Archive for the political philosophy Category

New studies show babies have basically decent impulses and are strongly driven by moral imperatives

Posted in analysis, anarchism, anthropology, books, class, common ground, consciousness, democracy, elite, empowerment, freedom, Hobbes, inspiration, Kropotkin, libertarian, libertarian socialism, must-read, people's movements, philosophy, political economy, political philosophy, political theory, politics, psychology, reading, science, social theory, sociology, the world's other superpower, truth with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2013 by jtoddring

More research shows once again that compassion, empathy and mutual aid, and an instinct toward cooperation, are innate in human beings, confirming what the great Russian biologist and anarchist philosopher Peter Kropotkin had already amply demonstrated over a hundred years ago, in his monumental work, Mutual Aid. My but our cherished ideological self-deceptions die slowly.

The dark view of human nature presented by Hobbes and many others, is still alive and well, despite the growing mountain of evidence to the contrary. The ideology of social Darwinism, hatched by Herbert Spencer, and not, emphatically, by Darwin himself, still holds considerable sway, especially among the power elite, to use C. Wright Mills term, who use this grand self-deceit as a rationalization for their callous and frankly sociopathic behaviour.

But, as Chomsky has said, the great majority of people have basically decent impulses. Since this is the case, and since those who gravitate to positions of great power tend to be power-mongers and sociopaths, far more often than altruistic benefactors or true leaders, we should question our learned obedience to government and other elites and power structures, and trust our own common sense, and ourselves, far more.

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/11/as-babies-we-knew-morality/281567/

J. Todd Ring,
November 18, 2013

The Lion’s Roar: Cutting through illusion to the heart of the matter

Posted in analysis, books, common ground, consciousness, cosmology, empowerment, epistemology, freedom, inspiration, must-read, ontology, peace, philosophy, political philosophy, political theory, psychology, quotes, religion, religious philosophy, social theory, spirituality, truth with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 13, 2013 by jtoddring
“There is no difference between theism and non-theism, basically speaking. Declaring an involvement with any kind of ‘ism’ turns out to be a matter of self and other. In fact, the whole question of self and other can then become very important. But if you really pursue any spiritual path, you will discover, surprisingly, that self and other are one thing. Self is other, other is self.”
Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Speaking of Silence

It is extremely rare to hear anyone speak of spirituality or philosophy who actually gets to the heart of the matter, and does not merely flit about the surface. Chogyam Trungpa and a handful of others are the exception to the rule. In a sea of noise and dross, confusion and illusion, such voices of basic sanity are profoundly refreshing to hear.

The atheists and the theists are both off the mark – the former probably more so than the latter, admittedly. But that is alright. They will figure it out sooner or later. Reality will dawn on all, eventually.

“The number of minds in the universe is one.” – Erwin Schrodinger

“A human being is a part of a whole, called by us “universe”, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” – Albert Einstein

More from Trungpa Rinpoche:

GREAT COMPASSION IS PAINFULLY REASONABLE

“With great compassion, because you have developed clarity, you do not have doubts and you are not unreasonable. You realize that the best way to be skillful is to be reasonable. When you are fully reasonable, actually reasonable—and to a certain extent, painfully reasonable—you begin to experience the genuineness of situations and act accordingly, in a way that is appropriate to the situation.”

—The Profound Treasury of the Ocean of Dharma, Volume Two, by Chögyam Trungpa http://www.shambhala.com/the-bodhisattva-path-of-wisdom-and-compassion.html

The second central truth to all authentic spiritual paths, is that, since self and other are intimately related, interconnected, interdependent, and in truth, one, therefore, love, kindness and compassion are not just nice, pleasant, virtuous or noble, but simply a matter also of enlightened self-interest.

If we are awake, then we will live with compassion. That is the central teaching of all the great religions. It is also the central premise of the Enlightenment – the central underlying value which underpins and is the foundation of the core Enlightenment values of liberty, equality, solidarity and democracy. This is the foundation for an enlightened life, and also, an enlightened society.

J. Todd Ring,
November 13, 2013

For further reading, see Ken Wilber, No Boundary; Alan Watts, The Book; Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy; Michael Talbot, The Holographic Universe; Renee Weber, Dialogues With Scientists and Sages; Holgar Kalweit, Dreamtime and Inner Space; Joanna Macy, World As Lover, World As Self; The Diamond Sutra, The Heart Sutra, The Prajnaparamita Sutra, The Uttaratantra; The Tao Te Ching and Chuang Tzu; The Gospel of Thomas, Marvin Meyers Transl; Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Harvard Divinity School Address; and the writings of Chogyam Trungpa – as a good start.

Anarchism, capitalism, democracy and common sense

Posted in activism, alternative, alternatives, American politics, analysis, anarchism, banks, capitalism, China, class, consciousness, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, crisis of democracy, democracy, democratic deficit, ecological crisis, elite, empire, empowerment, end-game, environment, fascism, fascist, Feudalism, freedom, geopolitics, globalism, globalization, health care, human rights, hybrid, inspiration, Jefferson, Lenin, libertarian socialism, libertarianism, media analysis, money, must-read, neo-feudalism, oil, Orwell, peace, people's movements, philosophy, police state, policy, political economy, political philosophy, political theory, politics, politics of oil, propaganda, psychology, resources, social theory, socialism, sociology, sovereignty, sustainability, the world's other superpower, tipping point, truth, U.S., war, war crimes, war on democracy on October 25, 2013 by jtoddring

I am not inclined toward market anarchy, or anarchist capitalism, as I see it as being both non-viable, since capitalism without restraints invariably breeds monopoly capitalism, which is no longer capitalism in the sense of a free market, but a form of feudalism, since the few end up dominating and ruling over the rest; and because capitalism is based upon a two-tiered society of the owners of production, in Marxist terms, the people who have an unequal share of economic power, and hence also, social, cultural and political power, and those who must work for them in order to survive; and thus, capitalism is based upon the need (of the many, not the few) to rent yourself out for money, which is degrading and dehumanizing, as well as antithetical to freedom.

Renting yourself out for money was called wage slavery by Abraham Lincoln and others who opposed it. A more stark and honest term for what it means to rent yourself out for money is simply prostitution.

Unless you want to be a slave – or a slave master, if you are both lucky and also supremely unethical – or you are simply lost in confused thinking and illusions, you cannot support capitalism in any form: at least, not without strong legislation such as labour laws, minimum wage standards, workplace safety requirements, environmental protocols, and above all, anti-trust legislation to prevent and break up monopolies.

If you want capitalism, if you want an economic system and a society based upon wage slavery – though I do not see why any sane person would – then at the very least, you have to put restraints on it: you have to chain the beast, or it will devour you.

You certainly cannot support a form of capitalism that strips capital, and the controllers of capital, of all restraints – unless you are either a self-deluded ideologue, or you are a member of the business elite, or a wanna-be member of this class.

So I would say that the idea of market anarchy, or anarchist capitalism, is one that is propounded by two groups: the deluded, and the cynically dishonest and self-serving.

Of course the business elite like the idea of eliminating all government oversight and restraints on their actions. It would mean total freedom for them – freedom to loot and pillage at will, to play one nation, state, province and community against another in a race to the bottom, with ever lower wages and working conditions, and ever lower environmental standards, and by these and other means, to gather even more of the wealth, resources and power on the planet into their hands, even more rapidly and frantically than they are already doing.

The corporate elite also favour the elimination, not only of all governmental restrictions on their actions – although they are quite keen to push for a police state to restrain the actions of the people, and to further secure their power and their de facto rule; they also strongly favour the elimination of all social safety nets and all government programs that help the poor and unemployed.

There are two reasons for this. Firstly, social programs that help the people cost money – and the corporate elite would rather their multi-billion and trillion dollar state subsidies increase; therefore, programs that help the people must be slashed and eliminated – the welfare state is supposed to provide for the rich, not the masses.

