its cultural, artistic, intellectual or spiritual riches, and therefore Mexico thrives, while the North declines ever more rapidly into social, economic and ecological collapse.

4. Mexico retains a huge peasant population and peasant culture. That is abhorrent to the fans of corporate capitalist industrialization and consumer culture, and to the ideologues of a very narrow and short-sighted ideology of “progress”, but, while a much greater voice needs to be given to the peasants of the world, and a much fairer and more just distribution of wealth and power both must be accomplished, it remains a fact that: A) peasant culture and peasant farmers, along with the indigenous peoples of the world, are the people who are going to save the planet from ourselves, and lead the way toward a more truly sustainable society (as Vandana Shiva, Helena Norberg-Hodge and others have argued very compellingly); and B), As corporate industrial civilization (sic) slowly collapses, it will be local peasant cultures, indigenous peoples, and artisanal culture, which will be the new life-blood of the economy, and the safety net for us all, as the corporate-industrial infrastructure begins to fray, crack, and finally collapse; and C) Peasant culture keeps the people of Mexico, and the culture of Mexico, as in many other nations of the Global South, i) connected to the land, and ii) connected to local economics and local communities – and that makes Mexico, like most of Latin America, Africa and Asia, far more robust, resilient, and connected to the land and to nature, and thus to reality, than the North, which is deeply alienated from nature and the land, and deeply dissociated from reality.

5. Mexico has not gone remotely as deeply into the disease of materialism as have the “leading” nations of the “developed” North. Thoreau was right, when he indicated in Walden, and vividly and compellingly argued, in what is still to this day the single best and most important critique of the modern world (which every thinking person should read), that the disease of the modern world is materialism. I am not arguing for a romantic primitivism, but merely a regaining of our basic sanity.

Modern society has frankly gone insane. It has become deeply alienated, in terms of a deep and pervasive alienation from one another, from our own labour and creative powers, from nature, and from our deeper selves – which means, we have become deeply alienated and dissociated from reality, as well as alienated and estranged from our joy, our wisdom, our hearts, our conscience, our creativity and our power. And while the disease of materialism has now spread globally, it is also true that this cancer, this spiritual disease, this mental illness, or sleeping sickness of the soul, is most advanced and most gruesomely, terrifyingly, horrifically self-evident, and everywhere on vivid display, in the North.

Unlike the countries of El Norte, Mexico has not sacrificed its soul on the alter of mammon. And that, has made a world of difference.

6. In Mexico, people face death as a reality, and make peace with it. In the North, at least in the West, there is a culture of denial about death, which results in an unconscious terror of death, which in turn results in a deep fear and mistrust of life. This is a profound cultural difference. Any person or culture who cannot face death and come to terms with it, will live in perpetual fear; and a life or a culture steeped in fear will be a deeply neurotic and control-obsessed one. Until the North and the West face death and deal with it with greater sanity, there can be no peace, either inwardly, or outwardly, in the society.

7. Mexico has a history of revolution – and not just one revolution, but a series of revolutions. That has given Mexico, and the Mexican people, a spirit of freedom that has teeth, and real depth. In the North, lip service is paid to the values of freedom and democracy. In Mexico, these values are practiced, and vigourously defended.

First, the Spanish empire was defeated in a revolutionary war of independence in Mexico. Then the invading US forces were stopped (after the US stole half of Mexico, sadly). Then the French empire was defeated. Then the German empire was defeated. Then a dictator was defeated, during the Mexican revolution, and there was a re-instatement of constitutional democracy and freedom. And finally, the authoritarians were swept from government by a landslide vote in the recent Mexican elections – a reminder that the spirit of freedom is still alive in Mexico today.

During a time in human history when we face the unprecedented horror of a global corporate fascist coup, which the brainless Left of the North has failed to even recognize is happening, I would feel far safer in Mexico, with its passionate spirit of freedom, than anywhere else in the world.

For a combination of reasons, the Mexican people have been able to embrace industrialization and urbanization, without losing their souls or their minds, without losing the connectedness which enables them to retain their spirit, their warmth, their vitality, and their basic sanity.

That single fact, that in Mexico, as with most of the Global South, especially in the rural areas, the people have not succumbed so thoroughly to the scourge of materialism, has left Mexico’s spirit, vitality, richness, and sanity, intact.

In the North, people are working desperately hard to regain these things, but again, we are coming back from a very low and dismal state. In Mexico, the Renaissance never ended. In the North, it is in its infancy, and has only just begun.

All of that makes Mexico culturally rich, vibrant, robust, resilient, and strong, as well as humble, open, welcoming, friendly, relaxed, hospitable, and warm. In short, Mexico is in a very good place for facing the very great challenges of the 21st century, while the North, is utterly not. The corporate-ruled North is hanging on the edge of a crumbling cliff edge, and seems determined to go fascist, foolishly, while it drives itself past the precipice, into the yawning abyss. Guess where I’d rather be for the decades ahead.

