Archive for collapse

Gender, Hierarchy, Civilization & Collapse: A Few Thoughts

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 19, 2020 by jtoddring

 

What did Sumeria ever do for us? Invented writing, our concepts of time, irrigation, cities, created the first literature…little stuff like that.

Sumeria predates ancient Egypt, Babylon, Greece, and Biblical times, though it was a completely forgotten civilization until very recently. The civilization spanned roughly 3,500 years, between 5,500 BCE & 1,750 BCE.

Remember, modern Western civilization is a mere 400 years old. Just a baby, by comparison.

The Sumerian civilization, mythology and writings inspired the book of Genesis and Homer, for example, and provided one of the primary the seedbeds for Western civilization, such as it is. Unfortunately they also invented or co-invented war, empire, conquest, ecological degradation, class division, hierarchy, plunder and inequality. Crappy stuff we’re still living with today. 

They did uphold gender equality, however. Mind you, this seems to indicate Eisler was wrong and Bookchin was right: hierarchy spreads as a corrosive social model that comes to infect everything, but it does not necessarily begin with gender. 

“Even so, the culture had been struggling to retain its autonomy ever since the Amorites had gained power in Babylon. A shift in cultural influence, evidenced in many respects but, notably, in the male-female ratio of the Mesopotamian pantheon, came with the rise to power of the Semitic Amorites in Babylon and, especially, during the reign of Hammurabi (r. 1792-1750 BCE) who completely reversed the Sumerian theological model in elevating a supreme male god, Marduk, over all others. Temples dedicated to goddesses were replaced by those for gods and, even though the goddesses’ temples were not destroyed, they were marginalized.

At this same time, women’s rights – which were traditionally on par with men’s – declined as did the great Sumerian cities. Overuse of the land and urban expansion, coupled with ongoing conflicts, are cited as the primary reasons for the fall of the cities. The correlation between the decline in the status of female deities and women’s rights has never been adequately explained – it is unknown which came first – but it is a telling detail in the decline of a culture which had always held women in high regard. By the time the Elamites invaded c. 1750 BCE, the Sumerian culture was already deteriorating and the [invading] Elamites simply finished the process.”

   – Joshua J. Mark, Ancient History Encyclopedia 

Hierarchy, inequality of class, empire, war, conquest, pillage and plunder, and ecological destruction: all of these things existed in Sumer alongside gender equality, it seems, and gender equality both in terms of cultural values, religion and mythology, and in practice. Therefore, we have to conclude that gender imbalance is a severe social, spiritual, and moral problem, but the evidence seems to indicate that it is not the root of all evils that it is sometimes presented to be.

That being said, when gender imbalance begins, society rapidly spirals into ever deeper problems, because the fundamental balance between agency and communion is destroyed; until the society finally collapses, or rediscovers a balance.

Sumeria was well on the way to collapse, regardless of external threats, exactly as with the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. Internal imbalance always brings internal decline, and finally, either an eventual renaissance and rebirth, or the collapse of the civilization.

“Sumerian was well established as the written language by the late 4th century BCE and Sumerian culture, religion, architecture, and other significant aspects of civilization were as well. The literature of the Sumerians would influence later writers, notably the scribes who wrote the Bible, as their tales of The Myth of Adapa, The Eridu Genesis, and The Atrahasis would inform the later biblical accounts of the Garden of Eden, Fall of Man, and the Great Flood. Enheduanna’s works would become the models for later liturgy, Mesopotamian animal fables would be popularized by Aesop, and The Epic of Gilgamesh would inspire works such as the Iliad and Odyssey.

The concept of the gods living in the city’s temple, as well as the shape and size of the Sumerian ziggurat, is thought to have influenced the Egyptian development of the pyramid and their beliefs about their own gods. The Sumerian concept of time, as well as their writing system, was also adopted by other civilizations. The Sumerian cylinder seal – an individual’s sign of personal identification – remained in use in Mesopotamia until c. 612 BCE and the fall of the Assyrian Empire. There was literally no area of civilization the Sumerians did not make some contribution to but, for all their strengths, their culture began to decline long before it fell.”

   – Joshua J. Mark

Their civilization began to decline long before it fell and actually collapsed. Then as now. History is repeating.

We must regain the balance, in multiple ways, or we too are headed for collapse.

“When I observe the ruts in a road, I am compelled to think, how much deeper the ruts in the mind.”

– Henry David Thoreau

But as Thoreau said, it is never too late to give up our bad habits, or our old ideas. Remember: “There is more day yet to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.”

JTR,

May 19, 2020

Post-Script:

On a comic note, for comedic relief, note this. Trump must have been advising the Sumerians on wall construction. Something was clearly amiss. The futility is amusing, in any case. Decline and collapse was due to internal factors, not external threats. But it surely is a Homer Simpson moment to build a wall, and not even get the basic concept right!

“The Sumerian civilization collapsed c. 1750 BCE with the invasion of the region by the Elamites. Shulgi of Ur had erected a great wall in 2083 BCE to protect his people from just such an invasion but, as it was not anchored at either end, it could easily be walked around – which is precisely what the invaders did.”

Wow. Is that how historians will look at us in 4,000 years, presuming humans are alive on Earth by then? Ending our civilization with one big, “Doh!”

