Some People Are Thinking About How To Do Things Differently

We’d like to share the thoughts and ideas of

Charles Eisenstein.

The true exercise of freedom is one’s ability to imagine a new way of doing things, a way that makes things better.

under-the-veil.jpg


A Little Heartbreak

By Charles Eisenstein

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018


Can we invent a better myth to live by?

ROLAND BARTHES - "Mythologies"

“I am at the barber’s, and a copy of Paris-Match is offered to me. On the cover, a young black soldier in a French uniform is saluting, with his eyes uplifted, probably fixed on a fold of the tricolour. All this is the meaning of the picture. But whether naively or not, I see very well what it signifies to me: that France is a great Empire, that all her sons, without any colour discrimination, faithfully serve under the flag, and that there is no better answer to the detractors of an alleged colonialism than the zeal shown by this black soldier in serving his so-called oppressors.”

“For the myth-reader [i.e., the believer of myth] the outcome is quite different: everything happens as if the picture naturally conjured up the concept, as if the signifier gave a foundation to the signified: the myth exists from the precise moment when French imperiality achieves the natural state”

“Any semiological system is a system of values; now, the myth-consumer takes the signification for a system of facts: myth is read as a factual system, whereas it is but a semiological system.”

“the mythology of wine can in fact help us to understand the usual ambiguity of our daily life. For it is true that wine is a good and fine substance, but it is no less true that its production is deeply involved in French capitalism, whether it is that of the private distillers or that of the big settlers in Algeria who impose on the Muslims, on the very land of which they have been dispossessed, a crop of which they have no need, while they lack even bread. There are thus very engaging myths which are however not innocent. And the characteristic of our current alienation is precisely that wine cannot be a blissful substance, except if we wrongfully forget that it is also the product of an expropriation.”


Comment

Steven Cleghorn

Steven is an autodidact, skeptic, raconteur and film producer from America who has been traveling since he was a zygote. He's a producer at The Muse Films Ltd. in Hong Kong and a constantly improving (hopefully) Globe Hacker. He's seeks the company of interesting minds.

We Are Living. We Are Able. This Is Not Doom and Gloom.

Globe Hackers is changing tack, but before we start anew we’d like to share again an article on the dreaded, uncomfortable subject of climate change. Perhaps we’ve been too polemical at times but our focus was never doom and gloom. We have always been too curious to worry too much about how things will end.

 What happens after the sunset?

What happens after the sunset?

We want to focus on all the wonderful things there are to learn and the fabulous things we wish to create. We want to share amazing experiences that transformed our lives and plan new ones. We believe that finding solutions to challenges is fulfilling, life-affirming and enjoyable. We want to see people focusing on their avocations and vocations within a loving community where their curiosity and sincere quest for understanding and truth is never curtailed.

We understand the need for hope. We also feel that we must face reality with an open mind and heart.

With these things in mind we highly recommend reading the following article carefully. Think about what it's saying even if it relays information that’s hard to hear and even if you don't agree with its prognosis. And please, share it with your friends.

The Uninhabitable Earth

Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak — sooner than you think.

By David Wallace-Wells

skull-glasses.jpg

See also:

The Uninhabitable Earth, Annotated Edition

The facts, research, and science behind the climate-change article that explored our planet’s worst-case scenarios.

By David Wallace-Wells

See also:


We are living in a time of abundance and relative peace. We know we still have a lot to learn. As a whole, we are clever but not wise. We are dependent on all living things and yet we barely notice it. We have agency that we don’t use. We are all, to some degree, responsible for how things are although we rarely acknowledge this without blaming or shaming.

We hope all of us can continue this great adventure knowing there is a lot of work to be done and knowing we can always do better.

Globe Hackers wants to celebrate the greatest period of bread and circus human civilization has ever known. Not only the past two hundred years or so when things really took off but in the present moment where we can hardly fathom what’s next.

If there is something that needs fixing, for Life’s sake, let’s try to fix it. If we fail, at least we had a fantastic time trying to make things better.

For the foreseeable future, Globe Hackers is dedicated to bringing you, “Bread and Circus in the Anthropocene”.

More on that later.

Comment

Steven Cleghorn

Steven is an autodidact, skeptic, raconteur and film producer from America who has been traveling since he was a zygote. He's a producer at The Muse Films Ltd. in Hong Kong and a constantly improving (hopefully) Globe Hacker. He's seeks the company of interesting minds.

The Brave New World of Political Technologists

choice_main.jpg

If you are British, why did you vote to remain or leave?

Are our choices really our own? To what degree do outside influences and our subconscious determine our choices? How many social media platforms have you joined and shared your data with? Most of us register and opt-in without much of a thought. Powerful organizations use our data every day to influence our decisions. 

Have a listen to the following episode from BBC's Analysis Podcast and think twice about how your decisions are made. If you think you are a free agent, you might want to reassess. 

British Politics: A Russian View

Analysis

Peter Pomerantsev asks why new techniques in political campaigning have succeeded and what the consequences are for society. He has a different view to most from his past career working inside the TV industryin Moscow.

The future arrived first in Russia. The defeat of communism gave rise to political technologists who flourished in the vacuum left by the Cold War, developing a supple approach to ideology that made them the new masters of politics. Something of this post-ideological spirit is visible in Britain. Centrism no longer seems viable. Globalisation is increasingly resented. Ours is an uncertain political landscape in which commentators and polls habitually fail to predict what is to come. There was a time when if you lived in a certain place, in a certain type of home, then you were likely to vote a certain way. But that is no longer the case. Instead, political strategists imagine you through your data. The campaigns that succeed are the ones that hook in as many groups as possible, using advances in political technology to send different messages to different groups.

Pomerantsev, one of the most compelling voices on modern Russia, is a senior visiting fellow at the London School of Economics and is the author of "Nothing is True and Everything is Possible: Adventures in Modern Russia".

Inception, Matrix, The Island, Equilibrium, Hitman, Star Wars - Attack of the Clones, 300, 7 Pounds, Eagle Eye "Bring Me To Life" Evanescence

Do you think society at large is capable of getting out ahead of the curve when it comes to understanding these kinds of issues? Perhaps we have no real choice except to go along for the ride. 

Comment

Steven Cleghorn

Steven is an autodidact, skeptic, raconteur and film producer from America who has been traveling since he was a zygote. He's a producer at The Muse Films Ltd. in Hong Kong and a constantly improving (hopefully) Globe Hacker. He's seeks the company of interesting minds.

We Are Programmed by the Fiercely Competitive.

 Click to see the documentary.

Click to see the documentary.

It seems to me we have two choices that are achievable to some degree, perhaps we've always only had only two major choices of some kind or another.

We can work hard at being fiercely competitive or we can work hard at making our best attempt at enjoying life with our family and friends.

Sacrificing and struggling for progress (whatever you might mean by that) may only be a vain attempt at developing a human society that humans are not capable of. Fiercely competitive people program society with the algorithms that are designed to benefit the fiercely competitive.

In the immortal words of Tony Montana, "In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, you get the women." The woman bear your children and your children are privileged with money and power and there we have our mean. (As if "the women" have no say in the matter.)

Those of us who refuse to learn from the wisdom of our iconic movies are doomed to make the same movies over and over again. Movies imitate life while life imitates movies and so goes the genius of cultural evolution. 

