RACISM? OR CLASS WARFARE?

8 07 2016

 

The mainstream media are full of stories about the “angry white people” involved in Brexit and the Trump campaign. I think it’s important to understand what is making them angry. That’s a step on the road to transforming their anger into intelligent action.

Anger is often a reaction to having one’s boundaries violated, and that is very much the case with Brexit and Trump’s supporters. People are angry because the economic security they once had has been taken from them in the name of “austerity,” in the name of “free trade,”by outsourcing and automation of manufacturing and the jobs it once offered, and, ultimately, by the demand for higher corporate profits.

Another thing that angers Britons and Trump supporters is that, in the midst of their own fall, their communities are being swamped with immigrants and refugees. These refugee/immigrant streams were created by the actions of politicians–so-called “free trade agreements,” or any one of a growing number of wars, insurgencies, and failed or failing states. The politicians have been paying no price for creating these disasters, even building careers on the benefits that have accrued to the corporate class as a result of their actions, but the middle class correctly perceives that they are the ones paying the price–being underbid on jobs/wages, competing for a diminishing stock of affordable housing, and, at least in their perception, having their tax dollars funneled into services for the newcomers. That last one is a more complex question than I can fully deal with here, but it does have to do with the fact that corporations and the wealthy are paying an increasingly smaller share of many nations’ tax income, especially here in America, and the tax burden is falling increasingly on the middle class.

The fact that Polish immigrants to Britain that are being subjected to serious abuse indicates clearly that this anger is about class, not race. There’s no racial factor involved with Poles–they and the Scandinavians might be the only people “whiter” than Britons, and they aren’t Muslims. They just have the same trades skills that Britons have and they’re used to working for a lot less money. To blow off what is going on in Britain and the United States as “racism” is either to misunderstand it or to intentionally mislabel it to deflect attention from what it’s really about, which, as I said, is that working-class people are paying the price for decisions made by high-level politicians who, until recently, have been completely insulated from the catastrophic effects of their decisions. Brexit has changed that. Here in the US, Trump rode that resentment to the Republican nomination, easily brushing aside all the conventional Republican politicians who were closely identified in the public’s mind with “the establishment.” Hillary Clinton, too, is a legitimate target for that ire.

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British or Polish?

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British or Polish?

The inability of working class people to see the real cause of their problems and instead fall for Trump’s semicoherent ramblings is also the fault of the corporate establishment, who have done all they can to keep the public pliant, sedated, and ignorant with television. junk food, and widely prescribed psychiatric medications. The sedation has worn thin, and the pliancy is turning to resistance, but ignorance is harder to overcome. People in this country, in England, and over much of Western Europe are angry about being clobbered with “foreigners.” Yes, their response looks like racism and nationalism, and the neoliberal political class is dismissing it as such. So far, Trump supporters, and many Brexit supporters, haven’t gotten past who they have been clobbered with to go after the corporate/state parties that have actually been doing the clobbering. If or when they do, there will be a revolution, and Trump may well be one of its first victims.

Here in America, we are in a classic, crazy-making “double bind.” The choices appear to be, “vote for Trump and invite racist, nativist chaos, or vote for Clinton and ratify the corporate security state.” Neither is an acceptable option. In Eastern Europe, the so-called Communist regimes presented people with a similar situation, holding their hegemony together by convincing everyone that they were just one person who was powerless against the state apparatus. The day all those “powerless people” realized how many of them there were, governments didn’t just fall, a whole political system dissolved. Here in America, those of us in the Green Party and elsewhere who dissent from the corporate narrative have been portrayed as a small, powerless minority. The Sanders campaign proved otherwise, but there is still a lot of work to do, and no promise of success. That uncertainty is all the more reason to do our very best.

politicsoffear

music: Jackson Browne, “Till I Go Down.”

 

 





ATTENTION

7 07 2016

This is the 21st chapter of Charles Eisenstein’s “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible.” You can read or buy the whole book here. Please consider supporting Charles’ work.  Thank you!

What most needs attention is the part of us that we seek to avoid feeling. When we have tended to that, we are changed, and the world changes with us.

—Dan Emmons

Let me offer you an example from my own inner monologue that illustrates nondoing as an active principle. I dropped off my car one morning for state inspection and, rather than ask my then-pregnant wife Stella to wake up early to pick me up, walked the five or six miles home. Now let me be clear that this was no hardship at all—I love walking, I was wearing comfortable shoes, and the weather was cold but clear. But as I walked, I started thinking, “Gee, this is taking a long time. I wonder how I can milk this. I know, when I get home I’ll make a little show of being more tired and hungry than I am so that Stella thinks I underwent a hardship for her sake. Then she’ll be extra nice to me.”

