You Might Be a Patriarch if …

Wrapped in naivete, I’m constantly amazed at the ongoing support for patriarchy (which, for purposes of this essay, I equate with civilization, or the dominant culture). I understand we’re all deeply embedded within a patriarchal culture. I understand there’s no escape, as I’ve said and written repeatedly.

What I fail to understand is how people can continue to love a culture as thoroughly dysfunctional as this one. Failing to escape — even failing to attempt to escape — is one thing. Supporting, promoting, and loving omnicide is quite another.

Stop me if I’ve mentioned this before: When you’re dead, you don’t know you’re dead, but it affects other people. It’s the same when you’re stupid a patriarch.

Inspired, ironically enough, by the words of uber-patriarch Jeff Foxworthy, I offer the following hymnal. Foxworthy was kidding. I’m not.

You might be a patriarch if you love this murderous culture. If that’s the case, then I suspect you love serial killers, too.

You might be a patriarch if you cannot imagine another way to live. If that’s the case, you might want to try psilocybins.

You might be a patriarch if your first thought of the day is whether you missed the morning bell. At the New York Stock Exchange.

You might be a patriarch if you willfully ignore the people killed by American Empire, especially the people of color. Or if you use the word, “coloreds” instead of the phrase, “people of color.”

You might be a patriarch if your name is John but you believe you’re pushing the envelope when you prefer to be called “Jack.”

You might be a patriarch if you willfully ignore the multitude of species driven to extinction by industrial civilization. After all, what’ve those species done for you lately?

You might be a patriarch if believe the current monetary system is a good idea. If it’s working for you, it must be working for everybody, right?

You might be a patriarch if you defend actions taken by the U.S. Department of Defense Offense. American Empire won’t persist without access to Middle Eastern oil.

You might be a patriarch if you believe hard work is the primary key to financial success. The simple, oft-denied fact is that most wealthy people make money the old-fashioned way: They inherit it.

You might be a patriarch if you believe the industrial economy is important for reducing poverty, instead of creating it. Or if you believe paying for food and water is right because “it’s always been this way.”

You might be a patriarch if you haven’t noticed myriad privileges associated with being a heterosexual, white man. Or if you accuse women of overreacting. Or if you still believe Yoko Ono broke up the Beatles.

You might be a patriarch if you greet a room full of adults with, “hello, boys and girls.” Or, for that matter, if you refer to a woman as a girl. Ever.

You might be a patriarch if you don’t recognize patriarchy. Or if you don’t acknowledge it as problematic.

You might be a patriarch if credentials, experience, and education don’t matter to you. The patriarchal perspective is correct regardless.

You might be a patriarch if you’re a relatively wealthy, Caucasian man. But you might be a patriarch even if you do not belong to that demographic. And, whereas that demographic doesn’t insure patriarchy, it seems to help.

I could go on, as regular readers know. But any number can play.


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Comments 85

  • As bad as it all is I am proud to say that it represents a great relief to me, a vindication to a certain degree, of the fact that I have never felt ok with the way humanity had structured itself.

    There have been long periods where I have derided myself for feeling this way. I have even gone to great lengths to deny that I felt this way and have made what most would call great accomplishments. Never having felt genuine with any of it I am now committed to calling a spade a spade damn the consequences.


  • Dear Dr. McPherson, Patriarchy is all over the place. The blogosphere is full of these same trolls who actually patrol the net in numbers I’ve not seen before. They especially arrive in a feeding frenzy if your name is mentioned or John Nissen’s or Malcolm Light’s. Nastiness, abusive & stupid comments to shut down any honest blogger is the theme of the day. I have mentioned to several bloggers that many a troll is attempting to create a false narrative from any comments like they’re waiting for someone to engage & take the bait. These wonderful essays from H.Michael Sweeney & Giordano Bruno outline the typical troll playbook. Sweeney’s “25 Rules of Disinformation” and “8 Traits of Disinformation” are succinct & well described. Bruno’s “Disinformation Tactics: The Methods Used to Keep You in the Dark” are also national media’s playbook, too. Godspeed in your work, Dr. McPherson, and thanks.

  • What patriarchy has wrought:

  • No Patriarch’s in an Old Growth Forest where Red Fox encounters the deer. Sabine’s healing ferns & kind words FLOW like ART. GOING KUKU birds of a feather sing out to Caroline…”Come fly around thought circles with our little flock.” Seeds of thought & Tomato fruit in the Satish salad. GOING KUKU is a nest hatching ideas & Leads. LOVE rains.

  • Guy — Thanks for sharing your recent health issues so openly with us. I will be thinking of you, and remembering to exercise, on my next Trans-Pacific flight.

    One reason many don’t “like” you (or the message) is that, prior to age 60, I think nearly everyone is caught up in their career identity. Ten hours a day, minimum.

    Only past that age do we begin to really remember and seek other parts of our existence. Yes, I know — that deals a bad hand to the hopes of planetary survival, but — just watch the rush hour traffic, on their way to be baristas, or truck un-loaders, or community college students. (I thought we were supposed be by cyber- or e-everything by now?) A whole lot of nothing — for nothing to come.

    You have VIOLATED that daily preoccupation of their lives. First, abandoning a high-paying job (that they would ALL love to have had — “I’ll worry about extinction AFTER I’ve got that tenure”)

    And, your image (and humor). Scientist? Where’s the white lab coat? Where’s the serious (and patronizing) demeanor? Where’s the avoidance of all appearance of emotion? And, “Love”? (What are you a Beatle hippie follower?) Scientist? No way!

    Therefore, all your conclusions — even from research by those who look and sound like they wear the lab coats to sleep in at night — must be wrong. Just doesn’t match up with our habitually-ingrained images.

    They take all their prevailing cues from those who act within the careerist preoccupation, and you, my friend, are just the Outsider’s Outsider. (Which is why we Lifetime Outsiders congregate here, with you. Not much can be done about the others. They’re all at work this morning, cars parked obediently waiting outside in the company lot.)

  • “You might be a patriarch if you cannot imagine another way to live. If that’s the case, you might want to try psilocybins.”

    Worked for me! 😉

  • Or, as WOrdsworth wrote in 1802, “Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;— (AND now, our Planet); Little we see in Nature that is ours…” — The World is Too Much With Us (or not enough, not the right parts of it anyway)

    Thinking chronologically now, it’s amazing that perceptive souls at the very beginning of the Industrial Revolution sensed the destruction that was to come. And Thoreau railed against the railway, in the 1840s.

    I watched a Derrick Jensen interview yesterday, at Earth at Risk. Very kindred and clear-thinking soul among us; then I sat on my hill making work calls, as the deer grazed and came to 15 yards from me. Welcoming each other back for Springtime.

    Like Derrick, I love my little wild corner of North America, but I sense danger around, and I feel a need to escape. It comes and goes, always present just over the event horizon. Waiting for the Black Swan to land in my pond? (Here, it would probably be a Black Heron — and then I’d really have to wonder if I should worry?)

  • ” Or if you still believe Yoko Ono broke up the Beatles.”

  • The psilocybins worked 50 years ago, no reason for them to have stopped working now.

    I agree with the descriptions of patriarchy. You might be a patriarch if you think there is no patriarchy problem.

  • Oh my goodness! Thank you all so very much Caroline, Robert Callaghan, ed, mike k, Bud Nye, and Sabine! And a special thank you Lidia for the promotion—yes, I updated a bunch (31 pages in Word!) a month ago, and plan to do so again periodically.

    Good News about Cognitive Dissonance

    Help for improvement in mood
    Might be found in the progress accrued
    From conviction combined
    With the great peace of mind
    That comes from accepting we’re screwed.

  • I spent half an hour with two NPDC ‘planners'(one male and one female) and a full hour with one of the NPDC ‘planners’ yesterday.

    Early in the session I asked them both what force would be required to prevent a small book (nominally 50g mass) falling to the ground, how much energy would be required to lift the book one metre, and what force would be required to push the book across a surface with a coefficient of friction of 0.1.

    Neither had any idea, and freely admitted they had no idea.

    I then asked if they knew what the current atmospheric carbon dioxide content of the air was.

    Neither knew, though one did remember I had highlighted the very high level compared to the historic average at our previous meeting.

    With respect to energy, I pointed out (for the umpteenth time) that energy is everything and without energy nothing happens.

    With respect to carbon dioxide I pointed out the global level was about 403ppm, ‘miles’ above the historic average of around 230ppm, and that the level in New Plymouth was probably between 410ppm and 420ppm as a consequence of the high level of industrial activity, Such levels of CO2 are utterly disastrous.

    I went on to point out that for the past 15 plus years I had been very publicly highlighting the crucial role energy plays in maintaining current living arrangements, and that current living arrangements are ‘destroying the future’.

    I pointed out that ten years ago NPDC (and society in general) had the option of a ‘soft landing’ [with respect to energy] but now the choice is between a ‘hard landing’ and a horrific ‘crash landing’: every day that officialdom attempts to prop up dysfunctional arrangements increases the steepness of the ‘crash landing’. I pointed out is was completely insane to attempt to increase energy consumption within the district, which is exactly what current so-called planning requires, though there is never any mention of energy in so-called planning because planners are, for the most part, scientifically illiterate.

    I pointed out that all NPDC planning was geared to making everything that matters worse, and being a lot younger than me, they were going to suffer the dire consequences of group stupidity a lot more than I would; as a generalisation, the younger a person, the more they will suffer to consequence of the group stupidity that characterises modern western societies.

    I pointed out that decade of ignoring every warning has put NPDC ( along with every other community that has ignored the warnings) on the brink of the energy cliff, which, as far as I can tell, gets very steep from 2016 on.

    I said a lot more, can’t detail it all here and now.

    I pointed out that the cover of ‘Burn Baby Burn’ (which both were supplied with) depicts the choice between ‘setting fire to the next generation and dowsing the fire’; society (or rather the psychotic maniacs in power) have chosen the former -to set fire to the next generation’.

    I don’t know whether anything I said sank in.

  • You may be a Patriarch if

    * You cut off your right arm (as the Second Patriarch did) to convince the Bodhidharma (the First Patriarch) that he was serious about receiving the teaching.

    * You are the author of the Platform Sutra, the Sixth Patriarch. That is the only Buddhist sutra (= thread, cognate with suture) not attributed to the Buddha. It is also the only sutra not starting with the disclaimer “Thus have I heard”: the discourses attributed to the Buddha were transmitted as oral traditions for generations, and in some cases centuries before they were committed to writing. The transcriber vouched for the accuracy of the transcription, implying a disavowal of responsibility for the accuracy of the preceding transmission. How’s that for honesty?

  • “but now the choice is between a ‘hard landing’ and a horrific ‘crash landing'”

    maybe there is a crazed patriarh in the cockpit?

  • The Big O spewed some shit on climate today.
    I can tell because I saw a picture of him with his mouth open.

