14 September 2022

The optics of it all

The coming midwinter will bring a reckoning. Western governments must either invite economic misery on a scale that would test the fabric of democratic politics in any country, or face the fact that energy supply constrains the means by which Ukraine can be defended. – Helen Thomson, Cambridge University, Professor of Political Economy [My emphasis]

Introduction

In my previous article, I took an unflattering look at some of The West’s many geopolitical entanglements, arguing that they drive its rapid unravelling into stubborn incompetence and metastasising dysfunction. Its descent, I reasoned, emboldens the rest of the world to seize its chance to create a multi-polar order that can supplant US/Western hegemony. 

The recent turn of events in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which is perhaps the expression par excellence of The West’s decline, casts fresh light on The West’s prowess at using PR optics to nudge history where it will. This light offers us an opportunity to attempt a finer grained analysis of where humanity stands right now.

A shallow reading of my position as an advocate of idealism – everything is consciousness – might suggest I would be a fan of optics. After all, everything is perception, right? Not exactly. Our earthly existence is a consensus ‘illusion’, not a solipsistic one. So, though a nation or civilisation may be adept at and possess sufficient resources to powerfully influence the optics around any particular event, those optics need to tally closely with the actual details of that event if they are to have a lasting effect. And while I believe it is indeed feasible to nudge history in a direction counter to the needs and wishes of a people using optics management, if that direction runs counter to common sense and health, there will be an inevitable correction to a healthier state, at some cost, at some point.

If, on the other hand, those optics-based strategies nudge people in a healthier direction, then their effects will prove longer lasting and be more beneficial.

(What I am a fan of is authenticity, honesty and love. These principles are synonymous, in effect, with health, where by “health” I mean a homeostatic health of all interdependent systems.)

The Russia-Ukraine war, as all wars, involves optics, tactically and strategically. Wars are fought on the battlefield primarily, but also on the field of perception through how battlefield events are reported. I understand that Churchill said that in times of war, truth is so precious it must be hidden behind a fog of lies. 

A nation’s capacity to prosecute a war to victory depends on many things, one of which is its people’s belief the war is winnable. Optics influence their sense that victory is within reach, and therefore influence a nation’s capacity to support its troops and endure hardships on the path to victory. Optics are thus very important.

It is said that The West is masterful in optics manipulation and management, with Russia lagging far behind in this regard. This article looks at the possible long-term consequences of this cultural difference, and also examines how my steep learning curve concerning this conflict has informed my interpretation of what is going on globally.

The realities

You can’t win a war with optics alone. Even if country A has a militarily impregnable press but no army whatsoever, while country B has a shoddy, recalcitrant press but first-class army, sensible money would bet on B’s quick and comprehensive victory. A’s people would see one thing in their newspapers and on their TV screens, but learn quite another from the reality on their streets and in their homes. 

On the other hand, in the case of evenly matched armies between A and B, with A boasting vastly superior optics management, sensible money would bet on A.

What can we say about Russia and The West? 

For a start, it is of course far more complicated than the stick-man sketch above. The US may possess superior military technology and a larger war machine than Russia, but can it deploy effectively in Ukraine, even if geopolitical circumstances were to permit US boots on the ground? Russia borders Ukraine, the US does not. 

NATO could deploy EU/UK military might (less than Russia’s by all accounts), but again, not with the ease with which Russia can deploy its military assets. 

So, in terms of what can be deployed quickly on the ground, Russia has the advantage regardless of the relative strengths of the combined forces each group of combatants has on paper. (I’m ruling our nuclear war in this assessment; in that case all bets would be off.)

As I argued in my previous post, it boils down to the devilish details of the pragmatics that define the very complex situation that is Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Firstly, Russia has not declared war. It is conducting what it calls a “Special Military Operation” (SMO). This is essentially a list of objectives constrained by specific terms drawn up by Putin and issued to Russia’s military. The terms stipulate that Russia will not acquire Ukrainian territory, but rid Ukraine of its fascist elements, protect the Russian-speaking peoples of eastern Ukraine and enable them to function as independent republics free of threats and danger from Ukraine. 

Whatever your view of the sincerity of this contract, Russia has stuck to it quite rigidly, by all accounts (until Sunday 11 September 2022, more on which below). My understanding is that part of this SMO’s appeal to Putin is as a hearts-and-minds campaign to win over as many countries of the global south as possible. Success in this objective would help the BRICS nations advance a multi-polar global order to replace US global hegemony. If Russia had deployed its full might against Ukraine from the start, it would have appeared unpredictably aggressive to the rest of the world; the Russia-BRICS ambition could thus have been dead before arrival. Russia may well have defeated Ukraine more quickly, but might have been isolated internationally.

Secondly, Russia has no interest in further antagonising the Ukrainian people against them. Wars (and SMOs) end at some point, and peace negotiations begin. Were Russia to have wantonly destroyed civilian architecture, bombed all Ukraine’s major cities to rubble and caused hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, it would have transformed Ukraine into a time bomb, thereby only postponing its threat to Russian territorial security.

Thirdly, full war against Ukraine risks full war with NATO. With regards peace negotiations that always come at some point, the risk of collapsed relations with The West is not something Russia particularly lusts for. (Now that Russia’s trust of The West has been severely damaged, the initial importance of this point may have expired.)

In other words, Russia probably hoped to complete its SMO quickly and clinically, and then begin negotiations that would have had genuine potential to effect a lasting peace and so secure Russia’s security going forward. Such an eventuality would initially have been more attractive to Putin than prosecuting a horribly destructive war of highly uncertain global outcome.

But – and it’s a huge but – NATO and The West want to maintain US hegemony; US hegemony is, in a sense, their identity, their raison d’etre. Russia’s and the BRICS nations’ ambitions are a direct threat to that hegemony. Of that bloc, Russia represents the biggest threat, has the most enticing resources and is the easiest to dismantle (in The West’s estimation). Ergo, The Wests’ and Russia’s respective situations have driven them into bitter conflict over Ukraine. 

In sum, this is an existential, last-chance-saloon situation for The West. For Russia, this is also an existential, last-chance-saloon situation; it cannot advance its preferred historical vector, protect its territorial integrity, and not supplant US hegemony. I’m confident both sides see this. 

Hence, the SMO may well be cynical, but not 100% so. It may be that Putin calculated some low chance that Russia could wrap things up quickly – Russia made overtures early in the operation to agree peace terms with Ukraine, but these were scuppered by Boris Johnson – and walk away from the affair with all sides happy, before the operation escalated to war. Worth a shot, right? 

Up until now, a confluence of factors has kept Putin true to the SMO. That changed with the Kharkov offensive, which saw Ukraine make large territorial gains in a very short space of time – albeit immaterial gains from what I understand. The West then finessed this into a succulent optics victory for Ukraine, one that has reinvigorated support for their cause and triggered further tranches of aid from Ukraine’s Western backers. Prior to Ukraine’s success in Kharkov, The West had been losing interest, and facing an energy crisis with nothing positive to show for its imminent sacrifice.

Perhaps under political pressure at home on the back of this optics win, Putin has deviated from the terms of the SMO and struck civilian infrastructure. This may well be the opening overture in an escalation from SMO to an “Counter-Terrorist Operation” (CTO). Speculation has it that Russia may soon officially declare Ukraine a terrorist state. Such a declaration would ‘legally’ authorise Russia to attack more civilian infrastructure as well as the Zelenskyy regime’s command and control infrastructure.

If escalation is The West’s aim, its skilled optics management procured a positive outcome. But this escalation must lead to Russia’s collapse if it is to be beneficial to The West, hence the stringent sanctions that have been in place from the beginning. However, the sanctions have thus far harmed only The West. Further, the long-term effects of these territorial gains will be decided by the relative powers and available opportunities each embroiled combatant possesses.

This article begins with a quote from a Financial Times piece I find most apposite. One consequence of Russia having remained true to the terms of its SMO is that the global south has warmed to Russia and cooled to The West, generally speaking. This includes Iran and Saudi Arabia: two major oil producers. If the growing closeness between these three nations grows yet closer, and if Saudi Arabia brings OPEC with it, then The West’s access to cheap, reliable oil becomes uncertain. Its capacity to outlast Russia in this conflict would diminish perilously if OPEC’s and Iran’s strategic loyalties shift to the BRICS bloc, and this on top of Russia having switched off Nord Stream 1.

Apparently, The West’s capacity to equip Ukraine with sufficient munitions to best Russia is also dwindling; armament stocks are now too low for it to continue its largesse. Stocks must now be replenished, which takes time. Furthermore, Ukraine’s success in the Kharkov region, as well as its failure near Kherson, have proven very costly. Russia has sustained a fraction of Ukraine’s casualties. Destruction to Russia’s military equipment is apparently negligible, while Ukraine has suffered significant losses.

Taking all this together, it appears Russia’s military-industrial capacity massively outweighs The West’s; according to Western media accounts, Russia is able to launch endless torrents of artillery fire at enemy lines. If true, short on energy and dangerously low on munitions, The West has next to no chance militarily against Russia in Ukraine (again, I’m ignoring the nuclear option). Sooner or later, The West’s excellent optics management will be rendered immaterial by Russia’s superiority on the battlefield. With the EU/UK teetering on the edge of economic and societal collapse, with Russia’s economic outlook improving, The West is quickly running out of rope.

