Monday, 26 January 2009

new shores

I have just read another very fine post by Dan W, using riptides as a metaphor for our current economic and political plight:

Struggle to overcome the riptide by fighting against it and swimming directly into it and you die. Swim perpendicular to the tide, thus eventually freeing yourself from the rip current, and then with relative ease return to shore.
Remember, surviving a rip current means accepting the fact that a paradigm shift is inevitable. One cannot survive the perils of a rip current by swimming back to the same spot on the shore from which one was rent. One must swim parallel to the shore, only returning to solid ground once the rip current has relented. And so, playing out the metaphor even further, when the swimmer---the survivor---returns to the beach, it is not the same beach from which he first departed. It is a different place on the shore. Survival is predicated upon accepting the fact that a return to the same shore is simply impossible; that a new shore must be explored, and that this new shore must be accepted not for how it can be manipulated and exploited, but for what is has to offer.
How do we compel our leaders to recognize the changing currents, and to join us in finding peace and relative prosperity on new and pristine shores rather then fight the suicidal battle against the forces of nature?

Dan then tentatively calls for "political action on a mass scale". I do not believe that that will happen soon enough, or that it would save the day. The sheep will follow the shepherd, and not the lone goat. And the shepherd is swimming against the tide... The sheep will not think for themselves, but will continue to place faith in those who they are accustomed to following. In this context Obama is a much greater danger than Bush ever was, as he is infinitely more believable. And make no mistake, Obama's understanding of economics and mathematics is just as feeble as his predecessor (o.k. well maybe not quite....).

Some of us will swim sideways. Most will simply follow their leaders and in doing so, will drown. Yes, those of us who swim sideways will land on new shores, and we should look forward to that with optimism - the new shores may seem unfamiliar to us now, but they will be a more humane habitat than the old.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

out with the old

Increasingly, over the past 2 decades, capitalism has been losing the plot in a grand way, with the help of the misled masses of ordinary people (who will almost inevitably be the biggest sufferers from the ongoing implosion). The selfish "greed is good" credo of the '80s has led to widespread and ever more risky speculation by financial "professionals", and increasingly by the public in general, who have been grossly misled by corrupt and greedy agents and "experts". High stakes gambling became the most popular investment strategy, and saving became seen as "stupid". Our governments and the media incited us to "borrow, borrow, borrow" and "spend, spend, spend" like there was no tomorrow. And now there is literally no tomorrow for our financial and economic systems.

"There are none so blind as those that will not see"

It clear that we cannot now trust our "glorious leaders" to do anything other than line the pockets of their fat friends, whilst stomping on the rest of us, and continuing the rape of planet Earth, in their pathological pursuit of perpetual economic growth (mathematically impossible though that is). And so they give billions, even trillions, to swell the funds of those very same bankers whose greed and incompetence got us into this mess - they are trying their best to keep housing priced at unaffordable levels, and to keep us all chained in ever-mounting debt to them. The only possible result is widespread bankrupcy. The longer they stave it off the worse it will be when it happens. The banks are bankrupt already, and so are many individual people. Very soon we will all be bankrupt, as government debts spiral out of control. This economic and financial system will not recover - the rot has set in too far.

The serpent of capitalism has been eating its own tail for quite a while now, and it has passed the point of no return: the tail was consumed a while ago, and then it started on its own guts....

Bye bye capitalism. Nobody can say you are not going out with a flourish. You are old paradigm, based on fear, greed, selfishness, dishonesty, and a grossly material focus.

The world is now moving inexorably into the new paradigm of collaboration, co-operation, sharing, honesty and openness. Humanity will become more humane. This change is inevitable, a universal evolution, and even the most "powerful" capitalist leaders, movers and shakers, can do nothing about it.

The future will hold no roles for politicians or financiers, nor for armies or police or other controlling forces. The oncoming chaos will sweep away what remains of the existing control structures - there may be bloodbaths as the system disintegrates, but the giant economic machine that empowers these old paradigm forces is now limping to a halt. The old control structures will in due course disperse in the entropic chaos. For those of us that live through the coming storm, life on earth is about to take on a very different complexion.

Examples of the new paradigm, the new way, the new age, abound already. New paradigm forces can be recognized by their nature: they foster unity, sharing, collaboration, compassion, liberation. Relationships are distributed, operating from the ground up, and not from the top down. The new paradigm returns power to the individual.

