Culture

Creativity & Culture in Collapse

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on March 27, 2016

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As a student of Collapse Dynamics, I'm always looking for signs of collapse in various areas in our civilization.  I was drawn to the topic first by the collapse of the Investment Banks Bear Stearns & Lehman Brothers back in the financial crisis of 2007-2009, which is really still ongoing but reached a crescendo during this period.  It will eventually be followed by an even BIGGER crescendo, but for the moment it just plods onward with various smaller changes in tempo and volume.

There are many other areas beyond just the financial ones that reflect ongoing collapse,  Climate Calamities and Wild & Wacky Weather being other examples of Collapse Catastrophes we have to examine on virtually a daily basis these days.  Then all the Geopolitical manifestations of collapse, from the non-stop wars in MENA to the ever escalating Refugee crisis of displaced Homo Saps, either because of the wars or climate change, or both in synergy.  There are so many manifestations of collapse these days it's almost impossible to keep track, and there is a tendency in many people to internalize this as "normal".  "There will be Wars and Rumours of Wars" always as a Fundy friend of mine often says, and of course Floods and Tornadoes and other weather related disasters go back to time immemorial.  So you can't point to one flood in Texas and say "See, this is EVIDENCE of Collapse!".  By itself, it's not evidence since there have always been floods.  There also always have been companies going out of bizness, store closings and booms & busts in various industries, so if you point to any one of these things to bolster the argument collapse is underway, the Denier of Collapse will simply point out such things have always occurred in the past.

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This is a general failing of all anecdotal examples, just about EVERYTHING always occurs at some frequency, from wars to tornadoes to corporate bakruptcies to mass murders.  Holding up any one of these things as an example of Collapse in Action merely invites the criticism of "Wars and Rumours of Wars".  To demonstrate anything of this sort "scientifically" you need STATS!  You need to show that such events are occurring more frequently and/or are greater in intensity than they were before.  That is of course a very hard thing to do, since in most areas of collapse appropriate statistics are not collected by anything approaching a credible level by any credible agency at all.

Who believes the stats pitched out by the BLS (Bureau of Lies & Statistics) these days?  You have to be brain dead to buy those stats.  What about GDP figures pitched out by Da Fed or the People's Bank of China?  Do you buy that shit?  Do you buy the financial reports from the TBTF banks on the state of their balance sheets and non-performing loans?  Even with stats, you can't evaluate the truth of anything too well most of the time, because stats themselves can be manipulated in innumerable ways to show whatever you want them to show.  If you believe that Near Term Human Extinction is imminent, you Cherry Pick data to show that, as Guy McPherson does on Nature Bats Last all the time.  If you want to manipulate your energy company's stock price, you over estimate recoverable reserves and then revise the estimates later.

So finding metrics upon which to establish collapse is underway is pretty hard to do.  More and more people can "sense" it these days, thus the popularity of Prepper websites and Zombie movies.  Sensing it and demonstrating it though are two very different issues.

I do have a new metric though to observe cultural collapse, and it is in the film industry.  AKA Movies or Cinema, depending on the crowd you happen to be hobknobbing with.  If you are at the Cannes Film Festival, despite the name of the festival everyone calls it "cinema".  If you are chatting at the bar, it's "Did you see this movie?".

This collapse has been building over time, first with the decreasing revenues overall for the film industry, and then pretty observable with the low ratings and stupid controversies surrounding the latest in the Academy Awards extravaganza, where sadly for the Black Community no People of Color got nominated for anything significant.  Beyond this though and IMHO more significant is just the complete lack of interest in the current crop of actors and celebrities paraded out for this Dog & Pony Show for the masses.  There was a time back in the early years of Television when the Academy Awards were a HUGE ratings engine, mainly in the years when Bob Hope was the Master of Cermonies, and then after him Johnny Carson.  There have been a parade of different MCs since, from Billy Crystal to Chris Rock, but you could see the deterioration underway after the Carson years.

The actors getting awards now also have diminished significantly in quality.  Leonardo DiCaprio is OK, but he is no Marlon Brando or Jack Nicholson.  The films themselves while they may get decent Box Office sales from an increasing population size generally suffer from a lack of originality, other than new and more eye popping CGI graphics.

What really hit me in the last week on the Entertainment Newz front on my Google Newz Headlines was the newz that 2 of my favorite pop culture film/TV shows were being dusted off for yet another go round, Indiana Jones is coming back and so is Xena, Warrior Princess.  Arnold is talking about another Terminator movie too.  I started thinking about how the film and television industry is just loaded up these days with Sequels and Remakes of old material.

There are now 22, count 'em 22 James Bond 007 films.There are 12 Star Trek films & 6 Star Wars movies.  The list of Robin Hood remakes and adaptations is endless.  The first one appears to be a silent film circa 1908. Mel Brook's Men in Tights is still the best though. lol.

Essentially, all the good themes have been explored already, and what the film industry does is dig up popular themese from the past, populate the story line with the latest generation of actors and spruce it up with new CGI technology to present the same narratives to a new generation of Movie Goers or DVD buyers.

Of course there have been remakes going back to the silent era, and many films are remakes of plays or adaptations of novels, so themselves were not original material, but now it is the quantity of remakes and sequels that has become overwhelming.

I personally don't go to the movies anymore, nor do I own a TV.  Going back at least a decade or so, both had begun to bore me.  I was a TV addict growing up, watching probably an average of 5 hours a day in my peak TV watching years.  Those were the days when they re-ran old movies and old TV shows, and it almost didn't matter what time of day it was, I could find something to watch on one of about 7 channels that were available over VHF frequencies in NY Shity.  There were another 2-3 channels that came in OK over UHF as well, but they didn't usually have anything worth watching on them.

Today, when I am in a hotel room somewhere on the few occassions I venture from home, I can flip on the big screen TV in the hotel room with 100 channels, and not a damn thingis  worth watching.  Not to mention the fact that whatever is on is jam packed with commercials unless it's a pay service.

So it's really no wonder that the Academy Awards get low ratings, nobody really gives a rat's ass who wins the little statue.  The only thing people care about with respect to celebrities these days is what kind of scandal they get immersed in, drug rehabs, divorces, sex change operations or whatever.  I didn't watch the Academy Awards this year of course, but I bet you dollars to doughnuts the speeches were boring and the jokes were flat.

A while back I wrote an article where I pegged the year which IMHO was "Peak Movies", which was 1968.  This was a year for quite a few other peaks, like Peak Assassinations and Peak Riots too.  Older folks than me often put the date of Peak Movies earlier, and younger folks put the Peak Movies later than this date, so it is somewhat subjective.

Ugo Bardi though put up a graph a while back which traced "Peak Rock Music" as defined by Rolling Stone's "Top 500" vs. US Oil Production, and the charts are astonishingly similar.

https://www.overthinkingit.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/rs-500-us-oil-production1.jpg


Here again, you seem to see the cultural peak of Amerikan Empire coming around 1965 or so, with local Peak Oil production shortly following that around 1971, and by my estimation Movies hitting the middle ground right between in 1968.

Correlation is not Causation of course, at least not necessarily, however it is remarkable how both cultural aspects of the society and available energy in the society seem to match up.  In speculating on why this is so I have three working hypotheses:

1- On the upswing of available energy, all things seem possible, which gets the creative juices flowing in the artistic members of the society

2- New technologies developing inspire artists to create in new ways.

3- Both artists and aficionados of art have more free time and money to appreciate artwork of various types.  They gravitate to the latest types of artwork available in their culture for the most part.

In the Music Industry, the New Technology to develop was Amplified Music and the Electric Guitar which first hit the scene in 1931, but really took off in the early 1950s with the mass produced Fender Stratocaster.  This of course is also when "Rock & Roll" really took off as well as the dominant music style of the late industrial era, now in its declining years.

Invented in 1931, the amplified electric guitar was adopted by jazz guitarists, who sought to be able to be heard in large big band ensembles. Early proponents of the electric guitar on record included Les Paul, Lonnie Johnson, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, T-Bone Walker, and Charlie Christian. During the 1950s and 1960s, the electric guitar became the most important instrument in pop music.[1] It has evolved into an instrument that is capable of a multitude of sounds and styles. It served as a major component in the development of electric blues, rock and roll, rock music, and many other genres of music.

In films after their initial invention by Thomas Edison, the first major technological improvement was the addition of sound in "Talkies".  This preceeded the invention of the Electric Guitar by a few years, coming in the lat 1920s.  The first major motion picture to feature soun was "The Jazz Singer" with Al Jolson released in 1927, just 4 years before the electric guitar

Film technology continued to develop, and got a real kick start in the 1940s with the development of films that would record in native color.  There were color films made going back into the silent era, but they had to be hand colored.  Probably the first major motion picture to feature color was the Wizard of Oz in 1939, and the contrast between the stark B&W panorama of Kansas and the Color of Oz really brought home the visual impact to audiences of the era.

Through the 1940s and well into the 1950s though, color in films was more or less a 50-50 proposition, and even in the 1960s many filmakers elected to use B&W either for their own artistic aesthetic or due to budgetary constraints.  Color Film remained much more expensive than B&W film well into the 1960s and the beginning of the "Kodachrome" era.

Film technology continued to improve using miniatures and animation techniques through the 1960s, which were applied mainly in the Sci-Fi genre like "2001: A Space Odyssey" in films and the television series "Star Trek".

These enhancements contributed enormously to the popularity of this type of film, and to the meme of perpetual progress as well.  Sci-Fi and fantasy films of all sorts began to take over, and on a cultural level this is where the art became divorced from the reality.

The reality in fact was that after making the expeditions to the Moon in the 60s, the NASA Space Program basically hit a wall, the big wheel in the sky Spce Station never materialized, only a few RV sized modules labelled the "Intenational Space Station" dropped into low Earth orbit mostly carried up there by Ruskie Rockets.

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It is at this point the cultural memes and artistic representations began to become repetitive, basically milking every last ounce out of the ideas while in reality the surrounding culture was deteriorating, and the art became just facsimile of art done before, rehashed for the next generation of Homo Sap.  It is degenerate art, and the generation growing up viewing it knows that, at least on a subconscious level.

To maintain the DREAM, decades were spent evolving ever increasing debt in pursuit of this dream, and it continues onward today in the ckepersona of folks like Elon Musk with his "Power Wall" batteries, EV Carz and Private Space Rocketry program.  Where does the money come from for a Rocket Program?  It makes no money and they crash expensive hardware all the time, along with killing the occassional test pilot.  Obviously, the money comes from debt, and Elon Musk's great gift is to be able to get the folks ho issue debt out to issue out BILLIONS of it so he can pursue these dream projects.  Richard Branson does the same thing.  The shit never makes any money, it's not "productive", but it sells the dream and more debt is issued to pursue that dream.

The future if we are to have one lies in LETTING GO of these dreams and leaving behind the sick & deteriorating culture of consumption that surrounds those dreams, but this is something that few individuals in this society wish to do, and none of our political "leaders" wish to do at all.  The Donald's sound bites talk about "Making Amerika Great Again", as if we could go back to those halcyon days of the 1950s when Harriet had a nice hot dinner waiting for Ozzie when he came home from work and the Beaver played baseball in the sandlot with his friends.  We CAN'T go back to those days, no matter how much The Donald or Jim Kunstler would wish it to be so.

You variously hear the cliches that "Art Imitates Life" or that "Life Imitates Art".  In reality, Life and Art are one in the same thing, and our deteriorating culture runs in tandem with our deteriorating civilization, one just reflects the other.  To know that collapse is real and apparent, all one needs to do is walk around a Mall that still has some stores open and look at theChinese manufactured junk they are selling.  All one has to do is go to the movies to see "Superman vs Batman" for another regurgitation of a tired myth.  All one has to do is flip on the TV for a rehash of "Xena: Warrior Princess".

I won't be watching the new edition of Xena, nor will I go to see the new Terminator film Arnold says he is going to make.  I won't have the dreams of my youth destroyed watching derivative television series with new actors or film sequels with aging ones.  They are artifacts of the past, nice in the memory but just a reflection of a bygone era that will never come again.  I have let it go, and I kiss it goodbye.

 

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The Last Cowboy

TriangleofDoomgc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard of Steve Ludlum

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Published on the Economic Undertow on February 1, 2016

There was an abundance of snow last week, too much as it turned out …

Snow 1 copy

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There was an abundance of snow all over, too much for some, just enough for others.

Oregon 1

Untitled screen shot from FBI video of the shooting of LaVoy Finicum, (Oregonian). No snow and Finicum drives right around the Fed roadblock. No snow and the attempt to apprehend LaVoy & Co. at a roadblock is postponed indefinitely.

LaVoy might have known there is no place to run, all the roads lead to … what Kunstler calls; ‘the geography of nowhere’. It’s now the geography of everywhere.

Plainly obvious is the high level of calculation on the Federal side regarding to their ‘management’ of cowboy-style ‘rancher militants’. The FBI wants to end the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge siege without bloodshed, at the same time, gunning down one of the militants on TV sends a message to wannabe insurrectionists — as well as to the country at large — as to what sort of game is being played. Intimidation works, it keeps honest people honest. It keeps those who would never dream of taking part in an insurrection from taking part in an in … oh well, you know.

So far, our homegrown militants have satisfied themselves with making nasty noises and fetishistic gestures; at the symbolic level there are few if any consequences. Actual violence is risky; it takes on a life of its own and spirals quickly out of control. Meanwhile, ending one round of outrage becomes the starting point for the next as the underlying problems are never addressed, (Washington Post):

‘Rolling rally’ in Oregon marks killing of wildlife refuge occupier LaVoy Finicum

Heeding calls for daily protests after Tuesday’s shooting death of a man who had been occupying a nearby national wildlife refuge, a “rolling rally” of dozens of vehicles clogged the streets of this tiny rural town Saturday evening.

The cars and trucks, many of them the oversized, rugged models favored in this rough desert terrain, roared around town bearing U.S. flags, Confederate flags and passengers brimming with rage.

“I feel we are living in a very corrupt government. Right now people are getting pulled out of their car, getting guns pointed at their heads, and they killed an innocent man,” said Judi Rodgers, a local resident of Harney County, who came carrying a sign that read, “Welcome to Nazi Germany.”

 

 

 

 

 

Look at it this way … your way of life is falling apart at the seams and you search for answers/someone to blame. We are at the end of a long period of resource plunder, the marginal resource has already been consumed and spat out as waste. People are nevertheless 100% invested in a very high level of resource access. For any particular group to maintain high level access, others must lose it or be denied: pensioners, Venezuelans, Syrians, ranchers, Hapless Negroes, frackers, etc. Any way you look at it, denial of resources is a very ugly process.

Here is the problem: “The cars and trucks, many of them the oversized, rugged models favored in this rough desert terrain, roared around town … “ multiply these vehicles by the number of cities and towns and suburbs across the US and around the world, plus all the other fossil-fuel powered junk; millions of folks roaring around for no purpose other than to waste time and resources, to pretend to be doing something useful, to make vacuous symbolic gestures regarding their self-perceived ‘status’. For some folks … for most … ultimately for all of us … this is the last roar.

Seismic changes of the kind we are experiencing right now — from resource squander to high order conservation — do not come quietly. The shift from European Roman Catholic theocracy to secular nation-states required 100+ years of all-out warfare in the 16th and 17th centuries including the English Revolution, the Spanish war to expel the Moors and the 30 Years War which involved almost all Europeans and killed off about 20% of them.

… the sort of thing we can look forward to avoiding!

Economist Brad DeLong has another idea: he writes at Project Syndicate the (second) largest problem the West faces right is how to manage our incredible abundance (or surplus). At first glance it is hard to tell whether DeLong is being cute or if he has stumbled upon Debtonomics and the First Law by accident.

The debtonomy’s purpose is to direct surplus- related costs away from the holder onto third parties so that he (the holder) can enjoy his gains. Debtonomy evolved to manage The First Law, which states the costs associated with any surplus increase along with it until at some point they exceed its worth. Very much abundance = very much larger abundance-related costs.

DeLong doesn’t aim too high … he merely points out a vanishingly small percentage of the West’s workforce is engaged in food production, that the specter of famine has been banished; that the bulk of those engaged in food processing aim to make food more pleasurable and convenient; that the remaining percentage strives to remedy the consequences of over-eating. Interestingly enough, discussing agricultural labor productivity is as far as DeLong goes with his ‘abundance’ thesis. He veers off into the presumed consequences of increased labor productivity in general, assuming this sort of thing will carry forward unchanged into the distant future …

But job number two– developing economic theories to guide societies in an age of abundance – is no less complicated. Some of the problems that are likely to emerge are already becoming obvious. Today, many people derive their self-esteem from their jobs. As labor becomes a less important part of the economy, and working-age men, in particular, become a smaller proportion of the workforce, problems related to social inclusion are bound to become both more chronic and more acute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Such a trend could have consequences extending far beyond the personal or the emotional, creating a population that is, to borrow a phrase from the Nobel-laureate economists George Akerlof and Robert Shiller, easily ‘phished for phools’. In other words, they will be targeted by those who do not have their well-being as their primary goal – scammers like Bernie Madoff, corporate interests like McDonalds or tobacco companies, the guru of the month, or cash-strapped governments running exploitative lotteries.

 

 

 

 

 

Look at it this way … your way of life is falling apart at the seams and you search for answers/someone to blame. We are at the end of a long period of resource plunder … send in the dancing girls!

Black_Lives_Matter_protest

Otto Yamamoto, ‘Black Lives Matter Protest Distraction’

One has to wonder about economists. It would make sense for DeLong to discuss manufacturing ‘abundance’ (over-capacity) in China and elsewhere (which turns out to have little to do with labor productivity) or the mass of plastic waste, found everywhere in the world or carbon emissions, worthless junk or the toxic chemicals that are inundating us.

Because of stupendous material outflows, the resources needed on input side of industrial processes are becoming increasingly short. That this is so is both self-evident and undeniable (except to economists). Excluding some renewable inputs, we started long ago with everything and are feverishly, frantically squandering our way toward nothing.

“Everything” = resources before we begin extracting them, as for example, petroleum before 1858.

‘Nothing’ = a few years later, after we have extracted everything we can get our hands on.

Within the everything-to-nothing regime we are about half way to the bottom. ‘Abundance’ as such only makes sense out of context, where finished products appear by magic out of thin air, crafted by elves from climate gases. As a component of debtonomics’ self-fooling process, the worth (see below) of inputs is discounted, otherwise output cannot be affordably financed. At the same time, resources are considered to have no value at all, how can it be otherwise? If resources had value they would be hoarded, as they would be precious. One does not throw a Picasso into the furnace in order to keep warm even if it’s freezing. But feeding the fires is what we do with our resources … without a care in the world! We burn them because we lie to ourselves, because we are able to do so effortlessly by conflating value and worth as if they are the same (no)thing.

From this starting point of self-deception, corruption by inches takes on a life of its own until it engulfs everything in sight. The Bernie Madoffs, the corporate interests, the (finance) gurus of the month and various governments … where has J. Bradford DeLong been? The modern economy is basically a form of organized crime. Industrial firms are morphed into hedge funds intent on increasing their own worth by way of debt-financed share buy-backs and mergers, by the issuance of dubious ‘securities’ and shifting of liabilities off their balance sheets. Markets as such have ceased to be, they have become cockpits of manipulation and insider trading. Regulators are bought and sold like Ottoman galley slaves. Politicians are sock puppets for finance interests. Wrong-doers walk the streets unpunished: if there is abundance of anything it is malfeasance and fraud and deceit. Even our cowboys are fake!

DeLong plugs behavioral economists like George Akerlof, Robert Shiller, Richard Thaler, and Matthew Rabin but they don’t really need it. He does not seem to grasp the scale of crimes, far beyond the deception of individual investors. Our 21st century looting is both transnational and opaque. The thefts are always presented as ‘making the economy grow,’ implying a ‘helping hand for the little guy’. The beneficiaries are invariably tycoons and finance-level criminals, (Marketwatch):

China’s Central Bank Makes Massive Cash Infusion

China’s central bank is putting the largest amount of cash into the financial system in nearly three years, using a weekly market operation to pre-empt a holiday-induced funding squeeze and offset rapid capital outflows.