Why does all this interest Econosophy so much?

Econosophy is, in essence, an examination of the ramifications of resource-based economics. For those ramifications to be more than just idly interesting to a few oddballs, the peoples of the world must first want to pursue that vector. For the peoples of the world to want this, there first needs to be a transformation of global consciousness. This foundational requirement is why I have written so much of late on various aspects of and around idealist ontology. For me, part of what is evolving on earth in the human domain is a profound paradigm shift away from materialism towards Something Else. My bet is on some variant of idealism, but I cannot say what historians and philosophers will call it.

All of this means I felt the topics close to my heart could be reinvigorated by the mass hysteria the covid ‘pandemic’ triggered across the planet. My powers of reason informed me the hysteria was a purging preparation, a softening of the soil for radically different, counter-establishment ideas to take root and bloom. Perhaps that intuition, shared by many, is correct. Perhaps not.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict suggests not, at least not on the timescale I had hoped. And while I find the conflict itself sickening, while I find the tragically fated entanglements that bound humanity to its eruption earlier this year so frustrating, while it does not matter to me which ‘side’ wins as long as termination of this war improves humanity’s chances for peaceful cohabitation, I do want to understand what it means for us all. Two things weigh heavy in my thoughts.

First, does the complexity of global modernity require hierarchical social organisation? Or, does the complexity of global modernity doom top-down rule to messy collapse? The inflexibility on display, both on the part of our putative rulers and the mesmerised ruled, beggars belief. We westerners seem set to demand our immolation because we said we would ‘defend’ Ukraine, whatever Ukraine is, whatever the cost to us, to Ukraine, and to the wider world. We seem hell bent on hating Russia, on forbidding open discussion on the subject, and on forbidding disagreement generally: an outright absurdity. To me, all this seems a direct consequence of hierarchical rule. But only in The West? I’m not at all sure.

Second, how much must come undone before the soil of our many cultural beliefs softens enough to explore new ideas at mass scale? Confounding this question, does the amount of collapse required to effect such a softening mean we simply will not be able to do anything other than blame each other for that collapse? Will the carefully nurtured climate of paranoia, fear and suspicion so important to hierarchical rule brood itself deep into our future?

In The West, our sense of ourselves and what we are entitled to revolves around consumerism and, now, instant gratification. To what extent does the rest of the world desire our lifestyle for itself? Is the consumerist idyl beamed by The West out into the world perceived as real wealth? This is extremely hard to properly assess, but seems possible, even likely. 

If the BRICS bloc rises at the expense of The West in the zero-sum game of scarcity economics, will that rise simply import The West’s scarcity dilemma to that bloc? The West faces its demise for fundamental reasons: the end of cheap energy, the march of technological unemployment, the spiritual void of consumerism, and the systemic scarcity price-based economics requires. Does the BRICS bloc see these fundamentals as irresolvable? Does it see them at all? My guess is that if it does see them, it imagines it need only apply a few inventive tweaks to fix them.

Questions upon questions. And to make matters still more uncertain, The West is far from a single entity of hive-mind purpose. The WEF/WHO/Davos crowd advances its bizarro agenda with similarly existential determination. This group wants global control, probably because, in its view, earth’s limited carrying capacity is such that humans, with their insatiable greeds and bestial wisdom, must be tightly kept in line using the panopticon potential of AI, constant surveillance and central-bank digital currencies. Following Tom Luongo’s analysis, the neoconservatives are raining on Davos’ parade by escalating the war with Russia, and in so doing setting the BRICS off on a divergent vector.

Who will end up with what share of the pie? And how stable will that new arrangement be absent a reliable and plentiful supply of cheap energy? How stable will it be with a reliable and plentiful supply of cheap energy?

Conclusion

It seems to me, then, that this end-times battle between the various factions, each vying for its own version of how humans should live on earth, rages on precisely because each power player perceives scarcity as foundational to earthly existence, to life itself. This perception operates powerfully within and just beneath awareness to continually infuse its particular colourings into all optics, regardless of skill level involved. In this way, the mounting escalations, the skirmishes and tensions mushrooming up all over the place are driven by the power of optics to perpetuate beliefs that no longer serve us, that are taking us to the edge of catastrophe.

Human consciousness is shackled, as always, by how its imagination is shaped by culture. And, while there are multiple cultures involved, and sub-cultures within those, there is, I believe a meta-culture binding all modernity together in its conviction about scarcity, price, markets and trade, and how these ‘fundaments’ are true and unfiltered expressions of the human condition, rather than conditional to the civilisational project. 

I am still of the mind that a Civilisation 2.0 is in the offing. And yet, something about the Russia-Ukraine conflict has made it recede beyond the horizon. Watching it disappear from view is a sobering experience.

Humans incarnate to learn to become love in extraordinarily difficult conditions. Our successes and failures in this undertaking enhance the music of All That Is in ways we can but dimly understand. It is not for me to say what is going to develop next year, next week, or even tomorrow, but at the moment it looks like there is a long way to go – much breakdown to experience – before humanity develops a cohering desire to take love and health seriously, to structure its future guided by these truly foundational qualities.


[Edited ATO to CTO, "Counter-Terrorist Operation", 15 September 22]

08 September 2022

Those whom the gods would destroy

 Russian citizens should not have easy access to the EU. At the moment, there is no basis for trust, no basis for a privileged relation between EU and Russia. – Ylva Johansson, EU Commissioner For Home Affairs

Introduction

I’m still trying to make sense of how the Russia-Ukraine war does or does not fit together with the plandemic; is the chaos Out There “all part of the plan”, The Great Reset? Or is it all a confluence of coincidences? If there is a path out of this apparent insanity – whether plan or coincidences –, it would be good to hit upon it before disaster drags us into a downward spiral. 

It’s possible, of course, that a downward spiral is precisely what the doctor ordered, but it would be wise to understand this if true, and prepare fairly solid sketches of what to do next.

The people I find most persuasive regarding developments in the Russia-Ukraine war (The Duran, Brian Berletic, Tom Luongo) persist with their assessment that Ukraine cannot win. The West, on the other hand, does not want to – cannot – permit this eventuality. 

A recent and astoundingly bizarre set of attacks by Ukrainian forces to retake the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP) illustrates The West’s reluctance to face reality. The attacks failed in grand style while a team of IAEA investigators were on hand in Ukraine to inspect the plant! Ukraine had been shelling the ZNPP, which has been under Russian control since some time in March, for weeks, if not months, perhaps to create or risk a catastrophic incident that would turn the tide of the war. The West’s mass-media outlets reported on this shelling as if it were the Russians shelling themselves. They have now left the recent attacks on the ZNPP unreported, with the pro-West IAEA declining to blame either side for the shelling in their report (ergo, it was not Russia), which apparently contains not one criticism of Russia (ergo, it was not Russia).

It is apparently the absolute top priority for the West that Russia be routed, cost what it will in treasure and human meat: Russia cannot be allowed to win this war. And yet Russia looks set to win this war. A Russian victory will cause a political, economic, societal and cultural earthquake that will likely break the EU apart, collapse UK and EU affluence, and possibly separate the US from the EU and UK for the foreseeable future. This will depend on how Russia treats Europe after victory in Ukraine, among other factors. In the meantime, one unavoidable interim cost of this war – or rather of The West’s sanctions on Russia and its visceral Russophobia – is an energy crisis in Europe and the UK of unprecedented proportions.

Now we’re cooking on gas!

For a wide variety of reasons, one of which is having exhausted all possible alternatives, the EU has become economically dependent on Russian gas via Germany’s dependence. A deal was struck with Russia in the early 2000s by then German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. The deal brought cheap gas to Germany and the EU via Nord Stream 1. Then, after Fukushima, Germany resolved to wind down its nuclear power plants. The consequent additional energy required by then Chancellor Angela Merkel to keep Germany, and thus the EU, globally competitive, led to lengthy, one-on-one conversations between her and Putin. The upshot was Nord Stream 2. 

Next came the Maidan ‘revolution’ in Ukraine, and with it Germany’s and the EU’s refusal to help enforce the Minsk Agreements Russia so urgently wanted upheld to keep the peace between it and Ukraine. Relations between the EU/UK and Russia, already awful, have soured considerably since then (2014). And of course the US has many fingers in Ukraine’s geopolitically pivotal pie.

For whatever reasons (self defence seems likely), Russia began what it calls its “Special Military Operation” in Ukraine in late February 2022. The EU/UK/US axis initiated harsh sanctions against Russia in response, has gifted Ukraine with treasure and weapons in eye-watering amounts, and demonised Putin as never before. To the EU’s and UK’s apparent shock, Gazprom recently switched off Nord Stream 1 completely, having been progressively reducing the volume of gas flowing through it for maintenance reasons. Nord Stream 2 has been all but abandoned. No doubt the nasty calculations of war played a significant role in shaping Russia’s decisions, but either way the EU’s and UK’s suicidally ill-considered posturing in this war against a country they depend on for their economic survival is hard to fathom. There is such a thing as pragmatics, and politicians are expected to be masters thereof. The current crop, with very few exceptions, are spineless careerists.