Trump has the money, Trump has the power, Trump has the women - Trump has his base - full Stop!

Comment

Steven Cleghorn

Steven is an autodidact, skeptic, raconteur and film producer from America who has been traveling since he was a zygote. He's a producer at The Muse Films Ltd. in Hong Kong and a constantly improving (hopefully) Globe Hacker. He's seeks the company of interesting minds.

Are we devolving or progressing? Or, what makes a puppet human?

puppet-constructs.jpg

Are we devolving? Sure, culture is simply doing what it always does. Culture acts upon us and sucks us into its agenda. Culture is a beast that keeps growling at our heals. Culture roars and we are inspired to run up the hill to a better vantage point or escape into a tree, just out of reach, where we can keep our fear to ourselves. Culture barks and society rolls back down to a former position. That's why we need to stay focused and pay attention so we know when we'll need to make an effort to transform culture and push society back up toward the light.

But what about progress? This thing we call progress is generally an illusion.  In order to make progress, we'd have to know how things work. Unfortunately, most of us are puppets who have no idea how puppets work. What puppet could understand the mechanisms of mind that made it and make it dance? Only God knows those mysterious things. We learn how something works if we need to know. We are compelled to survive after all. We are special puppets who are a tad bit more evolved because we are a tad bit more conscious. We have this thing called "self" and we are not yet sure whether ants have self-awareness or dogs or cows or chickens or tuna fish or pine trees. Those life forms don't talk like us. They don't seem to have the capacity to lie. They don't make complicated tools that allow them to seemingly have dominion over nature. They are simply part and parcel of a greater whole.

We build rocket ships and MRI machines and yet our moods are influenced by microbes that inhabit our intestines. Why do human bodies host so many microbes and if microbes influence our thoughts and moods, how does that work? What's going on with all these microbes? Some people ask such questions; some people like to think slow; some people are more curious than others; some people like to investigate things.

If we are losing something and therefore devolving, what is it we're losing? 

Past ideals are constructs, fantasies.  Alexander the Great's soldiers while marching into Persia carried their constructs and fantasies. Did those mental things add weight to their kit?

We are programmed to fit in and behave. If we don't we fit in and can't behave, we find somewhere else where we can fit in and behave. If we can't find our community we become derelict and loveless. A nose ring, a tattoo or a Luis Vuitton bag are just parts of a uniform that will hopefully attract love. Any random sneeze might put a potential nosering wearing hipster on a path to Yale Law School where, eventually, a Luis Vuitton bag would have immense importance. Does one really love the bag or its function as a lure meant to attract love? We are simply signaling in an attempt to get what we think we need when what we actually need are loving relationships. 

in-love.jpg

A butterfly flaps its wings and we dance to whatever music we come to need to dance to. It may actually be that random, and at the same time, that deterministic. 

Perhaps we'd be better off thinking about degrees of "agency". To a certain degree, some of us have a tad bit more of it. If you need to ask what, why and how questions, you probably have more agency than most. That is, of course, if you do the work to try to answer those questions.

So what can turn a puppet into a human being? First, fight the lies that make us puppets and if we become truly brave, truthful and unselfish we will be born again as real human beings content with a struggle that leads to something better. 

liberty.jpg
Comment

Steven Cleghorn

Steven is an autodidact, skeptic, raconteur and film producer from America who has been traveling since he was a zygote. He's a producer at The Muse Films Ltd. in Hong Kong and a constantly improving (hopefully) Globe Hacker. He's seeks the company of interesting minds.

Please Indulge Me, I have a question.

If we found a twin Earth on the opposite side of the sun that was pure, habitable and rich with resources and no people, would you be in favor of putting people on it?

a-pristine.jpg

Thumbs up? Thumbs down?

Now please take a few minutes and watch this:

What do you believe and why do you believe it? I wonder if enough of us will do the work required to find sustainable solutions to serious problems. 

Comment

Steven Cleghorn

Steven is an autodidact, skeptic, raconteur and film producer from America who has been traveling since he was a zygote. He's a producer at The Muse Films Ltd. in Hong Kong and a constantly improving (hopefully) Globe Hacker. He's seeks the company of interesting minds.

Why I Unsubscribed to Your Newsletter

Or why I guess I should stop writing blog posts. 

A-dead-mall.jpg

THE CLIMATE REALITY PROJECT SUBSCRIPTION CENTER
We’re sorry to see you go! Please confirm your email address below.
Unsubscribe s___.__rn@gmail.com from:
Everything. Permanently remove me from all lists.

Please tell us why you are unsubscribing:

Unfortunately, I believe that your newsletter won't make a bit of difference to the future of human civilization. The people will never stand together to save human habitat. Instead, it seems we would rather pine for the afterlife. 

Afterlife.jpg

We are living in the Anthropocene and are the root cause of The Sixth Extinction. We are the cause of rapid, catastrophic climate change and all we want to do is go shopping. We are content with bread and circus. 

However, I am sure that if we can find a way to monetize "the end of days" climate change will suddenly become the most important issue of the day. Imagine all the sustainable, green merchandise we could sell locally. It could solve inequality and allow entrepreneurs to exit the "gig economy" for decent jobs we could be proud of. (I apologize, I'm being sarcastic.)

When global corporations and the uber rich are finally paying lobbyist large sums of money to talk to elected officials about the need to come to terms with climate change, it will be far too late to worry about it. Do you really believe that any normal person will be lucky enough to enter the gated communities that await the super rich in New Zealand? Do you really believe their vain attempt to secure a reengineered habitat for their descendants is possible? 

Human civilization has always been about wealth and power. We don't care about complex natural systems. OK, you are right, some people do, but not enough of us to make a difference.

I'm an American who has lived abroad for thirty-five years in seven different countries. In my opinion, from the outside looking in, America provides no hope for humanity whatsoever. It doesn't matter what issues you are concerned about: poverty; sustainable food production; technology; world peace; education; innovation; social justice; human rights, etc. 

Americans are, however, very good entertainers. We are universally appreciated for that. We will await our fate while being very well entertained - of this, I am certain.

As for the rest of the world stepping up to find solutions to our social, economic, cultural, health, and science challenges -  don't expect much. We are all equally blind. We have become the walking dead, the destroyers of civilization. No epic poem could possibly describe the profound stupidity of our species. However, our unique brand of idiocy could be described in ONE word - consumerism. 

We are clever but we are not wise. We are muppets. 

a-voyager-golden-record.png
e-waste2.jpg

Although we can also be profoundly beautiful, in the end, we were but a brief, insignificant hiccup in the mysterious space-time continuum, also known as, the Universe. We are the constantly recycling star stuff Carl Sagan spoke of. I doubt any intelligent life form will ever encounter Voyager's Golden Records that we so pompously launched into outer space. Our e-waste may lie buried here for hundreds of millions of years waiting in vain for an alien archeologist to make sense of it all.

Good luck with your work spreading the word; we all have to do something. 

Although I am profoundly disappointed that human civilization is coming to an end and that we won't be able to continue to make amazing discoveries about ourselves, the universe and our place in it for much longer; I hope some of us will continue to be able to live loving, inspired lives and die with dignity.

