The Paris Attacks In Contex

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2015 by jtoddring

Propaganda, hysteria, ultra-violence and imperialism, as usual

A people unaware of its myths is likely to continue living by them.”

– Richard Slotkin


Frankly, to even mention terrorism without putting it into context, is irresponsible in the extreme. It indicates, either a profound ignorance of history and what is happening in the world, or a profound lack of honesty and moral courage. So we will not deal in commentary and “analysis” by way of sound-bites and jingoism. (We are not news readers, but news makers, not sheep or pawns, but collective world-shapers.) In stark contrast to the ever plummeting norms of Western journalism, academia and political “leadership”, we will instead ask the deeper questions that need to be asked. That is the only way, in this or any other subject, that any clarity, and hence, any effective response, is at all possible. Otherwise, we are simply flapping our gums wildly, and parroting what we have been told (or scripted to say) and nothing good will come of it.

Our response to the horrors of terrorism is not only a moral question, but also a strategic one. If, in our rage, our fear, and our pain, we seek to destroy the terrorists, we should not go about it in ways that also destroy ourselves. But that is precisely what we are doing. Worse, we are destroying the foundations of our civilization, in the attacks on human rights, civil liberties, equality, democracy and freedom, while sowing even greater suffering and misery for both ourselves and others, and increasing the volatility, danger and instability in the world, and while further inflaming and escalating the levels of terrorism world-wide. These are the actions of madmen, not leaders. This is patently insane.

Bombing for peace is a failed strategy, both morally and also in terms of its results, as Vietnam, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and other examples should have taught us by now. But we are repeating the mistakes of history gleefully, like Pavlov’s dogs reacting to the sound of a bell, and we wonder why the violence in the world keeps rising, and the world becomes more unstable and dangerous, and not less.

The war-mongers like to talk about “bombing them into the stone age” – well here is news: we are bombing ourselves into the stone age. Our response to terror has been terrifying and terrible – that is, terribly insane and counter-productive. But we seem intent, and hell-bent even, upon repeating the same failed strategies, presumably, until we destroy every shred of our civilization, or at least all of the best and most noble parts and foundations of it: such as our freedom, our civil liberties, our democracy, our human rights, and our very humanity.

Bravo for Dr. Strangelove. He is in power in Washington, London and Paris, and in many other nations as well, and the world is in a horrible state precisely because of it.

I have been too horrified by the predictably violent and insane reaction of the Western powers to the violent and insane attacks in Paris to delve deeply into them until now; but I have been watching the global trends closely since 9/11, and long before, and I knew immediately what direction and what response the West would take. We are moving rapidly in precisely the wrong direction.

We are confronting a man with a flame-thrower, and our response is to throw gasoline on him, and immolate ourselves as well as our adversary in the process. This is hardly intelligent behaviour. This is categorically insane.

Our patterned response of bombing for peace is predictably disastrous, and everyone who has any sense of history or recent events knows it, or should know it, very well. We are not only shooting ourselves in the foot – we are burning ourselves to the ground.

A very thoughtful friend, commenting on the attacks on Paris, summed it up this way. Civil liberties and freedom are dead in France – and if they are dead in France, they are dead in Europe and the Western world. This is far more ominous than even the most heinous of terrorist attacks – this is the destruction of our civilization, by our own hands.

But let’s get right to the heart of the matter, shall we? We bemoan terrorist attacks in Paris, but commit our own terrorist attacks on a weekly basis: with routine drone strikes, extrajudicial summary executions and kill lists, and by routine “regime changes” – that is, coups – along with mass bombings of civilian populations. This is disgusting behaviour, and hypocritical in the extreme, but typical of those presently in power, and the majority of those that have been in power in most nations for a very long time. And of course, such heinous and extreme acts of violence on our part, not only fail to halt terrorism, but in fact further inflame it.

Real change is needed, and urgently so. And it will not come from bombing campaigns, but from democratic revolution – at home.

Terrorism is always horrific and cowardly – so we should stop participating in it, and stop funding it; and stop pretending that bombing civilians is a reasonable response to the bombing of civilians, or that our response is anything other than another, and larger form of terrorism.