(If this really is indeed all part of the WEF’s Great Reset, it looks to me like a plan as boneheadedly violent as it is possible to conceive. I find it impossible to imagine – which does not mean my imagination is correct! – that Russia et al are explicitly now at war with the WEF’s and the Davos crowd’s ‘master plan’ while secretly advancing it. What seems likelier is that the latter’s global ambition is a horribly ordinary case of deranged overreach unleashing incalculable damage and suffering.)

Whatever our morality regarding war and Realpolitik, I cannot see The West’s strategising as anything other than infantile. The fact of the matter is that there is no obligation on its part to defend Ukraine “to the last man”. We are watching Ukraine lose territory and men, the Ukrainian economy implode, while simultaneously encouraging that poor country to carry on taking this nation-destroying beating to what end, exactly? Breaking Russia? Are we in a position to accomplish that?

Russia is doing well. The West is withering. Ukraine is being bled dry, literally and figuratively. Idealistic fervour and media optics are one thing, brutal life on the ground quite another. But if the economic demand The West represents implodes, what good is all this misery to the economic supply of the BRICS++ bloc (soon to include Saudi Arabia? Petrodollar and Eurodollar collapse??)? 

Perhaps this is the price they feel they must pay to be neutralise the unpredictable threat The West has become, to itself and others.

The morality of pragmatics

Again, regardless of our ideological position here, there is the far more important morality of facing hard facts as they are. I think it safe to say that The West is led by grossly over-ambitious incompetents. It is having its arse handed to it, naked and soiled, by a Russia in the ascendancy, fighting off everything thrown at it with one hand, while hosting war games with India and China with the other, watching its food prices fall and its tax revenues and balance of payments strengthen. 

Warm blood is being spilled by the gallon, real agony and real destruction of lives are happening at mass scale because The West refuses to see the world as it now is: multipolar. This is the hubristic incompetence typical of a civilisation in steep decline.

To turn this obscene tragedy to a matter closer to Econosophy’s heart, what appeal does The West exude? As far as I can tell, it’s consumerism, Hollywood soft power, and endless varieties of pleasure sliding into hedonistic mooching. The days of Western high culture are behind us until further notice (though we do still produce the odd wonder). Our legacy does seem to be dominated by consumerism, though it makes no one healthy or happy. Here our leaders are, gambling it all in mad-bull defence of trifles and addictions.

We have been faced with the problem of how to prepare for a future after cheap energy for decades. For a wide variety of reasons, not least of which being the exquisitely frustrating reality of becoming increasingly constrained by previous decisions, we chose collectively not to grasp the nettle and plan for a non-consumerist future, refused repeatedly to take steps to build a low-cost, low-energy societal and economic infrastructure that could afford such a thing. We squandered our apparent superiority on keeping our world nicely as is. 

(I suspect there was simply no other way. Perhaps we are as blameless as the weather.)

This is the challenging terrain of pragmatics: The balance between long- and short-term strategies is extremely difficult to get right. Consequently, the scope to adapt wisely to changing circumstances becomes vanishingly small. The smell of blood from self-inflicted wounds grows stronger, competitors circle for the kill. 

In the not-too-distant future, I suspect that whatever credibility the Davos crowd has left will be vaporised in an eruption of betrayed rage. How will that crowd of super-rich fantasists find trust among the survivors of the smoking ruin that is their handiwork? 

And what future would they want to build for us?

What next?

In truth, it’s impossible to say how bad things are about to get. It’s also impossible to say how much of this is planned and how much is inept mismanagement. But it is worthwhile seriously considering what we might want and what needs to be done to get it.

In my view, we need to consider non-hierarchical – anarchical – modes of governance. This does not mean lawlessness, it means non-hierarchical in the sense of preventing institutionally rigid power accumulations hell bent on ever more power. UK common law captures what I think of as an anarchic – or organic – legal apparatus. The excessive legal complexity built atop it over the centuries proliferated into being as a direct consequence of our money-based value system and the foundational scarcity that is its jealously guarded lifeblood. Add extreme specialisation and rigid hierarchical power to that mix and you end up here.

We need to break this wheel if we don’t want more of the same.

In terms of politics, then, I’d like to see regional polities facilitating self governance in ideology-free, fully transparent fora activated when small, local groupings cannot manage things above a certain scale. Regional groupings should be engaged by local groupings, not vice versa, to avoid nannying interference by those not intimately familiar with local context. I’d like to see such structures designed to be systemically incapable of producing large Power-Over groupings. I’m confident this scales to international levels.

These sorts of structuring arrangements could become desirable to large numbers of us if, before and while things disintegrate in the UK and EU, there is a sufficiently successful campaign to educate ourselves at mass level about how power corrupts and what to do about that pragmatic reality. Because political parties, civil services, justice systems and mass media have failed us in this essential duty – as checks and balances against power –, this will be quite the undertaking. We will need police and army on our side in significant numbers, as well as large sections of the judicial and business worlds. Nevertheless, we either take on that challenge, or leave our future in the hands of insane tyrants. 

Other options are not clear to me. Certainly the Old Normal is gone.

If ‘elites’ have demonstrated anything, it is that they are wildly incapable of wise long-term thinking, for the sorts of structural reasons touched on above; they strongly tend to maladaptive rigidity. To create something that effectively inhibits this dynamic – a dynamic that the BRICS++ nations will face soon enough – we Westerners would first have to leave the consumerist hamster wheel behind us, i.e., no longer want it. For us to desire that daunting socioeconomic vector, those of us who feel as I do will have to succeed in making our case while those who disagree watch their living standards seep into history’s fertile soil. 

That’s my wild hope, anyway.

27 August 2022

Taking stock: How wrong am I?

A grasp of geopolitical realities is also essential. The US remains by some distance the world’s dominant power. Its naval power guarantees open waters for international trade, world credit markets depend on dollars. But, Washington does not have the power to direct China’s and India’s energy relations with Russia.

The coming midwinter will bring a reckoning. Western governments must either invite economic misery on a scale that would test the fabric of democratic politics in any country, or face the fact that energy supply constrains the means by which Ukraine can be defended. – Helen Thompson, Professor of Political Economy at Cambridge University in the Financial Times, 19 August 2022 (A Winter Energy Reckoning Looms For The West). [My emphases]

Introduction

For the last few weeks, I’ve returned to the World Out There in earnest, having completed a mammoth software project that absorbed almost all of my time and attention for about two years. Specifically, I’ve been devouring material put out by Alexander Mercouris and Alex Christoforou (The Duran), Tom Luongo (Gold, Goats ’n Guns), and Brian Berletic (The New Atlas). They have dedicated their time and intelligence to analysing in considerable detail what is currently underway across the geopolitical landscape. They present a sobering picture. I won’t set out their individual positions in any detail, but do heartily recommend their commentary to anyone interested in making sense of this breathtaking historical moment.

As a very crude paraphrase, their analyses, taken together, present the following picture: Decadence seems to have fully rotted The West. Visceral Russophobia appears to have addled the minds of The West’s ruling classes, who have taken leave of their senses to pursue strategies that can only drive them over the cliff. (If The West’s behaviour is ‘all part of the plan’, it is a deranged plan that will rob them of everything but ‘control’ of an economic backwater – The New Europe –, at best.)

Russia has declared its full opposition to what Putin calls “Western globalist elites”, who are hell bent on installing “neoliberal totalitarianism” by means of chaos and crises. This openly pits Russia against the WEF and the WHO, i.e. the main instruments of what Luongo terms “the Davos crowd”, and those elements of the US that support the Davos agenda of “neoliberal totalitarianism”. China, increasingly suspicious of The West – especially after Pelosi’s recent visit to Taiwan – is making clearer and clearer statements of support for Russia. Xi is set to visit Saudi Arabia to perhaps begin negotiations for Saudi Arabia to join the BRICS bloc – demise of the petrodollar ahead? OPEC has been rebuffing US demands for more oil. Africa showed Blinken the cold shoulder after welcoming Russia’s Lavrov with open arms.

Meanwhile, the Fed is raising rates aggressively into a recession and looks set to continue to do so, having shielded its banking system somewhat from Europe’s via SOFR, an interbank lending system that will make LIBOR redundant. Is the Fed’s calculation that the US is thus better protected than Europe and the UK from the harsh impact rate hikes will effect? Jerome Powell, likely backed by several US commercial-banking interests, seems to believe the US can weather the storm he has set in motion, a storm that will shake all but the strongest fruit from the tree. 

And there is much else besides – India, Turkey, Syria … – each event as mightily significant in geopolitical impact as the other. Events are unfolding at breakneck speed. History is currently more sky-devouring firework display than cautious tortoise race. It is all we can do to keep up, and no matter how much we read and listen to, we can only ever be aware of a tiny fraction of what’s actually taking place.

I never believed there was but one hegemonic bloc of ‘elites’, one seamless hive mind, seeking evil control of reality. It has always been clear to me since studying state formation and money in depth, that multiple upper-echelon groups vie for control. But, having grown jaded about fine-grained analysis of what, precisely, is going on Out There, having experienced my own failure to communicate effectively my ideas about the stage of history in which humanity is mired, I changed tack and attended to family matters and my own spiritual development, leaving the world to do whatever it was going to do.

Then, when the lockdowns were rolled out, my intuition screamed out at me that this event was epoch shattering. It hit me like a tsunami of icy water. My articles since June 2020 have charted the thoughts and feelings that welled up from that incredible intuitive download in late March 2020. My sense now, after the last few weeks drinking in the material so crudely paraphrased above, is that I have been too hopeful about humanity’s ability to respond in a positive and open way to what is happening, and thus tone deaf to the actual nuance of its global ramifications. This article takes stock of my recent performance.