Oh, Marg….

 

Critical Reading:

Rianne Eisler, The Chalice and The Blade

Murray Bookchin, The Ecology of Freedom

Erich Fromm, Escape From Freedom

Ronald Wright, A Short History Of Progress

Wade Davis, The Wayfinders

David Suzuki, Elders’ Wisdom

Joanna Macy, World As Lover, World As Self

Allan Wallace, Choosing Reality

Noam Chomsky, Year 501

Noam Chomsky, Necessary Illusions

Henry David Thoreau, Walden and On Civil Disobedience

Joseph Campbell, The Hero With A Thousand Faces

History Repeats: The Decline & Fall of the Western Corporate Empire

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2020 by jtoddring

“The Goths remained on Roman land and would ally themselves with the Roman army. Later, however, one man, a Goth and former Roman commander, rose up against Rome – a man who only asked for what had been promised him – a man who would do what no other had done for eight centuries: sack Rome. His name was Alaric, and while he was a Goth, he had also been trained in the Roman army. He was intelligent, Christian, and very determined. He sought land in the Balkans for his people, land that they had been promised. Later, as the western emperor delayed his response, Alaric increased his demands, not only grain for his people but also recognition as citizens of the empire; however, the emperor, Honorius, continually refused. With no other course, Alaric gathered together an army of Goths, Huns and freed slaves and crossed the Alps into Italy. His army was well-organized, not a mob. Honorius was incompetent and completely out of touch, another in a long line of so-called “shadow emperors” – emperors who ruled in the shadow of the military.” 

   – Donald L. Wasson, The Fall Of The Western Roman Empire

As I’ve said, history is repeating itself.

A shadow government, a military industrial corporate security complex, rules a decaying Western empire, while the peoples’ needs are met with snears akin to, “Let them eat cake”.

An empire in decline, the Western (pseudo-democratic, crypto-fascist) corporate empire, facing both growing internal revolt and rising external competition, reacts in desperation with ever more desperate measures, like a wounded, dying beast, lashing out.

“By virtue of its unbounded aggression, Roman imperialism was responsible for its own destruction.” Peter Heather summed it up well. And again, it must be seen, it is happening again, as a new empire repeats the mistakes of the past.

The over-reaction, the hubris, the over-reach, both internally and externally; and above all, the callous and imperious, brazen heavy-handedness, will only hasten the decline and collapse of this latest of empires, which is the Western empire of corporate oligarchy.

Would-be God-kings never learn.

The Roman Empire fell for a number of reasons, including simple brain poisoning due to foolish choices of consumption (sounds familiar: lead goblets then, pesticides and junk food now). However, among the various causes, chief was internal decay. (Echoes, then as now: a culture of materialism, perpetual distraction, bread and circuses, and spiritual decay.) But a stubborn refusal to meet the legitimate desires and needs of the people, was key to the collapse and fall of the empire. (Again, a mirror image, and an echo.)

We will see the same again soon. It may take fifty years, or it may take five, but the new empire of global neofeudal corporate rule will fall, sooner or later. It is only a matter of time.

For the sake of the people, for the sake of us all, and for the sake of the Earth, let us pray it is soon. And we must do more than pray.

Let us make it so.

JTR,

May 17, 2020

De-cluttering The Mind – And Our “Civilization”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on April 21, 2020 by jtoddring

If we had only Socrates, Shakespeare, Montaigne and Thoreau as guides, to direct our course, and tell us about the world and how to live in it, I think we would do very well. If we also had the words of Jesus, Moses, Mohammed, Shankara, the Buddha and Lao Tzu, native indigenous elders and a few poets – and had ears to truly hear them, and eyes to see what they are pointing out – then I think we would live extraordinarily well; and moreover, a renaissance and rebirth would be virtually guaranteed.

But of course, that would only work if there were no impediments or distractions to our hearing or seeing, or to focusing on what is truly worthy our attention and our time. That is most definitely not the case. And that is the primary problem. We are inundated, flooded daily, with a tsunami of noise and propaganda, lies, illusions, half-truths, delusions and deceit, dogma, denial and sheer distraction, on an unprecedented scale.

(The only things unprecedented about this moment in time is the level of mass distraction, the level of mass delusion, the level of mass insanity, the level of mass obedience to authority, the level of blind conformity, the level of blatant power grabs which are accepted without the slightest protest or even comment, and the staggering level of propaganda success. It is terrifying to see – and the only things which truly are. But I digress to mere reality. Let us return to a comfortable dissociation from reality, securely hunkered in our bunkers, with digital opium drip happily connected to the main line, and a quadrillion channels of shit on the internet to choose from.)

Shutting off the TV, internet, “social media”, and “smart phone”, and stepping away from all but the most carefully selected of journals (and even they should take up only a sliver of our time), and maybe picking up a good book or three, would be a very good idea now. In fact, a bold, mass act of unplugging, so to speak, from the digital daydream and propaganda factory, and reconnecting with a few bright lights, good books, nature, friends, family, community, and ourselves, may well save humanity from slavery to the current fascist oligarchy which is taking over now, and to suicide by ecological cataclysm.