Secondly, and more essentially, the welfare state, and all social safety nets and social programs that help the poor and the unemployed, must be slashed and eliminated, so that the people will be driven to desperation, and will welcome their corporate masters, and beg to be shackled and chained for a mere few cents an hour, or a few crumbs of bread.

The business elite like to talk amongst themselves and in the business press about what they call pampered Western workers. They like Chinese workers much better, as the offshoring of production and the deindustrialization of the West make abundantly clear. They do not want to pay $30 or $40 an hour for labour, or even $10, or $7.50 an hour for a wage slave in North America or Europe, when they can get one for $1 an hour in Mexico, or $0.10 an hour in China. Destroying social programs and safety nets means that Western workers can be trained to accept Chinese standards of pay – which is to say, social programs and safety nets must be destroyed in order to make the pampered Western workers more compliant and malleable serfs.

The other means of creating an ultra-low cost labour pool is through slavery, and that is being vigorously pursued by the reigning corporate powers as well – it is called the prison system. Prison labour is a rapidly growing out-sourcing choice for large, profitable corporations. With prison labour, you can pay workers just pennies an hour, and if they get out of line, you can get the guards to beat them to a pulp.

But to return to the driving down of wages and benefits across the West…

This is the primary reason for the so-called austerity programs being foisted on the people, purportedly for their own good, and the reason for the attack on the welfare state and all social programs across the Western world: free the corporations of the bondage of having to pay wages that people can live on, by driving the people to utter desperation, where they can be more easily manipulated, and exploited on a greater scale, for the increased profits of the already astronomically rich few. It is a grand and noble vision indeed.

But the main attack on government is an attack by big business on government regulations applying to big business. (They are happy to see red tape, high taxes and bureaucratic hurdles thrown up for small business, but they want a fast-track and a back door, with zero restrictions and zero taxes for themselves. Taxes, laws and regulations are for the little people.) The business elite do not want government restrictions on their actions. They want the subsidies and the bailouts and the protection of an increasingly militarized police state and a welfare state for the rich, but they do not want any restrictions on their own actions. Fascism for the people, total freedom for the elite – that is what the corporate oligarchs who rule the world today want, and that is what we are rapidly being driven into, like corralled cattle, being herded down the cattle chute.

While the elimination of government would mean total freedom for the corporate elite, it would mean total subjugation under neo-feudal corporate rule for the rest of us, and therefore we should oppose it – vigorously and passionately.

If you want to abolish government, you had better abolish all great concentrations of economic power first, or you will not have anarchism, much less freedom – you will simply have unfettered corporate rule, and a new form of tyranny.

So no, I do not support market anarchism or anarchist capitalism. I would tend to favour libertarian socialism, or anarchist socialism, where collectivism and anti-statism come together in a valuing of both freedom and mutual aid, as Kropotkin, Rocker, Bookchin, Bertrand Russell, Chomsky and others have argued for. In the short term, however, I would be happy simply to see a government that truly is, of the people, by the people, for the people, and not simply a servant of ruthless corporate powers and the super-rich.

I do not believe that a truly free society is even attainable without a very strong degree of mutual aid and solidarity among the people, which is absolutely necessary to accomplish the goal of a free society. So freedom and mutual aid must go hand in hand. To dream of it being otherwise is sheer fantasy.

How we blend and balance freedom and mutual aid, or liberty and collectivism, is the question. Whether or not we must, is a non-issue.

*

The seizure of corporate property by the workers, or by the people otherwise, at the local level, I do see as frequently if not generally justified, and Rothbard gives some good examples, such as workers taking over any and all corporations that are tied to the military-industrial complex, since they are involved in mass murder, among other reasons.

We can also look to the example of Argentina, where workers took over factories and ran them themselves, very successfully, as the documentary, The Take, revealed.

Or we can look to the Spanish Revolution, which was a largely anarchist revolution. The anarchist experiment in Spain, which lived between 1936 and 1939, I believe, was extremely successful, and could certainly be repeated elsewhere, but it would take great international solidarity to keep it alive in the face of the predictable backlash by the presently reigning vested interests.

As Chomsky has said, what the elite fear most, is the threat of a good example. For that reason, any example of worker control or workplace democracy, of any alternative to elite corporate rule, will be viciously attacked, no matter how small or remote. We must be prepared for that; but that is not an insurmountable obstacle to real social change. The people always have the real power. They simply need to realize it, and act upon the fact.

The anarchist revolution in Spain unfortunately ended up being crushed by an alliance between Western business elites, Western governments and the Soviet Union – Bolsheviks despise worker control just about as much as capitalists do. (Lenin destroyed the worker councils immediately upon seizing power, and Kropotkin declared after the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia, that the revolution is dead. But the example of a successful anarchist revolution, and a proven successful anarchist-socialist model for an advanced industrial society, still lives, and it still offers a better alternative, by far, over what we have now.

But to return to the subject of appropriation – or reclamation, as it might better and more accurately be called – there are other good reasons which justify such actions, and make them entirely legitimate, aside from the ones mentioned by Rothbard.

First of all, if what is nominally called private property was gained through illegitimate means, then all claim to title is null and void. For example, if an armed band of thugs rolls into town, and steals all that the people have or possess at gun point, we would say they have no right to that property. If one nation sends in its military to seize the oil or other resources of people in a foreign land, then that nation has no legitimate claim to such property. If a slave owner amasses a great fortune by means of the labour of his slaves, then he has no right to that property, which is more justly the property of the slaves who produced that wealth – cotton for example, or sugar cane, and the revenues from it – and not the slave master who illegitimately lays claim to it. And there are less obvious reasons for the invalidation of claims to property rights, such as great imbalances of power. In essence, all of these examples involve the exploitation of an imbalance of power to acquire wealth, and the imbalance of power makes all such claims to property acquired through these means, null and invalid.

That is the case generally for large concentrations of wealth and economic powers, such as the big corporations have today – for reasons of imbalances of power, and special favours sought by means of what is essentially bribery to political candidates, through what is euphemistically called election financing, among other reasons. The claims of property rights on the part of the corporate giants are highly dubious at best, and in reality, groundless, invalid and illegitimate.

Of course, this raises fears and even terror in some, for fear that their property will not be regarded as sacrosanct. Where do we draw the line between legitimate property rights, and appropriation or reclamation of what are reasonably viewed as illegitimate claims on property or resources, is the question we must ask. We draw lines all the time, and it is not hard to imagine a reasonable balance being sought and found. For example, leaving all small and medium businesses intact, as well as all family farms, family homes and personal possessions, but endorsing and supporting an appropriation or reclaiming of resources and assets which are presently held by the largest corporations, forthwith to be held as the shared property of the people – just as we now share public parks and public roads, public libraries and public fire departments – with shares in these corporation distributed equally to the people (and full voting shares, of course).

This would break up the corporate giants, immediately strip them of their excessive powers, put some teeth in anti-trust measures, and most essentially, would bring an immediate end to the domination over the global economy, the political process and the media by the presently ruling corporate elite. And it would once again restore some semblance of equality and also accountability within our society, and would at the same time dramatically increase the justice in our society, and also the quality of life and well-being of the people, immeasurably. I would therefore urge that such steps be taken immediately.

And it does not have to be an all or nothing scenario. We could start with the worst offenders, the banks, for example. If you want to dethrone Wall Street, and reign in the banking elite, and thereby get money out of politics, as any sane person should want today, then break up the big banks. And what are you going to do with them, one might ask. Well, one option is to do just what I have described here: seize their assets, and distribute shares of ownership equally among the people, effectively turning them into democratically controlled co-ops, with dividends paid directly to the people.

You do not let such corporate criminals get away with such crimes, nor do you give them a mere slap on the wrist. They are said to be too big to fail. Well, they are too big to exist – unless they are controlled by the people. Confiscate their assets, and return the power to the people.

Six giant banks now dominate the entire American economy, as well as both major political parties. Seize these powers, and put them in the hands of the people, and you will have a revolution – and real social change.