    Hey Dad, want to play Truth Or Dare?

  • Agonize about patriarchy? Who me? A short list.

    Hillarious Clinton, Condi Rice, Susan Rice, Samantha Power, Victoria Nuland, Tzipi Livni, Janet Napolitano, Margaret Thatcher, Golda Mier, Indira Ghandi, Gloria-the-mouth-Allrud, Madeline Albright, Janet Reno,
    Madame Chaing Kai Shek, Salome, ad nauseum.

    Guy, almost all your phrases could read very well if they were preceded by; “Regardless of gender, you might be a self-centered narcissist …

  • who is a patriarch? any probably white guy who will give you a list of 15 women + ad nauseam

  • These two apparently independent points of view appeared in our local mini-tabloid format news blurb advertising rag that is handed out for free every morning on our transit system and in many paper boxes and stores. The format in the paper had both opinions side by side with pictures of each “columnist”. It’s a feature they call “theduel”.

    The thing that rubbed me wrong immediately was the topic question left out the word “ice.” Of course this could be easily explained since computers aren’t so good at proof reading.

    Maybe some kind of underhanded patriarchy as well as doublespeak in evidence here:

  • Okay, “Regardless of gender …”

    Billy-boy Clinton, Lawyerfish Obama, Lawyerfish Biden, Careerist Kerry, Romney, Wolfowitz, Kagan, Doug Feith, Elliott Abrams, Big Dick Cheney, Jack Lew, Ariel Sharon, Netanyahu, Stevie Spielberg, Leon Panetta, Karl Rove, Colin Powell, Gen. Petreus, Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, Rube Rubio, Ted Cotton, Lindsey Graham, ad nauseum.

  • Re: Kevin Moore’s comment:

    ” What we are faced with is the most destructive force in history: the short-sightedness of humans. Humans are willing to destroy the environment that sustains them, the law that sustains them, the truth that sustains them. Indeed, humans will destroy everything that sustains life if they can raise their incomes for another quarter or another year. ”

  • Niccolò Machiavelli was a dickless pussy.
    Pillory Clitoris is like Dr. fucking Evil wearing a wig.
    She gets Cheney’s dick hard. Kissinger masturbates over her.
    The Bush and Clinton families have ruled America since 1980.
    The black Clinton is just a placeholder.

  • @ Thom Foolery Says:
    March 31st, 2015 at 9:57 am

    “You might be a patriarch if you cannot imagine another way to live. If that’s the case, you might want to try psilocybins.”

    Worked for me!

    … AND…

    @ Paul Chefurka Says:
    March 31st, 2015 at 10:37 am

    The psilocybins worked 50 years ago, no reason for them to have stopped working now.

    Ditto that, even though by the time I was introduced to that delightful little fungus I was already living in a “non-standard” way. However, let’s also not forget purple haze, orange barrel sunshine and windowpane, “visions” in abundance, long live Timothy Leary and Terrence McKenna!!

    I’m still debating (with myself) whether to post a response to Paul, Lidia, Sabine, Satish, et. al. here or on the previous thread or anywhere for that matter. Hell, I’m still somewhat in shock that I actually read all the comments after my opening query to Paul. What’s wrong with me?!?!

    @ Gerald Spezio…

    A much belated “Thank you” for your mention, long ago and elsewhere, of “Into the Cool.” I found it fascinating especially having been a fan of the elder Sagan in my youth. Again, thank you.

    Now I’m off to prepare to watch the sunrise from the bottom of the sea! 🙂

  • I have two questions:

    (1) Can we learn much of value about our physical and biological world through the processes of natural science?

    (2) If we can, why can we not learn much of value about ourselves through those processes of natural science, as so many insist here that we cannot? What presumably makes that impossible?


    Thanks for taking the time to give me some more specific feedback, as I requested, with your March 30th, 2015 at 11:07 am comment.

    You wrote “What’s fascinating to me about this – and speaks (in my view) to the larger issues of the human experience – is that you are a fan – and I’d say a groupie – of John Gottman.” For sure, I hold John Gottman, Susan Johnson, and many of their colleagues in high esteem, just as I do many historical figures, such as Newton, Maxwell, and Einstein. Framing this regard with a “fan” or “groupie” label trivializes my regard, but much more importantly it completely misses my main response, which involves not so much Gottman, Johnson, or others as personalities as THE THINGS WE HAVE RECENTLY LEARNED FROM THEIR WORK. I feel extremely grateful, lucky, and excited to have the privilege of learning these things, and the opportunity to bring them into my life and my relationships with others. Yes, I also like to tell others about these things in case someone else might also have an interest. In that process I assume that if someone has no interest they will just ignore it.

    You wrote “You certainly know more about him and his ideas than anyone else here, and probably more than most marriage therapists, too.” I expect that I probably do presently know a good bit more about these people and their work than anyone else presently commenting here, but I feel certain that I do NOT know more than most, IF ANY, of the Gottman- or Johnson-trained therapists do. I feel certain that I do not know nearly as much as they do in an academic sense, and certain that I have very little practical skill in comparison with them.

    You wrote “And what did he discover? Simply stated, he discovered that when spouses speak to one another in words with a distinct and detectable undertone of hostility (surprise, surprise) it was toxic for the relationship.” Actually, no. He discovered (1) that ALL relationships involve significant amounts of negativity, of hostility, (2) that this negativity does NOT predict unhappy, unstable relationships, as most people had previously thought, and (3) that the nature of the engagement process, largely negative sentiment override, produces effects toxic for the relationship in a long-term way. Emotion-based positive or negative sentiment override largely determines one’s response to an exchange and anxiously or avoidantly attached people will much more often interpret an exchange through a lens of negative sentiment override. What does “negative sentiment override” refer to? It refers to a person interpreting a positive or neutral exchange in a negative way. “Positive sentiment override”, on the other hand, refers to a person interpreting negative or neutral exchanges in a positive way. I think that much more often than not what you refer to as my alleged “distinct and detectable undertone of hostility” probably serves as an example of your own negative sentiment override interpreting my neutral comments in a negative way. I do not presume to “know” this with any degree of certainty. It just remains my present, tentative, best guess.

    I do not recall ever writing anything that suggests that I presumably remain OK while others do not. I certainly do not think or feel such things. Will you provide a specific example or two, please?


    I feel so sorry to learn about the things you mention in your March 31st, 2015 at 12:13 am comment. Realizing these things explains much for me about the angry, blaming tone of many of your comments. I feel quite sure that if I found myself in your shoes, I would think and feel in much the same ways. Spending two hours yesterday listening to three homeless and disabled veterans at our Tent City meeting helps too.

    Thank you for sharing. I think that for those of us who have either never experienced what you describe, or so much time has passed since we have experienced at least some of it, from our rich, comfortable positions and no matter WHAT our “race”, we have a hard time identifying with your experience and a hard time empathizing. I think, as became apparent in our meeting yesterday, a large part of this trouble empathizing comes from our not seeing and experiencing other’s plight, and this happens largely because of the purposely created disconnect our economic system has produced and works so hard to maintain. Recent research makes it crystal clear that humans have a strong, natural sense of empathy that occurs due to the mirror neurons in our brains. If those neurons do not get activated, the empathy does not occur. So disconnect and alienation from one another through various kinds of distance severely interrupts perhaps the most important process that makes us human in positive, mutually supporting, emotionally attached ways. That makes it especially easy for us to give each other philosophical and practical advice—advice that almost always does not help in the least because it does nothing to repair the broken emotional connections.

  • All so great to read.

    Here is Max Keiser a’nd Stacey Herbert telling it like it is, once again…

    ‘[KR738] Keiser Report: Occupy Rupert Murdoch’

    Who needs your 5 bucks savings when there is a risk free zero interest rate central bank to ‘borrow’ from.

    Readings about Patriarchy, they make me nauseous, but thanks Guy, for also telling it like it is.

    Here in Afraidia, we have just signalled the deregulation of well…everything!

    ‘Harper competition review: Taxis pharmacies, shopping hours ripe for shakeup’

    “Rules that restrict taxi licences, shopping hours, the location of pharmacies and the resale of goods legally purchased overseas would be swept away as part of a package of measures proposed by the first comprehensive review of competition policy in 22 years….
    All remaining restrictions on general shopping hours would be removed if the Harper panel’s recommendations are accepted.

    But its report says states should still be able to impose specific restrictions on trading times for alcohol and gambling venues if they believe it would be in the public interest.

    Supermarkets would be able to operate pharmacies and the rules restricting the ownership and location of pharmacies would be abolished within two years.

    Restrictions on the so-called parallel import of goods such as books, instant coffee and software would also vanish, meaning it would become legal to sell in Australia anything legally purchased overseas, even if the manufacturers purported to sell “Australia only” versions….”

    So…let me get this right, if everything is deregulated, then what do governments, and agencies they administer actually do?

    Asking questions gets you Hemlock in the old world, in the new world…. well a surveillance state, after Aldous Huxley.

    From 1962….

    ‘Aldous Huxley UC Berkeley Speech 1962 Full Length plus Q & A Session’

    “….willingly embrace his own enslavement…”

    Sounds like pure Ego to me.


  • Jacobin Magazine blames capitalismo. Not humans. Interesting observations here:

    “The Anthropocene Myth – Blaming all of humanity for climate change lets capitalism off the hook. by Andreas Malm

    Here is a graph I got from a Teaching Company course – “Earth’s Changing Climate” which shows the 3° temperature rise superimposed on 10 reconstructions of the past 1000 years of Earth temperature.
    Does this

    Let me also add that it was this course that alerted me to the claims that because of energy involved, the best that negative feedback loops
    can do is slightly mitigate some of the warming generated by positive feedback loops. So negative feedbacks, no matter how much effort is applied to generating them, will not prevent 3° rise or more.


    Feeling much better today. Hey Bud, nut on it. Couldn’t pick a single human that sounds more like HAL 9000 on the planet. You provoke all kind of shirts with your constantly down the nose, elitist, way-over-priviledged, colonial, caucasoid passive aggressive BS, and your fetish for science in the service of empire.” Told you I don’t want any sympathy as it provokes depression. And you – right away into it. Thanks loads honey. <3 U 2. Regarding your profound lovely proclamations regarding relationship issues, as well as being a PT barnum sucker for bad science, the grade i'm sending out is N for numbskullery. Try not to take personally. My only advice is to get your palpitating self permanently out of North America as quick as possible. (you won't) After all, cuz, it's not YOUR land, or YOUR business, not even YOUR real life, YOUR actual country or YOUR anything. There is a pretty sick and twisted crime here in plain site. It's an occupation of total death and absolute repudiation of sanity. To be generous, a psychotic manifestation, reification and projection of the 9th circle of hell. Permanently. To which you are not profoundly complicit? I can smell the stench 10,000km away. So, try not to be in that kind of place and rudely patronize, then run hide and play who-me? That is, if you can possibly manage. (which I know you can't. so whatever)

  • Whad’ya Mean, Drought?