*

While the political “leaders” of the US, Canada, Britain and Europe have given trillions of dollars in subsidies, bailouts and “stimulus” handouts to giant corporations and the billionaire class who own and control them, and have aided and abetted the mass rape and pillage of the formerly wealthiest nations, along with the looting and disembowelment of the middle class by the same wealthiest 1%; Mexico’s new president, Lopez Obrador, has refused to sell off the publicly owned national oil industry, has refused to crumble under pressure from Big Oil and big international banks, and has doubled the minimum wage. Obrador would appear to be the new FDR. His policy platform is centred around building infrastructure, health, education, economic vitality and independence, and helping the people, within a framework of constitutional democracy. He was democratically elected in a landslide victory, overthrowing three decades of corrupt and authoritarian neoliberal governments, and is hugely supported by the people. But back in El Norte, we still have criminals in high places, posing as leaders. Who is the banana republic now? It is us.

There was election meddling and election fraud in the 2018 Mexican election, but it wasn’t in favour of Obrador – it was run by Cambridge Analytica, the same Big Tech billionaire-controlled group that helped put Trump in the Whitehouse, and in Mexico, they wanted the deeply corrupt, US-backed political parties of PAN or PRI to win. But democracy and the people won anyway.

As to immigration, how many people understand why Hondurans are fleeing to the US in desperation? It is not because the US is a beacon of freedom, prosperity or opportunity anymore, although that image persists. It is because the US destroyed the country of Honduras with its Washington-backed coup, which, by the way, Slithery Hillary Clinton had her blood-drenched hands all over. This is why desperate people are coming to the US – because the US is in the business of destroying nations around the world for the sake of corporate profits. That is why global polls routinely show that 80% of the world’s people view the US as the most dangerous nation on Earth.

The US, Canada, Britain and Europe, Australia and New Zealand, used to be places that embodied freedom and democracy, at least to some meaningful degree; now, they are becoming very much like the Soviet Union, and are imitating totalitarian Communist China. Meanwhile, Mexico has become a beacon of freedom and democracy, prosperity and opportunity. Where do you want to be for the coming decades ahead? My choice is clear.

JTR,
May 1, 2021

Getting Comfortable With Uncertainty

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

People everywhere are the same – people are people. We have far more in common than we have differences between us. And all the differences, or at least the great majority, are on the surface only. That being said, we do have some significant differences in psychology, views, values and habits, even though the underlying condition and psychology of being human is more universal than we tend to imagine.

In terms of dealing with uncertainty, for example, some people have a dread aversion to it, and at the other extreme on the scale, some people thrive on a constant stream of new experiences, new perspectives, new ways of looking at the world, and new ideas. I lean toward the latter, but I too can be nervous about new experiences, even if it is something I strongly want to do. Most people are somewhere in the middle of that scale, between extreme security-consciousness, which means extreme fear, and wanting everything at all times being under control, or at least the illusion of control, and at the other extreme of the spectrum, people who actively seek out new life experiences, new adventures, new ideas, new ways of looking at the world, or new ways of living and being.

Anarchists, artists, creatives, bohemians, free thinkers, all great scientists, thinkers, philosophers and scholars, and all rebels and free spirits, are at or near one end of the scale, between fear-based clinging to an imaginary order and illusory certainty and control, and at the other end of the scale, those who value innovation, creativity, spontaneity, naturalness, positive change, or freedom. Fascists, fundamentalists, ideologues and control freaks, along with mousey conformists and obsessive rule-followers, are at the other extreme.

Fundamentalists, fascists, technocrats, bureaucrats, engineers, ideologues, partisan zealots, oligarchs, perfectionists and control freaks cling desperately to an illusion of control, and an illusion of certainty, at all times. They tend to drive themselves and others crazy, but this is their habit. Most people are not so extreme, but most people hesitate before uncertainty, new ideas, new perspectives, new or different ways of living or doing things, or new life experiences.

The fascists, the fundamentalists and the ideologues are hard to reach. Their minds are locked in stone. It is not to that insane clown posse that I speak, but to the other 80% of the people who are a little more sane.

Uncertainty causes anxiety in most people, although you can look at uncertainty as being a mystery and an adventure, and turn your anxiety into excitement, and joy. But in any case, in reality, it is not uncertainty that causes anxiety: it is attachment that causes anxiety. Cut your attachments, and be free of anxiety. Simplify, simplify, as Thoreau said. And do read Walden, or read it again. Get comfortable with uncertainty. Everything is impermanent, fleeting, transitory. Life is always uncertain and unpredictable: it is only illusion that makes us think that anything in life is certain. Only death is certain. Everything else is uncertain. When we get comfortable with the fact that life is unpredictable, then anxiety is replaced by tranquility, peace and joy. Then only, does life open up to reveal its magnificence and splendour. Then only, do we begin to truly live.

