"In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

Posts Tagged ‘Freedom Of Choice’

Learning How To Live All Over Again: Dealing With the Anger & Continual Backsliding Upon The Acceptance Of Meaninglessness & Overcoming The Schizophrenia Of Awakening.

In Uncategorized on September 15, 2014 at 8:34 pm

https://i0.wp.com/www.awakening-healing.com/images/Astrology/spiritualawakening.pngOldspeak: “There is only the dream. There is no me or we. There is simply infinity. Logically I know this. Logically I know that nothing we do ultimately matters. Logically I know that I am simply living one thread of awareness to the exclusion of all others. There will be others. There have always been others. It is simply a never ending ride down the stream of life; experiencing only what is the next adventure around the next bend in an ever winding, never ending stream of consciousness.

I find that concept to be wonderful; freeing. I yearn for the letting go. Holding on creates anger. This bend in the river – the western industrial capitalist complex – has created some amazingly difficult habits from which to break. The most formidable being the continual neurosis that one needs to “get” somewhere. The delusion that striving and building and achieving somehow are important in and of themselves. The duality I feel is that the conscious awake me knows it is all a hologram. I know that this “person” is an imaginary construct. I know this is the dream state playing itself out and I am simply riding in the canoe. But, the Calvinist mental illness that has been brow beaten into all western beings, is the default behavior that rises when the defenses are down. We fall back into the dream and go back to acting like striving matters. The anxiety ramps up, the inability to relax causes stress, personal interactions with those close to us in the dream become strained, and we hypnotically fall back into the unconscious world of striving and attachment. Fear rears its ugly head, and peace is lost.

My spiritual autolysis has nothing to do with waking up. I am awake. My spiritual autolysis has to do with breaking 50 plus years of habits; 50 years of reacting habitually because the outside world, and those children deemed to be in positions of authority said I was supposed to have because that is the way of “reality”. The ultimate hoax is having to be taught by those who have not awakened themselves. Habits get formed, neural pathways become strongly wired together, and then when awakening happens, those pathways create doubt, anxiety, uncertainty, and a wish to get back to what has always been considered “normal”. Normal is a lie. It is the paradigm created by fear, by children, by a ruse. This plane of existence is severely, and by every definition of the term, mentally ill.” Johnathan DeJong

Ooof. I really needed to read this right now. I’ve been meditating heavily on many of the ideas Johnathan has shared. Specifically, the idea of civilization as madness. Civilization is not the default setting of humans. It requires madness to participate well in. A couple other writers on the same excellent blog have written more extensively on the topic. Ray Jason in his excellent piece delineates a short list of the pathologies in human behaviour that civilization has spawned:

  • Slavery
  • Insanity
  • Torture
  • Human Sacrifice
  • Genocide
  • Plagues
  • Chronic Loneliness
  • Industrial War
  • Laws
  • Obesity
  • Homicidal Dictators
  • Asylums
  • Heart Attacks
  • Lawyers
  • Crusades
  • Atomic Bombs
  • Cancer
  • Poverty
  • Inquisitions
  • Diseases of Civilization
  • Witch-hunts
  • Drones
  • Suicide Bombers
  • Drug Addiction
  • Taxes
  • Robot Soldiers
  • Bankers
  • Missionaries
  • Junk Food
  • Overpopulation
  • Sweat Shops
  • Famine
  • Disparity of Wealth
  • Sexual Deviancy
  • Child Molesters
  • Serial Killers
  • Compulsive Consumption
  • Extinction of Species

It is hard to imagine any rational human being reading that list of atrocities and not saying to themselves, “Why have these consequences of Civilization never been brought to my attention?”  That sensible question brings us back to the title of this essay: “The Thick Facade of Civilization.”  Here is the standard dictionary definition for the word facade: “an outward appearance that is maintained to conceal a less pleasant reality.”  Civilization is so toxic to human and animal and planetary well-being, that its true nature must be hidden from people.”