    You don’t want to put in your yap
    The water that comes from the tap;
    So bring to a boil,
    Maybe drive off some oil
    Which causes its tasting like crap.

  • I’m traveling and yesterday passed through Spokane, Washington. The Spokane River runs through the downtown heart of the city, and where the river rushes with great power over a fall is the focus of civic pride, downtown rejuvenation, and a gondola ride out over the river below the falls.

    Of course the falls are no longer entirely natural, rushing now over a concrete culvert as part of the river’s kinetic energy is used to generate electricity; and what was once a thriving place of habitation and distant tribal meeting grounds for native americans for countless generations, and where wild salmon of astonishing size were caught, is all but a pleasant memory recorded on placards.

    Also recorded on a placard are the following thoughts by James Glover, founder of the city of Spokane and original tamer of the river as it now is, who arrived there in 1873:

    “I was enchanted — overwhelmed — with the beauty and grandeur of everything I saw. It lay just as nature had made it, with nothing to mar its virgin glory.
    I was determined that I would possess it.”

    And that my friends pretty much sums up how we fucked up paradise.

  • Wester,

    Wow. While I think ed demonstrated negative sentiment override in response to neutral exchanges, here we have a perfect, dramatic example of negative sentiment override interpreting not just a neutral exchange, but a positive bid for connection in a profoundly negative way. You really don’t recognize any better-than-thou, in-group elitism in your response? (As I wrote, I expect that if I had received the treatment you have received, I would probably think and feel pretty much the same way.) Despite your cruel, completely unwarranted response, I do not think or feel toward you in the angry, brutally rejecting ways that you think and feel toward me, nor do I consider myself in any way better than you despite your obviously elitist rage toward me.

    Regarding who this land supposedly “belongs” to, I definitely agree: it does not belong to me or “my group”. Neither does it “belong” to you and your group, though your group controlled access to it long before my group did. I wonder: what group did your particular ancestral group take control of access to the land away from? In my opinion, the land produced, owns, and possesses US, not the other way around. Only our naïve, arrogant, grandiose, human supremacist thinking allows us to reverse the situation in our heads, suggesting that we in some way “possess” the land, air, and water. It seems to me that therein lies the heart of the idea that Nature Bats Last. We all just pass through: all humans, and all other species.

    Gerald Spezio,

    March 31st, 2015 at 12:13 pm you wrote to Paul Chefurka “Paul, two of your five simplistic axioms are blatantly false on their face.” Here you referred to his point that “1. ‘No one is to blame.’ And “5. ‘I am responsible for my own happiness & suffering.’” You wrote, finally, “ARE YOU KIDDING, BLINDLY PHILOSOPHIZING, OR JUST PLAIN FULL OF IT?” I think that this relates in some important ways to Wester’s most recent vicious response to me. You may, of course, consider these axioms “simplistic” and “blatantly false”. But consider the implications for you (plus Wester and others) when you do this: you give up a huge part of your psychological and emotional power! How so? You put yourself into a victim position in life. You tell yourself, perhaps many times every day, some variation on the theme of “He, she, or it MADE ME feel or do whatever I feel or do”, and you prime yourself for often feeling anger or rage, and for behaving aggressively, as Wester so often models. Do you really want to do this to yourself? Do you really want to assume that relatively powerless emotional position in which you remain a Ping Pong ball in life? Do you really want to spend what little time you have left often feeling anger and rage? I certainly don’t! I prefer to assume, as Paul apparently does, that “The things that happen to me do NOT make me feel as I do! I make me feel as I do with my THINKING ABOUT the things that happen! I make myself feel as I do with THE STORIES I TELL MYSELF ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED!” Doing this takes me OUT OF a passive, helpless victim position and it gives me a strong sense of self-efficacy in my life. I for the most part determine how I feel, NOT other people or the things that happen. But of course, unlike me and apparently Paul too, you may prefer the victim position and giving up much of the little power that you do have in life. Whatever you (Wester, and others) prefer.

  • Diarmuid said:

    “I suggest the story is not a problem-you have never been touched by the story.

    Seeing through the illusion that you are your story

    I suggest that this is an outcome of the actual contact with reality- the reality that is ‘you’ – how else could you tell what is illusion?”


    Good points. Shedding stories sounds similar to reaching into the real “you” – one that’s not necessarily devoid of all stories but one that is more aware of their presence.


    Paul said:

    “Satish, if I were to join a tribe, its entry requirements would have to be some approximation of this set of understandings:

    > No one is to blame;”


    Paul, I think it’s not realistic to expect others to not blame anyone. There’s much injustice going on every day. People are being injured and they are not even aware of it. When they become aware of it, there will be much blame to go around. It’s part of the process of reconciling their expectations (a more just world where you will be taken care of one way or another) with the realization that they were betrayed. It’s not as if the person who owns the train company doesn’t know that the villagers (men, women and children) have to breathe in coal dust from the mile-long coal trains cross-crossing their neighborhoods. How do the villagers, upon finding out their lungs have turned to mush, explain their situation to themselves? Blame is necessary in such cases. Despite modern culture’s frequent reminders that we’re out there all by ourselves, the individuals that we are, fending off enemies and securing our place in the world, the way it has worked and it continues to work is all beings have a default expectation of being held and taken care of. We have created a world that breaks that model of trust. The bird that eats pieces of plastic mistaking them for food does so because it trusts that what looks like its daily food must be its daily food. It has no reason to doubt it. Things have always been that way. For Millennia. We know broadly where the blame lies when we see one of those pictures of a dead bird with its stomach full of dozens of pieces of multi-colored plastic. Some of these birds have cigarette lighters in their stomachs.

    I remember you said a couple months back that you had a difficult time with feelings of guilt. Perhaps you don’t want to revisit it. Blame doesn’t help. I understand your sensitivity to it.

    They say suppressed emotions will eventually need to be dealt with. Personally, that’s going to get me one day because I don’t know what I have buried deep down in my psyche. But I am willing to take the blame today for plenty of things I have done as part of this group or that. In fact, my daily existence is a source of much suffering to many beings. I don’t like it that way. And I won’t do anything about it today. And it sucks. And I live with that awareness. I’m like a fricking cancer cell on the surface of the planet. I try not to take it too personally. And I try not to blame anyone. But I expect plenty of blame everywhere. And I expect more to come.

  • If anyone is to **blame** it’s the One who installed the illusion that we have free will and can choose to act differently.

  • You might be a patriarch if you think it’s OK to cheat on your wife because you’re a special snowflake and REASONS (Bill Clinton, John Edwards, Gary Hart, Jimmy Swaggart, etc, etc, etc.)

  • Hat tip Colorado Bob

    Abrupt Climate Change: Past, Present, and Future


    comment by Mayor of Miami that his city (and state) is too valuable to lose

    rebuttal by speaker: “The West Antarctic Ice Sheet doesn’t care.”

  • Gerald Spezio,

    There had to be somebody here who would give us a list of “powerful” females. And it had to be you. Why am I not surprised?

    These “women” are not women but female impersonators. They are women who either chose to play the man’s game or slipped into it because of their “powerful” families like Indira Gandhi. All these women function biologically like other human females, there’s nothing different about their organs, they are also mothers, grandmothers.

    I don’t usually like to get involved in silly discussions like this because I think that insightful men should know better by now. And they do!

    I will repeat myself: The women you quoted and countless others either elect or are born into power games. It’s men who like to play these games, invent/ed these games, make life a game! It’s not women. They’ve been co-opted by patriarchy, an insidious process, an age-old process which makes women of all patriarchal cultures complicit.

    Since the beginning of patriarchy, it’s always worked that way. Now “equality” has been co-opted to further this process in the most cynical way. Think of teenage girls making themselves into “porn stars” to please their male and female peer group. I wonder for whose benefit that really is?

    When Chinese women bound their tiny daughters’ feet, do you really think that the mothers enjoyed doing that? They did it as African mothers still do with FGM. They have to make their daughters FIT the male made “environment”, customising them for male use/pleasure. They feel compelled to do that because their “culture” has taught them that this is the only way their daughters can survive. Just contemplate that for a moment… But don’t think about it as “culture” with men standing on the side lines. I can assure you that women did not come up with “brilliant ideas” like that! Why on Earth would they?
    And so, if a woman wants “power” now, she will have to follow the male/patriarchal “power path”. Women in more traditional patriarchal cultures still need to bear sons because sons are a guarantee for their survival.
    The same used to be a “fact if life” for my foremothers, not so long ago. A historical example would be Anne Boleyn and all aristocratic women. But not only the women of the elite. Men, whether farmers, artisans or merchants, wanted/needed sons to carry on their trade/business. Precisely because this was how society was structured, and these structures were originally erected by men not women. Why would women want to enslave themselves? Think about it. And all this was still a “fact of life “when I grew up in the 50s. My father, when told that his second child (born in 1951) was a girl apparently said “shit”, according to my mother.

    I could go on and on but I won’t do a Bud on you.
    *But don’t come up with any more glib lists for all our sakes. All you’re doing is trying to make women complicit, even if this is an unconscious process for you. You won’t succeed.

    And do yourself a favour: try and find out a little bit more about this subject,then contemplate your findings before making such cynical statements. That would be the intelligent and wise thing to do. I recommend it!

    And no, you haven’t annoyed me. Women are quite used to your kind of “reasoning”. It’s very old hat for us and boring.

  • The Anthropocene Myth – Blaming all of humanity for climate change lets capitalism off the hook. by Andreas Malm

    Imagine that! A bunch of modern Jacobins think that the answer to the world’s predicament is to march another bunch of aristocrats – CEOs this time – off to a date with the National Razor. Talk about culture-blindness! What’s the matter, boys, why this need to project your Shadow onto a scapegoat? A bit nervous about examining your own roles in the crisis? Remember – we’re all in this together, no one here gets out alive.

    My view is diametrically opposed to theirs, of course. I might instead say, “Blaming capitalism for climate change lets all of humanity off the hook.” But I wouldn’t, because that would require me to believe there is a hook, and I don’t. Sometimes shit just happens.


    I couldn’t care less if any large number of “others” forego the guilty pleasures of outrage, blame and scapegoating. I don’t create rules or expectations for society at large. “No one is to blame” is simply one of the criteria by which I recognize my own tribe members. You might call it a shibboleth. I know it’s possible for some some people to stop blaming and scapegoating, because I’ve met a few. There are not many here for sure, but in venues with a broader appeal they’re popping up all over the landscape. (Yes, Mark Zuckerberg, I’m gasshoing in your direction.)

    IMO blame is not “necessary in such cases”. Blame is “corrosive human emotional reactivity in such cases.” It promotes scapegoating (as we see with Jacobins old and new). It also blocks people from using the full power of their reason to examine the situation clearly and figure out creative, realistic solutions that address the underlying source of the blame-worthy behaviour.

