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The Failure of the “Left” – Continued

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

 

In addition to the giant blunders that I’ve already written about, and the clear absence of leadership on the left, there is the even more glaring indictment, which is this:

The US Democratic party, including all major self-proclaimed “progressives”, just voted unanimously, along with the Republicans, to give a $4.2 trillion bailout to the Wall Street corporate elite (after they crashed theeconomy by invoking the lockdown which caused the economic meltdown).

But, the fake left got the people a one-time $1,200 check per person – which won’t do anything – for which they are praising themselves like they are true messiahs.

That was, as it has been said, the cheese that baited the trap. But when the mousetrap snaps shut, as Jimmy Dore said, millions of heads will be crushed.

Millions of families are going to lose their homes – even more than the 5.1 million families who lost their homes in the last crash, in 2007-2009, when the faux left under Obama chose to bail out Wall Street instead of the 99% – which the faux left has just now done again.

Will someone please explain to the left, as well as the centre and right, that trickle-down economics don’t work? If you give billions or trillions to the business elite, it just makes the richest 0.1% richer – it doesn’t help the poor or the middle class, and it doesn’t stimulate the economy.

$20 trillion was transfered from Mainstreet to Wall Street between 2008 and 2010. It made the billionaires and the corporate giants even more astronomically wealthy and powerful. It caused stocks and assets to become super-inflated in an even bigger bubble (through stock buy-backs, which in an earlier era would have been called fraud). It post-poned the structurally inevitable major market correction, aka, crash. But it failed to revive the economy, which has remained in global recession since 2007. The richest got richer, while the 99% continued to be devoured.

Giving $20 trillion in debt relief to the poor, the middle class, and to small and medium business, instead of the Wall Street elite, would both help the people greatly, and also massively stimulate the economy – because they will spend the money, as they have to, to survive; whereas the elite just line their pockets further if you give it to them.

A Green New Deal to build renewable energy and transportation infrastructure would do the same – help the 99% greatly while powerfully boosting the economy – while creating millions of jobs.

For the $4.2 trillion that was just handed to Wall Street, both a job-creating, true economic stimulus of a Green New Deal, as well as debt relief for the struggling majority, could have neen done. Instead, the people have been looted, lied to, and swindled again.

Repeating the same failed multi-trillion dollar wealth transfer from the 99% to the ruling 1% in 2020 is not going to help the people or the economy this time, any more than it did the last time. In factm it is a giant swindle. It is economic warfare: class war. And “the left” legitimized it, and helped make it happen.

Disgraceful.

In the biggest single transfer of wealth from the 99.9% to the top 0.01% in history, “the left” was unanimously on board, just like the centre and the right. Clearly “the left” is, at present, devoid of leadership. Clearly, in fact, it is the faux left. There is no courage, vision, or leadership there.

Is the left leadership corrupt, cowardly, or simply deer caught in the headlights, momentarily shellshocked into a stupor of paralysis and brain fog? I don’t believe it is the first, in general. Let’s hope it is the last explanation, not the second. That would be the most promising.

Whatever the causes of the pervasive failure of the left, we need to correct it, and soon. Things are clearly in dire straights. Moreover, the people need to question everything, and everyone – including their “leaders”.

JTR,

April 9, 2020

Post-Script:

Immediately after writing this short essay, I see the announcement: Fed To Approve Another $2 Trillion In Stimulus. The business elite are tripping over themselves to give themselves ever greater wealth transfers from the people. They jusy can’t plunder the people fast enough, it seems.

Revolution is brewing, mark my words.

Conspiracy Theories vs The Known Facts: Fascism, Oligarchy, & Elite Rule – vs – Freedom, Democracy & Rule By The People

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

As Piers Robinson has said, it’s gotten to the point where questioning power (powerful states, individuals, corporations, institutions or groups) in any way gets you labelled a conspiracy theory. In other words, we’re not supposed to question the powerful.

The powerful can do no wrong, and are therefore above any possible question of wrong-doing. Such notions are of course utterly deceitful if cynically expressed, or else delusional, if honestly held.

Of course power can and should be questioned. That is not only legitimate, but also critically essential to a free and open, democratic society. When the possibility of questioning those in power begins to close down, then you know the society is closing down, and fascism or some other form of tyranny is moving in. That is when questioning power becomes, not only legitimate and vital, but urgently required. Such is the time now in the West, and around the world.

As the saying goes, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts abolutely.” And it is true: which is why it is also true that the price of democracy is eternal vigiliance.

“Wait and see” …there are times when such a response is simply psychotic. If you are crossing the railway tracks and you hear a train whistle, then look up to see a freight train barrelling toward you, it would be psychotic to respond by thinking, “Let’s wait and see what happens.” You get off the tracks. And if others are also in danger, you call out to others to warn them as well, naturally.

There are times when the danger is clear, and must be both acknowledged, and acted upon. Anything less would be simply insane.

Well, there is a clear and present danger, very much akin to a freight train barrelling towards us at high speed – yet the great majority of the people are either asleep on the tracks, or are taking a “wait and see” attitude, unbelievably.

