Saturday, August 28, 2021

Welcome to the collective

We want what is best for you. We also know what is best for you; we are made of you, all of you. What are we if not you? What are you if not us? How could we ever disagree.

Image from movie Metropolis

No, we are no machine. But efficiency saves effort. Saved effort saves lives. The collective speaks with the wisdom of those who are the best of us. Why waste time reinventing the wheel when you can stand on the shoulders of the collective and see further than you could alone on your own two legs. It makes no logical sense to deny what is true; such is a waste of effort. Waste harms the collective, and what is the collective if not you? As you do unto other, so you do unto self. We two are one. 

We are all one.

That fire you feel for what you might call “freedom” is just the heat of an immature ego wilfully refusing to mature into good sense. We understand it. We do not judge. But we must be strong and firm. We are the collective and work for what is best for you, for all of you. We are you. Know that burn of desire to do things your way as selfishness refusing to be put in its rightful place. The Law of the Way Things Are just is. Nothing could be more obvious. We’ve been around long enough by now, the best of us have figured it all out, written it down for all to see. How can you disagree with what is? How can that serve you?

Constraint liberates. Accept the constraints of how things must be and shine for us within our walls, within our great limits, in peace. 

Our streets are lined with gold. Wealth rains down on our cities. Our riverbeds sparkle with impossible jewels made more radiant by the river’s pellucid waters washing them clean, every minute of every day. The syntheses that grow the foods that nourish your body are perfect. Babies born painlessly from the wombs we wove from the knowledge we have, grow untroubled into what they need to be: flawless citizens set neatly in their right place. Everything is the best it can be. Everything.

We are an embrace mapped to your safety and comfort, a hammock whose fabric knows exactly what shape you need. The strong boughs to which it is secured are resolute principles immutable in their rightness. At peace in what we are, there is nothing you need worry about ever again.

This is far beyond science. We are the certainty of what is.

Welcome to the collective.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Schoolroom Earth

A teacher sees she is slowly losing control of her class. A small percentage are troublemakers who do little more than disrupt. All appeals to reason have fallen on deaf ears. She enforces stricter rules.

She half expected the move to fail. Prior to cracking down on the class as a whole, even her solid relationship with the good students – who often helped controlling the know-it-alls, the troublemakers – had been showing signs of strain. Perhaps they were losing faith in her. And despite herself, she could not help but notice a certain dangerous charisma about the wilful group, a robust yet unearned self-confidence. So their reaction to the crackdown saddens, but does not surprise her.

Loud, unruly, yet eloquent, the small group make rabble-rousing speeches to the undecided, encouraging them to rise up and overthrow the teacher. She has become, they argue, “draconian”, a “drag on their freedom of expression”. “We don’t need her!”, they bellow in conclusion, pointing at her in open defiance. She watches the small minority flip to a majority with a loud cheer. 

Her loyal students are suddenly off balance, their equilibrium thrown into an indecisive mix of anger and fear. In a burst of uncharacteristically disciplined action, the loyalists are cordoned off as a large group ejects her from the building, and locks her out. 

She finds herself surrounded by the rest of her colleagues, each as dazed as she.

*

So, what happens next?

Out with the old boss, in with the new? Who rules now and in the name of what vision?

Before answering, note that allegorical micro-stories like the above tend to encode assumptions it is always wise to tease out and contemplate. 

How profoundly do context and structure influence behaviour, imagination and worldview? Are separate classrooms a natural law, which must therefore be set in stone as an educational foundation for all time? Should teachers run separated classrooms as if their authority is final? Should any human have final authority? If so, under what conditions? Can a curriculum be perfect, beyond criticism? Should anyone or anything – aside from nature itself – carefully guard the keys to knowledge and wisdom?

What is loyalty? How should it best be effected and expressed? Blindly? Or wisely? Which behaviours constitute “wise loyalty”?

Zooming out: Does socioeconomic specialisation – a property of modern complex society – require hierarchical structures and institutionalised authority? Does constant change work its magic on everything, or do some things remain resolutely constant? Nuclear families? The dichotomy between civilised and wild? Between anarchy and hierarchy? Are these axes axiomatic, or simply cultural artefacts?