Comment

Steven Cleghorn

Steven is an autodidact, skeptic, raconteur and film producer from America who has been traveling since he was a zygote. He's a producer at The Muse Films Ltd. in Hong Kong and a constantly improving (hopefully) Globe Hacker. He's seeks the company of interesting minds.

Must Read: Political Aspects of Full Employment

Must-Read: Michael Kalecki (1943): Political Aspects of Full Employment: “Most economists are now agreed that full employment may be achieved by government spending…

 Michael Kalecki

Michael Kalecki

…There is a political background in the opposition to the full employment doctrine, even though the arguments advanced are economic…. The reasons for the opposition of the ‘industrial leaders’ to full employment achieved by government spending… [are]: (i) dislike of government interference in the problem of employment as such; (ii) dislike of… public investment and subsidizing consumption… (iii) dislike of the social and political changes resulting from the maintenance of full employment….

Capitalists [have] a powerful indirect control over government policy: everything which may shake the state of confidence… [might] cause an economic crisis…. The social function of the doctrine of ‘sound finance’ is to make the level of employment dependent on the state of confidence…. The dislike of business leaders for a government spending policy grows even more acute when they come to consider the objects on which the money would be spent…. Public investment… be confined to objects which do not compete with the equipment of private business… suits the businessmen very well. But the scope for public investment of this type is rather narrow….

The maintenance of full employment would cause social and political changes which would give a new impetus to the opposition of the business leaders. The ‘sack’ would cease to play its role as a disciplinary measure. The social position of the boss would be undermined, and the self-assurance and class-consciousness of the working class would grow…. ‘Discipline in the factories’ and ‘political stability’ are more appreciated than profits by business leaders. Their class instinct tells them that lasting full employment is unsound from their point of view, and that unemployment is an integral part of the ‘normal’ capitalist system…

Kalecki-310x165.jpg

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL PAPER - it's only four pages. 

Comment

Steven Cleghorn

Steven is an autodidact, skeptic, raconteur and film producer from America who has been traveling since he was a zygote. He's a producer at The Muse Films Ltd. in Hong Kong and a constantly improving (hopefully) Globe Hacker. He's seeks the company of interesting minds.

Be The Best Global Citizen You Can Be

We all must think globally, act locally and recognize that we are all global if we are going to maintain a sustainable modern civilization. If we don't all cooperate and work together the current human project will end. 

The following presents some very good ideas to consider regarding global citizenship. 

global-commune.jpg

10 Steps to Becoming a Global Citizen

By Kosmos Journal

PUBLISHED JULY 11, 2012

10 Steps to Becoming a Global Citizen
(from our partner—The Global Citizens Initiative

There is an emerging world community to which we all belong. The growing interconnectedness among people, countries, and economies means that there is a global dimension to who we are. The most positive way of responding to this is by pursuing a path of global citizenship. Global citizens see ourselves as part of an emerging world community and are committed to helping build this community’s values and practices.

Here are 10 Steps that you can take if you are interested in becoming a global citizen.

Step 1.  RECOGNIZE THE GLOBAL PART OF WHO YOU ARE: All of our lives have become globalized; whether through the Internet, the way in which we’re impacted by the global economy; our desire to provide humanitarian assistance to disaster victims in countries other than our own; or even in our love of world art, music, food, and travel. We all have a part of us that is global. Examine your own life, recognize its global dimension, and reflect on how that affects your view of the world.

Step 2.  EXPAND YOUR DEFINITION OF COMMUNITY: Because of the many ways in which countries and people are now so interconnected, we all are now part of an emerging world community. This doesn’t mean that we have to give up being a member of other communities, e.g., our town, our country, our ethnicity. It means that we have another community—the world community—to which we now belong. Find ways to celebrate your connection to this community.

Step 3.  DISCOVER THE VALUES OF THE WORLD COMMUNITY: Every community needs to have values, and the world community is no exception to this rule. The values of the world community reflect the moral ideals that most of us believe in as the basis for human existence; for example human rights, religious pluralism, participatory governance, protection of the environment, poverty reduction, sustainable economic growth, elimination of weapons of mass destruction, prevention and cessation of conflict between countries, humanitarian assistance, and the preservation of the world’s cultural diversity. Take stock of your belief in these values. Are you aware of ways in which the world as a whole is trying to live by them?

Step 4.  BECOME AWARE OF GLOBAL POLICIES AND PROGRAMS:  Whether you realize it or not, all around you, policies and programs are being developed to help govern our emerging world community. Such policies range in scope from international treaties that ban the spread of nuclear weapons to administrative rules and regulations governing the internet. Learn about these policies and programs by subscribing to publications such as GCitizen, the Newsletter of The Global Citizens’ Initiative (www.theglobalcitizensinitiative.org).

Step 5.  ENGAGE WITH THE ORGANIZATIONS THAT ARE TRYING TO GOVERN THE WORLD: As a global citizen you should try and build awareness about the different organizations, which are making the policies shaping our world community. These organizations include international agencies, like the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund, legal tribunals like the World Court and the International Criminal Court, international professional associations like the The International Federation of Accountants or the International Civil Aviation Organization, and transnational corporations like Starbucks, Hindustan Lever, and Smith/Kline/Glaxo. Try to learn about and engage with these organizations and make sure that they are operating in accordance with the values we perceive to be important.

Step 6.  PARTICIPATE IN AN ADVOCACY EFFORT FOR GLOBAL CHANGE:  Sign petitions, join demonstrations, contribute funds, and explore other ways of advocating for global change. As global citizens we need to join together to express the fact that people across the planet share common views when it comes to basic values such as human rights, environmental protection, and the banning of weapons of mass destruction. The Global Citizens’ Initiative (TGCI) is an organization that provides information and opportunities for global citizens to join together and advocate for change.

Step 7.  HELP ENSURE YOUR COUNTRY’S FOREIGN POLICY PROMOTES GLOBAL VALUES:  Global citizens also are citizens of the countries in which they were born and live. As such we have the ability to influence the positions that our countries take on global issues. We need to help ensure that our country’s foreign policy supports the building of equitable global solutions to world problems; solutions that work for all countries. So let your government know how you feel by supporting leaders who want their countries to become engaged with the world, not isolated from it.

Step 8.  PARTICIPATE IN ORGANIZATIONS WORKING TO BUILD WORLD COMMUNITY:  There are all sorts of organizations making important contributions to our emerging world community—NGOs, global action networks, international professional associations, transnational corporations, and others. They work on a range of issues related to the values of our world community—ranging from human rights to world arts and culture. Pick one, any one that relates to an issue in which you are interested, and get involved.

Step 9.  NURTURE A LIFESTYLE THAT SUPPORTS SUSTAINABLE GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT: The environmental movement has taught us a great deal about how everyday lifestyles and behaviors can have an impact on the quality of life on our planet. The types of transportation we use, how we heat or cool our homes, the types of clothes we wear and the food we eat all affect our quality of life. As global citizens we need to adopt environmentally responsible behaviors in the ways we live.

Step 10.  SUPPORT WORLD ART, MUSIC, AND CULTURE:  Being a global citizen is also a celebration of the many different arts and cultures of our people. Take time to learn the ways in which different cultures give expression to the human spirit.