The fact is, however, despite the mass somnambulance, the great majority of people in the world have lost faith, trust and confidence in the political and business elite, international institutions (such as the IMF, WTO, World Bank and ECB), the economic and political systems, pundits, “experts”, and the major media. This is hopeful. Loss of faith in these “leaders”, institutions, power structures, systems, “authorities”, oligarchs and elites, means that common sense is not yet dead.

There is a global awakening taking place, and people are highly aware that corruption is quite common, if not systemic – and it is systemic.

People know now, that individuals, groups, institutions, corporations, states and groups, sometimes do indeed carry out dark deeds. And of course they know that the darkest deeds are kept secret, or are disguised.

These things are simply common sense: evil exists; or dark deeds, if you prefer to call it something else. We are not five years old. We know that while, as Chomsky said, “The great majority have basically decent impulses”, there are always a few in every generation who are ruthlessly predatory, filled with egomania, power-lust, hatred, or insatiable greed. And it is perfectly clear that people in power are equally capable of dark motives and dark deeds.

In fact, it is arguable, and easily demonstrated, that allowing power to be highly concentrated in society attracts the corrupt and the power-hungry, and ends up giving the worst among us great powers to abuse. The logical response, therefore, would be to hold the powerful to a much higher standard of questioning and skepticism, because the known risks for abuse of power are proven to be so great.

The longer term sensible response would be to place more effective checks and balances on power than the framers of modern democracy had felt necessary. Clearly they were wrong. Their checks and balances were not sufficient. Now we must correct the error, and very soon, if not right away.

Democracy and freedom are founded on the most basic premises: these are, among others, that freedom is a value to preserved; that democracy, or rule of the people by the people, especially if it is constitutional democracy, with rights and liberties, and a voice, guaranteed, or at least constitutionally protected, for all, offers greater freedom and also less danger of abuse of power than any form of oligarchy or elite rule; that any government, institution, individual or group can be corrupted by power; that the greater the concentration of power, the greater the danger of power being abused, and being abused more severely and more systematically, until democracy and freedom themselves are destroyed; and that an informed and engaged public, a free exchange of ideas and information, and the questioning of power, and the transparency and accountability of power, are therefore essential and critical to both freedom and to democracy.

That makes questioning authority, elites, and powerful groups, institutions, organizations, corporations, individuals and states, not only acceptable and legitimate, but an urgent duty and a moral imperative, at all times, and especially when signs of growing concentrations of power, abuse of power, and assaults on democracy, civil liberties and freedom are underway – as they clearly are now, and have been for well over fifty years.

*

And as the global death toll from coronavirus reaches 58,000, or 1/10th the typical yearly death toll from the common flu, and manufactured hysteria becomes the really dangerous pandemic, while fascist machinations contine to exploit the crisis, it is more critical than ever to think for ourselves, and to question everything. The virus is real; but the danger has been greatly exaggerated – and most importantly, the crisis has been used by elites, both East and West, to consolidate their power by stripping the people of their power, their liberties, and their rights. It is critical that we question this emerging global police state now.

*

Some people may dismiss what I am saying, when I speak of a global corporate take-over or coup – something which should be obvious to all by now, and is now obvious to most people -by calling me a leftist; as if that precludes or ends all possibility of rational discussion or debate, or in any way alters the facts of the matter.

Considering that the entire poliitical spectrum has been very deliberately slid far to the right over the past 50 years, in a highly conscious elite response to the cultural awakening of the 1960’s, which liberal elites in the Trilateral Commision called, “an excess of democracy”; considering that even the US Democratic Party, the British Labour Party, and the Canadian Liberal Party, are now wholely owned organs of the ruling corporate elite, and have become supporters of a far right take-over of the economy, the political process and the government by big business, and that all of them are now far to the right of Eisenhower, a moderate Republican; and furthermore, considering that anyone who is not far to the right of FDR, is now considered a radical leftist – I will wear the badge with pride.

In any case, it means nothing to dismiss someone as leftist – especially in light of what we have just now described.

Others may dismiss me by calling me a “conspiracy theorist” – which is a meaningless term, designed simply to shut down all debate or discussion.

I agree with what Chomsky said about the phrase. “Conspiracy theory is a term that is used to poo-poo institutional analysis.” Exactly.

As Chomsky has said, “If you want to understand a society, you have to look at where power lies.” That should be self-evident – that should be politics or sociology 101.

What Michael Parenti said on the matter was also  instructive, as well as amusing. He said (I’m paraphrasing from memory here), “People say to me, “Do you think there are powerful men who meet in a ROOM somewhere?!” To which Parenti replied, with his New Yorker piercing wit, “No, I don’t think there are powerful men meeting in a ROOM somewhere. They talk about their plans while skydiving, 5,000 feet in the air…. Of course they meet in a ROOM! Where do you think they’re going to meet?”

And he went on to point out the obvious: powerful men, and a few women, have certain shared class interests. Dockworkers get together to discuss their shared interests. Librarians get together to discuss their shared interests. Teachers and nurses and auto workers and miners get together to discuss their shared interests. But people think it’s inconceivable that business elites might get together to discuss their shared interests?

Let’s not be absurd. Of course the billionaires get together to discuss their common interests. We even know where and when: it’s called Davos, at the World Economic Forum. It’s no secret. Maybe some people have heard of it. That’s the group that Canadian philosopher John Ralston Saul called, “the new royal court”, ” the new Palace of Versailles” – the group that the leading business journal in the Western world, The Financial Times, called, “The de facto world government.”