    “No one is to blame.”
    Try it – you might come to like it.

  • **I don’t know whether anything I said sank in.**

    I’m sure they were very receptive to being told they are ignorant, and stubborn, and that by doing everything **wrong** they have made matters much worse.

    No doubt they will repent and shut down all fossil fuel burning just in time to save our ass. And your time away from gardening will have been well spent 🙂

  • Very well said Guy, and very true.

  • Hey meester, wanna see some feelthy peechers?” (The Evolution of Models)

  • ♪♪ Sometimes, I feel like a fatherless child ♪♪

    — Trying to get over myself

    Here’s the vanilla populist version:

  • Guy—- big/heartfelt thanks to you for this.

    Any thoughts out there (she asks with a great deal of trepidation) about Chris Hedges piece in Truthout? In my opinion (please do not attack my opinion) it is in keeping with Guy’s excellent piece on patriarchy.

    This site (NBL) is fascinating; funny (thanks to BTD), frustrating, maddening, soothing, thought provoking, poignant . . . . as we track our demise while trying to figure out—how did we end up here??? (Martyn Joseph lyrics, “woe to us, woe to you but think of all the oil revenue”)

  • In keeping with objectification/patriarchy——
    Robin Wall Kimmerer (I mentioned her book, Braiding Sweetgrass) has a recent article where she writes:

    “Calling the natural world “it” absolves us of moral responsibility and opens the door to exploitation. Here’s what we can say instead.
    Singing whales, talking trees, dancing bees, birds who make art, fish who navigate, plants who learn and remember. We are surrounded by intelligences other than our own, by feathered people and people with leaves. But we’ve forgotten. There are many forces arrayed to help us forget—even the language we speak.”

  • Some ideas I consider to be misleading and fallacious:

    1. Because we are all to blame for the human predicament, nobody is more blameworthy than anyone else. This leads to the conclusion that I am just as blameworthy for failing to recycle a pop bottle as the person whose decisions cause thousands to die prematurely.

    2. To blame anyone is judgmental, and that is a bad thing. This leads to endorsing a lifestyle that is based on doing whatever without due consideration or conscious decisions based on wise judgment.

    3. There is no such thing as free will, every aspect of our behavior is determined in advance by material factors and rigid laws governing them. This easily morphs into: just do whatever, it really doesn’t matter.

    My conclusion is that lives lived on the basis of these fallacious premises are deeply impaired in their ability to develop humans capable of making a better world based on the ability to make real compassionate choices, even when these involve considerable difficulty and a willingness to sacrifice one’s comfort level for the sake of higher values. The above faulty ideas only serve as alibis to avoid the difficult task of becoming an authentic responsible caring human being.

  • speaking as a part-time extremist, a materialist nihilist and an honest hypocrite, I must say, “HI April!”

  • @mike k

    In your opinion, how does the ability to blame others for things contribute to the development of due consideration or wise judgement?

    Perhaps a better question might be, how do you define blame? My usage is in the sense of “find fault with; censure”.

    My worldview is inherently non-judgmental, so for me censuring people makes little sense. Which hardly means that I’m incapable of fine discernment, or of making wise and considered choices.

    My worldview is also that everything is perfect just as it is, so there is no fault to find. Which hardly means that I find things enjoyable, or lose the desire to make choices that would relieve discomfort.

    I suspect that it’s the latter view that gives most people a royal pain in the metaphysic, and renders the rest of my argument unlistenable.

  • Is a big part of science trying to discover “true” causal chains?

    Do pneumococci cause pneumonia in humans, including innocent 5 yr old children?

    Should we blame the pneumococci as the cause of the child’s fatal fever?

    Should a doctor/parent use antibiotics to kill the causal pneumococci?

    Are well fed comfortable wealthy people in industrial countries burning fossil fuels causing the greenhouse effect, & dare we blame them?

    Would blaming the third world poor for the disastrous state of the heating planet & climate disruption be “scapegoating?”

    Is scapegoating blaming the wrong person(s) – blaming somebody who didn’t do it?

    If a public prosecutor convicts a person that they know is innocent by fabricating false evidence, should we blame & hold the prosecutor criminally responsible or blameworthy?

    Did the U.S. invade, murder innocent Iraqi civilians in cold blood, & completely destroy Iraqi society based on outright lies & overt political deception.

    Are the Palestinians in the Israeli engineered Gaza Concentration Camp responsible for their shivering misery, homelessness, “unhappiness & suffering?”

    And so on …

  • When I see a 4 yr old child wandering into speeding traffic, I become very judgmental w/o any hesitation.

    No metaphysics beyond rudimentary physics – a kind of world view w/o blinders.

    When hard working evidence gathering scientists Natalia Shakhova & Igor Semiletov say that they both “believe” that there is a high probability of rapid release of methane from Arctic stores, I pay meticulous attention to their “judgmental” claims.

    Ditto for Guy making worldview shattering inferences & judgments based on the material & physical evidence.

  • “My worldview is also that everything is perfect just as it is, so there is no fault to find.”

    Tell THAT to a homeless shivering displaced Vanuatu Mum with a thirsty dehydrated child.

    Millions & millions of starry eyed English lit majors routinely quote Alexander Pope as similar received wisdom; “Whatever is – is right.”

    Telling shit from Shinola is judgmental, alright.

  • As I said, “I suspect that it’s the latter view that gives most people a royal pain in the metaphysic, and renders the rest of my argument unlistenable.”

    Thanks for providing a letter-perfect illustration, Gerald.

    Believe whatever you wish about the world and about me, it makes absolutely no difference to me. And vice versa.

  • Just a note to Wester: thank you for your well-aimed takedown of an insufferable crazy-maker. Also, re. random vomiting that you mentioned in an earlier comment, check out “hiatal hernia” on wik.; and there’s lots of advice re. treatment on the web, but it’s a mechanical problem that’s easy to learn to live with, no surgery required and definitely sodium bicarb. is never indicated (wrecks digestion, destroys B vits.)

  • Hello Paul – It’s good to have a chance to discuss things of significance with one of wisdom and sincerity who I have learned from in the past. I disclaim any intention to preach, teach, or one-up you or anyone sharing here. However I do value dissensus as a useful feature of all valid truth quests. I stand open for correction, as I have need of it and profited from it times too numerous to think of.

    “In your opinion, how does the ability to blame others for things contribute to the development of due consideration or wise judgement?”

    For me blame involves identifying the cause of a phenomenon, and making a value judgment of that agent. This does not necessarily involve confronting that agent, although it might. Sometimes it is wise to seek alteration in the impact of an agent through indirect means. Sometimes it might mean concluding you cannot usefully deal with promoting a better outcome at all. In any event correctly identifying where a given effect is being caused from puts one in a better position to deal with it. For example, if I am unaware of the massive role capitalism and its agents play in the creation of war and suffering, then my efforts to influence the occurrence of wars will be inadequate due to this ignorance.

    “My worldview is also that everything is perfect just as it is, so there is no fault to find.”

    This struck me as reminiscent of Professor Pangloss’s dictum to Candide, “All is for the best in this best of all possible worlds.” I won’t try to compete with Voltaire’s savage satire of this over the top optimism. It reminds me of those Australian elites with their heads stuck deep in the sand to avoid the reality that their country is burning up around them. Pretending the dark side does not exist is an old game with many variations. I have a friend who participates in one of our face to face groups who assures us that the New Age is almost fully upon us, so not to worry….as Alfred E. Neuman told us long ago.

    Just saying Paul. No meanness intended….

  • As a child I learned the word evil.

    As far as I am now concerned, evil is knowing what is right and deliberately doing the opposite.

    I did not really understand the true nature of evil until I hit the ‘wall’ of New Plymouth District Council. Over a period of nearly 10 years in dealing with NPDC (or should I say attempting to deal with NPDC) I have come across a large number of evil people, particularly the CEOs Roger Kerr-Newall and Barbara McKerrow and the mayors Harry Duynhoven and Andrew Judd. All of them have, and various times, lied, cheated and generally abused the general populace, because they could. And because they got richly rewarded for doing so.

    There have been numerous ‘prisoner-guard’ experiments and numerous ‘bow-to-authority’ experiments, and there are those who will take advantage of a situation to the full extent and those who, upon discovering the nature of the experiment walk out, saying they will not participate.

    I find the narrative that ‘nobody is to blame’ mindless nonsense. The biosphere not dying; it is being wrecked by humans, and the humans who have been and are orchestrating the destruction of the biosphere have names and addresses.

    The English language has a variety of words to describe evil people, depending on the nature and magnitude of their evilness: con artist, rogue, villain, scumbag, criminal etc.

    As has been noted previously, in western societies it tends to be the scum of society that works their way to the top of ‘the system’.

    I recall a conversation I had with Clem Coxhead, who was dumped as National Party candidate for New Plymouth because his morals were too high and he would not play the National Party game (which amounts to looting and polluting the commons and sharing the proceeds). A faux-Christian out-of-towner, Jonathan Young, was brought in as replacement.

  • Yesterday I asked two questions:

    (1) Can we learn much of value about our physical and biological world through the processes of natural science?

    (2) If we can, why can we not learn much of value about ourselves through those processes of natural science, as so many insist here that we cannot? What presumably makes that impossible?

    I have noticed that almost everyone who comments here, even Wester, makes frequent references to natural scientific evidence regarding complex global heating with abrupt climate change, ecological, and nuclear collapse issues. Indeed, this entire comment site grows directly out of Guy’s intensely science-based evidence reporting in his Climate-Change Summary and Update. So this for all practical purposes answers my first question. Most people who comment here emphatically DO indeed believe that we can learn much of value about our physical and biological world through the processes of natural science, their occasional, weak denial of this notwithstanding. That leaves my second question unanswered, so I will ask it again:

    If we can we learn much of value about our complex, chaotic physical and biological world through the processes of natural science, as nearly everyone who comments here deeply believes we can, why can we presumably not learn much of value about ourselves through those processes, as so many here insist that we cannot? What supposedly makes that impossible?

    Related directly to this question, and regarding hope:

    Long ago I gave up all hope that we will, or even can, do anything to change our tragic NTHE destiny. But, like Guy, I do maintain a good bit of hope that we might learn and practice ways to treat each other, other species, and the planet in more loving, less painful ways while we die. Related to this hope, we now have this:

    Jackie Wilson,

    You wrote “Just a note to Wester: thank you for your well-aimed takedown of an insufferable crazy-maker.” I assume, possibly in error, that here you refer to me. Assuming that you do refer to me, you obviously support Wester in making a brutally rejecting, cruel, completely unwarranted, in-group elitist, hate-mongering comment in response to a sincere, risk-taking, positive bid for connection. Clearly, you consider me a “crazy-maker” and Wester a positive social model of how we would best treat each other in order to maximize peace and love in the world during our few remaining days. Would you care to tell us more about your values and reasoning concerning this? In doing this, will you please include at least one specific example of something I have written that you consider “crazy-making”? I confess that those values and that reasoning completely escape me. I expect that they escape many other people reading here as well.