(“We’re all in this together.” Yes, sheep, we will all be hung on meat hooks together, if no further questioning arises soon – then be well roasted for the fires that burn humanity from the face of this Earth. Isn’t that a cheery thought, in our happy, shared delusions, and collusion with our own enslavement and self-annihilation? How positively charming!)

But, to each his own. Some prefer slavery to freedom. Some prefer slow death to any conceivable change. Madness is always an option – and an increasingly popular one, it seems.

Stay tuned to CNN, MSNBC, the BBC or Fox – as organs of the ruling, all-benevolent elite, they’re sure to guide you well. Onto a spit, straight to “well done”. A delightful roast for your masters!

JTR,
April 21, 2020

Further Reading:

A Short History of Progress – Ronald Wright

The Hero With A Thousand Faces – Joseph Campbell

Necessary Illusions – Noam Chomsky

Brave New World, and Brave New World Revisited – Aldous Huxley

Walden, and, On Civil Disobedience – Henry David Thoreau

The Discourse On Voluntary Servitude – Etienne de La Boetie

The Death of Modern World – Or the Death of the Planet & the Human Species

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2020 by jtoddring
*
“The causality of the One was frequently explained in antiquity as an answer to the question, ‘How do we derive a many from the One?’ Although the answer provided by Plotinus and by other Neoplatonists is sometimes expressed in the language of ‘emanation’, it is very easy to mistake this for what it is not. It is not intended to indicate either a temporal process or the unpacking or separating of a potentially complex unity. Rather, the derivation was understood in terms of atemporal ontological dependence.”
– Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, On Plotinus
*
Yes! Exactly. It is not sequential; it is not this creating that; it is not the many being separately created by or out of the One. It is atemporal ontological dependency – well put, Standford.
More simply put, the many are the One; the One is the many.
Or as Meister Eckhart, the archetypal Western mystic said, “There is nothing that I can point to that is not God. God is within me, and God is all around me.”
Or in the terms of two of our greatest scientists:
“The perception of a division between self and other is a kind of optical delusion.” – Einstein
“The number of minds in the universe is one.”
– Erwin Schrödinger
Or in Eastern terms: “Form is emptiness; emptiness is form.” From the Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra – the pith of the pith of the Buddha’s teachings.
Plotinus may be, in broad terms, the Bodhisattva of the West, along with Spinoza, Emerson, Blake and Thoreau. But of course, they are all foolishly buried and forgotten now. We are now far too clever for mere wisdom.
Burying and forgetting the ancients was no less foolish an act than largely wiping out and dismissing the Western monastic tradition, or burying and forgetting the Renaissance or the Enlightenment. But we moderns, for 400 years, and especially the past 100, when we really became full of… ah….hubris….and right into the 21st century, have prided ourselves on burying what we later will discover to have been some of our greatest of treasures.
Very wise indeed.
Meanwhile, we prefer pollysyllabic nihilistic psychobabble (post-modernism) and thinly veiled self-serving and utterly deceitful Machiavellianism (neoliberal corporatism) to either empiricism or common sense.
Wise indeed.
We will either recover our senses – which includes abandoning Netwonian mechanistic, materialist reductionism, Cartesian dualism, post-modernist nihilism, and neoliberal corporatism, with its crypto-fascist planet-killing class warfare – or we will go extinct.
Along with the tragic, pervasive illusion of powerlessness which holds captive the minds of the great majority, these are the big four sets of delusions which make up what Blake called “the mind-forged manacles”. We either break these chains, or we die.
We shift our consciousness, culture and dominant paradigm, or we make the shift right into the grave.
Simple choice, really.
– JTR

Angkor Wat: Reflections On Our Modern World

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2020 by jtoddring
~*~
Angkor Wat is the crown jewel of a 400 square kilometer set of temples and holy sites, set in the jungles of Cambodia. Built as a Hindu temple in the 12th century, later transformed into a Buddhist temple, Angkor Wat alone is the largest religious monument on Earth. That says a lot about the culture that built such a construct. Imagine the enormous cost, in terms not only of money, wealth and resources, but of human labour. It says that spirituality is of prime importance, if not the greatest importance – like the cathedrals of an earlier era in the West represent. And what do we have in the modern world today, for comparison? We have glass and steel skyscrapers that are monuments to corporate and financial power – monuments to greed. That pretty much says it all. No wonder our “civilization” is collapsing. It has nothing to do with a vastly over-hyped virus. It has everything to do with spiritual and moral bankruptcy, and a degradation of the human spirit and mind. But, we should bear in mind, we can remember as well as forget. Collapse does happen. So too does renaissance, and rebirth.
*
JTR,
April 15, 2020
See also, The Keiser Report: The Bermuda Triangle of Pandemic
And the writings of Noam Chomsky, Morris Berman, Joseph Campbell, Alan Watts, Ronald Wright, Jared Diamond, James Howard Kunstler, Helena Norberg-Hodge, and John Michael Greer, to mention just a few important thinkers and writers, who can help to lift the veils from our eyes, and pierce the all-pervasive fog – or is that smog…?

The Greatest Depression Begins

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on April 6, 2020 by jtoddring

Goldman Sachs predicts a 34% contraction of economy in Q2 alone, after revising their estimate up ftom 24% – and they are the optimistic ones! This is bigger than the Great Depression, by the look of it. Thanks to fascist lockdown. It’s economic warfare: the elite vs the 99%. As both Adam Smith and George Carlin said, “They want it all.”

