Archive for collapse

Canadian and US Federal Elections – 2015, 2016: A summary of the prospects and possible outcomes

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2015 by jtoddring

Revolution, reform, stagnation – or worse?

It is sometimes difficult to say what would be best for a given nation at a given time in history. There are things that would be desirable, of course, or which seem desirable, and things that are quite clearly, urgently needed – but in what way they should best be brought about, can be very difficult to say. There are many unintended consequences in life, and sometimes, good things turn out badly, or terrible things end up generating good responses, and good results in the end – though no one would wish for it to have come about in the way that it did. Ethics and compassion should rule our actions and guide our choices, but predicting what, precisely, is the best course, is virtually impossible. We simply have to use our best judgement, and go with that. Some things are clear, some not so clear. But we can say a few things with reasonable certainty.

We should remember that everything is subject to change at all times, and open to change, but one thing that appears to be clear, at least for the moment, is that the Canadian federal election is, by all indications, a non-event, since the three major political parties have either lost their courage, or lost their integrity, or both, and are all on-board with a pro-pipeline, pro big oil, neo-liberal, pro “free trade” agenda of de facto corporate rule – and the only party with any integrity, vision or courage has such little support that they are unlikely win. At the federal level at least, things look pretty bleak at the moment for Canadian politics. Harper has to go, without question; but the alternatives look very uninspiring, to say the least.

I will vote my conscience anyway, as always; but the election seems very uninteresting, and is likely to change little. Big oil and big business will, in all likelihood, continue to run the nation – and run it into the ground, and off an ecological cliff – while the majority of the people remain passive and apathetic, as their rights, civil liberties, democracy, freedom, social programs, environment and country are slowly bled away, and bled dry.

“Not with a bang, but a whimper” – maybe this should be the new Canadian motto, or even the chorus for a new national anthem. Where are the likes of Tommy Douglas when you need them?

We stand on guard for what? Oh, right – Tim Horton’s, and the television remote control. Who says hockey is the nation’s favourite past-time? Clearly, that spot is reserved for a most devoted tradition of public apathy. The courage seems to have gone out of this nation some decades ago, and has yet to return.

The US is in a similar state to Canada and other “leading” industrial nations in some ways, but is far more unstable, and could go in one of several very different directions – and, unlike the up-coming Canadian federal election, the US federal election which approaches could be decisive, and of profound import, with far-reaching consequences, not just for the people of the United States, but also, for the world.

In the US, if Hillary Clinton wins, and becomes the next president, then the majority of the people of the United States are likely to think, “Well, we should give her a chance, and see if she does anything positive” – and then yawn, and collectively go back to sleep.

So that would be nothing short of a disaster, to my mind, if she wins – to say nothing of her unwavering loyalty to Wall Street and her eagerness to start a war with Iran – which, by the way, is positively insane, since Russia and China have economic and military alliances and agreements with Iran, and attacking Iran, as Russia has made clear, could very well trigger a nuclear confrontation between the great powers, and quite literally start WWIII.

So a win for Hillary “bomb-em-now” Clinton would mean stagnation and no real change, at best, when what we urgently need is major change, and now; and it could mean the worst imaginable scenario – something infinitely worse than mere stagnation and inaction in a time of great, and growing crisis. For these reasons, I would have to say that a Hillary Clinton Presidential win would be disastrous for the nation, and, quite possibly, disastrous for the world.

If Donald Trump, or another of the far-right lunatics from the Republican Party, somehow manages to win, then we could see, not only the further looting of Main Street by Wall Street, exactly as Hillary would preside over, and as George Bush and Barack Obama presided over, and aided and abetted; and it would not only mean a probable, and even eager launching of a war that could very well, and very easily, lead to WWIII – also, in lock-step with the Hillary agenda – but we could also see the nation explode into civil war, by the hatred and tensions that could quickly come to a boiling point, and overflow in mass chaos and violence.

So if Hillary means stagnation at best, and disaster at worst, a Republican win would mean, most likely, disaster, or worse disaster. Neither Clinton or the Republicans are acceptable to any sane person. Both Hillary and the Republican candidates must be rejected.

But, on the other hand, a far-right Republican government that pushes the US over the brink, and into civil war, by further fuelling and igniting racial, class and other tensions, might well explode itself into the very grounds that give birth to a revolution. Some would say this would be a good thing. We should wish, however, if we are at all sane, that revolution would come about in better, and more peaceful ways. I would not say that this is a course of history we should wish on anyone. So heaven forbid that either Hillary, or one of the Republican representatives for the billionaire class – as Hillary is as well – end up in the White House. Either one would spell very real and great danger for the nation.

That really leaves only one contender in the race, and that is, the independent, democratic socialist from Vermont, Senator Bernie Sanders. Senator Sanders is a grassroots populist – in reality, and not just in rhetoric and PR spin, unlike Hillary – and has fought consistently, for four decades, for the middle class and the poor, and for progressive politics that will benefit all the people, and not just Wall Street, the corporate elite and the super-rich.

Sanders is now the front runner in key primary states, and leading in the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, 10 and 20 points respectively, ahead of the former front runner, Hillary Clinton. He is drawing the biggest crowds of any candidate. He is generating a wave of excitement across the nation – even in died-in-the-wool conservative states.

Bernie Sanders has raised more money than any candidate – despite having rejected the billionaires’ money. He has, so far, generated over a million individual donations, averaging $24. And he has raised a million donations faster than any other candidate in US history, again showing the massive groundswell of grassroots support that is rallying behind him.

And he has a message, a vision, and a policy platform, that resoundingly resonates with the great majority of the people of the United States: get money out of politics and make the government represent all the people, and not just the rich; make elections publicly funded, so that they are free and fair; make the richest 1% and the large corporations pay their fair share of taxes; make health care and education free for all – up to and including college and university; stop the wars, invest in America, and rebuild the nation – and with an emphasis on fairness and a decent life for all. As one astute commentator put it, Bernie Sanders is what Obama pretended to be in 2008. And that is why he is loved. And that is why he just might win.