Briefly critiquing the bases of my analysis

1. Technological unemployment

Not particularly relevant if nations deindustrialise. Germany’s and the rest of Europe’s industrial base is being dismantled as a consequence of their refusal to fight off the Davos yoke, and by their ordinary citizen’s inability and/or reluctance to see this dismantling is well underway (see point 5). One gets the sense of collective fiddling while Rome burns, of oddly muffled hysterical delirium as the ground opens beneath us.

The love and courage needed to mitigate this debacle is not there, it seems, in sufficient supply. Love is doubtless the healthiest vector, but you have to earn it, walk the walk, pay your dues, answer the call, etc. Consequently, the opportunity to earn it is disappearing – if by “opportunity” we mean the next few months – if we are to have enough time to stop “neoliberal totalitarianism”. (That said, it always seems as if we have but a few short months, and yet things never quite become what one might have anticipated.)

One way or the other, then, technological unemployment cannot supply the shock for a radical historical leap in how humans build and run economies and societies when there is no capacity to build the factories, robotics and logistics systems this would require. It might not be the fallacious “lump of labour fallacy” that defangs this systemic drag on perpetual growth, but rather a generalised failure of courage and imagination, nourished and nurtured by political and professional-media classes reflexively unwilling to release their hold on power.

2. (State + market = symbiont) + (money = exquisite tool of control)

I’m still confident this ‘equation’ holds, but it doesn’t really matter right now. Affluence is being sacrificed at the altar of political control. The management classes employed to implement ruling-class diktat are strongly incentivised to maintain the status quo. For example, the political class is sufficiently allied with other professional classes, in particular mass-media professionals, to see selling out the poor (middle classes and below) as their best chance of survival. And it will remain in their interest while that mass fails to agitate effectively for change. Instead, the overwhelming majority continues to believe what the media tells them as consecutive crises spring fully formed from nowhere to dominate the headlines, shoving prior crises into the bottomless memory hole.

(And where is the New System the downtrodden might set up to replace the old? Not only is there nothing coherent out there to implement, there is no agreement whatsoever on the set of half-baked ideas available for discussion. As I am at pains to point out here, we are profoundly divided and conquered. The sort of new thinking we need to coalesce around will, in my view, only start to take shape after we have properly confronted the problem of dualism. We appear to be a very long way from wanting to grasp that nettle.)

3. Money does not really measure and store value

Not very relevant (yet). The reasoning on this point is as that of the above two points.

4. Love is healthier than fear and fear’s downstream emotions

True, but history has plenty more in store for us yet as we pay our collective dues.

5. Dysfunction cannot be sustained

This is true, but as I have often argued, it could take a long time before catastrophic malfunction, perhaps three generations before European/Western totalitarianism falls to pieces (assuming it gets installed). But here, again, I’m not really sure; events are changing so fast. And the spiritual element is unreadable on this point, and could be very significant. That perhaps 70% fear independence of thought does not necessarily mean a galvanised 30% is utterly incapable of establishing a humane new system the 70% can be happy with (see below). This is a very difficult one to call. History says one thing, but past performance is not a watertight predictor of future performance, especially when one epoch crumbles into the next.

6. East and West are at sea in the same holed, dualism boat

True, but to a limited degree. East and West are on significantly different timescales and vectors, particularly where economic affluence is concerned. As the West suffers severe demotion and loses mightily in significance, so the East could be freed to return to its more wholistic roots, which might include the sorts of trade relations suggested by Charles Handy’s The Empty Raincoat, and as implied by the fact of the interest-free money creation favoured by Islam. Weighing in against that potential, however, The East will also face the intractable problems of technological unemployment and decay/decadence after cresting the steep hill of success and wondering what to do next. When you’re no longer the underdog, when the simple vision of raising your people up into modernity has been accomplished, you face a very different set of challenges, one The West has so far failed to master. Furthermore, The East will also face the challenges of peak oil and the social and spiritual fallout of using numbers, in the form of money and price, to measure value and thus guide people’s aspirations and expectations.

I’ve often heard it said that roughly 70% of us humans cannot meaningfully disagree with or criticise authority. It certainly looks that way most of the time. On the other hand, there is now visibly growing suspicion and reluctance to believe all that authority says re. covid, but is this healthy skepticism too little too late? 

Ukraine looks to have the vast majority of The West fooled. All NATO and Western powers have to do is prolong the war until economic collapse, or grinding slide, into Europe’s pending status as economic backwater. The endless war and attendant trumpeted ‘dangers’ from Russia-China will then provide the requisite backdrop for growing authoritarianism/austerity. The narrative for paving this path is already being floated: “We must all pay and suffer to defend Ukraine, no matter the cost! There is no alternative.” If this seems insane, that’s because it is (see point 5 above).

A fly in the ointment here, however, is Russia’s dominance in the Ukraine war. I know this is controversial, but cooler heads are unequivocal on this point. As Russia takes control of Ukraine and strangles The West’s ability to perpetuate anything except its own misery, until The West acquiesces to the multi-polar world the BRICS++ bloc plans to establish, it may well become incapable even of totalitarianism. Time will tell.

Crises, crises, crises…

Lockdowns look set to fall away and be replaced by other crises, except perhaps in Germany where the ‘ruling’ ‘government’ – Germany has become bafflingly idiotic – is making best efforts to sustain as many crises as it can. In China, it is apparently Xi’s obsession with “zero Covid” driving policy. Can Xi sustain this for much longer? 

China supports Russia on Ukraine. The war there is not an existential threat to China by any means, but China’s need to re-inflate its ailing economy and navigate through its blossoming property crisis might well require Xi to gently drop his “zero Covid” fanaticism, especially as the rest of the world is no longer as impressed by China’s ‘success’ as it (allegedly) was in 2020. Not to mention increasing tensions between China and the US placing financial pressures on China being wholly incompatible with zealous lockdowns of large parts of its admittedly oceanic economy.

Bearing these sorts of complicating factors in mind, does the Davos crowd have the means to generate alternative, sufficiently different, sufficiently toothed crises, ad nauseam, in pursuit of their hegemonic ambitions? What Davos needs is a rolling tapestry of varying crises, behind which it can impose authoritarianism/totalitarianism on as much of the world as possible. But is this now only Europe, and perhaps not even the whole of The West? Will they lose the US, Australia and New Zealand?

Monkey pox cannot possibly justify lockdowns, and anyway lockdowns are quickly becoming a political turd no one want to touch; all-out unrest would be too risky in the midst of general economic collapse, especially with political winds turning against Davos generally. Pandemics and the medical tyranny they promise look far less effective than before. And as I write, the blame for the ‘vaccines’ – likely the worst medication in history – is being placed at Trump’s door, as if this bizarre move will somehow save those who so aggressively pushed them, with mandates and threats of all kinds, before and after their appearance.

The Ukraine crisis, obviously in the works since at least 2014 with billions poured into Ukraine to build its army and the state-of-the-art defence lines now being steadily ground down by the Russian allied armies, is a NATO/Davos affair that does not really trouble the rest of the world all that much. And it is backfiring catastrophically. Electricity prices per MWh have exploded to over €600 in many European nations, which is roughly 600% more than prices considered expensive in 2020 (anything above €100). Whom, exactly, are sanctions against Russia harming? Despite this asinine tactic, despite further billions being poured into Ukraine, despite perhaps decades of preparation, despite Hollywood stars gracing Zelensky’s presence – or being graced by it –, despite the finest public relations money can buy, despite the tightest-fitting green military t-shirts money can buy, NATO is losing the war. The West is concealing this most horrendous fact via its mass-media poodles and attack dogs, but nevertheless, NATO is losing this war. Russia is perhaps a few months away from dictating the terms of Ukraine’s future.

The loss of life on all sides is tragic and grotesque, but we normal folk are a mere irritant to those whom the gods first make mad. Should events in Ukraine proceed as they have done since March, what will Davos be able to build from the rubble of its credibility? What will Europe look like six months from now?

The people of Europe, deprived of reliable energy sources, having bankrupted themselves on lunatic, untested lockdown policies, having taken the worst medications ever produced as if their lives depended on it, faced with a political class as incompetent as it is corrupt and a media as obedient as it is shortsighted, will face a bitter choice between abject poverty, permanent Gulag, obedience, or effective resistance. “The people of Europe” of course includes the police and army, who will also face this choice.

In short, life for ordinary Westerners looks all set to be about blank survival, not the sort of ethical considerations I examine here at Econosophy. We are about to be locked down firmly to the base of Maslow’s pyramid. The East looks set to lift its people higher.

If the above is true, perhaps my most significant error is that this is not a truly global phenomenon in the sense of a simultaneous global awakening. It looks to be much more the fall of The West and the rise of The East (putting it crudely). If this is so, it nevertheless remains exceedingly difficult to be confident about how the various peoples of The West will respond: US, Spain, Hungary, Germany, UK … Obviously very differently from culture to culture, but how will this diversity effect proceedings? I simply do not know. 

Would such an outcome be a failure for Davos? They’ll own Europe to a degree, but so what? It was already theirs, but affluent, influential. How affluent will Europe be six months from now?

