Abandoned Projects

I have a lot of different projects I’ve not finished, but I never throw them away.

I know that even if I’ve lost enthusiasm for something, it will renew later. I’ve finished many things after allowing them to remain fallow for a long period of time. This is something about myself I have learnt, over the years. I stick with ideas and persevere with bringing them to fruition, but not by killing myself or forcing the work when it just won’t come. Patience is important.

Sometimes, you simply lack the requisite courage, temporarily.

Some things you make just don’t thrill you enough to finish them, then and there. There’s something missing you just can’t put your finger on, or the plan won’t gel in your imagination or else you realise you have to develop your skills further to do the work justice. For lots of reasons, I sometimes leave projects to brew and stew, while ideas to complete them percolate in my mind.

Strangely, I usually get on with something else, while I wait. Other works come quickly, without friction. It’s the damnedest thing.

Every now and then, going back to half-finished works amazes me, because seeing them again with fresh eyes often reveals that they were better than I thought, or at least a very promising start. You can learn a lot about yourself, your state of mind and the state of your artistic progress by reassessing frozen works in progress.

They also mark time. Your half-attempted works are like a diary of your artistic life. They remind you that your own life is finite and choices carry opportunity costs. You can’t do everything, all the time. It would exhaust you.

Occasionally, a work you abandoned just didn’t go right and is unsalvageable. Better to leave it in limbo, than complete it, only to find it is still unsatisfactory. Here’s where your taste can be very reliable. You can feel, before completing the work, that it would be still born. No sense in going all the way, with those ones. They’ll only diminish your body of work. It takes bravery and honesty to admit your artistic mistakes. There’s no shame in it.

There’s nothing wrong with making art for the fun of it. You don’t have to meet the expectations of external critics. They never need see or hear what you’ve made. Sometimes, you make things to please yourself and if you don’t finish them, or bring them to a high polish – well – there’s no law against it yet. It’s not compulsory.

Often, you can borrow from your own incomplete fragments, mash them together and get something remarkable. You just never know how your original artistic vision will morph and transform. You can surprise yourself.

There are few more satisfying moments than bringing a long ago stalled project to completion. I find the last bit comes in a rush, with a rare certainty about what to do to finish it. It’s like the assurance has built over time and finally reached a tipping point. Then, it’s released like a dam bursting. The flood is glorious.

I’ve found it’s best to harvest your creative ideas only when they’re ripe and ripening takes as long as it does, no matter how impatient you might be.

Yes, it would be nice to finish everything you start and it can drive those closest to you crazy, but the pressure to complete shouldn’t drive you crazy. I’ve seen unfinished paintings by Manet. They never will be finished, yet they still tantalise. You capture something of the artist’s method and approach in the raw sketch. You also wonder why this picture was never completed. Perhaps we’ll never know.

It’s your art. Take your own sweet time. You’ll be a better artist for it.

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Expressing the Inexpressible

About half the population of our planet cannot express their true thoughts and feelings, for fear of the consequences.

That’s the best estimate I could find. It’s probably higher than that. Self-censorship is rife.

They live under regimes that prohibit dissent, using violent means to punish transgressions.

They worry what their employers will do, in retaliation.

They don’t want to reveal any perceived weakness, for fear of their predatory competition.

They’re scared that family or friends will ostracise them (or worse).

If you find yourself in a position where you cannot express the inexpressible, even if you are able to find the right words, you can’t talk about the things you love, or which greatly trouble you. You may not critique the prevailing orthodoxy or propose alternatives. For the sake of order, you are required to remain silent and compliant. We obey.

Doubters and haters patrol everywhere. People have their block, unfollow and mute controls on a delicate hair trigger, willing to capriciously consign you to permanent oblivion for the most trivial of disagreements. People get perverse pleasure from trolling, or from adopting contrarian and deliberately obtuse counterpositions to things that matter to you deeply. They treat it as sport. Your competence and credibility are permanently on the rack.

Art can be a way to express the inexpressible with a modicum of plausible deniability. If it’s just a story, or a fiction, or a work of the imagination, you can make your point without personal attribution. Lots of artists use their art in this way. The problem is that there is an inevitable dilution of impact, as the ideas you hold most dearly are translated into something more anodyne, acceptable and palatable. What you think and feel is necessarily watered down, often to the point of becoming insipid.

Tragically, this fictionionalisation ploy only works if anybody pays attention to your art. For many artists, operating in a blizzard of information overload, where attention is scarce, summoning the courage to bare one’s soul, irrespective of the possible repercussions, can be a fruitless exercise, ultimately. Nobody notices. You express your inner most thoughts and feelings, but nobody cares at all. All the bleeding and gut wrenching was for nothing.

The up side of nobody noticing is that the peril is lessened. The down side is the terrible realisation that you’re alone and that thoughts you care deeply about are of no consequence to others at all. It’s a very isolating and lonely moment.

Another factor that makes it increasingly impossible to say what you’re really feeling is that the audience you address is invariably terminally bamboozled, in the main, because of cradle-to-grave gaslighting, propagandising and brainwashing. In their confusion, they’re just as likely to attack you savagely for your candour, rather than to listen and empathise. It can be like delivering your manifesto to a lunatic asylum. Clarity and quality of thought are generally low, so putting your deepest thoughts out into that intellectual swamp is unlikely to gain the reaction you hope for.

I think more and more of our deepest, darkest, but most sincere thoughts are largely unwelcome. There is no way to express them, without very negative reactions. You can no longer say your piece without misinterpretation and distortion. We don’t know how to talk to each other with openness, trust and unalloyed sincerity, any more. There is no soul to soul connection.

Your intellectual and emotional sovereignty is nowhere respected. People will shun and act censoriously toward you, rather than hearing you out. You’ll be typecast as gloomy and negative, causing people to run away in fear that your thinking will infect their carefully confected, rose-tinted point of view, like a virulent contagion. The art of reasoned debate, which requires the ability to temporarily hold two mutually contradictory thoughts in your head at the same time, is all but dead.

People no longer communicate in good faith. Liars will lie, knowing that you know they are lying, but being unashamed of their monstrous lies regardless. This has never been truer than it is in modern politics. Bare-faced lying has become a strange kind of arms race, with opponents seemingly seeking to tell the most outrageous lie, to better their opponents.

All of this leads to a weird kind of emotional constipation. When there is no psychological safety, you become hypervigilant, looking harried and hounded, when in truth absolutely nobody gives a damn about your ideas and perspectives. You can’t unblock the blockage and let it all out, because even if you do, you are confronted with the insignificance of your own inner life and identity. So, it all stays in your own head – unexpressed, but festering.

Can people live this way, over the long term? I don’t know. I wonder if it has ever been studied. It seems to me it shares much in common with solitary confinement, where there is nobody to hear your pain and anguish and no interaction with, or response to, your visceral howls. You’re in an invisible cage, with no way out and no relief.

So many people are living this way today. They keep up appearances at all costs, preening and curating their Instagram feeds, scared to death they’ll be found out to be human, imperfect, mortal, ordinary, anxious, lonely, misunderstood, worried and out of their depth. Realism is lost. Authenticity is fabricated. Everybody wants to look like they have it all together and like they know all the answers, but who honestly does? Anybody? They will only ever show you what they want you to see; very careful to never reveal anything else.

In so doing, they turn their backs on connection, mutual understanding, affection, solidarity, comfort, warmth, support and understanding. The show must go on. No wonder mental health is going down the pan. The worse everybody feels; the more they withdraw from each other. It’s a downward spiral.

You could, of course, say what you think anyway and be damned. It’s just terribly sad to learn that nobody is listening, even if you do.

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Art Smuggling

There’s something important about LP records that the inventors of the compact cassette, compact disc and streaming music services evidently failed to grasp. If they were to be believed, these music delivery formats had a single function – to deliver music. Sadly, this wasn’t all an LP record delivered and later formats singularly failed in these other vital functions.

The LP record was actually an art smuggler.

It brought art into suburban, middle class homes that wouldn’t and couldn’t have been there otherwise. On the basis of the music recorded on the vinyl disc, here are some other things that snuck through the doorway of your home – things that you wouldn’t have bought, were it not for the music:

1. Modern cover art – often paintings, conceptual photography or collage, of a size large enough to notice, when you entered the room. Always eye-catching and intriguing. Sometimes, the colour palette was the most immediately recognisable and memorable feature of the album.

2. Avant garde graphic design, typography and layout – compared to most other commercial printed material, which tended to be staid, utilitarian and conservative, this was fresh, distinctive, anarchic, playful, unusual and fascinating.

3. Glimpses of exotic places in album art photographs – transporting your imagination to a different place and lifestyle.

4. Fashion – the musicians were frequently pictured in the latest couture or street fashion trend.

5. Sheer bloody poetry – in the form of otherwise incomprehensible song lyrics, printed out in full.

6. Discovery, introducing you to other artists – the list of contributors often lead to discovering other bands and records that were in a related style.

7. Thematic wholeness – concept albums tied the individual songs together in a cohesive theme, conjuring an imaginary world that was far richer than a single song could evoke on its own.

8. Strange, beautiful music – extending the musical artform to bring you creative pieces that could never have achieved airplay, which you only got to hear at all because they were affixed to the same music delivery vehicle as the hit singles.

9. Insight into the artist’s process – listings of the gear that made the sounds possible, or studio photographs, all showed snatches and glimpses of how the music was made. Very inspiring to aspiring musicians.

10. Liner notes – frequently written by talented writers, they provided supplemental background information or whimsical tales that accompanied the music.

11. Immersive experiences – lifting the needle to skip tracks was an inexact science and carried the added risk of scratching and damaging the record permanently. You tended to let the music unfold and envelop you, a whole side at a time. Impatience was curtailed. Listening was more active.