That seemed a bit obvious, so I came up with a better idea. “I can put on a brave face and say I’m not tired or hungry, but subtly signal that I am. Then I will get credit not only for having made a sacrifice for her, but also for valiantly trying to keep it secret.”

….

What would have happened if, instead, I had noticed my secret plan to milk some benefits out of my trek, and then resolved to stop myself at all costs? What would have happened if I’d threatened myself with punishment (guilt, shame, self-castigation, verbal abuse by my inner voice [“What’s wrong with you!”]) and motivated myself with rewards (self-approval, telling myself I was mature, better than Uncle Bob, etc.)? I can tell you what would have happened. I would have withheld from Plan A or B in the obvious ways, but I would have done it nonetheless in a way that gave my own conscious mind plausible deniability. Because if my goal is simply to pass the muster of my own inner judge, then that judge and other parts of me will conspire to arrange a verdict of innocent. I need not elaborate on we humans’ capacity for self-deception. If the motive is self-approval, then self-approval we will get, even if it comes at the expense of everything beautiful.

That sounds alarming, doesn’t it? My purpose here is not to scare you into making a change. Maybe I would if I could, but this is not the kind of change one can be scared into making. I could scare you into trying, perhaps, but the result would be the same as in my scheme of reward and threat above. No, this is the kind of change that happens when it is time for it to happen.

music: Sheila Chandra, “Quiet #9

….Not that there is anything wrong with work. Work and play, work and leisure … it is time to question these polarities. That doesn’t mean indolence. When I worked in construction the labor was sometimes very strenuous, but it was rarely an ordeal. I didn’t have the feeling of fighting myself or forcing myself. There is a time to make great efforts, a time to push one’s capacities to the limit. We have after all been given those capacities for a reason. But struggle is not supposed to be the default state of life.

The same applies to spiritual practice. You may have also noticed that my recipe for releasing the habits of separation corresponds quite closely with Buddhist teachings and practices of mindfulness. Ah, finally, something to do! Now we can all embark on a heroic effort at mindfulness. We can admire those (especially ourselves, who if not as mindful as, say, Thich Nhat Hanh are at least more mindful than most people, right?) who are more mindful and look with disdain or patronizing indulgence at those who are less. We can use all the same psychological apparati toward a new goal: mindfulness.

I hope after having read this far you are a bit suspicious of this plan. Could it be that mindfulness too comes as a gift, when circumstances make us newly mindful of what had been beneath the threshold of our awareness? I urge you to see mindfulness as a gift and to cherish it as such. Fully accept that gift, indulge in it. Perhaps the path to mindfulness is not one of a fierce mustering of the will. We cannot will the exercise of will—volition too comes as a gift.

Music: Santana, “Flor de Canela>Promise of a Fisherman>Borboleta

 

 





DILEMMA 2016

5 06 2016

Things are reaching a pitch in the American political arena. Trumpenstein will be the Republican nominee, and, while the last chapters have yet to be written, it is now almost certain, as it really has been all along, that Ms. Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. The next phase of the contest, the Big Face Off Between The Democrat And  The Republican, is about to begin.

In social media, however, the contest between Bernie and Hillary seems far from over. Clinton supporters are upset by the expressed concerns of Sanders supporters and Greens like me, who feel that there is good reason to be wary of a Clinton Presidency. We are told that we are helping Trump get elected, that we are misogynists, that we need to deal with the world-as-it-is and not cling to “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible,” to steal a phrase from Charles Eisenstein. That’s all well and good, Clinton supporters say, but you must support Hillary or all hell will break loose. A la Margaret Thatcher, There Is No Alternative.tina

In an effort to respond to the many people I know who are telling me to get with the Clinton program, as well as those who seem to think Bernie would have won if only I’d supported him, and those who think I’m crazy, stupid, or sentimental not to back Trumpenstein, I want to examine all three of these candidates, as well as The Green Party’s Jill Stein, (cause, hey, this is a Green Party show/blog!) and talk about how they look from the ol’ Deep Green Perspective.