JTR,

April 5, 2020

Post-Script:

Smart moves: slash spending; save every penny; plant a garden; buy (physical) gold and silver, Bitcoins, solar panels and heritage organic seeds; build resilience in all levels and ways; build community; nourish body, spirit and mind; help one another: and get ready for revolution. This last round of looting and “creative destruction” by the disaster capitalists, the kleptocratic oligarchs, the corporate elite, will not be tolerated long.

See:

My essay, Global Geopolitics 2020

Trends Journal – always, and especially now

And the Kieser Report:

Chomsky On The Coronavirus: Perspective Is Urgently Needed

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2020 by jtoddring

Chomsky clarifies the situation with the coronavirus, saying: it’s serious enough, but it represents not even a fraction of the biggest dangers we are facing, which are nuclear war, global warming, and the rising plague of neoliberal fascism.

(Exactly what I have been saying since January, and before.)

He began the interview by saying he is now haunted  (not by fear of germs, of course, but) by the same thing that haunted him when he was growing up in the 1930’s, which is the rising plague of fascism.

(Again, exactly as I have been saying, and trying to convey to a public lost in panic and hype.)

Note the central facts: global deaths from December 2019 to March 2020: coronavirus roughly 25,000, common flu 110,000, cancer 1.9 million, poverty and hunger 2.3 million, and obesity and poor diets killed even more.

Poverty and hunger – due to systemic economic injustice – along with pollution and cancer, and obesity and poor diets, as well as global crop failure and famine due to equally systemic ecological malfeasance, are by far the biggest health crises we face: not a virus that has 1/10th the mortality rate of the common flu.

Even more important to realize is this simple fact: Neoliberal fascism, which is being imposed as a solution to the health crisis, is both a distraction from the vastly bigger health crises, such as poverty and hunger, cancer and pollution, obesity and poor diets; and also represents a far greater danger than any virus could ever be.

We have lost all perspective. We had better regain it soon.

If our civilization collapses, it will not likely be due to any virus. Even the Bubonic Plague, which killed 30-50% of Europeans roughly 600 years ago, did not wipe out civilization, much less the human species. But either nuclear war or global warming can easily wipe out both – and one of the two most definitely will, if we do not act boldly, decisively and immediately.

Neoliberal fascism is the “solution” which the billionaire Davos elite and their political appendages and minions in government want to impose on humanity. It is not public health that is their concern, or saving human lives – they are quite fine with torture, mass murder for oil and other resources, and with an imposed economic apartheid and predatory economic imperialism which causes 25,000 people to die PER DAY from poverty and hunger. Their interest is in power and wealth. Do not be mistaken.

Further, if the truly fascist and predatory, sociopathic elite are not removed from power, we will most certainly see either nuclear war or ecological cataclysm: because they are addicted to their power games, to empire, and to obscene profits from the planet-killing fossil fuel industry.

The single greatest danger, therefore, is the continued rule of the global power elite. Let’s try to regain perspective. It is now a matter of democratic revolution, or a gulag society, followed by extinction and collapse – as I have been saying for over 30 years. And we are running out of time.

JTR,

March 31, 2020

 

Global Famine Approaches As Pollinators Die From Pesticides – But Virus Hysteria & Mass Distraction Reign

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 20, 2020 by jtoddring

Strolling just now, with my belle and my boy, enjoying the spring day, trying not to worry too much about the mass insanity which has gripped the people, as fear and panic are daily manufactured, and a virus that has 1% the death toll of the common flu is hyped as the next thing to the Black Plague – and fascist measures are deemed necessary and are everywhere justified, and accepted – I am delighted to see the first flowers of spring: first yellow crocuses, in a neighbour’s garden, then purple crocuses, in our own garden.

I say to my boy, we should clean out the flower beds now, before the flowers get any higher, or any more come up, so we don’t damage them by raking. But then I remember what we read last spring: that it is important for the insects to leave the cover of leaf debris on the ground until there have been a few days in a row above 10 degrees Celsius (don’t quote me – check that; but something like that), so that the insects can survive the cold; because, in turn, they are the first food for the birds in the spring.

That all made sense, for the sake of the birds, whose populations are collapsing, and the sake of the insects, whose populations are collapsing, and for the humans – us – whose populations are going to collapse, and soon, unless we stop destroying the ecosystems of the Earth, upon which we depend for our lives.

I then remembered that neonicitinide pesticides have been identified as the cause of the mass die-off and population collapse of insects world-wide. (It attacks the nervous systems, both of insects and of other species, including humans.) The mass global die-off of insects is in turn causing a mass die-off and collapse of bird species world-wide.

Additionally, the mass die-off and collapse of insect species includes the pollinator species – butterflies and bees, for example. And, as Einstein said, “If the bees die, humanity will die.”

Unless we immediately ban neonictinide pesticides, and stop the mass die-off of the bees, butterflies and other pollinators, we will experience global crop failure, global famine, and mass starvation, within two decades.

But nobody is talking about that now. Nobody is talking about our fossil fuel addiction needing to be halted immediately, or the pipeline protests that held the headlines across Canada before the virus hype took over and took over our attention.