12. Playful packaging – pull-out posters, panoramic gatefolds, cardboard toys, picture discs – there was often something to play with, while you listened to the music.

13. Visible signifiers that you belonged to a certain tribe – you could tell a lot about your friends from a cursory glance at their record collections. It often immediately revealed something of their hidden selves. Harder to do with playlists.

14. Admission to participation in a thriving artistic scene, by proxy, for a short while.

Somewhere along the line, the music industry asserted that we wanted compactness, convenience, robust sound quality and low cost above all else. I don’t think they were entirely correct.

We’ve more or less lost these companion aspects of art smuggling that LP records used to succeed in bringing to audiences. It was a better experience. You were more involved. There was more art in the package to delight you. It shaped your tastes far beyond your musical preferences and taught you that creativity was possible. These pieces of smuggled art helped to define you as a person.

Today, we have digital side channels like Instagram, which can deliver some of what record sleeves did, but the format is more constrained than album sleeves were and you have to search and seek for those artworks. They don’t come bundled with the digital music stream.

There were tangible artefacts placed in your hands, which persisted in your living environment for years. Today’s music is quickly consumed and forgotten, lacking context or any sort of permanence. Digital music delivery is different, but it’s not better.

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Waste

How much stuff gets thrown away not because it’s no longer functional, but because people no longer have a use or need for it, or they don’t know how to fix it, or how to get the replacement part for it? It’s otherwise perfectly good, or could readily be made so, but it’s thrown out anyway. How much gets discarded simply because its owner no longer likes it, or has no way to transport it to their next place? How much of the stuff that finds it’s way to landfill could, with a little love and attention, fulfill real needs for somebody else, if only they could be found? And when things are thrown away, where is “away”?

This is all wastefulness. Capitalists love wastefulness because they get to sell another one, without having to pay the costs of disposal of the previous one. But somebody pays. Someone’s life, health or environment is adversely affected by the waste. It’s just not the capitalist directly, or indeed the consumer that contributes to the waste. This is why there is planned obsolescence and why people don’t have the education, information or access to special parts, processes and tools to salvage stuff that is only slightly broken. Everybody thinks they’re getting away with it. Only, they really aren’t. Everybody is fooling themselves and each other. The waste is mounting. Waste is everywhere.

A vibrant Cooperative Movement emerged during the Great Depression, in response to unconscionable waste. Rather than see idle, unemployed men and women and their families starve, while factories remained at a standstill, unable to find anybody with the necessary cash to buy their products and while farmers were leaving fruit on the trees and crops in the ground to rot, or flushing thousands of gallons of milk a day down the sewers, because supply far exceeded demand, as measured by the money in people’s pockets, people self-organised. The real level of demand, as measured by hungry bellies and need, was the same as it ever was. The productive capacity was also still there, undiminished, but nobody was paying to mobilise it. Capitalism had failed them. All that had happened was the Wall Street casino was bust, taking money out of circulation. Untether the real economy from this made up money game and life could return to normal.

So people did, using the barter system, or trading their time and labour for the things they needed. Broken productive capacity was repaired and brought back into service, often by scavenging parts from other broken things. People, some 300,000 of them, found thriving livelihoods in mutual assistance schemes and cooperatives. Without investors, professional managers, government intervention and finance, they got back to work and restored their communitys’ standards of living.

My childhood experience of cooperatives is vivid. Our daily bread, our groceries, all our home wares, the fuel in our cars, books, school needs, the tools and building materials we required were bought from a cooperative, locally known as “The Store”. Just about everybody was a shareholder and it paid annual dividends, such was the prosperity generated. The cooperative extended a form of credit through a practice known as “lay by”, where you paid a small downpayment to secure the goods and they were held in your name until you could make the final payment to retrieve them. You didn’t buy bread, you bought tokens and exchanged them for bread on a daily basis. This prepayment scheme allowed the cooperative to buy the raw ingredients up front at better prices, because purchasing power was pooled. It worked.

When you needed to build a house or buy a car, you didn’t get a loan from a commercial bank. Instead, you sought a loan from the local credit union, whose funds were the savings of everybody you knew. There was no funny business and interest rates were favourable, because you knew this was a mutual support scheme, not a for-profit commercial enterprise. Overheads were kept scrupulously low and behaviour was exemplary, because nobody wanted to cheat anybody else. It wasn’t predatory. It was all of us helping all of us.

For decades, the city’s biggest employer, the local steelworks, had a less than acceptable safety record, with workers often killed and maimed, no longer able to work. The company washed its hands of these unfortunates and their dependents, not even paying for their medical care or funerals. At the front gates of the factory, the employees launched Newcastle Industrial Benefits, a fund paid into by the workers that acted as health insurance for the afflicted. My dad and my uncles were among the founders, outside the gates of the steelworks.

This fund brought decent standards of health care and poverty relief to workers and their families, if they were rendered sick or injured, or even killed. Everybody owned their health insurance fund. Profiteering was rare, because you were taking on everybody if you did. Healthcare providers had to look these working men in the eye, every day and everybody knew where they lived. Their children went to he same schools. You didn’t monkey around with healthcare charges like US hospitals and doctors seem to do these days. Everything was played with a straight bat.

These things are known as reciprocal economies and it appears to be a little studied and remembered aspect of economics, today. Reciprocal economies don’t obey the orthodox economic assumptions about people being self-serving, seeking only to maximise their personal gain. Mutual support systems that work tear the foundations of current neoliberal thinking apart, with concrete examples from empirical reality that comprehensively disprove and demolish neoliberal theory. Neoliberalism is bunk and we have the proof.

In the spring of 1932, in Compton, California, an unemployed World War I veteran walked out to the farms that still ringed Los Angeles. He offered his labor in return for a sack of vegetables, and that evening he returned with more than his family needed. The next day a neighbor went out with him to the fields. Within two months 500 families were members of the Unemployed Cooperative Relief Organization.

That group became one of 45 units in an organization that served the needs of some 150,000 people.

It operated a large warehouse, a distribution center, a gas and service station, a refrigeration facility, a sewing shop, a shoe shop, even medical services, all on cooperative principles. Members were expected to work two days a week, and benefits were allocated according to need. A member with a wife and two kids got four times as much food as someone living alone. The organization was run democratically, and social support was as important as material support. Members helped one another resist evictions; sometimes they moved a family back in after a landlord had put them out. Unemployed utility workers turned on gas and electricity for families that had been cut off.

The UCRO was just one organization in one city. Groups like it ultimately involved more than 1.3 million people, in more than 30 states. It happened spontaneously, without experts or blueprints. Most of the participants were blue-collar workers whose formal schooling had stopped at high school. Some groups evolved a kind of money to create more flexibility in exchange. An example was the Unemployed Exchange Association, or UXA, based in Oakland, California.

Noteworthy is Upton Sinclair’s campaign for California governor in 1934. Sinclair was a kind of Ralph Nader of his day. He based his campaign on a plan he called End Poverty in California, or EPIC, which was based in turn on the self-help cooperatives, UXA in particular. It would have taken the state’s idle farmland and factories and turned them into worker co-ops.

The idea of a genuine economy shorn of Wall Street contrivance touched a chord. Some 2,000 EPIC clubs sprang up. Sinclair won the Democratic primary, but California’s moneyed establishment mustered $10 million dollars to pummel him. EPIC died with his campaign, and the idea has been associated with quixotic politics ever since.

According to Wikipedia, EPIC “was a political campaign started in 1934 by socialist writer Upton Sinclair (best known as author of The Jungle). The movement formed the basis for Sinclair’s campaign for Governor of California in 1934. The plan called for a massive public works programme, sweeping tax reform, and guaranteed pensions. It gained major popular support, with thousands joining End Poverty Leagues across the state. EPIC never came to fruition due to Sinclair’s defeat in the 1934 election.”

Specifically, “the plan called for state seizure of idle factories and farm land where the owner had failed to pay property taxes.The government would then hire the unemployed to work on the farms and at the factories. The farms would then operate as self-sufficient, worker-run co-ops. EPIC also called for the implementation of California’s first state income tax. The tax was to be progressive, with the wealthiest being taxed at 30%. The plan would also have increased inheritance taxes and instituted a 4% tax on stock transfers. EPIC also included government provided pensions for the old, disabled, and widowed. To implement EPIC, Sinclair called for the creation of three new government agencies: the California Authority for Land (CAL), the California Authority for Production (CAP), and the California Authority for Money (CAM). CAL was to implement the plan for seizure and cultivation of unused farm lands. CAP was to do the same for idle factories. CAM meanwhile was to be used to finance CAL and CAP by issuing scrip to workers and issues bonds for the purchase of lands, factories, and machinery.”

“EPIC faced major opposition by the Republican Party and major media figures. Opponents of EPIC “organized the most lavish and creative dirty-tricks campaign ever seen—one that was to become a landmark in American politics” involving “turning over a major campaign to outside advertising, publicity, media and fundraising consultants for the first time.” Notable among these opponents were the heads of the major movie studios in Hollywood. This was largely due to Sinclair’s proposal to hand over idle movie studio lots to unemployed film workers to make movies of their own. In reaction, the studio heads threatened to move film operations to Florida, and deducted money from employee’s paychecks to give directly to the campaign of Sinclair’s Republican opponent for governor, Frank Merriam. In addition, two of the state’s most influential media moguls, William Randolph Hearst and Harry Chandler used their papers to solely cover Merriam’s campaign and to attack Sinclair.”

Money is a lubricant that enables work to be done and value to be created, through trade and economic activity. When an economy is starved of lubricant, because it is being hoarded, in off-shore bank accounts, then the real economy grinds to a halt, for want of those trading tokens. It turns out that any trusted, agreed upon token will do. Even scrip.