We can see this in the rapid growth of the internet, and the steady movement away from commercialism (control, manipulation, secrecy) towards open source (liberation, collaboration, openness). The internet is a distributed system par excellence: it gives back freedom of speech to the individual, and it breaks down the power bases of the large control-based organizations. Censorship crumbles, and individual choice expands exponentially. Newspapers, books, music, cinema, television, games, you name it - all sources of information and entertainment are becoming virtual, and available much more widely and at a much lower cost (cost to us, and cost to the planet). Technology gives us the tools to create new and better ways of communicating and organizing with our fellow beings to sustain ourselves. We have forums, blogs, wikis, social networking, internet telephony, and so on, all liberating us from the tyrannical greed of transport and phone companies, and breaking down physical barriers. Now we can maintain day to day friendships across continents. National boundaries are becoming increasingly irrelevant and unenforceable, as we become once again what we originally were: one people.

We are one. Understanding this simple truth sets us free. When we attempt to control or manipulate our fellow men, we violate our own freedom. When we hurt each other, we hurt ourselves. We are now being forced to leave our illusions behind. We are not defined by our possessions or our economic or political status. We are defined by our behavior towards our fellow beings, in all of our interactions with each other. The universe is designed to sustain us in abundance - we have only to let go of our dark habits of interfering and seeking to dominate and control. If we don't let go willingly, we will be forced into letting go. Only then can we co-operate with each other and with nature, to rediscover the true joy and bliss that life on earth can bring.

Through economic adversity, people discover true values, what really matters in life. We must see the calamities that beset us now, worldwide, as a force for the good. The old rubbish is being swept away to make room for the new, more natural, order. We must look at the demolition site, and see the new building that will grow out of it. This is a time of unparalleled opportunity. Our future is in our own hands, and we have the tools to build it. Never mind the old smoking ruins, let us focus our energy and our will on the elegant new structure. It is time to get busy.

Monday, 19 January 2009

from the top down

we are living through chaos unleashed by the wealthiest on all beneath them
Nick Cohen, writing in The Observer (thank you Alice Cook for the link)

Our economic systems, our political systems, and our financial systems are all OLD-PARADIGM systems, that is they are based on control of the many by the few. The key word here is CONTROL: this old paradigm for human organization, which we are now witnessing the death throws of, is based on pyramid control structures, whereby the many are controlled rigidly by a few power mongers. The old-paradigm way is "from the top down".

Other old-paradigm attributes of our societies include: conflict (war is good for the economy), separatism (divide and rule), and competition (survival of the fittest).

It is all fear based: those in power, at the top of the pyramid, are driven by fear, and the rest of us live in fear that is largely induced in us by our leaders. The system embraces brainwashing (advertising), and produces fear through encouraging our weakest human traits: greed, envy, selfishness, lust, desire for material wealth. Spiritual values are ignored and even disparaged, as we are programmed to base our lives around competition with our neighbours, in the race to maximize our physical wealth. Real wealth, which is inner harmony and the union with other beings and with nature, is forgotten about, and this is deliberate: control requires fear and division - if we were to work together in harmony, with common purpose, then the few leaders at the top of the pyramid become powerless to stop us.

Although the old-paradigm ways have been in control of the human race for thousands of years now, the old-paradigm has now passed its "sell-by" date, and indeed its' "use by" date. Those at the top have recently been engaging in a final frenzy of greed and excess, and have bled the system dry. Just like fishermen over-fishing a sea, and thereby losing their livelihood when the stocks the run out, those at the top of our pyramid have been greedily plundering the material wealth of the rest of us, and now we have nothing left to give them. They cannot take what we have not got, and so their spree has hit the buffers. Having exhausted the mines of capitalism (which has now eaten its own guts and is in its death throws), they are now plundering, with breathtaking audacity and unprecedented speed and greed, the socialist (a.k.a. public) purse - They are making sure that our countries and currencies are going down together with the sinking ships of our industries.

These are the end days for the old-paradigm systems of control, greed, selfishness, separateness, conflict, competition, and fear.