If Bernie Sanders does win, what would happen? It certainly would not spell revolution, and in fact, it could forestall a revolution. Senator Sanders would help to heal a broken nation that is on the edge of fiscal insolvency and civil war, and take it in a bold, positive, new direction. But it would not spell revolution. It would be bold, powerful social change, in a direction that most people would consider very, very positive, and very inspiring and hopeful, but it would not be revolution.

I’m not a capitalist, and I think there are better ways to organize human society, such as those outlined by Chomsky, Kropotkin, Bookchin, Michael Albert, Rudolph Rocker and Bertrand Russell; and I also think that it is clear that capitalism is intrinsically anti-democratic, exploitative, oppressive, dehumanizing and degrading, and limiting of human potential, by its very nature. But if one insists on keeping a capitalist system, even for just the short term or the present, then at least it has to be regulated, and its worst injustices and brutalities kept in check, while its benefits are more equally shared. That is exactly what Bernie Sanders is proposing to do, and it is hardly radical – it is simply a matter of common sense, basic ethics, and basic sanity.

There is still a great deal of red scare ideology in the US – that is clear. But fortunately, it works only on an uninformed, and misinformed, and shrinking minority. Look at Denmark, Sweden or Finland – these are democratic socialist countries with capitalist markets, and they work quite well with their mixed economies, and are also free and democratic. (Denmark is home to the happiest people in the world, according to global polls – far above the US.)

In fact, these democratic socialist, mixed capitalist economy countries are much more democratic than the United States, which has descended into an oligarchy, as a recent Princeton study confirms, and is now ruled, not by the people, but by Wall Street.

Bernie would start to put a dent in that corporate oligarchy, and begin to bring the power back to the people, where it rightly belongs. And some people are afraid of that. Some are terrified of that thought – and these are the same business elites who now rule the nation.

Some are simply misinformed – others are working for the same corporate elite who don’t want their power or privileged position to be challenged. Ignorance, greed, egomania and power lust are the main sources of opposition to policies such as Bernie would bring in – and sooner or later, and hopefully sooner, these obstacles will be overcome, and defeated. At present, the majority of people in the US support the policy proposals Bernie Sanders is making. The minority who do not, seem to be living in an earlier era, namely, the McCarthy era.

The rest of the world no longer lives in 1955. It’s time for America to get with the program, and catch up with the rest of the world. Bernie will help the US to do just that.

The Founding Fathers of the United States were very alert, for their time, but they were not perfect, nor were they omniscient. In fact, as Chomsky has pointed out, the majority of them, with the exception of Thomas Jefferson, despised what most people today would consider democracy to mean. The majority of the Founding Fathers believed in what John Jay said, that, “The people who own the country ought to govern the country.” That is to say that, aside from Jefferson, the Founding Fathers believed that, “We the people,” meant, “We, the rich, white, male slave owners” ought to rule the land. So reverence for the Founding Fathers expresses a basic ignorance of history.

(I admire Thomas Jefferson, but even he was a slave owner, which, of course, is unconscionable, and showed even his great weaknesses and contradictions.)

Democracy has evolved a great deal since 1776, and that is a good thing. Bernie Sanders would simply carry that evolution of democracy a further step forward – principally, by challenging the ruling corporate oligarchy that has high-jacked democracy, exactly as Jefferson warned would happen, 200 years ago – and by returning the power to the people.

If power to the people is something to be feared, then we really are lost. This is not something that should be feared, but embraced. And the majority of people in the US are ready for it, and support exactly the kinds of policies that Bernie Sanders is proposing, and urging.

The time has come for real change. And Bernie Sanders may well prove to be one more major drivers of that change. All indications are that he is precisely that: a driver of powerful, positive social change. The majority are ready for that, even if the oligarchy and a shrill minority will scream, and do.

The basic structures of capitalism would remain intact under a Sanders presidency – the benefits and working conditions derived from and experienced within the capitalist economy would be more widely and more fairly shared, more humane and more tolerable, but the capitalist structure would remain in place. For some, this would be seen as a good thing, to preserve capitalism. Others do not see it that way. I would say that, while Senator Sanders might delay a much-needed revolution (for example, delaying a radical shift in the control or ownership of the means of production, such as decentralized, community-based, democratic worker ownership, through worker co-ops, on a nation-wide scale – something along the lines of what Noam Chomsky, Murray Bookchin, Bertrand Russell or Peter Kropotkin have recommended), Sanders would, most likely, set the country on a better track, and steer it away from the implosion and sheer disaster to which it is presently heading – and that would be a very good thing. It is probably better to steer the ship away from the approaching cliff, then to watch it go over (or push it over) and try to rebuild from the wreckage. Dr. Strangelove may disagree, but I think this is the saner path.

Revolutionary change can wait – maybe not for long, but for a little while – in order to bring about some healing and recovery for a nation that is rapidly spiralling toward self-destruction: economically, socially, environmentally, and possibly politically as well. Bernie could be the person who can bring stability to a nation that is currently set to implode. While this might not be as idyllic an outcome as some would like, it might be the best thing we can hope for at present – and it is certainly infinitely better than the immediate alternatives on hand, such as Hillary or one of the Republican zealots would bring.

In fact, if Bernie Sanders does win, he just might inspire and unite the people of the United States enough, that they can bring about, not just much-needed reforms, but in the end, a much-needed social, political and economic revolution as well.

Certainly, having a true populist democrat and progressive as the next President of the United States would not instantly change everything and right all wrongs, but it would be a start, and a very good start at that, I would say.

I believe it is possible that Bernie will win. I certainly hope so. And if he does, then yes, that is only the White House – but that is a powerful office, of course, and inroads could be made from there towards making real change.

If nothing else, Bernie could use the White House as the world’s most powerful podium, and from there, inspire the people, through popular movements, to create the changes that are needed on the ground, and to put the required pressure on Congress, and on Wall Street, to make further, bigger changes.

So the White House is a starting point for bigger things – and a powerful starting point. And I think he’s going to do it. I think he’s going to win.

Go Bernie.

In conclusion, I would have to say this. In the US, Bernie Sanders deserves support, and deserves to win. Certainly there are no other major candidates that are remotely supportable. It’s Bernie, or Wall Street candidate A, B, C or D. The choice should be clear.