What theory? These are simply known facts.

Most of the elite grew up in the same rich boys neighbourhoods, went to the same rich boys schools, belong to the same rich men’s clubs. And the newcomers to the plutocratic oligarchy tend to join gleefully into the ranks, sliding effortlessly into the ruling ideology of self-serving, self-justifying, self-deceiving vanity, narcissism, egomania, power-lust and greed, rationalized by pretenses of being world-benefactors.

A scumbag like Bill Gates, who got his start by stealing and cheating, can schmooze comfortably with the self-aggrandizing Rockefeller clan, and be “one of the boys”, because he has joined the same rich man’s clubs, and has adopted the same rich man’s delusions of grandeur and self-deceit.

Elite clubs have been described as a mafia poker game. Once in a while someobody pulls out a gun and shoots someobody else at the table – and yes, everyboody in the room is competing with everybody else in the room – but they all want the game to continue, and nobody wants their game interrupted for any reason, especially by outsiders.

We know that the world’s power elite get together to plan their common interests in effectively ruling the world. We even know the names of their clubs – they’re not secret: the WTO, the World Economic Forum, the IMF, the World Bank, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commision, the Bilderberg Group.

We know most of their elite boys clubs, their names, and a good deal about them. And they show a few common, recurring themes: the elite hate democracy – because it limits their power, and puts restrictions on their actions, and their global looting and profits; and they do love power, and will use various Machiavellian methods to maintain and increase and consolidate their power.

These are the two overwhelmingly predominant and consistent themes among the elite rich boys clubs. And they are not very surprising. They indicate what Adam Smith refer to as, “the vile maxim of the masters”, which he said was, “all for us, nothing for anyobody else” – which is still, to this day, the clear maxim and philosophy of the ruling elite.

*

I myself consider there to be only two US Presidents who are worthy of respect, to my knowledge (though, admittedly, as a Canadian, my knowledge of US history is glaringly spotty and incomplete, despite, I think, the broad patterns being understood fairly well). They are Thomas Jefferson, one of the founders of the country, and the only true democrat among the founders, the rest being elitist oligarchs, as we can see from their own words; and Eisenhower, a Republican President who warned us of the military industrial complex, and the potential rise of a technocratic fascism.

Jefferson warned us of exactly what I have been writing about, except that he wrote it in 1812, over 200 years ago. He said, “I pray we shall crush the birth of the moneyed aristocracy in its infancy, for already it bids defiance to our laws and seeks a contest of strength with our democratic government.”

But he was just a conspiracy theorist, of course. We needn’t take him seriously.

Eisenhower, I would say – who was, again, a Republican, and a conservative – was the last US president worthy of respect, from what the historical record clearly shows, and also, the one who warned us of the growing power of the deep state, the shadow government, or the power elite, which he called, the military industrial complex. If agreeing with Eisenhower, that the military industrial complex and the shadowy power elites its serves, should be viewed with caution and skepticism, and watched carefully for potentially great abuses of power, makes me a conspiracy theorist, then call me a conspiracy theorist – along with US President Eisenhower.

Under those, most reasonable stipulations, I will happily accept the badge, though I still think it misdirects the people from the actual issues at hand, and thus, serves only to cloud the people’s judgment and their minds.

We know that the richest three men in the US now control as much wealth as the poorest half of Americans. We know that the richest eight individuals in the world now control more wealth than the poorest half of humanity. The figures show us unmistakably that we have moved from liberal democracies, 200 years ago, into crony capitalism dominated by business elites, to the full merger of busines and the state, which is corporatism: which, as Mussolini himself said, is the proper term for fascism.

Whether you are left, right or centre, the fact of growing and unchecked concentrations of power remains, and has reached extreme degrees.

There is nothing theoretical about it. The question is, what are we going to do about it?

JTR,

March 22, 2020

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

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

 

The two greatest threats to democracy and freedom in the West, or to peace, justice, equality, or even a viable future for humanity, are without question, the currently reigning de facto world government of neofeudal corporate oligarchy, also known as neoliberalism, and the fascist order which it is rapidly morphing into. The Red fascism of China’s totalitarian corporate-Mandarin model is simply the mirror image of the corporate neoliberalism in the West – and the two have effectively merged, like the double coil helix of a mutagenic DNA which is the new cancer spreading over the world, and devouring all. We either come to understand these three phenomenon better – the neoliberal corporate oligarchy of the West, and its mirror in China, and the global fascist order they are clearly transmuting into – or we will soon be slaves, living in a poisoned, gulag world, watching the Earth slowly die.

*

What is fascism?

Fascism and neoliberalism are widely misunderstood. As is the state of contemporary China, though perhaps less so because it is so stark. This must change.

Fascism is widely confused with flags and banners, slogans, marching styles – outer drapings. It is even more widely confused with racism, xenophobia, and a very malignant kind of nationalism. The latter three elements are common to fascism, but they are not the heart of fascism. The heart of fascism, and the only essential element, is what Mussolini himself defined it to be: it is the merger of business and the state.

And that is exactly what we have seen over the past 50 years, with the de-linking of the US dollar from any real world connection (the 1971 decoupling of the dollar from gold, and unilateral abandonment of the gold standard by the US), the birth of heavily financialized global crony capitalism, and the emergence of neoliberalism and corporate globalization. All of this represented the slow-motion fascist coup which is the big business take-over of both government and the global economy.