Let’s go for Trumpenstein first. I’m calling him that not just to make fun of him, but because he, like Dr. Frankenstein’s creation, was, in  a sense, brought to life by people who had their own motives for creating him, and who did not realize that he would get away from them and chart his own course. Trump was born (in the public mind) as a commercial, comedic figure, a Falstaffian man of bluff and bluster who was not afraid to say what he thought and exercise power, a man who drew viewers and made money for the network. When he chose to enter the political arena, he cut a sharp contrast with conventional politicians, who carefully shape what they say in a formal language that is intended to offend no one who might vote for them, but has begun to offend a lot of people for its vacuousness. Read the rest of this entry »





LOCAL NEWS BRIEFS

8 05 2016

The first thing I want to tell you is that The Green Party of Tennessee will be holding itslugo for senate annual meeting/convention in Knoxville on June 4th. We will meet to select new state party officers, new representatives to the national party, and to consider nominations for offices that will be on the November ballot here in Tennessee and whom to endorse for President. You can find details about this on our  Facebook page.

Here in Nashville, Council member Fabian Bedne’s resolution, which is intended to make it gascompressormuch more difficult for gas pipeline compressor stations to locate in Davidson County, was accepted at Tuesday’s council meeting and will be discussed at the June 7th Council. There are two such stations proposed, one north and one south of town. This gives all of us who are Nashville residents a month to contact our council members and ask them to support Bedne’s resolution. This local situation is our piece of the great struggle going on in this world about whether or not it’s OK to dawdle along and make just a little more money selling fossil fuels before we quit. If it sounds like an addiction, that’s because it is. “Jush one more drink, and then I’ll quit!”

And lastly, so far Nashville has not–recently–been blemished with the police murder of an unarmed African-American, but we’ve had some close brushes with that kind of infamy. A recent Nashville Scene article detailed a near-tragedy at Cayce Homes in East Nashville, and pointed out that only eight years ago, the Scene had satirically announced that the

bigbrothercayce

Big Brother Is Watching You

 

police department was installing security cameras at Cayce–and lo, it has come to pass.

I had some suggestions that I think are much more constructive. I sent them to my council member, and I’ll share them with you.

The first would be to identify appropriate members of the community, of both genders and a variety of ages, give them training in conflict de-escalation and resolution, and then pay them to walk around their community on a regular basis and interact with people as they see fit, and let them be the ones to call in the police if they think things are getting out of hand.

Another couple of things that might create more stability and community there would be to allow residents to buy, rather than rent, their homes, and to turn as much of the management as possible over to a residents’ council. Both these moves would empower residents and increase their sense of ownership and responsibility.

Beyond that, we have to find ways to make up for all the blue-collar jobs that have been shipped to China and elsewhere, as I think the loss of stable, decent-paying employment opportunities has had a very destructive impact on working-class people in general.

That’s what I suggested. If it makes sense to you, tell your council member and pass it around. The federal and state governments may be lost causes, but here at the local level, we average citizens still have some leverage. Let’s use it.
music: Jackson Browne, “Lawless Avenues




OH, MAMA, LET’S TALK DIRTY

8 05 2016

It’s Mother’s Day. I’ve broadcast and published on many a Mother’s Day over the eleven-year history of this show and blog, and generally I haven’t had much to say about it, but I think it’s time.

juliawardhoweMothers’ Day has become a “Hallmark Holiday,” an excuse for companies to induce us to spend money we wouldn’t ordinarily spend. Its actual origins are far more noble than that, as most of you probably know. It began as a reconciliation effort after the Civil War, and then was picked up by abolitionist and women’s suffrage activist Julia Ward Howe, who, in a famous proclamation, called for an international congress of women for the purpose of creating lasting peace. We can only guess what Ms. Howe, who wrote

Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.
Blood does not wipe our dishonor nor violence indicate possession.

would think of the woman likely to be our next President, who has made her reputation in part by being at least as fervent a hawk as any man in our government. But that’s not what I’m going to talk about tonight. This is the Deep Green perspective, and I’m here to talk about our relationship with the Mother of us all, the Earth.treemomma

To do that, I want to start by talking dirty. You know what that means. When we talk about sex or defecation, we are “talking dirty.” But why, when we call something “dirty,” does it have such negative connotations?  Even “a dirty look,” or a “dirty deal,” or “the dirt on somebody,” while they may not have sexual or scatological implications, refer to looks, deals, and information that is not praiseworthy.