In Canada, the situation is much less exciting, but the election is still extremely important. Harper has to go, and if that requires strategic voting – something that I normally am strongly opposed to – then I now think that this election warrants it. Harper’s assault on democracy is simply too grave for us not to use every peaceful means at our disposal to remove him from power. Do vote. And vote strategically – and get Harper out.

J. Todd Ring,

October 18, 2015

See also:

Election 2015 and Strategic Voting: Madness, Or Practical Necessity?

An economic and political analysis of Canada, neoliberalism, and the world

https://jtoddring.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/election-2015-and-strategic-voting-madness-or-practical-necessity/

Moby Dick, The Manufactured Man, and the Fate of Humankind

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 1, 2014 by jtoddring

“The permanent constitutional condition of the manufactured man … is sordidness.” So says Captain Ahab of Moby Dick. And Melville was right. This is what we are fighting. We are fighting the manufactured condition of man, and attempting to regain our true nature.

That is not romanticism by the way, but an expression of the perennial philosophy, the perennial wisdom which our greatest of sages and philosophers have seen and spoken of in every culture and every age. We must throw off our conditioning and rediscover the basic common sense of the natural good heart within, or frankly, we are doomed.

The environmental crisis we have set in motion continues to accelerate, and we continue to fuel the flames of the crisis – and we continue to ignore it. We have become the hollow men.

We are adrift at sea, racing toward such perilous shoals that surely our ship will break into myriad pieces if we do not awaken, and soon.

Everyone who is paying attention knows this. Yet, a paralysis grips most, while a kind of sleep-walking state of near comatose denial grips the majority of the rest. We are in an extremely dangerous position for these reasons.

Paralysis and denial are by now the most deadly of enemies. Only ignorance, greed and hate can match them, and our civilization is, unfortunately, also well-stocked in these.

Chris Hedges sums it up well, in a speech he gave, entitled, The Myth of Human Progress and the Collapse of Complex Societies, when he said,

“And so we plunge forward in our doomed quest to master the forces that will finally smite us. Those who see where we are going too often lack the fortitude to actually rebel. Mutiny was the only salvation for the Pequod’s crew [in Melville’s Moby Dick]. It is our only salvation. But moral cowardice turns us into hostages.”

We have become the prisoners of our illusions. The great majority have succumbed to a kind of mass insanity of Stockholm syndrome – we have identified with our captors. We have forgotten our common sense, and accepted a profoundly abnormal norm as our new normal – a normal that will destroy us if we persist in it. We have allowed psychopaths to take over the world and steer the ship of our civilization, and we have adopted their madness, or at least, are numbed and blind to it. We have gouged out our own eyes, and in our blindness, run frantically toward a dark future of our own creation.

We either find our courage now, and rediscover our hearts and common sense, and by that means, rebel against the state of the world and its current direction, and remove from power the maniacal elite who are rapidly driving us toward the collapse of our civilization, and a very dark age, followed by human extinction; or face the fact of our cowardice, and slink silently into our slowly dawning oblivion, with nary a peep or a whimper. The choice is ours, and the hour is late. Let us choose wisely. And now.

I, for one, believe there is more within us than we tend to realize – far more. Draw forth your best now. The world needs you.

Stand.

JTR,
October 1, 2014

Reflections on Chartres Cathedral, the death of civilization and the deification of the banal

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2014 by jtoddring

 

Thinking of Chartres Cathedral, I ask myself, what, if anything, have we built in the past eight centuries, that compares to this? The iPad, computers, cell phones, the internet? Are you kidding me? You must be joking. We have more ways to amuse ourselves, yes, but when has our capacity for entertainment, amusement and distraction ever been a sensible or even a sane measure of a society? And what good is an ocean of information if we have no context for it, no perspective on it, and no wisdom with which to make sense of it? It is lost on us. It may as well be the most indecipherable of hieroglyphs to us. Such an ocean of information is of no value to the deaf and the blind. It is all white noise, or dark noise, more commonly. And, to paraphrase Thoreau – and his remarks are as relevant and as piercing to our illusions today as they were one hundred and fifty years ago – what good is it that we can talk with someone on the other side of the planet if we have nothing of significance to say to one another? We are highly connected, so to speak, in digital, electronic ways, but highly alienated and divided in almost every way that matters, so even our presumed connectedness is more of a fiction than a reality.

We are hyper-connected and increasingly alienated. We are plugged in a tuned out. We are awash in an information overload – and are in fact drowning in it – yet we have lost all our wisdom, and even our common sense. We can speak to one another across the globe, in an instant, yet have nothing worth while to say, and neither any ears with which to hear. We have copious quantities of toys, and reams and volumes of data, but we have lost sight of what is most valuable, and what is most precious, and cannot see the forest for the trees. We are richer than any generation or civilization which has ever come before, yet we live as beggars, and blind beggars at that, obsessed and consumed with our mountains of dust.

We have the perspective of a gnat, and yet, we foolishly believe ourselves to be the culmination and pinnacle of human history and all evolution: as if nature delighted to reach a point where the trivial would be deified, and turned into yet another golden calf – a golden calf made of dust — as we worship at the feet of banality, and serve the idiocy of our time as smiling choir boys and giddy, unthinking, loyal servants.

No, we are not the culmination of natural evolution or of history. There is more day yet to dawn, to say the least. And if this wake up call be disturbing to some, we should remember that is is less disturbing to be awakened before the house burns down, than after. Be glad for the alarm bell. It is far better than the alternative.

We have electric light and indoor plumbing, yes, but all that says is that we can read more easily – if anyone still cared to do such an out-dated and archaic thing, which, it seems, fewer and fewer people are willing or wanting to do – and we can wipe our asses more easily and with a greater convenience. Hardly what we would call a measure of progress, by any sane or reasonable standard, I would suggest.

And that aside, are our lives really the richer and more noble because our powder rooms are more advanced in their puffery and comforts, or because we have a thousand and one electronic gadgets, with which to forget about the classics, the great works of literature, the greatest thoughts of the greatest minds and souls of all time – which require no such baubles or technological trinkets and toys, of course; that we can forget about the study of philosophy, the humanities or spirituality, the life of the larger community and the polis, the arts, or the deeper questions and realms of life and human existence? Were we not distracted enough, two thousand years ago? Few had ears to hear then. Fewer still now, or so it seems. Distraction is not progress – it is just distraction.