Keith Farnish in his piece, talks about the anomalous and hyper-destructive effects of civilization on the ecology and all life on earth the short period of time (5 to 10,000 years)  it has existed among human beings. He asserted that “the natural reaction of even civilized people in crisis situations is to help each other and, in the longer term, build protective communities. We could call this “uncivilized” activity, but really it’s human activity. Collective behaviour is only curtailed where authority is enforced. Humans never evolved to be individuals. Humans never evolved to be civilized” He too lists pathological and suicidal requirements of civilization:

– The desire to accumulate

– The need for hiearchy

– Disconnection from the real world

– Individualism over collectivism

In this context, I’ve struggled to realize that as Mr. DeJong reminds us, the task of our time, this Earth’s 6th and fastest mass extinction, is to live in a state of mindfulness & radical acceptance of the meaninglessness of it all, to live in an awakened way, as Johanna Macy says, “fully present to what is happening in the world“. To let go of our programming and live as our full and authentic selves, not slaves to the whims and proclivities of our rapacious egos. To let go and understand that we are in control of nothing. To recognize and heal from the pathologies of striving and “being someone” social acceptable. To initiate “Spiritual Autolysis” and “Be deliberate in your actions. Be in control of your thoughts. Remove yourself from environments that pollute you and force you back into old unconscious habits, and dare to act differently than your programming when you are in familiar settings that you know don’t serve you. In order to live the knowing, to align yourself with that which you know logically to be true, you have to learn how to live- not all over again- but for the first time. Awareness is not enough. Habit breaking is the autolysis that will align you with the real. Question every thought you have ever had. Question why you do any physical action. Throw away that which hinders and keep what helps; but ultimately be mindful of everything, until being mindful becomes the habit.” All that’s left to realize that it’s all a hologram. A dream state that is one big play in which we all have parts. That structures and ideas and concepts  are to be let go, lest they become shackles. Meditate frequently and practice joining yourself with the source field of universal consciousness, free of fear, anger, doubt, anxiety and duality. Freedom awaits.” -OSJ

By  Johnathan DeJong @ Nature Bats Last:

There has always been a sense in the back of my mind that nothing really matters. How could it be that all of this “existence” really has some kind of end purpose? If you sit and think logically about it, if there is some endgame, some divine plan that is supposed to end up somewhere, then the end, it would seem, would be something to avoid. After all, the end result would be that nothing beyond that end goal matters. Once the goal is achieved, life is meaningless. So if that is the case, then the idea of an infinite ebb and flow of energy and consciousness makes a lot more sense. Life is still meaningless, but now it is an infinite field. It is not linear. It is an eternal playground. Nothing is important unless you give meaning and purpose to it. Being awakened from the role playing in the dream state, should free us. It should allow us all to simply spread our wings and throw off the shackles of this nightmare. And then, of course, I use the term “we”.

There is only the dream. There is no me or we. There is simply infinity. Logically I know this. Logically I know that nothing we do ultimately matters. Logically I know that I am simply living one thread of awareness to the exclusion of all others. There will be others. There have always been others. It is simply a never ending ride down the stream of life; experiencing only what is the next adventure around the next bend in an ever winding, never ending stream of consciousness.

I find that concept to be wonderful; freeing. I yearn for the letting go. Holding on creates anger. This bend in the river – the western industrial capitalist complex – has created some amazingly difficult habits from which to break. The most formidable being the continual neurosis that one needs to “get” somewhere. The delusion that striving and building and achieving somehow are important in and of themselves. The duality I feel is that the conscious awake me knows it is all a hologram. I know that this “person” is an imaginary construct. I know this is the dream state playing itself out and I am simply riding in the canoe. But, the Calvinist mental illness that has been brow beaten into all western beings, is the default behavior that rises when the defenses are down. We fall back into the dream and go back to acting like striving matters. The anxiety ramps up, the inability to relax causes stress, personal interactions with those close to us in the dream become strained, and we hypnotically fall back into the unconscious world of striving and attachment. Fear rears its ugly head, and peace is lost.

My spiritual autolysis has nothing to do with waking up. I am awake. My spiritual autolysis has to do with breaking 50 plus years of habits; 50 years of reacting habitually because the outside world, and those children deemed to be in positions of authority said I was supposed to have because that is the way of “reality”. The ultimate hoax is having to be taught by those who have not awakened themselves. Habits get formed, neural pathways become strongly wired together, and then when awakening happens, those pathways create doubt, anxiety, uncertainty, and a wish to get back to what has always been considered “normal”. Normal is a lie. It is the paradigm created by fear, by children, by a ruse. This plane of existence is severely, and by every definition of the term, mentally ill.