One of the best-known applications of the stamp scrip idea was applied in the small town of Wörgl in Austria in 1932 and 1933. When Michael Unterguggenberger (1884-1936) was elected mayor of Wörgl, the city had 500 jobless people and another 1,000 in the immediate vicinity. Furthermore, 200 families were absolutely penniless. The mayor-with-the-long-name (as Professor Irving Fisher from Yale would call him) was familiar with Silvio Gessell’s work on alternative currencies and decided to put it to the test.

He had a long list of projects he wanted to accomplish (re-paving the streets, making the water distribution system available for the entire town, planting trees along the streets and other needed repairs.) Many people were willing and able to do all of those things, but he had only 40,000 Austrian schillings in the bank, a pittance compared to what needed to be done. Instead of spending the 40,000 schillings on starting the first of his long list of projects, he decided to put the money on deposit with a local savings bank as a guarantee for issuing Wörgl’s own 40,000 schilling’s worth of stamp scrip. He then used the stamp scrip to pay for his first project. Because a stamp needed to be applied each month (at 1% of face value), everybody who was paid with the stamp scrip made sure he or she was spending it quickly, automatically providing work for others.

This was a way to prevent hoarding and increasing the velocity of money in the local economy. You can liken it to a game of pass the parcel, because nobody wants to get stuck with having to pay for the stamp, at the end of the month. If you spend it before the charge is due, it retains its face value. The lubrication that money serves as, in an economy, was recycled much more rapidly, in this experiment, facilitating much more economic activity. When people had run out of ideas of what to spend their stamp scrip on, they even decided to pay their taxes, early.

Wörgl was the first town in Austria which effectively managed to redress the extreme levels of unemployment. They not only re-paved the streets and rebuilt the water system and all of the other projects on Mayor Unterguggenberger’s long list, they even built new houses, a ski jump and a bridge with a plaque proudly reminding us that ‘This bridge was built with our own Free Money’ (see photographs). Six villages in the neighborhood copied the system, one of which built the municipal swimming pool with the proceeds. Even the French Prime Minister, Édouard Dalladier, made a special visit to see first hand the “miracle of Wörgl.”

It is essential to understand that the majority of this additional employment was not due directly to the mayor’s projects as would be the case, for example, in Roosevelt’s contract work programmes described below. The bulk of the work was provided by the circulation of the stamp scrip after the first people contracted by the mayor spent it. In fact, every one of the schillings in stamp scrip created between 12 and 14 times more employment than the normal schillings circulating in parallel. The anti-hoarding device proved extremely effective as a spontaneous work-generating device.

Wörgl’s demonstration was so successful that it was replicated, first in the neighboring city of Kirchbichl in January of 1933. In June of that year, Unterguggenberger addressed a meeting with representatives of 170 other towns and villages. Soon afterwards, 200 townships in Austria wanted to copy it. It was at that point that the central bank panicked and decided to assert its monopoly rights. The people sued the central bank, but lost the case in November 1933. The case went to the Austrian Supreme Court, but was lost again. After that it became a criminal offence in Austria to issue “emergency currency.”

Does this sound familiar? Only a central authority saviour can help people who are not allowed to help themselves locally. And as all economists will point out, when there is enough demand, supply always manifests in some way. Even if you have to import it. During the Anschluss of 1938, a large percentage of the population of Austria welcomed Adolf Hitler as their economic and political saviour. The rest is well known history.

The current global economy is dragging ordinary people into precarity and penury once again, as inequality, plutonomy and neoliberalism gather a galloping pace. Democracy itself is being deliberately dismantled to enable it. Strongman saviours, who seek to divide the world into the deserving and the undeserving, forcibly taking everything from the undeserving in order to enrich the deserving as their zero sum solution to people’s economic woes, are once again in the ascendant. I like cooperative solutions, like the ones discussed above, much better. They are less wasteful.

Activism of this sort, which actually is a benign species of applied anarchism, is something that most thinking people can, in good conscience, support. It even gives their lives meaning and purpose, because the cooperative nature of the work helps people directly and lifts them out of terrible circumstances. It’s fundamentally tied to generosity and gratitude – two very powerful human motivations.

The wealthiest capitalists always destroy and subvert these grass roots, self-help, mutual aid initiatives. They prefer to see their fellow man immiserated and destitute, rather than lose command and control over their economic profits and property. They’re remarkably cruel and callous, as human beings and have no place in any community of mutual benefit. They’re outcasts.

History shows the scale of the resources and sheer skullduggery that the wealthiest have employed to smash, weaken, subvert or absorb cooperatives and mutual societies, for their own personal profit. It happened to The Store, our cooperative local merchant, our credit union and our industrial benefits insurance in my home town. Even the cooperative bakery was closed. They were all privatised or run into the ground by commercial predators. Sometimes the names of the organisation remained, but their complexions changed as they began to favour the narrow interests of private shareholder profit over community well being. We no longer held a stake in these operations and they no longer cared what happened to us, as long as we kept paying. They uncoupled from their communities.

Only a change of heart and mind can affect a movement in our collective imaginations. We persist with the current foolish, failing economic games only because the narrative about a better, more fruitful, more prosperous, less wasteful future is insufficiently vivid and hence compelling. Despite the history of experiments that worked, the information has been suppressed and forgotten. Capitalists are necessarily dismissive of its unarguable successes for the prosaic reason that they want to maintain their unearned privilege at all costs – costs which they often don’t have to pay.

The only way to compel people to care is to exclude and ostracise those that don’t. We have to begin shunning, not serving obsequiously, those that act in ways that increase waste and immiseration. There have to be personal consequences for destroying the quality of life enjoyed by everyone else. It can’t remain an unpunished crime.

Above all, our current economic system represents a colossal waste of human potential. What a waste!

Sources:

Some of the above was abstracted directly from these better-written articles:

https://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/5000-years-of-empire/what-history-books-left-out-about-depression-era-co-ops-20180914

http://www.lietaer.com/2010/03/the-worgl-experiment/

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Chasing Perfection

Here’s an interesting tale. As a guitar player, I’m like most of my guitar playing brethren. We’re all on a seemingly endless quest to perfect our guitar tone. I found something very close to ideal, which works reliably for me. It is heavily reliant on a particular overdrive pedal. If I hook everything up, with delay and reverb added, I get a tone that is both versatile and dynamic. It inspires me to play better.

The problem is: where do I go from here? What happens if and when I get bored with my perfected tone?

Here’s what I did. I took the key element of my sound – the overdrive pedal – out of the equation. I didn’t hook it up at all, leaving just delay and reverb. Now, I have a new, interesting, clean sound to explore and it’s encouraging me to play very differently.

As they say, a change is as good as a holiday.

The lesson in this is that you should always explore. You can surprise and inspire yourself, if you do. I know I can always set up my perfect tone, any time I want. In fact, it will probably sound fresh and exciting again, simply because I have broken the habit of always relying on it. The new clean tone is another I can fine tune and perfect. Then I’ll have two. Do you see how that works? It’s like expanding your palette or repertoire. Indeed, because different guitar tones encourage you to play differently, it expands your musical repertoire as well.

Avoiding staleness and the blocks that occur, when you run out of ideas, really is as simple as dismantling that aspect of your artistic process that you have striven to perfect. Break it and see where else that leads you. Don’t get stuck in a habit just because it works. Breaking habits and developing new ones is very good for your art, mind and soul. It rejuvenates creativity.

So, if something is working reliably well for you, have the courage and curiosity to try something different and new. You won’t regret it.

Perfection isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

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If You Want…

If you want to be a better

  • Composer
  • Song writer
  • Music producer
  • Rhythm guitarist
  • Bass player
  • Band member
  • Drum machine programmer
  • Dancer
  • Drum machine designer
  • Musician
  • Empathic human being

then takes some drum lessons.

I’ve started taking drum lessons and I’m wondering why I waited so long. Maybe I didn’t think I could do it.

Feeling the beat, rather than counting it and creating a tension between a straight and a swung/shuffle beat is key to creating a groove that gets people feeling the music and dancing.

It will also loosen you up, as a person, while teaching you how to keep disciplined time.

And…you get to hit things! Hard! (and softly).

It will teach you how to create musical space and how to fill it.

There are few better ways to learn these aspects of music than seeing from the perspective of a drummer.

It always pays to upgrade your musicianship and drumming will challenge your mind and physical coordination in ways you rarely encounter, otherwise. I’ve never met any adult that wishes they took fewer music lessons as a child.

Drumming is hard, but fun hard.

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Is This the Life You Want?

There are people who spend their waking hours diligently making things awful. They’re “awfulisers”, in the words of cartoonist Michael Leunig. Their net contribution to human life is extremely negative and it undoubtedly would be better if we called these people to account and reined in their excesses. But we allow them to continue with their rotten schemes, because they’ve convinced us that there is no alternative.

He who controls the prevailing narrative controls the world and every awfuliser has an army of media awfulisers saturating you with their point of view, ensuring they manufacture your consent. Like naive, trusting, empathic infants, we grant them our consent. This is all on us. Awfulisation is what we have permitted.

Awfulisation as Art

There is a new artform. Perhaps it’s a very old art simply enjoying a revival, but it seems new because of its reach, breadth, facility, technology and ideological underpinnings. It touches everything and everybody. Today, the chaotic manipulation of entire populations is being seen by some as their art. They see themselves as artists and deception and destabilisation of millions of people as their artistic work.

That artform succeeds for only one reason. People are endlessly manipulable, credulous, gullible, naive, impressionable and too infantile in their relationship to thought, truth and information to defend themselves. In other words, they’re sitting ducks.

