Archive for must-read

Confronting Evil: Not with a bang, but a whimper? Neither, I say

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2016 by jtoddring

Yes, it is best to be cordial, courteous, friendly and respectful, and to avoid harsh words and harsh speech, generally speaking. But when it comes to confronting power, when it comes to addressing the power elite and their willing vassals, servants, prostitutes in high office, and other shills, we must be fierce, and uncompromising – particularly when lives are at stake; or worse, when, as at present, the future of humanity and all life on earth is at stake, and the rulers and their peons are actively destroying, not only the quality of life for the great majority, but even the possibility of the continuation of life at all.

Then, the gloves must come off, and we use language as a weapon, as well as a means of informing, inspiring and uplifting.

Sometimes, evil must simply be defeated, and while I would not go so far as to say, “by any means necessary,” I would say that there are times for dispensing with civilities, and driving a stake through the heart of the lies and illusions which surround and enchain us – or we will never be free, and our future will be bleak.

If we need any further encouragement to stand up and speak out — and with passion and boldness, and not mousy obedience, meekness or timidity — I would say that Henry David Thoreau’s, On Civil Disobedience, Etienne de la Boite’s, The Discourse On Voluntary Servitude, Erich Fromm’s, Escape From Freedom, and the writings and speeches of Mahatma Gandhi and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., should top the list of essential works to read or re-read for inspiration. As Dr. King said, we must face the fierce urgency of now — there is such a thing, as being too late.

Stand up, and speak out – for justice, for peace, for freedom, and for a better world for all: courteously whenever possible, but ferociously when necessary.

J. Todd Ring,
January 26, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stand.

J. Todd Ring,
November 11, 2015

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

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

A Game As Old As Empire – John Perkins

When Corporations Rule the World – David C. Korten

The Corporation – Joel Bakan

The Shock Doctrine – Naomi Klein

The End of America – Naomi Wolf

Year 501: The Conquest Continues – Noam Chomsky

Necessary Illusions: Thought Control In Democratic Societies – Noam Chomsky

A Brief History of Progress – Ronald Wright

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

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

When Technology Fails – Mathew Stein

World As Lover, World As Self – Joanna Macy

Wisdom of the Elders – David Suzuki

Brave New World Revisited – Aldous Huxley

The Power Elite – C. Wright Mills

Escape From Freedom – Erich Fromm

The Ecology of Freedom – Murray Bookchin

On Civil Disobedience – Henry David Thoreau

The Discourse On Voluntary Servitude – Etienne de la Boite

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

Lament For A Nation – A Review

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on October 18, 2015 by jtoddring

(Originally written as a review for Good Reads)

Here is a must-read for all Canadians – George Grant’s classic masterpiece, documenting the poor decisions which led to the loss of sovereignty of Canada to the US empire, just at a time when the British empire had been weakened enough that our former subservience to that great power could be severed, and the nation finally become truly free and independent.

While the book became, and remains, seminal in the literature of Canadian history and politics, it’s lessons have yet to be learned, and are as relevant today as they were when Grant’s essay was first published, more than fifty years ago.

Grant’s critique holds all the more power and poignancy, because it does not come from the left, nor even from a liberal vantage point, but from a conservative. And while I cannot agree with him on everything, Grant shows what a conservative of conscience might look like, and represent. Neoconservatives, such as George W. Bush, or Stephen Harper and his posse of saboteurs and corporate raiders, should stop and listen, and reflect.

I don’t agree with all aspects of Grant’s view (the biggest thing I disagree with is his pessimism), but the crux of his argument is a devastating critique of political weakness in the face of imperial powers – and that is a message which needs to be heard, because it simply speaks the truth.

Anyone living outside of Canada, who wishes to understand Canada, its history, politics or people, should read Grant’s major work. Within Canada, the Liberals, the NDP, the Green Party, and especially the Conservative Party, along with all other Canadians, simply must read (or re-read) this book.

Yes, I am Canadian, and proudly so. But no matter where I may have been born, or where I might live or call home, I despise imperialism, and the imposition or dominance of one nation or power over another. If I were American, I would join the American Anti-imperialist League, along with Mark Twain and other great Americans. Being Canadian, I find kindred spirits in George Grant, Margaret Atwood, George Woodcock, David Orchard and Maude Barlow, among many others who have stood up for Canada and have opposed political, economic or cultural domination by any power.

If we value freedom, or democracy, or independence, as we should, then we should value it for ourselves and others alike. Both subservience and domination are abominations to the soul, to human dignity, and to any nation – be it the dominating or the submissive party. We should be disgusted by either attitude, and repudiate them both alike.