I have lived an entirely schizophrenic existence. It is the source of all of my pain. It is a mental split. There are two people involved. The first is the inner me. The awakened me. That being is awareness. It is the being that has always “known” reality. It is the wounded child that has never been able to live fully out in the open – The being who had never been allowed to truly and without resistance become completely me. Parents, society, financial issues, needing to “be” someone, always took precedence. After all, when the majority of the humanoid energy blips keep telling you that, and sometimes forcefully, a kid is going to repress him/herself. You come into this physical world utterly dependent upon others to raise you and educate you. Lost in the translation is that they don’t teach you to think for yourself. Because of this we internalize our sense of worthlessness, integrate into society, and the awakened being sits in a prison box in the recesses of one’s mind,an ever present murmur, but ignored, driven back, demonized, guilted into submission.

The second person in this schizophrenia is the ego. It is that being that the wider society in the dream state has become expert in cultivating. It is the source of all striving, all wars and corruption, all oppressive religions based on reward and punishment, and it is a brutal, fear amplifying, task master. It is intensely real, and for those asleep in the dream state, they are playing out their role in this delusion, with no questioning that there might be a very easy way to quell this cataclysmic existence. It is the face I put on when I meet with clients. It is the authoritative father figure I wear when dealing with my son. It is the dutiful, patriarchal husband armor donned when protecting one’s family. It is the constant and exhausting striving to make the farm work better than all of the other homesteads because “someone” is watching and that means failure isn’t an option. It is the worry what others think, or even the denial that one thinks that is important. If you are the animate ego with no connection to the imprisoned awareness within, your only motivation can be a striving after the physical and avoiding the negative scrutiny of others. Salvation is beyond you because you are of original sin and filth. Awakening and heaven must be given to you… because you are deemed worthless.

The ultimate war within is the ego relentlessly bludgeoning the awakened child so completely as to render the ego dominant. Thus, the external world we experience. The dream state is made manifest by the dreamer. Those who have fully let the child out; learned to live in the dream state yet fully aware, often flame out. Suicide, substance abuse, mental illness, or fleeing to anywhere so as to create an escape can all be a means to that end. The most profound struggle a human can go through is to dethrone the ego and put the inner aware being in control.

The more evolved have learned that meditation is a way to help break the habits. Some lose themselves in the life of altruism. But for so many, they still cannot let go. Awakening means to realize that the suffering poor and the greedy rich are all constructs. There is nothing. Habit breaking means choosing what game you want to play in this stream while never losing sight of the fact that it is a game. To break the habits and replace the DVD that has programmed your mind, the awakened being needs to create triggers to help snap you back into lucidity when you find yourself acting unconsciously again.

True awakening cannot happen without anger. When the torment becomes a true mental illness, because the reality of meaninglessness can no longer be suppressed, a lifetime of repression to succeed in a dream becomes a rage, a rejection of the dream itself, a mental breakdown, and one’s previous life flames out like a strip of birchbark struck by a flint. You look back on all that you did in your life unconsciously, and shake your head in disbelief. You simply cannot believe what you did with yourself and to yourself over all of that time because you let a wider society… that doesn’t even exist… torture you for so long. Aggravating as it is, there is no one to blame; not even yourself. Because ultimately, it was a dream. It still is a dream but you now accept it without keeping the knowing being encased in that lead mental casing preventing you from accessing it and using it fully. The challenge, now that the inner person has slain the outer egoic and asleep being, is to quit falling back into the trap. Funny how Christians also call a falling away – backsliding. But in the awakened state, backsliding is simply falling back to sleep and allowing the lifetime of habits to retake the helm and once again begin trying to paddle up stream.

The trick is to do nothing unconsciously. The way to break habits is to act as though you have never really lived before. Deliberately slow down, watch what you are doing and be aware of what you are thinking. Are you rushing through a task to get somewhere else? Are you thinking that what you are doing isn’t important and that you wish you were doing something else? Why? If it is important and the task you are doing is boring… does it need to be done at all? If the other seems more important should you really stop what you are doing and go do that? Why?

Buddhists do something called walking meditation. They deliberately put their awareness on each step they take, not allowing their mind to wander. One step, the next step, the next step, etc. Being present in the activity to try to quell the monkey mind. My habit to break is the thinking that I am needing to get somewhere. There is no where to get TO! There is only what I want to do to play in the field while I am able to. After that, its simply conversation.

Do I want to garden? Yes. Then garden and quit thinking you need to go paint. Do you want to observe with your telescope? Yes. Then don’t do shit during the day that will make you too tired to observe. Do you want to resume archery for fun instead of competition? Yes. Then use the space you have on the farm to do that! Use it again as your zen sport! Do you want to be in shape and live the mostly-terian or Flexitarian life? Yes? Then quit sabotaging yourself and do it… quit worrying about what others may think… they don’t EXIST! And more to the point – don’t matter!