And we can have a mixed economy. We do not have to move too fast, if that scares people. Look at Europe – mixed economies are the norm. Most European nations have universal public health care, which is essentially a socialist feature of their society, yet they have democratic governments, constitutions, freedom and civil liberties, and they have capitalist, market-based economies. Adopting a universal public health care system did not turn these countries into Communist regimes, no matter what the paranoid right may scream. They are mixed economies with essentially republican governments and market economies. We can drop the paranoia now.

Despite the red scare tactics and the misunderstandings, having a socialist medical system has not turned European nations into Stalinist regimes, or anything remotely of the sort. Furthermore, the overwhelming majority of Americans have wanted a Canadian or European style health public health care system for decades – and it is half as costly as the for-profit private health care system of the United States. But this is an aside.

So we could easily imagine a mixed economy where we have excellent social programs, such as universal pensions, unemployment insurance and public health care, a market-based economy, open and transparent constitutional democracy with rights and freedoms for all enshrined in law and custom, and also have large sectors of the economy run as worker co-ops or publicly owned co-ops; run, not by the state, but by boards of directors and chief executives that are elected by the people directly, with the people being the majority or even the sole share-holders.

We are talking about taking giant, unwieldy, unaccountable and undemocratic corporations which are now out of control and running rampage, and turning them into accountable, democratically run co-ops, owned and controlled directly by the people. This would make a dramatic, and much needed, urgently needed change to our society. I see no reason to delay.

So yes, re-appropriation, or a reclaiming of resources by the people from the corporate oligarchs who have seized them and laid claim to them, is not only entirely justified and legitimate – it is also highly practical, workable, and an attainable goal which should be sought without delay.

In fact, I would say that if we do not take such measures, and soon, then the corporate elite will consolidate their power globally, with the results being that we find ourselves living in an Orwellian, technocratic, neo-feudal fascist regime, and a very dark age.

We must take bold steps now, to protect the people and ourselves from the clear and mounting threats of a full-blown corporate fascism. When six banks control 40% of the wealth of America; when six corporations control 90% of American media and can effectively manipulate the public mind; when Wall Street and the Fortune 500 fund the elections and effectively choose the political puppets of their liking; and when and a few dozen corporations, mainly banks, effectively control the global economy and rule the world, as a recent Swiss study showed, in a case of science confirming the obvious, then it is time for a bold and unhesitating response on the part of the people, without question.

Furthermore, with regards to claims of property rights: abuses of any great power also render all claim to that power null and void, as the Declaration of Independence states – and this applies to economic powers, such as those held by the business elite and the corporate giants, every bit as much as it applies to kings and queens, governments and political powers. If you abuse it, you lose it. And the corporate giants and the billionaire class who control them, are most definitely abusing their power.

A tax on tea sparked the American Revolution – it was a last, final insult, after myriad insults and injuries by an oppressive and tyrannical power. Such a tipping point is fast approaching again, when the people will say, No more, and the corporate empires will be swept aside, like so many empires that have fallen and been cast off in the past.

*

So I would say no to market anarchism, or anarchist capitalism, but yes to the people reclaiming the resources and assets that are held by the big corporations: for reasons of justice and equitability, for reasons of accountability, for reasons of environmental stewardship and the survival of the human race on earth, which is now in great peril, and because the corporate powers have become, and are now, simply tyrannical, by any reasonable definition or meaning of the word, and are causing great injury to the people as well as the earth on which we all depend for life.

If Thomas Jefferson could argue that a tax on tea is overly vexatious and justifies a revolution – I am exaggerating somewhat of course, to make a point, but we get the point of it – then surely today there is every justification for revolution against the new tyrants,  who are the reigning global billionaire class of the super-rich, and the giant corporations they control – who are infinitely more injurious to the people than King George ever dared to dream.

Two hundred years ago Thomas Jefferson warned that the corporations, and what he called the new moneyed aristocracy who controlled them, were already bidding defiance to our laws and challenging our democratic government to a contest of strength. And he said that he hoped the new moneyed aristocracy shall be killed in its infancy. He did not mince words, nor did he have any illusions as to the great dangers which confronted the people. We did not listen however, and that is why we are in trouble today. By now, any further delay in putting serious checks and balances on the new ruling super-powers of the corporate elite, would be nothing short of disastrous.

The powers and the abuse of powers, of and by the King of England, pale in comparison to the powers and the abuse of powers of and by the Bank of America or Goldman Sachs alone. It is time to dethrone the new tyrants. It is time to kick the corporate oligarchs out of the palace and into the streets – certainly out of government, and out of their present position as the de facto world government, and the unelected rulers of the world, as the business press itself calls them.

(The business elite prefer to call themselves the masters of the universe – and no, I am not joking – and their demonstrated egomania, power-lust and sheer madness only adds to the reasons to throw them from power.)

Gentleness is the best general rule, but there is a time for boldness. There is a time for the ferocity of a lion. And there is a time for the overturning of tables. Throw the money changers from the temple. They have overstepped their proper bounds, and have made themselves a menace. They must be deposed. And the most direct and effective way to dethrone this newest ruling class of would-be emperors, Caesars and Tsars who are the global corporate elite, is to reclaim their assets, and thereby to strip them of the very basis of their powers.

If a person on a rooftop with a rifle starts shooting at people, you disarm that person, and stop the violence. The big corporations and the business elite who control them are now wielding vast and unaccountable powers, which is reason enough to strip them of such powers; and in addition, they are demonstrably wreaking havoc, destruction and great suffering on the earth and upon the people. Therefore, they must be disarmed. And the only way to effectively disarm them, or to reign them in and halt their drive to fully dominate and control the global economy and the resources, the wealth and the nations of the world, which they are well on their way to doing, as anyone who is paying attention can clearly see; as well as to prevent them from destroying democracy completely, and to halt their clearly suicidal onslaught against nature and the earth, is to strip them of their powers – which means, stripping them of their assets.

It must be done. The people must reclaim their power. And no, Lenin, you were wrong, and we will not repeat your mistakes. No, this time, the revolution must come from below, and power must be returned to the people, and kept close to the people, at the level of the grassroots, and not in the hands of any ruling class or ruling elite of any kind – be it a political elite, a bureaucratic elite, a military elite, a religious elite, a self-proclaimed intellectual elite, or a business elite.

Freedom will come. And it will mean more than being able to choose between Coke or Pepsi, or choosing between which slavers will shackle your legs and make you their wage-slave.

A new day is being born. The writing is on the wall.

Stand now, people.

J. Todd Ring,
October 24, 2013

Top Priorities of the 21st Century

Posted in activism, analysis, class, common ground, consciousness, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, crisis of democracy, democracy, democratic deficit, ecological crisis, ecology, elite, empire, empowerment, end-game, environment, food, freedom, genetic engineering, geopolitics, globalism, globalization, GMOs, healing, health, imperialism, inspiration, must-read, neo-feudalism, nuclear war, peace, people's movements, police state, political economy, political philosophy, political theory, politics, sociology, sustainability, war, war on democracy with tags on June 5, 2013 by jtoddring

If I were asked what I felt were the top priorities facing human beings today, in the 21st century, I would have to say there are four that top the list, in my mind.

1. Halt the global corporate coup. Defeat the corporate war on democracy, which is now escalating daily, and take democracy back. Take the power back, and put it in the hands of the people, where it belongs. Elite rule has never worked, and by now it is a rapidly unfolding disaster of unprecedented proportions. (If we fail at this, we fail at everything. Restoring power to the people is necessary before any of our problems – social, economic or environmental – can be seriously addressed.)

2. End war, stop the global slaughter and the wars of empire and greed, and prevent catastrophic nuclear or biochemical warfare.

3. Create a sustainable society now. Working at the level of the personal, the community, the local, national and international, we must halt environmentally destructive patterns and create new (or old) and more sustainable systems, infrastructure and ways of living.