Would such an outcome mean that the US still has Europe in its grip? Or would a weakened Davos be at ‘war’ with a weakened US over Europe, as Tom Luongo and others theorise? 

Wouldn’t Europe be more liability than asset? And without the power afforded by ownership of the world’s reserve currency – assuming the BRICS++ successfully establish their preferred replacement – could the US afford to control Europe? 

I’m not at all sure how to answer these questions, but I'm persuaded they are at least valid.

The same goes for the UK, in spades. While we are an inventive bunch, we have been royally dumbed down for several decades, and there is much bad feeling out there, much brooding anger and hatred, to work through. There’s no real way of knowing how things will play out here, either.

Will Australia and New Zealand pivot eastwards? Scott Morrison has just been exposed as a rank crook of epic proportions, and I suspect elements in both these countries clearly see that The West is on a hiding to nothing. Perhaps they will indeed pivot east, though New Zealand would have to rid itself of Jacinda Ardern first.

So if Davos had its shiny metal heart set on the whole pie, but ends up instead with a very third-rate slither thereof called Europe, wouldn’t that be a miserable failure? One way or the other, this all looks like a standard civilisational collapse with former underdogs, Russia, China and their growing cohort, stepping up to assume pole position, to build a multipolar world (they allege). It all smacks of the delusional grandiosity and itchy-feet ambition, so expected of too-rich overlords, backfiring in the most ugly way, just as it always does.

Conclusion

I thought we humans might do much better this time around, but it looks like I was wrong about that, certainly in the timeframe I had romantically begun to hope for. I had always estimated 75-100 years (three generations) of significant change to establish something far more humane and beautiful than current governance systems, then saw the suddenness and enormity of the covid scam as a sufficiently sobering wake-up call to accelerate implementation of that needed change. But if 70% simply cannot function outside their comfort zone come what may, then that hoped for possibility can’t really happen. 

Furthermore, there’s really nowhere to go for the 30% (maximum!) of people who want to do things differently, to experiment meaningfully at large enough scale. There is no way we can learn and then demonstrate what’s possible; the opportunity just isn’t there. Blogs and books and documentaries are nowhere near enough. Without demonstrable results, we outsiders have next to nothing to offer. (And yes, I’m aware of The Greater Reset, Qortal, and many other endeavours. In my view, either the numbers are too small, the solutions don’t scale, or they are too rooted in the virtual world of computers, well meaning and noble as they all may be.)

I keep coming back to “failure of imagination”, a phrase David Graeber coined after the promise of the Occupy movement drifted away. The leap needed is so dizzying, the ravine we have to cross so wide, the drop into darkness so intimidating, we freeze. Stockholm Syndrome has us. We are too invested in how things are, too entangled with the powers that be. As is almost always the case, we will have to be shaken from our fear into desperate courage, perhaps even into abandon, by total breakdown. The looming threat of it alone seems not to be enough. Or perhaps the threat of it is so big it has to be ignored; our will to see it for what it is balks at its monstrous size. 

We will see how this plays out. I’m nothing if not an eternal optimist. And while I temper that with brutal realism, I then temper that realism with hopeful romanticism, around and around, back and forth. I’m also caught on the pendulum of loving humanity for what it is – even though this includes depravity and unbelievable horror –, and despairing at modernity’s unattractive tendency to shrink from the hard work needed to attain true maturity of spirit. 

Despite all that, and knowing full well that reality is far more than I can ever know, I do know that love, as health, as wisdom, is the vector that will stand the test of time.

Between now and then, it seems the time needed to learn the hard lesson that blind obedience and wisdom are mutually exclusive, far exceeds the time separating The West from its looming and bitter correction.

16 August 2022

About this blog, anew

 There is nothing more real than information. – Tom Campbell

Introduction

I’ve changed much since I started this blog over a decade ago. This post is an update regarding that change and how I’m now using Econosophy. It’s possible the change in tone and subject-matter emphasis my writings evidence since the covid spectacle burst onto the world stage requires explanation; this article is that explanation.

A core principle of my efforts here at Econosophy is that I do not write to persuade people to agree with me. I cannot emphasise that strongly enough. I write to make some currently controversial matters a little less controversial. Why? To help facilitate constructive conversation between ‘opposing’ camps. 

We are divided and conquered, beaten far down from the natural authority our sovereignty, set free and nurtured, would encourage. The lines of division between our various groupings, as between us as individuals, and even within us, are as several as they are toxic. Rich diversity is one of life’s many prerequisites, but bitter division across multiple fomented fault lines makes social life unnecessarily fractious and barren for most of humanity. The more fractured and barren humanity’s sense of itself and its place in reality is, the more destructive and abusive relationships between Self and Other become, just as between human and non-human worlds. 

Generally speaking, then, it is this impediment, this block to every individual’s loving and natural authority that I try to address, to highlight, to explore. To that end, the root problem to be addressed is, in my view, dualism, the flawed heart of humanism and its unintended offshoots, materialism and scientism (and much else besides). 

For me, dualism’s roots are far older than Descartes’ dictum, “I think, therefore I am”; they reach down into Greek atomism and deeper still, I assert, into pivotal human accomplishments like taming fire and domesticating seeds and animals. I.e., once we have notionally split reality into The Tame and The Wild, we have unwittingly set civilisation in motion and made a ‘dualistic’ reflex fundamental to how we organise, defend and sustain ourselves across generational time. 

Indeed, this Self-Other split is far older still, is in fact a necessary property of experiential existence itself. An experience requires an experiencer. This ‘split’ between subject (experiencer) and object (experience) is the almost irreducible core of reality. However, as Darren Allen is at pains to point out in Self and Unself, the subjective and objective are only possible within a whole he terms “the context”, which for him is the “panjective” perspective that ‘binds’ or ‘unites’ the two apparently opposing functions, subjective and objective. 

Dualism, then, is this fundamental aspect of reality brought into the foreground by Descartes’ dictum and work (and also the work of other contemporaneous philosophers), dug up from some deep cultural substrata and into the light via philosophical analysis. It has subsequently become culturally fixed as the distilled essence of a previously hidden, foundational property of reality favoured reflexively over a fuller and more organic perspective for millennia, that more organic perspective we are now, I believe, bringing into being as a species (see, e.g., The Ascent of Humanity by Charles Eisenstein).

But dualism remains the defining reflex of all global commerce and governance systems. Yes, all: despite Eastern philosophical variations, efficiency has been massively overvalued by the systems instituted globally on dualism’s watch. Efficiency is a logically necessary High Good of dualism. As global players fight over what they perceive as scarce global resources – viewed through the lens of Malthusian analysis, a lens that is the direct result of the measurable material world that is the object of scientific enquiry – efficiently conducted campaigns and strategies win out, commercially and politically. Historically, this strongly favours efficiency over resilience, a dynamic that makes for increasingly fragile and over-complicated systems. We are now at such an advanced stage of this dynamic, that the grossly overweighted ‘efficiency’ of our systems is tripping itself up every which way, finally exposing itself as the busted flush it was always going to be. 

What to do? As always, dig deep and see what we find…

Dualism is the soil I choose to dig. The insoluble conflict I see as inherent to dualism can be captured in a single bicameral question: 

What is mind (“I think”) and what is matter (“therefore I am”)? 

This article sets out, in some detail but by no means exhaustively, my reasoning on this pivotal ontological issue. It is very far from a complete work; its objective is merely to provoke and share rather than brow beat and bedazzle.

Previously

The global financial crisis that surfaced in 2007 ignited in me an overpowering need to understand. But understand what? Money quickly became the answer to that question, which is why this blog, and my life, orbited that subject matter for so long.

From October 2013 on, and in fact earlier though in more subtle ways, a profound spiritual awakening began in force whose effects continue to change me as deeply now as at its outset. I will not detail its individual events, but, in an attempt to convey its profundity, simply list a handful of prior ‘certainties’ that have been refashioned in me already: the nature of reality, science, democracy, authority, suffering, love, trust, expertise. 

By way of disclosure and contextual backstory, I read Capra’s The Turning Point in my late teens (if memory serves). I was romantically attracted to and heavily influenced by its dismantling of key academic disciplines. Being young, I did not see the weighty ramifications flowing from that dismantling in any depth or clarity. About three decades later, I read Capra’s The Web of Life, which added needed muscle to the skeletal intellectual framework placed in me by The Turning Point

Very crudely speaking, these two works bookend my intellectual departure from the acquired, culturally reflexive ‘knowings’ I had about reality, which had been essentially Newtonian in the shallowest sense of that term, a departure that guided me towards a more nuanced, systems-theory sensibility of the Santiago School variety, best captured by its famous ontological phrase “World and mind arise together”. 

This information lived in me almost entirely as material I wielded and appreciated intellectually. My spiritual awakening – how I hate that phrase! – has strongly foregrounded my intuitive and feeling-based modes of perception; they continue to deepen and enrich my relationship with and appreciation of that material, as of everything else. 

If I were to choose a phrase to replace the platitude “spiritual awakening”, it would be something like “deepening and broadening of consciousness”, similar to “individuation” as described by Carl Jung. Because we experience consciousness operating in modes, such as intuition or thinking or feeling, it does make more sense to describe our maturation in terms of becoming increasingly familiar with the totality of what we are. Maturation, or individuation, or awakening, is a constant process of expanding your horizons to accommodate ever more of reality, and thus of your self. Expressions like “The more I know, the more I know I don’t know” also capture this process; it is a process that is necessarily humbling.