The issue of social acceptance is another layer that Maya uses to keep us imprisoned and is very powerful. The only way to quell the fear is to grab the thought, look at your intention, then consciously decide if that is in your best interest given the game you have decided to play. I suppose you can play the “I want to worry about what others think” game, but in most cases, considering the deep slumber and pre-programmed responses these movie-extras have memorized, it is certainly not helpful. Do you love to be a modern homesteader, using your physical ability to grow your food, increase your level of self-reliance, and detach yourself from a corrupt, polluted, and destructive wider paradigm? Yes? Then do it. Do it regardless of whether the golfers, mall crawlers, and general citiot population think it valuable or not. They are IRRELEVANT!

So my spiritual autolysis is no longer about extricating the demons in my head. It is the process of habit breaking. The anger of meaninglessness comes from the stark understanding that everything you were taught to believe and everything you have done up to this point was wrong. I think that had we been a product of the indigenous who had rights of passage around the age of puberty, that there would be far more awakened beings. Our child like society killed off the people who really were enlightened, who had a success rate of waking people up of probably 90 percent because it was built into their culture. From that point, we have run around for centuries wondering how to attain enlightenment; thinking we needed some Babahooha or Swami-Salami from the east to wake us up. We invaded the North American holy land and killed off the priestesses because “we knew not what we do”. So now, instead of a vision quest at 13, we go psychotic for 50 years wondering why the pain of the imprisoned child of awareness inside of us needs drugs, or worse, the pain of ending it all.

Be deliberate in your actions. Be in control of your thoughts. Remove yourself from environments that pollute you and force you back into old unconscious habits, and dare to act differently than your programming when you are in familiar settings that you know don’t serve you. In order to live the knowing, to align yourself with that which you know logically to be true, you have to learn how to live- not all over again- but for the first time. Awareness is not enough. Habit breaking is the autolysis that will align you with the real. Question every thought you have ever had. Question why you do any physical action. Throw away that which hinders and keep what helps; but ultimately be mindful of everything, until being mindful becomes the habit.

So what game do I choose to play consciously? Runaway Climate Change is a fact. It is unavoidable in this existence. It is the pinnacle achievement of the ego-driven mindset. Everything about it, including extinction, is the result of a world that is completely asleep. It is the crowning achievement of the industrial civilization stage upon which this self-proclaimed intelligent species has created. I choose to play in this existence by rejecting that civilization. I have rejected it ever since I woke up in High School. I looked upon our species with disgust, but because I was beholden to the role models and people “in charge” it was repressed and it ended me up in the church. I reject the intelligence of our species. I value how humans change for the better pretty dramatically when they are in small social tribes. I choose to work toward local food, local community, and people lending help to people. If I can find that or if I can play a part in creating it, I will. If not. I’ll do it some other way.

No one will escape the pain of climate change. Memento Mori, remember your death. Knowing that you are going to die and keeping that awareness about you, should, in itself, change the way you behave and act on this stage. I choose to embrace the miracle of growing things. It stands in stark contrast to the wider slumbering egoic culture that strives to kill and mine everything in its path. If this world implodes and the universe folds up on this little pebble in the great void, my energy will reverberate into the eternal fabric that at least one person in this blip of an existence valued life and the natural world. I choose to use my physical abilities to work with the field. I choose to reject what ego has wrought. In the end, it doesn’t matter; but the universe planted this seed of revulsion in me back in the years that the native americans would have sent me out on a vision quest. I went on one and didn’t know it. I found myself and I hear its message. Detach from that which pollutes you, embrace that which feels right, do nothing as though it has ultimate significance. Float down your river of homesteading, don’t attempt to fight. Do it until it is indicated that you should do something else, and let that raft take you there.

I also choose to let go of controlling my world. Everything is what it is. Its all going to happen anyway… or maybe it won’t. Nothing I do is going to change that. I choose to watch world events as though they are a comedy, not something of ultimate significance. Everything is a giant comedy and my sense of humor is perfectly suited for it.

I reject the religion and sciences that revolve around ego. I choose to work to join myself with the field of energy and consciousness. My alter is my telescope, my zen is my bow, my sacrament is my farm. My tribe are those who choose to orbit those fields. But they too, will be free to find themselves and either continue to orbit or move to another plane.