JTR,

April 26, 2021

Yuval Harari: Bleak Is Back!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on April 22, 2021 by jtoddring

Yuval Harari is a shallow thinking dogmatic materialist who swallows whole and uncritically the dominant pseudo-scientific paradigm of mechanistic materialist dualism, which of course is an extremely bleak view of the world, and he is also steeped in an equally uncritical post-modernist nihilism; and he tries to wed that sordid mess to Buddhism. But he represents bad Buddhism. If you want to understand Buddhist philosophy, read Allan Wallace, Ken Wilber, Alan Watts, Joanna Macy, Chogyam Trungpa or the Dalai Lama. If you want to misunderstand Buddhism, read Yuval Harari.

JTR,

April 22, 2021

On Cynicism

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

John Lennon was a millionaire, though he talked about having no possessions; Thomas Jefferson had slaves; and Martin Luther King Jr. was a philanderer, true enough, but I think it is a bad idea to mock and attack people who are doing, or have done, generally very positive, important things to improve human life. We are already a culture drowning in cynicism, which perpetuates the pandemic illusions of powerlessness, which results in apathy, which guarantees that we cannot solve any of the problems we are facing in society – when the reality is, we have everything we need, including the power, to make very positive changes, and immediately, if only we could free ourselves from this dreadful and paralyzing plague of cynicism. Mock and censure the powerful when they are abusing their power, or are simply grossly incompetent. Do not mock or attack good people who are trying to do good things in the world, would be my strong view of the matter. It is important that we talk openly and frankly about the world we live in, but we would be wise to sow inspiration as well. The people need hope, inspiration and empowerment, not the further sowing of illusions of powerlessness and despair, which leads only to the most bleak of outcomes becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Yes, I am an optimist. I have a deep faith and confidence in humanity, and in nature and the Cosmos (though I refuse to quibble about names and terminology). That does not mean I fail to see the fact that most people, including most intellectuals, have effectively shut their brains off. And that is all the more proof that we need to inspire them.

People switch into denial, dissociation, numbness and apathetic stupor, out of a hidden and generally unconscious or suppressed sense of hopelessness, powerlessness and despair. Thoreau was right: “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Therefore, inspire them we must. That is, in fact, what is most critical.

“The ideal is to create a completely fragmented atomized society where everybody is totally alone, doing nothing but trying to pursue created wants, and the wants are created.” — Noam Chomsky

If we care about others, the Earth, other living beings, our families, our communities, our nations or ourselves, then we must overcome cynicism, and build a better world for all, one step at a time, however quickly we can, or however slowly we must. But to overcome cynicism, and the apathy and despair it creates, we must begin to overcome the profound alienation of modern society. The people must reconnect with themselves, with nature, and with one another. Unite the people, and everything becomes possible. Unite the people, and the people will find their courage, their inspiration, and their power. This is the key.

JTR,
April 18, 2021

Conspiracy Theory

Posted in Uncategorized on April 18, 2021 by jtoddring

Anyone with a functioning brain should immediately stop using the term conspiracy theory. It only shuts down debate and precludes intelligent, critical thought.

There are facts, based in evidence, and there are perceived facts that are contradicted by evidence. There are various theories and views, and the intelligent and democratic response is to give them free space for open discussion. Some theories are baseless or even crazy, some are partially or wholly correct, but you don’t decide in advance which is which. You look at them and weigh the evidence. You either do that, or you support group-think, mass conformity, unthinking obedience to authority, fascism and witch hunts.

What you definitely do not want to do is to give the government, or the big corporations and the billionaires who control them, the right to decide for you what you can see, watch, read, hear, say or think, or to decide for you what are facts and what are not, and what views you can be exposed to or say, and which ones you cannot. How that is not painfully obvious, I do not know.

JTR,

April 18, 2021

Freedom of Speech: What Is To Be Done?

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

What is to be done about the issue of freedom of speech, and the current, deeply ominous trend of the closing down of Western society, and the inevitably linked rise of authoritarianism?

The first thing to be done is to remind the people that there are, as Chomsky has said, only two positions on freedom of speech: you’re either in favour of freedom of speech, or you prefer a fascist/Stalinist approach to human society. It is that stark. If you think that you can censor free speech, and not drive us into an authoritarian society, which always ends in the darkest of ways, then you are living in a dream world.

The problem is, the liberals and the left – who in reality are now on the extreme right, though they do not realize it, they are so swept up by their messianic fervour – are, in general, vehemently cheering for and demanding censorship. It may take some time, maybe years, maybe decades, until the dark implications of that choice become clear to people, and they realize that that was an extremely bad, and an extremely dangerous choice to make.

That is the first challenge to be overcome, and we may not be able to reverse this dark trend in the short term. Remember that it took the Russian people 70 years to realize that they did not want totalitarianism. But that is the direction we are now moving in, and with great and increasing speed. That is a terrifying prospect, and anyone of sound mind and good sense, whether you are on the left, as I am, or on the right, should be duly terrified of where we are heading, and heading fast.