Comment

Steven Cleghorn

Steven is an autodidact, skeptic, raconteur and film producer from America who has been traveling since he was a zygote. He's a producer at The Muse Films Ltd. in Hong Kong and a constantly improving (hopefully) Globe Hacker. He's seeks the company of interesting minds.

It's Not About Sex

a-sexpred.jpg

The avalanche of accusations of sexual assault and harassment by well-known people belies a more pernicious pathology at the heart of human culture - Money & Power.

Sexual harassment became a common legal issue in the 1980s. It started when we finally admitted that "flirtation" in the workplace belied much more sinister and damaging social habits surrounding sexual predation. 

Cultures are always changing whether one perceives it or not.  Cultures also seem to evolve, but that is an illusion. The vicissitudes of cultural norms, fashions, fads, and habits are programmed by a vast, frenetic cacophony of random, cascading interactions that are transiently formed into something coherent by the human brain's need to make sense of social experience; what is often called today - the narrative. 

In America, in the twenties and sixties, when norms surrounding sexual behavior seemed looser, one might not have spoken about unwanted advances simply because it wasn't "hip" to do so. The desire to fit in superseded one's need for justice when one felt threatened by unwanted sexual advances or when one indeed had been sexually assaulted. (This is, of course, a gross simplification and only concerns itself with one facet of a violent and humiliating crime.)

Everyone, regardless of what era they may have grown up in understands that there are lines that when crossed constitute an attack that causes terrible injury to the victim. And like pornography, some lines can be somewhat subjective, as in, you know it when you see it. 

There is one aspect of all of this that is utterly clear to me and should be utterly clear to everyone: money and power are at the heart of the issue. 

People don't speak out against, don't report about, don't prosecute these particular, well-known individuals simply because they don't want to get on the wrong side of money and power. They are so afraid of curtailing their chance to make money and access power that they are willing to look the other way and endure the trauma, pain, and guilt of a crime whose victims may even be their friends.

I'm talking less here of the direct victims of violence than the bystanders who know it's happening and say nothing. Believe it or not, they are victims too. Anyone who doesn't report such behavior or ignores these criminal acts is complicit in assuring that there will be new victims. It may be subjective but we know guilt and suffering when we feel it. 

So this is the real question I'd like us to focus on for a moment. Is the system screwing all of us? I'd say it is and has been for a very long time. We simply can't find a way to live together without the inequities of money and power at the center of our culture. If we really want things to get better we're going to have to redesign and re-engineer our socioeconomic system and we're going to have to heal our culture. We have to be willing and able to blow the whistle and know that in doing so we're not going to damage our reputation or our ability to pursue happiness. 

It's simply not right to use your power to coerce another person to do something they don't want to do. And yet it happens all the time and not just when an asshole wants to get off. We are all slaves to circumstances to one degree or another. 

Human sexuality becomes diseased and violent when it's mixed with money and power. Various cultures are more or less restrained. I'm not talking about cultural relativism. Just ask a cultural anthropologist about sexual norms across cultures. 

You see, there is an imbalance of information and resources that is causing almost all of the damage here. All of the criminal perversions in our culture sprout from these inequities. 

So do you want to change things for the better? #metoo 

Revolt!

Steven Pinker, FFRF's honorary president, is a cognitive scientist, experimental psychologist, linguist and popular science author. He is a Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. Pinker is one of the world's foremost writers on language, mind, and human nature.
2 Comments

Steven Cleghorn

Steven is an autodidact, skeptic, raconteur and film producer from America who has been traveling since he was a zygote. He's a producer at The Muse Films Ltd. in Hong Kong and a constantly improving (hopefully) Globe Hacker. He's seeks the company of interesting minds.

HyperNormalisation - What Do You Think of This Film by Adam Curtis?

I hope you will watch this film in full and think carefully about what it's saying. 

Tell me what you think.

Comment

Steven Cleghorn

Steven is an autodidact, skeptic, raconteur and film producer from America who has been traveling since he was a zygote. He's a producer at The Muse Films Ltd. in Hong Kong and a constantly improving (hopefully) Globe Hacker. He's seeks the company of interesting minds.

Myopia - The Paradox of Success

nuclear-power-plant.jpg

The economy, the environment, Earth’s ecosystems, politics, culture, values are all interconnected. Each new discovery has unintended consequences. Civilization’s use of fossil fuels is warming the earth’s atmosphere at an alarming rate, unprecedented, perhaps, since life began to define the nature of our planet’s chemistry. (Definitions being purely a human thing, of course.) As far as we know now, life only exists on Earth. Humans have only been here a couple of hundred thousand years. That’s what we’ve learned through the amazing toolkit we call science. (What a boring old cliche of a paragraph - well worn indeed, but not well enough considered.)

 J. Robert Oppenheimer, Nuclear Physisist and all business. 

J. Robert Oppenheimer, Nuclear Physisist and all business. 

Perhaps the most powerful human achievement was splitting the atom and creating nuclear bombs. We have learned much from having used them against our fellow human beings in Japan. Thanks to science, of course. Did the Japanese, by not surrendering to the Alleys earlier, unwittingly volunteer to be subjects of our research into the effects of a nuclear bomb attack? Modern civilization has so many complex and debatable things to ponder. I can imagine our world giving Socrates, and dare I say, even Jesus Christ a nasty headache.

We have nuclear power because we were compelled by our enemies in WWII to make nuclear bombs. After nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we needed a benevolent Genie, one that could remain happily out of the bottle. The Nuclear Power Industry was born. Since then we’ve tried in vain to limit nuclear weapons proliferation. But the bad Genie won’t be imprisoned.

The North Korean, leadership obviously believes that nuclear weapons are essential for their survival. Their only hope for “freedom”. Isn’t that ironic? That’s what they believe, that’s what the North Korean people have been made to believe. Their leader knows he doesn’t stand a chance of remaining in power without nuclear weapons that can be effectively delivered to his enemies porch. The world has been dealing with threats from North Korea since the Korean war. North Korea das stayed the course for decades and are finally close to having the most powerful bargaining chip any country could possibly possess. There is no way they are going to give that up.

Don’t we all wish nuclear bombs would just go away? How can we put that damn Genie back in the bottle? Will threats work? Will war help? Did we get enough bang for our buck in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan? Were those wars worth the cost? Who benefited from those conflicts and how? Who made money and who died?

(Nuclear power plants generate 14 percent of the world's electricity, but some countries are more dependent on this power source than others. France relies on nuclear for 75.2 percent of its electricity; the United States, about 20 percent.) Nuclear power is costly and its price may ultimately be too high but for now we're living with nuclear power just fine.

WHAT IS COST OF NUCLEAR POWER IN TERMS OF LOST ELECTRICITY OR TRADE IN ELECTRICITY?

Depending on what sources you look at, decommissioning a nuclear power plant is either insanely costly and dangerous or well within reasonable costs and risk parameters. At any rate, nuclear power is a huge and important industry with plenty of lobbying money. How do you think climate change will affect the nuclear power industry? Is Fukushima still a big deal or can we write that disaster off already and get on with it?