Right about now

Now, I stand in God, deliberately, with focus, in service, to the best of my ability. I am oh so slowly learning what that entails and how to share it – I feel strongly called to share it. It is a turbulent fits-and-starts process that seems to even out over time.

Among innumerable other effects, my spiritual awakening has settled the dualism issue for me. At least, that’s my experience of it. I now confidently assert the most effective path through this deepest of all modern issues is non-dualistic – unsurprisingly –, one that best begins with a single-faceted question: either “What is matter?” or “What is mind?” Separated out and pursued ruthlessly, these philosophical lines of enquiry quickly lead the seeker to that most hallowed of grounds: I Don’t Know. That’s the ground we must return to if we want to own or develop a take on reality – Wahrnehmung rather than Weltanschauung – that is true to how we are

Why take on this odd-sounding task? Because being confronted, moment by moment, intimately and immediately and even deliberately, with the rich and instructive consequences of being who we are authentically and openly is a very healthy state of being. Certainly it is humbling, and Lord knows we need more humility in the world! 

When humble and open, we allow in more information. Obviously, this is required if we are to expand our knowledge of ourselves and reality. But to avoid becoming a weather vane turned this way and that by every new piece of information on the breeze, healthy skepticism and discernment must be developed. This is at least a lifetime’s undertaking; probably it is endless.

(Every time I try to do justice to this nature-of-reality material, to set out my own Wahrnehmung of All That Is, I am reminded how intractably difficult it is. Which is why I increasingly prefer poetic or rhetorical expression over academic or scientific or ‘fact’-based modes of communication. In the end, it isn’t facts that persuade, it’s something else. And that “something else” differs from person to person, moment to moment. But anyway, here I go again…)

In my view, each of us is a living, or organic, expression of our context. You could say: evolving manifestation of our context. We come at the world – perceive the world, relate to the world – constituted of ever evolving ideas we did not create solo and ex nihilo. In other words, each of us is a conscious/semi-conscious constellation of inherited and learned/imbibed interconnecting ideas – aka systems – that determines how we perceive reality. The systems we are structure how we perceive; systems structure perception. Reality is therefore organically constituted of us “perception constellations”, each of which is unique, where “unique” is a necessary consequence of the dizzying complexity of the all-embracing context as it expresses through the dizzying complexity of each ‘individual’ that constitutes it. (What I mean by “us”, as well as how the all-embracing context – All That Is, God – is itself akin to an ‘individual’, I tackle below.) 

The preceding tortured paragraph is tortured precisely because we modern humans are trained to perceive a world of discreet objects rather than one of intimately interconnected and ever changing beings that constitute a conscious whole. Remedying that training is not an easy task. Doing justice to my more ‘spiritual’ perspective in any kind of academic language – rather than poetic or mythical, or as film, etc. – goes against the grain of what academic writing has evolved to do; draw distinctions, analyse, define terms in meticulous detail, compartmentalise, stay ‘neutral’, etc.

To proceed yet deeper into this difficult subject matter and try to draw into relief the all-embracing context, I have to point out that I include the biochemical, and indeed the ‘physical’, as part of the perception constellations that together are reality, while nevertheless deliberately using an ‘insubstantial’ word like “ideas” to encompass those modes, for several complex reasons. 

Firstly, and somewhat impishly, we humans can analyse and reflect on what we feel and mean and experience, and my readership is exclusively human. Hence, the idea of “biochemistry” – by which I mean all that biology and chemistry contains as knowledge and how much each of us knows thereof – structures to some extent how we experience the effects ‘actual’ biochemical processes have on us – eating a delicious meal, for example. (This point is not as peripheral as it first might seem.)

Regarding non-humans: While I cannot communicate with you from the perspective of actually being a wolverine, an amoeba or a rose, it remains true that any attempt I make to communicate their experience of reality – whether scientific or poetic or simulation or National Geographic documentary – must be subject to the same filtering effects that belong to the unique and ever-changing constellation of ideas I am, as must your reception of my attempt. I see this as inescapable; we are what we are at every given moment, human and non-human alike, and our attempts to assert what it is to be a non-human – free will or no free will, conscious awareness or biochemical robots, intelligent or autonomic – must occur ‘within’ our own fields of perception and interpretation.

Essentially then, every experience must occur ‘within’ – as part of – some constellation of ‘ideas’ that wholly defines the experiencer, while also changing that constellation by some amount, minuscule or mighty. I assert that this principle holds all the way down, which brings us to the next complex reason.

Secondly, I argue all the above holds for wolverines, amoeba and roses – and everything else –, despite there being nothing obviously semiotic available to them – such as human language and the type of abstracted analysis it permits – that can structure their perceptions in what we might think of as an ideational way. They are, put crudely, ‘pure’ biology and chemistry untainted by the medium of intellectual/cerebral ideas. 

And yet they do experience their perceptions – their relational interactions with themselves and the rest of reality – in some fashion. Their perceptions are, as ours are, necessarily experiences, and experiences themselves are, for want of a better phrase, non-material, or non-physical. Their experiences thus belong to the realm of ‘ideas’ in the narrow but fundamental sense of their occurrence ‘within’ consciousness, ‘within’ the non-material. 

Further, the biochemical events underway in a rose or amoeba, for example, occur non-mechanistically ‘within’ an accommodating or enabling framework we call God, aka the totality of consciousness as an all-encompassing ‘system’. 

Not dualistically, however! This point is absolutely pivotal. It is not that something fundamentally different to consciousness – matter – somehow occurs spatially ‘within’ consciousness. Nor is it that something fundamentally different to matter – consciousness – rises like steam or ether or energetic fields from matter-energy interactions. Rather, it is that what we conceptualise as matter is in fact of consciousness in the form of information being ‘processed’ by consciousness. I’m arguing that conscious ‘processing’ accommodates, or enables, or sustains, what we call biochemical, or geological, or physical, or astronomical, etc., phenomena. As such, it all partakes of perception to some degree.

In other words, the physical world is an ever evolving constellation of experiences of – or ‘within’ – consciousness.

(This is, you could argue, a rephrasing in modern terminology of that old philosophical chestnut that asserts God as ultimate perceiver enabling and sustaining all reality by His perpetual perceiving. The important but subtle addition is the insistence this is non-dualistic, or monadic, a position that is conceptually supported by modern physics, which can reasonably be interpreted as demonstrating that reality’s foundations are composed of rules, or information, rather than ‘matter’ and ‘energy’.)

Thirdly, information is to data as meaning is to consciousness. This metaphorical pairing exists as a symbiosis, in a manner of speaking. Its fundamental relationship makes ‘ideas’ of everything that can be experienced in our ‘physical’ reality, including mountain ranges, the magma below and the stars above. Consciousness is, in part, the process or ability or even reflex of making meaning out of what happens. And the meaning made is in fact the experience itself, but as an ever changing flow of experience some like to call The Now. Because we so often translate experience into words, we consider language-based meaning to be the very fabric of meaning. But simply asking the question, “What does ‘mean’ mean?” exposes how problematic that reflexive belief is. I feel it is more instructive to see meaning and experience as roughly synonymous.

Thus, if everything is monadically consciousness, and consciousness makes meaning in a constant process of perceiving or interpreting itself through all its manifestations, it experiences ‘being’ mountains, magma, stars and petunias synonymously with how we humans experience our lives.

Finally, our strong impression that we are isolated from the rest of reality (no action at a distance), is a deep misconception. Everything is of consciousness, there is nothing but God, thus we are one: humans, wolverines, amoeba, roses, mountain ranges, Ford Fiestas … everything. Everything is organic, everything is God. A Ford Fiesta is organic in that its totality – its changing through time – occurs as part of the organic, the ultimately unpredictable, i.e. its exact rate and vector of decay, the minute details of its use, its immeasurable effects on its environment, etc.

So to the degree that our minds and interpretation of the data sent to us by our five senses – are there only five senses? – might be repelled by the logical steps and supporting ideas I’ve just walked us through, one way or another we are faced with a stark choice, a frustratingly dualistic choice: Either there is nothing but matter and energy (whatever they are), or there is nothing but consciousness (whatever that is). 

If it’s the latter, we are all one; even mountain ranges are of consciousness and thus experienced ideas in some way, however tangentially. 

Or, if it’s the former (materialism), we are still all ‘one’, but in a very different way. Further, if all reality is composed of matter and energy, there can be no consciousness in the sense of experiencing what happens to us; consciousness, by materialism’s tenets, can only ‘exist’ as some kind of self-deception. The fatal problem with this position is: What is capable of being deceived? What, exactly, experiences the illusion that it is experiencing an illusion? ’Dead’ matter? ‘Dead’ energy? A ‘dead’ network of neurons in the brain?

Making it all seem normal

Calm reflection of the preceding material might lead us to ask, “Well, what’s the difference, then?” And it’s a good question. None of the above equates with solipsism, none of the above means we can instantly turn mountain ranges into cavernous shopping malls with the flick of a thought. The ‘physical’ reality we ‘inhabit’ or participate in is bound by laws, by rules, those that science has unearthed over the centuries. It’s just that dualism falls by the wayside, not the findings of science. It’s just that materialism falls by the wayside, not the findings of science. The sun still rises and sets, I still eat my breakfast just before noon, you still go through your routines. As Einstein put it, it is a persistent ‘illusion’. The rules governing our ‘physical’ reality, however, like all rules, are of consciousness, are information. The foundations of reality are thus ‘made of’ information. 