Yes, our personal hygiene is advanced in levels of convenience that would make our ancestors green with envy, should they ever place such a high stake on such minor concerns, or elevate them to such absurd heights; and moreover, our ability to distract ourselves from what is most important has soared, and absolutely skyrocketed. Some progress, that is, I would say. I stand in awe at the stunning sophistication and grandeur of the modern world. Let us bow down before the sublime majesty of it all.

When we measure a society or our path through history with a sense of perspective and depth, all that ultimately matters is whether we have learned to live with a greater wisdom or a greater love, or ideally, an increase in both; and from what I have seen, there is no reason to believe that we have made any great strides in either, since the Medieval era, and well before. We are lost in trivia and distractions, superfluities and superficialities, and the grand and glorious, all-pervasive worship of the mundane and the banal. Our society is obsessed with the mere surface of things: an appreciation of our depths has all but completely vanished from sight; and wisdom is a word we no longer even recognize, while the love of our fellow human beings is increasingly lost in a sea of alienation, narcissism, paranoia and fear.

This is progress? If so, you can keep it. It does not appeal to me. It is a bog, and we are lost, sunk to our knees, if not our necks, in quicksand, and sinking fast. And what or who do we reach out to in our desperate anxiety and bewilderment? Facebook and “social media?” Cell phone video games? Dial-up psychics or dial-up porn? Or Oprah Winfrey, Jerry Springer and “reality tv,” media presstitutes and talking heads on network TV, who are almost without exception either completely corrupt or completely inane.

(I like Oprah, by the way – don’t get me wrong. She seems to have a good soul and a good heart. But I don’t think she is necessarily qualified to tell us how and where our civilization went off the rails, or what we must do to get it back on track. And the rest of the mire, which the people routinely turn to for guidance, is not remotely as sensible as Oprah.)

We know not even where to turn to get ourselves out of this quicksand into which we have blindly stumbled. We are in a bad place, to say it mildly, and the ship of our “civilization” is sinking. All is not lost, but all is most certainly in danger. And it would be both foolish and irresponsible, as well as cowardly and unconscionable, to speak about the realities we are now facing, in less than fully frank and honest terms.

Ancient societies brought us Socrates, Plato, Jesus, the Buddha, Shankara and Lao Tzu, agriculture, the calendar, mathematics and written language, tools and aqueducts, sanitation, beautiful architecture, art and literature, the idea of democracy and freedom, great cities and hanging gardens, as well as wisdom. The medieval world brought us Da Vinci, Michelangelo, the Renaissance, flourishing democratic city-states, and the glory of the Alhambra, Mont St. Michel, Chartres Cathedral and the Magna Charta. Modern society has brought us prozac, porn, iPads and “social networking,” Donald Trump, Exxon, Monsanto, Walmart and Goldman Sachs – along with alienation, voyeurism, vicarious living, the cult of celebrity worship and reality TV. As E.F. Schumacher said, “We are remodeling the Alhambra with a steam shovel, and are impressed by our yardage.” We have arguably regressed more than we have advanced, or have regressed at least as much as we have advanced. Our smugness is misplaced – and more to the point, it is simply dangerous.

We could speak of the glories and the triumphs of modern industrial civilization, and there are, and have been many, and there is a time and a place for such mutual congratulations – but that is not what we need most right now. What we need is a wake-up call. We have hit the snooze button too many times. Our world is burning, and the people remain asleep to the peril. We need a bucket of icy water over the head, or a stiff slap in the face, to bring us to our senses. Whatever it takes, humanity must be roused from what has become, by now, extremely perilous slumber. There is no time remaining for the mincing of words, or for pleasant euphemisms and niceties. Frankness is now a matter of survival.

*

Our progress has spotty and highly questionable at best, to say the least – not to mention the fact that we have not yet found the wisdom or the common sense, to refrain from systematically destroying ourselves and the planet on which we live. In such a context, reflections on the significance of Chartres, may be of some small help. Maybe it can bring some much needed perspective: it is certain that we are in a dread dearth and poverty of that most precious commodity, even while we are up to the gills in consumer goods and trinkets and other assorted trivia and trash – and so much so, that it covers over our eyes and obstructs our sight, so that we cannot even see what is before our very nose.

Joseph Campbell, one of history’s greatest scholars of mythology, world religions and human culture, speaks of his experience of Chartres:

“I’m back in the Middle Ages. I’m back in the world that I was brought up in as a child, the Roman Catholic spiritual-image world, and it is magnificent … That cathedral talks to me about the spiritual information of the world. It’s a place for meditation, just walking around, just sitting, just looking at those beautiful things.”

Orson Wells speaks of Chartres:

“Now this has been standing here for centuries. The premier work of man perhaps in the whole western world, and it’s without a signature: Chartres. A celebration to God’s glory and to the dignity of man. All that’s left, most artists seem to feel these days, is man. Naked, poor, forked, radish. There aren’t any celebrations. Ours, the scientists keep telling us, is a universe which is disposable. You know, it might be just this one anonymous glory of all things, this rich stone forest, this epic chant, this gaiety, this grand choiring shout of affirmation, which we choose when all our cities are dust, to stand intact, to mark where we have been, to testify to what we had it in us, to accomplish.”

*

When this present civilization is no more, when it has been buried under the rubble and ashes of its own short-sighted vanity, hubris and illusions, when our cities are abandoned and fall to dust and ruin, certain works of literature, certain pieces of music, art and architecture, certain memories and stories and timeless truths, will be what we hold dear – the rest, will be forgotten, and will disappear like a puff of smoke on the wind, and will vanish like a passing dream.

(And yes, that means your X-Box, your PlayStation, your smart phone, your American Express card and your MTV as well, of course – and all of the corporate dinosaurs and juggernauts and behemoths who provide these trifles and feed upon our addiction to them, as they feed upon us.)

It would seem to make sense for us to re-evaluate our habits, our assumptions and our priorities now, before nature forces us to do so – as she soon will, we can be assured. Making changes freely and in relative peace, is always preferable to making changes in haste and under duress, to put it in the mildest and most understated terms possible. We need to make changes now. It is in our interest not to delay.