And energy policy really is all about money and power. Cheap energy is a great source of power for businesses and governments. Of course, common people like it too. In fact, we’re addicted to it. We all need energy, lots of it. Human exploitation of fossil fuels created modern civilization. Fossil fuels have been the low hanging fruit compared to the complex business of creating the latest generation of nuclear power plant. Homo Plugged-In can't live without cheap power. Imagine the suicide rate if the power grid went down for a month.

Global Capitalism needed fossil fuels to develop. Without cheap energy at the scale of fossil fuels, we would be living very differently today. We may never have discovered a way to split the atom. Other than Global Capitalism, consideration of any other social-political-economic system ended many decades ago. Today, the many externalities and unintended consequences of global capitalism have finally and inevitably caught up with us, and the consequences are dire. We may now need to prepare ourselves and our children for a very different way of life.

What solutions to these problems are you looking at? Share compelling solutions your interested in from across domains of technology, science, social science, business and so on. Tell us what you're working on. What must we be busy doing to prepare for the future and to make our lives better? If you believe that our current global social-political-economic paradigm is inevitable and for the best, explain yourself and try not to parrot cable news. If you can't think of any possible alternatives then I must congratulate you on your lack of imagination and recommend you for the Pangloss Medal of Optimism and It Is What It Is, 2017.

["Pangloss gave instruction in metaphysico-theologico-cosmolo-nigology. He proved admirably that there cannot possibly be an effect without a cause and that in this best of all possible worlds the baron’s castle was the most beautiful of all castles and his wife the best of all possible baronesses. —It is clear, said he, that things cannot be otherwise than they are, for since everything is made to serve an end, everything necessarily serves the best end. Observe: noses were made to support spectacles, hence we have spectacles. Legs, as anyone can plainly see, were made to be breached, and so we have breeches. . . . Consequently, those who say everything is well are uttering mere stupidities; they should say everything is for the best." From Voltaire’s “Candide”]

If you’re a highly paid clerk, professional or executive working for a large global enterprise, or only a bright little slacker waiting for your stock to vest, enjoy your salary and good luck; deaf ears also hear no evil and see no evil and it seems nothing can be done about that. Just hone your intuition, that will have to be good enough. Oh and, nice car!

 Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, $2,500,000

Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, $2,500,000

Comment

Steven Cleghorn

Steven is an autodidact, skeptic, raconteur and film producer from America who has been traveling since he was a zygote. He's a producer at The Muse Films Ltd. in Hong Kong and a constantly improving (hopefully) Globe Hacker. He's seeks the company of interesting minds.

Reflective People - What's Their Problem?

 Also concider reading: "From bacteria to bach" by daniel dennet. it's highly entertaining and informative.

Also concider reading: "From bacteria to bach" by daniel dennet. it's highly entertaining and informative.

A superb talk by Daniel Dennett. It's simple too clear and reasonable not to share. I hope you give it a listen. Enjoy the weekend. 

Comment

Steven Cleghorn

Steven is an autodidact, skeptic, raconteur and film producer from America who has been traveling since he was a zygote. He's a producer at The Muse Films Ltd. in Hong Kong and a constantly improving (hopefully) Globe Hacker. He's seeks the company of interesting minds.

What Brought The Republics to an End?

star-lips.jpg

Human groups, with their refined cultures, created the various Republics throughout history and have destroyed them over and over again. Now we all live in a global "Republic of Consumerism". For at least the last fifty years, a large number of us have become aware of what's going on all over the world. We are all members of a global socioeconomic system that is dementedly productive.

 Caesar Augustus, the first emperor in the ancient  Roman Empire

Caesar Augustus, the first emperor in the ancient Roman Empire

And yet, regardless of our progress we are as in control of our thoughts, ideas, and actions as we ever have been, which is to say, not very much in control at all.

Just give people the equivalent of a jar of peanut butter, a screen, and a beer and they won't care a thing about the topic discussed in the article below - their needs already having been generated and fulfilled by the propaganda of the day. 

The Death of the Republic

Posted on May 21, 2017

By Chris Hedges

The vast majority of the small fraction of humanity that thinks in similar terms or has even noticed the things discussed in Hedges' article are powerless to do anything but vent their disgust. This crippling powerlessness is not their fault, it's only natural.

Even the path to power is barely perceptible and equally as distracting. One rarely understands the society one is struggling to be a part of until it's too late. If one facilitates murder while never pulling the trigger, when precisely did they turn into a killer? Is a child's innocence and potential only predicted on the genes inherited from their grandparents and their equally improbable life experiences? It really does start with your grandparents, and who among us chose them? If we have any freedom at all we simply fit into what we've become and go from there.

We can not, I suppose, know what our will has begotten. If anyone is free to any extent they are wise and suffer from fewer delusions than most. It would be a tidy trick indeed if humanity evolved into a creature with free agency grounded in wise ethics. How much time would that take I wonder? And by our own lofty and hubristic standards of illusion, it seems highly unlikely our species will be around long enough to grow into wise apes. Disregarding the cultural miracle required for a critical mass of us to even want to achieve a state of being we might call wise. 

We seem to have a deadman's switch in our genes. Perhaps our genes aren't selfish enough or finely evolved enough to activate the information requiring wisdom as a trait for long term survival. Or maybe we just lack the discipline to turn it on and make those traits emerge; or maybe it’s just bad luck, our circumstances having not been right for such a trend.

It should be obvious to anyone with a decent education that we evolved in this unique environment and are dependent upon its special balance of complex interacting elements. We can survive in various extreme environments but the spectrum is narrow and nothing to be taken for granted. We may be able to change our environment for our benefit but we are also terrible at predicting the unintended consequences of doing so. We are literally flipping a switch now and the result could be darkness not light.

It makes me think that if God is truly loving, compassionate and merciful than our ability not to notice the hell our stupidity is creating until it's too late is truly a blessing.

Humanity is in control of its destiny in the sense that it's the first species we know of in 3.5 billion years of life on earth that has the ability to self-consciously determine its own demise through its own creations. And, we can reflect upon the habits that are ultimately going to kill us. Amazing! Dare I now utter the cliche: humanity has only been around for a brief blip in terms of geologic time, and yet, here we are reading words on a screen. And the brief blip we call, Human Civilization obviously contains within it destructive qualities that have only recently, in an even briefer blip we call the Industrial Revolution, given us the tools to destroy all life on earth. We are clever beasts - it's only natural that we are enamored with ourselves. 

In this world, bound by temporality, isn't our amazing creativity something to be proud of? Also, shouldn't we be proud of having the privilege of living during the end times; of having the amazing good luck of knowing exactly how we did ourselves in; of knowing the end of the story? We don't have to suffer through the process of contemplating the worries and aspirations of future generations or of fearing unknown horrors to come. We can get all of that for our diversion and pleasure on Netflix or at the Cinema. Our vicarious and virtual lives add value to the mundane expressions of love and euphoria inherent in being part and parcel of nature or simply of taking a quiet, solitary walk in the forest. We may soon disappear but our e-waste will remain in layers of sediment as a testimony to our pride and fortune.

During past mass extinction events, how can we know anything about the suffering of creatures who's habitat became unable to support their lives? Could they have known they were heading for extinction? What did the last Mastodon feel? Apparently, nature is not bound by ethical concerns. Nature obeys it's own mysterious rules. Isn't it ironic that we're the only species we know of in the universe that has the ability to understand some of the rules of nature and apply them in creative ways to control outcomes and produce things?