4. Go organic, and say no to genetically modified foods, which threaten human and animal health, the environment, and the entire future of food production on earth. Fuel the organic revolution now, and ensure a safe and reliable food supply for human beings that is based on compassion, respect for all beings, ecological awareness, the precautionary principle and common sense.

These, I believe, are the most urgent issues we face at present. But whatever our area of focus, the most important point is that we act. We cannot afford to be mere spectators. Unite the people, inspire and empower the people and ourselves, and act together for the common good. This is what must be done, and now.

As Chomsky said, with his usual lucidity, “The future holds ominous portent, and signs of great hope. What we make of the opportunities, is largely up to us.”

It is still possible for us to create a beautiful, safe, just and peaceful world. If we have no courage or will to do it for our own sake, then we should, and must, at least do it for the children of the world. They deserve a decent future.

The power is in the hands of the people, as it has always been. Now, what are we going to do about it?

JTR,
June 5, 2013

The Mayans, the ecological crisis and the end of the world: a little sanity please

Posted in analysis, anthropology, books, collapse, consciousness, disaster, ecological crisis, ecology, environment, history, political philosophy, politics, science, sustainability, tipping point, world religions with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 21, 2012 by jtoddring

It seems like a lot of people are going to extremes with regards to the Mayan predictions – and I mean the skeptics as well as the fanatics. Some are dismissive of the Mayans altogether, while others are taking a very literal and grossly overly simplistic view, and thinking the world will end on a specific day in the near future: December 21, 2012. The Mayans never said anything of the sort – and at the same time, they were also far too intelligent, thoughtful and sophisticated in their understanding of the cycles of time for us to dismiss them altogether.

The Mayan prophecies do not speak of the end of the world in a literal sense. The Mayans said that the world has ended four times before, so clearly, they are not talking about the end of the physical world, or even the end of the human species. They are talking about the end of a civilization – a social collapse, and the end of an era. And that is something we cannot so easily dismiss, because we have seen civilizations collapse in the past – Sumer, Easter Island, and the Mayan civilization itself, for example (the Mayan urban civilization, that is). (See Jared Diamond, Collapse, Ronald Wright, A Brief History of Progress, or Mathew Stein’s When Technology Fails.) We are also seeing our infrastructure beginning to crumble, while the environmental crisis is accelerating. Clearly, the collapse of our current civilization is not something far-fetched, but a clear and undeniable possibility – and we seem hell-bent on ensuring that it happens.

The Mayans were, furthermore, too subtle and sophisticated in their thinking with regards to the cycles or patterns of time to believe that things will come to an end in a single day, I would think. They mark the passage of time in great cycles of 500 years, and larger cycles of roughly 26,000 years. To think that the Mayans believed everything would end on a single day would seem to me like a gross over-simplification, and a serious misunderstanding. It would be akin to Christian fundamentalists taking an extremely literal reading of the Bible, and believing that the world was literally created in seven days.

I would say it would be unwise to be categorically dismissive of the BIble, just as it would be equally foolish and confused to take it on an overly simplistic or literalist reading or interpretation. The same is true for the predictions of the Maya and their rich and unparalleled calendrical knowledge and understanding of the cycles of time. We do have the intellectual capacity, one would hope, for something a little more refined and a little more subtle than a knee-jerk reaction to either reject and dismiss them out of hand, or to embrace them in a literalist and overly simplistic way.

What is likely is that the Mayans meant that December 21, 2012 would mark the beginning of the end for a certain civilization or world order – ours – and the beginning of its collapse and replacement by a new civilization. The changes that they predicted may come swiftly, but they are not likely to come all at once, in the span of a mere 24 hours. It is possible, but it is unlikely. But that doesn’t mean that the Mayans were wrong – it means we shouldn’t be so crude and sloppy in our thinking, or so presumptuous or arrogant.

Consider this. The Maya had predicted for centuries that on a given year, month and day, one cycle of 500 years would end, and another cycle of 500 years would begin. They said that on that day, the balance would shift from light being predominant, to darkness being predominant. This was a prediction that had been passed on for generations. Well, as it turned out, the prediction coincided to the day with the first conquistador stepping foot on the mainland – Cortez.

If we were to look at the last, say two thousand years of the history of the Americas, we would most certainly mark the arrival of the first conquistador on the mainland as the beginning of an entirely new and radically different era for all of the Americas. How did the Mayans foresee this great shift, and predict it for hundreds of years in advance? Surely we cannot look at this fact and then dismiss the Mayans. Somehow, they have made stunningly accurate predictions, and although we cannot understand how that was possible, it is proven beyond any doubt. To dismiss the Maya considering this, would simply be irrational in the face of the evidence.

Take acupuncture as another example: we don’t know how acupuncture works, and Western medicine is baffled by Traditional Chinese Medicine, which gave rise to acupuncture, but one thing we do know for certain: acupuncture works. It is the same with the Mayan predictions: we cannot understand how they could make such startling accurate predictions, but we know for certain that they have. Therefore, although we may not understand it, we cannot dismiss the predictions of the Maya when they have demonstrated such stunning accuracy in the past.

What is the scientific approach? The truly scientific approach would not be to say, well, nobody can predict the future, so the Mayan prophecies must be rubbish. No, the scientific approach would be to look at the actual evidence, and not make foregone conclusions. And what does the evidence say? The evidence says that somehow the Mayans were able to predict major shifts or bifurcation points, major junctures in time, with stunning accuracy. Just because this does not fit into our current theory or ideology does not mean it is wrong. The facts are the facts, and the scientific approach is not to dismiss the facts when they discomfortingly fail to conform to our theories, but to change our theory and our view to conform with the facts. Anything else is pseudo-intellectual and pseudo-scientific, and is pure bigotry and blind dogmatism and ideological fixation. The facts say that the Mayans were able to predict certain major changes in history, centuries before they happened. Our theories and our views obviously need modification. But more immediately, the facts require that we take an attitude towards the Mayan predictions which is one of curiosity and respect, and not derisive dismissiveness.

Consider another example: gravity. We know that gravity exists, and we know that it works, but scientists still don’t really understand how it works. But simply because we don’t know how gravity works doesn’t mean we say, well, gravity must not be real. Again (to belabour the point for the benefit of the chronically closed-minded and pseudo-scientific) the same is true for the Mayan predictions: we don’t know how they are possible, but we know that they were correct. Do you “believe” in gravity? No, nobody “believes” in gravity – you don’t have to: just drop an apple, or trip on the stairs, and it is proven. The broken nose and the bruised apple are proof enough. Belief has nothing to do with it. Believing or not believing in the Mayan prophecies is the same: they are proven accurate; and it is evidence, not belief, which is all that matters.

Furthermore, considering that not only the Maya, but also the Hopi, the Ojibwa, and many other native peoples have predicted essentially the same thing – that there would come a time when the people become wooden, and lose their natural feelings of empathy and compassion, caring and responsibility for one another and for the broader web of life, and that as a result, calamity would follow, and their civilization will collapse – and considering that is now obvious that we are fulfilling such predictions, it would seem very unwise to disregard their warnings. Complacency, now as always, is a much greater danger than is precaution. We don’t have to run screaming for the hills, but we do need to deal with our environmental crisis, or our civilization will surely collapse, exactly as predicted – maybe not in a single day, but over the course of the coming decades or years.

Consider the fact that other native elders are on record for having predicted, before the start of the first Persian Gulf War in Iraq, that it would be a horrible environmental disaster, as well as a humanitarian one: and they said they had had visions of a black rain falling from the sky. Well, what happened? Saddam Hussein’s troops set fire to the Kuwaiti oil wells when they retreated, and black rain fell across the region. How do we dismiss such proven predictions?

In fact, we should have listened, and prevented war with Iraq. Let those who have ears hear. Let those who have eyes see. The deaf blind will have to accept that they will continue to fall into ditches and injure themselves, for they are heedless, and cannot be guided or forewarned. Pity them for their stubbornness and ignorance.