“It’s not a pretty picture of western humanity in crisis. Narcissism is not a wholesome trait. The West feels righteous in bombing; it doesn’t seem to know what else to do.”

– John Grant, Learning How Not To Rule The World, November 17, 2015

“French delusions aside, pitiless counterism is a stupid doctrine. If an insane person attacks a town, the answer is not for the entire town to become insane. If one hundred persons are killed, the remedy is not to kill a hundred thousand people. If a building is razed, the solution is not to erase an entire village. Firing bullets to alleviate pain is quack medicine. Sometimes, absorbing pain is indispensable for restoring well-being. Sometimes, even a proportionate counterforce is counterproductive. Wisdom has rarely been the forte of the war-addicted West.

Two eyes for one eye and all teeth for one tooth is the manual of sick minds. The human species cannot be surrendered to vengeful masters of any race, religion, or national anthem. We need no fiends to show us the way.”

– L. Ali Khan, Sick Over-Reactions to Islamic Terrorism, CounterPunch, November 19, 2015

“It is a cliché, of course, but there is no doubt about its truthfulness: for every terrorist we kill, ten others take his place.

Unsurprisingly, the agitators now beat the drum of war more than ever before. They argue for more violence, ‘until the last terrorist is eliminated.’ But the last terrorist is a fiction; the system will always breed new ones.

September 11, 2001 has changed our world in many ways. Above anything else, it brought to the fore questions of what governments can and must do in order to prevent acts of violence. Answers were given, but they were the wrong answers. Limitless spying and surveillance of people, torture and imprisonment in Guantánamo and other places, such as secret prisons, and the unlawful drone killing operations led to the dismantling of the rule of law and our constitutional rights and liberties on a scale that was considered unimaginable and impossible thirty years ago.”

– Heiner Flassbeck, The Attacks in Paris and Our Responsibility to Work Toward an Open and Tolerant Society, CounterPunch, November 19, 2015

“Just as America learned to distinguish between nationalism and Communism in Vietnam, so it will need to learn the difference between nationalism and terrorism in the post 9/11 world. To win the fight against terrorism requires accepting that the world has changed, that the old colonialism is no more and will not return, and that to occupy foreign places will be expensive, in lives and money. America cannot occupy the world. It has to learn to live in it.”

– Mahmood Mamdani, Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War and the Roots of Terror

“There are two ways to do this [that is, to learn how to live in the world, and to respond intelligently, and not stupidly, to terrorism]. One, as in Vietnam, we can follow the tired old Rudy Guilianis and the young, energetic Marco Rubios and pursue a very costly 21st century military conflagration in which all parties fall prey to a learning curve that begins with terrorist acts like Paris and a relentlessly vengeful imperial reaction. Decades hence, after a great many dead and much destruction, Mamdani’s lesson will become fact for those who survive. And people will write books — like they do about World War One — on how tragically stuck in the past world leadership was circa 2015.”

– John Grant, Learning How Not To Rule The World

In our extremely short-sighted, and starkly delusional, militaristic response, we are invoking the worst and most disastrous of policies, both foreign and domestic. This alone should be enough to make us radically re-think and re-evaluate our actions, our utterly failed strategies, and our utterly failed response. But if we are to truly understand what is going on in the world, post 9/11, then we must look even deeper than this.

While Washington and its criminally complicit and morally bankrupt allies in Paris and London continue to undermine democracy and freedom around the world with covert and overt imperial warfare, as well as economic and financial terrorism (see Chomsky, Chossudovsky, Celente, Max Keiser and Paul Craig Roberts), they continue to support the neoliberal, neo-feudal imperial agenda of the corporate elite who rule the US, the EU and most of the globe. And while terrorism is real, and despicable, the “war on terror” is primarily a distraction, designed to keep the people looking elsewhere, while their nations, their rights, their freedoms, their civil liberties, their environment, their communities and their lands, their treasuries, and their futures, are systematically looted and destroyed by a rapacious and predatory corporate oligarchy, who despise democracy and care only about their own power, wealth and self-aggrandizement. This is the central fact of the matter, for all who care to see.