They think they don’t have to do the hard work of thinking critically, reading widely, informing themselves, annealing their opinions against empirical reality or contributing to public discussion on matters of supreme importance to their survival and well-being. Instead, they think they can coast, intellectually, parotting things they skim-read in the papers, or which they glanced at on television. If they overheard it on social media, they take it for true and relay it like a zombie bot net. That’s not good enough. It won’t protect you against plutocrats determined to manipulate you into consenting to their maniacal schemes and there have never been so many plutocrats or mad schemes.

This essay is an open letter to everyone upholding infantile ideas. Grow up!

Awful Projects

The catalogue of maniacal schemes and those that uphold them is tediously vast, but they share a single characteristic in common. Every mad grand plan is, at root, infantile. It expresses a tantrum by the proposer. As such, each plan resembles childish games like “I’m the king of the castle and you’re not”, or “my gang is tougher than your gang”, or else they are Byzantine revenge plots. Playground games conducted at a global scale. We permit them. We endorse them. In not opposing them, we enable them. There are no innocent bystanders. Like playground spats, everybody is drawn in and involved, whether or not they claim it has nothing to do with them.

Here is a partial list of some of the grander infantile schemes and those that uphold them:

* The EU has been allowed to become an essentially neoliberal project, in which citizens must live in endless austerity, while paying tribute to private bankers as a first priority.

* The US has devolved into a neoliberal, neoimperial, neocolonial enterprise, which maintains discipline and control over its own citizens by predatory, surveillance capitalism and control over its conquests and client states through unprecedented violence. (https://www.truthdig.com/articles/how-to-create-a-u-s-backed-government-coup-for-fun-and-profit/ if you don’t believe me).

* The remains of the demographically-collapsing rump of the former Soviet Union, Russia, engages in last-gasp efforts at non-linear war for geopolitical relevance, where reality-affecting conflicts take place in people’s belief systems, via on-line disinformation, instead of on battlefields with guns and bombs. The destruction of European unity and the United Kingdom are strategic aims. Their ultimate goal is to turn the world into an oligarch’s kleptocratic playground.

* China thinks the road to global domination is through authoritarian, totalitarian control of every aspect of people’s lives and ideas, not through democracy.

* Japan believes prosperity comes from a cruel, brutal style of work that destroys lives and families. Nobody can ever truly enjoy what they earn.

* Middle Eastern regimes are omnicidal in their pursuit of territory and natural resources, without regard for the human resources consumed in the conquest.

* Australia remains wedded to the export and exploitation of fossil fuels, even while rising sea temperatures kill its gigantic coral reefs, extreme drought engulfs 100% of their most populous state and winter wildfires strafe the remaining vegetation. Winter used to be the wet season.

Maybe Nordic social democracy, for all its flaws, is the best plan for building well-being that humanity has devised, so far. Perhaps the achievements of the UN in raising literacy and reducing infant mortality lay some claim to helping people out of hopeless, grinding poverty and suffering.

All of these infantile, maniacal schemes are only possible because people let them continue. Using a mixture of subtle propaganda, fake news, disinformation, paid shills, sock puppets, bot nets, secret intelligence agency fun and games, and boardroom exploits, these schemes are green-lighted and resourced. Every one of them is effectively unaccountable and undemocratic. The will of the people is bypassed routinely, except when it’s invoked to support their insane narrative. Even then, the will of the people is invariably counterfeited, rather than honestly assessed and accurately measured.

The maniacs that push their maniacal schemes are not above lying, murdering, interfering in democratic processes, intimidating and defrauding. Their tame spooks work their clandestine ways diligently, for neocolonialism and modern day imperialism. It’s all hidden cloak and dagger shit, which they hate having exposed by legitimate whistle blowers. Scrutiny is unwelcome because they know that if people were truly aware of everything they’re doing, they’d shut their projects down overnight.

Consequences of Awfulisation

None of this would matter, if their mad schemes didn’t cause extreme collateral damage, but they do. People get hurt and die. These infantile schemes imperil the entire living world and global mental health. They result in epidemics of galloping Cancer and birth defects. We are overwhelmed by diseases of obesity and poor nutrition, metabolic disorders, autoimmune diseases and nervous system damage. Their incidental destruction results in diseases of poor sanitation. Manipulating the hard of thinking gives rise to reactionary violence. Learned ignorance, born of incessant propaganda, keeps everyone in the dark. We thus lose the ability to think for ourselves and hence, to save ourselves. These are fairly serious consequences for what are, at root, giant games of elite ego gratification. Most gravely, a backlash becomes inevitable.

Life expectancy is no longer rising, in the developed world. In Britain, for example, people are dying earlier because of what has become known as “shit life syndrome”. Things have become so awful that people, in what ought to be the prime of their lives, are killing themselves to escape it, or else being killed by the prevailing conditions. The more that awfulisation affects people’s lives; the more deaths. Follow this link for more about the consequences of making life awful for the majority of people: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/aug/19/bad-news-is-were-dying-earlier-in-britain-down-to-shit-life-syndrome

The awfulisers, for their part, don’t believe they have any effect on the future, or that they can change its course by not being awful. They behave as if the awfulisation that is plainly visible to anybody isn’t any of their doing. In fact, their plan to escape how awful everything has become is to leave it all behind them, somehow, and go somewhere else. Who knows where? For them, the future of technology is really about just one thing: escape.

Technology development has became less a story of collective flourishing than personal survival. They are preparing for a digital future that has a whole lot less to do with making the world a better place than with transcending the human condition altogether and insulating themselves from a very real and present danger of climate change, rising sea levels, mass migrations, global pandemics, nativist panic, and resource depletion. Taking you with them isn’t in their plan.

So, instead of addressing and reversing the awfulisation, they are fully focused on outrunning it, by placing bets on the technologies they think will do it. The future has become less a thing we create through our present-day choices, or hopes for humankind, than a predestined scenario we bet on with our venture capital, but arrive at passively. Some of their plans for doing so are straight out of a hallucinatory fugue.

The longer we ignore the social, economic, and environmental repercussions of awfulisation, the more of a problem they become. This, in turn, motivates even more withdrawal, more isolationism and apocalyptic fantasy — and more desperately concocted technologies and business plans. The cycle feeds itself. Awfulisation begets awfulisation. The more committed we are to this view of the world, the more we come to see human beings as the problem and technology as the solution. The very essence of what it means to be human is treated less as a feature than bug. No matter their embedded biases, technologies are declared neutral. The people that cling to this “survival of the richest” viewpoint are truly awful people.

You can read this whole dreadful story, described from first person observation, in this article: https://medium.com/@rushkoff/survival-of-the-richest-9ef6cddd0cc1

Awfuliser Enablers

In the face of these insane ventures, how do we, the people, behave? Well, we clobber whistleblowers. We prefer to shoot the messenger, rather than accept new information that challenges our ingrained, practised habits of mind. We’d rather die than change our views, so people that present truths, which cause us cognitive dissonance, are punished severely. The beautiful lies we like to believe must be protected at all costs.

People believe they have democracy, so they vehemently, vocally, violently uphold and support regimes that will never grant them any. They loudly defend rulers that ration their freedom in a miserly way. The most belligerent champions of capitalism, for example, have no capital and are vanishingly unlikely to accumulate any. We act against our own interests.

We have become expert at ignoring reality. There really are dark organisations, with concealed intentions, operating in plain sight. Corruption occurs in front of our faces, in broad daylight, but we pretend not to see it. We know they’re there and perhaps even grasp what they’re doing, but their stance is, “what are you going to do about it?” Our collective answer is, “nothing.”

We can’t even tell who is on which side, any more. Alliances and allegiances have become fluid and boundaries porous. Russian oligarchs collude with US billionaires in common cause. The American government, through its client corporation Google, builds a censored search engine to oppress the Chinese population. Can you tell who is excluded? It’s ordinary people – always. Our role is merely to consent, obey and comply.

There is no shortage of courtiers and servants seeking reflected power and wealth from obvious oppressors. What would happen if a significant percentage of journalists got fed up with spoon feeding lies to a trusting populace and decided to place truth and authenticity before income and prestige? What if the elite’s goons got tired of enforcing shit lives on other people who are just like them, except lacking their uniform and license to kill? Would the awful schemes survive the defections? It’s doubtful. The awfulisers simply don’t have the numbers.

Awfulisers are Small

The ridiculous thing about allowing awfulisation to take place is that awfulisers, when engaged in their awfulisation schemes, are not very numerous. Small numbers of awful people do disproportionate damage. A few determined, greedy, sociopathic smart-arses can destroy the quality of life of billions of people, through their actions. Were they confronted by the rest of us, they wouldn’t have the numbers to continue with their awful plans. Why don’t we?