Nobody is talking about the fact that the world’s scientific community announced in 2018 that we have until 2030 to get off of fossil fuels, or we will experience catastrophic results within 20 years.

Nobody is talking about the fact that the response to the coronavirus is wildly out of sync with the numbers, or that the draconian response is vastly more dangerous than the virus itself.

The US has had under 200 deaths from the coronavirus – compared to 20,000 per year from murder, 40,000 people dying a year from traffic accidents, 50,000 deaths by suicide per year, 80,000 deaths a year from the common flu, and 200,000 deaths per year from pharmaceutical drugs which were correctly taken and correctly prescribed (according to US government statistics).

What do facts matter when there is hysteria in the air? They matter nothing, it seems.

The deaths that will be caused by crashing the global economy will be far greater than the 7,000 deaths world-wide from the virus – which is just a sliver of the 650,000 deaths caused every year by the common flu. And the economic impact of the clearly fascist response, which will be catastrophic, is nothing compared to the dangers posed by fascism itself.

So, don’t worry about global economic collapse.

Don’t worry about pesticides causing cancer, autism, digestive disorders and fatal kidney failure to skyrocket.

Don’t worry about pesticides causing mass die-offs of pollinator species, leading to global crop failure, famine and mass starvation within 20 years.

Don’t worry about fossil fuel addiction causing cataclysmic results within 20 years.

No, focus on a virus that has a fraction of the death toll as bathtub drownings.

Madness has taken hold, while the real dangers are ignored.

This does not bode well.

The people need to question the media, the government, and the health authorities, far more than they do. Confidence, faith and trust in all of these is at record low levels, and continues to fall – but still, people are much too naive, unquestioning and uncritical.

Unless the people begin to question more, think more, and regain their ability to realistically assess risks and dangers – or even, to separate facts and reality from fiction and hyperbole – we are in truly grave danger.

The danger is real.

But the people are afraid for all the wrong reasons.

JTR,
March 20, 2020

Further reading – big picture analysis:

Noam Chomsky, Necessary Illusions: Thought Control In Democratic Societies
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
Ronald Wright, A Short History Of Progress

The Most Dangerous Epidemic Of All

Posted in activism, alternative, analysis, consciousness, corporate fascism, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2020 by jtoddring

 

Just over 100 deaths in the US from the coronavirus, and what is the government response? Fascist lockdown. The pattern is the same across the Western world, mirroring the police state which is China. Fascist lockdown. People are hysterical over a virus that kills fewer than bathtub drownings, motor vehicle accidents, air pollution, or MacDonalds – or the common flu. But they’re utterly complacent and obliging when their rights are stripped away, people are placed under mass house arrests, travel restrictions are invoked, and with restrictions on freedom of assembly, divide and conquer is the clear modus operandi, with the urgings to “social distancing”, while entire cities and nations are sealed off, closed down, and “quarantined”.

And no one is worried about the clear moves towards fascism – which, for anyone who has been paying attention, has been the undeniable trend since 9/11, 2001, when the “war on terrorism”, which everywhere has been a war on democracy, was officially launched, and the Western police state construction began.

Erich Fromm (echoing Aldous Huxley and others) was also right: people will take flight from reality if their reality becomes too unpleasant to them, or too painful – due for example to harsh economic conditions – among other, deeper reasons – and they will seek to escape, not only from reality, but also from freedom. Fascism is the result. (See Fromm’s classic of social psychology, Escape From Freedom, published in 1941, in the midst of WWII and the fight to defeat the Nazis and the first wave of fascism.)

Robert Bly was right. By the late 20th century, people in the modern Western world had not only been “dumbed down” by the mass media, advertising, the corporatization of the culture and society, paternalistic and increasingly authoritarian governments, entertainment addiction, mass distraction, materialism and consumerism, and the harmful effects of these on people’s psyches and intellects; but further, the majority had regressed to the state of adult children. And this is clearly, and sadly, the case.

Bly became wildly popular overnight with his book, Iron John. But when his later book, The Sibling Society, portrayed our society as a society of adolescents, suddenly he was dropped from all discourse, and disappeared, almost instantly, from popular culture, and from memory and mind.

People – a lot of people at least – don’t like the truth. The truth is often uncomfortable. Being comfortable is preferable.

Escapism, fantasy and denial are preferable to the truth. Comforting illusions are preferable to the truth. Almost anything is preferable to having to face the truth of our present reality. Apparently even fascism is preferable to having to face the truth, and having to deal with reality.

*

25 years ago I was at an international development conference in Holland. The topic for discussion at the conference was encapsulated in the conference title, which had a catchy, thought-provoking word-play in Dutch (which I am probably misspelling, going solely from memory, and my few words of Dutch): Minder Mensen Of Minder Wensen? Which translates as, fewer people, or fewer wants?

(See Views From the South, for an excellent overview of the central issues.)

The central question of the conference was and is the central question of international development issues, and global issues generally. It asks the question raised by Malthus, and reasserted by the Neo-Malthusians (such as Bill Gates and the Rockefellers, along with other powerful elites, and the Western elite in general). The question is this: Is the central problem in the world over-population, or over-consumption?