The Western world has adopted an ideological stance of authoritarianism. That will not end well. Moreover, the thinking people may have to make a temporary strategic retreat, as Sun Tzu advised is sometimes necessary, in order to win the longer battle. The trouble is, the authoritarianism is now global. There are very few places to go. Sea-steading and off-grid, remote living are looking increasingly attractive to millions of thoughtful, intelligent, far-sighted people. Remaining in a country that has been taken over by corporate fascists is not something that I, personally, am willing to do. Unless the people soon wake up to the very real and present danger, which is now no longer a threat, but a reality, that we now live under a corporate police state, and decide to resist and overturn it, then I, for one, must plan to leave.

Leaving the corporate fascist heartland does not mean giving up the fight. It means putting yourself on stronger ground, and lessening the chances that you will be silenced or otherwise neutralized. That is simply an intelligent thing to do, as Sun Tzu also made clear. (Read the Art of War, Shambhala edition preferably, which is not really about war primarily, but is the unrivalled text on masterful or intelligent strategy.) Remember that we now have a global internet and a global communications system. (And do read my article, Flash-Drive Revolution, as well.) You can be politically active from almost anywhere now. You can be on a sailboat off the coast of Tahiti, which sounds quite attractive to me, and have satellite internet and a full-on activist engagement, from a mobile base in a tropical paradise, for example.

Edward Snowden is now in Russia. Does that mean he has gone silent and given up the fight? No, he is more prominent and more active than ever. He simply chose to place himself on stronger ground. The alternative is that we remain in an increasingly dangerous place, and become silent, which is ethically intolerable, or else we risk being silenced, as happened with Julian Assange. I feel deeply for Julian Assange, who is a true hero of freedom of speech and the public’s right to know about the crimes of the powerful, but is that where we want to end up? Silenced and neutralized, by one means or another? Do not underestimate where this is going. For people who are committed to working for a better world, the options are narrowing rapidly to the Snowden option, which is to leave and continue the fight, or the Assange option, where you stay where you are, and are increasingly silenced and neutralized. I’d rather put myself on stronger ground, so that I know, with reasonable confidence, that I can continue to fight for a better world for all.

There is now a growing exodus out of the US and Canada, for many reasons, and this will only grow exponentially. Sometimes it is economic motivation, sometimes cultural, sometimes political, but it is big, and it is growing. Thoughtful, highly aware, highly intelligent, principled people, such as Meghan Murphy, Morris Berman, and the host of the excellent Geopolitics & Empire podcast, who is so modest he refuses to ever tell his audience his name, oddly, have moved to Mexico. Mexico has many big problems, but it is now a better place to be than either the US or Canada. That is a simple fact. If you stay away from the border areas, just as you would stay away from certain cities and neighbourhoods in the US, then life in Mexico is peaceful, safe, and far more free, far more vibrant, and far more sane, than either the US or my home country of Canada are now. Mexico, Tahiti and Russia would be my top three picks. Staying in a fascist police state is simply not an option that I am willing to accept – especially for the sake of my children.

Ironically, Russia, which was totalitarian, has, for the past 30 years, rejected authoritarianism. Russia has a lot of problems, but it is now more free and more democratic than the West. Some people will be shocked and unwilling to believe it, but it is nevertheless true. (And anyone who bought into the Russiagate narrative needs to have their head read, by the way.) Another place that is resisting authoritarianism is Mexico, under the new president, Obrador, who is a centre-left, small-d democrat, very similar to FDR. The places you definitely do not want to be, if you value freedom, constitutional rule and human rights, and you do not want to live in a police state, are the US, Canada, Britain, Australia, New Zealand or Europe, along with China, of course. With a few obvious exceptions, almost anywhere in the world is better than these countries, which are the heart of the global corporate fascist empire.

Remember that in the 1960s there was what Chomsky called an outbreak of democracy. The Western elite got frightened, and set about to reverse that trend, and intensified their long established war on democracy. (See Noam Chomsky, The Crisis of Democracy) By 2019, protests were occurring around the world – the problem of democracy had not gone away, but had gotten worse. The new global corporate empire got scared, terrified, in fact, that a wave of global protests, and a deep and growing crisis of legitimacy, could remove them from power. They responded with fascism, in order to secure and consolidate their power, before losing it all. That is something that was unfolding at least since the late 1960s, and only the deeply unaware could fail to see it coming. I warned about it myself for the past 30 years. Now it is here, and the great majority of the people still are unable to see it for what it is.

If it walks like a duck, sounds like a duck, and looks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. Why do the majority have a hard time seeing what is staring them in the face? (Never underestimate the power of denial.) Fascism in essence means the merger of big business and the state: it is a power-grab – and that is exactly what has happened.