There are certain realities to these choices if you don’t want to increase pain. Physical needs need to be met. At some point, the pain of work – my only forced habit of attachment to the egoic industrial civilization construct – at some level needs to be endured. The only result that can happen from eliminating that is to become a street person. It doesn’t seem to be indicated, but it does seem to be indicated that it needs to not be taken so seriously. If the ego driven world is going to wreck the lives of millions again, there is nothing on earth that I can do to stop it. In the end, it is not my fault. It is the result of children acting as if they are adults. There is nothing so blatantly obvious than the fact that we live in a world of children. They have had no right of passage, no help in awakening, and every construct of that civilization is designed to keep them trapped.

So I have anger associated with the awakening to meaninglessness. Should I have had a choice I would have avoided this existence altogether. The fascinating piece in all of this is how much bigger my understanding of infinity has become. This isn’t the only me. There are infinite versions. All of them are dreams, none of them mean anything, and that, ultimately, is the most freeing thing I can imagine. Freedom to play, freedom to choose, no matter what the slumbering play actors do.

(Throughout this I have referred to a word “Autolysis” It is a word coined in a trilogy by Jed McKenna which means to “devour one’s self”. It is a process by which he asserts can free the mind to reality. I highly recommend the books, as I know several others in this community would)

 

Corporations And The Richest Americans Viscerally Oppose Common Good

In Uncategorized on March 12, 2013 at 8:05 pm

https://i1.wp.com/www.thedawgpound.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/the_rich_vs_the_poor.jpg

Oldspeak: “The  New Spirit of the Age: Gain Wealth, Forgetting All But Self.” No efforts have  been spared… to drive this spirit into people’s heads. People must come  to believe that suffering and deprivation result from the failure of individuals, not  the reigning socioeconomic system. There are huge industries devoted to this  task. About one-sixth of the entire US economy is devoted to what’s called “marketing,”  which is mostly propaganda. Advertising is described by analysts and the business  literature as a process of fabricating wants – a campaign to drive people to the  superficial things in life, like fashionable consumption, so that they will remain  passive and obedient.

The schools are also a target. As I mentioned, public mass education was a major  achievement, in which the US was a pioneer. But it had complex characteristics,  rooted in the sharp class conflicts of the day. One goal was to induce farmers  to give up their independence and submit themselves to industrial discipline and  accept what they regarded as wage slavery. That did not pass without notice.  Ralph Waldo Emerson observed that political leaders of his day were calling for  popular education. He concluded that their motivation was fear. The country was  filling up with millions of voters and the Masters realized that one had to therefore  “educate them, to keep them from (our) throats.”
 
In other words: educate them  the “right way” — to be obediently passive and accept their fate as right and just,  conforming to the New Spirit of the Age. Keep their perspectives narrow, their  understanding limited, discourage free and independent thought, instill docility and  obedience to keep them from the Masters’ throats.
 
This common theme from 150 years ago is inhuman and savage. It also meets  with resistance. And there have been victories. There were many in the struggles  of the 1930s, carried further in the 1960s. But systems of power never walk  away politely. They prepare a new assault. This has in fact been happening since  the early 1970s, based on major changes in the design of the economic system. – Noam Chomsky. Wage Stagnation, wealth concentration, union busting, “trade liberalization”, globalization, financialization, deindustrialization, deregulation, denial & criminalization of civil liberties,  villianization of communism and other non-capitalist/free-market economic ideologies, these are all part of the power structures’ assault on representative democracy. The key to the success of the assault is education. Dr. Chomsky elucidates a little know history of public education systems, when understood, make very clear that today’s school privatizers and monetizers are yesterdays architects of the current incarnation of  the public education system. Everything is a version of something else. The goal again is to acclimate people to common good free, free market driven, individual responsibility dominated, “keep their perspectives narrow, their  understanding limited, discourage free and independent thought, instill docility and  obedience to keep them from the Masters’ throats.”  The difference now is the one education is not necessarily compulsory for poor, working and middle class citizens. Parents are provided with a range of private choices in education for their child. Public Education will be market education. People will be forced to compete for quality well-rounded education. Austerity and conformity is being dressed up as ‘free choice’.  Check out the brilliant video below:

Related Video:
Sir Ken Robinson – Changing Education Paridigms
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U

By Noam Chomsky @Alter Net:

The following is Part I of the transcript of a recent speech delivered by Noam Chomsky in February. AlterNet will publish Part II on Sunday, March 10.

Whether public education contributes to the Common Good depends, of course, on what kind of education it is, to whom it is available, and what we take to be the Common Good. There’s no need to tarry on the fact that these are highly contested  matters, have been throughout history, and continue to be so today.