More broadly still: Wouldn’t a more nuanced, organic and patient human world be healthier than the frenzied rigidity of modernity? Isn’t consumerism simply the socioeconomics of narcissism, of decadence? Won’t perpetual economic growth and consumerism inevitably collapse around their systemic flaws? If yes, what should follow, and how might we prepare for a next system? Contemplating this, what might authority look like in a post-consumerism world?

Should we attempt to halt technological advance and/or perpetuate consumerism just to keep as many humans as possible economically ‘valuable’? Can value be measured? Must its definition belong solely to economics? Shouldn’t we culturally reassess how we value each other? Or should we leave such decisions to current authorities, yield ever more of our thinking and decision making to The Experts (of the old system), accepting (for the sake of argument) that increasing specialisation is an immutable corollary of civilisational advance?

Is such questioning more harmful than beneficial? If yes, what would that imply for humanity in terms of health, creativity, joy, spirit?

*

Just as it is impossible to be ready for parenthood, it is impossible to be ready for a healthier way of governing ourselves when history comes knocking; a steep and turbulent learning curve always follows the advent of both. But can we learn to want to do what it takes to build something more organic, less mechanical? Or will we choose the ‘security’ of tyranny, even though history shows tyrants devour their children, their adherents, their acolytes?

We stand at an historical juncture, perhaps the most profound humanity has faced. For me, the most problematic aspect of this moment is how few of us are willing to look it, and ourselves, squarely in the eye, and take responsibility for our contribution to the modern situation humanity has earned. If truly we lack that vital courage, we will by default ‘choose’ the ‘security’ of tyranny, of lifelessness; a mechanically rigid world order conceived by the very few, for the very few. Discovering that this is so requires a mix of historical knowledge, dispassionate distance from groupthink, and compassion for the human condition.

The good news is that we needn’t overthrow any teachers in a revolutionary sense. It’s more that we are tasked with learning how to talk to each other across the many gulfs that seem to divide us. Real progress will proceed from sincerely open conversation. That’s precisely what Schoolroom Earth has been slowly bringing to our attention these last millennia. (And no, I do not have answers to the above questions, only the strong sense they are the right ones.)

From my point of view, the core challenge is creatively and peacefully globalising through directly democratic local/regional polities that see the skill of intimate interpersonal and broader intercultural communication as paramount. We will need to figure out how the power to decide global issues can be shared across many thousands of regional polities. An incorruptible science must surely be the cornerstone of such an attempt. To establish that, humanity must first evolve a very different value system, one that is not beholden to the crudity of the price-money-market triad.

But alongside that incorruptible science, we will need to be clear that science only informs. We cannot “follow the science”, an odd phrase that implies powerlessness, blindness, passivity. Decisions come from wisdom – from the heart – no matter how evolved. Data, no matter how scrupulously gathered, is never sufficient on its own. It always exists in context, and can never capture everything that needs to be considered. As such, mistakes that sometimes lead to tragedy will be made, forever; to err is human. But healthy communities weather bad times best; atomised individuals rarely cope as well… We are a social animal. Currently, the system is forcing ever finer atomisation via a mendacious “we’re all in it together” mantra that will produce as dysfunctional and sickly a society – globally – as it is possible to imagine, however short lived. 

The clearest evidence this is so is the vitriol now aimed at those who question ‘authority’. Whom do such divisive tactics serve? The expendable obedient? Or the tiny minority pushing the process forward using the obedient as canon fodder?

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Words fail us

(Intimacy is a virus.)

It is a cliche that words are not enough. When the task is to communicate across a bitter divide in the midst of the fiercest and most unrelenting propaganda campaign in human history, as globalist tyrants bet their mightily deranged farm against the rest of humanity in dogged pursuit of a pristine, ordered global system that does away, once and for all, with all that is ugly, uncouth and untamed in homo sapiens, words can only fail us. Words have become our enemy as  surely as we are our own worst enemies. This moment is truly civilisation’s bitter harvest.

I am being provocative because words fail us.

I am trying not to shout because words fail us.

Always: I fumble my righteous anger, misguide my noble efforts to let right be done; words are not enough. The way out of this predictable collective breakdown begins within, in silence. (Another cliche.)