Why is this in the slightest degree difficult to understand? And where do you not want to be, unless you have a strong resistance movement to back you up? Well, you clearly do not want to be in the regions of the world that the new pharaohs, the new Tzars, the global neo-fascist plutocrats, consider to be their heartland. Those are the areas I delineated clearly, and those are the areas to leave – unless we can build a meaningful resistance movement, and very fast.

Another option is secession. There are states in the US in which the majority of the people realize that the violation of fundamental human rights and constitutional freedoms is not something to be taken lightly, but in fact, something to be vigorously resisted. Some people may think that a break up of the United States, for example, is impossible. But they should remember that in 1775, democratic revolution was viewed as both impossible and undesirable – until in 1776 Thomas Paine wrote a slim little book, called Common Sense, and in the same year, only months later, the Declaration of Independence was drafted and signed, and the American Revolution was launched. Things are impossible only until someone shows that they are not.

In the longer term, the answer to the free speech issue is simple. Firstly, you decide that we either have freedom of speech, or we have a police state, and we firmly and categorically reject the option of living under a police state. Then you realize that in most (formerly) democratic nations, there are constitutions, which are the fundamental law of the land, which protect basic human rights and freedoms, including the freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of thought, religion and belief, freedom of travel and mobility, freedom of medical choice, and freedom of expression and speech. That means, once the problem is understood, we simply enforce the law. It means we simply prosecute governments and corporations for violating the constitutionally protected basic human right to freedom of speech. And you say to the major media, and more importantly, to the big tech companies, that either you cease and desist, and immediately stop censoring free speech, or we will revoke your corporate charter, seize your assets (to form networks of democratically controlled, locally-owned co-ops, for example) and dissolve your company.

You either get clear on the absolutely fundamental importance of freedom of speech, and then vigorously defend it, by the upholding of constitutional law, or else you accept that we now live in a Stalinist or fascist society. Few things in life are cut and dried, either/or scenarios. This is one of them. To imagine a third option, is simply and profoundly delusional.

J. Todd Ring,
April 18, 2021

The Madness of Nietzsche

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

Nietzsche was either terribly misinterpreted, as my dearly departed scholar brother was adamant to say, or he was simply mad his entire life, and his philosophy was a philosophy of madness. But it ultimately matters little, other than to historians and biographers, which one is the case, because the philosophy that we associate with Nietzsche, be it Nietzsche’s real philosophy or a gross and systemic mistranslation and misrepresentation of it, is nevertheless the philosophy that has influenced the modern world from the early 20th century on.

On those grounds, what we are critiquing here is the philosophical and cultural influence of Nietzsche’s writings, be they accurate or misrepresented, and not Nietzsche’s intentions, which ultimately matter very little, if they are knowable at all.

We know what has been almost universally portrayed as Nietzsche’s philosophy, and it is that portrayal, be it accurate or inaccurate, which has shaped the past century in profound ways. Maybe Nietzsche can be rescued from the Nietzscheans, just as Jesus must be rescued from the Christians, or science must be rescued from the practitioners of scientism; but I seriously doubt that any philosopher can be so radically mistranslated as to utterly invert one philosophy and turn it into its opposite. Therefore, I must conclude, although it is, as I explained, a minor point, that not only is Nietzschean philosophy insane, but so too was its author.

Why is Nietzsche’s philosophy insane? Well, I read four of his major books, and he was perfectly vivid and explicit, and utterly unambiguous in his views – and I do not see how it is conceivable that anyone could be so radically misinterpreted as my friend proclaimed Nietzsche to be. It would be like saying that Ptolemy was misinterpreted, and he really meant that the sun is the centre of our solar system, and not that the cosmos revolved around the Earth. It’s pretty hard to misinterpret anyone in such a radical manner. I would say the same with regard to Nietzsche. But let’s look at Nietzsche’s core points of philosophy, as it appears in standard translations, prior to Kauffman, since it would seem that is the philosophy that has been delivered to the masses, and hence, the philosophy to be critiqued.

Nietzsche wrote, with great vividness and explicit clarity, the following points of philosophy. I will leave it to the reader to decide if these points could be so fundamentally misinterpreted as to translate them into their opposites, or whether that is even relevant at all, since it is the influence of Nietzsche’s writings which matters, and not the author’s possible hidden intentions; and secondly, whether the universally portrayed philosophy of Nietzsche’s books, which is what matters, is simply a form of madness. I would say my view has been made clear, and it is the view of many scholars of philosophy, and not just my own, for whatever that is worth.