The People’s Bank of China offered 340 billion yuan ($51.89 billion) of short-term loans, known as reverse repurchase agreements, to commercial banks in a routine money market operation Thursday.

The central bank provided 440 billion yuan via similar tools Tuesday, the first leg of its twice-a-week liquidity-management exercises.

Given the maturity of 190 billion yuan of previously issued loans, the PBOC’s net cash injection this week totals 590 billion yuan, the biggest of its kind since early February 2013, when it reached 662 billion yuan.

 

 

 

 

 

This is a crime but it is invisible. Liquidity provision is nothing more than central bank financing the theft of stolen funds. Nobody asks how theft occurs or who is behind it: certainly not the ordinary Chinese manufacturing worker. Finance managers and government administrators don’t even recognize the crime (except where blame can be fixed on ‘malcontents’). Instead, funds outflow is offered as nothing more than an unfortunate consequence of well intended government policy, bad luck … an (over) abundance of snow!

Liquidity provision shifts (pillages) buying power away from customers toward Big Business and finance. Bosses grab the money and leave the country, using it to buy expensive flats and houses … anywhere besides China, where the ordinary workers are left holding the bag.

At the same time, the provision is self-defeating because the decreasing availability of credit undermines the customer bid for products. Prices fall leading to supplier insolvency which ricochets through finance reducing credit-worthiness overall. The outcome is increased outflow of foreign exchange from the country and currency depreciation in a vicious cycle.

The central bank infusions are intended to defend the currency, yet by itself the defense signals to speculators and arbitrageurs the currency is over-priced. The specs turn around and short the currency in overseas markets where central bank cannot reach, (Wall Street Journal):

Currency War: U.S. Hedge Funds Mount New Attacks on China’s Yuan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the biggest names in the hedge-fund industry are piling up bets against China’s currency, setting up a showdown between Wall Street and the leaders of the world’s second-largest economy.

Kyle Bass’s Hayman Capital Management has sold off the bulk of its investments in stocks, commodities and bonds so it can focus on shorting Asian currencies, including the yuan and the Hong Kong dollar.

Billionaire trader Stanley Druckenmiller and hedge-fund manager David Tepper have staked out positions of their own against the currency, also known as the renminbi, according to people familiar with the matter. David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital Inc. holds options on the yuan depreciating.

Expectations for a weaker yuan have led to an exodus of capital by Chinese residents and foreign investors. Though it still boasts the largest holding of foreign reserves at $3.3 trillion, China has experienced huge outflows in recent months. Hedge funds are gambling that China will let its currency weaken further in a bid to halt a flood of money leaving the country and jump-start economic growth …

 

 

 

 

 

… and help the little guy!

When a country’s currency is depreciated it is as if a robber goes from house to house stealing a percentage of the goods and money inside. If the depreciation is ten percent, that is the amount of the robbery- times every house in the country! Hedge fund barons avoid the time-consuming mess and hard labor of sledgehammering their way into thousands of houses, they simply switch on their Bloomberg terminals and push a few buttons (this is called risk-taking). Meanwhile, the victims have no idea what has hit them, they don’t even comprehend they have been robbed!

There are more finance crimes, always more; “I feel we are living in a very corrupt government,” says Judi Rodgers, the understatement of the millennium. Our entire economy is based upon pillaging under a veneer of high minded, well intentioned propaganda. We never give anything back, we never have! we never even bothered to learn- or consider how. The militants in Oregon and elsewhere are not interested in improving public lands for the ‘good of the country’, neither are frackers or miners or other despoliators. The hedge fund barons and Wall Street bankers Kyle Bass or Stanley Druckenmiller — or the Chinese central banker Zhou Xiaochuan for that matter — they don’t aim to increase the prosperity of the working man or anyone else, anywhere else; no one but themselves. They grab what they can of the loot and demand more; lest the devil take the hindmost which he invariably does. This is what it comes to: five hundred years of labor-efficient pillaging and the customers cannot afford to retire the barons’ debts. So much for abundance, our businesses are busted.

Busted, insolvent, ruined: our tycoons, our businesses, our workers our banks, our cowboys. So it goes, to the logical conclusion, will the last cowboy out the door please turn off the lights.

DEBTONOMICS NOTE:

The ‘worth’ of something is the financial, monetary measurement of a good (or service) relative to another good or service. Worth = price or rate of exchange.

‘Value’ is the intrinsic character of a good (or person, organization, idea or service) outside of its price, a determination over time of its usefulness to the furtherance of civil society.

Worth is a quantitative measure, value has no arbitrary measure but is rather a matter of quality.

Top photo = Steve Ludlum © Copyright 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trapped in a Millennial’s Daydream

 millennials  gc2smOff the keyboard of Thomas Lewis

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millennials

The meaning of life in one easy chart! It’s easy when you’re a Millennial. (Photo by ITU Pictures)

Published on The Daily Impact on November 3, 2015


Culture — the shared sense of who we are, and how we act — is now transmitted, in the main, by television. Once, our culture was preserved, protected and passed along by wise elders — heads of families and clans, priests, scholars and the like, whose motivation was to remind us of our shared history and values, and to summon us to a life of service to those values. Today, our culture consists of titillation, entertainment, distraction and falsehoods choreographed by 20-somethings who think history is something that happened last week, character is a part in a movie and wisdom is the name of a tooth.

The cable news shows on TV, for example, upon which many depend for information about the world and for clues about what to make of it, are produced by Millennials. They bring their ideas to the story conferences, advocate their inclusion in the lineup, book the guests, and write the copy. What is the purpose of these tasks? To inform, inspire, educate or motivate? No, to grab eyeballs (translation: attract viewers). How? By making it sexy, provocative, bloody, heart-wrenching (she breaks down, she cries, great TV!), hilarious, and if you can’t get any of that, make it fast. Dress it with dazzling graphics, surround it with pounding sound effects, and for those whose attention might wander after two consecutive seconds of anything, run crawls! supers! inserts! overlays! banners! Grab those eyeballs and never let them go!

Guests and pundits are sought who fill one or both of two requirements: one, they have proved on other appearances that they can get eyeballs (did you think that you have seen little but Trump on TV for three months because of the quality of his ideas? Eyeballs stick to him! Get him!); and two, they validate the booker’s pre-conceived idea of what will make good TV. A typical opening line from a booker calling a prospective guest goes something like this: “Hi, we’re looking for someone who will compare Hillary’s email scandal to Watergate. You willing to do that? Fine, we’ll send a car. You think that’s a dumb idea? Have a nice day.”

Ordinary people cannot be relied upon to deliver good TV, although they do seem to study and learn from each other’s performances as “witnesses,” “victims,” and especially “family members.” Producers stack the decks by writing pre-answered questions for the anchor bimbos and bimbettes: “So, how did you feel when he pointed the gun at you? Did your life flash before your eyes, did you have trouble breathing, did time slow down and stop?” Answer: “Uh, yeah.”

This is the world of the millennials, whose creative writing is done with their thumbs, whose idea of a good read is 140 characters long, who eyes glaze over if they are even briefly deprived of the stimulation of flash-bang video grenades. And they are the people who do most of the work on our news programs, commercials and TV shows — the shared experiences that fill our conversations, inform our thought, and after a while define us and our time.

Millennials are not stupid, but they are young, lacking in experience and consequently judgment. That is why we used to entrust culture to old people. A Millenial cannot imagine what will amuse or engage large numbers of people who live suffocated lives far from the trendy urban centers of New York, New York, etcetera. So the Millenial news producer, creative director or TV writer falls back on rules made up by other Millennials and tested by time for six months or so.

Which is why we are presented with endless parades of celebrities (everybody likes them, right?); endless repetitions of nostrums that are simple, obvious and wrong (trickle-down economics, just one example); and cartoons pretending to explain some wondrously complex process of nature with a crayon (see, the medicine goes in here and all the bad stuff runs away!).

Which is why, when a celebrity gets up on a stage and gives us a simple, cartoonish explanation of how he would handle the presidency of the United States, it doesn’t seem ridiculous. In our culture, that’s how things work.  I know. I saw it on TV.  


Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editor of The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

American Anti-culture: A lament

Off the keyboard of Lucid Dreams

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Published on Epiphany Now on June 22, 2015

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Every Friday I drive up the mountain to intern with Keiji Oshima. He's teaching me about bamboo. Some days the lesson is to sit in a Sasa Veitchi patch and pull weeds, and on others it's learning the art of splitting bamboo for the purposes of weaving it into baskets. I'm learning how to farm bamboo for the health of the grove. The goal is to produce quality bamboo canes for craft and the table. Bamboo is a way of life that creates a culture. In the United States we don't have a culture, and I'm pretty sure we don't want one. There are houses that are lived in on this Earth that are made up entirely of bamboo. That means you can literally live in bamboo, and you can eat it with utensils made of it while you sit in a bamboo chair at a bamboo table in a bamboo house…bamboo! You can do all of that with wood as well, but wood can't grow 47 inches in 24 hours like Phyllostachy Edulis (moso) can, and good luck trying to eat wood. Bamboo has the highest protein count of any vegetable, but this is not an essay about bamboo, it's more a lament about the sucking void of an anti-culture that I live in. Quite simply this is therapy for me. Read on at your own emotional risk because I've got no warm fuzzies for you about the future.

 

In my yard I have a diverse array of food growing: apple, peach, cherry, black locust, hazelnut, pomegranate, bamboo, grapevine, black berry, raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, corn, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, gourds, all manner of cucurbit, peas, beans, herbs, chickens, and others. Diversity is my main tactic. There's also swales, hugelkulture, key hole gardens, cob, and vernal pools. I've done the best job I can designing and installing permaculture into this yard. I don't even like calling it a yard any longer because that word doesn't honor the sweat, blood, thought, emotion, and intentionality I've put into the food forest that is my "yard." A yard is something that is terrorized by mechanical tyranny and synthetic chemicals every other week. The goal of this anti-culture way of thinking is to somehow control nature, to keep it in straight lines and caged in a delusion of the collective human mind. We have dominion over a collapsing way of life contained in a biosphere that is becoming hostile to life. I'm not going to now launch into a list of all the problems our world is facing right now. This would be a good point in the essay to do so, but there are plenty of blogs in the doomosphere that can supply that list for you. The list of food growing in my "yard" is the only list you'll find in this particular rant.
 
The great irony of my life is that when I'm not permaculturing in my yard I'm riding a lawn mower and operating a weed eather, and yes I even spray round up from time to time. Nobody wants to pay me for my permaculture knowledge in this anti-culture, but they will gladly pay me to keep nature in line in their yards. All of that food growing in my yard and I still shop at costco. Regardless of my hyperactive distaste of hypocrisy it seems I'm unable to help myself from participating in it. Why do I buy and spray Monsanto round up and shop at Costco? Because I live in an anti-culture. I get paid to spray round up, not plant fruit trees (or god forbid, bamboo), and I shop at Costco because it's the cheapest way to feed two young boys. I'm not operating under the fantasy that paying 30% more for "organic" food is going to make my boys much healthier or save anything from my species. The air we breath is toxic and there are over 200 synthetic chemicals in the human body, and I'm supposed to believe that shopping at the local organic box store is going to keep me and my family more healthy!
 
I go to work and sweat…a lot. It's very hot and humid in the American South. After each job I'll take my T-shirt off and wring out a couple hundred cc's of sweat. I'll drink over a gallon of water in a day and I might pee once. I work very hard for the money I make, and so decisions like shop at costco and save a lot of money, or shop at Organic Box Store and piss my money away like I do all that water I drink, aren't really decisions at all…just common sense. I've got more food growing in my yard than probably 99% of the average home owner and yet I'm still dependent on Costco to supply the bulk of my families calories. Permaculture doesn't work without real community, and it damn sure doesn't work in an American anti-culture. It requires whole communities of people to all be concerned with food, medicine, and material cultivation. My neighbor tills his "garden spot" and then applies petrochemicals to it, and down the road there are 1000's of peach trees all in a line that get sprayed copiously all of the time. Without those petrochemicals my neighbor, and that atrocity of a "peach orchard" down the road, would all learn the hard way what petroleum dependency has done to our anti-culture.
 
I'm being forced to make up a culture. I've had no initiation into adulthood, unless you count bombing Afghanistan from the bowels of an aircraft carrier for control of the worlds heroine and petroleum as an initiation. I have no elders to look up to. My father has forsaken me and my family on account of arrogant pride. My mother does the best that she can, but she's got no idea either really…well she's got Jesus at least. I have no grandparents left. My wife is even worse off. Her daddy put a 30 aught 6 in his mouth a year before I met her, and her mother is an out of control narcissists that does more harm than good wherever she goes. She has no surviving grandparents either, and what did the whole lot teach us about our world and how we should make our way in it? Our way of life is to consume for profit sake while terrorizing resource rich countries with weapons of mass destruction, and that pretty much sums up America and it's grand ordeals about inalienable rights and freedom. I suppose we have a culture of "lawn care." If you're reading this during the daytime and you listen hard enough I'm sure you can hear a small engine attempting to control nature somewhere (and this privilage American's kill brown people of culture with drones for). Could there be a better way to vent our collective frustration then to grow just grass that has got to be mowed every other week…and fueled by petroleum I might add. Henry Ford and his ilk knew what they were doing with the invention of carcentric suburbia. They were being industrious, which is the highest good as long as it supports profit.
 
What am I to tell my two young boys about the world and their place in it? The future has no place for them. If they're lucky there will at least be some good human supporting biospheres left when it's their turn to start making babies, that is if the nuclear industry hasn't finished the job of making us all sterile. That industry is definitely doing their level best to destroy all ocean life. For a long time I used permaculture as a blank screen on which to project my hopium. I resigned from a low paying career as a medic after a short stent on fukitol didn't resolve my cognizant dissonance. Dissonance which was resonating from existence in an anti-culture. I went on a permaculture crusade of hope. Three years later my permaculture business partner realizes that hugelkulture isn't going to save the world and threw in the towel. Not that I blame him. Our anti-culture requires us to make money, not to dream up ways to fix this mess.
 
I'm supposed to remain optimistic in the face of all of this bad news. I'm supposed to somehow realize that our anti-culture is collapsing around us in all the ways that count, but yet there's reason to rejoice! There is a large for profit prison industry in this country for cryin' out loud. What the fuck! People are literally making millions of dollars on non-violent drug addicts turned industrial prison complex for profit slaves. They were only drug addicts in the first place because there was no place for them in our anti-culture. Who can blame them? Yet now they make our military uniforms. I suppose at least we're using our own domestic slaves now rather than the rest of the worlds. There is even a very entertaining show about it on Netflix called "Orange is the New Black." My wife and I have watched all three seasons. In the last season the women of the prison make panties for a lingerie company. Most Americans watching probably have no idea that the show is depicting reality. At any rate we watch it to escape from reality. One of the most important prescriptions for life in an American anti-culture is the remedy of sitting on our fattening asses while eating food chemicals anesthetized on a television screen, beer, and fukitol. I'm supposed to be optimistic. I have a tendency to forget that.
 
There is one small silver lining in the fight for optimism and hopium. The SUN foundation, a 501c3 non-profit of which I'm the CFO (chief financial officer), has a chance at receiving one million dollars to design a "Sunstead." You can read all about what that is by going to sun4living.com and reading our prospectus. If anything can give me hope it's SUN. As you have no doubt deduced at this point I need some hopium. We all do, at least those of us with our eyes wide open. I hope that SUN can shine and help to create at least one answer to this mess we are in. Now I'm off with my truck and trailer full of nature tyranny dispensation so that I can make some money to buy some Costco food to feed my family. At least I did provide them some home grown Irish cobler taters and zucinni for dinner last night. I'll take the small victories. I suppose I'm more prepared for the future than 99% of the rest of the non-1% Americans. On another optimistic note…my state finally took the confederate flag off of the state capitol building today. I guess my state's no longer stuck in the mid 1800's intellectually any longer?

Peak Movies: 1968 Filmography

Off the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on February 8, 2015

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Ugo Bardi over on Resource Crisis recently wrote an article about the Decline of Literature, another one of his many examples of the “Seneca Cliff” idea, which postulates that while the road up to the Peak of anything is fairly slow, the Road to Ruin is pretty quick.

Right after reading that article, while I was looking for film clips to use in one of my articles, which I always like to drop some pop culture or music reference into if possible, I noticed that several films which rank on my all time favorite personal list were ALL either produced or released in 1968.

Now, you will get film history buffs who can point to many great films NOT made in 1968, there are many of them of course.  However, from my own perspective, I can find no other year where SO MANY were all produced that have stood the test of time as truly GREAT FILMS, of one sort or another.  Not all are from major studios, in fact quite a few come from the “B” Film category.

Here are my Top Ten Films from 1968, with a short review of each, and a clip or trailer I was able to dig up on You Tube.  They come in no particular order, and there are some I left off the list which are favorites just to keep it down to 10.

2001: A Space Odyssey

Unquestionably the most influential and powerful Science Fiction film of all time, from director Stanley Kubrick.  Stanley also directed Doctor Strangelove (a 1964 film). Way ahead of its time in special effects, and prescient in the computer control paradigm of the HAL 9000 computer AI running the space ship.  HAL is an acronym derived from IBM, each letter is the one before IBM in the Alphabet.  The beginning scene of the Dawn of Man remains one of my all time favorite film clips, and the theme music of Also Sprach Zarathustra from Richard Strauss is absolute perfection.

Planet of the Apes

Another Sci-Fi CLASSIC, which has spawned more remakes and sequels than any other film ever made I think, especially if you include the TV Series.  However, the original with Charlton Heston can never be beat.  The closing scene where he discovers the Statue of Liberty and realizes he has been on his home planet of Earth the whole time, in the aftermath of a Nuclear War is Charlton doing his histrionic type of acting at its best.

DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!  YOU FINALLY DID IT!  YOU BLEW IT ALL UP!

Romeo & Juliet

Transferring Shakespeare to the Big Screen is one hell of a challenge for any director, but I don’t think anyone ever did it better than Franco Zeffirelli did in this version of Romeo & JulietKevin Branaugh came close with his version of Henry V in 1989, but even that still does not challenge this version of Romeo & Juliet as the best ever film version of a Shakespeare Play.  Olivia Hussey played a remarkably beautiful and emotive Juliet at the age of 16 when it was filmed, older than the Juliet of Shakespeare’s play who was 13, but given the cultural difference between now and then, not much sacrifice.  Henry Mancini provided a fabulous score for this film as well.

Bullitt

Starring Steve McQueen, arguably the first of the modern “Action Heroes” that in his wake spawned such luminaries as Arnold Schwartzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis.  Also spawned endless Cop Thriller Films including all the Dirty Harry films of Clint Eastwood, and has what is considered the best Car Chase sequence ever recorded, despite many more being done after it, including all the Bond films which always feature a spectacular car chase.  Difference here is that the Bullitt Chase seems REAL, while the Bond chases are utterly unreal.  Gotta love that Ford Mustang also.

Hang ’em High

Clint Eastwood’s early years were a whole lot better than what he puts out in his dotage these days. The Spaghetti Westerns (Fistfull of Dollars, The Good, the Bad & the Ugly etc) all featured similar themes of vengeance, and Hang ’em High was a culmination of that back in Hollywood. There are back stories to this one that you could go into forever, Inger Stevens was part of the Laurel Canyon scene, died supposedly by suicide of barbituates, but had ties to Sharon Tate, Charles Manson and the Tate-LaBianca murders.

Inger Stevens conspiracy theory aside here, a fabulous cast, Alan Hale Jr. from Gilligan’s Island, Pat Hingle as the Judge and Ed Begley as Chief Lynchman lays down the “Hang ‘Em” Line perfectly! Now, if Ed was in charge of Bankster Justice, we could make some PROGRESS!

