I’ve pasted directly below, nearly verbatim, an essay I wrote for this space on 8 May 2014 titled, “Shadows and Lies” (I updated the original essay on 11 September 2015 with a link to the latest report from Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth). Directly below this essay, after an embedded song and a short paragraph, is an essay posted in this space on 13 September 2007. The snippets from 18 months ago update, and serve as a contrast with, my earlier view. The current essay bears the same title as the one from more than eight years ago.
I’ve two additional comments. First, if you read and understand the report regarding 9/11 and still disparage people by calling them “truthers,” then you have no grasp of evidence. Second, even a rudimentary understanding of Thomas Jefferson ought to include a single line expressing his foresight: “Indeed, I tremble for my planet, when I reflect that Nature is inflexible: that her response to our abuse cannot sleep forever.”
When you’re dead, you don’t know you’re dead. People around you feel it, though. It’s the same when you’re stupid.
My promotion of a gift economy seems stupid because it doesn’t involve the pursuit of money. As a result, I receive gifts, especially when I travel. Books and shirts are among the most popular items I receive, and the latter often contain witty historical expressions. Among my tee shirts is one with a phrase from Benjamin Franklin: “It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.”
Most people I encounter clearly do not agree, at least in practice. In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is. Still, I’m astonished at the prevailing mentality among the American citizenry I encounter. Apparently we are so afraid to question authority, so willing to believe blatant lies, that we willingly capitulate to liars and thieves dressed as CEOs and politicians.
I provide few links in this essay. Evidence for each of the following claims is abundant and easily obtained. If you’ve not grasped these tidbits by now, additional evidence will remain unconvincing. I suspect your ignorance is willful, your inability to see a direct result of eyes sealed tightly shut.
Most notable is the inability of nearly everybody I know to pursue radicalism. For starters, most people I’ve met cannot distinguish between a radical and an extremist, despite the clear difference.
If it’s unclear I’m writing about you, ask yourself this question: “What have I done recently that runs counter to the status quo?” If you don’t have a significant response, you’re likely to squirm while reading this essay.
Plunging down a rabbit hole — any rabbit hole — apparently makes one likely to pursue radicalism on additional topics. Fortunately for governments, few citizens are willing to look deeply into any topic, no matter how important. The shadows in the cave are far too comfortable to risk facing reality head-on.
And then there are the
Strong Suggestions of Thermodynamics Laws of Thermodynamics. The official story of 9/11 violates the Laws of Thermodynamics, yet few people I know are willing to question the official narrative (consider, for example, the 11 September 2015 report from Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth (Beyond-Misinformation-2015), controlled demolition of WTC building 7, and the admission of an inside job by Dubya’s chief economist). After all, doing so would adhere to Franklin’s maxim, a notion foreign to the typical modern ‘murican. The Orwellian absurdity continues with the disparaging term applied to those who question the impossible official narrative: “truther.”
A few additional examples are presented below. They provide an opportunity for me to launch a too-infrequent rant into the void. Ergo, my latest attempt to combine reality with its common partner, absurdity.
Civilization is not the only way to live. Indeed, humans lived without civilization for more than two million years. We’ve lived within the shackles of civilization for a few thousand years. Civilization clearly is omnicidal. Few notice. Even fewer care.
Civilization is an expression of patriarchy. The current version of industrial civilization benefits a few Caucasian men at the expense of every other living being. Most civilized people believe this set of living arrangements is wonderful.
If you are reading these words, you benefit from imperialism. American Empire is real, and it covers the globe. There is no escape.
The two dominant political parties in the United States represent twin cheeks on the same, corporate ass. If you believe the next person to occupy the Oval Office will improve the situation for the masses, then you do not understand the issue. Elizabeth Warren, or any other “progressive” candidate (i.e., contemporary neo-conservative) — the next great hope of many forgetful Democrats — will prove as disappointing as the current president to these deluded, die-hard
dims Dems. Warren, by the way, is worth about $14.5 million, owns a $5 million mansion in Cambridge, was paid $350,000 to teach just one class at Harvard, and has the audacity to say that “the system is rigged to benefit the rich.”
The United States is dominated by a corporate government and corporate media. When greed is your only god, sociopaths assume control. We’re there, fully embedded within patriarchal fascism. The standard response of my fellow citizens: “I want more. I deserve more.” Apparently I occupy the land of the me and home of the crave.
The big banks have run this country for a very long time. They orchestrate everything from laundering drug money to cracking down on any form of resistance. They’ve been in charge for a very long time. Few notice, and even fewer care.
Working on behalf the big banks is the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, which has ruled the country and world with an iron fist since World War II. The myriad agencies within the executive branch, including the National Security (sic) Agency, feed the machine. NSA whistle-blower Bill Binney, who worked for the NSA for 30 years before resigning because of concerns he had regarding illegal spying on U.S. citizens in 2001, provides an apt summary: “The Ultimate Goal is Total Population Control.”
The American system of public education is designed to “dumb down” the populace. Critical thinking belongs to a bygone era. Nearly every one of the so-called, self-proclaimed teachers I know refuses to acknowledge reality on this issue. And most other matters, for that matter. These teachers are paid to think, and also to teach others how to think. They have overwhelmingly failed, and they continue to fail.
The prison-industrial complex, like almost every other aspect of American culture, is designed to enrich the wealthy and enslave the poor. Some people claim the system isn’t working. Au contraire: It’s working as planned, as indicated by the beneficiaries of American Empire.
Monogamy and the marriage-industrial complex are part and parcel of patriarchy. The dominant paradigm is not superior to other ways of living. Deep down inside, you surely understand.
We cannot sustain the unsustainable, including civilization. Nor should we attempt to do so. Civilization requires tremendous violence. Industrial civilization is the most violent version yet.