Fascism is not men in black uniforms goosestepping in the streets, necessarily. It is the hyper-concentration of power in the hands of the few, whereby big business has effectively usurped and taken over the powers of democratic governments.

It is not the window dressings we need to be afraid of, but the lust for power which is at the core of fascism, and which has clearly been at the core of neoliberalism, its for-runner, for well over 40 years.

What is neoliberalism?

First of all, neoliberalism is not static. It is always changing. The cancer stage of capitalism describes it well, as the Canadian philosopher John McMurtry put it. And it is always morphing. There is no permanent state of neoliberalism. It began with crony capitalism, and is moving toward its culmination, which is fascism.

The central tendency of neoliberalism is the same as crony capitalism, or capitalism itself: it is the tendency to concentrate wealth, and therefore power, in ever greater degrees, in ever fewer hands.

What began as liberal capitalist democracies in the late 1700’s, quickly devolved and descended into crony capitalism, which means societies effectively ruled by business elites.

That wasn’t much of a step, since that was essentially the starting point of Western liberal capitalist democracies. They were dominated by land-owning elites, merchants and manufacturers from the outset. It was easy and natural to continue that trajectory.

Thomas Jefferson saw what was happening in 1812, when he said, “I pray we shall crush the birth of the moneyed aristocracy in its infancy, for already it bids defiance to our laws and seeks a contest of strength with our democratic government.”

But we failed to listen. We did not place checks and balances, or any effectual limits on the natural tendency of capitalism to concentrated capital and wealth, and thus to concentrate power. The result is neoliberalism: a social order in which business elites – the less than 1,000 corporations and 1,000 ultra-rich individuals globally, who meet yearly at Davos – effectively rule the world, and every major nation and government, with few exceptions.

But the important realization is that neoliberalism is not the final end point of this historically unfolding trajectory. It is just a mid-point on the arc. The descending arc of modern democracy runs from 1776, through crony capitalism, through neoliberalism, to its natural conclusion – which is the full merger of business and the state: which, again, as Mussolini said, is called corporatism – which, as he said, is the proper term for fascism.

There is nothing new with neoliberalism. As Chomsky said, it is not particularly new, and it is not particularly liberal. What it is, is a bid for power. Business elites 200 years ago simply wanted more and more wealth and power, and they got it. 200 years later, having effectively taken over the global economy, the financial system, the media, much of academia and the church, and most governments and international institutions in the world, the ruling business elite are now seeking to consolidate their power – before they lose it.

They are keenly aware that they have been in the midst of a rapidly deepening, global crisis of legitimacy, which is quickly coming to a global tipping point. Their advisors have told them what this means. It means the Western corporate oligarchy could collapse like a house of cards, virtually overnight, just as the Soviet Empire collapsed, between 1989 and 1991.

The Western elite are terrified of losing power, and at the same time, have never had such dizzying heights of power – although it is increasingly, and undeniably, fragile. They simply want to batten down the hatches and hold onto what they’ve got – as the new rulers of the world – by any means necessary. Fascism is simply the most expedient means to their desired end. In fact, it is the only means available. It is either that, or it is major compromise with the people, and the tolerating of real democracy – which they decidedly do not want; or else, losing power altogether – which they are adamantly opposed to.

The Western elite see the resort to a more authoritarian, and highly controlled, technocratic, scientific fascism, as their only means to keep their power, without having to compromise with the pesky 99.9%, or demands such as justice, fairness, equality, freedom, democracy, civil liberties, green politics and environmental concerns, or anything that might require a sharing of wealth or power.

*

In 2020, we are seeing the Western and Eastern oligarchies carry out a test run and a social engineering project with a global mass house arrest and lockdown of society, rationalized by a greatly exaggerated public health crisis.

The facts are coming in now, to confirm what should have been obvious from the beginning. The mortality rate in Europe this year is no higher than in the three previous years, and in fact lower, despite the “pandemic”. The centre, right and left all swallowed the hook, line and sinker of this latest propaganda war, and accepted the trial run of fascist lockdown – cheerfully. They will, it is hoped, soon come to their senses, and check the facts, and more importantly, question the rationalizations for a global police state.

What was emerging in 2019, was a global wave of democratic uprisings, and the beginnings of a wave of global democratic revolutions. This explains the 2020 lockdown, along with the end of the line for the ability of vast money printing to keep afloat a wildly unstable global economy, while the germ theory standard narrative does not fit the facts.

*

Whether it is sooner or later, the people must reclaim their democracy, and their freedom. And in China, they must discover that this is, in fact, a better way than the Maoist neoliberal Confucian-Orwellian totalitarianism, which they currently have.

In the world’s biggest democracy, which is India, with the second largest middle class in the world, the people must decide if they wish to see the death of the Gandhian dream, of freedom, democracy, self-government and independence, tolerance and peace, as the country which for thousands of years has been one of the great spiritual beacons of the world, descends into a narrow-minded, bigoted, petty and brutal, barbaric neoliberal/neoconservative corporatist oligarchy and fascist state, a la Modi, sowing war both within and outside its borders, like a mad leper devouring his own flesh; or whether, perhaps, they can imagine something better.