Wild in the Streets

Quite possibly the most bizzarly funny movie of ALL TIME, which posits Christopher Jones as a Rock Star elected President during the Hallucinogenic Drug craze of the 60s.  Phil Ochs, my favorite folk singer of the era in the BIGGEST MISTAKE of his career turned down this role.  You got everything in this film, from a 14 year old Voting Age to LSD Re-education Camps for Old Folks!  LOL.  Shelley Winters as the Mom of the Rock Star is so over the top you would not believe it!  LOL.  Hal Holbrook who later played Lincoln on Broadway to great acclaim is the Senator who buys into the whole deal as his ticket to power.  Here is a clip of newly elected Congresswoman/Drugged out Bimbo Sally LeRoy demanding 14 year old emancipation!

The Producers

Mel Brooks produced and directed this Parody MASTERPIECE, which also featured an amazing cast including Mel himself, Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder.  Mel Parodies just about everything in this film, but there is no funnier Musical piece than “Springtime for Hitler“, which itself is a send up of the musicals of Busby Berkley.  Mel would of course go on to produce numerous hilarious parodies, including Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein.  However, this remains arguably his best film.

And now, SPRINGTIME FOR HITLER! 😀

Rosemary’s Baby

Roman Polanski’s initial Claim to Fame, before Chinatown and before getting busted for sex with a 13 year old girl and fleeing prosecution here in the FSoA for France.  This Horror film hits all the Catholic concepts of Sin and Satan, starring Mia Farrow as the waif who gets raped by the Devil and John Cassavetes as her scumbag Hubby who facilitates this. Mia later marries Woody Allen…OK, lets not go down THAT Rabbit Hole too! LOL. Anyhow,  Nobody does EVIL better than Cassavetes.  Directly before this film, he was one of the worst psychos in The Dirty Dozen, a 1967 film.

The official tagline of the film is “Pray for Rosemary’s Baby”. In 2014, Rosemary’s Baby was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.[2]

Here’s the Conception Scene:

Monterrey Pop

John Phillips of the Mamas and Papas organized this concert, which predated Woodstock by 2 years, and was arguably the better of the two on a Musical Level.  It also chronicled the HIGH POINT of the counter-culture movement of the 60’s, BEFORE the HAMMER came down in ’68 on the whole thing, with the riots, campus protests,  the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy and to cap it all off, the Election of Tricky Dick Nixon as POTUS. Not a good year to have stopped Sniffing Glue.

The musical acts at this concert were legendary, from Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin to The Jefferson Airplane, The Who and the Greatful Dead and many more.  The film is a great chronicle of a lost time, perhaps the last chance we had to change the future which now has become the present.

Night of the Living Dead

The FIRST ZOMBIE Film from George Romero, a B-Film that spawned a whole genre that not only Lives On today, but has exploded to still greater heights of Gore.

What I find interesting here is that the psychology driving the Zombie meme was present in 1968 just as it is now, as in the consciousness of the artists who make films, while they may not grasp the economics, they do have a sense of the zeitgeist.

Here’s the FULL Night of the Living Dead film.

Now, besides this bunch of Classic Films which were actually released in 1968, the number of films released in the years from 1966 through 1970 on either side of the 1968 Peak also have innumerable fabulous ones in there from A Man for All Seasons to King of Hearts to Bonnie & Clyde to Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid to Anne of the Thousand Days…the list goes on and on here.

Look at the Top Ten Grossing Films List for 2012.  Is there ONE decent movie in this bunch?  I’m not talking Classic, just DECENT!

Highest-grossing films of 2012[1]
Rank Title Studio Worldwide gross
1 The Avengers Marvel Studios $1,518,594,910
2 Skyfall MGM / Columbia $1,108,561,013
3 The Dark Knight Rises Warner Bros. / Legendary $1,084,439,099
4 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Warner Bros./ MGM / New Line $1,017,003,568
5 Ice Age: Continental Drift Fox / Blue Sky $877,244,782
6 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 Lionsgate / Summit $829,685,377
7 The Amazing Spider-Man Columbia $757,930,663
8 Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted Paramount / DreamWorks $746,921,274
9 The Hunger Games Lionsgate $691,247,768
10 Men in Black 3 Columbia $624,026,776

I’m not going to paste in the whole 2012 List of Films, suffice it to say I can’t see any in that list that could hold a candle to anything done in 1968. Maybe The Hunger Games is culturally significant enough, but I didn’t see it since I no longer go to movies, but I suspect that is a stretch.

Of course, as I mentioned above, besides Films, 1968 was PEAK CULTURE in many other ways, including the Assassinations, Protests, Riots and so forth.  It was shortly after this in 1971 that Nixon shut the Gold Window for Dollar Convertibility. Peak Oil Production in the FSoA was hit just about exactly in 1968.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-7Z_tqmrzzPE/UUs2DGdI6DI/AAAAAAAAErg/MCH9_NBm_qo/s1600/Screen+Shot+2013-03-21+at+12.31.31+PM.png

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/d/d3/Rfk_assassination.jpgIt’s been downhill here ever since, disguised by the ever increasing issuance of debt, but that kludge has about played itself out now.

I was 11 years old in 1968, just old enough to grasp some of the significance of the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, but not old enough to be out protesting or hitchhiking my way to Put a Flower in my Hair in San Francisco or attend Monterrey or Woodstock.  I did witness this though, and I did see all those movies I listed.  Somewhere around 2000 or so I stopped going to the movies, because they just were not interesting anymore.  I knew nothing of Peak Oil or had any notions of Collapse in 2000, I wasn’t even a Y2K believer.  Something in me though then told me there just was nothing left to see, nothing left to make movies about.  It’s all Sequels and Remakes now.

The Industrial Culture and American Empire PEAKED in 1968.  It’s been downhill ever since.

We still have a bigger Trip to the Bottom coming though.

Rewilding, Dispatched

Off the keyboard of Peter Michael Bauer

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Published on Urban Scout on January 7, 2015

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For years now I’ve had a google alert set up for the word “Rewilding.” I like to check the pulse of how the mainstream is perceiving it, as well as the multiple permutations that it has taken between conservation biology, and humans returning to hunter-gatherer lifeways and culture (and the inevitable merging of the two that will take place at some point). I was surprised one day when I was alerted to a news article about a racehorse in Europe named “Rewilding.” For a long time I followed Rewilding’s success. Horse races are disturbing to me. Still, I wondered if it was a sign; should I “put it all on Rewilding?” In spite of the horrible animal cruelty of horse races, I loved getting headlines that began, “Rewilding Takes Clear Victory…” Was the universe telling me something?

http://geegeez.summumbonumltd.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Rewilding.jpg

One sad day I got an e-mail alert. Rewilding had been running full speed when his leg bones buckled and turned to jello. He fell under the weight of a useless leg and had to be euthanized right there on the race track. Upon reading this I burst into tears. I cried and cried. I was inconsolable. It was silly really. Yes, it was sad the horse died. Yes, it is sad that horses are forced into this kind of performance slavery for human entertainment. But beyond that, I had psychologically projected the essence of the rewilding renaissance into the success of a racehorse as though it were some mystical metaphor. For that reason, I was heart broken when Rewilding was dispatched.

Projecting an idea onto a specific set of sounds we call a word, in this case the cultural movement of returning to ancestral lifeways, I am always disappointed when the system kills it. Horse races by nature are disgusting and exploitive of horses. Just as civilization, capitalism, and empire are exploitive of humans, and their ideas. I am similarly heart broken when I see an idea as ripe as rewilding, as deeply needed as rewilding, grasped up, beaten into submission, and forced to parade around as something it is not in order for someone to make a dime. The meaning of rewilding maimed, destroyed, dispatched.

…Which is why lately I have been considering changing my name to Peter Rejuvilicious, culturally appropriating a folk medicinal practice that has been disproven by science, bottling it and selling it to wealthy white people with orthorexia for $250 a pop–and all the while calling it rewilding. In phase two of this new master plan, I will write an e-book that is just a rehash of every wilderness survival skills book out on the market. I will market it as the Survival Bible and call it “The Surbible.” Oh by the way, I just trademarked that. It’s now SURBIBLE™. It comes totally free when you subscribe to my spam service.

surbible

In case you can’t tell… that last paragraph was satire.

As more and more people over the last few years have begun using (and abusing) the term “rewilding,” I’ve been thinking a lot about the rise in its popular use as the latest buzzword. Nothing is more frustrating than to see people co-opt the term from the rewilding community and water it down (usually for their own commercial purposes). On top of that, I get insulted when I see people clearly copying my work and the works of other rewilding catalysts. It’s even more insulting when those people act like they invented the term, but don’t even understand where it came from, what it means, and fail to honor those who have been doing it for a long time.

In my collection of blogs Rewild or Die, I wrote briefly of how I came to the word rewilding. I didn’t go into much detail, but after looking at this I’ve realized how important lineage is to me, and so I feel the need to share it with you. When I found the word rewilding, it was a subpage on a (now-defunct) webpage (www.greenanarchy.info) of a particular anarchist ideology called Anarcho-Primitivism. The site described the concept of rewilding in a single paragraph. This paragraph described the entirety of the lifeway of rewilding:

For most green/anti-civilization/primitivist anarchists, rewilding and reconnecting with the earth is a life project. It is not limited to intellectual comprehension or the practice of primitive skills, but instead, it is a deep understanding of the pervasive ways in which we are domesticated, fractured, and dislocated from our selves, each other, and the world, and the enormous and daily undertaking to be whole again. Rewilding has a physical component which involves reclaiming skills and developing methods for a sustainable co-existence, including how to feed, shelter, and heal ourselves with the plants, animals, and materials occurring naturally in our bioregion. It also includes the dismantling of the physical manifestations, apparatus, and infrastructure of civilization. Rewilding has an emotional component, which involves healing ourselves and each other from the 10,000 year-old wounds which run deep, learning how to live together in non-hierarchical and non-oppressive communities, and deconstructing the domesticating mindset in our social patterns. Rewilding involves prioritizing direct experience and passion over mediation and alienation, re-thinking every dynamic and aspect of our reality, connecting with our feral fury to defend our lives and to fight for a liberated existence, developing more trust in our intuition and being more connected to our instincts, and regaining the balance that has been virtually destroyed after thousands of years of patriarchal control and domestication. Rewilding is the process of becoming uncivilized. -www.greenanarchy.info

Rewilding was about a new way of living, a new story to live by. I don’t know who wrote this beautiful paragraph, but thank you (If you find this page and contact me, I will give you proper credit if you so desire). On this site, there was a link to the (now-defunct) website, www.rewild.org. On their website, they had a definition of rewilding:

rewild v. to heal from domestication & rejoin the community of nature; redefining a relationship with nature on nature’s terms; to return an area to a more natural or wild state; to return a captive animal to its natural habitat.

Though I found this definition online, I believe it was first written by the people who wrote the zine Reclaim, Rewild, who also later created rewild.org. I believe these are the same folks who founded the Wildroots Collective, but am not sure about that detail. 2004 was a big year for human rewilding. Along with this zine, John Zerzan’s Green Anarchy Magazine published an issue dedicated to the topic. I loved this definition. However, it felt too long. I shortened it in a way that I would would encompass all of the main points. Also, it had no synonyms that would help people understand the word even more. I had a t-shirt with the definition of “unschooling” on it, that included a few synonyms to help people grasp the concept (my favorite was “auto-didact”). This gave me the idea to add synonyms to the definition of rewilding. The definition I came up with was this:

rewild, v : to return to a more natural or wild state; the process of undoing domestication. Synonyms: undomesticate, uncivilize.

My edits to the definition didn’t change the original, core idea. I created www.rewild.info (now living at www.rewild.com), an online forum for discussing rewilding. I put this definition on the “splash page“. At the time there were many bloggers venturing into the territory of rewilding. The three people who had blogs entirely dedicated to rewilding and who had written the most, were me (under the moniker Urban Scout), Jason Godesky (Tribe of Anthropik), and Willem Larsen (College of Mythic Cartography), later Wilderix (Rix White), Miles Olsen, and Penny Scout (Emily Porter). People started linking to the forum and within a few months there were many conversations going on about rewilding. Finisia Medrano’s web master linked up with us and all the hoopsters began influencing the direction the subculture was taking. Pretty soon the conversations became super “advanced” and we required new people to read up on rewilding before beginning to have conversations there, so we wouldn’t have to tread over the same ground, but could keep building on what we already had in order to go deeper and deeper.

It seemed as we went along, that the definition on the front page was too vague for people who were new. In one of my blogs I tried to articulate the definition to be more obvious to new people, and offered this:

Rewild, v; to foster and maintain a sustainable way of life through hunter-gatherer-gardener social and economical systems; including, but not limited to, the encouragement of social, physical, spiritual, mental and environmental biodiversity and the prevention and undoing of social, physical, spiritual, mental and environmental domestication and enslavement.

No one was ever happy with this, as rewilding is something so deep, and requires so much work undoing the mythology that our culture has pounded into our heads about indigenous and “primitive” people. This definition wasn’t meant to take the place of the simplistic one, but to augment it: un-doing domestication means abandoning civilization. Abandoning civilization requires a revolution. Rewilding is a renaissance that requires a revolution. It is a movement that addresses environmental destruction and social injustice simultaneously. This has been articulated by many rewilders, including myself. Though, for a couple years there, I, as Urban Scout, was the loudest proponent of rewilding on the web and in the press. Most friends of mine understood what I was doing with the persona of Urban Scout; hipsterfying the aesthetics of rewilding, but without sugar-coating or changing the ideology behind it–putting it in a shell that the mainstream would accept more readily. Those who didn’t get the satire sent me angry private and public messages. Kevin Tucker, a prominent Anarcho-primitivist (and author of For Wildness and Anarchy), wrote me this e-mail:

Scout,
You and the other ‘primitivist’ bloggers are fucking douche bags. I’ll give you credit for having a sense of humor, but then you err on that side. Trying to make rewilding just some new hipster shit is pathetic. You’re selling yourself and no one who will still be around in a few years will have bought it. Benefits for fucking fashion shows and dance parties? I imagine you might mean well, appealing to other hipsters or what-the-fuck ever, but you’re only making a mockery of yourself. Perhaps that’s your intent? Urban Scout is, after all, just a character right? Fucking PATHETIC. The rantings, daily affairs, and love life of a fringe blogger do not constitute a primitivist site. The sooner you realize that the better off we’ll be when the hype fades and y’all stop trying to co-opt valid shit.
For wildness and ANARCHY,
Kevin Tucker.

I’m certain he is still proud of it to this day, and wouldn’t mind me reprinting it here, as he has assured me in the past that his friends sometimes come to my blog “for a good laugh” at my expense. Kevin didn’t know me personally or see Urban Scout as an expression of authenticity because he didn’t understand the satire. I always thought that they mostly hated me for aesthetic purposes. I didn’t look like one of them; I was a “hipster.” Back then I would throw this kind of thing back in people’s faces. I turned his e-mail into a Madlibs-style contest, in which the winner of my choosing would receive a signed photograph of yours truly. I’m not posting this here to drudge up old drama. I don’t really care about this anymore, and I understand his frustration and anger.

He was wrong though. I didn’t co-opt rewilding. Co-opting implies changing the meaning behind something for your own purposes. I was just giving rewilding a superficial change, a quasi-hip facelift. Not an ideological one. Now, though, I think I actually understand where their frustration with me was coming from. The hipster culture I was appealing to is centered around an obsession with novelty. This is part of our culture at large, but was especially true (and still is) of hipster culture. Urban Scout (from the audiences perspective) was simply just another novelty to be consumed, like Jack White recording an ICP album of Mozart covers. Urban Scout, the hipster, made rewilding appear as a novelty. Seeing this now, I understand why those who hold these ideas close to their hearts, were pissed off. In spite of this, many people were able to see through the hipster facade and satirical aspects, and understand the sincerity and deeper meanings of rewilding. In fact, a graduate student from Indiana, that I had never met before, wrote a dissertation on how activists use language to recruit people. She included a chapter on “Anarcho-primitivism” and wrote this:

In these mock-mainstream encounters, anarcho-primitivists revel in the contradiction between mass media spectacle and primitivist sentiment. By using blogs, YouTube, and red carpet events, they acknowledge the success of corporate, technological strategies of “selling” ideologies, and they insist that their anti-technological perspective can best be spread through the media that they hope to destroy. When they announce their simultaneous love and disdain for E! Entertainment Network’s brand of consumerism, primitivists produce a critique of the media while guarding themselves against co-optation. Because they produce slick, shiny promotional materials, the mass media has no need to alter the anarcho-primitivist message if it wants to sell it. Urban Scout can therefore have quite a bit of say in his own public representation. As long as his images look professional and corporate, they will appear as he created them.

In 2008 I compiled my “Philosophy of Rewilding” blogs into a book called Rewild or Die, but didn’t publish it officially until 2010, all the while adding updates to the book. In 2011 I finally went on a West coast book tour. During the tour my car was totaled by people who were angry with things I had written in the book and on my blog. Originally I thought that it was anarchist vegans who were mad that I wrote about veganism in my book. The reality is that I don’t know the exact person who did it, so blaming members of a subculture seems counter-productive. The point of mentioning it here, is that it shocked me. I wasn’t born with a thick skin. On my blog I acted as though things didn’t bother me, but they did. I realized that life in the lime light, and one where I am inciting people to total my car, is not the one for me. After my book tour I basically stopped blogging altogether and I’ve spent the last few years creating Rewild Portland, a local non-profit dedicated to creating a rewilding community in my home town of Portland, OR. Rather than be snarky on the internet, I’ve been sincere in person (and a little snarky).

(A side note to this, is the problem with commercializing aspects of rewilding at all, including my non-profit Rewild Portland. For example: charging money for classes, books, information, community, etc. That is a related matter, but is the topic of a whole other conversation. If you are interested in continuing that conversation, join in on it!)

Others published works as well. Finisia Medrano published an auto-biography (Growing Up in Occupied America). Willem Larsen published a collection of his blogs (College of Mythic Cartography). Rewilder Miles Olsen, wrote a book Unlearn, Rewild (New Society, 2012) and used the definition I created for the Rewild Forums in it. Miles’ book is great, and he was one of the first people to contribute to join the Rewild Forums and shape the conversations there. You should definitely check out his book if you haven’t already.

Many of us who made this initial online push for rewilding haven’t had time to pay much attention to the online world of rewilding for the last two or three years. The rewild forums quieted down for a while without a core group of people driving conversations. We had all talked about it enough, and went to work to rewild our lives in the physical world.

In the last year or so there have been a few websites popping up with people claiming to be “rewilding” but gutting the meaning of it, and using it as a new buzzword for anything “Paleo.” It has been confusing, because some are even using the word as a synonym for just going on a hike in “nature.” As if “returning to a more natural state” simply means sitting at the base of a waterfall for 15 minutes a day. It’s even *more* confusing when you look at the most commonly known definition of rewilding, and that is actually conservation rewilding, which explicitly excludes humans (also off-topic but interesting, and is probably the origin of the term in popular use). Human rewilding is the kind we are referring to.

A couple of these people have even become internet famous through modern internet marketing campaigns, seemingly plagiarizing cherry-picked elements of the conversations from the Rewild Forums. All the while, failing to give any of us any credit or linking to any of the websites. Lineage is important to follow because it keeps people on track with the growth of a movement. What is most disturbing about this trend is that it mis-directs what rewilding means from the larger subculture of rewilding, and attempts to close it off in a vacuum of self help routines. Though these sites may add to elements of rewilding culture, they do not add to the rewilding culture overall, but in fact are reducing it by deluding the goal from walking away from civilization (and/or dismantling civilization) to simply taking in a breath of fresh air at the park, or walking in synthetic “barefoot” shoes. With free e-books on things like, “10 Simple Things You Can Do To Rewild Your Life” none of which include returning to a hunter-gatherer way of life, or challenging the pervasive hierarchical culture that is destroying the planet. Rich people have always been more active in nature, now they get to be smug about how healthy they are for it.