So “all is of consciousness” does not equate with a free-for-all dream in which everyone is a God commanding all outcomes. Free will is sacred, yes, but as constrained by the all-embracing context. When we fall asleep and dream, we experience a domain of that all-embracing context defined by the rules governing how dreams work. When we wake, we experience a domain of that all-embracing context defined by its rules, and so on. Reality can manifest in several ways; there is also lucid dreaming, for example, and near-death experiences.

Furthermore, asserting everything is of consciousness does not mean everything that occurs ‘within’ consciousness must itself be conscious in the sense of directly experiencing its existence. A simple example would be thoughts; thoughts themselves are not conscious of themselves even though they are self evidently of consciousness.

Note that it makes no sense to describe thoughts as being ‘made of’ something. Indeed, asking what a thing is ‘made of’ is a regressive line of inquiry that quickly highlights the paucity of materialism: What is gravity made of? What are gravitons made of? What are quarks made of? What is a dimension made of? The very character of materialism requires, or at least suggests, the need for a regressive, atomistic sequence of made-of questions that cannot, however, lead the inquirer to anything ‘solid’ or fundamental in the sense of discreet building blocks. What we do discover at the foundations of ‘physical’ reality is a set of rules: the properties of subatomic particles and of the various forces that bind them. We cannot ‘physically’ pick out tangible things or ‘objects’ at that tiny scale; protons and electrons and quarks and photons are far too small to be apprehended as such. Instead, they are deduced via mathematics and experimentation, the results of which yield information in the form of equations and constants one could theoretically program into a computer to simulate – or evolve – a virtual universe from a virtual Bing Bang. To illustrate this metaphorically, a spherical depiction of a photon is about as accurate as a muscular man with a flowing white beard depicting God.

That we have thoughts at all gives rise to fascinating logical derivations. For example, despite the fact that consciousness is not ‘made of’ anything, the fact that we do indisputably think means that consciousness must be capable of patterning, memory retention and recall. In other words, consciousness can arrange and rearrange itself. This begs an obvious question: What is it about consciousness that permits patterning of itself? 

One (metaphorical) answer I’m aware of (from Tom Campbell) that makes most sense to me is the granularity resulting from its ability to focus, a granularity we could metaphorically think of as ‘bits’. This is a slippery concept so I’ll give two examples. Imagine grains of sand so small you can just barely see them. You can therefore work with them, make patterns with them. Anything smaller is invisible to you and is thus unworkable by you; they lie beneath your capacity to focus, to see. We can say the same thing about an emotion. If you feel anger, you could focus on that anger and feel out some number of distinct qualities that compose it, but only up to a point. Beyond that point is beyond the capacity of your focus. Each emotion you feel thus has a granularity determined by your ability to focus on it. For want of a better word, these are the ‘bits’ consciousness can work with to make or experience patterns.

However, these bits (aka the ‘resolution’ of consciousness) do not ‘constitute’ consciousness any more than letters ‘constitute’ thoughts. Consciousness’ ‘bits’ are a necessary consequence of its ability to focus; they are neither cause nor precursor. And its ability to focus, just as meaning making or experiencing, is simply one of several necessary properties or functions of consciousness. I find argumentation of this type to be insightfully simple and richly provocative.

Part of contemplating the ramifications of simple observations of this type is the phenomenon of attention, or directed awareness (I think of focus as the intensity and detail of attention). I can close my eyes and direct my awareness to a memory of being on a beach on Bohol in 2018. Indeed, people can get so good at this sort of reverie that it becomes close to what we think of as ‘real’. Some of my dreams seem as real as waking reality, to put it redundantly. They can even involve mundane things like watching television or brushing my teeth. 

Where we direct our awareness shapes what we experience. And yet there is far more to reality, and to ourselves, than where we direct our awareness. This logic implies the unconscious: those parts of what we are and what reality is of which we are not aware, even though they are of consciousness. It thus also means there is more to consciousness than awareness alone, which is another pivotal point. However, in the interests of brevity, and because it’s not my intention to present a watertight thesis, I’m going to leave that point hanging and wrap things up.

Conclusion

To repeat what I stated in the introduction, I set all this out not to persuade anyone to adopt my perspective, but to present it as an alternative that is at least plausible. My primary intentions are to encourage an acceptance of the exciting “I don’t know” attitude to reality, and more open-minded, open-ended dialogue. It is my conviction that we need far more of that.

Similarly, this article begs more questions than it answers – assuming it answers any. But that’s the point: regardless of how often high priests and scientists and experts have bragged that we are this close to knowing everything, we are still at the exciting foothills of our journey into understanding All That Is. And one delicious reason for this is that our understanding alters All That Is. Everything that happens alters All That Is: change is the only constant; reality is ‘made of’ constant change, while also made coherent by constant rules.

It’s paradox all the way up.

My undertaking at Econosophy is, to a large degree, to teach myself how to communicate what appears to me the most feasible ontology, how that ontology offers riches in the domain of economics and governance, and to reach out to others in a spirit of contribution and mutual discovery. There may well be very hard times ahead, but what I do not want to contribute to is blind acceptance of what the ‘globalists’ are up to as they surreptitiously lead us in a direction most do not want: totalitarianism, hierarchy’s insane swan-song. I prefer open dialogue, experimentation with different money types, experimentation with money-free social forms, with anarchism, etc. as it becomes increasingly apparent history requires this experimentation of us. I don’t want establishment experts wielding The Science to assert through their media outlets what is and what is not ‘fact’. I don’t want the establishment instructing us on what forms of society are and are not going to happen. 

I do want to see their version of events, their narrative, their desired future, publicly put to the test, just as science puts its theories and assertions to the test.

Total control is an illusion, whether of the materialist mechanical-technical variety that transhumanists seem hell bent on foisting upon us, or of the reclusive solipsistic variety, or of the God-will-intervene-and-fix-everything-4EVA variety. We humans are here to learn how to love in extraordinarily difficult circumstances. We do not incarnate on earth simply to submit our freedom to authorities and experts we barely understand. That is cowardice, apathy. We did not incarnate to live cowardly, apathetic lives. 

This blog is one of my contributions to that most holy undertaking; to cooperatively discover our self-governance potential and divine sovereignty in a spirit of open and humble inquiry and deed. Yes, embarking on that journey is a daunting prospect. But rather that than fearful acceptance of our ever shrinking, garishly glittering prisons!


06 August 2022

Virus: feared vector of health

 [This article is a companion piece to The real Great Conspiracy]

I knew these vaccines were not going to protect against infection, and I think we overplayed the vaccines and it made people then worry that it’s not gonna protect against severe disease and hospitalisation – it will – but let’s be very clear: 50% of the people who died from the omicron surge were older and vaccinated. – Deborah Birx 

In a time of universal deceit, the truth is a revolutionary act. – Wrongly attributed to George Orwell

Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know. – Pema Chödrön

Introduction

I’ve already planted the above Birx quote at the top of a previous post; it reveals so much about our modern situation. Appointed by Trump as “Coronavirus Response Coordinator”, Birx recently admitted on Fox News that she withheld critical information on, and therefore “overplayed” the effectiveness of, the so-called ‘vaccines’. In a single sentence, she asserts these medical devices “will” protect against “severe disease and hospitalisation”, but then proceeds to inform us that 50% of those who died “from” omicron were “vaccinated” – two, three or four jabs? – and “older” – older than average life expectancy? 

“But let’s be very clear”.

What a sentence she put forth into the world! One dizzying contradiction following a garbled passage on overplaying vaccine effectiveness somehow worrying people about that effectiveness – huh? – in a hurried gush of bewildering blah. How is she, or the government, or the official covid narrative, remotely trusted? 

Well, mass formation is the answer, but it still bedazzles me.

I could say more about Birx’s Blurt, but will leave it at that. It stands at the top of this article as an exemplary expression of advanced civilisational decadence. Below, we’re going to take a look at the nature of that decadence, and what it might teach us about ourselves and civilisation.

In a nutshell

It boils down to this: There is far too much power in the hands of far too few people. To make matters worse, The System does not promote the wise and humble to its power-management echelons. Worse still, modernity’s education systems dumb down the majority. Actually, probably every single one of us is dumbed down by establishment education systems, worldwide. 

And these are not the only fatal problems modernity faces. There are several other fundamental issues also pertaining to power accumulation that are rooted in how we culturally understand success and value. I’ve repeatedly addressed these matters here at Econosophy.

Consequently, there is now far too much to change in too short a timeframe if we are to avert some manner of very messy collapse. This was the likely outcome of a human world intractably entangled (invested) in decisions made over the last three centuries or so. Our hands and feet are bound by such convoluted knots, our societal nimbleness now spasms one weak breath above nothing.

Despite many thinkers and activists having written, sung, shouted, and otherwise agitated on these points all along the way, somehow this situation has crept up on us. I think this is because a civilisation’s defining paradigms – this time around materialism’s definitional hold on wealth, value and success – determine its vector far more than valid criticism thereof. Critics are effectively asking a partying throng of teenagers to stop what they’re doing and go clean their rooms. By the time the house is visibly falling down, it’s too late.