As Ralph Nader has said, the creeping corporate coup represents the biggest power-grab in history – and the people are being distracted from this most pressing and most threatening reality, by any means necessary or expedient. The shrill cry of terrorism just happens to be most expedient at the moment.

As Orwell knew, perpetual war is necessary for perpetual tyranny, for the people must be distracted from the real enemy at home, by a lesser enemy, or if necessary, a manufactured enemy, abroad.

(ISIS are gnats compared to the giant US military-industrial complex and its global reach, or compared with the predatory evil of Monsanto, or the giant vampire squid of Goldman Sachs, as Matt Taibbi accurately and graphically portrayed that company, to make just two comparisons from the ruling corporate elite, and a note as to their chief hired thug, which is the US military and intelligence apparatus. But hysteria and propaganda have so gripped the minds of the majority that, for the moment at least, they cannot possibly assess the dangers and threats in any remotely realistic fashion.)

The “war on terror” is the smoke screen and pretext, the justification and the cover, for on-going wars of conquest and empire abroad, and for a war on democracy and freedom, both globally and also at home.

The “war on terror” propaganda and cover must be revealed for what it is: a pretext for ruthless global hegemony and violent domination by the currently reigning corporate elite and their political servants, or prostitutes, in high office.

But if we insist on focusing on the (of course) very ugly, very horrible reality of “their” terrorism, and not our own, which dwarfs theirs many times over, then let’s at least try to deal with reality. As US intelligence agencies made clear before the invasion, occupation and mass bombing of Iraq, such actions of mass bombings, occupation and military intervention in response to terrorism (or so it was claimed to be the motive) will only increase terrorism. And this prediction proved to be entirely correct, as was absolutely predictable. Mass bombings tend to create hatred, and that fuels terrorism. You do not fight terrorism by fuelling terrorism. That much should be clear. Let us try to learn from history, shall we? Or do we wish to be forever doomed to repeat it?

“To repeat the same actions, expecting different results, is the very definition of insanity.”

– Albert Einstein

If we truly wish to deal with terrorism, and to reduce it, we will first have to begin by dealing with reality, and cease to flee ever more deeply into fantasy and delusion. That is step one. We can do nothing but harm ourselves, as well as others, until this most critical step is taken; and that will require the moral courage to look into the mirror, and to listen to the teachings and experience of history, rather than ceding our power to the dark forces of fear, vengeance and hate, and to habitual responses which have been proven to bring nothing but failure and mutual destruction.

Presently, we seem to have learned nothing from history, and so, to paraphrase Goethe, we are living hand to mouth, and worse, are sowing our own destruction. Clearly, we need to reflect deeply, and re-think our current presumptions, because every time we repeat the mistakes of history, the stakes grow higher and higher.

J. Todd Ring,
November 20, 2015

For further details and analysis see my recent articles:

Reality Check, and, Danger and Delusion: From ISIS To Ebola

Big oil, pipelines, Trudeau, and energy security for Canada

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2015 by jtoddring

Why does the Canadian government continue to subsidize the oil industry with billions of dollars a year when the environmental crisis demands the opposite, and when investment in energy efficiency, conservation and green energy create many more jobs? Why does Canada import 40% of the oil we consume when we produce enough to meet all our needs? Why has the Canadian government agreed to ensuring US energy security, under both Liberal and Conservative governments, but not Canadian energy security? Why is our per capita energy consumption far higher than other northern, sparsely populated nations, like Finland, Sweden and Norway? Why have we done essentially nothing to reduce our dependency on oil as our reserves dwindle, and very nearly nothing to reduce our carbon footprint and halt climate change? Because big oil and foreign powers rule Canada, is the short answer. But it does not have to be this way.

As to the Liberal Party win in this fall’s 2015 federal election, progressives across Canada are happy to see Harper go, but fully aware that the Liberals are only slightly better, and will require massive popular pressure if any real positive change is to come about. The worst have been defeated. The second worst have come to power. That requires action, not complacency.