It is strange that these people would use the word rewilding, without doing some research. Google “rewilding” and the rewilding wikipedia page and rewild forums are in the top hits. These websites are businesses. It’s hard to imagine they did no research into a word that they would be using as part of their brand. The wikipedia page of rewilding is listed under a subsection of anarchy. Yet these sites have no ties to the driving analysis that begat rewilding, or the culture surrounding it. It is hard to miss that there is a radical foundation to a topic, even with minimal effort. One of the reasons I take major offense to this (other than lack of credit, changing the frame and goal) is that tacking the term “rewilding” onto a capitalist venture of “self-help,” that only benefits the rich (and mostly white), is simply bad publicity for the rewilding movement. People who are doing actual rewilding (the kind that benefits the entire planet, not just a muscle grouping in your abs) such as: planting back wild foods, assisting Natives in land reclamation, bringing these skills and ideas to communities of color, and communities with economic disparities, will be discredited. It’s bad publicity because it makes it look to the general public as if rewilding is just something for self-absorbed, rich, white people, who just want to look good naked, rather than a cultural movement for all people to reclaim an ancestral lifeway of serving the earth through the tending of the wild–with any means necessary. It’s the intention, the goal, that is important here.

You don’t go to a tree sit to climb trees, you go to a tree-sit to stop a logging operation. There is a purpose beyond self. Rewilding, like tree-sitting (protecting wild spaces by any means necessary is another aspect of rewilding) is rooted in a purpose beyond the self. So, the idea of “rewilding yourself” is a misnomer. Rewilding isn’t about YOU. You’re mental and physical health are important… just as breathing, eating, and sleeping are important. Rewilding isn’t some narcissistic, masturbatory meditation, health, or fitness program. It’s about serving the community of life and the land, in the face of Empire.

These people are climbing trees for fun and calling it tree-sitting. Yes, climbing trees is important for participating in a tree sit, but it’s not the goal. There are people on a facebook page for one of the websites that ask “Why is the wikipedia page for rewilding listed as a subsection of anarchism.” This is akin to “Wait, I didn’t know we we’re learning to climb trees in order to stop a logging operation?!?” It is clear from statements like these that the meaning of rewilding is being lost of these people. Anti-civilization, anti-empire, and anarchy (in the general meaning of a “stateless” culture that self-governs) are at the root of rewilding. Rewilding originated from social and environmental activism, not the survival skills world, not the dieting world, and not the new age meditation world. The core of rewilding has always been about planting back seeds (actual seeds) for a future beyond our own. The children of our future (if there are any) won’t care how good we looked naked, they will care if we planted food for them to eat. Of course, we need to take care of ourselves in order to do awesome rewilding stuff like planting back seeds on the hoop, so nourishing traditions are things we need to focus on, but they are not the reason for the season.

I would say that if your objective is to live a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to the fullest extent possible, then you are rewilding. If you are just doing paleo diet and going camping to feel healthier, that is not rewilding. I didn’t make up this definition, though I have played a role in crafting the culture that surrounds it. This is just what it means to the culture of people who are attempting to walk away from civilization and create something new. Why do definitions matter? People must have a shared reality in order to work together in that reality. I once got into the most insane arguments with a man who refused to share reality with me, claiming that “nothing is real” and that “there are no such thing as facts”. These arguments looked like little more than philosophical masturbation to me, than practical thinking for taking actions to create a sustainable planet. While I agreed in the philosophical sense with him, it didn’t help anyone to make choices in the real world.While I don’t believe in the concept of “facts” I do believe that we need to have shared observations of reality. We can observe that agriculture destroys the soil. If we can’t have that shared reality, we can’t work together to change our subsistence strategy to one that builds soil. Similarly, if we can’t have a shared reality of what it means to rewild, the word might as well mean nothing at all. The more we clearly define an idea, the easier time we will have using it for practical purposes. If you don’t have “planting back” the land (reciprocal land management strategies) listed as the main “fundamental” of rewilding (the main thing that separates indigenous lifeways from civilized), then you haven’t been at it very long and are just bringing the same concepts of civilized mentality-> rendering the term “rewilding” into just more of the same. For this reason, it is easy to tell who is new to rewilding and who has been at it for a long time based on where they put their emphasis. Agricultural civilization takes more from the land without giving anything back, whereas “hunter-gatherers” give back more than they take. A simple example of this is taking a single Camas bulb from the ground, but planting dozens of camas seeds in its place. Newbie rewilders tend to emphasize primitive skills, foraging, and enact the individualistic “mountain man” cliche, which is missing the whole point of rewilding. Foraging is not rewilding. Foraging, while planting back the seeds of the plants you are foraging, and under the threat of Empire, is rewilding.

The last chapter in my book was called, “Rewilding: a Term to Throw Away.” In it I spoke of how the word could change over time to become something else, and lose sight of the goal. The vision is what is important, not the word. We were rewilding before “rewilding” was a word to describe rewilding. It doesn’t really matter if these people continue to run the word rewilding into the ground. If people are alive in 500 years, it’s because they will have returned to a hunter-gatherer way of life. In the moment though, as someone trying to prepare people for the changes we are experiencing by uniting them under a common term, it is really, really annoying.

Pictorial Essay: Your Life

Off the keyboard of Stuck in New Jersey

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Published on The Burning Platform on September 25, 2014

2001_embryo

Discuss this article at the Kitchen Sink inside the Diner

You were born free … a bundle of tremendous potential.

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You were loved, and loved unconditionally.

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The concept of lack was foreign to you.

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As you grew you started to question the world around you.

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You hunted fireflies on warm summer nights and you put them in jars to light your room at night.

B4INREMOTE-aHR0cDovLzMuYnAuYmxvZ3Nwb3QuY29tLy0ydm1tQzAzOHpTNC9VYWc5cUlFT2JUSS9BQUFBQUFBQUIzWS9mWHNqRDVrQ0E1ay9zNjQwLzAyay0rZmlyZWZseXMuanBn

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And the door to your imagination was never locked.

B4INREMOTE-aHR0cDovLzMuYnAuYmxvZ3Nwb3QuY29tLy0tUV93QWZqT0Vxby9VYWctODI1TElnSS9BQUFBQUFBQUIzcy9fM0dmcTZHLS1ZUS9zNjQwLzA1LjUtZG9vcitvZitpbWFnaW5hdGlvbi5qcGc=

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Einstein said, “Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.”  But government schools were more interested in you becoming an obedient drone … and they wound up killing your joy of learning.

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You were ridiculed when you challenged the status quo.

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You were judged … and so learned to judge others.

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And so you allowed group mentality to sway your actions and decisions.

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The Powers That Be worked very hard to make you believe you have no power, no control. So, you did as you were told, and feared the consequences of what would happen if you did not. You became ruled by fear. 

B4INREMOTE-aHR0cDovLzQuYnAuYmxvZ3Nwb3QuY29tLy1McFBBMzI5a2N3NC9VYWhBeDJUb1UxSS9BQUFBQUFBQUI0SS9MdVZZdjRJYThQMC9zNjQwLzAwNi41X2NoaWxkaG9vZF9mZWFycy5qcGc=

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But, your beliefs were formed by television programming.

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And what your culture says you should believe about God …. pick one.

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And by what your government wants you to believe about itself, and what you should sacrifice for blind Patriotism.

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You sought news of the world … but were fed propaganda.

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You were presented with continuous distractions to keep you from questioning the reality around you.

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You were kept deliberately ignorant.

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You were given hope … that you could effect change by voting. But hope was crushed when you realized both parties played the same hand.

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So, you joined the rat race as no other options seemed evident.

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You were trained to be a consumer.

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You bought into The American Dream.

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They fed you poison.

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You acquired debt.

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You ….. conformed. Is it any wonder you feel confused and hopeless?

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But … you’ve felt it all your life …. that it’s all just an illusion.

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You let the past dictate your present, and you worry about your future. But you only have the present … living in the moment is all you can do.  Once you realize no one has power over your thoughts … you will never again act against your will.

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Just remember who you are … the same soul that was born all those years ago (though your years may be closer in age to the hands holding the baby).

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But, years of conditioning almost completely eroded your sense of who you are, and the power within you. Don’t you want to change? Will you roll the red die, or the green one?

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It’s your choice, completely. The labels you were given as you lived your life no longer fit. Simply choose to start believing again in your infinite potential.

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You are what you believe. What you believe, you are.  Mahatma Ghandi said, “Your beliefs become your destiny”.

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The Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, said;  “The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.”  So …. 

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The universe is in your hands. You were born free, you will die free … but will you LIVE free?

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Why Does a Druid Ride a Lawn Mower?

Off the keyboard of Lucid Dreams

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Published on Epiphany Now on July 23, 2014

2001 Ape with iphone.jpg

Discuss this article at the Doomsteading Table inside the Diner

Our industrial civilization seems to me to be in a state of suspended de-animation. The narcissistic techno imagadget cyborg drones are anything but animated. Their avatars are all over the internet while their bodies are aimlessly burning fossil fuels in support of an insanity continually left unnoticed. A new reality has come into existence. It’s a reality never before seen, and it’s a direct result of the lottery our species won which has paid us in concentrated golden energy derived from the sun. Most first world inhabitants have no idea how this lottery pay off has distorted our collective reality, or that it’s a miniscule fraction on the time line that is the human experience on this living Earth. The portal by which our first world society now sustains this ridiculous electronic virtual contrivance, is the imagadget “smart phone.”

The smart phone may be smart, but it’s made us stupid. It’s become a perpetual soul vacuum that’s sucked the human spirit into it’s electronic clutches. It’s attached horse blinders to our collective imagination and crushed our bodies into useless meat riddled with nuclear powered cancer and super bugs. Super bugs that are hard at work creating a future misery the likes of which our anesthetized imagination cannot imagine. We look through this device to see a matrix composed of artificial constructs designed to be nice. The device keeps us all endlessly distracted from looking at one another, all while we spend all of our time looking at one another while scrolling through a multitude of lives taking place virtually. What more does one need than the phenomenon that is the “selfie?” How have we come to a place where it is considered completely normal to take a picture of one’s self and then post it amongst a cascade of other selfies? Everybody is looking at themselves through this electronic mirror. Narcissist’s reflective pool broadcast ubiquitously and completely. It’s come to a place where putting down the drug is no longer possible. The will just is not there. The truth is that we all know how pointless this distraction has become…at least deep down in the recesses of our collective psyche.

We continue to wake up day after day stuck in this suspended de-animation. There are simply to many disgusting creatures crawling around just beneath the surface of the early 21st century human experience for us to fathom. This pretend land we take selfies in is made possible by third world wage slavery. The clothing we pay too much for that is featured in our masturbated pics was stitched together by a people whom might as well be living in a dumpster full of our second hand hedonistic stickyness. A dumpster that receives the shitty end of the planned obsolescence they slave away to create for us. Then there is the Earth that supports us which we have turned into a sewer of cast off desires which catches the overflow from the dumpster those unfortunate slaves live in. Each of us kings and queens entitled to create suffocating trash in a ritual of daily consumption. Drones fly and innocent brown people die for the energy to keep this diseased tragedy going and growing. Of course, none of this matters in the nice imagadget reality we all inhabit. Well, maybe not all of us inhabit that reality. I don’t.

My world mostly takes place outside. Everyday I make it a point to pay attention to the natural world. That world doesn’t require a grid to sustain itself. It doesn’t require ancient fossil energy either. What it requires is a willingness to participate in the struggle for life. I’m attempting to learn how to participate in that struggle with grace and equanimity. This dance happens on the bio side of biophobia, and it requires acceptance of the gooey, slimey, smelly, living bodily fluid that is required to support life. It crawls in the soil and smells of Earth. It grows out of the ground and has an enduring intelligence the likes of which we should strive to possess. It pays us in natural splendor, taste, and fertility. It’s time takes place in rotations, tilts, and revolutions. It’s life follows the sun and sleeps on the Earth. This marvelous happening dazzles the senses in slow motion. The natural magnificence I’m describing does not show up on the imagadget. It doesn’t fit that artificial electronic mold.

http://cbskilt2.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/lawnmower.jpg

Where does all of this leave me and people like me? It leaves us stuck between artificial sustenance and quality starvation. Between pointlessness and a natural sanity thought putrid and insane by the imagadget followers. Followers that do not support the efforts needed most to keep our species healthy and thriving in the nonindustrial future which we have guaranteed our children will get. Which isn’t a bad thing, it’s actually good, but there’s a lot of pain between now and the backside of that good. There’s a lot of disease, starvation, marshal law, war, death and suffering to go before anything like good will come of it. At least the imagadget will eventually go the way of the dodo. What this all means to me is that I must labor at destructive, soul crushing, BAU support to keep my family out of debt and fed. I’m a nuclear engineer medic turned riding lawn mower/weed eater operator. I’ve dropped out of everything this society has offered up to me. I’ve done so because none of it could stand up to my personal sense of ethics. The nuclear engineering created toxic waste and killed lots of brown people. The once healthcare turned wealthcare and supported nothing but rich fuckers and their corporations. We have a large industry that makes people rich by parasatizing human bodies, and I’m not talking about the war machine here either. I’m talking about our wealthcare system.

This is all how a Druid has come to ride a lawn mower for money. This is all why a Druid cuts down trees, pulls up vines, trims ornamental shrubbery, and does all of the other trappings of conventional landscaping for money. It’s one of the most pressing ironies of my life (and my employer is a 69 year old retired army Sergeant Major to boot). I do battle with nature for money, and then I come home and practice permaculture. I have a permaculture business named Ancient Earth Design, but nobody wants to pay for permaculture because they don’t see the need for edible landscaping. They all see a need for the most worthless plants imaginable. Plants that only yield pretty and nice, but not medicinal and edible…or even useful for that matter. All of the nice ornamental plant growth gets carted off to that dumpster full of our stupidity to rot in the landfill with the diapers. Society pays a lot of money to keep the grass and ornamental landscapes trimmed up and under control. Society won’t pay shit to have whole systems implemented on their landscape. Natural systems that work with nature to create abundance by way of food producing plants and animals. Society has no use for food and medicine. They’re to busy texting, sexting, selfying, and just plan virtual masturbating to care about the natural world that sustains us all.

Eventually the permaculture system I have in place here on this one acre I live on will mature, and maybe I won’t have to work at cutting grass for other people as much then. I don’t care about money, but money cares about me. I don’t care much about society either, but here I am, cutting their damned grass. I’ve thought about going back to college, but then I realized that college doesn’t result in a job, it just results in debt. I know how to read books, and books are free at the library. Even if college does result in a job it’s just more BAU support. BAU does nothing but destroy life. It produces food by killing everything in the soil with multitudes of poisons. It turns brown people into wage slaves and gives everybody cancer. I suppose none of that matters because the selfie nation doesn’t care. At any rate, in the morning I’m off to go ride a lawn mower and operate a weed eater. At least nature will forgive me…I hope. It has to forgive me. After all, I have five different species of bamboo growing on this acre. I’m nursing the bamboo monster in hopes that it will grow up and destroy BAU. Consider this your warning! The bamboo monster is coming to getcha, and when he does this Druid will stop riding god foresaken lawn mowers. I much prefer the sickle.

http://www.bamboogarden.com/P.edulis.Oggie.jpg

Fashion vs Will to Power III

Off the keyboards of Steve from Virginia and RE

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Published originally in the Commentariat on Economic Undertow

Rockyfight

Discuss this Debate at the Economics Table inside the Diner

Steve from Virginia who publishes the Blog Economic Undertow and myself are old Internet Compadres who have been debating the root causes of Collapse for quite a long time now with each other.    It first began before we set up the Diner on his blog, I think my first posts on EU go back to around 2009, maybe 2010.

For the most part, Steve and I agree on most concepts Economic in nature WRT Industrial Civilization Collapse.  From Debt to Fukushima and beyond we are entirely on the same page.  However, Steve and I also have a FUNDAMENTAL DISAGREEMENT on the etiology or root causes of the disease human society is faced with in the waning years of the Waste Based Economy, which crops up anytime he advances his theory that the Progress Meme followed over the years here is based on what he refers to as “Fashion”, whereas I contend that this results from what I refer to as the “Will to Power”.

The most recent installment of this long running debate came in the Commentariat on EU, in Steve’s latest addition to his Debtonomics Theory, which has numerous installments itself over on EU.  We got into a similar debate which I published here on the Diner a while back as Underpinnings of  Industrialization II: Fashion or the Will to Power?

So, without further introduction, here is the latest keyboard Boxing Match between myself and Steve as to what REALLY drove the development of Homo Erectus to Homo Industrialis over the millenia the genus has been walking the earth.

Further thoughts on this topic welcome from all.

RE

Reverse Engineer

  1. I think what is missed here is that it is not really “Economics” per se that we are talking about, but a Monetary System designed to control Economics.In a monetary system, he who controls the issuance of Money controls the downhill flow of energy and all the resources that the money buys. In the words of Mayer Rothschild:“Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes it’s laws”It is a lot of nonsense that the creation of the Industrial Economy is simply a matter of “Fashion”, as Steve often argues. There is a control paradigm in place that manifests itself through the monetary system. This is the Will to Power , manifest through control of a monetary system, Mayer Rothschild made this clear, and so have many others including Henry Ford.“It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”The evolution of the Industrial Economy is an engineered thing, from the top down, it is not a result of “fashion”. It has been imposed on the population against its will in most cases, see the Luddites for this, not to mention about every 3rd World Nation that has had either Death From Above or Tanks rolling over their territory to coopt them into the paradigm and fork over their resources.Steve has a lot of marvelous insights into the nature of debt and the way the economic system works, but his concepts of “Fashion” as being a driving force in this are completely wrong, or misplaced, however you want to phrase it.The industrial economy evolved because it enabled more power to be accessed, and it has been controlled by a relatively small number of people since its inception going back to around the beginning of the Enlightenment in Europe, but really taking off with the invention of the Steam Engine.Bigger and better weapons enabled more of the world resources to be accessed by a small number of people who controlled these weapons of war, beginning with the Cannon, evolving today to Phantom Jets and Apache Helicopter Gunships.This is not “Fashion”. It is the WILL TO POWER.

    RE

    1. steve from virginia Post author
      RE sez: “All your base are belong to us!” Steve sez, “Turn that game off and go to sleep!”In a world where everything is ‘made up’ the will to power — even the power itself — is a fashion: an organized set of appearances. ‘Will to power’ is an indeterminate (macht) fancy that was expressed in mid-19th century philosophy (Schopenhauer). Other thinkers offered will to pleasure (Freud) or will toward greater understanding or meaning. All of this orbits around shared assumptions that reflect (fashionable) determinism and rapid industrialization (leverage).Within determinism, puny man becomes a God without any idea of what a God is or how to go about it. God and man are synthesized versions of each other, that is, looks like a God (image and likeness) while God cannot be anything but ‘like’ a man. Presume for a minute that God can only prove its own godliness by exercising power: God can only prove itself by destroying all humans because the last survivor might in the end defeat God … thereby disproving God’s reality. God here really has no power, it is are either an impostor or a monster with no sense of anything. Without God there is no such thing as power: ironically, when Nietzsche killed off God he killed off his own philosophy at the same time.Instead of power we have ‘real’ video games.The issue is whether determinism is a component of nature/biological evolution (Darwin). It is only for teenagers: there would be no life on Earth: the dominant form would end up destroying everything else (outcome of power). Since life has been on Earth for +400 million years, some other dynamic has determined life-outcomes besides power or will associated with it. If it is sexual selection (Darwin, Freud) then appearances matter (ability to choose partners). Most likely there is a ‘Will to belong’ or will to collaborate intimately.Put another way, even predatory animals operate within (power) constraints by necessity. A lion is always more powerful than a gazelle, the lion will eat a gazelle, never the other way around. A lion won’t invent a machine that gobbles up all the gazelles. After finishing off gazelles the lion won’t turn his machine on the zebras, nor will the lion burn the zebras up for fun. The lion has a built-in (genetic/behavioral) regimes that spares the bulk of gazelles and zebras so that there are lion-lunches into the foreseeable future. The same inhibitions prevent one group of lions from killing all the other lions. There are subtle and varying levels of interchange between prey and prey, predators and other predators so that each sustains the others … within ‘brutish’ nature there is a high level of collaboration and interchange. None of them have to have meetings …Don’t misunderstand, because determinism doesn’t function well with others does not mean the idea is without currency. Our Wile E. Coyote world, quivering in the air over a chasm, is a monument to determinism, ours is a big world with a lot in it to slay:There was a little girl,
      Who had a little curl,
      Right in the middle of her forehead.
      When she was good,
      She was very good indeed,
      But when she was bad she was horrid.There are few- if any balances in the human-American version. Winner-take-all or ‘will to power’; whatever term you please exists in the mind as an unhappy and unworkable abstraction … as a fashion. Nietzsche is right up to the point of how individuals respond to power’s appearances. We invented ‘will to power’ to explore the possibilities of machines, there is no other purpose but entertainment and perhaps seduction. What makes us ‘powerful’ are the forms that ‘power’ takes rather than the exercise of it: ‘helicopters, tanks and aircraft carriers’ appear more powerful than they really are (they are unaffordable liabilities).To exercise power is invariably self-destructive and counterproductive because power requires resources that are eroded by way of power’s exercise (US in Iraq and Afghanistan) or because no contestant has a monopoly on it.