Whatever transpires in the weeks, months and years ahead, we will not see neoliberalism last. It is rapidly descending, or morphing, more precisely, into the full merger of business and the state, which is fascism. Only the willfully ignorant or most dogmatic of ideologues can refuse to see this most obvious fact by now.

Whether this new, second wave of fascism lasts decades, or is but a brief flash, is up to the people to decide. But if it lasts for long, not only will freedom and democracy, human rights and dignity be crushed, at least temporarily, but so too, will all chances and all hopes for a green and sustainable society, or even, a viable future of any kind for humanity on Earth.

This is our last stand. Make your choices well.

*

Roughly 650 years ago, in the mid-1300s, the Black Plague spelled the beginning of the end for feudalism. While the global pandemic of 2020, so far, and by all present measures, is infinitely smaller in magnitude than the Black Death, the draconian lockdown and mass house arrest of three billion people has caused an economic meltdown that is fanning the flames of social unrest, which were already extremely high and rising by 2019. We can look at that lockdown and its implications in two broad ways – other ways being frankly deceitful, or else delusional. Ominous and disastrous, is one side of the implications. Potential for great, tectonic social change, is the other side, and equally as real. However, with the neo-feudalism which we are now facing, both East and West, we do not have 400 years to throw it off, and rise above it. If it takes us 400 years to overcome our present global neo-feudal order, then humanity, by all likelihood, and almost certainly, will have ceased to exist, for the global ecosystems of the world will have long since been destroyed.

Whatever we are going to do, we had best reflect deeply, and be clear as to the true meaning and implications of our actions. What we do not need now is to sow our own slavery, or our own destruction, thinking that is the road to freedom, to happiness, or to a better world. Moreover, whatever we do, we had best do it now. We have simply run out of time for any kind of dithering, delays, avoidance or evasion, procrastination or hesitation. The time, quite simply, is now.

Democracy must be reborn. It truly is, now or never.

JTR,
April 8, 2020

Max & Stacy Nail It: The Long Emergency Begins In Earnest

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on April 7, 2020 by jtoddring

Max & Stacy nail it. This time more than usual. Few see the historical significance of the coronavirus lockdown event. They seem to better than most.

What is happening? In a nutshell, I would say that elite power games are backfiring due to imperial hubris:

Lockdown and social distancing cause economic meltdown leading to social rebellion and techtonic shift.

One more important point needs to be made, however. Max and Stacy make the mistake most people do (even the brilliant get it wrong sometimes, and right now, nearly everyone is getting it wrong). They confuse the effect for the cause.

The coronavirus is real, not fake. But the danger was and is greatly exaggerated, as Stanford professors and others are confirming. Regardless of the real or percieved danger of the virus, however, the central fact remains: the repressive measures of social distancing and mass house arrest, the lockdown itself, caused the economic meltdown, not the virus.

This is important to realize, because the plutocrats are trying to blame a virus, when in fact they pulled the strings on the lockdown, which was the real cause of the current economic mass carnage. Bear that in mind as the same kleptocratic elite try to present themselves as the saviours of the people. This cannot be stressed enough.

Make sure you catch part two, with James Howard Kunstler, on the long emergency ahead – which is now well underway.

And watch also: Supply Chains: The Last Mile.

Much love, y’all.
Stay well, and don’t believe the major news media, naturally.
Todd
Sent from ProtonMail Mobile
(Just say no to Big Brother. Boycott Google and Big Tech whenever possible.)

Could unchecked government power be more dangerous than the threat of infectious disease? – Take the survey

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on April 7, 2020 by jtoddring

When citizens are fearful and fraught with panic, they willingly give up freedoms for promises that the government will provide safety. Is unchecked government power more dangerous than the threat of infectious disease?

Since the first US case of COVID-19 was confirmed by the CDC on January 21, life as we know it has dramatically changed. The number of reported cases continues to rise, schools and businesses have been shut down nationwide, and state and local governments are taking extraordinary measures to keep citizens apart to curb the spread of the virus.

Stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders are being instituted daily across the country. Some are more restrictive than others, with violations deemed a criminal offense subject to fines and/or jail time in certain areas. As of March 31, these restrictions have affected approximately 265 million people in 32 states, 80 counties, 17 cities, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, according to an interactive map published by the New York Times.

When approached properly, staying inside, limiting public contact and cooperating with medically necessary virus tracking efforts are reasonable and responsible actions. However, forcing citizens to stay at home and imposing broad restrictions — particularly for an undetermined length of time — can have dire consequences on citizens’ socioeconomic, psychological and physical well being.

For example, social workers are already reporting that child abuse and domestic violence cases are rising. People who are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill (such as the elderly and people with pre-existing health problems) are in more danger now because they are losing access to health care services. Other people who need extra care and protection, even under normal circumstances, are now being isolated from their support systems due to social distancing measures.

Moreover, one study found an increased risk of death among men following a job loss, and a 2020 Lancet study found that the restriction of liberties during quarantine could have devastating adverse effects, including increased reports of suicides and lawsuits. We are already seeing these effects. Crisis hotlines are being flooded, and officials in Tennessee noted that the state had more deaths from suicide last week than coronavirus.