In 1973 Carl Sagan published “The Cosmic Connection: An Extraterrestrial Perspective”, and in it, he said this:

"Our Sun is a second- or third-generation star. All of the rocky and metallic material we stand on, the iron in our blood, the calcium in our teeth, the carbon in our genes were produced billions of years ago in the interior of a red giant star. We are made of star-stuff."

Contemplating that is the closest we are ever going to get to experiencing eternity without drugs or deep meditation. (Why does this bring to mind the mad photographer in the movie Apocalypse Now? It's absurd and I giggle.) 

When the last person dies there will be no more memories. Perhaps eternity is simply a universe where humanity doesn't exist. I might have said, nonexistence is eternity or eternity doesn't exist. 

I remember walking around India when I was young with a middle aged man I nicknamed, Rasta Punjab, (he liked Bob Marley) who asked me several times a day, "What is time?" When we finally split up to go our separate ways I asked him if I had ever had the right answer and he said, "I don't know but your answers were entertaining."

So what are we to do? Try taking a journey that makes you wiser and wiser with every experience, with every human interaction, and enjoy every moment of it. 

Every person since the emergence of our species has had but one life. Think of how lucky we are to live in these times where we have just begun to understand the universe and ourselves. There is so much yet to learn so get busy, nothing lasts forever.

Enjoy the end times of The Republic! Viva la revolucion! 


 

Comment

Steven Cleghorn

Steven is an autodidact, skeptic, raconteur and film producer from America who has been traveling since he was a zygote. He's a producer at The Muse Films Ltd. in Hong Kong and a constantly improving (hopefully) Globe Hacker. He's seeks the company of interesting minds.

Don't Be Fooled! Vet Your Information Sources Carefully.

 Putin is really attacking us people. 

Putin is really attacking us people. 

The last election was unprecedented in America because of one main reason - Fake News. The Russians really did steal the election. 

It's an unfortunate fact that humans are easily fooled. I've written about this many times. I can't get enough of the subject. I yearn to trust my thought processes more. There is a vast cash of scientific literature on the subject from trusted sources and many popular books like Flim Flam, The Believing Brain, and Thinking Fast and Slow to name just a few.

It's generally understood that more progressive types get their information from a broader and more numerous supply of sources, while more conservative types tend to stick with a few outlets they feel comfortable with. Conservatives tend to believe that their books, historical documents, elected officials, and institutions have most of the answers while progressives might feel their current understanding of things is more provisional. I don't want to insult conservatives, these are uncontroversial findings. And it should be obvious that the spectrum of belief in any group covers a wide range. The point is there are many people in the world, whether conservative or liberal, that don't have the background knowledge to contemplate every event or subject from first principles - even if you were more or less able to do so you probably wouldn't have the time. We all follow shortcuts in our thought processes and if we're lucky we become aware of when our ideas or beliefs are flawed or wrong.

Which brings me to what I'd like to share with you today. One of my favorite politics podcasts is "Decode DC". The host, Jimmy Williams, has been working in politics for a long time and gives a fair hearing of a wide range of quests covering everything "DC". He's got a good sense of humor and brings a refreshing lightness to a subject that for many of us can be maddening. 

 Clint Watts

Clint Watts

This week Clint Watts discusses how Russia is interfering with global democracy. These days with all the bad information on the Internet and Fake New being quoted all over the place it's easy to be confused and easy to feel like throwing up your hands and giving up on even trying to be well informed. But please, don't do that, that would be a big mistake. We need to inoculate ourselves from Fake News and bad information so that we can make good decisions about how to participate in our communities and what leaders to put our trust in. 

I hope you listen to this episode of Decode DC and continue learning how you can become immune to bad information. Best of luck.

Episode 190: Russia is using you to destroy democracy

Russians are using your own media echo chamber to undermine your confidence in democracy. So says Clint Watts, a former FBI agent who has studied

Dave Shaw April 20, 2017

Russians are using your own media echo chamber to undermine your confidence in democracy. So says Clint Watts, a former FBI agent who has studied the phenomenon and recently testified before Congress. We speak with him about why Russia hackers and trolls are doing this, and why they’ve been more successful spreading their messages on the right than on the left.

The issue has gained in importance, even this week, as Reuters reported details of how a Russian government think tank plotted to affect the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The goals were to encourage voters to support candidates who would be friendlier to Russia and to undermine the legitimacy of the U.S. electoral system, according to the report.

While we are on the subject I thought you might also enjoy this:

David McRaney  April 3, 2017  Podcasts

YANSS 097 – What scam artists can teach us about the human brain

 Why do nigerian scammers always say they are from nigeria?

Why do nigerian scammers always say they are from nigeria?

Comment

Steven Cleghorn

Steven is an autodidact, skeptic, raconteur and film producer from America who has been traveling since he was a zygote. He's a producer at The Muse Films Ltd. in Hong Kong and a constantly improving (hopefully) Globe Hacker. He's seeks the company of interesting minds.

Is Anybody Out There? The Search for Intelligence in the Universe

 Jill Tarter who has long worked with SETI.

Jill Tarter who has long worked with SETI.

The title assumes that humans are intelligent and we are in the sense that we've been pretty good at developing advanced civilization, culture, and technology. We are exploring the solar system and the universe and so far as we know, we're the only species of intelligent life in the universe. Unfortunately, humanity might not have the cultural intelligence to control our technological development for much longer. Within all of our advancements, there are threats, the threat of war, nuclear war, environmental catastrophe, climate change, the diminishment of biodiversity and species extinction to name a few. 

Which brings me to why I'm posting today. I just listened to a conversation on Point of Inquiry podcast that covered areas of interest that characterize my world view almost completely. It covered what I have been thinking about for decades. 

Subjects covered include:

  • The search for extraterrestrial intelligence in the universe.
  • Developing a culture that thinks long term, instead of the usual what can I get tomorrow.
  • Human consciousness and artificial intelligence.
  • How we listen for extraterrestrial technology.
  • Cultural evolution.

I have often been frustrated when observing that issues we fought over one hundred years ago or fifty years ago are still with us today. It seems we are not learning from history. Our struggles stay with us generation after generation and only our tools change. 

I feel that if we could find a more efficient way for human culture to evolve - and let me use a metaphor here rather than spell out what I mean by human cultural evolution in several long winded paragraphs - we would eventually figure nature and ourselves out to such a degree that something like a Star Trek utopian, ever expanding and learning human culture could exist. 

And I wouldn't mind it at all if science became our new religion. Metaphorically speaking of course. Learning about how nature works is awesome. Learning about people, human culture, society, human thought processes and emotion - now that's a really complex puzzle and one worthy of solving through our innate curiosity and sense of adventure. 

Unfortunately, I'm sad that our incentives are so misaligned and twisted; that powerful business lobbies can be so destructive that we are forced to bear witness in our lifetime to things like the sixth extinction and rapid climate change. Realities that threaten the very existence of human civilization. 

It seems more urgent than ever for human cultures to put their many petty differences aside and come together to address these existential issues once and for all. 