But they need not be the end days for us. As human beings, we are blessed with spiritual traits that have been repressed under the old-paradigm. To replace fear we have love, spiritual love, that is selfless, unconditional, and giving: love for ourselves and for all of our fellow beings. Instead of competing we can work together for the common good. Instead of fighting we can live in harmony and peace. Instead of being divided and isolated as lonely individuals, we can unite together as one people, in the understanding that to hurt our fellow being is to hurt ourselves - at the spiritual level we are all one. In place of selfishness and greed we can help each other and share with each other. In place of a controlling authoritarianism we will have a free and distributed equality, in which each of us has our own role in which we are happy and fulfilled, and which serves all of us as a society.

This is not a dream of paradise. It is where the human race is heading right now. This is the NEW-PARADIGM rising like a phoenix from the ashes of the old.

I implore everyone who reads this to shift your attention and energy FROM any attempt to fix or sustain the old paradigm ways, TO a sustained and joyous embrace of the new-paradigm ways that will lead us out of our current darkness to a new world of light of love. We have to create that world ourselves, but we are equipped to do so, and our time is NOW.

The meek shall inherit the Earth.

Monday, 12 January 2009


The ever-useful brought my attention to an article by Matthew Warren entitled Banks and the Avalanche of Deflation . Matthew writes:

As anyone who has seen an avalanche in person or on the big screen knows, it seems to come out of nowhere, gain downhill momentum in a flash, and inevitably run its course. Just as in the Rocky Mountain high country, many of the agents in our global economy--financial intermediaries as well as overleveraged individuals and institutions--had come to resemble a thick unstable slab of new snow resting atop an eroded base, ready to sheer off with the slightest adverse rumble.

The underlying dynamic is quite simple and resembles so many similar sad stories from history. Not just in U.S. housing, but in many real estate and financial markets around the world, we are now watching the unhappy outcome as a rigid pile of leverage rapidly crumbles, hideously exposing overvaluation across various asset classes. It is a classic bubble and bust.

I have just returned from a visit to northern Italian Alps, where I saw, more snow than I have ever seen in my life, including many examples of "thick unstable slab of new snow resting atop an eroded base", just waiting to avalanche, and so this metaphor struck a real chord with me.

So far, as global economic winter depression sets in, we have just had a snowfall or two. But the big avalanches are yet to come, as is the flood damage caused by the subsequent meltdown. And there is no reason to expect that the snow has stopped or will stop falling. I should not need to reiterate here in detail what form these snowfalls and avalanches will take - many other writers are already doing an excellent analysis of this - try or Ashes Ashes All Fall Down as starting points. The action will have names like "Alt-A", "CDO", "credit card debt", "commercial real", "redundancy", and so on, to add to those blizzards that we have already seen, such as "sub-prime" and "credit crunch", and their resulting minor avalanches in housing and stockmarket prices. The rescue services seem hideously ill equipped (or perhaps that should read "incompetent") to cope with the emergency. They are trying to dam up the snow, instead of trying to control the slide. The result can only be even bigger and badder avalanches when the dams break.

The winter will not last forever. As always in nature, spring will come. with sunshine and new growth to replace the devastation of the winter storms. This winter may be the mother of all winters, and we have a long way to go before we are through it, but this too will pass.

I am looking forward to the spring. I hope that many others will join me in sowing the seeds of a better human civilisation, which will rise out of the ashes of this dying one. It is time to forget this old paradigm - its time is past and it is now passing away. We must look to the new world and how and we are going to shape it. We must look with optimism to the spring and summer ahead.

Monday, 5 January 2009

animal rights and human wrongs

The old paradigm "cultural" system has, in recent years, distilled itself into global capitalism. This "culture" is based on greed, selfishness, subjugation, and exploitation. These vicious behaviours are sold to us via illusory claims of "equal opportunity" and "freedom of choice". Billions of people have now been seduced into ignoring the contradictions, injustices, and malevolence, inherent in this system.

As Jason Miller writes in Pravda:
We are in the midst of a crisis of epic proportions... Our chief foe is a swarm of greed-driven, self-absorbed, mean-spirited locust-like human beings who are dedicated to “reforming” and perpetuating capitalism, the very system that has led us to this woeful state of environmental, economic, social, and political affairs.

Capitalism has inflicted deep wounds upon the Earth and is the persistent infection that must be eradicated to avert... the ongoing torture and murder of billions of non-human animals, an acceleration of Climate Change, further economic collapse, mass starvation, severe shortages of potable water, perpetual resource wars, and a host of other catastrophic events.