Let those who have ears hear.

(Ronald Wright’s, A Brief History of Progress, Jared Diamond’s, Collapse: How Societies Choose To Fail or Succeed, and Mathew Stein’s, When Technology Fails, should be required reading for every thoughtful person over the age of twelve – along with Shelly’s Ozymandias, Yeats’, The Second Coming, and T.S. Elliot’s The Hollow Men. Let those who have ears hear.)

Civilizations have fallen and collapsed many times before: the Egyptian, the Babylonian, the Roman and the Mayan, to name but a few. We are not immune to such a fate, and we are desperately racing ahead with all haste, and are on track and on schedule, for just such a fall. If our civilization does collapse, it will be because we have allowed ourselves to create an ecological cataclysm of our own making; because we stubbornly refused to question our unquestionable, long-standing assumptions and cherished beliefs, even in the face of overwhelming evidence; because we refused to adapt or to make the changes necessary to survive – and above all, it will be because the people did not embrace their power soon enough to throw the money changers to the street, and to reclaim their future. We cannot let this happen. The people must stand now.

We do not have to go out with either a bang or a whimper. The future is ours to create. Stand now.

There are times for shouting from the rooftops. There are times for sounding the trumpets or sounding the alarm. And there are times for a quiet determination. Choose your mood, choose your tone, choose your approach, but whatever you do, choose to act, and act now. The hour is late, and there is no more time for delay, or for floundering in hesitation. Act now, and stand.

The world, as with our lives, is what we make of it. We can live in paradise, or the nearest thing to it – at the least, we can live in a just, free and peaceful world, a beautiful world reigned by ecological sanity and love of one’s neighbour. Or we can live in a hell of our own making, and race feverishly towards our own self-annihilation and early demise, and into a dark age which has no exit, save for the tomb. The choice is entirely in our hands, and there is no use in our whimpering about our wish that someone would come along and fix things for us, and make everything nice. It is our future to create, or to destroy. The power is in our hands.

It is our choice what we make of our world and our future. Let us choose wisely, and choose now. Act now, and stand. It is within our power to heal this troubled world, and to restore a bright future for all human beings, and all living creatures on this Earth. It is within our power to create the world anew.

The hour of our choosing is here. The fork in the road has arrived. We must have bold action now, or human beings will simply perish from the Earth.

Stand now. We need you now. Not in fifty years, or ten years, or five, but now. Stand, and let us heal this troubled, beautiful world which is our home.

Stand now. It is time.

J. Todd Ring,
March 26, 2014

The rise of Bitcoin: and the challenge to the global domination of big money

Posted in alternative, analysis, banks, capitalism, class, collapse, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, crash, currency, debt, deficit, dollar crisis, economic collapse, economics, economy, Financial coup, geopolitics, globalism, globalization, money, neo-feudalism, political economy, politics, sociology, sovereignty, tipping point with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 11, 2013 by jtoddring

The following article was written on October 25. I wanted to read it over once more before publishing it, then got busy with other things and forgot about it. In the roughly six weeks that have passed since the writing of this article, the Bitcoin prices have gone from roughly $200 to over $700. There have been fluctuations, as there are with all currencies, and particularly so since this is a new currency, but the overall trend is up, and in fact, Bitcoin is skyrocketing, as we predicted. People will say, well, it is fluctuating, as if that means that it is not stable. That is a foolish view, since all currencies fluctuate, and more importantly, because the overall trend has been to astronomical growth. What other currency do you know that increased its value twenty fold in just over a year, and then increased another 400% in less than two months? That’s right, none. If you had bought Bitcoins in November of 2012, they would have cost you $10 each, and they would now be worth almost $800 each. Can you think of any other investment or currency that performs remotely as well? This is extraordinarily rare. Those who are ahead of the curve tend to catch the best opportunities, and Bitcoin is no exception. Sociology and political-economic implications aside, which are very large and possibly quite profound, Bitcoin is giant in terms of investment and savings opportunities. From what I have seen, the analysis below still holds, and in fact is re-affirmed by the accuracy of its predictions as to the continued rise of Bitcoin, which we have seen in its nearly 400% jump in six weeks. Bitcoin has great potential, in a number of important ways, and we would be wise to look more into it.

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I first came across Bitcoin from the website of Max Keiser. Since Max seems to be the single most lucid person on the planet when it comes to global finance, I thought, this must be something worth looking into. Then last night my brother-in-law started talking to me excitedly about Bitcoin, and he is a pretty smart guy, so I thought, it is definitely time to look into this. And it turns out, it is a phenomenon that is exploding. Even the habitually staid and blinkered investment community is taking notice.

BERLIN, GERMANY - APRIL 11:  The bitcoin websi...

(Courtesy of Getty Images)

“Bitcoins are a virtual currency that can be used to pay for goods and services around the world.  To participate in the bitcoin market, one needs a digital wallet, which can be filled either by purchasing bitcoins for goods, services or currency, or by acquiring them through a complex process known as “mining.”  (Better termed, “minting”.) The bitcoins can then be used to purchase goods or services, or sold on an exchange.  While virtual currencies have traditionally been used to purchase illicit substances, like guns and drugs, they are now accepted by numerous legitimate businesses for everything from gift cards to jets and yachts.”

– Forbes

Until recently, Bitcoin was an obscure alternative currency that seems to have been used primarily for online trading, purchases and sales, among the few businesses and individuals who have decided to make use of it – anything from illegal drugs bought and sold on Silk Road, which the FBI just took down, to wine and muffins, as one Forbes columnist described it.

But now, Bitcoin is being accepted by pubs in Berlin as a form of payment. A Federal US judge in Texas has ruled that Bitcoins are a form of money – a bit slow on the uptake, but better late than never. And the giant internet company in China which is the peer of Google, has started to accept payment in Bitcoins. So the threshold has been reached. Bitcoin seems to have definitely arrived.

Businesses like Bitcoins because it saves them money. Using Visa or Amex as a means of financial exchange costs businesses 2-3% per transaction. That may not sound like much, but for a small business, and even for many large businesses, that can add up to large, painful costs. By comparison, businesses can accept Bitcoin as a method of payment, and it only costs them 1%. That is very attractive to business owners.