American exceptionalism is a myth. American military power, largely supported by willfully ignorant taxpayers, is necessary to maintain American lifestyles, including grid-tied electricity, the modern banking system, and all that follows.
Abrupt climate change is under way. Global climate change causes suffering and death of humans and other organisms. There is no escape.
Net energy decline is under way and soon will contribute to the early death of most humans on Earth. Fossil fuels have peaked and the Age of Expansion has been replaced with the Age of Contraction. The Age of Conquest has nearly reached its overdue end.
Collapse of industrial civilization is under way and will be complete soon. When collapse is complete, the world’s remaining nuclear power plants will melt down catastrophically, thus shortening the lives of many humans and other organisms. There is no escape.
The interaction between anthropogenic climate change and collapse of industrial civilization affects every aspect of human life in the industrialized world. There is no politically viable approach to addressing either issue, much less the interaction between them.
Many centuries ago, Plato presciently wrote a line that resonates strongly with me: “Those who are able to see beyond the shadows and lies of their culture will never be understood, let alone believed by the masses.” Indeed, we’ll disparage them by, paradoxically, referring to them as “truthers.” We will therefore remain in the shadows of our cave of blissful ignorance.
The following essay was written for this space on 13 September 2007. I think it’s held up rather well, although my current view is that George W. Bush is a pawn, along with all other U.S. presidents to occupy the Oval Office during my time on Earth. The current essay bears the same title as this essay from more than eight years ago.
Lately I’ve been thinking about the founding fathers of this country. I used to turn to them for solace, wondering how they would feel about their Republic-cum-Empire, and thinking they’d be distraught about the fascist state we’ve become.
The world’s best-known collection of dead white guys had much to say about religion, most of it bad. But the mostly ignorant, church-going members of the American populace have gobbled up so many bullshit sandwiches that the fairy tales they’ve adopted about the religious views of the founding fathers are nearly as grand as the ones they’ve accepted about spirits in our midst. The founding fathers were deists, and they were very clear about the separation of church and state. Had Charles Darwin published the Origin of Species a century sooner, there is little doubt the reasonable men who founded the United States would have leaned even further away from the cross.
If the First Amendment doesn’t provide a compelling enough example about the founding fathers and their disrespect for religion, perhaps these passages will elucidate the issue:
“During almost fifteen centuries, the legal establishment of Christianity has been on trial. What have been the fruits of this trial? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; and in both, clergy and laity, superstition, bigotry and persecution.” (James Madison, speech to the General Assembly of Virginia, 1785)
“Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause. I had hoped that liberal and enlightened thought would have reconciled the Christians so that their [not our?] religious fights would not endanger the peace of Society.” (George Washington, letter to Sir Edward Newenham, 22 June 1792)
“The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” (Article 11, Treaty of Tripoli, signed by John Adams, 7 June 1797)
“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and State.” (Thomas Jefferson, letter to a Committee of the Danbury Baptist Association, Connecticut, 1 January 1802)
“As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?” (John Adams, letter to F.A. Van der Kamp, 27 December 1816)
“Among the features peculiar to the political system of the United States, is the perfect equality of rights which it secures to every religious sect.” (James Madison, letter to Jacob de la Motta, August 1820)
The contemporary view: Surely Madison didn’t mean to include Muslims. Or atheists. Or agnostics. Or anybody except Gawd-fearing Christians.
The views of the founding fathers on non-religious issues often show great wisdom and compassion:
“They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” (Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759)
It’s as if Benny foresaw the PATRIOT Act.
“As parents, we can have no joy, knowing that this government is not sufficiently lasting to ensure any thing which we may bequeath to posterity: And by a plain method of argument, as we are running the next generation into debt, we ought to do the work of it, otherwise we use them meanly and pitifully. In order to discover the line of our duty rightly, we should take our children in our hand, and fix our station a few years farther into life; that eminence will present a prospect, which a few present fears and prejudices conceal from our sight.” (Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776)
Or, to put a BushCo spin on this one: Today’s economy depends on tomorrow’s bankruptry. Day is night. Light is dark. And so on.
“Here sir, the people govern.” (Alexander Hamilton, speech to the New York Ratifying Convention, 17 June 1788)
Dubya’s view is slightly different: “I’m the Decider.”
“An elective despotism was not the government we fought for; but one in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among the several bodies of magistracy as that no one could transcend their legal limits without being effectually checked and restrained by the others.” (James Madison, Federalist No. 58, 1788)
My, what a quaint idea.
“Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.” (George Washington, Farewell Address, 19 September 1796)
It’s as if George foresaw BushCo.
“An honest man can feel no pleasure in the exercise of power over his fellow citizens…. There has never been a moment of my life in which I should have relinquished for it the enjoyments of my family, my farm, my friends & books.” (Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Melish, 13 January 1813)
Power corrupts. Today’s Executive branch enjoys power that is virtually absolute. It’s not too tough to connect the dots on this one.
Perhaps the most exemplary quote comes from the most enlightened of the founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson. He was referring to Native Americans, but they were merely the best “Them” of the day. The quote holds up very well today. Dubya should be justifying his lust for war by invoking this Jeffersonian line in every speech:
“In war, they will kill some of us; we shall destroy all of them.” (Statement to Secretary of War Henry Dearborn, 1807; The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, edited by Lipscomb and Bergh, volume 11, page 345)
These days, I rarely rely on the founding fathers for solace. They were very pragmatic, and therefore violent. They were, in a word, terrorists. They were correct about so many things. But we have not yet destroyed all of “them.” Here’s hoping the Empire falls before we have a chance.
Assuming I make it beyond the cutting-room floor, I’ll be featured in a televised episode of National Geographic on 1 November 2015. Footage includes Bill Nye at the mud hut. Details can be found here. Mundane trailer is embedded below.