One of the great achievements of American democracy has been the introduction of mass public education, from children to advanced research universities. And  in some respects that leadership position has been maintained. Unfortunately, not all. Public education is under serious attack, one component of the attack on any  rational and humane concept of the Common Good, sometimes in ways that are  not only shocking, but also spell disaster for the species.
All of this falls within the  general assault on the population in the past generation, the so-called “neoliberal era.” I’ll return to these matters, of great significance and import.
Sometimes the attacks on education and on the Common Good are very closely  linked. One current illustration is the “Environmental Literacy Improvement Act” that is being proposed to legislatures by ALEC, the American Legislative  Exchange Council, a corporate-funded lobby that designs legislation to serve the  needs of the corporate sector and extreme wealth. This act mandates “balanced”  teaching of climate science in K-12 classrooms.”
“Balanced teaching” is a code  phrase that refers to teaching climate change denial, to “balance” authentic climate  science – what you read in science journals. It is analogous to the “balanced  teaching” advocated by creationists to enable the teaching of “creation science” in  public schools. Legislation based on ALEC models has already been introduced in  several states.
The ALEC legislation is based on a project of the Heartland Institute, a corporate-funded Institute dedicated to rejection of the scientific consensus on the  climate. The Institute project calls for a “Global Warming Curriculum for K-12  Classrooms,” which aims to teach that there is “a major controversy over whether  or not humans are changing the weather.” Of course, all of this is dressed up in  rhetoric about teaching critical thinking, and so on. It is much like the current  assault on teaching children about evolution and science quite generally.
There is indeed a controversy: on one side, the overwhelming majority of  scientists, all of the world’s major National Academies of Science, the professional  science journals, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) : all agree that global warming is taking place, that there is a substantial human  component, and that the situation is serious and perhaps dire, and that very soon,  maybe within decades, the world might reach a tipping point where the process  will escalate sharply and will be irreversible, with very severe effects on the   possibility of decent human survival.
It is rare to find such consensus on complex  scientific issues.
True, it is not unanimous. Media reports commonly present a controversy between  the overwhelming scientific consensus on one side, and skeptics on the other, including some quite respected scientists who caution that much is unknown –  which means that things might not be as bad as thought or they might be worse:  only the first alternative is brought up. Omitted from the contrived debate is a  much larger group of skeptics: highly regarded climate scientists who regard the  regular reports of the IPCC as much too conservative: the Climate Change group  at my own university, MIT, for example. And they have repeatedly been proven  correct, unfortunately. But they are scarcely part of the public debate, though very  prominent in the scientific literature.
The Heartland Institute and ALEC are part of a huge campaign by corporate  lobbies to try to sow doubt about the near-unanimous consensus of scientists that  human activities are having a major impact on global warming with truly ominous  implications. The campaign was openly announced, including the lobbying  organizations of the fossil fuel industry, the American Chamber of Commerce (the  main business lobby) and others. It has had an effect on public opinion, though  careful studies show that public opinion remains much closer to the scientific  consensus than policy is. That is undoubtedly why major sectors of the corporate  world are launching their attack on the educational system, to try to counter the  dangerous tendency of the public to pay attention to the conclusions of scientific  research.
You probably heard that at the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting recently , Gov. Bobby Jindal warned the leadership that “We must stop being the stupid party…We must stop insulting the intelligence of voters.” ALEC  and its corporate backers, in contrast, want the country to be “the stupid nation” –  which may encourage them to join the stupid party that Jindal warned about.
The major science journals give a sense of how surreal all of this is. Take Science, the major US scientific weekly. A few weeks ago it had three news items side by side. One reported that 2012 was the hottest year on record in the US, continuing  a long trend. The second reported a new study by the US Global Climate Change  Research Program providing additional evidence for rapid climate change as the  result of human activities, and discussing likely severe impacts. The third reported  the new appointments to chair the committees on science policy chosen by the  House of Representatives, where a minority of voters elected a large majority of  Republicans thanks to the shredding of the political system.
In Pennsylvania, for  example, a considerably majority voted for Democrats but they won just over one-third of House seats. All three of the new chairs deny that humans contribute to climate  change, two deny that it is even taken place, one is a longtime advocate for the  fossil fuel industry. The same issue of the journal has a technical article with new  evidence that the irreversible tipping point may be ominously close.