  2. Tagio
    RE:It doesn’t have to be one or the other. If you read Pereleman’s “The Invention of Capitalism: Classical Political Economy and the Secret History of Primitive Accumulation,” you see a lot of support for your thesis that, at the beginning of the industrial era, people had to be forcibly divested of their historical rights in common property, forced out of the countryside and driven to the cities to become wage slaves. Though life was not easy, they preferred their subsistence + level of farming, hunting, gathering, and home economy (income from weaving and other skills), with its more natural rhythms, more leisure time and “togetherness,” to the “opportunity” to go to the industrial hubs and enjoy “the finer things” of life. Contrary to classical economists’ rosy picture that people voluntarily chose, as a reaction to the invisible hands of Mr. Market, to become workers for capitalists, Pereleman shows that people had to be forced into it. The “capitlists” of the time, who were busy divesting people of their historical rights in a common property (“primitive accumulation” aka theft) railed against the common people’s “laziness” and uncouthness, and their lack of desire for luxury and the finer things of life. However, the people at that time living through it clearly preferred remaining in the home-bound economy to becoming a machine themselves.Fast forward 200 years, however, and people are today basically completely mind-fu***d, can’t even see their slavery, and pursue, as fashion, the next great thing and the next after that. Yes, they are manipulated by the ad agencies, television, and the rest, but they are very easily manipulated. Whose fault is that? Whether you say it is the fault of those with the will to power who pull their strings for their own climb up the ladder in the system, and so are also completely captive by it, or the fault of the nudnicks too stupid to see that they simply are fashion-driven automatons with no will of their own, I’m not sure in the end it matters all that much. Steve is right that what is needed is a major, widespread cultural shift in perception.
  3. Reverse Engineer
    ” the dominant form would end up destroying everything else (outcome of power)”Take a look around, that is precisely what is in process.It took quite a bit of evolution to finally develop an organism which could so efficiently dissipate energy, to the point it threatens its own survival.Anyhow, the bottom line is that at no point could this “fashion trend” be resisted, because if you did resist you get bombed back to the stone age. Or mowed down by Muskets if you were an Aztec. etc.RE
      1. steve from virginia Post author
        RE, the honey always comes first, the rat poison, later. Very rarely is the order reversed and it invariably fails longer-term. See, ‘Vietnam’.
      2. Reverse Engineer
        Nonsense.The Rat Poison came first when the Conquistadores wiped out the Aztecs, and it came first when the FSoA Cavalry knocked down the Plains Indians.It also came first when the Brits took over India, and it came first when Gen. Smedley Butler made Venezuela safe for Standard Oil.In all those cases the paradigm was extraordinarily successful in taking what once were neighborhoods inhabited by either H-Gs or subsistence farmers and coopting them into the Industrial Economy.The folks with the superior weapons of War won the day. That’s not fashion, that’s Will to Power.The paradigm started breaking down around WWI, when just about everybody was similarly equipped with rifles and artillery. Then they ran into the problem that mechanized tanks and APCs don’t function well in the Jungle.In MENA though where mechanized war machines function fabulously well, NATO set up an armed camp and Puppet Regimes in the various nations around there, and for 50 years since WWII this served well to keep the populations under control and the Oil flowing outward for Happy Motoring here. Of course the whole neighborhood has been in a constant state of conflict through the whole time period, but there was enough Oil flowing outward to generally pacify the populations with enough food to eat, and yes Televisions too. However, even there, the Rat Poison came before the Honey, and Rommel, Patton and Montgomery were all quite successful rolling over the local populations, they only ran into trouble when they ran into each other.Large Military machines are the defining feature of all Empires, from the British Empire right back to the Roman Empire. If you want to screw around with the definition of “Fashion” and say they did this because it was “fashionable”, feel free to do so, but the fact of the matter is that this has nothing whatsoever to do with fashion, it has to do with the guy with the best weapons and biggest army runs the show, for so long as there are resources for that army to keep growing.When the resources run thin, the army collapses, and so does the State that runs it. See the Roman Empire, see the FSoA Empire.RE

      3. steve from virginia Post author
        RE, you are enamored of the forms that force takes rather than outcomes.The world is filled with humans because we like sex and the great theater that surrounds it, more than we like killing each other or its particular theater. There has to be a theater, because we are animals, our nature is not to kill but to simply live. Our theater contains the meanings that our activities do not possess on their own.We’ve turned our attention from killing humans to killing the greater world because we learned the hard way that there are few advantages to be gained from killing each other, that the attempt is counterproductive. If there is one consequence that unites every expression of force since the beginning of history it is futility.Humans appreciate the theater that force offers, but force itself produces mostly temporary gains that often immediately reversed. With force, function rarely follows form; it has its own self-contained dynamic. Obviously, there are exceptions; Spanish buccaneers did capture parts of the New World … but they did so on their own, without any direction from the Spanish government. A better outcome would have been gained had the Spanish set up trade with natives rather than stealing from them. As it turned out, Spain’s initial successes in the New World were more-than cancelled out by its failures in the Old: in fewer than a hundred years, Spain was reduced to impoverishment and irrelevance, it ceded much of its European territory and prestige, its government was bankrupted many times over. Across Europe, a quarter of human population was wiped out in pointless and useless wars funded with New World gold and Dutch paper. European wealth flowed east to China in exchange for junk, there was a hundred years of (hyper)inflation … the application of force was a European calamity on the scale of the great plagues of the fourteenth century No single political entity was powerful enough to have its way and bring order. The enterprise as a whole ended up a complete failure.It always does: as military empires grow their power is stretched thin, it becomes decadent. Empires collapse under the costs of their own power. Geographic empires are often just lines on a map, they are little but empty space. When this space is ‘conquered’ power is diluted. The North American plains Indians’ empire was feeble. It could not fill the empty spaces of its own domain with Indians as could the Americans with European immigrants. America could draw upon all of Europe; the natives had nothing but their own rate of reproduction. American West was won with railroads, plows and barbed wire, by farmers not by soldiers as there were too few natives to put up any sort of a large-scale fight.Empire cans rarely be gained by conquest, then only be held for the briefest time, and only then by answering wants rather than by fear of the conqueror. Answering wants is costly, it appears weak, but everything else is much more so. Conquest succeeds only if the conquered are afraid; if they refuse to fear, then what?You can say otherwise, but exercise of force is always a net loss. What matters is whether the various protagonists are able to bear them; generally they cannot. If the ‘function side of military purpose is non-functional or mal-functional (or delusional), what remains? The theater. There is nothing else.America has a massive military advantage over the rest of the world together … on paper. Its advantage takes forms that are pleasing to mechanical engineers and marketing managers, politicians and the media sphere. The theater of American military supremacy plays out on television sets and movie screens, during elections and patriotic holidays, in sports stadiums across the country … every single day. In reality, the US military is hollow and incompetent, like the Nazi- and Red Communist versions … and all the others since Alexander of Macedon. For all of its toys the Pentagon cannot beat dope-peddlers and Quran-thumping street criminals with sandals and pickup trucks. It cannot do its job because the job cannot be done.Absent function there is nothing but the form. There is no ‘third thing’. Form = appearances or fashion.http://www.dissentmagazine.org/blog/how-social-movements-can-win-more-victories-like-same-sex-marriage

    1. ellenanderson
      @Tagio “you see a lot of support for your thesis that, at the beginning of the industrial era, people had to be forcibly divested of their historical rights in common property, forced out of the countryside and driven to the cities to become wage slaves.”
      I think most people don’t understand that or accept it because of the anti-peasant narratives whose ultimate expression is found in commercials written by Madmen.
      Steve is quite correct that it could be otherwise without violating the so called “laws of human nature” so cherished by crackpots and evolutionary biologists. My grandparents were horrified by their grand children’s failure to turn off lights and all sorts of other wasteful habits. In the early days of department stores I have heard that the owners had to pay gawkers to look into display windows because it was considered unfashionable to stare – or to wish for things that you could not afford, for that matter.
      Plenty of people are revolted by what is going on in the world. Right now it is inchoate. Their revulsion has to get focused on what is responsible for this mess – not human nature but human choices that could have been made differently. There is a reason why usury was traditionally considered a sin, you know.
    2. Reverse Engineer
      Steve, you’re rewriting history to match up with your philosophical outlook.Whether the Spaniards would have done better to trade with the Aztec than mow them down is a moot point, they chose to mow them down. Regardless of what became of all the Gold they raided and their control over their colonial empire, in the end the South Americans came to live like Spaniards, Spaniards did not come to live like Indios.The next bit is complete fabrication:“The North American plains Indians’ empire was feeble. It could not fill the empty spaces of its own domain with Indians as could the Americans could the Americans fill the space with immigrants. America had all of Europe to draw upon, the natives had nothing but their own rate of reproduction.”-SteveIn fact, in pre-Columbian Amerika estimates are that there were 200M people living here. What killed them off was not a low reproduction rate, it was disease brought over by the first Europeans, smallpox, typhus etc. The Calvary did cleanup on the last few survivors of the epidemics.Once again, in the end Europeans did not come to live like Plains Indians, rather the few left came to live like Europeans, or else trapped in poverty on reservations by the Europeans. Did farmers forsce those folks onto reservations? No, the cavalry did that. That’s how come the farmers had land to farm on, the cavalry marched all the remaining prior residents off the land!Your claims completely contradict history, and merely reflect a philosophical outlook you have that military action is never productive, just destructive. Which in aggregate is true, but for the winners in a war its productive if they capture more resources at the expense of the losers.The FSoA military looks powerful because it sports a lot of big hardware, the problem is the ability to bomb a country back to the stone age is not the same as being able to hold and control it. This requires a lot of surplus energy, and complicity of local elites. The military itself will collapse because if its dependence on so much energy to run it. However, on the way up the hill, it was a very successful paradigm for the winners. That’s why the whole world is industrialized, not because it was a fashion choice.RE
      1. steve from virginia Post author
        Your thesis is unsupportable: “but for the winners in a war its productive if they capture more resources at the expense of the losers.” How can they do that? The costs don’t vanish, they are shifted toward those who can bear them, which in this case would mean the winners. USA bore the costs of destroying Japan and Europe, USA bore the costs of reconstructing Japan and Europe afterward. The US could bear these costs because it was industrialized and could turn American oil into money, it possessed (the balance of the world’s) organic credit. It could also (falsely) depreciate the rest of the world’s losses. If any of the countries had bothered to calculate the costs in advance there would not have been the war in the first place.Wars = consequence of egotism of mad men who cloak their psychopathy with ‘policy’.The problem w/ European colonies was (and is) that they cost more than they returned even without any fighting. Add fighting the the costs/losses were greater. England had a great empire because it was industrialized and could turn domestic coal into money; it could do so because had organic credit and could afford to subsidize the costs of both coal- and colonies. UK did not have industry because of its dominions, neither did the Soviet Union. Gains were fleeting, empires unraveled as credit ran out (USSR) or fell short of meeting costs (British Empire). Ditto the Spanish enterprise in the West, as it became a backwater after Western gold and silver ran low.As for the rest, I simply don’t agree.:)
      2. Reverse Engineer
        Au contraire mon ami, it is your thesis which makes no CFS.After the French & Indian Wars, Did Britain have more or less resources? They pushed the French out, and got rid of most of the Indians. Formerly stuck on a few rocky islands off the coast of the Eurasian land mass, the Brits now had all the juicy land east of the Mississippi and the French got stuck with the Frozen North in Quebec.After WWI & WWII, did NATO have more or less Oil at it’s disposal? They won the wars, they got to milk Elsie the Cow there in Saudi Arbia for 70 years since.Now, the losers of course were worse off here, the Indians were dispossessed of their land, the French had all their war debts and a few pieces of marginal land for their trouble. Over in MENA after the big mechanized wars, with the exception of a few Sheiks and Puppet Dictators, the rest of the population was worse off.In both cases, the land and resources were worse off, as once under control of the Industrial Machine began to be overutilized and gradually sucked dry to depletion.However, the winners did good for themselves, the Brits got to leave the little islands they were stuck on and expand across the Frontier, and NATO got hold of MENA to keep another 70 years worth of Happy Motoring going here in the FSoA.Wars have become non-productive in the years since because there aren’t any good resources left to win/steal here. Theft however is very good Bizness as long as the person you steal from has lots of good stuff, and was very good to the people running the War Biz all the way up the hill here. Just read Smedley Butler’s “War is a Racket.”” Take our friends the du Ponts, the powder people — didn’t one of them testify before a Senate committee recently that their powder won the war? Or saved the world for democracy? Or something? How did they do in the war? They were a patriotic corporation. Well, the average earnings of the du Ponts for the period 1910 to 1914 were $6,000,000 a year. It wasn’t much, but the du Ponts managed to get along on it. Now let’s look at their average yearly profit during the war years, 1914 to 1918. Fifty-eight million dollars a year profit we find! Nearly ten times that of normal times, and the profits of normal times were pretty good. An increase in profits of more than 950 per cent.Take one of our little steel companies that patriotically shunted aside the making of rails and girders and bridges to manufacture war materials. Well, their 1910-1914 yearly earnings averaged $6,000,000. Then came the war. And, like loyal citizens, Bethlehem Steel promptly turned to munitions making. Did their profits jump — or did they let Uncle Sam in for a bargain? Well, their 1914-1918 average was $49,000,000 a year!Or, let’s take United States Steel. The normal earnings during the five-year period prior to the war were $105,000,000 a year. Not bad. Then along came the war and up went the profits. The average yearly profit for the period 1914-1918 was $240,000,000. Not bad.

        There you have some of the steel and powder earnings. Let’s look at something else. A little copper, perhaps. That always does well in war times.

        Anaconda, for instance. Average yearly earnings during the pre-war years 1910-1914 of $10,000,000. During the war years 1914-1918 profits leaped to $34,000,000 per year.

        Or Utah Copper. Average of $5,000,000 per year during the 1910-1914 period. Jumped to an average of $21,000,000 yearly profits for the war period.

        Let’s group these five, with three smaller companies. The total yearly average profits of the pre-war period 1910-1914 were $137,480,000. Then along came the war. The average yearly profits for this group skyrocketed to $408,300,000.

        A little increase in profits of approximately 200 per cent.

        Does war pay? It paid them. But they aren’t the only ones. There are still others. Let’s take leather. …”

        Now, on balance here, this cost the Taxpayers a lot more than this, but the Taxpayers aren’t the ones running the show. War used to be a very profitable Bizness for the people running the show. Less so now as resources are depleted, but you still do have taxpayers footing the bill while the Industrialists take home the profits.

        As should be obvious, this is a Top Down run enterprise, and has been so for a long time, likely to the dawn of Agiculture. It’s not Fashion. It’s Will to Power.

        RE

      3. steve from virginia Post author
        Will to Power is a slogan, it is clearly fashionable even as it fails.Resources simply are, they are generally depleted, sometimes faster, sometimes slower. Whoever manages a resources tends to deplete it. The wise do not deplete their resources but husband them instead. The wise understand that someone coming along later might ‘discover’ some important use for a resource other than to eat- burn- or simply shoot the resource and let it rot.North America had less resources after the English arrived not more (not considering what was wasted prior to of their arrival). After a century or more of pointless wars both the French and English were bankrupted. Your supposition is that one group possesses a monopoly on waste, which is incorrect. What determines outcomes within modernity is access to credit; at the same time, whatever credit is diverted toward war-making is lost. Marching up and down the road or blowing something up is not remunerative. It is simply waste. Winners in war cannot create resources they can only change custody from one waster to another. The gains of a ‘winner’ are always counterbalanced by the losses of the ‘loser’. In addition there are the direct costs of the war itself.It’s one thing for a blogger to carry on about how wonderful determinism is as well as its inherence, but sadly, too many actual policy makers fall into the power trap and embrace the same illogic … Bush and now Putin. Pursuit of power is why the world is bankrupt, why it’s poised at the edge of ecological ruin. Will to Power is a myth; it has to be otherwise ‘power’ would succeed; after 500+ years of modernity there would be some evidence of success somewhere, instead the record is accelerating failures and exhaustion.I am doing a terrible job of explaining my own fundamental premise.
      4. Reverse Engineer
        Note: Actually the French government lost Quebec to the English Crown also, but mostly French speakers populated Quebec, and still do. The English Crown also held onto Canada substantially longer than they held onto the colonies in the now Lower 48. As we all know, the American Revolution occurred shortly after the French & Indian Wars, and put the USA squarely in the pocket of the International Banking Cartel, courtesy of Alexander Hamilton.RE
      5. steve from virginia Post author
        RE, you are arguing against yourself. If the UK/USA ‘won’ than how does that square with an ‘international banking cartel’?You aren’t going Alex Jones on me are you?
      6. Reverse Engineer
        Fashion is a Slogan too Steve.I already stipulated that the NA continent was worse off after the Brits arrived, so also worse off were the French and the Mohicans. The Brits however were better off, they got more space to expand into.SOMEBODY makes a profit off War, otherwise it wouldn’t be engaged in. Smedley Butler made crystal clear who made a profit off his career as a Racketeer for Wall Street.These are the folks who run the show, not puppet politicians like Obama-sama and certainly not you the Voter. These are the people who are most grossly infected with the Will to Power, and it profits them immensely to pursue the Bizness of War. They determine what is fashionable, and then they sell it to you. You have no choice in the matter. If you won’t buy it, they’ll bomb you back to the stone age or blow you off the face of the earth.RE
      7. steve from virginia Post author
        Britain did not ‘expand’ into anything. Britain is an island, it did not get any larger by way of any war.North America’s population increased due to immigration … from France, Italy, eastern Europe, Ireland, Africa, China, Japan, India; there are also natives and descendants from natives. What made it happen was three-masted sailing ships, not war. Regular steamship service accelerated the flow. Today there is more immigration from Latin America. Mexico has not invaded the US nor are they conquering it.As it is, there are more Mexicans in the US than ever; with no fighting, no battles, no idiotic ‘will to power’; only a willingness of millions to labor as near-slaves at the fringes of the US society. The prize is the slim chance … at better lives.Many if not most of the 17 – 20th century immigrants were escapees from the wars; exiles not victors. Immigrants did not win anything but their lives. What happened afterward had nothing to do with Britain’s or any other country’s ‘conquest’, certainly the British did not fight its wars in the West to gain better lives for those whom it considered as ‘trash’. Irish did not conquer Boston any more than Italians conquered Brooklyn or Polish Jews conquered Chicago. African-Americans certainly did not conquer anything and nobody conquered America in their name.British citizens have never been better off after any war, the costs of managing Britain’s silly empire were extracted from the citizens themselves … not immediately but as the debts became due-and-payable, from children and grand-children. Empire was an attempt to find 3d parties upon whom the costs of British borrowing could be shifted. How can a British citizen shoulder costs in a faraway place better than his- or her home? The citizen is the same regardless of place … or else they aren’t citizens at all! The non-British have slender means to carry any burdens, much less the debt burdens of industrial countries. How can a peasant farmer or porter retire or even service the debts incurred by a country such as England? The idea is absurd.I’ve been writing about this sort of thing for five years! Don’t you read any of it?Britain would have done better to trade (at lower cost) with natives rather than engage in wars with its European neighbors overseas. Britain’s massive navy was not cost-free. Nor was its (much smaller) army. Costs don’t disappear regardless of who edits them. They can be put off (by way of borrowing) but the act of putting them off adds to them: credit has its own very large costs.A warring nation cannot gain a free lunch. The ‘counterparty’ loses the lunch and that loss is registered against the winner’s gains. As such, there cannot possibly be a winner. It is physically impossible. There is only one planet, this is it, there are no other places against which the losses can be tallied.Fashion = appearance. You can call it a slogan but this is simply not true. We act on appearances as a component of natural selection, our desires and prejudices are geared toward them.Yes, there is war, yes there is determinism but as a fashion that has certainly outlived its usefulness.