J. Todd Ring,
October 18, 2015

A sinking world, and sane responses to it

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 7, 2015 by jtoddring

My country is sinking like a rock (for reasons of corporate oligarchy, neoliberalism, corporate rights agreements, and an addiction to oil revenues and the politics of a resource extraction-based economy, and the thorough corporate domination of the political process), though the great majority of my fellow citizens do not realize it, lost in a stupor of denial as they are (I can think of twelve countries in the Western hemisphere which are either moving in a positive direction, or at least showing some fight – and Canada is not one of them); and so too is the greater part of the world descending, and rapidly so, into a morass of injustice and ecological suicide, to say nothing of concerns for freedom, human rights and democracy, (as well as a pervasive malady, and an epidemic, of economic fundamentalism, neoliberalism and neoconservatism being the primary, and reigning, quasi-religious orthodoxies, along with other forms of ideological and even “scientific” fundamentalism, which are widespread, and far more influential today than their mirror image, which is religious fundamentalism, and an even worse epidemic of illusions of powerlessness, as well as an epidemic of apathy, denial, conformity, and undue and excessive, and frequently mad obedience to power) with only a handful of countries as the exception. How am I not to be distressed, if not anguished, and even furious, or all of the above?

All of the greatest minds and greatest spirits have echoed the same thoughts about the modern world. As David Suzuki has recently said (paraphrasing from memory), “There has never been a better time for being scared and angry….. We should get mad as hell, and then fight like hell.”

Where is the fight in us? And why should we be ashamed of being distraught with a world that is on a collision course with both tyranny and collective ecological suicide, as well as being steeped in war, violence, rampant injustice, inequality, poverty and a culture of voyeurism, vicarious living, materialism, consumerism, and a pathological aversion to the real?

As the great sociologist Erich Fromm said (again, paraphrasing from memory), “Normal only exists in relation to a profoundly abnormal norm.” “The fact that there is neurosis [or psychological strain and distress] is a good sign. It is a sign of a healthy individual, an individual that is still struggling to be fully alive, and by necessity, is struggling against a society that wishes to turn him or her into an atomaton.”

As the saying goes, “If you can keep your head when everyone around you is losing theirs – you’re not paying attention.”

Calm is good. Heart-break for the state of the world is natural. And action is vitally needed – and urgently so.

Let’s see more action, and the heart-break will fade into a memory of times past, and lessons learned.

JTR,
October 7, 2015

Essential reading:

(A few among many other great books that could be included in such a list)

A Brief History of Progress – Ronald Wright

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

When Technology Fails – Matt Stein

Shock Doctrine – Naomi Klein

A Game As Old As Empire – John Perkins

The End of America – Naomi Wolf

Necessary Illusions: Thought Control In Democratic Societies – Noam Chomsky

Year 501: The Conquest Continues – Noam Chomsky

Escape From Freedom – Erich Fromm

The Ecology of Freedom – Murray Bookchin

The Chalice and the Blade – Rianne Eisler

World As Lover, World As Self – Joanna Macy

Ancient Futures – Helena Norberg-Hodge

Brave New World Revisited – Aldous Huxley

Roads To Freedom – Bertrand Russell

Wisdom of the Elders – David Suzuki

Walden – Henry David Thoreau

On Civil Disobedience – Henry David Thoreau

The Discourse On Voluntary Servitude – Etienne de la Boite

Mutual Aid – Peter Kropotkin

Peter Kropotkin Was No Crackpot – Stephen Jay Gould, Natural History, June, 1997

The Hero With A Thousand Faces – Joseph Campbell

Love, sympathy and mutual aid are natural – we have to be taught to be greedy little narcissists

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2013 by jtoddring
 
Photo: During a California wildfire rescue workers ran out of crates to place rescued animals, forcing them to put a fawn and a bobcat kitten in an office together. When they got back they found that fawn and the bobcat cuddling and the pair became inseparable.
 
During a California wildfire rescue workers ran out of crates to place rescued animals, forcing them to put a fawn and a bobcat kitten in an office together. When they got back they found that fawn and the bobcat cuddling and the pair became inseparable.
 
Yes, compassion, love and solidarity are natural.
 
Or as the great Russian evolutionary biologist, Peter Kropotkin called it: mutual aid – the title of his magnum opus, which should be required reading for all high school students, not to mention all well-informed adults. That, and The Ecology of Freedom, by Murray Bookchin, and Escape From Freedom, by Erich Fromm.
 
J. Todd Ring,
October 8, 2013