Consider the most famous proven prediction of all, or certainly one of them. Months before the assassination of JFK, Jean Dixon repeatedly warned the White House that the president’s life was in danger. She particularly urged him not to travel to Texas during that period of time. How such things are known, we do not know – but we know that some people at least do have such fore-knowledge of events: knowledge which transcends mere perspicacity or ordinary foresight.

Consider the stories told for generations by a certain native tribe in Northern Canada about a certain lake, which they said was very evil, and which they warned the people to avoid at all costs, without exception. The native people living nearby had a prediction, a prophecy, that one day men would come and take stones from the lake, then they would use those stones, and a large bird would then fly and drop fire from the sky with material from those stones. That lake is now called Uranium Lake, and it was the site of the first uranium mined for the first nuclear weapons, and the first bomb which was dropped on Hiroshima. How is that for uncanny? If that does not send a shiver down your spine, or at least make you wonder, then as Einstein said, you are as good as dead.  How can we dismiss such fore-knowledge when it is proven beyond all doubt?

Or consider the prophecies of the Inca, which said that if the great white brother came from across the ocean carrying a cross, there would be trouble. Well, the first conquistadors came bearing crosses, and there certainly was trouble, and a lot of it.

Considering all of this and more – and this is just the briefest list of examples, and barely scratches the surface – to be dismissive of native prophecies is simply foolish, and also irrational and unscientific. We know they knew, even if we have no idea how that is possible. Our frankly racist and ethnocentric presumptions must fall in the face of the evidence. The simple fact is: prophecy works, or at least it certainly has at certain times in the past. Just as the Western medical establishment, with its severely flawed and out-dated biological-reductionist and mechanistic medical model has been forced to admit that acupuncture works, despite not being able to understand it, so too must all seriously scientific or even rational modern people admit that prophecy is real – whether that is baffling to us or not – and the Mayans in particular have proven their accuracy in these matters.

Considering the way we are undermining the basis of life on earth, and pushing our civilization to the point of collapse as a result, it would seem unwise, if not simply foolish to dismiss the Mayan predictions entirely. At the same time, to think that the world will end on a certain day this month, is in all likelihood foolish as well. The reality is somewhere in between, in all probability, and we had best heed the warnings of the Maya, and take care of our environment, or we will see, not the end of the world, but the end of the world as we know it, and the collapse of our civilization. And that may be closer than we think.

It is time for us to get it together, environmentally speaking, and make some very real and urgently needed changes now, or bear the consequences of our apathy and denial. This world order will most definitely end. But that will not be the end, but only a new beginning. And the sooner this predatory, anti-ecological, suicidal and grotesquely unjust order ends, the better.

Of course I could be wrong, and it is conceivable that the Mayans somehow foresaw a cataclysmic event that would happen on a certain day, which would wipe out our civilization – if not instantly, then over the months that follow – and many millions or billions of people with it. That would be horrific to contemplate, but it is possible – anything is possible. It is, however, extremely unlikely.

What is not unlikely however, and what is in fact absolutely certain, is that if we do not change course, we will continue to drive ourselves into the ground, through a simple lack of common sense and ecological wisdom, until our infrastructure collapses under the weight of a crisis we have created for ourselves, and our civilization itself collapses. If that happens, then billions of people will suffer greatly: and that will happen, unless we take bold and decisive action now, and without delay. But whether we see a crushing collapse of our current civilization, and have to scramble to survive afterward, and rebuild from scratch, starting with pre-industrial, medieval levels of technology, in small communities barely hanging on; or whether we make the bold moves to transform our present civilization before such a collapse, is entirely up to us.

There is no fate in this. It is a matter of choice. The power is in our hands. It is a matter now of whether we will boldly do what is obviously necessary, and make the needed changes swiftly and without delay, or whether we continue to drift on our present course until collapse hits.

We can still make a relatively peaceful transition to a new and better world, even though we will certainly have to weather a great storm of our own making which has already been set into motion; or, we can wait until change is forced upon us, in which case, the transition will be painful in the extreme.

It is our choice. Humanity will survive in either case. What is in our power to determine is how painful and traumatic, or how peaceful the transition is. But whether we make a major change, is not an option. We will do it willingly, or the environmental crisis will force it upon us.

Better to act freely, and with foresight, and now.

And you don’t have to be a prophet to see that.

JTR,
December 17, 2012

The struggle is not between left and right – it’s between democracy and corporatism

Posted in activism, AFA, AFC, alternative, alternatives, American Freedom Agenda, American Freedom Campaign, American politics, analysis, banks, Barack Obama, civil liberties, class, collapse, common ground, consciousness, conservative, constitution, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, crisis of democracy, crisis of legitimacy, democracy, Democrat, democratic deficit, Democratic Party, economic collapse, economics, economy, elite, empire, empowerment, end-game, fascism, fascist, freedom, geopolitics, globalism, globalization, imperialism, inspiration, left, liberal, money, national democracies, neoconservatism, neoliberalism, Obama, Patrot Act, peace, people's movements, police state, policy, political economy, political philosophy, political theory, politics, social theory, sovereignty, sustainability, the right, Uncategorized, war, war on democracy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2011 by jtoddring

We must unite the people now, or the people and democracy both will lose

Not only are partisan loyalties and divisions increasingly irrelevant and out-moded, but divisions along ideological lines of left and right are also outmoded and largely obsolete. The major parties function as rubber-stamp agencies, spin doctors and propagandists for the same ruling corporate elite, as the majority of people are now very aware. Romney and Obama, the Republicans and the Democrats represent two wings of the same corporate-run machine. Obama’s record is clear. I cannot possibly support him. Handing billions to banking elites, pushing for immunity for banking elites, expanding war overseas, refusing to challenge the Patriot Act, supporting torture, renditions, the continued destruction of civil liberties…How much evil is too much to be considered acceptable as the lesser of two evils? He is not remotely supportable in good conscience. Supporting a lesser of two evils is no longer tenable or conscionable, if it ever was. But to return to the central point, partisan zealotry and ideological fixations hinder us, and obstruct the way forward. Likewise, ideological factions and ideological partisanship and divisions will only impede us from the task at hand. The task is to unite the people so that they can reclaim their democracy and their future. If we fail to understand this most crucial point, then we have lost before we have begun, and nothing of significance will be accomplished, save for the familiar chanting of “We’re in the right! You’re wrong! (Or evil, or stupid, etc.)” – while the world and our future continues to burn. On this most central point we must be perfectly clear, or we will see no change for the better, but only a continued accelerating slide into a dark age of neo-feudal corporatism, the complete and final destruction of democracy and human rights, further environmentally suicidal behaviour, and a two-tiered society of corporate rulers and pillaged underclass.

The wealthiest 1% of the population now controls more than 30% of the wealth of America – more than the bottom 50% of the people. The biggest six banks on Wall Street now control 60% of the wealth of the country. The people are being pillaged and looted. They must defend themselves and reclaim their future and their country.

We must stand now to reclaim our democracy. And standing we are. The central question now is not whether we are left or right, Democrats or Republicans, liberals, conservatives or progressives, but whether we are populist democrats, standing up for rule of the people, by the people, for the people, or whether we prefer a corporatocracy in which the richest 1% rules over the rest, and democracy and justice, the prosperity and well-being of the other 99%, the environment, human rights, our civil liberties and our future are systematically destroyed.

The old battle lines of right and left are no longer as relevant today as they once were. The primary struggle is not between right and left, but between the vast majority of the people who support and favour constitutional democracy, be they liberal, conservative or progressive, and the ruling corporate elite and super-rich one percent who have usurped far too much power, and have come to dominate the economy, the media and the political process. What is needed is for the people to reclaim their power and their democracy. In order for that to be achieved, it is absolutely necessary that the people unite.

Everyone who favours constitutional democracy over rule by the corporate elite, or any kind of elite, must unite now, in order that democracy can be reclaimed by the people. Once the people have reclaimed their democracy, then we can discuss and debate everything under the sun, democratically, and go from there. Until we have reclaimed our democracy from the corporate elite who now dominate economy, the media and the political process, the point is moot, for we are stone-walled.