The international development community, with people and organizations from around the world, with quite literally hundreds if not thousands of years of combined experience and research behind them collectively, concluded in general agreement and consensus, that the answer was unquestionably the latter: over-consumption is the primary problem, as the figures show perfectly well, and conclusively, beyond all doubt.

By that time already, roughly 20% of the world’s population (mainly, but not exclusively, in North America, Europe and Japan) – the affluent 20% – had come to consume 80% of the world’s resources, and produce 60% of its pollution and waste. The over-consumption of the affluent, and the inequality and disparity of wealth globally, have only grown exponentially since then.

Over-consumption is the overwhelmingly central cause of our problems on Earth, with fossil fuel dependency and war coming a close second and third. Over-population will become a problem soon if left unchecked, but we will discuss the clear, and humane, answers to that, below. But in any case, we cannot be distracted from the conclusions which the facts demand: the richest few are consuming the planet. Period.

The findings of decades of efforts at international development and poverty relief have certain conclusive results. Among them, are this key finding, which everyone in the international development community knows to be a proven fact: Population growth quickly stops, and even reverses, when two criteria are met: a) poverty is eliminated; and b) women are educated and empowered. In the southern India state of Kerala, the twin objectives were met with decisive efforts, and population growth was halted in just a few years.

We now know without doubt, and have known for some decades now, that population growth can be stopped, and stopped quickly, and without harsh, inhuman, or draconian methods. The problem is, it requires a systems change: a sharing of wealth and power – and the elite do not want that.

So yes, population growth, if left unchecked, would certainly become a crippling global ecological problem. However, population growth can be halted very quickly, and reversed, by eliminating poverty and empowering women. The Western elite know these facts as well as the international development community. They simply don’t want to take this course of action.

That would mean sharing the wealth, and worse, the power. They don’t want that. They seem intent on fulfilling what Adam Smith called, “The vile maxim of the masters”, which, as he said, is, “All for us, none for anybody else.”

*

The elite want it all. They are not content to be rich and powerful. There seems to be no end to their greed. The richest three individuals in the US – Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, and Bill Gates – now have more wealth than the poorest half of Americans. And they want more.

The richest eight people in the world now have more wealth than the poorest half of humanity. And the trend is accelerating, as inequality continues to soar. As the Canadian philosopher, John McMurtry has said, the super-rich are devouring the middle class, the poor, and the Earth.

We are being eaten alive. And yet, the elite still pose as our saviours, our only hope. Don’t believe the lie. The illusion must be wearing pretty thin by now.

So, sharing wealth and power is out of the question – depopulation is on the table, however, in the eyes of the elite.

And what is furthermore unquestionably on the table, and in play, is fascist lockdown.

As of early 2001, when the global poll of the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, came back, the ruling plutocrats, the billionaire club at Davos, knew that they faced a global crisis of legitimacy which was deep, and growing, and would sweep them from power, just as a crisis of legitimacy dissolved and collapsed the Soviet Union like a house of cards – unless they took immediate decisive action.

That was early 2001. Nearly 20 years later, we now have a global surveillance and police state, while freedom and democracy are under full scale attack.

*

Facing the present deep and growing crisis of legitimacy, world “leaders” – or more neutrally put, elites – have three choices:

1. Respond to the people’s wishes, and compromise; and not be quite so greedy for privilege, wealth and power. This is the path of equity, compromise, and democracy. (A deeply unpopular choice among ruling elites, both historically and today.)

2. Get ready to abandon power, and to lose all power. (Elites seldom wish to lose power. Today’s global corporate empire is no different.)

3. Respond with intensified propaganda – and with a resort to force: prepare for lockdown, repression, and fascism.

The Western elite have made a clear choice. It has been made perfectly clear since 2001. And it becomes ever more stark with time – particularly now, in March of 2020, when the test run for full-fledged global corporate fascism is floated, or the final fascist lockdown has begun (at this point, it is uncertain as to which it is, but it is unquestionably one of the two).

The elite certainly do not want to lose power, or be swept from power by the global awakening of humanity that is occurring, along side the growing crisis of legitimacy for the ruling elite. They are in no mood to compromise, and they have repeatedly shown their contempt for democracy and freedom, and their preference for fascism and dictatorship, as US foreign policy spanning more than 100 years, for example, has shown. (See Chomsky and William Blum on the history of US and Western elites’ very strong, clear preference for fascism and dictators since WWII.)

Yielding power is out. Compromise is out. That means democracy is out.

What it means is, the elite are saying to the people, “Let them eat cake.”

Since losing power is out, and sharing power – which means equity, compromise and democracy – is out, that leaves only one choice: the choice of the elite has been made clear: it is fascism, and lockdown.

That is the context to what is happening now – but not even the “alternative media” seem to recognize it, and the people are asleep.

“What do you get for pretending the danger’s not real?

Meak and obedient you follow the leaders

Down well-trodden corridors

Into the valley of steel

What a surprise!

A look of terminal shock in your eyes!

Now things are really what they seem –

No, this is no bad dream”

– Pink Floyd, Sheep

*

Late 20th century and early 21st century modern society has become a society of mass addiction, as well as mass distraction, mass propaganda, mass illusion, and mass escape from reality, above all.