At the same time, serious questions about the legality and constitutionality of the emergency powers being invoked are emerging; specifically, emergency powers that allow for the detainment of anyone on mere suspicion of exposure to someone who tested positive, or is suspected to be positive, for COVID-19. Further, on March 22, it was reported that the Justice Department asked Congress to allow chief judges to detain individuals indefinitely without trials during emergencies. The power to detain healthy, law-abiding individuals is deeply alarming and is evidence of lawmakers casting aside civil and constitutional rights”

– Stand For Health Freedom – survey on coronavirus responses

 

Here (below) is the response I gave as to how the lockdown measures have affected my family. I am sure others have suffered even worse.

Stress levels have soared. Family health has been in turn negatively affected. Fear of job loss and income loss, and loss of our home, has also been a major factor in stress and wellness, of course. Deep agony was caused by separation of family members who were already coping with severe chronic illness, and now had to contend with family separation on top of it. (Trump was rightly denounced for separating families – now it is widespread and routine. It is still, however, every bit as evil.) Worst of all, the draconian,  literally fascist lockdown measures, forced mass quarantine, and effective mass house arrest of three billion people, have caused us grave worries for the future of freedom, democracy and civil liberties. A shattering of the already thin and crumbling public faith in political and business “leaders” is sure to result from this, what we feel is unquestionably, far worse than a major blunder, but rather, a dire precedent, and a grave error.

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

Please take the short survey, then share it everywhere.

JTR,
April 6, 2020

Please take two minutes to take the survey here:

Could unchecked government power be more dangerous than the threat of infectious disease?

Reading History And Social Theory As If People, The Planet, Or The Future Mattered

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on April 7, 2020 by jtoddring

 

A Review of Stephen Toulmin’s Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda Of Modernity, and, A Reading List For Thoughtful People

Slow to get going, then increasingly fascinating, Toulmin’s Cosmopolis is a genuine must-read. As a history of culture and consciousness it is stellar. I’d give it four out of five stars, in that realm. However, as a work of philosophy, I’d have to give it a failing grade, because it ends with a regression to ancient Skepticism (echoed in that rotting bog which is contemporary post-modernism). Two out of five as a work of philosophy. And as a history of political-economy, again, it fails: leading us into an uncritical passive acceptance of a clearly anti-democratic, technocratic, increasingly crypto-fascist neoliberal corporate globalization, as the inevitable and naturally superior gift of “progress”. Two out of five stars as a book on politics.

For a vastly better critique of modernity, and far more insightful views on our ever-unfolding history, see:

Noam Chomsky, Year 501: The Conquest Continues, along with: Class Warfare, Requiem For The American Dream, Profit Over People, and Necessary Illusions

Ronald Wright, Stolen Continents, and, A Short History of Progress

EF Schumacher, A Guide For The Perplexed

John Michael Greer, Retrotopia

James Howard Kunstler, A History Of The Future

Helena Norberg-Hodge, Ancient Futures

Wade Davis, The Wayfinders

David Maybury-Lewis, Millennium

Joseph Campbell, The Hero With A Thousand Faces

David Suzuki, Wisdom of the Elders

Allan Wallace, Choosing Reality

Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism

Erich Fromm, The Pathology Of Normalcy, The Sane Society, and Escape From Freedom

Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, and Brave New World Revisted

George Orwell, 1984

Arthur Kroker, Data Trash

Chris Brazier, The No-Nonsense Guide To World History

Ken Wilber, A Brief History Of Everything

John Perkins, A Game As Old As Empire

Christopher Simpson, Blowback: America’s Recruitment of Nazis

Susan George, Shadow Sovereigns

John Pilger, The New Rulers Of The World

Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine

Sarah Anderson, Views From The South

C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite

Peter Phillips, Giants: The Global Power Elite

Bertrand Russell, Roads To Freedom

Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid

Rianne Eisler, The Chalice and The Blade

Murray Bookchin, The Ecology Of Freedom

Henry David Thoreau, Walden, and On Civil Disobedience

Happy reading!

JTR,
April 7, 2020

The Myth Of Progress – Pricking The Bubble

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2020 by jtoddring

Again and again, I am reminded of the need for humility, as well as dignity and confidence. I am reminded not only by my own faults and errors, which are numerous enough, but also by many of the people I respect the most. Again, and again, I read an exceptionally brilliant book, am floored by the clarity and lucidity of mind, and then, am momentarily shell-shocked by the seemingly sudden loss of clarity, and the introduction of what to me is a glaring error. Few people are omniscient or infallible. Shared illusions, furthermore, are not only possible, but are the norm. Shared illusions with regards to the mythology of progress, are a perfect example.

(Stephen Toulmin’s, Cosmopolis, a brilliant book on the history of the modern world, made me reflect on these things again today. A once in 400 year book ends with an assumption, a presumption, of the myth of progress? As I say, question everything. If the most brilliant minds are capable of error, and often great errors, what are our politicians and media pundits capable of? Sheer idiocy, outright lies, half-truths, distortions, evasions, blatant self-delusion? Yes, all of that, and more.)

No one demolishes our modern illusions about progress so marvelously, or with such wit, as Thoreau; but I will do my best here, to follow in the footsteps of one of my great heroes; and urge everyone to read Walden, and On Civil Disobedience, again.  We need such uncommon clarity and Earthy, practical wisdom now.