      8. Reverse Engineer
        I read it Steve, I just don’t buy your reasoning on this stuff.We speak English in the US, Steve, not German, not French and certainly not Lakota, Navajo or Tlingit. As a result of WAR, not “Fashion”, the Industrial Culture was disseminated across the Earth.Similarly, Agriculture overran hunter-gatherer by virtue of War, not because hunter-gatherer thought agricultural living was more Fashionable.That this is overall destructive is quite obvious, however as mentioned by Smedley Butler who you completely ignore here, a few people who run this show profit enormously from it. Accessing the stored thermodynamic energy of fossil fuels enabled this bunch of folks to gain hegemony over the entire earth, and transform it into a waste producing industrial machine, via the War process.Such are the outcomes of the Will to Power.RE
      9. steve from virginia Post author
        RE:“I just don’t buy your reasoning on this stuff.”You don’t have to buy anything. I can’t make you understand, I can’t teach you anything. You can learn or not learn, that’s all there is to it.It is clear that if people don’t abandon the deterministic ‘will to power’ myth there will be unendurable consequences.
      10. Reverse Engineer
        You don’t have to buy anything. I can’t make you understand, I can’t teach you anything. You can learn or not learn, it is all the same to me.“Buy” is idiomatic in this usage, the idea is your ideas don’t make CFS to me so they don’t sell. Some folks have CFS, others do not. No argument I make, no speech from Smedley Butler will change your opinion, so we remain on opposite sides of the fence on this.It is clear that if people don’t abandon the deterministic ‘will to power’ myth there will be unendurable consequences.On that we most certainly agree.RE
      11. steve from virginia Post author
        RE, ‘buy’ is your idiom, not mine. Look at your preceding comment.If you adhere to a bankrupt ideology then anything outside of it will not make any sense, it will be incongruent. That is a failure indicator right there.As far as Butler goes, he earned the right to his own opinion but it is only one among many.I have seen the world’s most powerful military lose war after war at stupendous cost … lost to farmers, taxi drivers and plumbers’ helpers. And yet I have not lived long enough to see the United States win a war, that last, almost forgotten ‘victory’ ultimately being Pyrrhic. I’ve seen the other great military powers endure the same outcomes (USSR, Israel, China), the great empires collapsed (UK, USSR); the wannabe- or false empires ruined (France, South Africa, UAR, Russia now); the impulse to empire is exposed as nonsense as is the impulse to industrialize (Argentina).War is an activity like golf. Like golf, some people enjoy it but humans are not genetically predisposed to play golf. There is nothing innate in nature that compels one form or life to wantonly kill or wipe out other forms; to eat some of them, yes. Nature has learned over millions of years that eating all of one’s food supply ends badly for the killer. This is also true of humans. We are not genetically predisposed to be exterminators, or even predators; we aren’t strong enough, fast enough, we lack the ‘basic equipment’; not just teeth and claws but also the fundamental absence of fear that is possessed by other ‘real’ predators. Long ago we trained ourselves to be lions, but we did so imperfectly. We invented myths to keep us from running away when the large animals we wanted to eat turned to defend themselves.Humans don’t hunt and kill animals to survive any more, we grow animals on farms, they are killed by Mexicans working in factories owned by Chinese. Neither the Mexicans nor the Chinese have conquered anyone, they’ve made business deals. The closest most people come to our food-animals is safely within plastic wrap @ the supermarket. Nature takes the form of immaculate green lawns and our pets, ‘wild’ gathers at the bird-feeder or as cockroaches on the kitchen counter. Meanwhile, we recycle the obsolete myths that have long-since outgrown their usefulness, the myths that instruct us that we have an innate, biological urge to dominate everything else. We don’t. There is no economic necessity to it either. If you have been reading over here for more than fifteen minutes the major thesis is that the primary activity of our economy is to thoughtlessly consume resources and borrow to do so, this is another learned process, not innate. It is safe to say that no animal other than human acts to dominate everything; it is limits — not ambition — that is a genetic predisposition. Within this context, we aren’t heroes, we’re failures.Observable reality would bear this out. The fact that there is life on this planet at all is evidence that there is no such thing as ‘will to power’. It is a crazy idea by a minor German philosopher then plastic wrapped by another insane German philosopher. There is no evidence it exists anywhere but in the minds of these two as well as impressionable teenagers.Your argument tends to suggest a one-way dynamic: conquerors and victims. This false. There are would-be conquerors and those who successfully resist them. There is so little difference between the groups that the outcomes are a matter of random chance. Most attempts at conquest fail outright at stupendous cost, the small remainder succeed only until the conqueror is buried under accumulated costs associated with his victories … this leading to either defeat- or ruin over time. What leads to ‘success’ are non-military endeavors: improved agriculture and water management, less-costly distribution of information; emigration and the moderating impulse of religion.The efforts of the the great military powers of the past have experienced the same frustrations as current powers: partial, costly victories at best … more costly defeats that are rationalized away with slogans, ‘We’ll get ‘em next time’.The ‘next time’ always starts with a lie. Whatever you are trying to build on the lie RE, you are building on sand.

        Reverse Engineer
        OK, I can’t leave it alone. LOL.“Observable reality would bear this out. The fact that there is life on this planet at all is evidence that there is no such thing as ‘will to power’. It is a crazy idea by a minor German philosopher then plastic wrapped by another insane German philosopher. There is no evidence it exists anywhere but in the minds of these two as well as impressionable teenagers. ”“Observable Reality” is that there are ongoing Wars all over the world, and SOMEBODY is supplying them with Weaponry. For the people who do that supplying, this Bizness turns a terrific profit for them. Do any Nation-States profit from this? No, they all get to foot the bills for these Wars, while a small number of people collect immense profits from them.To the Robber Barons of the 19th Century, it made economic sense for THEM to have the land cleared of Natives and string Railroad tracks and Telegraph Wires all over the country, not to mention electrify it. You yourself have noted how well John D. Rockefeller did by finding ways to waste the oil he got control of through Standard Oil.For the rest of us, we got stuck with the bills come due on Rockefeller’s Will to Power. Not to mention Andrew Carnegie, JP Morgan, Cornelius Vanderbilt and numerous others so infected.Japan was forcibly openned to trade by Matthew Perry’s Gunboats. The resources of MENA were accessed by virtue of force applied since WWII just about non-stop. Populations generally have not willingly accepted the destruction and rape of their environment, but by application of military force and coopting the Elite of all these neighborhoods into the game, Industrialization managed to overrun the entire world.

        If you want to, you can look at the expansion of Militarism over the Millenia as a growing Cancer, but it is very effective in doing what it is designed to do, which is dispense death and consume resources. It has also made a few people richer than God, and these folks run the political show through control of the monetary system. They issue the War Bonds. They buy the Politicians. You pay the bills.

        RE

 

So which is it Diners?  What has been the driving force sending Homo Sapiens down the Road to Ruin?  Is it FASHION, or a WILL TO POWER?

RE

Summer Solstice PAHHHTY!

Off the Camera of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on June 21, 2014

Summer_Solstice_Sunrise_over_Stonehenge_2005

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I just got back from my friend’s Doomstead where he held a Summer Solstice Party celebrating the Longest Day of the Year,  which here in Alaska is pretty long, it’s around Midnight now and still twilight outside.

Still celebrating the Plenty of the Age of Oil here on the Last Great Frontier, for how much longer I have no clue but enjoy it while it lasts!

No Celebration during the Summer in Amerika is complete without a BBQ.  I brought over a few Steaks from the Freezer to complement the copious supply of Burgers, Brats and Hot Dogs coming off the Grill in the Gazebo.

BBQGazeboInside

Inside the BBQ Gazebo.  The center table has a gas line running up to it from the ground. VERY COOL!

BarbequeGazebo

Off to the left from the outside of the Gazebo, you can see the famous Electra Glide in Black Electric Wheelz that the guy at the BBQ got trailered and barged up here.  I got my Camera Equipment on the new Cargo Rack.

FoodBeer

Watermelons, Chips and BEER to compliment the Animal Protein coming off the BBQ!

Kidz gotta have FUN too, so some Bouncy Toys were rented for the occassion!

KidzToyz1

The kidz get inside these Blow Up Spherical Air Mattresses and roll around.  Same general construction as an Air Mattress.  I did not try it out.  LOL.

KidzToyz2

The Blow Up Toys get SUPERSIZED!

KidzClubhouse

Kidz Clubhouse.  Great Mini-Doomstead!

Bonfire

Gotta have a BONFIRE!  Fortunately we have had decent rainfall lately, so Fire Danger is low at the moment.

PolarisRanger

A 4-Wheel Utility Vehicle an absolute must!  This is a Polaris Ranger like the one Peter bought, except the Gas Version not Electric like his.

FoldingGazebos

Coincidentally, we were talking about Portable Gazebos with new Diner Knarf inside the Diner.  Here are some examples.

I am of course sure to get HAMMERED on hypocrisy issues and conspicuous consumption, but who doesn’t still go to Thanksgiving Day celebrations etc?  File this under it lasts until it doesn’t.

RE

Ruminations on Modern…

Off the keyboard of Steve from Virginia

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Published on Economic Undertow on October 24, 2013

Auschwitz_gas_chamber

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mod·ern
adjective \ˈmä-dərn, ÷ˈmä-d(ə-)rən\
: of or relating to the present time or the recent past : happening, existing, or developing at a time near the present time: of or relating to the current or most recent period of a language: based on or using the newest information, methods, or technology

– “Modern”, from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary.

We live in a modern world, during the modern period; we take ‘modern’ for granted, at the same time it is very difficult to pin down what ‘modern’ is, exactly. We have modifiers and word-association but these are vague and ill-defined. At the same time, everyone knows modern when they see it …

Modernism (disambiguation)

Jump to: navigation, search Modernism refers to a movement in the arts in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, or more generally to modern thought, character, or practice.

Modernism or modernist may also refer to:

  • Modernism (Roman Catholicism), theological opinions expressed during the late 19th and early 20th centuries characterized by a break with the past
  • Modernism (music), change and development in musical language that occurred at or around the turn of the 20th century
  • Modern architecture, attempts at the turn of the 20th century to reconcile the principles underlying architectural design with rapid technological advancement and the modernization of society
  • Modern art, artistic works produced roughly from the 1860s to the 1970s, and the style and philosophy of the art produced during that era
  • Modernist literature, a self-conscious break with traditional styles of poetry and verse in the late 19th and early 20th centuries
  • Modernism/modernity, a peer-reviewed academic journal founded in 1994
  • Modernism: A New Decade, a 1998 album by The Style Council

See also

 

– from Wikipedia

Modern is our culture, a collection of ideas we have about ourselves. Once people become conscious of ideas, they don’t disregard them although some less practical ideas might be forgotten: we are- and will remain modern until we consciously become something else.

Modern is about ‘new-ness’ but it is over five hundred years old. It emerged during the Middle Ages after Johannes Gutenberg invented printing. In short order, ordinary persons learned how to read, they became educated. They learned about the world in a practical way, as it really functioned by way of physical, chemical and biological processes, rather than by mysticism and magic. The myths and fantasies of preceding generations were retired and replaced with more practical versions; this is a reason why modernity has succeeded as long as it has. Myths have remarkable staying power — thousands of years — as long as they are simple enough to remember and be passed on to others.

Modern is the culture of science and technology; it offers nations, constitutional governments, improved medical care, sanitation, media, popular arts, status, wealth, transportation, finance, the sensation of speed, comfort, instant communications, leisure … at least eight intercontinental wars, death camps, mass deportations, epidemics, overpopulation, colonialism, banality, finance bubbles, mass delusions and … all-out assault on natural systems, nuclear weapons and resource exhaustion … Modern is the culture of how to scientifically kill things.

Publius Democritus says:
September 26, 2013 at 11:26 am
As far as the elite’s ability to survive, I think they greatly overestimate their chances. The idea that modern, high-tech industry will survive the coming catastrophe is laughable.The author of this article makes the cardinal mistake of other techno-optimists – and yes, I put him in the camp of a techno-optimist. He deifies human ingenuity, as though it places us in a whole new category of creature that is almost immaterial, and can magically “survive” the destruction of the environment to which it is adapted.At the very least, industrial civilization will collapse. Good riddance. It has been on a genocidal, omnicidal rampage. It no longer produces art worth reading, listening to, or viewing.

— a comment from another blog.

We assume new things are good, that is, they are possessed of a positive virtue. Because modern is always new, it is presumed to be an improvement upon the old. Modernity creates its own values: new = good, old = bad. Every time modernity sells something, these new values are reinforced even if these ‘values’ don’t reflect any sort of reality.

Virtue also exists because everything new passes through the filter of gigantic business- or state entities that are the gatekeepers for all products, useful and otherwise. Because these entities exist and we do not question them, approval assigns virtue to a product, it does not matter whether there is merit to the assignment or not.

Modern is the relationship between a seller and what he offers for sale at any given time. This concept is a little hard to pin down because the relationship appears to be both self-evident and unimportant. However, if the product is ‘life’ during some marketing minute, the promoter will sell life. If on the next minute the product is ‘death’, the promoter will sell death and will do so the same way he sold life. Given time and enough sales, it becomes impossible to tell the difference between life or death or anything else as they are all products that are sold exactly the same way.

 

“A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic … “

 

– Joseph Stalin

A modern myth is that material progress is the antidote to war; that given enough generalized prosperity — by way of economic growth and increase in material possessions — the primary motivation for going to war will vanish. At the same time, there is the observable tendency on the part of moderns toward horrific crimes.

Modernity, progress and prosperity provide the illusion of means by which successful war can be waged …

In the beginning of modernity, wars of conquest were indeed remunerative: a handful of adventurers armed with a royal decree were able to conquer a continent, a century later much of Asia and Africa were overrun. Afterward, these places were used up; would-be conquistadors had nowhere to turn but against each other, costs multiplied and returns evaporated even as the technicians invented more diabolical means to murder. Advantages never lasted as the means were either duplicated by adversaries or ways were found to neutralize them.

Modernity created the state, rather it was the instrument by which the state was created by reckless and violent men. Modernity anoints the state by default as the arbiter of power. Of all the characteristics of modernity, the relationship between violence and the state is the most enduring as well as the most self-destructive. Within modernity violence is cultivated- or pulled away from the extremities, from individuals and their natural tendencies toward the center, toward the authority of the state … where the individuals’ urge to violence is given sanction. This amplifies the state’s aggressive tendencies; moderates are swept aside by radicals and the state becomes militant, then bankrupted or destroyed by its own violent actions.

To be modern is to surrender individuality and to merge with the state. Conformity becomes another commercial product of the state and big business … Individuality is non-marketable, it is a competitor to both modernity and state control both of which work to ruthlessly stamp it out.

Modern offers itself as being relentlessly commercial, that is a guise. As such it can dodge away from the accusations that it is an instrument of state excess. Modernity also claims to be idiosyncratic and individualistic, which is absurd. Ideologies that propel nations and enterprises reveal themselves to be components of marketing campaigns red and blue, communism or fascism; Shia or Sunni. Modern is totalitarianism with the human face.

Within modernity, there is no real difference between business and warfare besides tactics, one is a version- or a servant of the other … both pretend to be what they are not, progress must be considered to be war by other means.

Ours is indeed an age of extremity. For we live under continual threat of two equally fearful, but seemingly opposed, destinies: unremitting banality and inconceivable terror.

– Susan Sontag

We wage war against ourselves, our war takes the form of a gigantic, mindless force waging war against everything while pretending not to do so.

Sign on Packard Plant, Detroit

– Niraj Warikoo/DFP, graffiti sign on Packard Plant, Detroit.

Definitions of modern tend toward the self-referential … things are modern because they are modernistic. Ironically, what we see of modern are its artifacts, modern emerges out of history, it exists in the past … and in advertising. We are modern in retrospect because of various modern-appearing calling cards/wreckage we have left behind.

‘Modernity’

Related terms

The term “modern” (Latin modernus from modo, “just now”) dates from the 5th century, originally distinguishing the Christian era from the Pagan era, yet the word entered general usage only in the 17th-century quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns—debating: “Is Modern culture superior to Classical (Græco–Roman) culture?”—a literary and artistic quarrel within the Académie française in the early 1690s.

In these[which?] usages, “modernity” denoted the renunciation of the recent past, favoring a new beginning, and a re-interpretation of historical origin. The distinction between “modernity” and “modern” did not arise until the 19th century (Delanty 2007).

Phases of modernity

The history of Modernity is construed in many ways. It is mainly aligned with the age of Enlightenment in the 18th Century (also known as Age of Reason).[citation needed] Others[weasel words] have noted that its spread went so far back as the 16th century during the period of Western imperialism. In relation to Media theory it is commonly understood as having emerged in and around the 15th century where the Printing press was first invented.[citation needed]

According to one of Marshall Berman‘s books (Berman 1982, 16–17), modernity is periodized into three conventional phases (dubbed “Early,” “Classical,” and “Late,” respectively, by Peter Osborne (1992, 25):

  • Early modernity: 1500–1789 (or 1453–1789 in traditional historiography)
  • Classical modernity: 1789–1900 (corresponding to the long 19th century (1789–1914) in Hobsbawm‘s scheme)
  • Late modernity: 1900–1989

In the second phase Berman draws upon the growth of modern technologies such as the newspaper, telegraph and other forms of mass media. There was a great shift into modernization in the name of industrial capitalism. Finally in the third phase, modernist arts and individual creativity marked the beginning of a new modernist age as it combats oppressive politics, economics as well as other social forces including mass media (Laughey 2007, 30).[citation needed]

– from Wikipedia

Modernity submits that it is nothing more than a neutral carrier of information; its priests always demand the benefit of the doubt. Within modernity choices are offered between more-or-less identical products, rather than between what is offered and what is excluded. This sleight of hand gives progress its power to co-opt. Modern is propaganda that does not look like propaganda …

Whether it is Clausewitz calling war “the continuation of politics by other means,” or Engels defining violence as the accelerator of economic development, the emphasis is no political or economic continuity, on the continuity of a process that remains determined by what preceded violent action. Hence, students of international relations have held until recently that “it was a maxim that a military resolution in discord with the deeper cultural sources of national power could not be stable, ” or that, in Engels’ words, “wherever the power structure of a country contradicts its economic development” it is political power with its means of violence that will suffer defeat. Today all these old verities about the relation between war and politics or about violence and power have become inapplicable. The Second World War was not followed by peace but by a cold war and the establishment of the military-industrial-complex. To speak of “the priority of war-making potential as the principal structuring force in society,” to maintain that “economic systems, political philosophies, and corpora juris serve and extend the war system, not vice versa,” to conclude that “war itself is the basic social system, with which other secondary modes of social organization conflict or conspire” — all this sound much more plausible than Engels’ or Clausewitz’s nineteenth-century formulas.

– Hannah Arendt

Even as modernity exists only in the past, it aggressively colonizes the future … ‘now’, cool, hip, curvy, trendy, ‘happening’, immediate, hard, metallic, industrial, streamlined, chic … the modern future is relentlessly newer, it is what comes next; every form of post-modern is also modern … Even when current version of modernity is swept away, the replacements will be modern, with slight variations. Our ‘stuff’ requires energy and resources, myths require only memory.

Modern is also fast, which is the modifier for every idea about modern. Everything about modern is fast, it is also about more. Speed for its own sake is a modern virtue the same way violence is a modern virtue: fast and more make right.

ModernityModernity typically refers to a post-traditional, post-medieval historical period, one marked by the move from feudalism (or agrarianism) toward capitalism, industrialization, secularization, rationalization, the nation-state and its constituent institutions and forms of surveillance (Barker 2005, 444).