  1. Nietzsche glorified war.
  2. Nietzsche was rabidly elitist and despised democracy.
  3. Nietzsche glorified empire and conquest.
  4. Nietzsche was rabidly and openly, vehemently sexist, if not misogynist.
  5. Nietzsche was rabidly anti-religious.
  6. Nietzsche praised self-indulgence and hedonism.
  7. Nietzsche praised, not only a health self-respect – as Emerson, whom he was deeply impressed by and influenced by, and to whom Nietzsche, I would say, added absolutely nothing of value, but only layered over with deep and systemic confusion and delusion – but further, praised self-adoration, vanity and egotism.
  8. Nietzsche praised and promoted the vicious and ruthless predation, conquest and domination of the common people, whom he despised, by the powerful few.
  9. Nietzsche viewed morality, and above all compassion, as the root of all human problems, and something to be eradicated.
  10. Nietzsche viewed all values as being social constructs, or human creations – and that is the very definition of nihilism. After all, if all human values are simply human creations, then all values are equally valid: this is moral relativism, and it is nihilism – it means that Hitler and the Nazis had their own value system, and who are we to judge? Their values are every bit as legitimate as the values of Jesus, the Buddha or Martin Luther King Jr. That is moral relativism, and that is nihilism, and yes, it is a profoundly delusional and profoundly toxic philosophy or world view. Which is why phenomenology, existentialism and post-modernism are all vastly over-hyped toxic garbage heaps of polysyllabic psycho-babble – because they are all based in nihilism, following on the disastrous example and terribly misleading and delusional views of Nietzsche.

In short, Nietzschean philosophy, as it has shaped a century of the modern world, is starkly materialistic, hedonistic, egotistical, elitist, imperialist, misogynist, militaristic, nihilistic – despite the fact that he warned against nihilism, which he nonetheless fell victim to – and narcissistic. His work in sum promoted, in effect, if not in intention, nihilism, fascism, hedonism and narcissism. The results were predictable.

Nihilism is a dangerous delusion, so too is the imagined separation of human beings from the realities of being. If we think there is nothing above us, then nothing is beneath us. We are immersed in nature and are inseparable from nature. If we think we are self-made, god-like beings, we are in deep trouble.

*

I’m not sure how anyone could mistranslate any writing in such an extreme form as to turn a lover of democracy into a hatred of democracy; or a love of compassion, and the morality based in compassion, into a hatred of morality and compassion – for example. It seems impossible to me. But again, that is irrelevant. This depiction of ten key points of Nietzsche’s philosophy, as it has been delivered to the world, and as it has influenced and shaped late-modern industrial society, is what matters. And the question is, is this philosophy sensible, sound, useful or ennobling to humanity, or is it simply insane? I think the answer, to anyone who is not a sociopath, is pretty clear.

Nietzsche spent his whole life railing against compassion, as his most central argument and thesis, and then, late in life, he saw a horse that had collapsed in the street, after having been driven to exhaustion by a pitiless and cruel master, and he fell down upon the horse with his arms around the horse’s neck, and had a psychotic break, never to return to sanity again. I think it is reasonable to conclude, as other philosophers have concluded, that in that moment, Nietzsche realized that his whole life’s work had been based on a delusion, that what he was attacking – compassion – was what mattered most of all, and he could not handle the sudden realization, and went, suddenly and completely, finally, totally insane.

I would argue, however, that anyone who can venerate the predation of the powerful upon the powerless, or the less powerful, and anyone who could excoriate compassion as the root of all evil, was insane his whole life, and not just at the end of it. At the end, he realized he had been delusional his entire life, and that was the final break; but the madness began long before, decades before, for some unknown reason (certainly something beyond syphilis, though that may have contributed to it). To me it seems clear, though again, it matters not, that Nietzsche, and not only the philosophy we have been handed which was ascribed to Nietzsche, was completely insane from an early date. But whether one agrees with that or not, the fact remains undisputable, that the philosophy that the world was handed, and which heavily shaped the minds of generations of people for the past hundred years, which was ascribed, rightly or wrongly, to Nietzsche, was madness incarnate.

Love and compassion are not only virtuous, but also a matter of enlightened self-interest. The nature of being and reality is interdependence. That means that we are all connected, and it means that an injury to one truly is an injury to all. It means, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, that no man is an island. Jesus, the Buddha, Spinoza, Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Kant were right: treat others as you would have them treat you – not only because it is the virtuous thing to do, but also, because it is the intelligent thing to do. No man is an island. And Nietzsche, or at least the philosophy ascribed to Nietzsche, which has sadly and deeply influenced the past century of the modern world, was, therefore, utterly mad.

*

Ideas stand or fall on their own merit. The messenger is irrelevant. Biographies may be interesting, and they may shed light on the generation of ideas, the lineage of ideas, but biographies are ultimately and utterly irrelevant to philosophy. Either the philosophy is sound, sensible and useful, or it is not. No biographical information or detail has any slightest bearing upon that question. Whoever Nietzsche truly was, and whatever he may or may not have personally, secretly believed, matters nothing to the question which is the overwhelmingly central one: was the philosophy ascribed to Nietzsche, and which deeply influenced the past 100 years, sound and sensible, or delusional and insane? That question, the important question, and not the biographical question, which is by comparison trivial, I believe has been irrefutably and clearly answered.

Nietzsche is dead. It is time now to bury his philosophy along with him.

Travel well, and thanks for all the fish.