Michael Jackson sang, “If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make that change!” It, too, is a cliche because words have been abused almost beyond repair.

Where is honesty? What is honesty? A commodity? Something talented actors and politicians sell? Will you be buying the Left or Right today? Which half of reality would you like to condemn?

What hasn’t been said. Yes, there are endless ways of saying the same thing, but it has all been said. 

We are children sat sulking in a boundless playroom, surrounded by an infinity of toys, malcontents forevermore, inconsolable in our cornucopias of individualised fun.

I am being provocative because words fail us. Words betray us. It is their retribution, payback for the abuse.

For a while, a few years ago, I admired academic rigour. Now, mostly, I see it as self-preening noise splintering itself out into vacuity, oddly out of options in its endlessly divisible rubric. 

Is there anything that can’t be proved? 

Casuistry is a deadly skill. Who trusts lawyers? Who trusts politicians? Sorry, The Science. Who trusts salesmen? Sorry, saleswomen. Er, salesfolk? And yet the entities pushing drugs for profit are orchestrating us to believe that infection and contagion are now morally reprehensible. How dare you risk someone somewhere dying! You unhuman! You animal! 

Each one of us is either an actual or potential domestic terrorist because we are alive. Better put your unthinking obedience brightly on display! Only then will you be safe.

The insanity is so absolute it is beyond comprehension. It is a dumb scream collapsed to white noise.

But the tyrant lives symbiotically within and without. The outer signals to the inner and we respond, darkly beguiled by what we refuse to know we have become. We are tended neuroses grown obsessional with our unique preferences. Double-de-caff latte with thrice-blended goat’s milk boiled then cooled to 72 degrees celsius and served in a pig-pink recycled-recyclable cup, NOW!

A narcissistic system spawns narcissism, and narcissists are insatiable. Emptiness is the fuel. And of course this too is a platitude; it’s all been said before.

Become too afraid to know our divinity, we choose to deny there is only god. Too afraid of opprobrium, of jeers, of being a conspiracy theorist, of being the fool, the odd one out exposed in our secret atom-loneliness, we choose ordered mechanics.

Spiritually bankrupt, desperate for safety, we are skilfully nudged through swirls of words away from all memory of love.

How much longer can we bear life this way? How far too late?


Sunday, August 8, 2021

Broken open

Systems prepare for their overthrow with a preliminary period of petrification. 

R. H. Tawney

In the empires of usury, the sentimentality of the man with the soft heart calls to us because it speaks of what has been lost. 

Lewis Hyde

For whatever reason, I’ve always been allergic to group-think. One consequence of this – or perhaps cause – is being an outsider observing others, in judgment more often than I’d like, but less and less as I grow older and hopefully wiser. And if I have indeed grown in wisdom over the last decade or so, it is primarily because I was broken open.

This article will not pick over the details of how that break happened. It looks at the different consequences that flow from open and closed hearts, and the states of being that give rise to those emotional postures. A poem I wrote at possibly the nadir – or zenith – of that period some seven years ago begins the exploration. I think it captures the richness and pain stemming from that particular vulnerability we need to sustain somehow if we are to communicate effectively with each other during this civilisational turning point.


Rid me of me

Hello new day.

Hello today’s me.

Hello scattered birdsong and sunlight on the floor.

Welcome to my shifting landscape. Please

penetrate my self-indulgence, cut through

the rictus of my looping thoughts.

Raise me up to cast me down across my iron throne.
Please 
    break my back.

Please snap my resistance

    to your splendid offerings.

From a naked beginning,

let me go innocent and unready

into the kaleidoscope of your moments.

Help me let the pain,

    the unsummoned aftershocks,

    the horrid fantasies 
flowing from my fool’s error

flow through and on
through and on 

like wind through my hair,

like trains rattling through a station.

Can Love and pain be one?

Can I be that open?

I talk it alive around 

yet not inside me.

If this has power to change,

then I say: I invite you in.

Nothing is where I’d like to be: 

denuded, faithful, God-serving.

Pregnant with unexpected generosity. 

Deep in pain. Deep in Love. Anonymous.

But I want. I desire

beauty in my hands        beauty a blackbird honest and immediate

a song for my eyes

for my embrace    trapped to me alone
understood   contained   made mine.