Here are some selected historical examples of tiny numbers of people wreaking havoc in the lives of entire populations, many with fatal consequences that have continued far beyond the natural lives of the perpetrators:

* Aleksey Belan, a professional Latvian hacker, was able to gain administrative access to Yahoo’s entire email database using a trick email, which conned a Yahoo employee into divulging the access password. Using this spear phishing attack, Belan and fellow commercial hacker Karim Baratov were able to target and access the accounts of certain users requested by Russian agents, Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin. This Russian sponsored hacking, involving a tiny number of agents, compromised the security and privacy of 3 billion Yahoo email accounts. Here is an article about it: https://www.csoonline.com/article/3180762/data-breach/inside-the-russian-hack-of-yahoo-how-they-did-it.html

* In case you think Yahoo was the innocent party in this, the company deep scans your email contents for advertisers to target you. Again, a small number of people have written and deployed a tool that affects 3 billion accounts. Under new owners Oath, the scanning continues. Here’s the story: https://techcrunch.com/2018/08/28/yahoo-still-scans-your-emails-for-ads-even-if-its-rivals-wont/

* Robert Mercer and his daughter funded Cambridge Analytica, whose psychometric manipulation methods, at scale, are thought to have changed the outcome of key democratic processes that affect whole nations and global politics. This is still under investigation, but the evidence is accumulating. Here’s an introduction to the whole can of worms: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/18/what-is-cambridge-analytica-firm-at-centre-of-facebook-data-breach

* Today, thanks in part to the efforts of a single Virginia family, the Gottwalds, as many as 97 percent of Americans have toxic brominated flame retardants in their blood. Deeply poisonous, and linked to cancer, genetic damage, and behavioural and learning difficulties, the prevalence of flame retardants, here and around the world, owes to the fact that these chemicals have been placed in many of the objects of daily life. It’s in our homes, cars, and workplaces, even in our beds. Ironically, these chemicals are not all that effective at retarding flame. This situation came to be because the Gottwalds were more or less stitched-up by the leaded petrol industry and had to find a new way to sell their chemicals, or face bankruptcy. The Gottwalds keep a low profile – perhaps understandably, given that they’ve built their wealth by blanketing the planet in lead and flame retardants. The whole sordid story is told here: https://www.thenation.com/article/worse-than-lead/

* General Motors executives Alfred P. Sloan and Charles F. Kettering introduced tetraethyllead into gasoline, in an effort to sell more cars, since it allowed them to run their engines at higher compression ratios, thus increasing their power output – a competitive advantage. Unfortunately, they knew it was toxic and that it shortened the working life of engines. Cynically, they used this property to sell more cars (planned obsolescence) and didn’t withdraw leaded engines until legislation forced them to do so. Meanwhile, the population of nations with lots of cars suffered brain damage, reducing their IQs by several percentage points. You can read about the damage they wrought here: https://www.thenation.com/article/secret-history-lead/

* Volkswagen executives secretly added features to its diesel cars purpose-designed to falsify diesel engine emissions tests, resulting in additional nitrous oxide compounds and fine particulates entering the atmosphere. This is the air we breathe. People die due to particulate pollution (87% of those so affected) with the remainder due to ozone (13%) – a byproduct of nitrogen oxides at ground level. Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned and was charged with fraud and conspiracy in the USA. The head of brand development Heinz-Jakob Neusser, Audi research and development head Ulrich Hackenberg, and Porsche research and development head Wolfgang Hatz were suspended. Here’s the story: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_emissions_scandal

* Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), were discovered and commercially perfected in 1928 by Thomas Midgley Jr, an American engineer looking for a non-toxic refrigerant. Midgley began working at General Motors in 1916, under Charles Kettering (see above). Ozone depleting Freon and related chlorofluorocarbons nearly incinerated the planet in the 1970s, through runaway greenhouse effects, since the depletion of ozone causes far more solar radiation to reach the lower atmosphere. It also causes additional skin cancers, sunburn and cataracts. After being used originally as a replacement for things such as ammonia and sulphur dioxide in refrigerators, CFCs were discovered to be useful as a propellant in aerosol cans. We were all spraying the stuff into the atmosphere, in the name of pest control and underarm odour reduction. The harm caused is detailed in this article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ozone_depletion

* The sugar industry bribed respected Harvard scientists to shift the blame for heart disease away from sugar and onto dietary fats. Mark Hegsted, Frederick Stare and also Ancel Keys, all received money (and not very much money, compared to the harm done), via sugar industry executive John Hickson, to write fraudulent research papers that told this lie. The entire medical industry played along and still plays along, in part, to this very day. In fact, sugar is strongly implicated in many debilitating diseases and premature mortalities. It’s fuelling the obesity epidemic. Here’s what these fraudulent researchers did: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/13/well/eat/how-the-sugar-industry-shifted-blame-to-fat.html

* Mercury is known to be highly neurotoxic and its effects are permanent and cumulative, often fatal, yet magically it is claimed to be completely non toxic in dental amalgam fillings, or when used as a preservative in vaccines. How can this be? One may just as easily ask why fat was blamed for diseases caused by sugar. To the present day, the medical establishment is united in claiming that some types of Mercury are not the same as elemental Mercury, therefore completely safe for oral or intravenous ingestion. I don’t think we really know, I don’t believe it has been adequately studied and nobody cares about the deleterious effects of Mercury toxicity (long term, low level intoxication), just whether or not it kills you outright (and Mercury most assuredly can and does kill). There are vested interests only too willing to suppress the knowledge, if it is discovered to be toxic. See the above examples for documented cases of scientific lying. Here is some background: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercury_poisoning https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/mercury-how-much-safe Vaccines appear to work and save lives, so we need them, but harmful stuff gets smuggled in with them. Does that have to be the case?

* Aluminium is highly toxic in both the environment and in people. It’s a very reactive substance, which has no identified biological purpose in the human body. Again, we find this toxic metal in our kitchens, in contact with our food, made into cooking utensils and added to vaccines as a preservative and adjuvant (meaning, it causes inflammation so that the vaccine can do its thing more readily). We are invited to believe that it’s sometimes non-toxic and yet toxic as hell at other times, depending on the application. How can this be? Here’s what the National Institute of Health, the people that brought you the supposedly safe first version of the polio vaccine that still had aggressive live polio viruses and carcinogenic simian virus contaminations in it (in other words, they’re not infallible), say about Aluminium toxicity: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26922890 – You can see from this citation that nobody really knows and that it is inadequately studied, yet we have made the assumption that it’s safe. Based on what evidence?

* We’re told and we’d like to believe that scientists discovered that fluoride prevented tooth decay, so lobbied adding it to municipal water supplies to protect children’s teeth. It didn’t happen that way, of course. Sorry. In fact, fluoride is a deadly poison (used as a rat poison), it doesn’t actually significantly affect the incidence of tooth decay, as this is mostly related to carbohydrate consumption and its presence in indiscriminate, uncontrolled doses, to people for whom it is counterindicated, causes a range of serious diseases, including hypothyroidism and cancer. It also reportedly lessens IQ and rebellion. The true story is that aluminium producer ALCOA had a toxic fluoride waste disposal problem, so they hired PR agencies to concoct the story that it was good for our teeth. Andrew Mellon, founder of ALCOA, instructed the US government’s public health authorities to investigate fluoride’s benefits on dental health, while in office at the Treasury, which had oversight over public health, in a clear conflict of interests. Fluoridation was a monstrous lie, supported by unethical medics and scientists, to dispose of deadly toxic waste from aluminium manufacturing (itself a toxic metal) and the fertiliser industry, by hiding it in our fresh water supplies and our bodies. Here is the full story: http://origins.osu.edu/article/toxic-treatment-fluorides-transformation-industrial-waste-public-health-miracle

* Alexander Dianin discovered Bisphenol A (BPA) and chemical companies rapidly promoted its use as a plasticiser in millions of plastic products and epoxy resins, because it made them tough, flexible and durable. Research has linked even low-dose BPA exposure to cardiovascular problems, including coronary artery heart disease, angina, heart attack, hypertension, and peripheral artery disease. Findings suggest that this type of exposure could trigger arrhythmias, atherosclerosis, and blood pressure changes. Also, it has been associated with increases in abnormal penile/urethra development in males, early sexual maturation in females, an increase in neurobehavioral problems such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism, an increase in childhood and adult obesity and type 2 diabetes, a regional decrease in sperm count, and an increase in hormonally mediated cancers, such as prostate and breast cancers. It’s being phased out now, but it persists in the environment and bio-accumulates. We’ve probably all been exposed. Here is some more information about the history of this noxious poison: https://www.ewg.org/research/timeline-bpa-invention-phase-out#.W3sPRN_TWf0

* Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are another group of disastrous chemicals. PCBs were used primarily as electrical insulating fluids in capacitors and transformers and also as hydraulic, heat transfer, and lubricating fluids. PCBs were blended with other chemicals as plasticizers and fire retardants and used in a range of products including caulks, adhesives, plastics, and carbonless copy paper. Unfortunately, exposure to PCBs results in increased levels of some liver enzymes, with possible hepatic damage, chloracne and related dermal lesions, and respiratory problems. Potential adverse human health effects of low-level environmental exposure to PCBs are complex and still need further validation. In animal studies, commercial PCBs elicit a broad range of toxic responses including: acute lethality, body weight loss, carcinogenesis, dermal toxicity, fatty liver, genotoxicity (destructive effects on a cell’s genetic material – DNA and RNA – affecting its integrity), hepatomegaly (liver enlargement), immunosuppressive effects, neurotoxicity, porphyria (the madness of King George III), reproductive and developmental toxicity, thymic atrophy, and thyroid hormone-level alterations. It makes you and your descendants very sick, so has been gradually phased out, even though it persists in the environment, it bio-accumulates and we’ve probably all had some level of exposure. I know I have, as an electrician’s apprentice, because it was emptied from on old 11kV transformer onto the ground, in front of me, by an electrician ignorant of the dangers. Despite the hazards, it appears Monsanto continued selling PCBs for years anyway. Here’s the story: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/09/monsanto-continued-selling-pcbs-for-years-despite-knowing-health-risks-archives-reveal

* DDT and Agent Orange were once thought to be miraculous pesticides, helping farmers produce more food, free from pests and for controlling malaria. Unfortunately, as pointed out in Rachel Carson’s landmark book, Silent Spring, they leave dioxins behind. Short-term exposure of humans to high levels of dioxins may result in skin lesions, such as chloracne and patchy darkening of the skin, and altered liver function. Long-term exposure is linked to impairment of the immune system, the developing nervous system, the endocrine system and reproductive functions. It is also carcinogenic. We’ve all been exposed to it through food. Dioxins persist in the environment and bio-accumulate. Like a bad penny, Monsanto features in this story too. Here are some links to tell the full story. https://monsanto.com/company/media/statements/agent-orange-background/ https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/times-beach-was-founded-newspaper-promo-demolished-toxic-waste-ridden-ghost-town-180962693/ http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/dioxins-and-their-effects-on-human-health