The opioid crisis is just the most obvious tip of the iceberg. When you look at the gamut of addictions, it becomes quite startling: drugs, alcohol, smoking, shopping, consumerism, materialism, status seeking, power addiction, video games, pornography, workaholism, social media addiction, internet addiction, entertainment addiction, media and infotainment addiction (“news” junkies – very similar to people who like to watch car accidents and train wrecks), sex addiction, compulsive eating, pharmacuetical addiction (sometimes necessary, or at least helpful, but often of dubious value)…the list goes on and on.

What drives this mass addiction is a mass, pandemic impulse to escape from reality. (It’s worst in the most “advanced” and “leading” industrial nations of North America and Europe, but it is spreading fast.) And the impulse to chronically and systematically escape from reality is an extremely dangerous impulse, if left unchecked – because reality always wins in the end: whether we face it, or not. We either deal with reality, or reality will deal with us.

Materialism has created a society that is filled with stress and hurry, worry and anxiety, alienation, loneliness, insecurity, inequality, tyranny and toil, meaninglessness, inner poverty, escapist addictions, numbness, and quiet despair. The response of the majority has been to increase ever further the fixation on material consumption, entertainment, distraction, and things. It is a viscous cycle, and there is no bottom to it. It leads to hollow minds, hollow hearts, hollow souls, social decay, decline, and collapse – but not before fascism and a new dark age takes hold, if we are foolish enough to allow this course to continue.

Ann Wilson Schaff remarked, in her book, When Society Becomes An Addict that the root of addiction is the will to escape from life, in order to escape life’s pain. It never works. The attempt to escape life, in order to escape life’s pain, results in an escape from love, intimacy, connectedness, aliveness, wholeness, integration, inner peace, joy, personal freedom and empowerment, meaning, satisfaction and fulfillment, as well as responsibility, adulthood, and reality. It results in alienation, loneliness, boredom, inner poverty, and a restless insatiable hunger for that mysterious something which is always missing. It results in perpetual distraction, self-delusion and escape from reality being the core compulsion. And that is a psychological, sociological, political, economic, and ecological disaster.

And the stakes keep getting higher, with every year of avoidance of reality. Hard core drinkers, drug addicts, gamblers and other users and addicts, come to know the pattern, and its costs. Its costs, sooner or later, become total self-degradation, self-emiseration, deepening dependency, various forms of slavery, decline, decay, numbness, deepening self-delusion, and finally, death.

Now, the core impulses of the majority, which used to be love, compassion, creative work of various kinds, from parenting to carpentry to art, to some other form of meaningful work, along with solidarity and mutual aid; have instead become comfort, the illusions of security, conformity, obedience, herd instinct, and sticking with the herd at all costs – even, and above all, in terms of shared beliefs, which generally means shared delusions.

Mass addiction to entertainment, and infotainment, mass compulsive distraction, mass avoidance of reality, and mass escape from reality, have become the true epidemics – and the most dangerous epidemics of all.

*

While the elite devour the poor, the middle class, and the Earth, at ever-increasing speeds, the mass of people live in denial of reality, escapism, and avoidance of the problems we face. This, by far, is the greatest of dangers. Nothing comes even close – not SARS, not Ebola, not swine flue, not bird flu, not H1-N1, not COVID-19, all of which are minuscule in death toll compared to the mass deaths from fast food, junk food, obesity, poor diets, poverty, hunger, war, traffic accidents, or even bathtub drownings.

If we care about human health, or human well-being, then we should start by facing reality. And the greatest dangers facing humanity, in the early 21st century, are these:

1. War, and the very real and growing threat of nuclear war

2. Ecological cataclysm, due, among other reasons, to our continued addiction to fossil fuels

3. Economic collapse, due to the games-playing of elites who have wildly destabilized the economy

4. Fascism – which, by the looks of things, is here, now.

What will allow these dangers to persist, and to go unmet, unresolved, or to bear bitter fruit, and horrible human suffering? Only denial and aversion to reality on the part of the people can allow the worst to come to fruition. When we face reality together, we can solve virtually any problem. But not until we face the problems squarely, and deal with them honestly and soberly.

The most dangerous epidemic of all, therefore, is the pandemic of denial.

Safety can never come through a denial and escape from reality, nor from lies, from illusions, or from self-deceit or self-delusion. That much is certain. When we have the courage to face the truth, then a greater well-being, health, safety, and aliveness and quality of life, can become possible. Not before.

While the global awakening of humanity is real, and is accelerating, it is also true that it is a minority of humanity, albeit a rapidly growing minority, which is waking up; while the majority remain stubbornly fixed upon denial and avoidance of reality, and ever more desperate efforts to chronically and permanently escape from reality.

The result of a chronic habit of escape from reality, is, of course, a narcissistic regression to an infantile state. This, tragically, and very dangerously, is the current trajectory of the majority. And nothing compares to the danger of this – not the coronavirus, not even the power games of the elite.

Only the wilful avoidance of reality can truly sink or destroy humanity. But the majority of the people seem intent on making that happen. If this does not change, and very, very soon, then dark times most definitely lie ahead.