Bitcoin came under some negative press due to the Silk Road trade in illegal drugs using Bitcoin, and the price or exchange rate of Bitcoin compared to other currencies dropped for a time, but it has since risen. Business owners and investors seem to feel better now that Silk Road is gone and the currency is not associated with drug trade.

But really, that would be an insane reaction on the part of the public to shy away from Bitcoin because a few of the people who use it, use it to buy or sell drugs. The main currency used for the global drug trade was US dollars until recently, and it is still one of the two main currencies used for the trillion dollar a year illicit drug trade and the money laundering that goes with it, the Euro now being reportedly more popular among big time drug traffickers.

All of the big banks are involved with laundering drug money – hundreds of billions of dollars of it a year – and they handle drug money mainly in US dollars and Euros. But nobody says, I cannot use US dollars or Euros, because that is drug trade money. The irrationality comes out of ignorance and denial. Bitcoin, as far as I can see, is every bit as legitimate as US dollars, Euros or Yen, and probably more stable.

In fact, after the FBI raided Silk Road, they confiscated millions of dollars in Bitcoins. So the US government, and specifically the FBI, is now one of the biggest investors in Bitcoin, holding roughly five percent of the global currency. Strange bedfellows indeed.

But governments and the big banks do not tend to like Bitcoin (despite the fact that the FBI is holding billions of dollars in Bitcoins) because it threatens their control of the global financial system. So the backlash is on. However, if government and the big banks are attacking Bitcoin, then we can reasonably guess that it is because it threatens their power, and for that reason, Bitcoin may really have the potential to liberate the people from the money masters who now rule the world, or at least help in that endeavour.

“Bitcoin, an enticingly anonymous “cryptocurrency” designed to wrest the international currency system from the hands of central bankers…must face a force far larger and immensely more powerful than mere lobbyists. The status quo that cryptocurrencies threaten is the international monetary system. Its opponents are therefore the current custodians of that system — namely the governments of the world. Bitcoin was never subtle about the challenge it posed. The very first sentence of the abstract in Nakamoto’s 2008 paper promised to “allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution.” The paper then described a way to originate — that is to “mine,” or perhaps more accurately to “mint” — Bitcoins. Yet history teaches that sovereigns of all stripes guard two prerogatives with particular zeal: the right to wage war and the right to mint currency. Bitcoin thus explicitly threatened one of the two fundamental, defining powers of government.”

– Bruce Abramson, Forbes

What Abramson failed to mention, in his otherwise excellent article, was that the Federal Reserve is not part of the US government. It is a private bank, controlled by the Wall Street and London banking elite. In fact, the majority of central banks in the world are private. That means that the banking elite control the printing of money, and not the people, through a publicly owned central bank, run and overseen by a democratically elected government.

The founding fathers of the United States felt so strongly about keeping control of the printing of money in the hands of the people, and not private banking elites, that they wrote it into the Constitution that no one shall have the power to print money other than Congress.

The banking elite tried to get the central bank of the US privatized early on. Thomas Jefferson fought them and defeated them. Abraham Lincoln fought them and defeated them, and some have felt that he was assassinated for that reason. Andrew Jackson fought them and defeated them, and also took a bullet for it, but lived. He even had it written on his tombstone: “I killed the bank.”

Then, as the History Channel and others have recounted the story, The Money Masters, the most powerful business elites in the US, met together on Jeckyl Island, and hatched the plan to finally succeed in gaining control over the money supply. Woodrow Wilson was duped into going along with it, and in 1917 signed into law the Federal Reserve Act, which created the private central bank which became known as the Federal Reserve. Woodrow Wilson later came to profoundly regret his error, and said that he had effectively destroyed his country without knowing it.

Now the control of the money supply and the right to print money is in the hands of the banking elite – and whoever controls the money, effectively controls the nation – or, by now, the world.

It used to be the case that “He who holds the gold makes the rules.” But after the US unilaterally abolished the gold standard, things have changed. Now the fact of the matter is this: he who controls the printing of money rules the world. And that makes the banks very happy. It should make the rest of us shudder.

As US President James Garfield said, “He who controls the money supply controls the nation.”

Or as one of the members of the leading banking elite family dynasties in the world, Mayer Amschel Rothschild said, “Give me control of a nations money and I care not who makes the laws.”

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

Reclaiming control over the money we use to buy and sell and trade, is therefore of supreme importance. Bitcoin may indeed become a part of the answer to that central and critical task.

The more central task is for the people to reclaim their governments and their democracy, and having done that, to restore the power to print money to the hands of the people, through a public central bank, owned and governed by the people through their elected representatives in Congress or Parliament. All talk of social change, justice, democracy or freedom is both idle and futile until and unless this is recognized and acted upon.

But let’s have some more history and information on Bitcoin before we consider such monumental changes to our world, and the potential liberation of human beings from the banking elite who now dominate the planet and effectively rule the earth. (See the Swiss systems analysis study, which I have written about earlier, and which confirmed that a handful of corporations, mainly banks, effectively dominate the entire world economy, if there is any doubt as to the accuracy of such a statement.)

The alternative currency known as Bitcoin has seen its price rise from $10 per Bitcoin in November 2012, to over $200 in less than a year. While other currencies are highly unstable for a number of reasons – including the US dollar, the Euro, the British Pound, and also the Canadian dollar, which is foolishly tied far too closely to the US dollar and the US economy – Bitcoin may prove to be much more stable. It does not compare to gold or silver for stability, but it may prove to be a safer bet than the paper money which the global economy now floats on, which is a bubble that is about to soon burst.

(see my previous articles on the rise and fall of the petrodollar, the global economic crisis, and one that I think was titled, Stock broker shocks BBC reporter, saying, The collapse is coming, and Goldman Sachs rules the world.) 

I have only begun to look into Bitcoin, but it certainly seems to show some promise, and definitely warrants further investigation, for anyone who does not want to see their bank account or their money go up in puff of smoke when the paper currencies fall, as they most assuredly will.

(See Max Keiser and Gerald Cenente for more on this.)