* Glyphosate is now inescapable, but has recently been adjudicated to be the cause of cancer (non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma). The monocultures that glyphosate encourages are also environmentally unsustainable and destructive. Monsanto again. https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/how-toxic-is-the-worlds-most-popular-herbicide-roundup-30308

* During the Gulf War, which was started, we now know, on the basis of lies, the US military fired tank shells filled with depleted uranium, because it’s denser and hence heavier than lead, for a given volume, so the shells carry more destructive momentum. As with Lead (and indeed Uranium), it’s not good to be exposed to depleted uranium and it’s nearly impossible to remove from the environment. Here’s the gruesome catalogue what it does to human beings: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2819790/

* The Waltons, the billionaire Walmart heirs, are in fact shameless corporate welfare scroungers. Without the government (i.e. taxpayers) subsidising the necessities of life for Walmart employees, they literally couldn’t afford to survive and hence the company couldn’t function on its current basis. The analysis is here: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/carl-gibson/how-walmarts-bosses-get-r_b_5630789.html

* The Koch brothers are billionaires into climate denial for profit. They don’t care that others believe the climate will change catastrophically. They’re sure it won’t, though they never produce conclusive proof of that assertion. Meanwhile, they want to own and control everything they can, unencumbered by laws or people’s opposition to their business interests. Here’s what Greenpeace has to say about them: https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/global-warming/climate-deniers/koch-industries/ Also, the Koch brothers have, for years, lavishly funded a political project to accomplish the small thing of destroying democracy completely. They appear to regard ownership of property as a qualification for having the monopoly on wisdom and judgement. It’s the philosophy of Property Supremacy. The blueprint for their project follows the misanthropic ideas of the late James Buchanan – a paranoid, delusional man who evidently was a stranger to human kindness. As a young man, his world view was grossly distorted by having been brought up in the tradition of a segregationist slave state, by a family that had included a state governor. This society had long ago sunk to the basest form of inhumanity in regarding human beings as chattel property and these beliefs and values persisted, despite desegregation and the civil rights movement. Nobody was going to coerce these white supremacists. Buchanan wanted a private governing elite of corporate power that was wholly released from public accountability. The majority will be held captive so that the wealthy can finally be free to do as they please, no matter how destructive. To me, this describes a state of neoslavery. In Implementing his project, he maintained that stealth and conspiratorial secrecy was essential at all times. In other words, the main actors realising his vision would have to act in bad faith always. This project is now reaching an advanced stage, funded by transnational, global corporations that are household names, as you can read for yourself in these two articles: https://www.ineteconomics.org/perspectives/blog/meet-the-economist-behind-the-one-percents-stealth-takeover-of-america , https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/19/despot-disguise-democracy-james-mcgill-buchanan-totalitarian-capitalism

* The Sacklers and their company, Purdue Pharma, have been the main beneficiaries of the opiate epidemic currently running rife, mainly in impoverished communities, thanks largely to their prescription medication OxyContin. Not content with peddling a highly addictive substance to people already in pain, there are allegations of the family suppressing studies warning of the drug’s highly addictive nature and of marketing the product aggressively, leading to widespread over-prescription. This was all done in the name of profit, irrespective of the destruction left behind in the drug’s wake. Here are a few links that tell this story in greater detail: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2018/jan/22/nan-gold-in-interview-us-opioid-epidemic-heroin-addict-oxycontin-sackler-family https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2622774/ https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/27/universities-sackler-family-purdue-pharma-oxycontin-opioids https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/29/health/purdue-opioids-oxycontin.html

* John Kapoor’s Insys aggressively markets a Fentanyl based drug named Subsys. Fentanyl is a very strong opioid, which in many ways is far more dangerous than heroin. Overdoses are mounting. Insys, it is alleged, has paid kickbacks to doctors for increasing the number of their patients prescribed this drug, evidently irrespective of clinical necessity. Another example of putting profit before people, it seems. Here’s the story: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/16/nyregion/fentanyl-subsys-drug-kickbacks.html

* Amazon’s founder is reputedly the richest man in the world. However, the reports of low pay, insecure casualised employment, Draconian security measures, impossible targets, as well as inhuman, dangerous and reckless working conditions, emanating from the company’s ironically named “fulfilment centres” are alarming. Injuries are said to be so common that ambulances line up outside these warehouses to handle the steady stream of casualties. It seems that the welfare of the people working within the company’s shipping and distribution warehouses is not a corporate priority. Read more here: https://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/nov/28/being-homeless-is-better-than-working-for-amazon

* Trans fats were invented to deal with a waste problem. The production of 100 kilograms of cotton fibres for textiles also results in the production of 162 kilograms of unwanted cotton seeds. These waste cotton seeds found application in the manufacture of candles and soaps, when cottonseed oil was extracted from the seeds, but the demand for candles and soap is not great enough to absorb all the unwanted seeds. Soap manufacturer Procter and Gamble discovered that they could use a chemical process to partially hydrogenate cottonseed oil into a solid fat that resembled lard. This process produced what are now called ‘Trans’ fats, making this product extremely versatile in the kitchen, even if nobody actually knew whether we should be shoving this former toxic waste into our mouths. The product was skilfully marketed as Crisco (meaning “crystallised cottonseed oil”) – a cheaper alternative to lard. Unfortunately, it is now known that trans fats promote cardio vascular disease and associated fatalities. In fact, this had been known for nearly sixty years, but it has taken until quite recently to ban them. No company or official health advisory body that had previously endorsed their safety was prepared to admit to being wrong. The research reports indicating harm and risk were suppressed, to protect a lucrative industry. Links are here: https://www.dietdoctor.com/the-lucrative-story-of-cotton-seed-oil https://www.theatlantic.com/amp/article/281274/ https://www.vox.com/2015/6/17/8793937/why-fda-banned-trans-fats

* Rupert Murdoch (and his clan) has backed every winning Prime Minister, in every UK election, since the 70s, and in every Australian election since the 60s. That’s not because News Corp is uniquely skilled at prescient political analysis. It’s because his media outlets publish in such a way that they cause the chosen winner to be elected, by controlling the public narrative. Smears, lies and slander, coupled with barely concealed bias, are his tools of control. Rupert Murdoch sees himself as the king maker. In fact, he appears to base his identity on that. To round out his achievements, Murdoch is a climate collapse denier with oil interests in the former Palestine. He profits from ignoring the externalities caused by burning fossil fuels. In Australia, he also caused the National Broadband Network to be severely downgraded technically, because he wanted to protect his cable movie network interests from competition by Internet streamed movies. The Internet is not only about delivering movies. Symmetric high speed networks are needed to support cloud computing and telepresence – vital for economic success in an increasingly digital business environment. Now, Australia has a crippled, substandard network; not fit for modern purpose. So does the UK and one suspects the dead hand of Murdoch’s Sky platform in that equivalent technical blunder for the nation. Here’s what a former Australian Prime Minister says about Murdoch’s excessive and malignant influence on democracy: https://amp.smh.com.au/politics/federal/cancer-eating-the-heart-of-australian-democracy-20180826-p4zzum.html

* One of the most potent examples of a small cadre of people having a disproportionately damaging impact on millions of people is that of Lysenkoism under Stalin. Lysenko argued that nature could be bent to the will of man and that having “modified” an organism, through controlling its environment, these characteristics would then be passed on to future generations as learned traits. The idea of forcing nature to man’s will naturally appealed to a violent despot like Stalin, who thoroughly believed in conquest as a universal organising concept. It was a wholesale rejection of the mechanisms of genetic inheritance, via DNA, which were beginning to be well understood outside the Soviet Union. Stalin went one further and decreed that any dissent against Lysenkoism was a treasonous crime, resulting in the imprisonment and early death of Lysenko’s former mentor, Vavilov. The consequences of the actions of Stalin and Lysenko was that biological science and the academics who studied it were set back decades. Crops failed or had lower than expected yields, because farming according to Lysenko’s theories was not in alignment with empirical reality. It just didn’t work. Lysenkoism, though mandated by the violence of the state, was demonstrably bunk science. The theory was provably wrong. Millions starved or else perished for crimes against ideology. It’s an ugly chapter in the history of an ugly regime: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lysenkoism

* No partial catalogue of small groups of awfulisers having far-reaching, destructive impacts would be complete without mentioning the nearly twenty year collaboration between Putin and Surkov. This story, terrifyingly, is playing out in real time, but largely unnoticed, because journalists that report on it mysteriously disappear or die violent deaths. Their modus operandi is to play both sides against the middle, while maintaining total control behind the charade. Chechenya, Russia and the Ukraine have been radically changed through their joint machinations. The aim of their project is global in scope, rivalling that of the posse associated with Steve Bannon and Nigel Farage. Which form of fascism and which global fascist leaders do you want? Perhaps it’s really one and the same project. We don’t really know. The most lucid and succinct introduction to what Putin and Surkov are doing together that I’ve found are these articles: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surkov_leaks https://medium.com/@wmilam/the-theater-director-who-is-vladislav-surkov-9dd8a15e0efb

* There are small groups of people dedicating their working lives, every day, to producing nuclear weapons, deadly nerve agents (like Sarin and Novichok) and designer viruses to be used as biological weapons – some would include AIDS, Ebola, viruses that cause galloping soft-tissue cancers and engineered Lyme disease among their accomplishments. All of these initiatives are hidden from you, by your government and the secret service agencies that nominally answer to it. Your opinion or opposition doesn’t count. These organisations claim to know better than all of us. In reality, who actually is the government, if secret agencies can conduct covert development of these weapons, or organise blanket surveillance of everybody, including our elected representatives, with no effective oversight or democratic accountability? The government we think is in control is not actually governing. These shadowy organisations are. What Edward Snowden’s leaked documents revealed to us is that the so-called intelligence community is doing whatever it wants, on behalf of God knows who, without democratic constraint. He effectively demonstrated who was really calling the shots. They’re out of control: https://amp.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/31/cia-admits-spying-senate-staffers

Do you see the pattern? A small number of chancers find a way to make a lot of money and so they deem things safe and beneficial, when they actually aren’t, or when nobody really knows. Invariably, as evidence comes to light, they cover it up with increasingly monstrous lies and through intimidation of dissenters, to keep the cash flowing. People unwilling to accept they’ve been blatantly deceived aid and abet the awfulisers by denying the evidence that emerges. Awfulisation requires you to shut up and just take it. You’re not supposed to object, even while it’s killing you.