If we wish for justice, for peace, for environmental sanity, for human rights and constitutionally protected civil liberties, or for prosperity and well-being for all, then we must above all, and before anything else, reclaim our democracy: and in order to do that, the people will have to unite.

What has been said before is entirely and extremely relevant now: “We must all hang together, or assuredly, we shall all hang separately. United we stand, divided we fall.” (Benjamin Franklin) If the people do not unite, they will be unable to reclaim their democracy from the corporate elite who have usurped it; and if the people do not reclaim their democracy, then there will be an even darker time ahead for the people and for the world. These are the simple facts which we now face.

It`s time for us to reclaim our democracy. Unite the people now.

JTR,
October 6, 2011

Reclaiming democracy for the common good – and for the survival and future of our children: the political economy of environmental sanity and democratic renewal

Posted in activism, AFA, AFC, alternative, alternatives, American Freedom Agenda, American Freedom Campaign, analysis, books, capitalism, Chomsky, class, climate change, common ground, consciousness, conservation, constitution, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, crisis of democracy, crisis of legitimacy, democracy, democratic deficit, disaster, ecological crisis, ecology, economics, economy, elite, empire, empowerment, Eric Fromm, fascism, Feudalism, fossil fuel, geopolitics, global warming, globalism, globalization, imperialism, inspiration, money, must-read, national democracies, neoconservatism, neoliberalism, oil, peak oil, people's movements, philosophy, police state, policy, political economy, political philosophy, political theory, politics, politics of oil, post-carbon, reading, renewable, resources, social theory, sociology, sovereignty, sustainability, the world's other superpower, tipping point, war on democracy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 29, 2011 by jtoddring

September 27, 2011, the Global Footprint Network declared as Earth Overshoot Day: the day that humans have used up all renewable resources available for the year. Not good. This obviously cannot continue. Limitless growth in material consumption and “production” clearly cannot be sustained on a finite planet. (We can have limitless growth in culture, the arts, science, the mind, spirituality and quality of life, but not in material production and consumption.) We are depleting our collective inheritance: which should rightfully be shared equitably, through democratic popular control of the commons to which we all share usafructory rights – despite our present unjust and unwise socio-economic, legal and cultural norms – as well as used wisely and compassionately, and not squandered. We are rapidly draining nature’s capital, to put it in crass economic terms, which are the only terms most politicians and pundits and corporate elites seem to understand. We are racing towards ecological bankruptcy at an ever-accelerating rate, and will see our children live as beggars in an ocean of toxic waste if we don’t change our course, and fast. Of course, most people – aside from the business and political elite – understand this by now. But awareness is not enough. It is high time for much more serious action.

“Climate change — human-made global warming — is happening.  It is already having noticeable impacts…. If we stay on with business as usual, the southern U.S. will become almost uninhabitable…. It is time for all of us to get Tea-Party-angry about what our political system has become and about the intergenerational injustice being perpetrated on young people.”
– NASA’s leading climatologist

Addressing the present and rapidly escalating environmental crisis which humanity undeniably faces will require more of us than a simple act of recycling or “buying green.” It will require, above all, a restoration and a renewal of democracy – a reclaiming of democracy from the ruling and highly pathological corporate elite. We must reclaim our democracy, or the earth will not be a habitable place for any human beings to live, in just a few short decades or less. If you want a future for humanity on this planet, reclaim your democracy now, or there will be none. This is the reality of our time. Let us do what needs to be done.

Why don’t we have a massive infusion of investment of public funds in clean, renewable energy? Because the big oil, gas and coal companies don’t want it: they are profiting from the status quo, they have a vested interest in the status quo, so the answer is an emphatic, “No.” If we shifted the subsidies that are presently given out to the oil, gas and coal giants, and put it into clean, renewable solar, wind, co-generation and geothermal energy instead, we would be making rapid progress, by leaps and bounds every year, not only in greening our energy and transportation systems and becoming a truly sustainable society, but also in terms of energy self-reliance, economic strength and job creation. But Exxon and company have our politicians by the, um, purse strings: and so they pull the strings, and we the people, as well as the earth, lose out.

Why are we the people being treated as guinea pigs while the earth is being treated as a laboratory, when hundreds of responsible scientists have warned that genetically engineered foods and crops pose serious and largely unforseeable dangers to human health and the environment, and that such practices are unethical, irresponsible, highly imprudent, highly reckless and highly dangerous? The majority of people are rightly wary about genetically modified food and crops, and are generally opposed to these: but the biotech giants have the clout in our political arenas; they pull the purse strings of our politicians, and so, what big money wants, big money gets –  democracy and the people be damned.

Why don’t we shift our tax system from taxing employment through payroll taxes, which works directly against job creation, and also shift the tax burden off of small and medium businesses, the poor and the middle class, and instead tax pollution, thus easing the burden on the majority of families and businesses while creating incentives to pollution reduction? We don’t have sane and effective, just and fair and environmentally sensible tax laws, because while this would benefit the great majority of the people, create jobs and economic vitality, help clean up the environment and steer us in the direction of true sustainability – while improving the quality of our air, soil, food and water and also strengthening small business – it is not what the corporate giants want: so again, it is a no go.

Why do we not have a smog tax for vehicles that get less than 30mpg, and a government rebate for vehicles that get better than 40mpg or have ultra-low or zero emmissions? Because this would require the auto industry and the car manufacturing giants to improve their standards, and worse, it would mean that the oil companies wouldn’t make their usual obscenely stratospheric profits. Big oil and big auto says no, so again, this is a no-go, and the politicians defer as usual to their masters.

Why do we have massive farm subsidies benefitting mainly the agribusiness,  petrochemical, biotech and junk food giants, and an escalating war on organic farming? As Richard Heinberg has said, petro-chemical industrial agriculture has been nothing short of an ecological catastrophy – it is utterly unsustainable. We need to shift to clean, healthy and sustainable organic agriculture en mass, and as rapidly as possible, just as we need to reduce our fossil fuel consumption and switch to clean, renewable energy. But do we see a shift in the multi-billion dollar subsidies anywhere on the horizon? No, we do not, and the reason we do not is that the current government policies benefit the petrochemical, biotech, agribusiness and processed food giants. Monsanto, MacDonalds, Nestle and Kraft are making a killing on the existing system, quite literally as well as figuratively, and if they say no, our political elites say, “Ok boss – whatever you say.” Poison the people and the planet, just don’t cut off my re-election financing.

Why was the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gutted over the past decade? Because that is what big business wanted, and what big business wants, big business gets – at least unless and until we the people reclaim our democracy, and push back the vested interests of the corporate elite so that democracy can function, and not simply be a hollow shell run by and for the ruling business elite, with little more than a rubber stamp action on the part of the bought and paid for political elite.

It is not widely known, but it is a fact: when the tar sands are counted, and the exaggerated claims of the Saudi reserves are corrected for accuracy, Canada has the largest remaining oil reserves in the world. And while Canada is rapidly expanding its environmentally devastating oil extraction from the tar sands and plans for a new pipeline are being laid to suck the black gold from out under the people’s feet, and the oil companies are raking in many billions of dollars a year in profits, why is it that it is unspeakable and unthinkable to charge a fair and just price for the extraction by these companies in the form of royalty payments made to the Canadian people? When certain Scandinavian countries charge $8 a barrel in extraction fees, paid as royalties to the people of the land, and Canada charges less than a dollar a barrel – while massively subsidizing the already profitable oil giants – something is clearly awry. Why is it that a fair price for extraction of a public resource, a resource of the commons, a resource that belongs to the people, paid to the people in return for the very lucrative opportunity to carry off this national treasure to whomever will pay the highest price abroad, is an utterly inexpressible, unutterable thought, and nary a word is whispered of this most obvious and patently just and sensible notion by the political elite or the mass media? The answer is as clear as the profits are exorbitant: big oil dominates the capital and the political process, and none dare speak the truth that stares us daily in the face, let alone challenge the situation and right the wrong. Raising the extraction rates by seven dollars a barrel would still leave the oil companies with large, fat profits, although admitedly, the tar sands might be less lucrative, and possibly not feasible economically for some few years, until the price of oil rises further on the world stage, as it will. Such a modest and completely justified increase in extraction rates, as decided upon and enacted by a democratic government of the people, by the people, for the people, would flood the public coffers with funds, making ample money available for the development and creation of a clean and green, renewable energy and transportation system for the nation, as well as for social programs such as health care, education, day care and affordable housing. But while this should be an obvious and immediate step that is taken at once to bolster funding for a transition to a green and just society as well as the funding of much loved and overwhelmingly popular social programs, it is not even possible to mention the idea without immediately being excommunicated from the mainstream political discourse, raising the fevered ire of the corporate elite, and possibly risking a burning at the stake. Oil companies rule this fair and gentle land, and once again, the people and the earth be damned.