Trudeau is still profoundly disappointing, and profoundly failing, with regards to energy policy, pipelines, tar sands, big oil and the environment – exactly as expected. We have to put sustained, massive pressure on him to make a shift. So far, he has behaved exactly like the “twerp” David Suzuki said he is. He has said that he is “disappointed” in Obama’s rejection of the Keystone pipeline, and has made no commitment to close the tar sands, or reject the Energy East pipeline, or to shift from oil dependency to a clean, renewable energy infrastructure. This is not remotely good enough.

Getting rid of Harper and the Canadian neocons was step one. Step two is to deliver real change – and that will not come from the Liberal party or Justin Trudeau: that will come only from the Canadian people. Stand up, people. The time is now.

J. Todd Ring,

November 12, 2015

Will Trudeau’s Pipeline Policy Change After Keystone?

As protestors staged sit-ins at Canada’s Prime Minister’s residence, Keystone XL Campaign Organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network’s Dallas Goldtooth and environmental activist Dimitri Lascaris discuss the grassroots strategies needed to keep the pressure on politicians

November 9, 2015 The Real News Network

Gordon Laxer on Canada’s Energy Security. – Novus TV, November 6, 2015

Lest We Forget: Reflections On Remembrance Day, Veterans Day, and the Current Corporate Assault on Freedom and Democracy Around the World

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 11, 2015 by jtoddring

The 21st century was the most violent and murderous period in human history to date. And with our current direction, the 21st century may well surpass it in violence and war. Have we forgotten the lessons of the past, or have we yet to learn them? Worse yet, not only has war not ended, but also, the threats to freedom have not ended, but only changed form, and grown stronger. Yet, the great majority of the people remain asleep, and live inside a bubble of illusion, or a dream.

I honour and respect those who fought to defend freedom against fascists and others who threatened it. But the irony is this. Not only have we continued the horrible tendency toward war, but we have also allowed fascism to arise again.

Although a great many still do not yet realize it, the corporate take-over of the economy, the financial system, the media, the political process and most governments of the world, and democracy itself, is nothing short of a fascist coup. It is the merger of business and the state: and that is corporatism, which as Mussolini himself said, is the proper term for fascism.

We are now faced with the duty to defend freedom once again. If we refuse this duty, this moral obligation, then our cowardliness and denial will result in the death of freedom, and the death of democracy, and a new and terrible era will begin.

The stakes could not be higher, nor the hour more late. What we do now, or what we refuse to do, will be decisive for the future of humanity.

What is needed, is a grassroots popular movement to reclaim democracy and freedom, and our human rights and civil liberties, all of which are being lost, and which are now under attack by a power-hungry business elite, and a political class which loyally serves them.

To be more direct, what we need is a second wave of democratic revolutions to sweep the planet, and to remove the power-mongers, the new tzars or pharaohs – the newly ensconced and presently ruling oligarchy of the global corporate elite – from power, and to restore power to the people.

The reality of our present situation is this. Either we will have a revolution, in which the people reclaim their power and reclaim their democracy and their freedom, and remove the presently reigning corporate elite from power; or we will see a new and more terrible dark age than the world has ever seen – and with it, not only a new form of fascism, and a new form of feudalism, with freedom and democracy destroyed and the great majority of the people reduced to serfs, or slaves, but also, a further acceleration of the rape and pillage mentality of this corporate-culture, with the result being a descent into the edge of extinction, and beyond, into self-annihilation. Surely these this latter trajectory, which we are now embarked upon, we cannot allow to come to pass in full fruition. Surely, the writing is on the wall, and we must stand now.

Lest we forget? The culture has already forgotten. Lest we remember, is more to the point. Unless we remember the dangers of any group of individuals becoming drunk with power or lost in an infantile grandiosity in which they seek to be rulers of the earth – as the presently ruling corporate elite have clearly become – then we shall be no more.

Amidst the parades and the honorariums, let us not forget our duty, not only to remember the past, but to respond to the present.

It is time to make a stand. Let the elders guide the young, or the young guide the elders, as the case may be, and whichever is needed, but let us stand now. We either stand now, and live in freedom, or we die slowly, and on our knees.