Goodbye, sad, lost friend. While we may sympathize with your tragedy, we cannot abide by your legacy of madness any longer, but must be done with it, for once, and for all.

*

Marx was famously said to have turned Hegel on his head. He was first deeply influenced by Hegel, and then took Hegel’s philosophy, and turned one element of it upside down. Hegel said that spirit is the driver of history, and guides history toward an ever-expanding upward arc. Marx took Hegel’s determinism, and turned it into a materialist determinism. In that sense, Marx is worse than Hegel; and Marx, in his materialism and his determinism both, was simply wrong.

Hegel was an elitist, a statist, and an authoritarian, and therefore should be rejected, or at least those major elements of his philosophy should be rejected. Marx accepted Hegel’s elitism, and thus was both a crypto-authoritarian, as well as a statist. For that, Marx should be rejected. Both Hegel and Marx had useful things to say, but we cannot take either philosophy uncritically, as a whole.

Similarly, Nietzsche was deeply influenced by Emerson, but Nietzsche, unlike Marx in relation to Hegel, adding nothing useful to Emerson’s philosophy, but merely corrupted and confused it. Nietzsche, therefore, should be rejected, for this reason, and for the reasons I have made clear above.

Some people, surprisingly from the left, have recently made scathingly dismissive critiques of Emerson. I think that is both foolish as well as ungenerous. Emerson has a tremendous amount to offer us. Whether he made serious mistakes is not the question to be asked – almost everyone does. What matters is if we can glean anything useful from Emerson. I would say the answer is a decided and emphatic, definite yes.

We can say there are useful elements to Hegel’s philosophy, and to Marx’s philosophy, and to Nietzsche’s philosophy, but the errors are so grave and so profound that I think it would be insane to adopt the philosophies of the three, even though it may be and is useful to study them all. With Emerson, all of his most famous and influential writings I have read, and I can see no major or grave error in them. That puts Emerson on an entirely different, and vastly superior plane, compared with Hegel, Marx or Nietzsche.

Thoreau criticized Emerson, who was his friend and mentor, and criticized his infatuation with his “choo-choo”, as Thoreau playfully and bluntly referred to Emerson’s adoration of a presumed “progress”, which hinged, to a dangerous degree, on materialism, material “progress”, and an undue veneration of technology. That is the one error that I am aware of in Emerson’s writings, but I am sure there may be more. In any event, I believe Emerson’s writings are not only highly relevant, and highly useful and informative to us today, but that they are, on the whole, a beacon of light in a mentally and sociologically darkened world. Nietzsche, Hegel and Marx cannot share that same light, but are, on the whole, and on the contrary, ideologies and philosophies to be learned from, and then, largely, and overall, discarded.

In fact, I would say that if we were to take Emerson and Thoreau together, we have the best of American philosophy, along with Chomsky, Einstein, Martin Luther King Jr., Aldous Huxley, Alan Watts, Allan Wallace, Joanna Macy, Joseph Campbell, Erich Fromm, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine. Now that combination can offer us some very good and even excellent guidance. Nietzsche’s philosophy, however, has no place in any sane man’s, or sane woman’s, philosophy or mind.

*

What has gone wrong with the modern world? A great many things. But one element of what has gone wrong, is the philosophers we have foolishly taken as guides, and the philosophers, thinkers and sages we likewise foolishly undervalued or ignored, but whose vision and guidance we should have followed. We venerated or were unduly and tragically influenced by Plato, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Hegel, Marx, Spencer and Nietzsche, along with Locke and Descartes, and that has been absolutely disastrous. And, in the modern world, we have either ignored, undervalued, or recently devalued or lost sight of, the philosophies and the generally good guidance of Socrates, Plotinus, the Renaissance thinkers, Spinoza, Hume, Montaigne, Shakespeare, Dickens and Blake, Emerson, Thoreau, Kropotkin, Popper, Whitehead, Einstein, Bohm, Wheeler, Allan Wallace, Joanna Macy, Alan Watts, Ken Wilber, Morris Berman, Joseph Campbell, Bertrand Russell, Murray Bookchin, Erich Fromm, Huxley and Orwell, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Jesus, the Buddha, Moses, Mohamed, Shankara and Lao Tzu, to make a very incomplete list.

We have followed the wrong guides. But it is never too late to correct our bad habits.

It is also important to realize this. Despite the obvious darker trends which lay on the surface of things, the deeper trend in the world is towards a cosmopolitan spirit of decentralization and democracy, relocalization and freedom; or more directly said, toward a resurgence of the local, combined with openness, a greater balance of confidence, dignity and humility, and unity amidst diversity. With that in mind, I would say that very soon, if not immediately, the great majority of people who are broad-minded and spiritual, as well as the great majority of people who are broad-minded humanists – and the two are not in the slightest in contradiction, but in truth compliment one another – can both embrace the majority, if not all, of the luminaries I have mentioned here. If we do, and many will, I can assure you the overall effect will be profoundly positive, and ultimately, deeply liberating, and deeply healing to ourselves, and to our world. But the important point is this: We must think for ourselves, and rely above all, on our own innate, natural intelligence. The herd mentality, and the tendency to bow down to perceived, benevolent and wise authorities, has led us into a dark time – redoubling those failed measures now will only worsen our lot, and will profoundly diminish our chances for a decent future, or any future at all. Think for yourself, above all. Question everything. Look to the actual evidence, and to your own experience and innate, natural intelligence. Examine things for yourself. See for yourself.