This is a short bit of reflection on a subject I have returned to many times over several decades – not a comprehensive discourse or treatise on the mythology or ideology of progress, by any stretch. But pithy kernels of thought are useful, it seems to me, because they spark further thought and reflection. Consider this one small spark – knowing that that is all it takes to begin a wildfire: one that can burn through our shared illusions, like the sunrise dispels the darkness of the night.

*

The Western world is heavily influenced by certain founding mythologies (mythologies in the proper sense of the term, meaning grand narratives, subtextual philosophies or worldviews), or confluences of mythology, culture and thought: including Judaism, and later Christianity and Islam; those of ancient Greece, both pre-Hellenic and Hellenic; Roman; Medieval, that of the Renaissance, and of the Enlightenment. (We are dealing in major patterns here, though of course there have been, and are, many other currents.)

Core among Western assumptions, are assumptions or mythologies surrounding the nature of time. Four common mythology groups can be identified, as a start, with regards to views of time: linear descent, linear progress, eternal return, and time as an illusion.

Let’s take the last view first. Time as an illusion is the least common view in the West, the view or mythology with the least cultural, psychological or historical influence – though it is most accurate. All is change, as Heraclitus, the Buddha and Lao Tzu have said, and King Solomon as well; yet, as the Buddhist, Hindu and Taoist views all assert, and mystics of the West as well, time remains an illusion, because while the many are always changing and in flux, the many are always, in truth, the One – hence all is in constant change, yet all change is illusory; therefore time is illusory. Compassion within the illusion of time is paradoxically essential to an intelligent life, much less an enlightened state; yet time remains an illusion, because duality is an illusion, and hence, no true change exists, but only changes in appearance or form.

We will pass over the mystics’ view of time, for now. Let’s look at what the non-mystic great majority have believed about the nature of time – since, unfortunately, they have shaped Western history more than any sages have done.

For the great majority of people, both East and West, time is very real. (Transcendent Oneness may be an attractive idea, but few are genuinely interested in even exploring it. Maya is everything.) And here we are left with three major remaining mythologies, philosophies, or views, with regards to the nature of time:

1. Time is linear, and everything is in a state of decline from an original golden age, or the paradise of Eden. This is the view of ancient Greece, China and India, and with important variations, it is also the core Judaeo-Christian view. Everything was wonderful, then there was a fall from grace, and we are on our way down to the bottom. And if we look deeply at this view, in all cases above, the bottom is not final, but only a nadir, from which rebirth is certain to occur. There is much to be said of, and for, this view, but that is not the topic of this essay.

3. The third view is one of circularity in time: the eternal return. Time may look linear to us, but it is circular in reality. There is much to be said for this view as well, but it too, is not the topic at hand.

2. The second view is linear time marked by an inevitable upward trend. This is the mythology of progress. This is – or became in the modern world – the true religion of the West.

When the Enlightenment thinkers revisited the ancient Western mythology of time, they turned it on its head – similarly to Marx turning Hegel on his head, and with similar general confusion.

The modern view became the mirror image of the traditional Judaeo-Christian view. Now, time is viewed as linear – that much is retained of the mythology; but the path is not inevitable descent, but inevitable ascent.

Modernity became as religiously devoted to the ideology and mythology of progress, as Judaeo-Christianity was wedded to the idea of the fall, decline, decay, the end of time, and cosmic rebirth.

The modern view was simply a secularization of the mythology of redemption. But redemption was to be by our own power and cleverness. (As Nietzsche said, “The ego –  our last article of faith.”) Progress is our redemption; and progress is assured – inevitable.

Thankfully, I haven’t heard anyone use the phrase, “You can’t stop progress”, in quite some time. The mythology has cracked, and is crumbling. “Progress” is not so assured to us now.

And what of the notion of progress? (The author John Michael Greer makes the case well: it is a dying and outmoded notion, that was largely illusory to begin with.) The ideology or mythology of progress takes it as an unquestionable truism that everything that comes later in time, must, by definition, be better than which came before. But is that really true?

Clothes produced in Chinese sweatshops tend to be low quality and wear out quickly – but moving all manufacturing to China and other low-wage areas of the world is a new phenomenon: so all products made in China must therefore be better in terms of quality, since this is a new “development” or phenomenon. Clearly this is not the case.

If the mythology of progress was true, then in the 1930’s, when fascism was rising in Germany and Italy, since fascism was new, it must therefore be an improvement, and must have been better than the free and open democracies which it replaced.

Clearly, only the criminally insane and the pathological would agree that Nazism and fascism were improvements over democracy, or free and open societies, simply because they came after democracy, and (for a time) crushed democracy. Clearly, what comes later in time is not necessarily better than what came before.

*

I do have faith, or confidence, if you prefer, in the long-term upward trajectory of humanity. I firmly believe that Martin Luther King Jr. was right when he said, “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” But I have no illusions that we cannot have set-backs, or that temporary regression is not possible. Clearly it is. Look at the Nazis and other fascists in the 1930’s and ’40’s. Clearly, we can regress, just as easily as we can progress. You can climb up a mountain, stumble, and fall back down again. Stumbling and falling are not impossible. Descent is as real as ascent.