J. Todd Ring,
November 11, 2015

No more war. Here is a musical playlist that I made for youtube on the subject.

For those who still have doubt as to the nature and urgency of the present situation, here is a short list of must-read works that will remove all doubt:

A Game As Old As Empire – John Perkins

When Corporations Rule the World – David C. Korten

The Corporation – Joel Bakan

The Shock Doctrine – Naomi Klein

The End of America – Naomi Wolf

Year 501: The Conquest Continues – Noam Chomsky

Necessary Illusions: Thought Control In Democratic Societies – Noam Chomsky

A Brief History of Progress – Ronald Wright

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

The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies – Richard Heinberg

When Technology Fails – Mathew Stein

World As Lover, World As Self – Joanna Macy

Wisdom of the Elders – David Suzuki

Brave New World Revisited – Aldous Huxley

The Power Elite – C. Wright Mills

Escape From Freedom – Erich Fromm

The Ecology of Freedom – Murray Bookchin

On Civil Disobedience – Henry David Thoreau

The Discourse On Voluntary Servitude – Etienne de la Boite

Enlightened Democracy: Visions For A New Millennium – J. Todd Ring

Here Is What A Great Leader Looks Like

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on November 4, 2015 by jtoddring

Ashoka the Great, the most revered figure in Indian political history along with Mahatma Gandhi

Once a great conqueror, ruling the greatest empire of ancient India, Ashoka swore off war and conquest, advocated and practised non-violence and compassion, established hospitals and veterinary clinics for people and animals, founded monasteries, colleges and universities, sent scholars and ambassadors far and wide, as far as China and Mongolia in the East, and Greece and Italy in the West, in order to establish peaceful relations and cultural exchange, dug wells and planted trees, practised ecological stewardship and limited hunting and fishing, and promoted religious tolerance and freedom, in a spirit of compassion and mutual aid. His symbol, the Ashoka Chakra, was adopted as the centre-piece for the Indian flag, and as the symbol of India.

H.G. Wells wrote of Ashoka in his book, The Outline of History: “Amidst the tens of thousands of names of monarchs that crowd the columns of history, their majesties and graciousnesses and serenities and royal highnesses and the like, the name of Ashoka shines, and shines, almost alone, a star.”

Few other political leaders can compare to Ashoka. Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Tommy Douglas, Tony Benn, Aung Sang Suu Kyi, the Dalai Lama, and a rare few others only, are in this league.

Mostly, we have only the dregs, by comparison. Surely we can do better. And we will, if and when the people demand it.

November 3, 2015

Justin Trudeau’s Big Renovations and Small Stature

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on November 3, 2015 by jtoddring

Justin Trudeau has said he refuses to move into the Prime Minister’s residence at 24 Sussex Drive until it has a multi-million dollar renovation. Estimates of the cost run as high as $150 million. $150,000 would provide a handsome renovation for any home, including that of the Prime Minister. Renovations costing hundreds or a thousand times that are not only excessive and wasteful, but should be viewed as a national disgrace, and not a matter of national pride. I think Trudeau Jr.’s stature is not fitting of his position. He is Prime Minister, not king, emperor or tzar. He should not be so juvenile.

David Suzuki was right, Justin Trudeau is an asinine little “twerp”. And the Liberal party is clearly insane as well as corrupt – just like the Conservatives. Surprise, surprise. Our new messiah turned out to be not so messiah-like after all.

The auditor-general apparently gave a report estimating renovations to 24 Sussex to cost $10 million. Even $10 million seems very excessive – if the cost was kept to that, which is doubtful – considering homelessness, poverty and issues of lack of clean drinking water in communities across Canada. Anything beyond that would seem to me simply criminal as well as insane.
Maybe we should build a model ecological home, very statuesque, but not garishly opulent or over-sized, and if that costs $10 million to make it a flagship for environmental construction and grand, environmentally sound homes, then so be it – at least it would serve some higher purpose. Otherwise, the price tag just seems offensive in light of pressing social and environmental issues in the country.
A typical home could have a major renovation, including new heating and cooling systems and new wiring, for under $150,000. Six times that, or roughly $1 million, would seem the sane upper limit. Beyond that, it is becoming nauseating – unless, of course, we want to aspire to Pentagon levels of corruption and waste, which I think most Canadians would find appalling.