What we definitely need is an alternative currency which is stable and can be used for savings, purchases, sales and trade at the local level, nationally and also internationally. The presently ruling paper currencies are simply unstable and unreliable, as anyone knows who has looked into the subject in any depth. Gold and silver are stable and hold their value well, but it would be far more convenient to trade in an electronic currency than in gold or silver coins. Bitcoin just might provide a much needed, and in fact, an urgently needed solution.

Until and unless national governments, or local communities, create stable currencies which are not pure fiction, and which have more value than the paper they are not printed on, we need an alternative currency. And probably even after governments get their financial acts together, alternative currencies will remain important, as a safeguard. Do not put all your eggs in one basket.

The US dollar is definitely going to crash, and when it does, it will bring down virtually all other currencies in a cascading collapse, because all of the central banks of the world are chocked to the gills with US dollars as reserves. The shell game of moving money from one currency to another will not save us, nor will it last much longer.

This all seems inconceivable to most people, and cryptic as well as unbelievable. But it is easily understood. A fourth grader can understand it, if it is explained in simple terms and the official jargon and doublespeak is stripped away.

Look at what happened in the Weimar Republic. The German government was in debt, and started printing money at an accelerating pace to pay the debt, until finally, the value of the currency collapsed, and you literally had to take a wheelbarrow of money to the store to buy a loaf of bread. That is what is coming. Your money will soon be worthless.

The over-printing of money always devalues and ultimately destroys a currency. And that is exactly what the US Federal Reserve and the other major central banks are doing. As Max Keiser said, the paper money apocalypse is coming. And as Gerald Celente has said, it will mean a greater depression than the Great Depression.

To give the Fed some credit, they simply have no choice, or so they believe, but to continue to dump billions of dollars a month into the economy – namely, by flying a helicopter over Wall Street and shoveling money out the door: dumping billions of dollars a day into the biggest banks to keep them afloat, and in the process, keeping afloat the deceitful and dishonest ideology of trickle-down economics. (Trickle-down should really be called trickle-on: the money goes to the rich, and the poor and middle class never see it – they just get yellow rain.)

The Fed seems to believe they have no choice but to do what they are doing, because if they stopped dumping money into the economy, the economy would collapse. And they are right. They could give billions a day to home-owners and citizens, and stimulate the economy that way, but they choose to give it to themselves – the banking elite. But one way or another, they have to keep pumping money into the economy to keep it from collapsing.

But – and here is the catch – by pumping money into the economy, they have to first have money from somewhere to put into it, and as they lack that – or at least, they are unwilling to use their own multi-trillion dollar private assets which sit in offshore accounts – they have to resort to printing money out of thin air. And when you print money out of thin air, you devalue the currency. So the Fed is printing money like there is no tomorrow, in order to prop up the economy and keep it from collapsing, but in doing so, they are devaluing the currency, which is guaranteeing that the currency will collapse. By trying to stave off a major market readjustment, meaning, an economic collapse and a depression, they are guaranteeing that when the collapse does come, it will be utterly severe and simply catastrophic in its impact.

They know this perfectly well. They know full well that their wild printing of money is going to cause the dollar, sooner or later, to be devalued, and to collapse, as holders of US dollars and Treasury Bonds lose confidence in the currency, for obvious reasons, and begin to divest themselves of this worthless paper.

The sell off which will ensue as the world flees the sinking US dollar will mean the dollar will become worth only one or two percent of its present value. This is exactly what happened in the Wiemar Republic, when precisely the same pattern of over-printing money brought on radical devaluation of the currency, and the German Mark became worth only one one-thousandth of its former value, and hyper-inflation set in.

Of course, when a depression hits, the financial and business elite have an orgy of looting and a feeding frenzy, buying up real estate, businesses, factories, farms, homes and other assets at fire sale prices, so they are perfectly happy with this result.

The banking elite love disaster – they feed off of it. So do not think the Fed or the rest of the banking elite are going to protect you from an economic collapse. They are the ones bringing it on, and they are the ones who are going to benefit astronomically from it when it comes.

Ben Bernanke said of the last Great Depression, and the role of the Fed and the private banking elite who control it, in that Depression, “We did it.” The banking elite who control the Federal Reserve and the money supply created a credit bubble by flooding the country with cheap money and credit, then they pulled the plug and burst the bubble, by contracting credit and cutting off the money supply. The result was the Great Depression. Massive human suffering was created across the Western world, but the super-rich got even richer, so they won, while everyone else lost.

We should take a lesson from history, and not allow the money masters, or “the monied aristocracy”, as Thomas Jefferson called the banking elite, to do this again. But I am afraid that the people are not yet sufficiently awake, or awake in sizable enough numbers, to reclaim their power before the manufactured disaster is upon them; therefore, I would say that the collapse will not likely be avoided, and that it is a virtual fact, due to the passivity of the people themselves.

 

The paper money we rely on is going to fail us. You can be sure of that. We had better start thinking about what we would do if our paper money becomes worthless, because it is going to.

Gold and silver are the smartest places to put your money, next to land you can garden on, and mortgage-free, rent-free accommodation. But Bitcoin may well be the next best place to diversify savings, and not have them disappear.

There are other alternative currencies, such as LETS, Ithaca Dollars, Toronto Dollars, etc, and they definitely merit attention as well. Most of them are strictly local currencies however, and they probably will need a secondary currency of some form for inter-community, national and international trade, even if they ever do become the main currency in use in a given town, city, county or region. Again, Bitcoin may bridge that gap. 

But again, I am new to the phenomenon, so while the need for a stable alternative currency is real and great, even urgent, whether or not Bitcoin fits the bill is something I am not yet sure of. Do your own research, would be my recommendation. It is my recommendation for every topic, in any case.

In sum, the importance of Bitcoin, if it really does prove to be a stable currency, is that it is stable, while all others – with the exception of gold and silver – are not. That means that it may prove to be a safe haven, and a way that we can continue to buy and sell and trade goods and services – to get paid for our labour and to buy things we need – after the paper money collapses.

It is definitely strongly advisable to shift money from paper money to land, tools, solar panels, wind power, seeds and garden tools, and secondarily, into gold and silver. It may be very smart to look more into Bitcoin as well, and I would say it would be wise to invest in Bitcoins as well.