  • But we were born of risen apes, not fallen angels,
    and the apes were armed killers besides.
    And so what shall we wonder at? Our murders and massacres and missiles,
    and our irreconcilable regiments?
    Or our treaties whatever they may be worth;
    our symphonies however seldom they may be played;
    our peaceful acres, however frequently they may be converted into battlefields;
    our dreams however rarely they may be accomplished.
    The miracle of man is not how far he has sunk but how magnificently he has risen.
    We are known among the stars by our poems, not our corpses.

  • Hi Satish,

    Something got stuck on kuku. If you can see it, do say what I can do to clear it. Thanks!

  • Great essay, Guy. It’s delightful for me to read something like this from you. It makes you move adorable, that you can see through different eyes.

    I’ve had an uncommon perspective, in that I look White to almost all people. In fact, I look more than White, I look light, with fair hair and eyes. However, I grew up, as you know, in a very traditional Native American family with traditional elders, and in a completely different culture, a different worldview, basically, on a different planet.

    Boy, could I write a lot about this subject, beginning with how much it sucks to be a woman in mainstream, European, White IC. Oh, man, that is such a bummer, there are no words.

    This essay gives me a chuckle, and Louis CK is so awesome I love him to bits! My all-time fav of his is this one.

    I watched it about four times in a row and laughed through all of them after I found it.

  • “My worldview is also that everything is perfect just as it is, so there is no fault to find.”

    Beyond the assimilation of most, if not almost all.

    “Just a note to Wester: thank you for your well-aimed takedown of an insufferable crazy-maker.”

    Yeah, thank you!

    “Pretending the dark side does not exist is an old game with many variations.”

    Both aspects of dvaita (Duality) are part of one package deal.

    “The English language has a variety of words to describe evil people, depending on the nature and magnitude of their evilness: con artist, rogue, villain, scumbag, criminal etc.”

    More Suchness!

    Full blooded Native American adult males have no facial hair. They take the loss of hair further than any other race of Homo sapiens.

  • Gail,
    Re: A beautiful rendition of ‘man’. Thanks for sticking up for us, but did you know women are just as guilty of being human as men? The title could have easily been written as: ‘The Miracle of being Human’. Maybe before the final days of ‘man’, it will be revealed to us that we are all from the same species. In the meantime, enjoyed Ardrey’s rendition of ‘men’.

  • 4/1

    At LATOC, an early doom school,
    We’d ask, “How many more?” every Yule;
    We could do the same here
    At this time of year
    For decades to come. April Fool!



    I could not agree with you more. But just like the Patriarchs ignore the truth of the utter savagery of this country’s history, so do they ignore the MOUNTING EVIDENCE OF IRREVERSIBLE CLIMATE CATASTROPHE.

    The mounting evidence is obviously seen since the ushering in of 2015, in particularly. They completely ignore that we ushered in the new year with a historic level of GLOBAL CO2.

    They who own and are the power that be, continue to speak the moot point of economic growth at this time in history. But what can you expect from a system that was built on LIES, LIES, AND MORE LIES. Starting with the horrendous lie of their ” Divine Right” to conquer, through brute force and murder, other people’s land and enslave whoever they saw fit.
    Enormously, hugely, and substantially due to a supposedly “divine fellow” by the name of Pope Nicholas V who issued one of the most egregious papal bulls in a civilized land. The “Dum Diversas” which advocated and directed nations to attack, conquer, and subjugate pagans and all enemies of Christ.” Funny thing is; he was not God and he was wrong all day for an edict that would circle the globe and become a part of the European mindset of human conquering and subjugation without divine penalty.

    Ahh, but a Patriarch would not want to go back that far to search for truth. LYING IS MUCH EASIER.



    Call it KARMA, call it KISMET if you wish. I choose: JUSTICE METE OUT BY THE UNIVERSE and the earth (with all the unjust blood spilled throughout all of mankind) is part of the universe.


    I won’t scream but now nature which belongs to the univese has had enough.



  • @Sabine, bravissima.
    What she said, everybody.

    @mike k, a few points:
    1.) it would be better if thousands of people did indeed die ‘untimely’ deaths. What we have now is ‘untimely lives’.

    2.)”just do whatever, it doesn’t really matter.” Yes, *but*, it does matter. It matters to you.

    3.) you say, “humans capable of making a better world”. That implies that humans have the supernatural power to defeat the laws of biology and of thermodynamics. We don’t.

    4.)”real compassionate choices”. What are these choices, please. mike? As you see them? I would say sterilization or abstinence is an obvious one, suicide is even better, if we are talking 100% compassion.

    and later on… “the massive role capitalism and its agents play in the creation of war and suffering”. I would posit that, while this seems to be true.. that actually more people experienced the suffering of wars in the past as a percentage of total population.If I am not mistaken, this is the basis of the fatuous Stephen Pinker’s “Angels of Our Better Nature” book, so there probably is some superficial truth to it.

    I think when capitalism breaks down, though, (as it is currently doing) we will see credit break down along with the other features which allow for the circulation of goods, and then the war of all-against-all will begin in earnest. Capitalism has just been a superb technology for breaking down energy gradients: “it” has a vested interest in keeping people alive and consuming.

    @Gerald Spezio, the crows in my area seem to have learned to walk down the white lines at the edges of the highway without getting hit by the cars going 75mph.

    I think you were on the mark with the bacteria.. but there is a difference between “identifying” the cause of a disease, and “blaming” it, in the colloquial sense. I mean, we all instinctively know that holding animals accountable for “crimes” is absurd. And yet held to account they were.

    @mike k, I’m not presuming to speak for Paul, but you seem to have confused the word “perfect” with the word “best”. There is no “best” world. There is only this world, which -by default- is perfect, has to be perfect. Things work in the way that they work, not in some other way.

    Populations grow until they outstrip their resource base. Groups vie for resources and access to energy flows. We don’t have to like this state of affairs, but it would be hard to conceive of another: a world that ballooned as the population grew? A world where people grew tinier and tinier to the size of a flea so as to consume less and have more people? A world where people would only be allowed one child? where there would be a lottery for the right to give birth to one of the 10,000 babies permitted per year?

    There is no “perfect” world you can imagine, mike k, that would not be im-perfect, because it would go against all the parameters that actually make our world what it is. And “best” for whom? It’s best for me if I can eat the recommended 2 servings of fish per week. This is not so good for the fish.

    @Gail, I really don’t get the clip. I thought the moon landing and the Golden Gate bridge, and the glittering electrified Eastern US seaboard were “magnificent” when I was ten. I have a different view of them now.

  • YES! Great essay, Guy! You Might Be A Patriarch if…YOU’RE REALLY, REALLY, REALLY STUPID!!! That’s what I think. I believe that most men consider the acquisition of a little power a license to become utterly stupid. The capitol of the U.S. should be pictured with a huge dunce hat on it! Those people are not only REALLY, REALLY, REALLY STUPID, they’re proud of it. They are most likely the most deranged and perverted individuals to ever exist. Even that so called liberal, Bernie Sanders never saw a war appropriations bill that he wouldn’t vote for. He’s probably the most rational person in congress but, at the same time he’s TOO STUPID to understand that he’s a murderer and a complete fool.

    Bud asks again, “If we can we learn much of value about our complex, chaotic physical and biological world through the processes of natural science, as nearly everyone who comments here deeply believes we can, why can we presumably not learn much of value about ourselves through those processes, as so many here insist that we cannot? What supposedly makes that impossible?”

    Bud, I’ve always been a science buff. I like the way I feel when I understand a theory or new breakthrough regarding almost anything scientific. I’ve seen and heard of many insights into human behavior made through natural science. After all, we are animals and any study, anatomical, physiological, behavioral, social, etc. comes under the heading of natural science. Even though humans have rendered their environment artificial, we, the human animal collectively did it. It is our nature, now, rather we like it or not, to have done what we did. It is as much our nature to plant crops and overpopulate the planet as it is for a pair of deer on an island with plenty of food to overpopulate and result in massive die off.

    I think the way things are turning out is the natural outcome of mankind’s lack of mental qualities that would have provided the insights necessary to manage a stable, ongoing environment, but most scientists are afraid to say so. I do, however, hope that it was possible for us to have developed those mental abilities. BUT. Here’s the Great Snafu…it’s that damn patriarchy again. We seem to have perfected a system that requires all leaders to be stupid. They can be as artfully clever as they want, but they must remain stupid and insane.

    This dementia has pervaded all mankind, except for a lucky few. Most of us are quite happy in La La Land, following Hitler, Bush, Obama or whoever makes them feel good or superior. This has gone on for so long that it’s the accepted mode of being. A sleep state regarding reality, resulting in moral decay which is the very foundation of patriarchy.

    Now, here’s the catch…I can’t document any of the above. These are my own conclusions from a lifetime of being exposed to learning of one sort or another. In other words, I didn’t make this up on my own.

    Finally, I believe that there is vast knowledge regarding the natural science of humans and that this knowledge has been used against the masses to enrich the powerful. The knowledge of human needs, fears, drives, psychological foibles, desires and structures, along with other fields of study, is a knowledge of our natural science. Mostly kept secret, it has been used to manipulate and pester us to death, to death! TO DEATH!

    Bud, I was thinking recently about hope too, and that I do have some hope. No, I don’t think NTE can be turned around. But I often have hopes for the people I love, especially kids, to have some happy days ahead during the little time we have left. Oh, and I hope my wife doesn’t find out about NTE for as long as possible. I really like the way things are for us, right now. I want to hold on to that as long as possible.

  • Climate Crisis: Pledges Being Made, But Inadequate To Face The Crisis

    Reduction of Emission Pledges for 2015 UN climate pact
    Russia: 25-30% by 2030
    US: 26-28% by 2025
    European Union: “At least” 40% by 2030
    Switzerland: 50% by 2030

    “The effort sharing assessment is a far-reaching compilation of a wide range of literature on what researchers would consider a “fair” contribution to greenhouse gas reductions in the context of global efforts to limit warming below 2°C.”

    They obviously haven’t even read recent IPPC. But this is UN business?

    Remember if you will back to 1997 at the Kyoto protocol where all agreed to a 5% reduction, and that was even too much for the US which pulled out under Bush. Good Luck with the 26%. In the next ten years.

    Article also reads: “The report headlined “Are governments doing their “fair share”?”

    ‘The report’ obviously never understood the John Dewey quote: ‘As long as politics [government] is the shadow cast on society by big business, the attenuation of the shadow will not change the substance.’

  • @Lidia

    You may speak for me any time you wish. I could not have said it as well.

    Some people don’t have the particular combination of nature and experience that’s needed to see things this way. They see things in their own way, which is as it should be. similarly I see things in my own way, not theirs.