The Western elite have repeatedly used crises to their advantage – regardless of whether they were natural or manufactured, exaggerated, fictitious or real – from 9/11, and the “war on terror” which instantly became a war on democracy, and a smokescreen for the global war to control oil and other resources, to the economic crisis of 2007-2010, and the trillions of dollars stolen by the elite from the people in the form of bailouts, “stimulus” packages and QE, as well as before and after these major turning point events. In the process of exploiting crises to their advantage, the elite have been destroying the economy, the middle class, democracy, constitutional rule, civil liberties, human rights, and freedom, as well as the planet, in their wake.

We must resist and refuse their claims as being our heroes and saviours. They are not. The elite have become what Hilary Clinton called, “super-predators”. We are being played. This is point number one to realize. Until the people realize this. We are in a truly dire state, and in far greater danger than any terrorist group, rogue state, hackers, petty thugs, or virus can ever pose.

I’ve always been far more interested in two things above all: helping people and other living beings on Earth, and working for social change; and the pursuit of the truth, as the primary tool in seeking to help others, and in working for positive change; much more than in any concern for what other people may think, or how they may react. As Thoreau said, above all, give me truth. Not everyone agrees with that sentiment, however; and mass distraction, and escape from reality, have become the norm.

Human beings are innately intelligent, as well as empathetic, and highly cooperative, as science has confirmed. (See Jeremy Rifkin, The Empathic Civilization, Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid, along with Rianne Eisler’s The Chalice And The Blade, and Murray Bookchin’s, The Ecology Of Freedom.) But we are also highly social in darker ways – seeking the comfort of group-affiliation, with conformity and obedience to authority, and the acceptance of commonly held “herd illusions”, as the dark results. Whether the former set of qualities comes to the fore, or the latter predominates, will determine the course of the next few years, and decades, as well as the fate of the Earth; and whether we live in a police state, in a new dark age, determined to destroy ourselves along with the Earth, or in a free and green society – and moreover, whether we continue to live at all.

JTR,
March 19, 2020

Post-Script:

Someone with a brain, a heart, and courage (remember the Wizard of Oz: these are good values!): Canadian philosopher John McMurtry, author of The Cancer Stage of Capitalism – which I have been meaning to read, and must read right away.

Here is a very short list of people worth listening to most thoughtfully, or reading – when almost everyone seems to have lost their minds, their capacity for clear or rational thought, or their ability to cut through the fog of propaganda, mass distraction and illusion, which have enveloped the world:

(a very incomplete list, of course: I am keeping it intentionally very short)

Noam Chomsky

John McMurtry

John Perkins

Naomi Klein

Gerald Celente

Joanna Macy

Vandana Shiva

Turn off “the news”. Get the facts. Read a well-chosen book. Forget the drivel, and the hysteria. Read. And question everything.

Tipping Point Is Near: It Is Now Revolution, Or Extinction & Slow Death

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on March 14, 2020 by jtoddring

“Another four years of Trump, we may be passed tipping point, literally. It may be terminal for the species.” 

 – Noam Chomsky 

As I keep saying, and have said for over three decades, for reasons of justice, freedom, democracy, averting the obvious trend towards global neo-feudal corporate oligarchy, and fascism, and for environmental reasons, which are increasingly dire, for the sake of the survival of the human species, we need a revolution. And by this hour, we need it now. 

It does not matter what the odds are. Odds do not enter into questions of moral imperatives, such as this clearly is. If you are walking by a river and you see a child drowning, you don’t ask what the odds are of saving her. You just jump in. Odds don’t matter.

If we are going to die, let us die with honour and with dignity, with courage and bravery, with compassion and with virtue. Let us die on our feet, fighting (non-violently, as Gandhi and King showed) to protect human beings and other living beings on Earth, and to heal this world, and bring about a better world and a better future for all. Let us not die slowly and in the shadows, whimpering and whining and cringing like beaten dogs. 

Let us stand, and let us stand for something, and not stand for nothing but cowardice and reality avoidance and sullen despair. We are better than that. We are men and women, not cattle, or mice, or sheep.

But we do not have to be pessimistic or resigned, in any case, or fatalistic in any way. What we know for certain is that inaction now will exponentially compound human suffering, many thousand-fold. We also know that action taken with courage and compassion is never wasted action. It always benefits others, oneself (since compassionate action is also enlightened self-interest, as well as being virtuous and kind), and it always benefits the world, or the broader community on Earth, which is our larger family.

Whether the benefit is small or large, action always matters. And moreover, millions of people taking small positive actions, can add up to something that is truly far greater than the sum of its parts. It can add up to revolutionary changes –  even, to a new renaissance, a rebirth.

Nobody believed the Wright Brothers could fly. For centuries nobody thought slavery or child labour would ever end, or even should. Many people, I am sure, thought the American and French Revolutions, before they happened, were impossible dreams.

In short, as Thomas Paine said, “We have it in our power to begin the world over again.”

What are we waiting for?

Let us begin.

JTR,

March 14, 2020

 

See also, the excellent films:

Koyaniskaatsi

Baraka

The Corporation

Requiem For The American Dream

Revolution (Rob Stewart film)

Darkest Hour

V for Vendetta

300

And read Ronald Wright’s, A Short History Of Progress.

Here is Chomsky weighing in: the grand old dissident himself

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