While much of its foul stench emanates from the United States, the foul odor of capitalism has wafted its way into the nostrils of nearly every citizen on the globe. Capitalism’s cockroach-like apologists, propagandists, beneficiaries, enforcers, and power brokers scurry in and out of nearly every nook and cranny of the planet.

Global and dominant as it is, capitalism is the culmination and perpetuator of a number of vile social, economic, political, and cultural elements and dynamics, many of which began rearing their ugly heads with the advent of agriculture, domestication and civilization. Starting about 10,000 years ago, as humans became “civilized,” we alienated ourselves from nature, psychologically enabling us to exploit non-human animals and savagely abuse the Earth for our enrichment, amusement and comfort.

As a collective, we human animals have determined that we are the master species, endowing ourselves with the right to dominate, enslave, torture, humiliate, murder, and eat any sentient being on the planet...

(A) mental perversion afflicts most people, causing them to view themselves as superior to all other species. (This)is the one of the most blatantly exploitative and reprehensible of all human ideologies. Yet it remains “socially acceptable”, (and) reveals the ferocity and grotesquery of savage capitalism. Animal exploiting capitalists of all stripes, including ranchers, biomedical researchers, meat processors, egg producers, fast food restaurateurs, and their ilk spend billions of dollars on agitprop each year to ensure that both the law and those who consume their products continue to view non-human animals as property, worthy of no more consideration than a lawn-mower.

Human slavery, in which certain members of the human species were reduced to the status of property, was once institutionalized... and abolition wouldn’t have occurred had it not been for great sacrifices by many people of conscience and a civil war. Such is the pernicious and relentlessly cruel nature of capitalism.

Patriarchy and racism were once institutionalized too. Yet despite the fact that women and minorities have made significant legal, political, and social strides, the white man still wields tremendous power in this world, much of it economic in nature.

Many people are concerned about the devastating and noxious impact we humans are having upon the Earth. But thanks to .. the globalization of the American Way of Life, and the deep allegiance many people have to capitalism (a system that is based on infinite growth on a finite planet), the rape and plunder of Mother Nature continues at an alarming rate. .. Potential solutions that might interfere significantly with growth and profit are beaten to death before they can fully emerge from the womb.

Meanwhile, anti-capitalist radicals .. remain marginalized, persecuted, ridiculed, vilified, and perhaps worst of all, divided.

American Capitalism’s power elite, comprised of the upper strata of the economic, corporate, political, and military hierarchies, enjoy tremendous advantages over those who oppose them. Despite their obvious economic and military might, their most powerful weapon is actually their seemingly omnipotent abilities to prevent any ideology from challenging the national religion of capitalism, to maintain the allegiance of most of the working class, and to demonize those who dare to blaspheme against their economic rape.

In a recent interview, internationally-renowned progressive political analyst Michael Parenti described the means by which the ruling class manipulates the masses into supporting such an obviously wretched system:

“Through control of the universe of discourse, including the media, the professions, the universities, the publishing industry, many of the churches, the consumer society, the job market, and even the very socialization of our children and the prefiguring of our own perceptions, the ruling interests are able to exercise a prevailing ideological control that excludes any reasoned critique of the dominant paradigm.”

.. Electing a Democrat who is a racial minority and who talks a progressive game is a band-aid, at best. The real solution is to drive a stake through the heart of vampiric capitalism by uniting and by finding a means to take on the corporate media in such a way that we begin winning significant numbers of hearts and minds... Let’s come together and crush those loathsome bastards who prosper via the domination and abuse of the Earth and its sentient inhabitants.

If we truly intend to subvert the dominant rapacious paradigm and replace it with something that will serve the greater good and heal the Earth, we must put animal liberation on our agenda.

The soulless status quo empowers and rewards those who are the most sociopathic and the most devoid of empathy.

There is no moral defense for enslaving, torturing, and murdering sentient beings who feel pain and fear just as we do. How can we castigate the Nazis for the Holocaust, and then condone almost identical treatment of the non-human animal races?

Our delusion of superiority is so deeply ingrained that even many people of good conscience ignore the brutal treatment of non-human animals, who have no voice, no legal rights, and no viable means to defend themselves.

The time has come to abandon this old-paradigm cultural ethos that allows and encourages "morally retarded wretches to pitilessly damn billions upon billions of innocent beings". This horrendous cruelty has no place in the new paradigm that the human race is now entering.

Peace and love and goodwill must be extended to all beings, and not just those in human form.