Charles Pierre Baudelaire is credited with coining the term “modernity” (modernité) to designate the fleeting, ephemeral experience of life in an urban metropolis, and the responsibility art has to capture that experience.

Conceptually, modernity relates to the modern era and to modernism, but forms a distinct concept.

Whereas the Enlightenment (ca. 1650–1800) invokes a specific movement in Western philosophy, modernity tends to refer only to the social relations associated with the rise of capitalism. Modernity may also refer to tendencies in intellectual culture, particularly the movements intertwined with secularisation and post-industrial life, such as Marxism, existentialism, and the formal establishment of social science. In context, modernity has been associated with cultural and intellectual movements of 1436–1789 and extending to the 1970s or later (Toulmin 1992, 3–5

– from Wikipedia

Modernity is the business of replication of ‘goods’ and ideas. What matters is increasing numbers, of products, of sales, of customers of wealth; modernity is the triumph of counting over meaning and the parallel ascendency of economists. Mathematics is the science of numbers, economics is the science of lying with numbers. Progress is the substitution of human labor and art with machines powered by fossil fuels. Modernity empowers the wicked; by making wickedness useful and necessary, it becomes an integral component to the modern state …

Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.

– Mark Twain

The passage of five-hundred years has left a world with little to plunder outright, there are diminished returns to wars and conquest, the plunderers are left to cannibalizing each others’ economies if they can. There is the pittance of gain that has resulted from these calamities — as if the human race set out to create a short-cut to paradise but invented the tornado instead. Now, there is the existential challenge to the cult of murder that is modernity, we have no choice but to reinvent ourselves and discover different ways to do business. Instead we keep improving the old methods and amplifying the wickedness … we are trapped.

Society evolves along with the means to distribute information, what can be made of the present? Distribution in our present requires only access to the Internet, a smart-phone or a computer, a printer and money to buy copies at a store. Anyone can say anything they want … and they do … and there is nothing to say. Content evaporates even as the means to distribute it expands in every direction. Information has become facile and incompetent, redundant and pointless; there is nothing but contradictory noise that drowns out everything else.

The populations of dying empires are passive because they are lotus-eaters. There is a narcotic-like reverie among those barreling toward oblivion. They retreat into the sexual, the tawdry and the inane, retreats that are momentarily pleasurable but ensure self-destruction. They naively trust it will all work out. As a species, Margaret Atwood observes in her dystopian novel “Oryx and Crake,” “we’re doomed by hope.” And absurd promises of hope and glory are endlessly served up by the entertainment industry, the political and economic elite, the class of courtiers who pose as journalists, self-help gurus like Oprah and religious belief systems that assure followers that God will always protect them. It is collective self-delusion, a retreat into magical thinking.

 

— Chris Hedges

Yet, this noise is meaningful: the entire edifice of modernity is rotting from the inside out; it relies on a quality of information which it can no longer obtain. Modernity has been undone by its success … as well as the absence of returns. It has become senile, corrupt and decadent. All that remains of it are the residues of its crimes; these are disguised now behind the scrim of myth but due time will reveal these for what they are, no amount of effort will be able to disguise them …

Top image: unknown photographer, a killing room at Auschwitz, a monument to modernity.

The Absurdity of Authenticity

Off the keyboard of Guy McPherson

Published on Nature Bats Last on September 14, 2013

happiness

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I’m often accused — or credited, depending on one’s perspective — of leading an authentic life. As nearly as I can tell, the accusation or accolade refers to the following definition from Merriam and Webster: true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.

Fundamentally, aren’t we all true to our personality, spirit, and character? How could we act otherwise, in the absence of multiple personalities? I have concluded that we’ve been captured by the culture in which we’re immersed. We are unable to escape without killing ourselves, yet the culture is killing us.

We’re six millennia into the culture of Abrahamic religions. We’re more than two millennia into western civilization and the six questions of Socrates: (1) What is good? (2) What is piety? (3) What is virtue? (4) What is courage? (5) What is moderation? (6) What is justice? Furthermore, every person reading these words is a product of an industrial civilization that depends upon expansive use of fossil fuels.
Is this the only way to live? Is this the best way to live? Do our hyper-connected, high-tech lives lead us along paths of excellence, in the spirit of Socrates?

This culture is steeped in patriarchy and depends upon violence for its continuation. Is it safe to assume this culture is the ultimate expression of our humanity? Is it safe to assume that this culture is the best we can do simply because this culture is the only one we have known? Is it safe to assume there is no other way beyond the hierarchical omnicide we’ve come to depend upon for money, water, food, and personal identity?

Questioning this culture and its underlying assumptions follows the model promoted and popularized by Socrates. Answering these questions requires one to step outside the normalcy bias and profound enculturation of the way we live. Asking challenging questions, much less answering them, requires enormous courage when the questions themselves refuse to validate, much less approve, this irredeemably corrupt system.

I do not claim to know the answers to these questions. I’m not certain they have answers independent of the person pondering them and his or her personal experiences. I nonetheless believe it is important to ask the questions and develop personal responses to them. As a result, I will tackle these and related questions in this chapter. For the most part, culture discourages us from asking, much less answering, most of these questions.

Questions, questions, and more questions

Throughout our lives, we spend considerable time seeking feedback from people and institutions, but the feedback we seek generally falls within a small subset of important issues. Furthermore, I question the wisdom of seeking validation, much less approval, within the realm of an irredeemably corrupt system.

Some of us seek to conduct meaningful lives. However, the universe imposes upon us a meaningless existence. There is no meaning beyond the meaning(s) we create. In attempting to create meaning, which often involves attempts to outrun our mortality, we generate distractions. We occasionally call them objectives, goals, or acts of service to others. And the result is our legacy.

Yet it’s too late to leave a better world for future generations of humans. The concept of leaving a legacy becomes moot when staring into the abyss of near-term human extinction. What, then, is the point? Are we, in the words of English poet Frances Cornford, “magnificently unprepared for the long littleness of life”?

As we seek feedback about the conduct of our lives, we simultaneously seek distractions. The distractions include the movies we watch, the books we read, the trips we take, the discussions in which we engage. The line blurs between distractions and authentic work until we are defined by the combination. The totality becomes who we are. The nature of our distractions is what makes us human, in the sense of differentiating us from other primates. Non-human primates don’t read books, much less discuss them. Such distractions do not enable our survival and in that sense are not “necessities” (cf. food, water, shelter). However, they are not necessarily “luxuries,” either. Apparently there are shades of existential gray.

Shades of gray

Shades of existential gray are evident in our pursuit of meaningful lives. How do we differentiate between necessity and luxury? How do we distinguish what we want from what we need? And are these distinctions important?

When I began the ongoing process of walking away from the omnicide of industrial civilization, I felt I had no choice. My inner voice overrode outer culture. I have subsequently come to realize that most people born into this set of living arrangements are literally and figuratively incapable of making a similar choice. Distinguishing between needs and wants, between necessity and luxury, is hardly clear.

Occasionally we turn to wise elders in our attempts infuse our lives with meaning. Kurt Vonnegut often wrote, in response to the question about meaning, that we’re here to fart around. His son Mark, between the loony bin and Harvard Medical School, responded to the question, “Why are we here?” with the following comment: “We are here to help each other through this, whatever this is.”

I love Mark Vonnegut’s response, but it fails to acknowledge that service to others is important and it’s a trap. Service to others is no longer virtuous when the entrapment includes self-inflicted harm (including emotional or psychological suffering).

As the Buddha pointed out more than two millennia ago, life is suffering. Do we have an obligation to minimize suffering? Does that obligation extend to our individual selves, as well as to other humans? Does it extend to non-human species?

German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer famously defined happiness as the alleviation of suffering, implying a temporary condition. The pursuit of happiness — from Schopenhauer’s perspective, the alleviation of suffering — is a right guaranteed by the founding document of the United States, but I’ve no idea why it’s guaranteed or if it stops at the alleviation of suffering. If the alleviation of suffering qualifies as happiness, then it seems wearing shoes that are two sizes too small is a great strategy for producing happiness, if only at the end of the day when the shoes are removed from one’s feet.

If happiness goes beyond the alleviation of suffering, perhaps it includes joy. But the notion of such an idea drags into the discussion the notion of documentation, hence measurement. How do we measure joy? Is it the same as the bliss produced by ignorance? How do we know when we’ve stumbled upon it? And if joy is meritorious, even at the expense of suffering by another, how to we balance the existential books?

Consider, for example, a single example for the Abrahamic religions (aka patriarchy): marriage. Do we have an obligation to minimize the pain when a monogamous relationship become personally painful, or even a matter of indifference (i.e., lacking daily joy)? Contemporary culture suggests we muddle through, in sickness and health, until death. And then, the ultimate personal endpoint solves the problem of suffering.

The cost of happiness

If happiness is a goal, and if that happiness extends beyond the mere alleviation of suffering, how to we evaluate happiness? If our own happiness comes at the expense of another, how do we justify our gain? Equally importantly, but rarely considered, is the converse question: If our suffering brings happiness to another, how do we justify the personal pain? Is our own suffering less important than that of another?

How do we minimize suffering? Is such a quest restricted to humans, or are other organisms included? What is the temporal frame of the quest? Does it extend beyond the moment, perhaps to months or years? Does it extend beyond the personal to include other individuals?

We could minimize suffering to humans and other animals by playing solitaire in the woods. But even that seemingly humble act takes life. Tacking on the seemingly simple acquisition of water, food, clothing, and shelter for a single human being in the industrialized world brings horrific suffering to humans and other animals. Attending to the needs of the 7.1 billion humans currently inhabiting Earth comes at tremendous cost to the water, soils, and non-human species on the planet. Contemplating the desires of an increasing number of people on an overpopulated globe is enough to drive a thinking person to despair.

There is nothing inherently wrong with pleasure, yet the Greek word for “pleasure” forms the root of the English word “hedonism.” According to my pals Merriam and Webster, hedonism propounds that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life. When stated in this manner, pleasure seems to have taken a step too far. But drawing the line between personal pleasure and hedonism is no mean feat. Less often considered is the line we draw between personal suffering and the attendant happiness of others.

But, lest we take that step too far, we should remember that the idea of hedonism some 2,500 years ago when Socrates was haunting the Mediterranean region was a bit different than the idea today. Back then, humans comprised a tiny drop in the large bucket known as Earth. The quest for personal pleasure and happiness at that time would have essentially zero impact on the natural world relative to the impact of today’s quest for gratification by 7.1 billion people on an this ever-shrinking and -depleted orb.

When my happiness requires the suffering of another, is my happiness warranted? When the pleasure of another requires my suffering, is the suffering warranted? Does failing to contemplate questions about our needs and desires commit us to nihilism? Does living within the Age of Industry, hence participating in untold horrors to humans and other organisms, violate the Socratic notion of good?

What about empire?

American Empire is merely the most lethal manifestation of industrial civilization, hence any civilization. Because this culture is inextricably interconnected with this civilization, I have concluded that contemporary culture is worthy of our individual and collective condemnation. Walking away from empire is necessary but insufficient to terminate this horrific culture.

As nearly as I can determine, maintaining American Empire — or any empire, for that matter — requires three fundamental elements: obedience at home, oppression abroad, and destruction of the living planet. Unpacking these three attributes seems a worthy exercise, even acknowledging Voltaire’s observation: “It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.”

Obedience at home means capitulating to culture and the government. It means abandoning a culture of resistance in favor of the nanny state. It means allowing the government to control the people instead of the other way around. It means giving up responsibility for oneself and one’s neighbors and expecting the government to deal with all issues. Considering the excellent record of the government in transferring wealth from the poor to the rich while promoting an economy rooted in war, I’ve no idea why the people with whom I interact are fans of this government.

Oppression abroad is obvious to anybody paying attention to American foreign policy during the last hundred years. The government of the United States of Absurdity extracts taxes from the citizenry to build the most lethal killing force in the history of the world. This military, supported by cultural messages and therefore most of the consumer-oriented citizenry, is then used to extract materials such as fossil fuels from other countries. The resulting “riches” enjoyed by Americans serve to pacify the masses, embolden the government, and enrich the corporations that exert strong influence over both the media and the government.

Destruction of the living planet is imperative if we are to support seven billion people on the planet, many of whom want “their” baubles. Are we not entitled to transport ourselves around the world, dine at fancy restaurants for a few hours’ work at minimum wage, entertain ourselves with music and movies, and all the rest on an essentially limitless list? Where do the materials originate for each of these endeavors? Are we so filled with hubris that we believe driving dozens of species to extinction every day is our right? Do we lack the humility — and even the conscience — to treat non-human species with respect?

Each of these three broad elements serves a subset of humans at the expense of others. Although obedience to culture prevents us from being viewed as “odd” to our straitjacketed acquaintances, it also serves the oppressors. Giving up on radicalism — i.e., getting to the root — fails to serve our needs while lessening our humanity. But it nicely serves those who pull the levers of industry.

Perhaps it is time we heed the words of deceased American social critic Christopher Hitchens: “To be in opposition is not to be a nihilist. And there is no decent or charted way of making a living at it. It is something you are, and not something you do.”

Imperialism has consequences

The U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights are bobbing along the same waves as social justice and environmental protection, sold down the river by a nation addicted to growth for the sake of growth (the ideology of a cancer cell). Indeed, it seems very little matters to the typical American beyond economic growth. And for that, most importantly, we need an uninterrupted supply of crude oil. We need the Carter Doctrine — the world’s oil belongs to us — and an unhealthy dose of faux patriotism.

Our lives are imbued with faux patriotism. We are manipulated by the war-loving corporate media and the war-loving politicians that, unsurprisingly, are enriched by war. We support the troops that bring us the baubles we’re convinced we deserve, and we rarely question the real, underlying costs of the baubles.

Support the troops. It’s the rallying cry of an entire nation. It’s the slogan pasted on many of the bumpers in the United States.

Supporting the troops is pledging your support for the empire. Supporting the troops supports the occupation of sovereign nations because might makes right. Supporting the troops supports wanton murder of women and children throughout the world. And men, too. Supporting the troops supports obedience at home and oppression abroad. Supporting the troops throws away every ideal on which this country allegedly is founded. Supporting the troops supports the ongoing destruction of the living planet in the name of economic growth. Supporting the troops therefore hastens our extinction in exchange for a few dollars. Supporting the troops means caving in to Woodrow Wilson’s neo-liberal agenda, albeit cloaked as contemporary neo-conservatism (cf. hope and change). Supporting the troops trumpets power as freedom and fascism as democracy.

I’m not suggesting the young people recruited into the military are at fault. Victims of civilization and a lifetime of cultural programming — like me, and perhaps you – they’re looking for job security during a period of economic contraction. The entire process is working great for the oppressors pulling the levers of industry.

Perhaps most importantly, supporting the troops means giving up on resistance. Resistance is all we have, and all we’ve ever had. We say we’re mad as hell and we claim we’re not going to take it anymore. But, sadly, we gave up on resistance of any kind years ago.

We act as if America’s cultural revolution never happened. We act as if we never questioned the dominant paradigm in an empire run amok, as if we never experienced Woodstock and the Summer of Love, bra-burning hippies and war-torn teenagers, Rosa Parks and the Cuyahoga River. We’re right back in the 1950s, swimming in culture’s main stream instead of questioning, resisting, and protesting.

We’ve moved from the unquestioning automatons of Aldous Huxley and George Orwell to the firebrands of a radical counter-cultural worldview and back again. A generational sea change swept us from post-war “liberators” drunk on early 1950s propaganda to revolutionaries willing to take risks in defense of late 1960s ideals. The revolution gained steam through the 1970s, but lost its way when the U.S. industrial economy hit the speed bump of domestic peak oil. The Carter Doctrine coupled with Ronald Reagan’s soothing pack of lies was the perfect match to our middle-aged comfort, so we abandoned the noble ideals of earlier days for another dose of palliative propaganda. Three decades later, we’ve swallowed so much Soma we couldn’t find a hint of revolution in Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto.

In short, the pillars of social justice and environmental protection rose from the cesspool of ignorance to become shining lights for an entire generation. And then we let them fall back into the swamp. The very notion that others matter — much less that those others are worth fighting for — has been relegated to the dustbin of history.

A line from Eugene Debs, five-time candidate of the Socialist party for U.S. president, comes to mind: “While there is a lower class I am in it, while there is a criminal element I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”

I don’t harbor any illusions about my freedom. I live in Police State America.

Imperial illusions

Ultimately, I wonder why any of us bothers trying to be a good person As Ernest Hemingway indicated: “The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.”

Vulnerability isn’t so bad. But few knowingly bring on their own destruction. Instead, I suspect most humans — even those who consider themselves good — actually benefit from and even promote contemporary culture, the problems with which are legion.

Do good people promote patriarchy? Do they pursue and promote the notions of marriage and monogamy even when knowing these ideas are steeped in the patriarchy of a culture gone seriously awry? Marriage and monogamy are obligations of empire rather than outcomes of natural law. Instead of abiding and supporting imperialism, shall good people attempt to reduce or eliminate patriarchy, hence civilization, one act at a time?

When we recognize patriarchy and its impacts, where does that leave those of us pursuing authenticity? Indeed, attempting to conduct an authentic life in a culture dominated by patriarchy and engendering destruction is analogous to pursuing meaning in an uncaring universe. Does authenticity have meaning in such a universe? Is authenticity a desirable goal, if goals are merely cogs in the machine of a culture run amok? Is authenticity another stumbling block on the road to happiness? Is authenticity yet another piece of propaganda promoted by the thieves and liars pulling the levers of civilization to trap decent people into lives of service? Do we ultimately and perhaps unwittingly serve civilization, hence omnicide, when attempting to serve humanity?

If a life of service is a trap, why step into the trap? In avoiding the trap are we embracing nihilism, “a viewpoint that traditional values and beliefs are unfounded and that existence is senseless and useless”? And, if so, does the embrace constitute a pact with the proverbial devil?

As individuals and a society, have we become so broken we cannot pursue the truth about ourselves and our culture? Have we become so marginalized, demoralized, and humiliated by this insane culture that we are no longer able to rise up against cultural insanity?

______________

This essay is (barely) modified from a series of essays for the Good Men Project. The original essays are listed and hyperlinked below.

Questioning Culture: A Series

Questioning Culture: The Long Littleness of Life

Questioning Culture: Shades of Existential Gray

Questioning Culture: When Personal Happiness Brings Suffering to Others

Questioning Culture: American Empire

Questioning Culture: Our Addiction to Growth

Questioning Culture: The Absurdity of Authenticity

They Hang Elephants, Don’t They?

Off the keyboard of Steve from Virginia

Published on Economic Undertow on August 2, 2013

Hanging Elephant 1 Unknown photographer, ‘Hanging of circus elephant ‘Mary’ in 1916. The elephant was strangled with a railway crane after she trampled a handler prior to a show in Kingsport, Tennessee.

Hanging Elephant 1
Unknown photographer, ‘Hanging of circus elephant ‘Mary’ in 1916. The elephant was strangled with a railway crane after she trampled a handler prior to a show in Kingsport, Tennessee.

Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner

America is a world leader in innovation and technology. Our big idea is to develop solutions where problems do not exist … then contrive problems specifically to justify expanding the use of the solution. A good example is the automobile; humans have had little difficulty getting around the surface of Planet Earth before the auto arrived, we are all born with feet. Afterward it was decided that every component of human existence should be spaced fifteen miles away from all the other components so that use of a car is mandatory.

Likewise, the railroad crane sits idly waiting for the need to arise … to lift something heavy: solution (crane), meet problem (elephants).

 

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses (of elephants) yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost (elephants) to me,
I lift my lamp (elephant) beside the golden door!”

 

Apologies to Emma Lazarus … who could not have possibly imagined in her most fevered dreams the level of balloon-headed idiocy … to which the United States of America has descended at the beginning of the new millenium. The golden door has been re-engineered into a solution searching desperately for problems. It has become a portal through which agencies and individuals smash others as they please for any reason, without any consequences: the revolving golden trap door. It excuses itself for any collateral damage, it is the solution, the problems are ‘threats’ that must be continually created so that the door can continue to justify its existence.

Along with the door is the absence or decline of strategy: the process is sanctified, the end or purpose the process is meant to address … vanishes.

