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.
October 7, 2015
(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