Our global institutions have failed to achieve a truly global and peaceful world culture. They must be reengineered and made more effective as soon as possible. The people will have to make this happen. Many of our global governments are simply too short sighted to get the job done. And I hate to say this, but we take for granted the progress we've made at our peril.

I'm comfortable with my own mortality. I've lost a lot of friends and family over the years. But I would love it if I could feel before I die that the future of humanity seemed bright. 

We need to start living like we are members of the human species, an intelligent and loving species in this universe and not just members of cliques or nation states that are ready and willing to kill each other and everything on earth for a fleeting unit more of money and power. I don't want to die as pessimistic as George Orwell.

I hope you will listen to the full podcast. It's inspiring. 

April 24, 2017

Host: Josh Zepps last episode as host on Point of Inquiry.

Is Anybody Listening? Jill Tarter on the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

 

Comment

Steven Cleghorn

Steven is an autodidact, skeptic, raconteur and film producer from America who has been traveling since he was a zygote. He's a producer at The Muse Films Ltd. in Hong Kong and a constantly improving (hopefully) Globe Hacker. He's seeks the company of interesting minds.

Elected Representatives Care More About Their Jobs Than Children

Click on the image below to read a harrowing article found on www.writical.com from a teacher who is at his wit's end.

It's up to us to make sure our representatives work hard to provide high-quality educational resources for our children. We have to tell our representatives and their sponsors that we won't accept anything but the best for our children. This kind of thing happens all over the world and must not be tolerated. 

Teachers are often regarded as a guide and mentor who show the way forward to the students in life. Please read what this heroic teacher is going through in Oklahoma, USA. 


 Click on this image to read this teacher's heartfelt article. 

Click on this image to read this teacher's heartfelt article. 


 

 

 

Comment

Steven Cleghorn

Steven is an autodidact, skeptic, raconteur and film producer from America who has been traveling since he was a zygote. He's a producer at The Muse Films Ltd. in Hong Kong and a constantly improving (hopefully) Globe Hacker. He's seeks the company of interesting minds.

What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming

Another good book about human denial and illogical behavior. Please read it and share it with friends. Learn about how you think.

  Why does knowing more mean believing—and doing—less? A prescription for change

Why does knowing more mean believing—and doing—less? A prescription for change

The more facts that pile up about global warming, the greater the resistance to them grows, making it harder to enact measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare communities for the inevitable change ahead.

It is a catch-22 that starts, says psychologist and economist Per Espen Stoknes, from an inadequate understanding of the way most humans think, act, and live in the world around them. With dozens of examples—from the private sector to government agencies—Stoknes shows how to retell the story of climate change and, at the same time, create positive, meaningful actions that can be supported even by deniers.

In What We Think About When We Try Not to Think About Global Warming, Stoknes not only masterfully identifies the five main psychological barriers to climate action, but addresses them with five strategies for how to talk about global warming in a way that creates action and solutions, not further inaction and despair.

These strategies work with, rather than against, human nature. They are social, positive, and simple—making climate-friendly behaviors easy and convenient. They are also story-based, to help add meaning and create community, and include the use of signals, or indicators, to gauge feedback and be constantly responsive.

Whether you are working on the front lines of the climate issue, immersed in the science, trying to make policy or educate the public, or just an average person trying to make sense of the cognitive dissonance or grapple with frustration over this looming issue, What We Think About When We Try Not to Think About Global Warming moves beyond the psychological barriers that block progress and opens new doorways to social and personal transformation.

Comment

Steven Cleghorn

Steven is an autodidact, skeptic, raconteur and film producer from America who has been traveling since he was a zygote. He's a producer at The Muse Films Ltd. in Hong Kong and a constantly improving (hopefully) Globe Hacker. He's seeks the company of interesting minds.

"We Are Nature Protecting Itself"

Standing Rock is but one battle in a long war.

"We are nature protecting itself." Knowing that there are millions of people around the world who understand the profound and sacred meaning of that statement helps heal my sinking spirits.

I'm reposting an article in full from a journalist and activist I became familiar with through the RT Comedy talk show, Redacted Tonight. Lee Camp often does his best work when he connects with and interviews people like Alnoor Ladha the Executive Director of The Rules.

There are men and women in this world who want to do more than fit in. Somehow, deep in their hearts and minds, they see the just and good potential of individual human beings and can imagine a future that is truly better than today. Hurrah! 

I pray that I find the strength and the faith to nurture my belief in human goodness. 


Published on Wednesday, March 08, 2017 by Common Dreams

Memory, Fire and Hope: Five Lessons from Standing Rock

The North Dakota camp may have been evicted but the movement hasn’t lost. Here are five lessons activists around the world can learn from the water protectors.

by Alnoor Ladha

 "The ongoing struggle will not go down in the flames at Oceti Sakowin," writes Ladha. (Photo: Stephen Yang/Getty Images)

"The ongoing struggle will not go down in the flames at Oceti Sakowin," writes Ladha. (Photo: Stephen Yang/Getty Images)

"The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting." —Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

Last week, on February 22, 2017, water protectors at the Oceti Sakowin camp, the primary camp of Standing Rock, were evicted by the Army Corps of Engineers in a military style takeover. A peaceful resistance that began with a sacred fire lit on April 1, 2016, ended in a blaze as some of the protectors, in a final act of defiance, set some of the camp’s structures on fire.

"The neoliberal capitalist system has failed the majority of humanity and a new world is emerging."

The millions of people around the world who have stood in solidarity and empathy with Standing Rock now stand in disbelief and grief, but the forced closure of the encampment is simply the latest chapter in a violent, 500-year-old history of colonization against the First Nations. It is also the latest chapter in the battle between an extractive capitalist model and the possibility of a post-capitalist world.

Of course, the ongoing struggle will not go down in the flames at Oceti Sakowin. We should take this opportunity to remember the enduring lessons of this movement, and prepare ourselves for what is to come next.

1. There is a global convergence of movements

When I visited Standing Rock in October 2016, it struck me that this was the most diverse political gathering I’d ever seen. Over 300 North American tribes had came together for the first time in history. Standing alongside them were over 100 Indigenous communities from all over the globe. A contingent from the Sami people, the Indigenous peoples of Scandinavia, had traversed the Atlantic to show their support the day I arrived. They were joined by black bloc anarchists, New Age spiritualists, traditional environmentalists, union organizers and ordinary Americans who have never attended a protest.

The media has characterized Standing Rock as a one-off protest against a pipeline in North Dakota. But the reality is that the various movements from around the world including the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong, the Pink Tide in Latin America, the landless people’s movement from India, the anti-austerity movement in Europe, the global Occupy movement, and the countless "awakenings" spreading across the African continent are uniting as expressions of the same impulse: a belief that the neoliberal capitalist system has failed the majority of humanity and a new world is emerging.

2. A more holistic activism is emerging

With its sacred fire, daily prayers and water ceremonies, Standing Rock has helped to reanimate the sacred aspect of activism. We are seeing a shift from resistance to resistance and renewal simultaneously. Progressive movements which once internalized the Neitzchean dictum that "God is dead" are now evolving their positions. As the anarchist philosopher Hakim Bey states: "As Capital triumphs over the Social as against all spiritualities, spirituality itself finds itself realigned with revolution."There is a shift to embracing a more holistic activism that transcends traditional Cartesian duality and calls upon greater forces. Cedric Goodhouse, an elder at Standing Rock put it simply, saying: "We are governed by prayer."