Consider Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr; also known as Abu Omar: Nasr gained his fifteen milliseconds of fame for being kidnapped in Italy in 2003 by a group of CIA and Italian operatives, afterward hustled off unceremoniously — or rendered — through the golden door to Egypt where he was tortured by Hosni Mubarak’s intelligence service.
“CIA Kidnaps Its Own Informer in Broad Daylight in Italy, Damaging Italian Al-Qaeda Investigation”
The snatch from the middle of a crowded Milan boulevard created an uproar in Italy which understandably felt its sovereignty had been abused. Nasr’s detention then release from confinement triggered an Italian investigation which led to the conviction in Italian courts of 23 Americans plus 5 Italians. While none of the operatives spent any time in prison — the Americans had fled the country and were tried in absentia — the top-secret operation was entirely exposed. For the first time, Americans in their official capacity were convicted of crimes by an ally; the CIA as well as the Bush administration were publicly humiliated.

’24′ is an American television series produced for the Fox network and syndicated worldwide, starring Kiefer Sutherland as Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) agent Jack Bauer. Each 24-episode season covers 24 hours in the life of Bauer, using the real time method of narration. Premiering on November 6, 2001 …

 

November 6 + 19 + 31 = 56. Television bosses move fast when there is money to be made, in this case, just days after 9-11, Fox Television had America’s most potent response to International Islamic Terrorism ready to deploy! Life imitates art, as Oscar Wilde observed; CIA rendition offered the chance for career bureaucrats in cushy overseas billets to pretend to be Jack Bauers in real time using real humans as disposable props … and because the analog was on prime-time television, for the public to approve of it!

Nasr was just one of dozens detained then ejected through the infernal golden door into CIA-associated dungeons then abused. None of the information obtained with torture from the detainees amounted to anything. Little- or nothing was accomplished by way of the effort except to demonstrate in real time the US as a rogue country run by incompetent criminals. The rendition program was a public relations stunt -slash- solution to a non-existent problem.

The CIA could have left the entire Nasr matter to the Italians without getting involved. The US bosses post-9-11 felt that to be too ‘unmanly’; operatives flew into Italy ready pounce on the hapless Nasr. Presumably the spies checked into their hotels using the code-name ‘Jack Bauer’ …

 

The operation, it turns out, took much longer to complete than the CIA had planned, and as it dragged on, discipline on the eleven-member abduction team broke down. Two agents used their cell phones to call home. At least two others decided to use the trip for romantic encounters in rooms at some of Milan’s swankier hotels, like the Sheraton Diana Majestic and the Principe di Savoia, on the CIA’s dime. One team member, believed to be a freelance contractor, used his real name when checking in to hotels. Worst of all, Langley had given the team walkie-talkies to use for operational communications -— a $20 solution that would have kept the operation airtight. (The former senior CIA official told me the agents felt the two-way radios “made them look too much like spies” when they were on Via Guerzoni and scrapped them for cell phones.)“This was amateur hour with a bunch of Keystone Kops,” said former CIA officer Milt Bearden.

 

Of course they didn’t want to ‘look like spies’ … who would?

The CIA station chief in Rome was an ex-cop with a Honduran background named Robert Seldon Lady. He was a year from retirement at the time of the kidnapping, looking forward to the good life in the north of the country. He had just bought a multi-million dollar villa outside of Turin with his wife, from where he could employ himself as a (highly-paid) security consultant. As it turned out, circumstances compelled Lady to leave the country in a hurry and his property behind. Ironically, Lady’s villa was eventually confiscated by the Italians, then sold to provide a partial restitution payment to Nasr for damages suffered at the CIA’s hands!

 

“Bob should have been a minor figure in this operation,” said a former senior CIA official. “Unfortunately, that is not how things played out. It’s sad, really. He should not have put anything work-related on his home computer. That was just stupid.”

 

The question never asked is how a mid-level civil service employee with a modest salary could possibly afford a multi-million dollar villa in Turin in the first place. Lady recently materialized on the Panamanian-Costa Rican border waiting to be hustled away by Americans before he could be turned over to the Italians on an Interpol warrant.

It is not just intelligence services that are solutions looking for problems …

From the Open Society Foundation website:

 

After being extraordinarily rendered by the United States to Egypt in 2002, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, under threat of torture at the hands of Egyptian officials, fabricated information relating to Iraq’s provision of chemical and biological weapons training to Al Qaeda. In 2003, then Secretary of State Colin Powell relied on this fabricated information in his speech to the United Nations that made the case for war against Iraq.

“They were careless people, Hotel Two-Six and Crazyhorse One-Eight — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”– F. Scott Fitzgerald ‘The Not-So-Great Gatsby’

 

‘Rambo 4′, starring Sylvester Stallone was produced by Millennium Films, Nu Image Films for Equity Pictures and Medienfonds GmbH. Released in 2008, the film cost $50 million to make with a box office of $113,244,290. It has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 37%. The video released by Wikileaks cost two trillion US dollars and 100,000+ lives to make and is due to send Bradley Manning to the stockade for 20 years- to life. Its Rotten Tomatoes score is unknown, however the result was the revelation of the military — by the military itself — as a collection of anxious, undisciplined solutions hunting for problems; Rambos desperate to find someone or anyone to kill, just to be able to do so.

The Army’s helicopter footage exposed the rottenness at the heart of American Exceptionalism, exposed the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan as PR campaigns gone badly awry just like Extraordinary Rendition. Online spying and interception of the world’s cellphone conversations are more of the same; expensive, ultimately useless endeavors looking for ways to justify themselves: our disciplined adversaries use the $20 walkie-talkies and avoid the Internet.

It is unsurprising the establishment is frantic to punish Manning and the others: the USA sells itself to the world as omnipotent; history’s last superpower. The revealed inner workings of the establishment and failed outcomes offer a completely different narrative: a country that is disconnected from reality, living in the past; a country whose leadership relies on bullying and abuse of others, cannibalizing goodwill earned in blood by the efforts of previous generations. It is a country that has no idea what it is about or what it is doing. In a flash of lightning perceptions are permanently altered: the empire’s garments are tatters; the elephants are out of the bag never to be retrieved.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is investigating the spy program; the failures are obvious, not much effort should be needed …

 

Senate Panel Presses N.S.A. on Phone LogsAt a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, the chairman, Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, accused Obama administration officials of overstating the success of the domestic call log program. He said he had been shown a classified list of “terrorist events” detected through surveillance, and it did not show that “dozens or even several terrorist plots” had been thwarted by the domestic program.

 

Nobody asks the security and military bosses who is getting rich by way of these programs, nobody follows the money. To ask is un-American; the country exists so that a handful of diabolical tycoons can become richer than they already are. There is no doubt that some of the hundreds of billions- and trillions of dollars directed toward ‘security’ are being diverted into hungry pockets. Left up to the establishment, nobody will ever find out.
Crazed Terrorists 1

Identify the terrorist® if you can; he is the one with the cold, pitiless stare. The marketing industry labors without pause to meet expectations in the public mind of what a terrorist is supposed to look, dress and act like as they do with economists and other public figures.

The wars, renditions and spying taken together are distractions. Instead of al Qaeda, the danger to America has more to do with its own success; cannibalized resources and the country’s monstrous debts. The cost in lives is paid not on the battlefield but on our nation’s highways to the count of thirty thousands and more casually written off every single year as the price for doing the auto industry’s dirty business.
Detroit-USA Debt 1
Chart by Heritage Foundation, (click on for big). Using public relations, the establishment of central banks and state treasuries manipulates the finance markets at will; within the American market state there is the belief that everything outside of finance can be manipulated the exact same way.

The establishment doubles-down with more distracting PR: instantly there are new ‘threats’ exposed by now-discredited spying programs. Soon to come is the charade of color-coded alerts, more groping and humiliation at the airports, more warrantless searches and seizures, more SWAT team raids as well as more declarations alternating between fear and vengeance. The bosses have fully invested the country in the notion that success in national endeavors comes from fooling yourself: there is ‘fracking’ and the “100 years supply” and ‘Energy Revolution’ and ‘Saudi America’ … we content ourselves with the thin gruel of ‘Mission Accomplished’ and ‘they will welcome us as liberators’. We live vicariously through the media, we abandon our own lives to interested others … plutocrats who do not care if they destroy everything.

We are caught out in a frenzy of villas and luxury cars, jet vacations and money; we know instinctively without any intelligence agency having to tell us that all of these things are vanishing like mirages before our eyes. The grip these things have on us tightens and we lash out in futility …

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms further … And one fine morning –So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Red, White & Doom

Off the keyboard of Gypsy Mama

Published on The Butterchurn on July 4, 2013

Image

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Here we are.  Another American Fourth of July.  Another reason for awkward family “get togethers”.  Another chance to throw some RBGH onto the grill.  A free pass to pollute the air with mini fires in a tube.  A chance to increase your chances to visit the ER and hang with drunk drivers, reckless rednecks missing limbs and victims of circumstance.

America

ImageImageImageImageImageImage

I have never truly enjoyed this holiday.  Now…it would be easy to call me Un- American and to tell me that if I don’t like it, then get tha’ fuck OUT!  I wouldn’t say I’m UnAmerican…just a little sickened by how our country operates.  The 4th of July only adds to that sickness.

Over the past few months I’ve had the American experience of visiting BOTH of the “BUY and Large” bulk corporation outlets:  Sam’s and Costco.  My Father in law took my family and I to Costco to stock up on dry goods for our pantry.  My Mother in law later took us to Sam’s to do the same. Both in laws have memberships to these super stores.  We tailed them in and broke into the super secret bulk buying club.  I felt a twinge inside my stomach to be one of the many supporters of the super club.  I always wish that I could buy ONLY locally…but unfortunately, in today’s society, that is not an easy feat.  So, there I was…inside the beast.

Inside each of these stores, I saw fireworks for sale…in bulk.  The cheapest bulk buy for fireworks could be purchased for a mere $500.  Now…what does this say about our culture?  Americans will spend  money on explosives to show their “love” of this country.  They will spend enough on the mega fireworks pack for it to be profitable for the bulk-o-rama store to keep in stock.  They will celebrate being “Free”…but do they really have their eyes opened to what this country has REALLY become?  Will they ever see that they are only under the illusion of free?  Will winds of change blow through in my lifetime or the lifetimes of our children?

To add further stress to this little disagreement that I have with our country’s mindset…My family is having a little southern “get together” today at my Mama’s house (yes: “Mama”).  I received notice of this “celebration” via a Facebook event invite. If I go, I’ll get to eat some unhappy cow meat and baked beans.  I’ll get to listen to awkward sexual jokes from my Mama’s redneck boyfriend, Rick James (no shit, that is REALLY his name.  REALLY.)  I’ll miss the pleasure of being oogled by his drunken redneck ass.  I’ll be deprived of my Mother showing love in the only way she knows how:  by buying shit and giving it/feeding it to me.  I’ll miss having to chase my toddler around the yard adjacent to a busy road…without help.  *sigh.  Family issues, dude.  The holidays always remind me of the dysfunction surrounding ours.  The dysfunction that somehow only I can see…and that makes me a snobbish, big headed prude.

So why bother?  Why should I show up to this last minute planned, Facebook invited event?  Because I feel obligated? Because I hope that MAYBE something will be different this time?  I imagine that PERHAPS I’ll be able to finally unleash my internal fury over how many issues I have to deal with because of my Mother ONTO my mother?  Really tell her how I feel for once?

I feel as if my family doesn’t even know who I am anymore.  This is a valid concern, as I rarely ever see them.  Birthdays and holidays are usually a given…but why?  Why should we pretend that we are a caring family unit?  Why must we mope along and get together and play nice?  How much longer will I be able to play nice?

Will we ever be able to sit around and talk about things that I feel really matter?  Can we discuss our country’s failing future this Fourth of July?  Perhaps discuss how corporations are genetically altering our food and causing cancer in our bodies?  Maybe come up with a plan for a family reserve of food that we have grown together?  Can we talk about how our country has allowed the American lifestyle to be almost completely dependent on petroleum products, oil, corn and pre-packaging? Dreams.

I have held onto hope for far too long that my family, particularly my Mother, will ever be able to change her backwards ways.  I have worked for a few years now to erase the damage that I feel she has passed on to me throughout my childhood and now into my adulthood.  Now that I have children, the urge to purge is becoming more and more powerful.  Will I allow my children to be around someone I feel has influenced me for worse?  Over HOT DOGS?  When will it end?

As for America…go ahead, play-play along.  Shoot your fireworks, drink too much beer, cook some poisoned meat and CELEBRATE!  Pretend while you still can.  Maybe I will join you, or maybe I will be the one who pisses in your potato chips with words of warning.  Where does the line of sight end for people like me?

I hold onto the hope that sits on the horizon.  The hope that one day I will find myself surrounded with people who believe the same things I do about our future. Perhaps one Fourth of July, I won’t have to worry about feeling obligated to celebrate a false freedom.  Perhaps I will be the definition of FREE that I feel is true.  Hopefully there will be others who will awaken to this new sense of freedom…and we will celebrate with fire pits cooking fresh caught fish and newly culled chicken vs. fireworks offering a few seconds of visual pleasure and a garbage bag full of ageless waste.

So…from all this, I ask you the question:  What is your definition of freedom for the future?

I view freedom as living in a community on a piece of property that we own together.  A piece of property that is immune from peering eyes, zombie takeovers and yearly fees.  I envision freedom as a chance to live off of the land in a home that is unique to the hands of the community’s building talents.  Freedom is a chance for every day to involve a bit of gardening, a touch of laughter, and a smiling demeanor, all welcomed by the morning dew.

The perfect day of freedom would include the silence of clothes drying on the clothesline, sunlight brushing our shoulders, vegetables gathered in a basket, and air flowing through an open window to an empty earthen structure.

The perfect night of freedom would be surrounded by friends, nourishment and a nearby play tent filled with sleeping children…all dreaming of tomorrow’s adventure.

Independence Day…it is coming, but it is not today.

The Question Concerning Technology

Off the keyboard of Morris Berman

Published on Dark Ages America on November 22, 2012

 

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasboard inside the Diner

Dear Wafers and Other Friends:

As we are approaching the 200-message mark on the previous post (god, you guys have been engaged these days!), it is with some regret that I must leave the topic of Mittney (Rom! Can you forgive me?), and move on to other topics. I’m not really ready to talk about Japan, since I’m still reeling from my trip and need time to process the whole thing, but for now let me say a few words about one thing I observed there that forced me to rethink a basic premise I’ve had about the history/sociology of technology. This is mostly thinking out loud, if you guys can tolerate something only partially digested (to mix metaphors).

Actually, it involves two premises. One, technology is not, as is commonly thought, value-neutral. In other words, the conventional wisdom is that you can use an axe to fell a tree and thus build yourself a house, or you can chop off your neighbor’s head, which would not be very polite. Virtually all Americans (not the sharpest ‘race’ on the planet, I grant you) believe this, the president included. But as so many scholars have demonstrated, perhaps beginning with Marshall McLuhan, this just ain’t so. Technologies are the bearers of culture, and if you introduce any particular technology into a society (print medium into the oral culture of medieval Europe, for example), you eventually transform that society into something else. The introduction of vaccines for cattle into rural Mexico, many decades ago, led to the marginalization of the ‘sacred’ culture of the curandero, and thus to a different concept of man’s relationship to the cosmos. The vaccine cannot be isolated, in other words; it carries with it the world view of modern science and all that that entails (in particular, a ‘disenchanted’ world).

Second premise: Japan is a hi-tech society and people there are walking around with iPads, cell phones, and whatever stuffed into every available orifice. But it proved not to be so. The Japanese are fascinated with the new, that is true; but technology is not their ‘hidden religion’ (see Why America Failed, ch. 2). Yes, there is some degree of zombification operating there, to be sure, but much less than I anticipated; maybe 20% of the population is awash in Finnish and Korean (and Japanese) techno-crap. So you do see folks (the young, esp.) walking down the street staring into electronic screens, for example; but only about 20% at most. Tokyo aside, Japan is not a ‘loud’ country. Even then, I was amazed to ride the subway in Tokyo and see signs showing a cell phone with the word OFF (in English) in block capitals superimposed on the image. Occasionally, an electronic voice comes over the air and says, “Please make sure your cell phones are turned off.” You look around, and people are busy texting, but not making any noise. When I took the express bus out to Narita Airport en route to returning to Mexico, an electronic voice also added, “It disturbs your fellow passengers.” This bowled me over, because in the U.S., who gives a damn about the people around them? You can sit in a restaurant in LA or NY with some woman three feet away, literally yelling into her phone about her recent gall bladder operation. Y’all can identify with this, I’m sure.

The only exception I found to this was the lounge in the hotel I stayed in in Hiroshima. It was terribly American in design, very un-Japanese: formica tables, fluorescent lights, a completely sterile environment. There, people would sit and yak away loudly on their phones, and to hell with anyone else. So what the heck is going on?

Try this: if the ‘hidden religion’ of the United States is technology, as well as an extreme form of individualism (which I discuss in A Question of Values), the hidden religion of Japan is interrelatedness, or group consciousness. In fact, it’s hardly hidden: everybody knows this about the Japanese, including the Japanese. Nor is it always a positive thing, as it can stifle personal expression and creativity, and some Japanese scholars have argued that it was the root cause of the Pacific War (1931-45), during which time it was impossible to speak out against the military direction of the nation. Whistleblowers have a hard time in Japan. Well actually, they are practically nonexistent, and the 2011 disaster at Fukushima is only the latest example of this. Maruyama Masao, in the postwar period, blamed the war on a “system of irresponsibility,” and recently one courageous critic (although I believe he lives in New York) said that Fukushima was the product of Japanese culture itself.

To return to the subject of cell phones, then, what we see is not the introduction of a new technology and the subsequent transformation of the culture. No; the culture of Japan is strong enough to resist the negative effects of this technology, by a factor of something like 80%. I remember sitting in a luncheonette in a subway station and seeing a woman receiving a call on her phone, and actually taking out a small towel and putting it over her mouth, and the phone, so as to mute her voice while she was talking. More often, the Japanese will leave the space, and conduct the conversation out of earshot of those around them. Whereas Americans live like they were individual atoms, bouncing around with no civic responsibility whatsoever (and certainly as it concerns technology, since it is the hidden religion), the Japanese live in society, in community, and in relatedness to other people, and therefore are acutely sensitive to the potential impact they have about those around them. Despite the negative aspects of the group mentality mentioned above, I found this institutionalized, semi-conscious courtesy quite refreshing. So while in the US, technology combines with the ideology of extreme individualism to create a race of obnoxious techno-buffoons and zombies, in Japan the culture of public respect limits what technology can do–even though, as I said above, the Japanese tend to love the new. In a word, Marshall McLuhan doesn’t apply to Japan. Or one might say, it is the cultural medium that is the message there, not the technological medium. I had to rethink my basic assumptions regarding all this (always a good thing, if somewhat disorienting).

In that regard, I was fascinated by the recent comment James Howard Kunstler made on his blog, which got reported in the comment section of the previous post here:

“Finally, I have one flat-out prediction, one I have made before but deserves repeating: Japan will be the first society to consciously opt out of being an advanced industrial economy. They have no other apparent choice really, having next-to-zero oil, gas, or coal reserves of their own, and having lost faith in nuclear power. They will be the first country to enter a world made by hand. They were very good at it before about 1850 and had a pre-industrial culture of high artistry and grace – though, granted, all the defects of human psychology.”

Could Japan be the model, the cutting edge of a post-capitalist or post-industrial society? Is a kind of “back to the future” logic operating here, in which it is the craft tradition, rather than the latest piece of technological garbage, that might create a viable culture, and thus a viable model for the rest of us? Think of the Renaissance, during which time cultural renewal depended on a return to Classical civilization (“reculer pour mieux sauter”–step backwards in order to better jump ahead). As Gary Snyder once said to me, when I teased him about having a ‘romantic’ vision: We may have to return to the used-parts bin, and discover that some of the stuff we threw out in our zeal for progress is not so obsolete after all.

Well, I said I was thinking out loud. Food for thought, in any case, eh wot?

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

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