You’ve Been Conned

This leads to an inescapable and obvious conclusion. We’re being toyed with, as playthings, by billionaires and oligarchs. None of their ideas and cunning schemes are actually for the benefit of ordinary people or the vast majority of humanity. These are self-centred projects, designed to help only one person, in the end.

Our elected leaders are serving the interests of the wealthiest in society exclusively. They don’t give a damn about anybody else and they’re never going to. It’s time we stopped clinging to the forlorn hope that they might, or that they ought to. Getting past this one fallacy could help us deal with the world as it really is and with greater clarity. The ruling class feels absolutely no obligation to take care of the rest of us, to help us thrive or to ensure fairness and justice are uniformly distributed, in society. It simply isn’t on their radar or part of their agenda, despite the platitudes they might mouth to secure your vote and consent.

Part of the dominant narrative is that you, an individual, are powerless and impotent. They’ve convinced you that you can’t make a difference, yet that’s precisely how they have accumulated power. You can’t make a difference, but they certainly have. The only conclusion you can draw, then, is that you’ve been gaslighted. We have the sheer numbers to halt any small number of determined people with a rotten idea for how the rest of us ought to live. It’s staggering that we so often let them get away with their awfulisation schemes.

Those peddling their selfish agendas and attempting to control the narrative do so by violence, intimidation, bribery and blanket disinformation, but the truth leaks out through the cracks in their coverage, where their disinformation doesn’t quite reach. Eyewitness conclusions keep being made. Things not quite adding up or ringing true alert people to the possibility that the ambient narrative is false. Their story doesn’t make sense, or lacks self-consistency. There are glitches in their matrix.

To quote rogue journalist Caitlin Johnstone, “It is not a coincidence that the nation with the most powerful military in history, and the most billionaires in history, also has the most sophisticated propaganda system in history. The more depraved and exploitative your agendas, the more asleep you need to keep the public.”

What the Awfulisers Want

What do these awfulisers want from us? Why won’t they leave us alone, in peace? What is it that drives them to spend their waking hours engaged in intrigues, plots, subterfuge and covert operations? Why the hell do they bother, when they could spend their lives peacefully, enjoying the brief moments of lifetime bliss granted to all of us just once? To delve into the mind of an awfuliser is to glimpse a form of deranged madness. These are psychologically damaged and unwell people, acting out their hurts and disappointments on a global scale. Internally and eternally unhappy, they spend their days ensuring the rest of us are too.

Motivations vary, but we occasionally glean an insight into the thought processes of some of them. Take, for example, Vladislav Surkov, the infamous “grey cardinal” of Putin’s Kremlin. Whenever his influence seems to be waning and his star descending, he seems to find another lease on life, like a cat with nine lives. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-surkov/russias-putin-brings-grey-cardinal-surkov-back-to-kremlin-idUSBRE98J0VK20130920

Surkov regards the manipulation of entire populations as his art! His craft is simply teasing and mocking, tormenting and taunting. Destabilisation, disinformation and discord are his tools. He achieves his aims through promulgation of multiple seemingly contradictory concurrent narratives. Why? He rationalises his behaviour on the basis of Russia’s manifest destiny, as he interprets it. He says he does what he does because Russia has never been allowed to join the West, ever since Peter the Great first attempted to Westernise his empire. According to Surkov, Russia has given up on that goal, after decades of internal, destructive shambles and Western intransigence. I have Russian ancestry. It’s important to understand the Russian sense of superiority to most other nations – a trait they ironically share with Americans. Hence, they try to subdue and control the world as if uniquely entitled to do so. However, instead of trying to invade geographical territory, Russian policy now seeks to colonise the minds and souls of its foes. The war against the West is conducted using bullshit, rather than bullets and it’s being fought between your ears. It’s an alternative form of warfare.

Being of mixed Eastern and Western heritage, the last thing I wish to do is escalate tensions between two reckless nuclear superpowers, under the auspices of some kind of renewed cold war, but I think it is a tragic mistake to dismiss the Russian political project out of hand, just like I think it’s a mistake to write off the American imperial project, known as the Project for the New American Century, as the delusional fantasy of some neoconservative old men. People are working energetically and diligently on bringing both to fruition.

Where did the Russian policy of Alternative Warfare originate? The fall of the Soviet Union was a deep humiliation for the Russian people. As a reaction to the interference of the US in bringing the wrecking ball that was Boris Yeltsin to power, which is well documented (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/us-agents-helped-yeltsin-break-coup-1436470.html), Russian thought turned to how to restore Russia’s place in the world (as its ruler, naturally). A best selling book, in the former Soviet Union, was penned by Aleksandr Dugin, the Russian philosopher, political analyst, and strategist known for his fascist views; dubbed the most dangerous philosopher in the world (https://bigthink.com/paul-ratner/the-dangerous-philosopher-behind-putins-strategy-to-grow-russian-power-at-americas-expense). His blueprint for the geopolitical future of Russia and the rest of the world is outlined in his book. It’s full of truly awful ideas, premised on totalitarian, fascist, authoritarian rule. Both Putin and Surkov appear to be following Dugin’s master plan for Russian supremacy imposed on the rest of us. Here is a chilling article that notes how much of Dugin’s poisonous manifesto has already come true: https://www.news.com.au/world/europe/1990s-manifesto-outlining-russias-plans-is-starting-to-come-true/news-story/343a27c71077b87668f1aa783d03032c

In the West, we have the likes of Steve Bannon spreading their version of fascism. Both Surkov and Bannon, for different reasons and objectives, are preaching what is essentially the same message – exclusion, division, hatred, and conquest. None of this is for your good or mine. These people are trying to take over the whole world and install themselves at its helm. They are in competition, but both envisioning the same ends. Surkov and Bannon, the high priests and brains behind what passes for Putin and Trump’s respective philosophies and projects, are both non-conformists that pride themselves on their contrarian thinking, drawing on extensive reading. They pass for imaginative, innovative, informed thinkers, but they really aren’t first rate philosophers.

The problem is, they don’t understand humanity, humanism or empathy. They’ve never known deep love or kindness. Their reading and education has resulted in the absurdity of economic nationalism and they fervently believe the route forward is to smash Globalism. Globalism may well require scrapping wholesale, but atavistic nationalism as the proposed answer demonstrates a singular lack of vision in both firebrands. Humanity can and should do something very much more inclusive, which invests in each other and lifts us out of economic miseries and servitude. If you were raised in the cynical self interest of either communism or capitalism, in its late stages, you might not understand an alternative to selfish, isolated, singular determinism can or ought to be pursued. These essentially fascistic projects are both products of predatory mindsets that value dominance and ruthlessness over compassion and kindness. They paint humanity as divided into two groups – indestructible superhumans and losers – rather than recognising we’re all fragile, ephemeral and going to die, yet beautiful and amazing creatures just for existing at all.

There is a feverish urgency to both projects. Russia and America have demographic time bombs ticking. People are dying off, rather than staying alive, in what have both become atrocious places to live, if you aren’t in the chosen elite. Russians are failing to breed and dying young. (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Russia) American life expectancy is also falling. (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/life-expectancy-in-the-u-s-is-falling-and-drug-overdose-deaths-are-soaring/) Human beings do not thrive under absolutist regimes heading for fascism. Failing to thrive is not a good long-term prospect for humanity.

If you analyse the psychology of the people most wedded to these authoritarian grand plans, they reveal much projection. They publicly hate other people that represent the aspects of themselves they hate the most. In other words, they’re not at war with us as much as they are exorcising their own self-loathing. It’s just that they have found a way to amplify their personal psychodramas to global scope.

For all their secret planning and covert operations, however, they are powerless unless they find a way to manufacture our consent. They need us to tell them this is our choice and preference, so that victim blaming can take place, absolving the truly guilty. Their power derives entirely from our acquiesce. This is why they spend so much time, energy and money controlling the narrative.

Nonsense Narratives

Control of the narrative equates to control of the consciousness of the population. They set the agenda for what we are to think and when. It’s always a good idea to ask yourself why you are seeing this story now, whenever you read the news of social media. Both the content and its timing are significant. If this blog post has done anything, I hope it has brought to front of mind some egregious projects that have been hiding in plain sight, mostly unnoticed, because the prevailing narrative causes you to look the other direction, all of the time.

The awfulisers strive to control the narratives but the stories they tell don’t make logical sense. The fictional nature of their construction is revealed because truth is consistent, but falsehood rarely is. Therefore, they’re not telling the real story. When people instinctively sense that they’re not getting told a story that can be true, because of its inconsistencies, conspiracy theories fill the void. Truth is the best method of constructing a narrative that makes sense and has no plot holes.