"The particular ways in which Standing Rock embodied non-violent direct action has given many activists a new faith in the possibility of a more sacred activism."

The particular ways in which Standing Rock embodied non-violent direct action has given many activists a new faith in the possibility of a more sacred activism. I stood with dozens of water protectors when they prayed on water in front of Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) engineers while they were laying down oil pipeline. The very act of seeing Indigenous elders praying on water said more about the implications of an extractive pipeline than any linear argument. They dropped their tools not only because they wanted to avoid confrontation, but because somehow they understood they were on the wrong side of the moral calculus.

The author Charles Eisenstein reminds us of a powerful insight about sacred activism that has been embodied in Standing Rock: "We need to confront an unjust, ecocidal system. Each time we do we will receive an invitation to give in to the dark side and hate 'the deplorables.' We must not shy away from those confrontations. Instead, we can engage them empowered by the inner mantra that my friend Pancho Ramos-Stierle uses in confrontations with his jailers: 'Brother, your soul is too beautiful to be doing this work.' If we can stare hate in the face and never waver from that knowledge, we will access inexhaustible tools of creative engagement, and hold a compelling invitation to the haters to fulfill their beauty."

3. Occupation of space is a critical tactic

Even before Occupy there has been a renaissance in the political understanding of the value of place and space. The battlegrounds between the corporate/state nexus and people’s movements are physical realms: the places where resources are being extracted, water is being polluted and capitalist interests are expanding through what Marxist geographer, David Harvey, calls “accumulation by dispossession.”

The occupation of space creates a physical spectacle that forces the corporate media to tell the stories it would otherwise like to ignore. It creates networks of solidarity and deep relationships that span beyond the time and space of the occupation. It creates inter-generational transfers-of-knowledge, both politically and spiritually. It weaves the connective tissue for the continued resistance against corporate (and other imperialist) power.

Standing Rock will be remembered by the thousands of activists who braved blizzards to sleep in tipis, who cooked food together in the communal kitchens, and celebrated in song and ceremony with tribal elders around the sacred fire. As the activist Reverend Billy Talen recently stated: "Zuccotti Park and the stretch of sidewalk in front of the Ferguson police department and the meadow near the Sacred Stone… these three places are lived in. Here is where activists cared for each other and shared food, clothing and medicine. The force that upsets entrenched power the most is this compassionate living, this community in plain sight."

4. We are Nature protecting itself

Part of the on-going colonial legacy of North America is a battle between the mute materialism of capitalism that seeks to dominate nature and the symbiotic approach of Indigenous thought that sees Nature as alive, and sees human beings as playing a central role in the evolution and stewardship of the broader whole. It is this very worldview that rationalists derisively call “animist” and that continues to confound the utility maximization ideals of modern thought.

Indigenous lands are increasingly going to be a battleground not only for resource extraction, but ideology itself. Although Indigenous peoples represent about 4% of the world’s population they live on and protect 22% of the Earth’s surface. Critically, the land inhabited by Indigenous peoples holds the remaining 80% of the planet’s biodiversity.

"The idea that we are not protestors, but protectors of the sacred is a central theme that resonates throughout the world."

It is no coincidence that ETP moved away from its early proposal to have the DAPL project cross the Missouri river just north of Bismarck, a primarily white city, to the Standing Rock area inhabited by the Sioux tribe.

During COP 21 in Paris, Indigenous youth groups carried banners that read: "We are Nature protecting itself." The idea that we are not protestors, but protectors of the sacred is a central theme that resonates throughout the world.

In a powerful article on the Sacred Stone blog, the camp’s founder Ladonna Bravebull Allard said: "This movement is not just about a pipeline. We are not fighting for a reroute, or a better process in the white man’s courts. We are fighting for our rights as the Indigenous peoples of this land; we are fighting for our liberation, and the liberation of Unci Maka, Mother Earth. We want every last oil and gas pipe removed from her body. We want healing. We want clean water. We want to determine our own future."

These ideals are not just Indigenous ideals; they are ideals linked with our very survival as a species. In a world of catastrophic climate change, protecting the sacred must be the mantra of all activists and concerned citizens.

5. There is a common antagonist

Although the various social movements around the world are portrayed as separate incidents that are particular to their local context, there is a growing awareness among movements themselves that we are uniting against the same antagonist: the deadly logic of late-stage capitalism.

Whether one is fighting for land rights in India or tax justice in Kenya or to stop a pipeline in the US, the ‘enemy’ is the same: a cannibalistic global economy that requires perpetual extraction, violence, oppression, in the service of GDP growth, which in turn, benefits a tiny elite at the expense of the world’s majority.

"The sacred fire at Standing Rock may now be smoldering but it’s reverberations are only beginning to be felt."

There is a Algonquin word, wetiko, that refers to a cannibalistic spirit that consumes the heart of man. It was a common term used when the First Nations of North America initially interacted with the Western European colonialists. The spirit of wetiko, like many memetic thought-forms, has mutated and evolved, and has now become the animating force of the global capitalist system. We are not just fighting a pipeline; we are fighting the wetiko spirit that has taken hold of our planet like invisible architecture.

What Standing Rock achieved so beautifully was to provide this broader context, to ladder up a local struggle for clean water to the struggle against the forces of wetiko itself. Wetiko is inherently anti-life. And what we are all fighting for is a new system that recognizes our interdependence with the Earth and with each other, and that allows our highest selves to flourish.

The sacred fire at Standing Rock may now be smoldering but it’s reverberations are only beginning to be felt. As Julian Brave NoiseCat poignantly states in his reflections on the impact of this historical movement: "They have lit a fire on the prairie in the heart of America as a symbol of their resistance, a movement that stands for something that is undoubtedly right: water that sustains life, and land that gave birth to people."

This is the enduring power of Standing Rock. It has created inextinguishable hope, activated our historical memory and created new forms of power by the profound act of starting a global movement from a single sacred fire. The fires of Standing Rock are illuminating the transition that lies ahead and the new society that is emerging from its ashes.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Alnoor Ladha is the Executive Director of The Rules, a global network of activists, organizers, designers, coders, writers, and researchers dedicated to changing the rules that create inequality and climate change. He is also a board member of Greenpeace International USA.


Comment

Steven Cleghorn

Steven is an autodidact, skeptic, raconteur and film producer from America who has been traveling since he was a zygote. He's a producer at The Muse Films Ltd. in Hong Kong and a constantly improving (hopefully) Globe Hacker. He's seeks the company of interesting minds.

Why Does Life Form?

This is fascinating stuff. If you take the time to read the following PDF you won't regret it. 

Statistical physics of self-replication Jeremy L. England

For a lighter treatment of the theory have a look at this article:

A New Physics Theory of Life

In my opinion, this is a much more exciting theory of life than an ancient creation myth.

Enjoy!

Comment

Steven Cleghorn

Steven is an autodidact, skeptic, raconteur and film producer from America who has been traveling since he was a zygote. He's a producer at The Muse Films Ltd. in Hong Kong and a constantly improving (hopefully) Globe Hacker. He's seeks the company of interesting minds.