Spending millions of dollars on a home renovation for the Prime Minister when people are going without affordable housing or clean drinking water, when there are homeless people on the streets in the nation’s capital and all across the country, seems like an abomination to me, and should be to anyone of sound mind and basic decency.

I would probably refuse to move into 24 Sussex Drive as well – but not because it is too shabby, but because it is too opulent. I’d rather camp out in a tee-pee behind the Parliament buildings and live there, and turn the Prime Minister’s quarters into a homeless shelter.

I’d tear up some of the grass and plant a vegetable garden, and install solar panels to power a stereo and laptop – my two concessions to the modern world. That, or better, for the sake of decorum, keep the grounds of the Parliament buildings intact, and live in a little log cabin in the woods, across the river from the Parliament buildings, outside Chelsea, Quebec, as I’ve done before, and would happily do again.

And where would the Prime Minister greet and host visiting dignitaries, if he is residing in a little cabin in the woods? Well, there is the Chateau Laurier, which is right next door to the Parliament buildings, and which is fancy enough for even the most vain and self-important of state officials and world “leaders.” And I believe there are one or two rooms in the Parliament buildings that are suitable for meetings as well.

Personally, I think that anyone that is so selfish, small-minded and petty as to refuse to move into 24 Sussex Drive until it has a multi-million dollar renovation, is not worthy of running a shoe store in the local strip mall, much less being the leader of a major country.

Justin Trudeau is finger painting his name and his own honourifics on his father’s shrine. It is disgraceful behaviour, not fitting of a back-bencher, much less the Prime Minister of a leading nation.

Justin Trudeau is no Tommy Douglas, no Nelson Mandela, no Dalai Lama, no Ashoka, no Aung San Suu Kyi, Gandhi, Zapata or Martin Luther King Jr., no great leader of any kind. He would appear to be, by all indications, a spoiled rich boy who is out of his depth, and lacking in both character and integrity, as well as judgement. The boy king has no clothes.

Some will find this critique of the new Prime Minister too harsh, but I think the selfishness and small-mindedness that has just been demonstrated requires a strong response, because it is an indicator of character and stature, or a lack of these.

Our “leaders” need to be held accountable. If the people refuse to hold their leaders accountable, and the political elite begin to feel they can do anything they like, without having to account for their actions, then things can quickly get out of hand.

Leadership is about service to the people – it is not about self-glorification or self-indulgence. Anyone who is confused about this is not fitting of the role. With great power comes great responsibility. It should not come with great vanity.

The era of infantile grandiosity must come to an end. The era of magnanimity must begin. If the country is not led by compassion, then it is not led, but degraded, and nothing good will come of it, I assure you.

Will Ferrell does a mock music video of gangster rap – and it’s a scathingly hilarious critique of the genre

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2015 by jtoddring

A musical commentary, followed by social and political analysis, followed by hilarious spoof rap videos, and more

This is scathingly funny. Will Ferrell does a mock music video of macho gangster rap.

Man, how I despise that music. As Rage Against the Machine said, “So-called rap’s a fraud.” Worse, most of it is disgustingly offensive, as well as hollow and noxious.

The majority of it is macho, sexist, hate-filled, poser pablum that screams insecure, status-seeking, pre-teen angst and a desire to be “big” – in all the wrong ways, and with nothing to say and nowhere to go but down.

Bob Marley would roll in his grave. Angry and misguided, emotionally disturbed twelve-year-olds with an attitude problem could be forgiven for liking this music, but that’s about all. Only new country and death metal can compete with such sleazy, aggressive, pretentious garbage for the “first into the sewer” rankings.

At least new country is simply vacant, vacuous and vapid, overly commercialized twaddle and wallpaper music, worthy only of playing in elevators, and for a maximum of fifteen seconds, but as unoffensive as it is bland and banal, like a harmless old shoe – death metal and gangster rap are psychologically disturbed and disturbing, and morally bankrupt.