Beating Awfulisation

This is the unvarnished truth about us: Our survival depends on you all overcoming your infantile fixations. All of you. Yes, even you. Especially you. Get therapy. Improve the quality of your thought. Read books. We can’t afford your intellectual indolence, while you cruise through life unaware and unconcerned. The awfulisers utterly depend on your passivity and credulity. If you don’t have a thought of your own in your head, you’re going to be very suggestible and manipulable. This has been the very basis of the power of awfulisers for quite some time now. You have a duty to humanity to do the hard thinking.

A big reset on how we understand the world is required to overcome all the incessant propaganda and blanket, saturation disinformation. We need to stop accepting lies as truth, giving liars the polite benefit of the doubt.

To the willing, knowing servants and courtiers of these liars, who propagate the lies on their behalf, what the AF do you think you’re doing? Is this the best thing you can think of to do with your life? Lie for money and stuff? Is that how you want to live? Paid trolls, armies of which are used to spread disinformation, need something more meaningful to do with their lives, as do call centre staff and other people stuck in bullshit jobs. Spending your brief time on Earth lying on behalf of lying liars is a waste of a precious life.

Today, ignorance is wilful. Deliberate. Proud. Boastful, cocky, and exultant. It is pompous, high-sounding, and aggrandising. It waves banners, sings chants and discusses philosophies. Ignorance, today, thinks of itself as Aristotle by way of Descartes and Kant. The really strange thing about the present time is that ignorance parades itself as enlightenment. The awfulisers feed on ignorance. It’s how they control your mind and soul. Your ignorance is the back door via which they implant their narratives. This article makes the point far better than I can: https://eand.co/the-age-of-ignorance-f2dca7fd894d

One of the most successful attack vectors, through which awful ideas are installed in our heads, is social media. It is being used as an Alternative Warfare tool. While this article is long, it is very comprehensive in explaining how this happened: https://medium.com/mit-technology-review/how-social-media-took-us-from-tahrir-square-to-donald-trump-6226231ac162 Security isn’t just about who has more Cray supercomputers and cryptography experts but about understanding how attention, information overload, and social bonding work in the digital era.

Social media bubbles and echo chambers are not reality. Extremists can present their alternative realities, but acceptance of their ideas relies on gaslighting. Eventually, that fails and the truth will out. Social media has revealed leaders and pundits alike as being out of touch, bereft of new ideas and incapable of modifying their ideologies to accommodate any new empirically true information. It has exposed their corruption and their illegitimacy to control the prevailing narratives. On-line media has revealed them to be self-serving, greedy and sociopathic. It has shown us the yawning vacuum between their claims and what they deliver. It has also outed many people who previously concealed their terrible ideas and beliefs. Unfortunately, social media has also made us feel powerless, through pluralistic ignorance and individualist isolation.

Violent suppression of viable ideas for a better future has to stop. We need those ideas. They’re too precious to kill them off for dogmatic, ideological reasons, just to keep a few privileged people in comfort. The powerful have very few restraints on their actions while everyone else gets squeezed. The ideas the powerful want to impose on humanity are no damn good, for the majority of people. This is also true of the orthodox ideas that currently prevail, such as predatory surveillance capitalism, neoliberalism, Russia’s supremacy project, and so on and so on.

The pattern is always the same. They lie to you without caring whether you catch them out or not. If you call them out for their lies, they dare you to do something about it and we never do anything.

A special group of awfulisers, in my opinion, are the climate collapse deniers. Climate change deniers invariably profit from the status quo, or else are selling “solutions” to an incinerating world. Some deniers are genuinely ignorant (for reasons already discussed) or in flagrant, wilful, irrational denial, despite all the evidence, but most of them are of a different mind set. They have already decided that climate change can’t be stopped or reversed, so they’re aiming to maximise their wealth and power, until the end of the living world. They’re suicidal maniacs with a death wish. If you think that the environment can be improved and don’t think destruction of the living world is inevitable, you have to resist the climate change deniers steadfastly and act accordingly. Whether or not they’re right or wrong, that decision shouldn’t be made now, ahead of time. While there is a possibility of survival, we have to lean toward those solutions, not throw in the towel prematurely.

Both the US billionaire project of accelerating inequality through neoliberalism and the Putin/Surkov vision of levelling the nations of the globe to the same situation as Russia’s destroyed state are paternalistic and patronising. While we bask in pieties through our suffering, they take all the real resources, as Caitlin Johnstone has pointed out. Read her handy article on how to beat the manipulators here: https://medium.com/@caityjohnstone/how-to-beat-a-manipulator-2a19457f01cd

Do you want a life that is in service of the pursuit of truth and justice, or do you want a life that works doggedly for the powers of deception and death? These are key questions. People don’t ask them often enough.

The answer to awfulisation is not violence or to go to war. The answer is to learn to recognise and resist manipulation. What makes this difficult is that disinformation is frequently smuggled in with information that is absolutely true, to give it credence. This happens on all sides of the media. Lies and truth are intermingled, so that you believe both. We’ve got to get better at telling which is which.

Growing up, as human beings, means acting in good faith, leading lives of moral meaning, and upholding ethical universalism. Umair Haque tells the truth well in this article: https://eand.co/can-these-three-things-save-america-60d457f50ddb

We’re engaged in a tribal conflict. The problem with the fencing in of one topic after another as political is that it gives us less and less space to learn and grow and understand. Think tanks in Washington DC and London call themselves non-partisan, but of course that’s not true, because they’ve already made up their minds. They’re not thinking at all. They’re merely arguing. Beating the awfulisers means we must learn, grow and understand, or we’ll make no headway against them. https://seths.blog/2018/08/making-it-political/

De-awfulisation

Once we beat the awfulisers, we have to figure out what to do next. There are many fabulous ideas that are worth trying. For starters, how about changing our relationship to money and debt? Read this modest proposal to get your imagination working: https://psalmistice.com/2018/08/18/what-would-real-sovereignty-look-like/amp/

A full list of the things we can do instead of what we accept as inevitabilities today is probably beyond the scope of this already long essay and may be the subject of future blog posts. Suffice it to say there is no shortage of good, workable ideas, despite what the awfulisers would have you believe. Always recognise that their objections are primarily to protect the status quo and are rarely, if ever, about the objective qualities of the alternatives.

What Will You Do?

Your choices, on the menu you are offered, are the Project for the New American Century (neoimperialism and neocolonialism), the predatory, surveillance capitalism version of survival of the richest, variations on the theme of eugenics, Russia’s geopolitical Dugin plan (where Russia rules the world), China’s lock down totalitarian censorship or Japan’s brutal cruel attitude to work life balance. None of these plans are humanist or humane. They don’t look after the interests of ordinary people or help them thrive. Is this what you want? Shouldn’t you be demanding a plan that benefits you, your family, your compatriots and successors? If that plan to enhance human well-being isn’t on offer from any authority, shouldn’t you be taking action to ensure it is? Does authority serve you, or are you a servant of it? Who has the numbers?

The projects that are currently in action are crackpot ideas put forward by hubristic paternalists, who have seldom, if ever, asked the people what they want, or paid any attention to the necessary conditions for well-being, thriving and intellectual and emotional growth. Instead, they’re about conquest, revenge, division, punishment and domination. It’s the reflection of a childish, yet self-designated elite wanting everything their own way, with the aim of maintaining their privilege their only true concern. They are little more than grand, elaborate tantrums. These are morally, ethically, spiritually and intellectually bankrupt schemes at root, therefore worthless to humanity and the flourishing of the living world.

We need to get over placing our uncritical faith and belief in leaders that wear moderately well-cut suits. This costume hasn’t signified integrity, intellectual rigour, wisdom, credibility or probity for decades now, if it ever did. We shouldn’t be so easily taken in by people that proclaim themselves to be the true and rightful king of us all. The truth is that the current crop of global elites have next to no idea how to make life flourish. They don’t even think about the problem. Those ideas that we so desperately need to do better than just survive are only going to come from crowdsourcing solutions to the problems and they won’t work without a lot of voluntary agreement.

Don’t look to the rich and powerful to improve your life. Their skill set is betting on future outcomes, not causing desirable future outcomes to become real. Indeed, they’re so steeped in self-interest and have been for so long, they lack he ability to even think about desirable outcomes for humanity. We have reached the limits of greed and human selfishness. Their game plan is to escape the human condition, even if by fanciful means. They will insouciantly make your life and environment very much worse, without restraint or limit, to accomplish their transhumanist fantasies. They’re not planning on taking you with them, so what are you going to do? Keep worshipping the rich and powerful, in the hope they’ll save you, when they have no intention whatsoever of doing so, or will you wake up, grow up and begin controlling the narrative and reality of humanity’s destiny for yourself?

You do not owe politeness or deference to people that are flagrantly abusing everybody. They use your voluntary and enforced adherence to the rules and your civilised conduct against you, while they disregard every rule, social norm and ethical boundary, treating you with utterly brutal disdain. You don’t have an obligation to give awfulisers an easy ride. In fact, it’s your societal duty not to.

Why are we slavishly enacting and re-enacting the cranky, crackpot ideas of long deceased guys? What possible relevance can their cunning schemes for their own self-aggrandisement have to those still living, now that they’re dead and gone? They’ll never experience the hellscapes their projects inevitably create.

More fundamentally, whose damn planet is it anyway? Does it belong to a bunch of wheeler-dealers that can produce pieces of parchment saying it’s all theirs legally, or is it an endowment for all of us and our future descendants? In pure free markets, how do your future great, great, great grandchildren express their wishes and preferences today? They have no current purchasing power because they haven’t even been born yet, but they sure as hell are going to inherit whatever is left of the world, after the weasels and oligarchs have had their way with it. Are we being good future ancestors?

The question is, will you choose to be hapless or resourceful? Ask yourself: is this the life you want?

P.S. Following and reading all of the links referenced in this article is well worth your while, even if it takes a long time to do. You will certainly learn a lot.

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