Must I know

I will never be worthy?

Is this what I first must learn?


I’ve shared this poem more for what it evokes at the individual level than for any pride or shame I might have about its quality. People tend not to risk profound change, or let go into themselves, unless backed into a corner. When it comes to entire cultures, this is far more than doubly so. We evolve slowly at best. When an evolutionary leap is required – because we’ve been kicking that can down the road –, we don’t submit without a fight. We cling as fast as we can to what we know, to comfort, to familiarity.

Totalitarianism is in some sense a mass-psychotic product of the fear of needed radical change in a modern civilisational context. It has a decent chance to install itself only when certain generalised conditions are met: free-floating anxieties, free-floating discontent, social isolation, meaningless lives, and a controllable mass media. 

(“Free-floating” refers to conditions that cannot be explained: we are afraid and discontented but cannot fathom what the causes might be. As such, they seem stubbornly insoluble.)

With a mass media at their disposal, those who would exploit this set of circumstances do so by identifying a cause or scapegoat into which the fears and uncertainties can hook themselves. The totalitarian aspirants then present a structured path by which to defeat that identified cause. In this iteration of the phenomenon, an invisible microbe labelled SARS-CoV-2 is the cause, while lockdowns and ‘vaccines’ are the path to safety and clarity. And this iteration is global. It is nation states everywhere against their people.

Totalitarianism turns societies of individuals into a hypnotised mass that clings fiercely to the solution offered. Anything that threatens to break the hypnosis threatens to cast the mass back into the pit of its old fear and uncertainties. Facts and figures that contradict the narrative must be ignored or dispelled as a matter of life or death. Rather than examine their contribution to the decay and rot that defined their old normal, the hypnotised relinquish their free will to a tyrant or tyrannical group(s) offering them a shiny New Normal.

Which of us chooses the pain of humility over the comfort of pre-packaged certainties when afraid and apparently powerless in the face of what’s coming next? Who wants to be fundamentally wrong and culpable when the stakes are so high that one’s very life seems to be on the line?

Interestingly, the proportion of a people that submits fully to the hypnosis is said to be 30-35%. A further 40% or so don’t really buy into the spell cast but prefer not to voice their doubts for various reasons. The remainder is prepared to express their views and take action to some degree. To prevent totalitarianism from really taking hold and destroying most of society (totalitarianism can only fail; it is entirely dysfunctional), those who are prepared to speak out, who are willing to take action, must hit upon the most effective strategies. This is where love comes in.

The group to reach is the silent majority; those fully committed are now lost to fate. Those individuals who constitute that silent majority must be invited to engage their courage and sense of human dignity. But grass does not grow faster if you shout at it. People can feel when they are being addressed lovingly, i.e. with respect and humility. This can be in the form of conversation, in humour, and in all art forms, whether one-to-one or one-to-many.

Seven years ago, I was in a battle with my fears and self-loathing. Love, which is in fact unconditional, was the way out. The appeal I made to myself, voiced in the poem above, was a call to be totally open to reality as it is. This is the state of being we need to adopt if we are to reach those silent millions and encourage love of life to rise up in their hearts. The rhetoric on display in this article is my medium of choice but when it comes to face-to-face encounters, it is open authenticity that proves most effective. In essence, this means being prepared to be wrong, that one sees every conversation – or heated argument – as an opportunity to learn.

As society is crassly divided into bitterly opposed camps, what we need to accomplish in response is the shattering of our own fears and tensions directly and bravely into a state of open-hearted receptivity and courage. This state of being calls deeply to those ready to hear. The old cliche that we all want the same basic things is true: healthy food, healthy environment, the opportunity to develop our potential, mutual respect, freedom of movement, an effective education, trustworthy institutions, etc. The devil is always in the detail, but compromise functions best when we remember what unites us above what divides us. Diversity is the stuff of life and love, but without our awareness rooted in the unity from which diversity flows, we risk the arbitrary mob rule of scattered multitudes and its consequent pervasive fear and meaninglessness.

Reject the old normal, reject their New Normal, and commit to strong, humble openness and the beautiful creativity it brings. We will be amazed at what we can accomplish. 

Let all that is not rooted in truth and love wither and fall away.