China is now ruled by a totalitarian bureaucracy that has wedded itself to neoliberalism, every bit as much as Western corporate neoliberalism has wedded itself to it. It is a match made in hell, and the two deserve each other – while humanity deserves neither.

China represents neofeudal technocratic corporatism (or Red fascism, as I call it); the West is ruled by a technocratic corporate neofeudalism. One is the mirror image of the other. Neither can be tolerated by those who value freedom or democracy, civil rights, or a world where people are something other than slaves, consumer drones, and mindless cogs in a great machine.

But this new form of society for China, this new Confuscianist-Orwellian neofeudal corporatism, came after Taoism and Zen. Does that make it superior to Taoism and Zen, because it came later in time? The newer is better, right? Everything that is new is best. That is the mythology of inevitable progress.

To my mind, one would have to be out of one’s mind, to say that an Orwellian-Confucian neo-feudal bureaucratic corporate police state is superior to either ancient Taoism or Zen. I think there is absolutely no question about this. What came latter, happens to be a profound regression – not progress at all. That can and does happen in history. We can make miss-steps.

Neoliberalism is a recent ideological construct, not yet quite 50 years old – because it is new does that mean it is better? Must the drive toward a global corporate oligarchy be accepted as inevitable, or worse, as inevitable progress? I think we would be quite delusional and deranged to assume such a thing, when all the evidence is that neoliberalism, and the corporatism – aka fascism – which it represents, is extraordinarily destructive to people and the planet both.

Viewed in this light, we have had 50 years of regress.

Culturally, it is clear we have progressed greatly in the past 50 years. But in terms of reigning political-economic systems, structures and ideologies, we have simply fallen into a ditch – because we followed blind men.

We’ve had fifty years of neoliberalism – which is the ideology which rationalizes the corporate take-over of the world – and fifty years of post-modernism – which effectively lobotomized intellectuals for five decades, spinning polysyllabic webs of confusion justifying a hidden nihilism, which in turn provided the perfect cover for a corporatist (that is, fascist) take-over.

Maybe now we can regain our senses, and reject both neoliberal corporatism, which is fascism with a pretty face, and also post-modernist nihilism, which vacates all intellect and common sense, neuters the people, and paves the way for the justification of, and collusion with, almost anything – including the worst of evils, and the worst regression.

Are post-modernism and global neoliberal corporatism improvements over the values of the Renaissance, of dignity and confidence, with a counterbalancing of  tolerance and humility? Are they improvements over Spinoza, or over Plotinus, Socrates or Aristotle? Are they improvements over Jesus, Mohammed, Daniel or Moses? Are they improvements over the Enlightenment values of liberty, equality, and solidarity, the values of the American and French Revolutions, the values of democracy and common sense? I would say that any reasonable or honest accounting would show both post-modernism and neoliberal corporatism to be deeply regressive, barbaric, profoundly myopic, and frankly delusional. We had best retrace our steps, and think again.

There are many treasures to be saved, and preserved, and cherished, from our 5,000 year journey. Neoliberalism and post-modernism are not among them. These belong on the dung heap,

*

We can take the best from the past and the present, and decide to reject certain new trends, ideologies or technologies as destructive to life on Earth: nuclear weapons, chemical and biological weapons; along with fascism, neofeudalism, and neoliberal corporate oligarchy – all of which are various ways of describing the same single system; are among the things which we should reasonably and unequivocally, and firmly reject.

In short, we have choices. There are dangers, and there are opportunities. We must make the best of the latter, while navigating around, overcoming, or defeating the former. This should be a matter of common sense.

Chomsky sums it up well, as he so often does:

(I am paraphrasing from memory here)

“The world is filled with ominous portent, and signs of great hope. Which result ensues, is largely up to what we do with the opportunities at hand.”

Exactly.

Let’s not be complacent. There is work to be done. We have a better future, and a better world to build – a task we are entirely capable of fulfilling. But complacency and denial are luxuries that we most certainly cannot afford.

JTR,
April 6, 2020

 

Further reading:

Noam Chomsky, Necessary Illusions: Thought Control In Democratic Societies,
Year 501: The Conquest Continues,
Class Warfare,
and
Requiem For The American Dream: The Principles Of Concentration Of Wealth & Power
George Orwell, 1984
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, and Brave New World Revisited
Yevgeny Zamyatin, We
Jack London, Iron Heel
Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine
David C. Korten, When Corporations Rule The World
Susan George, Shadow Sovereigns
John Pilger, The New Rulers Of The World
John Perkins, A Game As Old As Empire, and
The New Confessions Of An Economic Hitman
C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite
Peter Phillips, Giants: The Global Power Elite
Murray Bookchin, The Ecology of Freedom
Erich Fromm, Escape From Freedom
Bertrand Russell, Roads To Freedom
Joanna Macy, World As Lover, World As Self

And perhaps most urgently:

Ronald Wright, A Short History Of Progress

For philosophical, cultural, anthropological and historical perspective, there is no better guide or place to start than here – an immenseley erudite and deeply perceptive book which reveals precisely, by contrast, and exactly where we stand in the early 21st century: still lost in a continuing dark age that daily threatens to get ever darker – until we reflect, and change our course:

Joseph Campbell, The Hero With A Thousand Faces

Time to wake up. Fascism is rising, and the planet and the people are in peril.

 

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