Give me old-school R&B, jazz, blues, soul, reggae, classic rock or classic country, gospel, classical, funk, punk, scat, ska, swing, big band, folk, Latin, electronica, chant or even opera, but spare me that macho rap crap shite!


And for the more serious-minded, here is some social commentary to accompany the musical commentary.

Musical tastes aside, there is something to be said about the influence of music – and particularly, music that expresses and generates a violent, aggressive attitude – and how such messages are likely to affect human behaviour, with the result of increasing violence in society.

Violent crime has been declining for decades, but fear and hysteria are at record levels. The media has a great deal to do with this. But in any case, violence in society is still, of course, a very serious concern; and violence in the United States, in particular, is far above the level of other major nations, and needs to be addressed. And violent music, media and video games are likely to have far more to do with this than guns.

In the US there is great hew and cry about gun control, but the obvious facts, or what should be obvious facts, are either overlooked or simply ignored. The fact is that Switzerland and the US have the highest rates of gun ownership in the world, along with Yemen; but while the US has one of the highest rates of violent crime and murder, Switzerland, with similar levels of gun ownership, has one of the lowest rates of violent crime and murder. Clearly guns are not the cause of violence. Something in the culture of the United States is causing high levels of violence.

Getting rid of guns, even if that was possible, would not end the violence. The US government tried to ban and prohibit alcohol, but that did not stop the flow of alcohol – it simply caused organized crime explode, and caused violent crime to explode as a result.

The US government has tried for decades to eliminate drugs, with its infamous, “War On Drugs”. But that has not stopped the flow of drugs. All it has done is to repeat the patterns of prohibition, causing gang activity and organized crime to soar, and with it, the violence that comes in its wake.

A war on guns would be as utterly ineffective as the prohibition of alcohol or the war on drugs, in terms of stopping the flow of guns. And aside from that most critical point, guns are not the cause of the violence – a culture of violence is the cause of the violence.

Evidence links the decline in exposure to lead poisoning with the decline in violent crime in the United States, and this should give us a major clue: when people’s brains, bodies, hormonal systems and nervous systems are being disrupted and poisoned by toxic chemicals in our food, air, water and environment, serious psychological problems, from mild depression to violent, homicidal impulses, are one part of the result. So a war on pollution would be far more effective, more rational and more sane, from all the available evidence, than a war on guns.

More people are murdered with kitchen knives, blunt objects or bare hands than by guns – people will find ways to harm or to kill, whether or not guns are available. What must be addressed are the causes of violent impulses, not the manner or form of their expression. This should be obvious, but the obvious is routinely being missed at present.

What is causing violence in society, and high levels of violence in American society? Could soaring poverty and inequality, frustration, desperation, and a resulting and very understandable and predictable rage, be a large part of the answer? Of course it is.

“We are sitting on a powder keg of inequality, injustice and insecurity,
and it is about to explode.”

– Amnesty International

The problems are sociological, and cannot be fixed through technocratic means. The “law and order” ideology will not solve it. In fact, it is making things worse, as prison populations soar, repression and militarization of the culture becomes normalized, brutality becomes accepted as necessary, and the cycle of a culture of violence perpetuating itself, continues. The culture is severely out of balance, and it is causing a small minority of people to do desperate and terrible things. Repeating and intensifying the same failed methods and responses is a recipe for continued failure, and escalating social disaster.

But people are only now beginning to be willing to look at the underlying, deeper issues; and most are still focused on the mere surface of things, and are utterly distracted, beguiled and bewildered, propagandized and deeply indoctrinated. This has to change. Inequality must be addressed, or violence will rise beyond its already high levels. Band-aid solutions will not work, and will not do.

As Bob Marley said,

“Everyone is crying out for peace,
None are crying out for justice.
But there will be no peace,
‘Till there is equal rights, and justice.”