For those whom Adam Smith called the “Masters of Mankind,” it is important  that we must become the stupid nation in the interests of their short-term gain,  damn the consequences. These are essential properties of contemporary market  fundamentalist doctrines. ALEC and its corporate sponsors understand the  importance of ensuring that public education train children to belong to the stupid  nation, and not be misled by science and rationality.
This is far from the only case of sharp divergence between public opinion and  public policy. That tells us a lot about the current state of American democracy,  and what that means for us and the world. The corporate assault on education and  independent thought, of which this is only one striking illustration, tells us a good deal more.
In climate policy, the US lags behind other countries. Quotes a current scientific  review: “109 countries have enacted some form of policy regarding renewable  power, and 118 countries have set targets for renewable energy. In contrast,  the United States has no adopted any consistent and stable set of policies at the  national level to foster the use of renewable energy” or adopted other means  that are being pursued by countries that do have national policies. Some things are being done in the US, but sporadically, and with no organized national  commitment. That’s no slight problem for us, and for the world, in the light of  the great predominance of American power – declining to be sure as power is  diversified internationally, but still unchallenged.
There are other respects in which the concept of Common Good that has come  to dominate policy – but not opinion — in the US is diverging from the affluent  developed societies of the OECD, and many others. A recent OECD study  shows that the US ranks 27th  out of 31 countries in measures of social justice,  barely above Mexico. It ranks 21st in inequality, poverty, life expectancy, infant  mortality, maternity leave, environmental performance, 18th  in mental health and  19th in welfare of children. Also ranks toward the bottom in high-school dropout  rates and poor student performance in math.
Figures like these are signs of  very severe systemic disorders; particularly striking because the US is the richest country in the world, with incomparable advantages.
Another crucial case is healthcare. US costs are about twice the per capita  costs of comparable countries, and outcomes are relatively poor. Studied by  economist Dean Baker reveal that the deficit that obsesses the financial sector and  Washington, but not the more realistic public, would be eliminated if we had health care systems similar to other developed societies, hardly a utopian idea. The US  healthcare system deviates from others in that it is largely privatized and lightly  regulated, and – not surprisingly – is highly inefficient and costly. There is an  exception in the US healthcare system: the Veterans Administration, a government  system, much less costly.
Another partial exception is Medicare, a government-run system, hence with far lower administrative costs and other waste, but still  more costly than it should be because it has to work through the privatized system  and is trapped by the extraordinary political power of the pharmaceutical industry,  which prevents the government from negotiating drug prices so that they are far  higher than in other countries.
Current policy ideas include proposals to increase age eligibility to cut costs:  actually it increases costs (along with penalizing mostly working people) by  shifting from a relatively efficient system to a highly inefficient privatized one. But  the costs are transferred to individuals and away from collective action through  taxes. And the concept of the Common Good that is being relentlessly driven into  our heads demands that we focus on our own private gain, and suppress normal  human emotions of solidarity, mutual support and concern for others. That I think  is also an important part of what lies behind the assault on public education and  on Social Security that has been waged by sectors of corporate wealth for years,  on pretexts of cost that cannot be sustained, and against strong public opposition.
What lies behind these campaigns, I suspect, is that public education and Social S ecurity, like national healthcare, are based on the conception that we care for other people: we care that the disabled widow across town has food to eat, or  that the kids down the street have schooling (“why should I pay taxes for schools? I don’t have kids there”). And beyond that, that we care about the tens of millions are  dying every year because they cannot obtain medical care, or about dying infants,  and others who are vulnerable.
These conflicts go far back in American history. It’s particularly useful to look  back to the origins of the industrial revolution, in the mid-19th century, when the  country was undergoing enormous social changes as the population was being  driven into the industrial system, which working people bitterly condemned,  because it deprived them of their basic rights as free men and women – not the least  women, the so-called factory girls, who were leaving the farms to the mills.
It is worth reading the contributions in the press of the time by factory  girls, artisans from Boston, and others. It’s also important to note that working- class culture of the time was alive and flourishing. There’s a great book about  the topic by Jonathan Rose, called The Intellectual Life of the British Working Class. It’s a monumental study of the reading habits of the working class of the  day. He contrasts “the passionate pursuit of knowledge by proletarian autodidacts”  with the “pervasive philistinism of the British aristocracy.”
Pretty much the same  was true in the new working-class towns here, like eastern Massachusetts, where  an Irish blacksmith might hire a young boy to read the classics to him while he  was working. On the farms, the factory girls were reading the best contemporary  literature of the day, what we study as classics. They condemned the industrial  system for depriving them of their freedom and culture.