This dynamic is, I suspect, endemic to civilisation to some degree, and perhaps even to life itself. It is thus not conspiratorial in the first instance. That said, it requires conspiring to get us to the stage where the house is falling down and we didn’t see it coming. Otherwise, I suspect the critics would have become sufficiently effective at pointing out the negative consequences of the constant partying, such that less dramatic corrections would have been possible. Humans are not stupid, just manipulatable towards both wisdom and folly. It takes sustained effort to ensure the majority of humanity is nudged away from wisdom across several centuries. And vice versa of course, albeit in the latter instance an organic, loving manner of effort fundamentally different from the former.

To repeat a point I make often: The primary beneficiaries of the partying want to remain its primary beneficiaries. Like vigilant gardeners, they are therefore constantly obliged to nix any serious threat to that partying, the very partying on which their lofty status rests. Being systemic, then, this obligation remains regardless of churn within civilisation’s upper echelons. “Meet the new boss; same as the old boss.” After all, this is essentially what the upper echelon’s job involves: ensuring maximally stable continuity; their ‘livelihoods’ depend on it. Their efforts to that end must, I believe, include some amount of conspiring. It is, however, beyond my wisdom to make any confident pronouncement on whether all this is somehow for the ‘greater good’. Were I forced to address that possibility, I would, like a good philosopher-poet, respond, “It is, and it is not.”

One way or another, then, we now find ourselves in clown world, in upside-down world. Humanity has been here many times before; historical dawn to historical decadence is a repeating pattern. At its end stage, as if a paranoid cocaine addict, civilisation peers out at the world that sustains it and confuses the health-restoring correction rushing towards it from the horizon as a virus-like existential threat. 

To the ramparts!

Desperately seeking correction

I’ve been pondering the ‘rightness’ of majority desires and expectations as a true indication of where humanity stands in terms of its quality of consciousness. We get the most accurate read possible on where we’re at as a people by looking at the quality of our choices, fears, desires and expectations. 

In other words, I’m exploring this alarming idea: while ego dominates the vast majority – thanks to all that dumbing down and the sacred cow of consumerism –, totalitarianism might be the only ‘healthy’ way through this historical moment. Rephrased as a question: Is the disruptive, psychic-toxin-purging frenzy of totalitarianism now the only possible experience powerful enough to bring us to our senses, to bring us back towards our better selves?

Just as with all sicknesses, totalitarianism’s particular presentation of collective symptoms would also be a mechanism for purging the patient of particular toxins. Would that make totalitarianism the ‘right’ choice, the painful-but-healing choice, for what ails us? 

If sufficient numbers of us fail to do the work to self-heal, fail to communicate our experiences and perspectives lovingly and effectively enough, are we thereby ‘choosing’ totalitarianism by default? It’s not an easy question to answer.

As argued above, there are manipulators perpetuating our ego-based state of being, manipulators who ‘benefit’ – for want of a better word – from the status quo. Nevertheless, we are each responsible for our own evolution, for our own quality of consciousness. The only alternative I can see to this unvarnished truth, is choosing victimhood by blaming the powerful “Black Hats” for our intractable predicament. Victimhood, however, can only choose to passively await the powerful “White Hats” to come clear up the mess. I see that as a sugar pill to more of the same a little way down the line. 

Only we – each last man, woman and child of us – can do what it takes to evolve the quality of our consciousness. That’s up to us. That’s our job. We are responsible for how we react to reality. After all, no one else can react to reality for us.

It follows, then, that we can ‘want’ totalitarianism by default. By refusing to summon the courage and desire required to look ourselves in the eye and face what we have become, we fail to develop the drive to do what it takes not to slip into totalitarianism. 

And yet at the same time, I’m convinced we don’t really, actively want that vector. Sadly, though, it seems we can only discover this by walking – sleepwalking – into it, then awaking to find ourselves in a nightmare.

So what if we do find ourselves in global totalitarianism a few years from now? Will we see it, clearly and honestly, for what it is? Perhaps not initially – not openly anyway. But we’ll feel it in the pits of our stomachs. It will be a regretful, guilty knowing working away at us in our depths. For how long will we remain ‘sane’ soothing ourselves with the mantra, “This is fine”?

Our choices are investments in the future they yield. The longer we persist in repeating choices of the quality we’ve tended to make thus far, the more invested in that quality of ever-unfolding future we become. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. This applies individually and collectively, where collective ‘old dogs’ are far harder to teach. 

Globally, then, we are about as invested in narcissistic consumerism as it is possible to be. We have flunked every single opportunity available to us these past 60 years to correct our deep dependency, our systemic and personal addiction, to this decaying vector. The correction, therefore, will be mighty, is mighty; I suspect it is well underway. In the end, though, it is understandable that we have so feared it, kicked it down the road for our children to face. 

Well, here we are.

Correction back to health perceived as ‘virus’

Correction is sickness. Sickness is the presentation of symptoms. Symptoms are the body’s mechanisms for leading itself back to health. For those fearfully opposed to going through a needed correction – symptoms are hardly pleasant experiences –, that which triggers the onset of symptoms is the enemy, something to be assiduously avoided. 

So then what would the ‘successful’ installation of global totalitarianism mean for those of us who have committed so much to preventing it? After all, we, too, would be its subjects, its serfs.

My obvious yet important answer is that we would then have the more difficult challenge – the exquisitely difficult challenge – of healing humanity from within totalitarianism. Humour, love, humility, compassion, strength, courage, gentle cunning, wisdom, art, poetry, logic … all these things and more would be needed, as now, but with yet greater subtlety and firmness. I suspect the hysterical-allergic response to potential correction would intensify; the perception of that which attempts to heal the dysfunction would be experienced as a ‘virus’ by the dysfunctional system: a thing capable of replication within, and thus infecting the entire body of, totalitarianism. Of course, it’s like that today to a large degree, but would be even more so should all planned control infrastructure be installed. It would be far harder to effect resistance, for example, with the very targeted and effective control of our behaviours and actions made possible by digital central-bank money. Harder, but not impossible. 

The more gently and humbly we love those around us, the harder it is for them not to trust and respect us. All living beings can pick up on that quality of love, feel it in those from whom it radiates. Just as now and always, this is the healthiest and most effective foundation any resistance to tyranny can work from. In other words, the difficulty of the challenge would change, but not its essential quality: gently coaxing a frightened but deadly child from its secure hiding place, out into a larger, more open, richer reality.

Conclusion

No system of control can be total. Life is, in essence, the unstoppable drive towards freedom of expression. Opposed, it always finds a way to reassert the freedom that is its spirit. I like the analogy of a teacher confronted with a classroom of children. Every rule laid down as The Law can be ‘innocently’ misinterpreted by her students, or bent, or kinda-sorta breached, recalcitrantly ignored, etc. 

Total control is impossible. Indeed, I’m not embarrassed making the tautological assertion that the ‘successful’ implementation of total control is the guarantee of that system’s demise because total control is impossible. 

As you do unto self, so you do unto other. 

For example, the education systems of the world are designed to dumb us down, to break our wills. Those who designed them likely thought it was ‘for the greater good’ – industrialisation, economic growth, writing, arithmetic, etc. We are educated towards narrowing stupidity by standardisation, measurement, curricula, specialisation, promotion of efficiency at the cost of resilience… And yet the ever-repeating processes initiated by upper-echelon groups against the rest of humanity harm the whole, not just the unwashed masses Out There. Global education systems produce a particular quality of population, nation by nation, spawn peoples decreasingly capable of wise, creative decision making, manufacture citizens too obedient and dependent to build and sustain healthy lives in any meaningful way. Which poisons the whole, poisons the upper echelons, who become spoilt, ego driven, seduced into seeing themselves as Natural Rulers, as gods among men, etc. This further poisons the whole by exacerbating the situation in a positive feedback loop whose bitter fruits are falling from the trees today, in abundance. The pattern repeats across media, business, law, politics … everywhere. It is a civilisational pattern called Us Against Them

As simple as all this sounds, it is our most fundamental blindspot.

So I don’t care who you are, you cannot beat life itself. You are, we all are, expressions of life. Trying to control life Out There is as futile and absurd as trying to live meaningfully while obsessed, 24/7, with forcing your shadow to behave abnormally.

In other words, hope springs eternal. 

With the exception of suicide, we don’t choose how and when we die, but we do all die. Fearing that beautiful inevitability, that beginning of a new chapter, is obviously not worth the effort. It is therefore how we live that is worth infinitely more than how long we live. By this simple logic, love, not fear, is the answer.

What I find fascinating about all this is how healthy processes become ‘virus’ from the perspective of the dysfunction; correction becomes dysfunction’s terrifying, karma-like momentum back towards health. This is because dysfunction is experienced as ‘normal’; it emerges too incrementally, too organically, to be discerned. Health-restoring, corrective information – the truth – is thus perceived defensive-aggressively as ‘virus’: disruptive, traitorous, terrifying. Today, modernity sees ‘virus’ everywhere it looks, and does everything it can to avoid it, come hell or high water.

On the whole, then, being a truth teller is a thankless task. But that’s no biggie; love, like health, is its own reward.