*

Thoreau said, “When I notice the ruts in a road, I am compelled to think, how much deeper are the ruts in the mind.” He also said – I am quoting from memory here, but it is nearly an exact quote: “I sometimes despair of getting anything accomplished with the help of my fellow men. Their minds would first need to be put through a kind of powerful vice, to squeeze their old ideas out of them.”

Einstein said something similar: “Common sense is the set of prejudices acquired by the age of eighteen.” And that is true. We are deeply indoctrinated before we reach the age of eighteen, and worse, most people spend their lives trying to shore up their prejudices, rather than being open to new ways of thinking, seeing, living, being, or learning. I do not mean prejudice in the form of bigotry here – I mean prejudice as Einstein used the term, meaning preconceptions. We are fastidious and fervent in our commitment to maintaining our cherished preconceptions – and the evidence be damned!

Not only are we deeply indoctrinated from an early age, but we are continuously being indoctrinated by our society, by powerful institutions, the media, the government, big business, advertising, peer groups, our workplace or employer, and yes, by academia, “science”, school and church. And beyond that, there is the deeper issue of cognitive bias and emotional bias. The psychological studies show that whenever new evidence conflicts with our previously existing beliefs, instead of changing or altering our beliefs, most people try to mould or filter the evidence to conform with their pre-existing beliefs. We are deeply committed, that is, to irrationality, group-think and dogmatism. We think, in the modern world, that we are rational and free, but as John Lennon said, “You’re still fucking peasants as far as I can see” – and we are hardly ever rational. But we can be.

Most people value comfort over truth. That makes them unconsciously conformist and obedient to authority, and it makes them cling to their preconceived beliefs, no matter what evidence they are shown. These are the problems we must get beyond. But while that all sounds very gloomy, we also know that there are periodic shifts in consciousness in history, or paradigm shifts, as it is called in science (see Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions), periods of cultural awakening, or revolutions of the mind. And while things may look very dark now, and they are, it is also true that there is an awakening occurring across humanity, as well as a slow-motion paradigm shift occurring in science and philosophy. And that is an extremely good sign. Life is always reinventing itself. Human society is no different. We too, like all of nature, are in continuous flux. Things only seem static and permanent when our view of life and of history is tiny and narrow. When we widen our view, we see that things are always changing, and that while change is generally gradual, it is also true, as we know from Prigogine’s work in chemistry, and Kuhn’s work in the history of science, that there are also moments when small cumulative changes build up to a kind of quantum shift. That too, is unfolding now. Be the precipitating factor. Nudge the world towards awakening. Terrible things are happening, but so too are an awakening and a renaissance emerging. These are, in fact, both scary, and exciting times.

*

I have said before, and I will say it again, that what we need, is not a new philosophy, ideology or religion, but simply a fresh perspective. In order to accomplish that, we must, figuratively speaking, clear the decks. We must declutter our minds. We must unearth from our collective unconscious all the dark things, and all the dark illusions, above all, that do not serve us now, and never truly have. It is illusion that is the only true enemy, in any time or place. We cut through illusion, in order to liberate our own common sense, or if you prefer, in order to liberate our own natural clarity of mind and innate intelligence.

If we need a new vision, which we also do, it will arise from this ground of liberated clarity and innate, natural intelligence, and not from some new or old dogma. That being said, once we have cleared away some of the reigning confusion, illusion and delusions which shroud the modern mind in darkness, it is only reasonable to look to the best of both the present and the past for knowledge, wisdom, practical ideas and good guidance.

It is just such a synthesis of the best of our more than 5,000 years of history, which I have distilled in my first three published books and over 500 essays. I hope they will be of help. I am convinced that they can be, and will. But it is always our own innate, natural intelligence that should guide us above all. Question everything, and think for yourself.

I would say that if you want confidence and self-dignity, to throw off the chains of conformity and dogma, and the unthinking deference to authority, and to overcome both the master and the slave mentality, and thereby, to become an ubermensch – meaning, a person who has inwardly risen to a higher state of being and mind – then you would do far better to follow the guidance of Emerson, Thoreau or Blake; or better yet, Spinoza in the West, or Nagarjuna, the Buddha and Lao Tzu in the East (again, to make a very incomplete list of better options, and all of them are the inherited treasures of all humanity, it is important to note). The worst, or among the worst that we could do, would be to follow the philosophy of Nietzsche.

JTR,
April 17, 2021

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