Why do we not have a massive and much-needed investment by governments in infrastructure, creating not just the groundwork and foundation for an ecological society, but truly enormous job creation and economic stimulus in the process, launching continent-wide energy-efficient light rail, mass transit networks and a clean, renewable solar-hydrogen infrastructure? California put in place the first leg of a hydrogen highway, at a cost of $100 million. For under $20 billion we could have a zero-emmission, clean, renewable solar-hydrogen fuel and transportation network that spans all of North America – this may sound like a lot of money, and it is, but it is just 10% of the annual cost of maintaining the imperial wars in the Middle East and North Africa. The money spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan alone have now cost over $2.5 trillion. That is approximately 100 times the amount needed to build a zero-emmission, clean, renewable, energy self-reliant solar-hydrogen infrastructure for the entire continent of North America. The U.S. federal government has admitted that over $1.2 trillion goes missing every year into black ops – Congress is unable to trace it, but it is acknowledged. Get rid of the military-industrial complex and the CIA and there will be over $1.5 trillion a year for green infrastructure, environmental protection and remediation, and also funds to help the rapidly sinking great majority of the American people and create jobs through such green infrastructure projects. Why don’t we have an enormous and urgently needed green infrastructure program right now? Because vested interests oppose it – because the Wall St. kleptocrats and their political allies have pillaged the nation to the extent that the country is now on the brink of bankruptcy, and more importantly, because the corporate elite insist upon ongoing, astronomically expensive and murderous wars for oil and other natural resources, thus entailing an absolute paucity of funds for anything that matters in terms of ecological sanity or human well-being. Bringing the troops home and ending wars for oil and other natural resources would save more than enough to build a continent-wide clean and renewable, green transportation infrastructure, massively stimulating the economy and creating millions of jobs in the process – and it would still leave many hundreds of billions a year left over for funding schools, health care and other human needs. But we don’t have a green transportation infrastructure on the table, because this is not what the big oil, gas, coal, automotive and military-industrial giants want. Again, the people and the earth lose, because money rules over our politics, and not common sense, human decency, or environmental sensibility or even basic sanity.

Why do we still have millions of people dying and being killed in wars for oil and other minerals, bankrupting the country and draining off critically needed funds that could and should be used to create a green economy and infrastructure, employing millions of people in the process, and pulling the people out of a financial and economic tail-spin? Because the oil and military-industrial complex corporate giants want it this way, and the people and the earth can go to hell, as far as they are concerned – and because Wall St. dictates the policies of Washington, Ottawa, Paris and London. If we want a green economy, a full employment economy, a just economy, an end to poverty, an end to imperial wars, or a future for our children, we will have to wrest control over our democracy from the corporate elite that now dominate it and severely limit and constrain our policy choices.

Our financially dependent political elite are in the pockets of the oil, gas, coal, biotech, agribusiness, petrochemical and other corporate giants, so policies and programs that are good for the environment and for the people are just not on the table – regardless of whether they would be good for human well-being, regardless of whether they would stimulate the economy and create jobs, regardless if they are arguably necessary for human life to continue beyond the next couple of decades on this planet, and regardless of whether the majority of the people want them – which they do. The great majority of people now want stronger environmental policies, programs and legislation – as well as peace, social justice and meaningful democracy, human rights and civil liberties. The corporate giants do not, so the people get the shaft. This is not about being anti-business; it is about democratic control of our environmental policies and programs, our economy and the commons, for the benefit of all. Corporate influence is in the way. They are the barricade in the hall. They must be moved aside – and firmly if necessary.

You don’t have to be anti-business to be opposed to corporate rule, by the way: to be opposed to rule by corporate elites is simply to favour democracy; and frankly, to call it as it is: to oppose fascism. Corporatism, as Mussolini himself defined, is the merger of business with the state. Anyone who values freedom or democracy must therefore oppose corporatism: which is the unchecked power of business elites, and an empire of corporate dominance over all aspects of society, including the economy, politics, culture and the media. To be anti-corporatist is not to be anti-business: it is simply to understand that any form of unchecked power invariably leads to tyranny and the destruction of freedom; and therefore, to be opposed to such unchecked powers by any kind of elite.

You don’t have to be anti-business to oppose the take-over of democratic government by business elites – you simply have to be sane. You can be pro-business and anti-corporatist: and anyone who truly values democracy must, of logical and practical necessity, be anti-corporatist, regardless of their views on business. I am belabouring the point because the corporate-owned and dominated media repeatedly portray any kind of critique of unchecked corporate powers as leftist lunacy. Here is breaking news for anyone who still buys into this red-scare propaganda that lingers from the McCarthy era, like a can of rotting tuna stinking up the entire house and driving the people to nausea and revulsion: people on the right and the left and in the centre politically are, by an overwhelming majority, in favour of constitutional democracy, and opposed to any kind of dominance over the democratic political process by any kind of elite, including the now globally dominant business elite.

“America’s political classes would do well to listen to the grievances of those involved with Occupy Wall Street, for they undoubtedly represent a set of anxieties shared by a great deal of the population. The corporate take-over of the American political process has not gone unnoticed, neither has the disparity between continued Wall Street profits and the cuts to the welfare state. As unemployment continues at high numbers, resentment surely stirs among those whose lives are slowly being drained at the expense of the corporate state. Recently, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg warned that there would be riots in the streets if Washington does not create more jobs, warning of an American Arab Spring.”
– Emily Manuel, In These Times

“There has been a corporate takeover of politics. You have something called ALEC—the American Legislative Exchange Council—where corporations literally will pay huge sums of money to get together with politicians, draft model legislation that is, then put across the US through state legislation, which is easier to pass than federal legislation.”
– Global Comment writer Anna Lekas Miller

Where once we had to wrest power from the church and the aristocracy who were overstepping their bounds, in order to secure democracy, human rights and freedom, we now must wrest power from an unwieldy and overbearing, frankly tyrannical and self-serving business elite – and everybody who is in the least way sane and rational, who is not neck-deep in denial and who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past fifty years, knows it.

Support for constitutional democracy and checks on corporate power, and the resultant or concomitant opposition to corporate rule, now cuts across the political spectrum. The people are no longer fooled by the red-scare tactics, nor by the broader corporate spin which seeks to mask the obvious: the emperor has no clothes, and everybody knows it – corporations have usurped democratic political powers, and are far over-stepping their proper bounds. Conservatives, liberals and progressives alike now understand this, and know this quite viscerally – and are rightly concerned and rapidly running out of patience in the face of an intolerable situation of corporate oligarchy that seeks limitless powers for itself, while undermining every human value and endangering our very survival on this earth.

We now have grassroots populist conservatives such as Ron Paul and Alex Jones, along with Texas Republicans and the Mainstreet Alliance of Small Business Owners saying the same thing as progressives and people on the left: corporations are out of control, pillaging the nation and the planet, threatening democracy and running rampant – and they need to be reigned in; the people must reclaim their democracy. It is clear now that what I had called for four years ago, which is a coalition of the grassroots, a new union of the people to restore democracy, is not only feasible – it is being born. And that is precisely what we need now.