Two new phenomena may end up transforming the world of banking, money and finance, and they are crowd-sourced funding and Bitcoin. The former is a definite strong contender as a catalyst for serious, major social change. Bitcoin my turn out to be the sister element to a whole new global economy, but again, I would have to look into it much more to say that with any confidence. Right now, it seems to be just a possibility – one scenario among many that could unfold in the near future.

As Forbes said, “Smart money always bets on government in the short term and technology in the long term.” The government seems too big to fail, but we know from history that governments can and do fail, and their currencies and economies as well. Look at France in the late 18th century: the government was in serious debt, and the Treasury finally went bust – that was the trigger which brought on the French Revolution. In Germany under the Wiemar Republic, the government failed utterly, the currency collapsed, and instead of a popular revolution, the German people and the world got fascism and the Nazis. So things can go either way when governments, currencies or economies collapse – a liberating revolution may ensue, or we may end up with tyranny and fascism, depending on how the people react. But what is certain, however it unfolds and whatever follows, is that collapse can and does happen. And it is coming.

Whatever you do, take your money out of banks, put it in credit unions and co-op banks, or better, in a safe – and divest yourself completely of your paper money, keeping only as much as you need for liquidity, and daily or monthly purchases, and putting the rest into something safe: like land, tools, silver and gold, and maybe Bitcoins as a minor element as well.

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What is the significance of Bitcoin?

Security, Investment, and Revolution

 

Bitcoin seems to me to have three major points of significance as a social phenomenon. First, it offers people increased material security. The paper currencies which now dominate the global economy and which people rely on to buy their daily bread and whatever else they may want or need and can afford, if they can afford it, are simply unstable. In fact, with the currency wars that are being waged now, currencies are being systematically devalued, which means the purchasing power of paper money, or fiat currency, as it is properly called, is shrinking, prices are rising in relation to purchasing power, which is called inflation, of course; and worst of all, with the fiat money paper currencies being systematically devalued, they are guaranteed to collapse, and soon. Bitcoins are not subject to such radical devaluation or collapse, because they are in limited supply, unlike the paper money which is being printed in the trillions of dollars. So Bitcoins can be used as a safe place to store money when virtually all other forms of investment and all paper monies are extremely unstable and heading for collapse. That is the first significance of Bitcoin – it provides increased financial and material, economic security for people who are smart enough, or have enough foresight, to make use of it.

Secondly, Bitcoin offers investment opportunity. Bitcoin’s value has risen 200% over the past year. The New York Stock Exchange is at an all-time low in relation to Bitcoin. While the paper money of fiat currencies approach collapse, and the global economy approaches collapse, meaning most investments and also savings will be wiped out, Bitcoin remains strong and continues to rise in value, along with gold and silver. Bitcoins were trading at a price of just over $10 in November of 2012. As of this October they are selling for over $200. [As noted, this figure is as of October 25, 2013, when this article was written. When the article was reviewed by the author on December 10, 2013, the value of Bitcoins had risen to nearly $800.] With a limited supply of Bitcoins and falling values of paper money currencies, the price of Bitcoins is likely to rise to over $1,000.

Remember that I advised people to invest in gold and silver in 2006, when I warned that an economic collapse was coming – predicting the global financial crisis of 2007-2008, while virtually everyone was saying that things are just rosy. Silver and gold have doubled and tripled their value since then, respectively, and of course, the severe global economic crisis that I predicted did hit, and hit severely. So when I say, buy Bitcoins, and buy gold and silver, there is a proven track record of accurate predictions to back that up. This is not coming out of thin air.

Thirdly, Bitcoin may prove to be truly revolutionary. That word is wildy over-used, and used to puff and promote and hype everything from toothpaste to toilet paper, but in this case, it just may apply. We will see. Bitcoin certainly has the potential to challenge the global dominance of the banking elite in their world hegemony over the global economy and monetary system. If enough people start to use Bitcoin, then it could empower the people, while reducing the excessive powers of the global financial elite; and this, in combination with other grassroots political and economic actions, could actually bring about a much-needed revolution. Bitcoin could be one more powerful tool which the people have, with which to reclaim their power, and to dethrone the bankers and other business elites who have essentially taken over the global economy as well as the political parties, governments, media and nations of the world.

Can Bitcoin be stopped? The banking and corporate elite, and their henchmen in government certainly would like to stop it, since it threatens their power, their global dominance and their astronomically high profits, but I don’t see how it can be stopped. Bitcoin, like the internet, has no single focal point, but rather it is distributed and decentralized. The internet was built by the Pentagon’s Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, to be a fail-safe that could not be destroyed, by reason that if one node goes down, data would flow through another route, as Max Keiser has also described. Being based on the internet and being decentralized, Bitcoin is the same. The only way Bitcoin could be stopped, Max said, would be to shut down the entire internet – but even then, Bitcoin could work offline, on thumb drives. So Bitcoin appears to be unstoppable. And it is exploding in growth, with people using it every day all around the world.

Whether or not Bitcoin helps to spark a revolution, it certainly tips the scales back in favour of the people, and away from the global business elite, and that is most definitely a good thing. It is one more way that the people can empower themselves.

And in the process, it can also give people more economic security and improved material well-being, and in these uncertain and difficult times, that is also a very good thing.

J. Todd Ring,
October 25, 2013

 

Forbes has some interesting articles on Bitcoin here:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2013/10/23/five-possible-reasons-for-bitcoins-most-recent-surge/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidthier/2013/10/24/why-this-entrepeneur-thinks-bitcoins-are-here-to-stay/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2013/10/08/the-bitcoin-backlash-is-underlay-by-a-quivering-status-quo/ 

But don’t take Forbes word as gospel, of course. Far better, listen to what Max Keiser has to say about Bitcoin – the man who has the most-watched financial analysis TV show on the planet, the most widely trusted financial analyst in the world, the insider’s insider who wrote the software for the New York Stock Exchange, and probably the person who understands the global financial system better than anyone alive.

Max Keiser on Bitcoin Currency | Interview with Max Keiser

Is Bitcoin money? – Max Keiser
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/max-keiser/is-bitcoin-money_b_2849031.html

 

 

 

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