    Tathatā, yes. The taste of Suchness. _/|\_

    News Flash: People are different… Film at 11:00

  • Let me still try to get this straight:

    A bunch of neo-colonial, over priviledged, hyper-elite humans, living on stolen land, off stolen capital, off a stolen future, cling with dogged absolutist faith and certainty to the all too convenient, self-serving tales about ALL humans being as corrupt, arrogant, ego maniacal, incompetent, vicious, violent, rude, irrational, lazy, ideologically driven and disrespectful as they are.

    What could possibly be wrong with this position?

  • In the Orwellian world we live in, the ‘good’ thing about pledges is that you don’t have to honour them.

    Who was it that pledged to eliminate world poverty by 2015? Tony B Liar comes to mind in connexion with that.

    Another favourite with politicians/government is urge. Whenever you are short of anything meaningful to say or your position is becoming increasingly untenable, urge someone else to do something.

    Having said all that, I do believe reductions in emissions far exceeding targets will be achieved as a direct consequence of global economic meltdown -a product of the EROEI cliff we are now on.


    A snippet from Thomas Friedman (who I don’t typically read nor care for) from today’s NY Times is instructive:

    “Asian autocrats tended to be modernizers, like Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, who just died last week at 91 — and you see the results today: Singaporeans waiting in line for 10 hours to pay last respects to a man who vaulted them from nothing into the global middle class.”

    And that’s something you can take to the bank, fellow doomers and affiliated gloomers.

    The moral of the story? All this talk about the evils of industrial civilization and the need to shut it down now are just bloviating nonsense – idjit talk.

    Nobody is shutting down IC – not willingly, not now and not ever.

    If we don’t have the early termination Guy personally predicts (and others, like Kevin Moore, dispute, and I, personally, am agnostic about), we’re due to add another 2 billion to the 7 billion present by mid-century. Almost all those additions will take place in 2nd and 3rd world countries.

    That’s 2 billion (and more, really) who will have access to the internet and thus be infected with a good, healthy dose of what sociologists call DEPRIVATION ENVY. They see what life is like for the broad middle class – you know, indoor plumbing, electricity, potable water, good medical care for you and your family and your dogs and your cats, plenty gasoline and plenty cars, computers in all shapes and sizes (including wrist watches), etc etc etc.

    And they’re all thinking (unlike the crunchy granola types here), “Imma gonna get me some”.

    And that’s why they loved that old guy in Singapore. He delivered the goods…literally.

    So if you’re thinking that somehow we as a global community are about to divest ourselves of 90% or more of our goodies just because we’re choking ourselves to death on them – you’re really, really drinking the kool-aid.

    We’re not divesting ourselves of anything.

    You no doubt have heard of the trick that some locals supposedly use to catch monkeys so they can enjoy their monkey burgers: Hollow out a coconut with a small hole, insert some beans so they rattle around, and let the monkey do the rest. He (supposedly) sticks in his hand, grabs the beans, won’t let go, and is thus easily caught because he can’t removed that clenched fist.

    So if you’re spending these last few precious days, weeks, months, years railing against IC and calling humanity to abandon it in order to save ourselves…you might want to get another hobby. We’re not going to save ourselves. Period. Full stop.

    On the other hand, if you’re railing against IC because it secretly makes you feel better about yourself in some weird, perverse way – well, perversion has its own attractions.

    Just reach your hand down into that hole, grab those beans, and don’t let go of them…no matter what.

  • Wester, it would be silly for anyone to believe that ‘ALL’ humans were or are, ‘corrupt, arrogant, ego maniacal, incompetent, vicious, violent, rude, irrational, lazy, ideologically driven and disrespectful as they are.’ I have to agree that there have always been some who tried to maintain a culture based on a lifestyle that considers the needs of generations to come. But, I’ve only met a handful of people that were willing to try it. I’ve read about peoples that had a reverence for the land. I believe these people represent the high water mark of human culture. But the dominant culture of comfort and greed, especially of the privileged classes, has pretty much wiped them all out.

  • Kirk,

    “he’s TOO STUPID to understand that he’s a murderer and a complete fool.”


    Also: I turned to Nursing when I was about 40 y.o. but I found out, at least in this part of the country, nurses weren’t thought of too well. It surprised me.

  • Very few people get to read the last chapter of this book. We get to live it. Only a very few will make it to the last few pages. Watching it all crumble is sad. This construct is coming apart and there’s no stopping that.
    Not looking forward to the anger and war that is sure to come. I just can’t stop reading.

  • I agree 100% with Caroline when she says: “This site (NBL) is fascinating; funny (thanks to BTD), frustrating, maddening, soothing, thought provoking, poignant . . . . as we track our demise while trying to figure out—how did we end up here???”

    Paul, regarding the definition of blame, I agree with you: “My usage is in the sense of “find fault with; censure”.” When you say this:
    ““No one is to blame” is simply one of the criteria by which I recognize my own tribe members.”,
    it makes me wonder who we might have here on NBL who can see it your way… I think Lidia and Robin can. Lidia from a bit of a systems perspective (I’m yet to understand the energy gradient theory you talk about, Lidia) and Robin from a philosophical perspective (suchness). All this reminds me of Albert Bartlett’s lecture, particularly this part, where he lists all the factors that increase population and those that decrease it, with the premise that at some point, the population will need to stabilize. I understand this way of thinking. It’s hard Math. We simply can’t go on forever making more and more children. And the hard truth is many will die untimely deaths. We are little more than our names and identity numbers, recorded away on a government computer. I can’t get myself to agree with “Populations grow until they outstrip their resource base. Groups vie for resources and access to energy flows.” as a rule because tribes historically have shown that they can keep their populations in check. Healthy cells and healthy organs maintain their size in relation to their environment (the body) and don’t draw on energy excessively. But cancer, on the other hand, does exhibit runaway growth. But it isn’t the rule. I see it as abnormal and the exception. We just happen to be living during exceptional times.


    When Robin talks of non-attachment, suchness, Advaita and “it is at it is” or when Paul says, “My worldview is also that everything is perfect just as it is, so there is no fault to find.”, I can get myself to see it in their ways too. But I have a feeling such a way of looking is a luxury for most beings. I am not opposed to seeing the creation around me in those terms. It helps to maintain a certain level of aloofness from the gritty reality and hence provides a certain amount of sanity and peace of mind. My mind wanders to how little we know about the Universe. Going back to the cancer analogy, if cancer is a sign of imbalance in the human body, or more an imbalance between the body and its environment, say, a reaction to toxins and pollution and bad diet, what if the human cancer on the planet is similarly a reaction to some sort of imbalance going on between the planets and the galaxies that we have no insight into? Some sort of toxic electromagnetic radiation that has afflicted the planet and made it go out of balance with its environment causing it to lash out at one of its most evolved children (us humans) causing them to separate from their roots and become a cancer? Perhaps astrology goes into these planetary interactions that affect events on Earth? What if Vedic astrology, Feng Shui, etc. attempt to understand these interactions?

    But then the next thing I do is I read a this-just-in horrible report about what’s going on in Vanuatu or stories of deception, tyranny, oppression and I can’t help but start empathizing and relating to the victims. I can’t help but blame sections of the population for what’s going on. Then I realize I am part of one or two of those sections myself and even one or two of the oppressed, long brain-washed, long-deceived, sections. And suchness starts looking like a good story to bury my head in. There’s always the soothing, if disorienting, feeling that the knowledge I have about what’s afoot is incomplete and hence I have no authority to judge the situation one way or another. I could judge but I could be wrong. I’m held back, in awe of how little I know. But I do know certain things. Or I feel certain things. I live in a horribly unjust world. No matter how hard I try to get myself to look at it from a Buddhist, non-dualist or other “equanimous” perspective, I can feel the pain and suffering around me and inside me, the injustice of it all, there’s no escape. There’s complicity. There’s blame.

    One issue I find with Buddhism, Advaita, Upanishads, Vedanta and other schools of thought is that they arose well after civilization began. They arose well after humans turned cancerous. Even as I try to relate to them, I take their teachings with a pinch of salt. We wouldn’t have access to these books today unless they were supported by the reigning king of the day and I know kings and emperors don’t support things that might harm their power. What then would their purpose have been (and I get very cynical here)? But again, I don’t want to throw the baby with the bathwater. I intuit that there is justice somewhere, if not on planet Earth. There has to be. Perhaps people figured out how to experience that level of reality that’s beyond this world. Perhaps Robin truly experiences the suchness he speaks of, and not trying to intellectualize it or convince himself (and others) of it. Maybe, even that’s OK. Maybe one needs to convince oneself of it before one “feels” it? I’m open.

    I can imagine Robin, Paul and others to not just “see” things the way they do, but “fully feel”. Perhaps they experience their reality much more deeply, not in terms of the intellect but through the pores of their beings. Who am I to say “no, sir, you’re wrong!” If they say they feel the perfection and divine bliss, I will take their word for it. I can only imagine what that feels like. I have had glimpses and visions of a more beautiful world. Perhaps that’s their 24/7 reality. Or they aspire to it?

    The trouble with the energy gradient and suchness perspectives is it has little in the way of connecting with people on an emotional level, at least in the context of an online comment forum. It’s hard to articulate what perfection and equanimity feels like in the face of calamity. Language is not the tool for it. But I am glad there are folks here like Paul, Lidia and Robin, who bring that perspective to this space and keep at it.

    But when Gerald says, “Tell THAT to a homeless shivering displaced Vanuatu Mum with a thirsty dehydrated child.”, he’s trying to relate to the problem at hand at a whole different level, not at the systems or philosophical level. It doesn’t help to say, “it is so” to a US Navy sailor suffering radiation after-effects and tumors from exposure to Fukushima It doesn’t help to talk about perfection to a Native American whose ancestors were deliberately decimated with smallpox infected blankets.

    This is a new problem for humanity. We’ve never had a meeting place in the 2-Million year history of humanity where people from such wide and varied perspectives come together to discuss and relate to each other. No wonder it’s hard to relate. Back in the day, all my tribe members would have believed more or less the same creation story as I would have. When in doubt, there’s the grandma. When I debate with another tribe member about the nature of reality, there is a whole community that made it clear to me how to look at things. Now, these things may not have been “Scientific”, but they helped us do the most important thing ever – stay in balance with the creation around us by listening to what other beings are telling us. This might sound like a burden to us in modern society but it must have been a joy to commune with other beings, people, plants, animals, creeks, rocks… and “listen” to them and give them a little of what they want and ask them for a little of what you want.