The reality, which virtually everyone knows, is that the democratic governments of the world are now in hoc, in debt, in dependency and in servitude to a globally dominant international business elite; and virtually all of the major political parties are now the servile lackeys to the ruling corporate empire. Meanwhile, the people increasingly see through this whole pathetic charade, and are becoming quite fed up with it.

You don’t have to lean toward the left politically to be opposed to corporate rule: and at the level of the grassroots, people from the right and the left, conservatives, liberals and progressives, are now beyond wary of unchecked corporate powers – and wish to see democracy reclaimed by the people. What is needed now is a coalition of all those who favour democracy over corporate empire and corporate rule. This is beginning to emerge, and none too soon.

The suicidal kleptocracy of our presently reigning global order of neo-feudal corporatism must end – and now, before we extinguish ourselves from this small and beautiful, fragile, little blue planet. Democracy must be restored: and with power returned to the people, where it rightfully belongs, the commons can once again be protected and shared, wisely and judiciously, for the benefit of all.

If we wish for survival, for a future worth living, or for any future for our children and the children of the earth, then it is absolutely necessary that democracy be reclaimed by the people. This is the most urgent necessity of the time. If Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington or Voltaire were alive today, they most assuredly would be urging it. We should heed their call, the call of their distant but ever-near voices of reason and common sense, and reclaim our power. Restore democracy now. Bring the power back to the people, and let us begin again.

Let it begin. The great turning is here. A new renaissance is being born. Let us work together to bring about a better future and a better world for all. The power is in our hands. We must simply own it, and acknowledge that it is ours.

We have run out of time for idle chit-chat, partisan zealotry and pleasant euphemisms, for polite evasiveness and meek avoidance of the realities that we face. Let us now renew and reclaim our democracy: and we shall in the process, and by this means only, renew and reclaim the commons, for the common good of all. It is this, or it is a dark age ahead – make no mistake. Make your choice wisely. Our future, and our children’s future, depend upon the choices we make now.

Be bold I say, and let us reclaim our future, and the future of humanity – if not for ourselves, then most certainly and assuredly, for the sake of the children of this earth. Their lives and their future cannot be written off, even if we are willing to write off our own. Act now.

“The other superpower” is beginning to stir: humanity is beginning to awake. And nothing, no reactionary force, can stop the rising tide of an awakened humanity. The future is in our hands. I urge all of us now to embrace that power, and to act together to reclaim our future and our world, by first reclaiming our democracy and our power.

Unite now, and let us restore democracy to its proper place – in the hands of the people. Our future and our children’s future hangs in the balance. Let us not hesitate now – we cannot afford to do so. Let us begin, or begin again with renewed energy and a deepened commitment: for we shall succeed, and humanity shall have a new day.

I would like to end this conversation, which I hope will be only the beginning of an ongoing conversation, and more importantly, the basis of strong, bold and dedicated collective action, with one of my favourite quotations, which seems ever-fitting – and especially so now:

“There is more day yet to dawn.
The sun is but a morning star.”
– Henry David Thoreau

And a second, which is equally powerful, equally apt, and equally appropriate to our time:

“It is within our power now to begin the world anew.”
– Thomas Paine

And one last quote: one that is oft-used, and yet profoundly underappreciated – and also extremely relevant to our time and to the task at hand:

“We must all hang together, or assuredly, we shall all hang separately….
United we stand, divided we fall.”
– Benjamin Franklin

As Arundhati Roy so eloquently and beautifully put it, another world is not only possible: she is already being born. Go now – reflect, read, ponder and discuss: then let us act together to bring in a new day and a new dawn for humanity and this earth. I urge you, act now. It is not too late, and what we do or fail to do now, will decide our future, and the future of humanity.

Above all, unite the people to reclaim their democracy. This is the most pivotal and most urgent of tasks at hand. Unite now, and let democracy reign!

The people will reclaim their power. It has already begun. The writing is on the wall. The corporate empire – the last of a series of empires that have risen and fallen through the past five thousand years of history, the clay feet that David spoke of – is teetering and about to fall. It is a wounded and dying, and still yet a dangerous beast, to be sure, but this latest of empires is now crumbling – even while it flails madly in its death throes to preserve its life and maintain its power, and flaunts its power with brazen disregard and sheer contempt for humanity, democracy and life on earth. Its legitimacy is destroyed, by its own acts of malfeasance and abuse of power; and it is only a matter of time before its final demise. The people should see and clearly recognize the opportunity, and reclaim their power and their democracy now.

Rise now and unite. It is time for the full flowering of democracy, and the healing of this fair earth and all our communities. Unite! And let us take back our democracy, for the benefit of all, and for the future of all life on earth, including our own children, and our children’s children. Act now. The time has come for a new dawn.

JTR,
September 28, 2011

 

See Daly and Cobb, For the Common Good, as a prime example of economics that are not insane.

See also:

The Corporation – Joel Bakan (Canadian constitutional lawyer)

Power To the People (In Suits) – Paul Bigioni on Z Net

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

Power Down – Richard Heinberg

Mutual Aid – Peter Kropotkin

The Ecology of Freedom – Murray Bookchin

World As Lover, World As Self – Joanna Macy

Walden – Henry David Thoreau

The Poverty of Affluence – Paul Watchel

Small Is Beautiful- E. F. Schumacher

Year 501 – Noam Chomsky

Necessary Illusions – Noam Chomsky

Shock Doctrine – Naomi Klein

The End of America – Naomi Wolf

Escape From Freedom – Erich Fromm

The Power Elite – C. Wright Mills

Global Showdown – Maude Barlow

On Civil Disobedience – Henry David Thoreau

The Discourse on Voluntary Servitude – Etienne De La Boittee

The Great Turning – David C. Korten

Links: videos, films, books and articles

Leading trend analyst Gerald Celente on economic crisis, plunder, corporate fascism and the emerging renaissance – YouTube

NASA’s Hansen: “If We Stay on With Business as Usual, the Southern U.S. Will Become Almost Uninhabitable.” | ThinkProgress

Power to the People (In Suits) How a whole new kind of business lobby is a threat to democracy by Paul Bigioni

Fears of a corporate police state – David Sirota – Salon.com

Why Isn’t Wall Street in Jail? | Rolling Stone Politics

Obama Goes All Out For Dirty Banker Deal

Main Street Alliance Open Letter To Obama On Jobs

It’s Time to Unstack the Money in Politics Deck

Three Things That Must Happen for Us to Rise Up and Defeat the Corporatocracy | Truthout

Occupy Wall Street: Creating Political Change? — In These Times

Big Ideas That Changed The World : DemocracyTony Benn

Talk – David Korten – The Great Turning – YouTube

Joanna Macy on The Great Turning – YouTube

The Corporation (complete, chapters 1 to 23) – YouTube

Life and Debt [HQ Full Movie] – YouTube

The Yes Men – Trailer – YouTube

The Secret Government: The Constitution In Crisis (1 of 9) – YouTube

The Shock Doctrine (2009) — Naomi Klein – YouTube – full length film

“The End of America” Full Length HQ Film – YouTube

Jared DiamondCollapse! part 1 – YouTube

Amazon.com: The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power (9780743247443): Joel Bakan: Books

The Corporation Film: About the Book

Orwell Rolls in his Grave (Full 3HR Documentary) – YouTube
Manufacturing Consent – Noam Chomsky and the Mass Media – 1/17 – YouTube
Confronting the Empire, by Noam Chomsky (Talk delivered at the III World Social Forum)
The Take – Trailer – YouTube
The Take (La Toma) English subtitles (1/9) – YouTube
The Project Gutenberg eBook – On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, by Henry David Thoreau

#Science Earth’s Annual Resources Used Up Today, Group Says bit.ly/n8flsq

Amazon.com: For The Common Good: Redirecting the Economy toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future (9780807047057): Herman E. Daly, John B. Cobb Jr.: Books