This went on for a long  time. I am old enough to remember the atmosphere of the 1930s. A large part of  my family came from the unemployed working-class. Many had barely gone to  school. But they participated in the high culture of the day. They would discuss  the latest Shakespeare plays, concerts of the Budapest String Quartet, different  varieties of psychoanalysis and every conceivable political movement. There was also a very lively workers’ education system with which leading scientists  and mathematicians were directly involved. A lot of this has been lost under the relentless assault of the Masters, but it can be recovered and it is not lost forever.
The labor press of the early industrial revolution took strong positions on many  issues that should have a resonance today. They took for granted that, as they  put it, those who work in the mills should own them. They condemned wage  labor, which to them was akin to slavery, the only difference being that it was  supposedly temporary.
This was such a popular view that it was even part of the  program of the Republican Party. It was also a main theme of the huge organized  labor movement that was taking shape, the Knights of Labor, which began to  establish links with the most important popular democratic party in the country’s  history, the Farmers Alliance, later called the Populist movement, which originated  with radical farmers in Texas and then spread through much of the country,  forming collective enterprises, banks and marketing cooperatives and much more,  movements that could have driven the country toward more authentic democracy  if they had not been destroyed, largely by violence – though, interestingly,  similar developments are underway today in the old Rust Belt and elsewhere, very  important for the future, I think.
The prime target of condemnation in the labor press was what they called “The  New Spirit of the Age: Gain Wealth, Forgetting All But Self.” No efforts have  been spared since then to drive this spirit into people’s heads. People must come  to believe that suffering and deprivation result from the failure of individuals, not  the reigning socioeconomic system. There are huge industries devoted to this  task. About one-sixth of the entire US economy is devoted to what’s called “marketing,”  which is mostly propaganda. Advertising is described by analysts and the business  literature as a process of fabricating wants – a campaign to drive people to the  superficial things in life, like fashionable consumption, so that they will remain  passive and obedient.
The schools are also a target. As I mentioned, public mass education was a major  achievement, in which the US was a pioneer. But it had complex characteristics,  rooted in the sharp class conflicts of the day. One goal was to induce farmers  to give up their independence and submit themselves to industrial discipline and  accept what they regarded as wage slavery. That did not pass without notice.  Ralph Waldo Emerson observed that political leaders of his day were calling for  popular education. He concluded that their motivation was fear. The country was  filling up with millions of voters and the Masters realized that one had to therefore  “educate them, to keep them from (our) throats.”
In other words: educate them  the “right way” — to be obediently passive and accept their fate as right and just,  conforming to the New Spirit of the Age. Keep their perspectives narrow, their  understanding limited, discourage free and independent thought, instill docility and  obedience to keep them from the Masters’ throats.
This common theme from 150 years ago is inhuman and savage. It also meets  with resistance. And there have been victories. There were many in the struggles  of the 1930s, carried further in the 1960s. But systems of power never walk  away politely. They prepare a new assault. This has in fact been happening since  the early 1970s, based on major changes in the design of the economic system.
Two crucial changes were financialization, with a huge explosion of speculative  financial flows, and deindustrialization. Production didn’t cease. It just began to  be offshored anywhere where you could get terrible working conditions and no  environmental constraints, with huge profits for the Masters. Within the US, that  set off a vicious cycle, leading to sharp concentration of wealth, which translates at  once to concentration of political power, increasingly in the financial sector. That  in turn leads to legislation that carries the vicious cycle forward, including sharp  tax reduction for the rich and deregulation, with repeated financial crises from  the ‘80s, each worse than the last. The current one is so far the worst of all. And  others are likely in what a director of the Bank of England calls a “doom loop.”
There are solutions, but they do not fit the needs of the Masters, for whom the  crises are no problem. They are bailed out by the Nanny State. Today corporate  profits are breaking new records and the financial managers who created the  current crisis are enjoying huge bonuses.  Meanwhile, for the large majority, wages and income have practically stagnated in  the last 30-odd years. By today, it has reached the point that 400 individuals have more wealth than the bottom 180 million Americans.
In parallel, the cost of elections has skyrocketed, driving both parties even deeper  into the pockets of those with the money, corporations and the super-rich. Political representatives become even more beholden to those who paid for their victories.  One consequence is that by now, the poorest 70% have literally no influence over  policy. As you move up the income/wealth ladder influence increases, and at the  very top, a tiny percent, the Masters get what they want.

Copyright Noam Chomsky, 2013