    It makes me wonder, if in these end times, we face a new problem in the history of humanity: “the mixing of the peoples”, where people are unmoored from their traditional cultures, unmoored from Land, brought up in different parts of the world with different perspectives and different proclivities and thrown into a soup pot. That’s what a “cosmopolitan” city is. A soup pot of confused humans. We have a whole smorgasbord of viewpoints, philosophies, theologies, worldviews and stories to choose from. Many times, we’re unaware of the stories we believe in. For instance, many of us are statists and we don’t even know it and we don’t know there have been alternatives to statism. Sometimes we switch from one worldview to another. Sometimes we discard everything because we can’t relate to any of it and sink into depression. Then the “Latest Science” stories show up and some gravitate toward them. But really, we don’t know anything for sure, do we? We live in an “epistemological clusterfuck”. Epistemology, being the study of how we know what we know, is in shambles today. Our means of knowing and learning about the world around us are compromised. We live inside a disinformation dome. NPR ran a story the other day, an interview with the author of “The Invaders”, Pat Shipman, and this stood out for me:
    “Shipman answered me this way: “I would say to the reader: 1) The subtitle was at the editor’s insistence. I reluctantly agreed.””
    It’s not just subtitles that are compromised by editorial responsibilities to the marketplace but entire books, entire libraries, TV shows, documentaries, all media, in fact. All at the service of profit. How do we know about things today? From a fricking 19″ screen?

    Also, cultures and peoples vary in how much they are separated from Land, and hence their listening skills, ability to connect with nature, reliance on gut and instinct, etc. When I hear Bud talking about the applicability of Natural Science to the human condition, I can’t help but wonder how far we have gone down this road of outsourcing what used to be the role of intuition, feeling and emotion to Science, centralized power and the Machine. This “mixing of the people” is a characteristic of cancer. After a while, we can’t say what a cancer cell was before it turned cancerous. It could have been a healthy heart cell or a healthy liver cell. New Yorkers come from all over the place, even from small villages in Papua New Guinea.


    mike k., I liked your responses to Paul. And your list of misleading and fallacious ideas regarding blame.

    Paul, you said, “IMO blame is not “necessary in such cases”. Blame is “corrosive human emotional reactivity in such cases.” I wonder if the existence of blame (which is an observation since we see much of it going around) can be rolled into the idea of perfection. Instead of arguing whether blame is necessary or not, how about we say, “it exists”. And since everything is perfect just as it is, why not include blame into the picture of “what is”? Is it easier to roll it in into suchness if the blame is not directed against you? If I were you, I’d say yes, it would be easier for me.

    It often looks to me like we’re looking at the same problem but from different distances, and some prefer to see things in finer resolution than others while some gravitate to a big-picture view.

    I sometimes imagine you as essentially saying, “I deeply empathize with the person who is being blamed, because it could be me, and it doesn’t feel good. If anyone else went through the same life circumstances as I did, they would have done the same things. In fact, if you lived in the shoes of a sociopathic warlord working at the behest of a US corporation somewhere in Africa, you would do exactly the same thing he did, slaughter a whole village, and hence, there’s no point in blaming a fellow human. Let’s look at the species as a whole.”

    I can see it that way. I can then easily empathize with you when you say, “My worldview is inherently non-judgmental, so for me censuring people makes little sense. Which hardly means that I’m incapable of fine discernment, or of making wise and considered choices.”

    But when you say, “My worldview is also that everything is perfect just as it is, so there is no fault to find. Which hardly means that I find things enjoyable, or lose the desire to make choices that would relieve discomfort.”, it makes sense too. Except I wonder if you’re keeping in mind the injustice around you. It’s not in your consciousness in the moment you say things like the above. Or perhaps it is and it’s part of the perfection too, considered from a certain angle. I’m not saying you can’t empathize with people who suffer and I’m sure you do that quite a bit. Perhaps you are suffering enough that you can’t take on any more of it from others. We go through times like that. Have to wear the oxygen mask first before helping others.

    Paul, don’t take this the wrong way… I’m not trying to put words in your mouth or anything like that. I am just trying to answer one question, “what would make Paul say that?” I’m sure I’m projecting a plenty. Feel free to clarify. But when you say, “They see things in their own way, which is as it should be. similarly I see things in my own way, not theirs.”, it sounds like an invitation to agree to disagree and leave it at that. Which is fine if that’s what you want at the moment. But it doesn’t help relate to those who are more tuned in to the suffering around them, and their own. To them, things are not perfect. Far from it, in fact. That’s their experience. And much of mine these days.

    When mike k. says, “For example, if I am unaware of the massive role capitalism and its agents play in the creation of war and suffering, then my efforts to influence the occurrence of wars will be inadequate due to this ignorance.”, I see him seeking a final resolution, more pixels, a closer view of the creation around him. He’s not content to see it at the “species level” but he’s asking, who among the 7.3 Billion people are most responsible for the problems we face? It’s not a satisfying thing to say, “any innocent Papua New Guinean villager would have committed the same atrocities if he were in the shoes of a warmongering American politician”, because it doesn’t have the finer resolution that the question begs in the moment. Wester is also looking at the creation around him in this granular way. I do too, today. I spend a lot of time sub-dividing the human population into various groups to understand how they were victimized, how they victimized others and sometimes, did both simultaneously.

    Sorry for the long comment!

  • I just realized that the original discussion between Paul and Colin got hijacked a bit (as happens in these spaces) and ended up in the blame issue, something that was debated before hotly. So it’s not like someone was talking about victims in Vanuatu and Paul interjected with “it’s all perfect”. He didn’t. He was having a different discourse, at a different level of perception, so to speak. So if I have misrepresented anything above, I apologize.

    At the end of the day, I believe we all see the injustice around us to one degree or another, at one time or another, and cope with it in one way or another. My attempt above was to reconcile the seemingly different points of view and consider the possibility that we’re all looking at the same thing from different distances. I personally want to be able to see things in more than one way. There’s no one right way to see. And as Sabine says, maybe we should go easy on “grasping”.

  • @Lidia&Paul Despite my carefully constructed disclaimers in my comments to Paul, you seem to frame my remarks as an attack on him. Understanding how personalizing our sharings can muddy the waters in a discussion, I try to bend over backwards to not convey that impression, unfortunately often to no avail. I esteem Paul as one of my teachers. I have such confidence in his bottom-line commitment to truth that I am willing to risk disagreeing with him on some points. I do not do so as a means of convincing him to alter his views, but the ideas he expressed are reflected in the sharings of others on these collapse oriented blogs, and hence are of general import. It is in order to clarify my own nascent understandings and address this larger audience that I speak here.

    Lidia, I do not include wishing for the untimely deaths of thousands of people, or suicide in my understanding of compassion. I do find myself pretty much on the same page with Guy and Caroline (just ordered her latest book) when it comes to the need for increasing love in these times.

    Thanks for sharing, my door is always open for criticisms of my ideas. How else can I avoid self-enclosure in my always too narrow worldview?

    On the program folder at a wedding I recently attended was something by Rilke. I decided then and there to include it in my provisions for the journey ahead….

    Believe in a love that is being

    Stored for you like an inheritance,

    And have faith that in this love,

    There is a strength and blessing

    That is so large you can travel as

    Far as you wish without stepping

    Outside it.

    Ranier Maria Rilke


    Satish – Thanks for your comments. I admire your flexibility and openness. More later……

  • I’ve posted a new Edge of Extinction episode. Catch it, and links to a couple recent interviews, here.

  • I meant to say “finer resolution” as in high definition, 4K, not “final resolution”.

    When mike k. says, “For example, if I am unaware of the massive role capitalism and its agents play in the creation of war and suffering, then my efforts to influence the occurrence of wars will be inadequate due to this ignorance.”, I see him seeking a finer resolution, more pixels, a closer view of the creation around him.

  • @mike,

    I see nothing inappropriate about identifying causes for events. I’ve spent long enough trying to identify root causes, so that usage of “blame” is no problem for me. In that sense I “blame” thermodynamics and evolutionary selection for much of what I see in the world today.

    The part of the definition I don’t share is the one that tries to make those causes “wrong”. I don’t use the words “right” and “wrong” much any more, just as I don’t use many value judgement words, or the worlds “should” and “shouldn’t”.

    It all comes down to my definition of the word “perfect”. I don’t use the word to mean “good” or “best”. I use it in the sense that Robin alluded to with the word Tathatā which loosely translates to Suchness. The fact that things are exactly as they are is what makes them perfect in this sense.

    This definition of perfection takes in all the pejorative aspects of blame, all the judgments that people render on other people or events – in fact it takes in everything. Under this definition the world is perfect, even though it’s still full of pain, injustice and evil.

    The reason I find this definition valuable is that it reminds me that judgments and the emotions that come with them are simply mental constructs. As such they vary from moment to moment, from person to person

    I prefer to be aware of what is happening in the world around me without clouding my view with too much emotion (I’m not altogether successful at that, go figure). That way I can decide to act on things that I can change without getting too distressed by things I have no influence over. So yes, I’m perfectly aware of all the injustices in the world, but I tend not to invest much emotional energy in the ones I can’t do anything about.

  • @mike k, sorry if I came off as seeming to think you were attacking Paul. I really didn’t think that. I will have to look back and see where that might be coming from.

    News is out that the “War on Terror” has cost 1.3 million (overwhelmingly non-US) lives.

    There are 225,000 or so new people showing up here each day, births minus deaths.. so this aspect of world “conflict”[US aggression] has only offset a week’s worth of human “production”. As wars go, this is a pretty inefficient one.. but then maybe it was designed to be.

    Over-population in pictures:

    Even if climate change were not an issue, a huge population crash would be in the near-term offing anyway, as there really is literally no place to put more people or crops in many areas, and in the open areas that are being farmed, topsoil is being lost at a rate of at least 1%/year. It’s hard to imagine this if you live in an American suburb. Hell, it’s hard to imagine it even if you live in a crowded city, because we are trained from an early age to think of our food coming from a bucolic countryside “somewhere” out there.. Farmer MacGregor… not Robo-harvester and Terminator genes and dead zones in the ocean.

    So, @mike k, when I say that suicides and people dying younger is my “more compassionate” view of how things will play out, I mean it. More people living longer will only exacerbate the suffering for more beings in the end. Fewer beings: less suffering. The math is not hard. I can’t bring Kathy C’s brisk and unrelenting tone to the discussion, but I do feel the need to re-iterate her message. She puts it in much stronger terms and it would be worth a look through the back archives of NBL for her comments.

    I’m getting fed up with dewy-eyed descriptions of how earlier peoples lived in such great harmony, without acknowledging the fact that they usually did this via exposure of live infants. Is that “compassionate”? We would say that a person who did that to their own child today was mentally ill and/or a criminal. More humanely, one hopes, in some cultures mid-wives would “send the child back”

    I’m really not sure why, paradoxically, as the population increases, pro-natalists have become ever more strident and indeed powerful. Why “greens” dropped the population issue when it was commonplace to talk about it in the 1970s, even in my public elementary school!!! But it can only have to do with the whole “crystalline life” idea I tried to work out back in the days of the old NBL Forum. I’ll put together another comment about that anon.