Senator Bernie Sanders and many others understand this. If we want peace, then we must sow justice and equality. And if we are to succeed in that effort, then we must make war on Wall Street; and peacefully, but boldly and firmly, transform the system which benefits the richest few, at the expense and tremendous suffering of the great majority; end the reign of the corporate oligarchy of the billionaire class, and restore and reclaim democracy, and return the power to the people.

And maybe while we are making war on poverty and inequality, we should also look at music, television, film and media which make it seem cool to be violently aggressive, narcissistic, egotistical and machismo.

I’m not saying censorship is the answer. Freedom of speech is essential to a free society. Censorship, like prohibition, is not only useless and ineffective, but also dangerous, and produces far more harm than good. But we do need to look at what kind of messages the media, and the music and film industries, are pushing out in mass production into the culture of modern society. And a great deal of it is simply toxic sludge.

We need to create a culture of peace, to replace the culture of violence which, to a large extent, exists now. Courage and strength are shown and measured by compassion: not selfish and narcissistic, puerile pretension, self-inflation, aggression, hate, and egotistical parading of infantile grandiosity – be it from Donald Trump or gangster rappers.

Who shows real strength, who deserves the greatest respect? Certainly not thugs or wanna-be thugs threatening to “cap your ass”, or baring their asses in some other adolescent show of macho bravado. It is people like Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Rosa Parks and others, and musicians like Bob Marley, who show the courage of compassion and love, who deserve our greatest respect, and who show the greatest strength.

There is a time for ferocity, but if it does not come from compassion, and is not guided or channeled wisely, then it is hollow posturing at best, or worse, and far more common, a self-destructive flame that is blinding,  burns all it touches.

Music is powerful, as are films, TV, video games, the internet, and the media in general. We should think about what we subject our minds to, and our children’s minds as well.

And artists and media workers should think about what they are producing. Their role should be to inform, inspire, unite, uplift and empower; or if it is simply entertainment that is being produced, then it should at least not be mental poison. We would be infinitely better with silence, than with that.

But music is one thing – systemic injustice, violence, extreme and growing inequality, and clearly fascist tendencies among the presently ruling corporate elite, are quite another. And it is this second set of concerns that should trouble us. The music is more a symptom than a cause of the real problems we face, although it is sometimes a little of both. It may be of some concern, but the latter, second set of patterns, is simply disastrous and intolerable.

We can change the station, change the music. But far more importantly, we should be willing to change the system – because the system is broken, and it is corrupt, as everybody knows.

J. Todd Ring,
October 28, 2015

Warning: The following videos are not for little ears.

Will Ferrell: Step Brothers – Boats ‘N Hoes

And of course, Everyday Normal Crew – from the Live As Fuck Tour

And on a more serious note, here is some rap with a message – and a soul:

Wake Up – Rage Against the Machine: Lyrics

And the de-classified documents quoted in the song, Wake Up:

“Through counter-intelligence it should be possible to pin-point potential trouble-makers, and neutralize them” – National Security Archives

The Hollow Men – Poem and Commentary, for All Hallow’s Eve

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2015 by jtoddring

Want something spooky, even terrifying, for Halloween? Read this.

The Hollow Men: I think this truly epic poem (one place where the word is meaningfully used) should be read at least once a year, if not once a month, just to remind ourselves of what is actually going on. It speaks volumes, like few other pieces of writing have ever done, as to the nature of our modern society, and the challenges we face.

Life is what we make of it. But if we choose this path that T.S. Eliot so vividly describes, and which he like many others, have seen as the norm, that would surely be unwise, to say the least, and to make the greatest possible of understatements.

This poem is a masterpiece, like few others, and a great warning. The future is in our hands, as is our present. We should hope to not sleep through it. And if we do, tragedy will not be a strong enough word to describe it. But that is our choice, and the choice remains open.

October 26, 2015

Here is the poem in full:

The Hollow Men

Mistah Kurtz-he dead
A penny for the Old Guy


We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us – if at all – not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.


Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death’s dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind’s singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.

Let me be no nearer
In death’s dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer-

Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom


This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.

Is it like this
In death’s other kingdom
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.


The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death’s twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.


Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

The Hollow Men, Read By Tom O’Bedlam

Marlon Brando Reads The Hollow Men


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