    You say, “I do not include wishing for the untimely deaths of thousands of people, or suicide in my understanding of compassion.” Because you are only looking at it from the p.o.v. of here at point A where these people are (sorta) healthy, happy with (they think) a future ahead of them. When we get to point B: no electricity, no potable water, no food, (and for Americans in particular, none of their life-saving drugs and mood stabilizers!).. the “ionizing radiation” Guy rightly brings up quite a bit.. many will wish they had a quick means of dispatching themselves and their loved ones. Because there is no “after” this. There is no help on the horizon. We do this for pets when things are too far gone and we call it compassionate, so I am not sure where the confusion lies.

    At least that is how I am able to imagine things. If you can imagine a brighter future for all seven/eight/nine billion of us then you are more creative than I, without a doubt.

    …to wrap up what I have to say to Mike.. I’ll invoke a previous comment of Paul’s to the effect that “people are different”. I don’t “love” very many people, and I don’t see the point in “loving” all seven+ billion now that I see more clearly the processes we are undergoing. How can you love a cancer? If I had to say anything, I might use the word “forbearance”, rather than “love”. I think the word “love” gets thrown around quite facilely with no one bothering to define what they mean by it. The current versions on offer seem (to me) particularly ambiguous and overly sentimental.

  • @Paul – Thanks for responding. I value your input and agree with much of what you have shared over the years. I am not unfamiliar with Buddhism, having studied Zen under Robert Aitken while I was a philosophy student in Hawaii back in the 60’s. Nowadays I lean more toward the engaged Buddhism of Thich Nhat Hahn, or the eclectic approach of Stephen Batchelor.

    A poem that came to me on a walk in the woods summed up my viewpoint on zen years ago:

    No separation

    No connection

    Only this

    Not even this

    A saying of Ramana Maharshi has helped me understand the relation of this ordinary reality with higher dimensions:

    The world is illusory

    Brahman alone is real

    Brahman is the world

    An inner experience catalyzed by several years of intensive work with a Sufi teacher helped me realize the reality of this paradoxical truth: that the world is both unreal and ultimately real at the same time.

    Perhaps this is what you meant by everything is perfect, and yet also totally screwed up?

  • Yes mike, that’s exactly what I meant. That saying of Maharshi’s is one of my favourites. It’s one of the best illustrations out there of the paradoxical, koan-like core of Advaita. I’m glad you’re familiar with it!

  • Wester,
    Way to go! I’m with you all the way 🙂

  • @Lidia – I see your point about less people being a more compassionate solution. I am for that too. Supported ZPG years ago. Decided not to procreate myself. Married for 40 years now and still no kids. It would be so easy to reduce population if enough folks would choose not to engage in reproductive sex. Of course they won’t, and there will most probably be a great die-off possibly ending in NTHE. In the meantime, I won’t bother myself with wishing more folks would die sooner. I don’t think that would save us in any case.

    When someone asks, “What is love?” I think they are on the right track to discover something terribly important. Each of us must pursue that inquiry in our own way to find answers that suit us. To tell someone your answer cannot take the place of their own search. I think that question is one of the most meaningful a person on this planet can ask themselves. As my Sufi teacher used to say, “Don’t be in a hurry to answer it, give it time to go deep into you….”

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Lidia. I sense that you are really a good, sincere person.

  • @Satish, I’ll get this out of the way first: “I can’t get myself to agree with ‘Populations grow until they outstrip their resource base. Groups vie for resources and access to energy flows’ as a rule because tribes historically have shown that they can keep their populations in check.” And yet you believe in evolution, I assume, which cannot work without the weighing hand of death or infertility.

    If you haven’t, I would recommend you read “Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations”. Ok, civilizations are “bad”, but why did civilizations come into being? Oh, that’s right.. various populations (virtually simultaneously in different corners of the world, N.B.) eventually grew too large to be sustained by mere hunting and gathering. Agriculture extracts more from the land while (initially) providing more food. It also just happens to require a more complex societal overhead to protect settlements and stores. Once humans discovered the “technology” of civilization, it served to increase their numbers, just as other technologies like spear-heads had done.

    Think about it: anywhere there is a group of slow-growing, bacteria, say.. at any time a faster-growing group can come along and exploit what the slower-growing group have left on the table. If you don’t recognize the opportunities (like early Greenlandic settlers who did not recognize fish as a food item) you don’t survive. Whether any earlier groups were ever truly ‘sustainable’ is a moot point, because those are not the organisms which inhabit the planet right now. Within evolutionary theory, the winners have no choice but to become the losers at some point, the way I understand it.

    Ok, now the “energy gradient” stuff. This is just off the top of my head, because I have just skimmed and am dimly aware of some of the work of, for example, Howard Odum and Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, who have approached economics from a materials, energy and systems view. (I just have not had the time to sit down and read and digest their work.)

    Without citing them or imputing my thoughts to them.. let me take a stab at it:
    Basically, in the universe, there are energy gradients. This is a “good” thing for us at the moment (pace Paul C.), because otherwise all would be immobile and frozen. When one studies classical physics… in particular thermodynamics, which cannot be surgically removed from physics… one comes to understand that energy flows in one direction: from the place of higher energy to that of lower: a ball falling from a table might be a classic example used. It requires the input of work—from outside the narrow “system” of the example—to move materials from a lower-energy state to a higher-energy state. With temperature, materials will always go from hotter (higher energy) to cooler (lower energy). Differences between states of higher vs. lower heat/potential energy can be called gradients. Howsoever a gradient came to be in the first place, most (I might dare to say all) physical and biological processes that we observe currently conspire, ultimately, to break it down. Biological processes unleash captured energy in the process of these breakdowns and use it to fuel their own existence. They do seem to be creating “order” but this is only in short-term service to the breakdown, just as solid “orderly” human systems—like an airplane—that seem to be consolidating material.. actually move molecules all over the planet where they never would have gone: oil molecules, food molecules, and so forth.

    Now, it had been rattling around in my head that, really, life-forms as we call them, are assemblies of molecules whose “interest” (probably a better word might be ‘operation’ or ‘reaction’) it is to take in energy so as to create and maintain their own forms. This takes place only under a certain set of conditions, and so it made me think of crystals, which form elaborate (if not so elaborate as our own) structures when the energy surroundings are just so. Otherwise they degrade. And so what if humans are just a sort of “efflorescence”, which has sprung up under certain energetic and physical conditions of temperature, moisture and other available components? The fact that we “think” and “feel” and build moon rockets and paint Sistine Chapels only serves to give a fascinating exo-somatic dimension to our existence (a dimension that other animals express as well but to a much lesser degree). E.O. Wilson (1971) notes: “The entire history of the termites … can be viewed as a slow escape by means of architectural innovation from a dependence on rotting wood for shelter.”

    The idea of life as being not-dissimilar to what we would call inorganic structures is not nearly so strange as it sounds when one considers the innumberable types of active viruses (of which we are partially composed, btw), which have not been considered “living” things, yet which do reproduce and evolve. Viruses are the most abundant “life form” on earth, say these folks:

    And yet a virologist will tell you that they are absolutely not “alive”. This inability to decide has been around ever since I was coming up. A dictionary definition of “organic” borders on the tautological.

    Here’s a funny bit from a professor at Columbia:

    “Let’s first define life. According to the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary, life is “an organismic state characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction.”

    Viruses are not living things. Viruses are complicated assemblies of molecules, including proteins, nucleic acids, lipids, and carbohydrates, but on their own they can do nothing until they enter a living cell. Without cells, viruses would not be able to multiply. Therefore, viruses are not living things.

    When a virus encounters a cell, a series of chemical reactions occur that lead to the production of new viruses. These steps are completely passive, that is, they are predefined by the nature of the molecules that comprise the virus particle. Viruses don’t actually ‘do’ anything. Often scientists and non-scientists alike ascribe actions to viruses such as employing, displaying, destroying, evading, exploiting, and so on. These terms are incorrect because viruses are passive, completely at the mercy of their environment.”

    I thought it was funny because he says “without cells, viruses would not be able to reproduce” and I thought, “Hey! Same here!”

    [Now, just a couple of months ago, I was delighted and intrigued to have come across a scientist who is sniffing down this track in a new way and now I forget where I stashed the link.. if I did! I will try to hunt it down.]

    So that’s where I am with the “energy gradient” thing. There are a couple of acronyms related to this energy exploitation for purposes of self-organization: MPP (maximum power principle) and MEPP (the maximum EMpower principle). As this paper (chosen at random) references, these are principles/traits which may be scientifically observed in self-organizing living systems:

    Jay Hanson has put together some pages around this topic:

    [3] Originally formulated by Lotka and further developed by Odum and Pinkerton, the MPP states that biological systems capture and use energy to build and maintain structures and gradients, which allow additional capture and utilization of energy. One of the great strengths of the MPP is that it directly relates energetics to fitness; organisms maximize fitness by maximizing power. With greater power, there is greater opportunity to allocate energy to reproduction and survival, and therefore, an organism that captures and utilizes more energy than another organism in a population will have a fitness advantage (The maximum power principle predicts the outcomes of two-species competition experiments, by John P. DeLong, 2008).

    Now, our modern era with its bizarre, never-to-be-duplicated, injection of pure hyper-concentrated transportable energy has obviously thrown the biosphere out of whack, but it hasn’t been a process any different from injecting sugar into a vat of yeast. The yeast population explodes and dies off, leaving an anaeorobic, acidic mess that will resolve itself with time.

    Likewise, we’ll die and degrade and our molecules will be recombined or accreted into whatever entity or form—”living” or “non-living”—succeeds us. It’s all the same soup. But, you know, people *will* want to be special and think that they are special, and if they aren’t special then maybe one of their ancestors was special, or their progeny will be special…! and they *will* cast these ideas back not only into the past but will project them into the future, hoping to survive a mere “bottleneck” via primitive survivalism or, more bizarrely, the inhabiting of space(!!).

    These are feelings that I cannot ever remember having. Although I certainly have been aware of being ‘different’ in terms of my viewpoint, usually to my detriment.

  • Satish – Wow I just read it all. I ADMIRE YOU> Amazing how U have the energy to return to all us birds in your safety nest. Thanks for letting us know you had more going on here. Moving on to Guy’s new NBL Unchained Godess TV clip.

  • Just as I’m mostly a redneck, the mud-hole at the end of my driveway does occasionally dry up and I no longer have two cars up on blocks in my yard, I am mostly a poor patriarch. Only some prescient superpower country could have prevented our current situation. England tried but the world was too large to control. Well defended countries each developed their natural resources and here we are. After WWII the US could have de-industrialized all other countries by force of arms and atomic weapons but that would have taken the same supreme Patriarchy that you detest.

  • Daddio7, the system of patriarchy need not include you or other individuals. The system is fundamentally, irredeemably corrupt. As individuals, we need not act in a manner consistent with the system of indoctrination.