But–we are made of dirt. “Human” and “humus,” a fancy name for  dirt that’s chock full of living micro-organisms, are etymologically related, as are the Hebrew words Adam and adamah. Adam, of course, is the legendary first human. “Adamah” means earth. In archaic Europe and in Palestine alike, our prehistoric ancestors understood that “dust we are, and unto dust we return.” It seems to me that we could use a lot more of that humbling–another “earth word”–influence these days. While there is a certain admirable bravado in, “I’m going to live forever, or die trying,” decline and death are part of the natural arc of our existence. In my Deep Green opinion, it’s more appropriate to accept this and strive to surf that arc as gracefully and lovingly as possible, than to go down in flames on a mad scientist quest for vastly extended youth and longevity. Besides, the planet could get awfully crowded with very old people if we start extending our lives. The economy might love the extravagant consumers that such an aged population would constitute, but the planet needs us to cycle back through the dirt like everything else that lives.

We are made of dirt. Every atom and molecule in us could exist and not be “alive,” but somehow, when they are merged into our bodies, these tiny flecks of dirt, liquid, and gas become “alive.” This may be a common phenomenon–astronomers now estimate that one in five, maybe more, stars have a roughly Earth-sized planet in their habitable zone, meaning that there could be between ten and forty billion other planets out there that could be kind of like this one. That’s a lot of very interesting potential, but the nearest such planet we’ve found is twelve light-years away, which means that, unless or until we either launch an internally terraformed asteroid colony on a multigenerational cruise, or learn how to create, direct, and step through wormholes, we’re not likely to find out. Across the universe, we may not be so unusual, but for all practical purposes, there’s nobody here but us, and nowhere else to go, so we’d better figure out how to keep this planet livable.

And why haven’t any of our neighbors come calling? I think we’re in the process of finding that out for ourselves. It looks to me as though intelligent species on small planets with limited resources–which, as far as we can tell, is the only place a species like us might evolve–have to walk a couple of fine lines. One is between being merely clever and genuinely wise–in order to survive for very long, the species must be clever enough to learn how to work with what its planet offers, and yet wise enough not to use up those gifts in a blaze of thoughtless exploitation. Considering the speed with which we have depleted what our planet has offered us, we may well be failing that test. If we pull ourselves together quickly enough to prevent our near-term extinction due to global warming at this late date, the generations of us that are to come, and even any future species that might supplant us, will have to make do with a planet bereft of easily extracted metals and fossil fuels. Perhaps it will be better that way. Read the rest of this entry »





NONDOING

8 05 2016

This is a chapter from Charles Eisenstein’s “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible.” You can read the whole chapter here, and buy the book here. Please help support Charles’ work!

The problems we experience in our lives and in the world (whether relationship issues or world hunger) stem from energetic weakness and disconnection, from our lack of capacity to feel ourselves, each other, the earth, and how life seeks to move and evolve through us. The issue is not whether or not to act and “do something,” but what actually prompts us to act.

—Dan Emmons

Before they are able to enter a new story, most people—and probably most societies as well—must first navigate the passage out of the old. In between the old and the new there is an empty space. It is a time when the lessons and learnings of the old story are integrated. Only when that work has been done is the old story really complete. Then, there is nothing, the pregnant emptiness from which all being arises. Returning to essence, we regain the ability to act from essence. Returning to the space between stories, we can choose from freedom and not from habit……

….

In this I draw inspiration from a beautiful verse from the Tao Te Ching. This verse is extremely dense, with multiple meanings and layers of meaning, and I haven’t found a translation that highlights what I’m drawing from here. Therefore, the following is my own translation. It is the last half of verse 16—if you compare existing translations you will be astonished at how much they differ.

tao-te-ching16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

music: Material, “Devotional Dub





PAINTING OURSELVES INTO A CORNER

3 04 2016

American democracy has been functionally describable as “a two-party system” for most of our country’s history. There have been “third parties,” but they have rarely been successful at breaking into the mainstream. One exception is the Republican Party, which took advantage of the collapse of the former “second party,” the Whigs, to  become the other major party besides the Democrats, in the election of 1856, running bearded, long-haired John C. Fremont for President.

JCFrémont

John C. Fremont, the first Republican Presidential candidate–a long-haired guy with a beard.

They didn’t win that election, but went on to win in 1860 with Abe Lincoln, and kept that string going for most of the next seventy-two years, until Roosevelt routed Hoover in 1932.

Meanwhile, other parties kept hoping to do what the Republicans had done. The Populists and Socialists never got much traction; the Progressive Party, championed by Theodore Roosevelt and later Robert LaFollette, came closest. The Progressives were actually a spinoff from the Republicans, and succeeded in diverting enough Republican votes to allow the election of Woodrow Wilson, who first kept us out of, and then got us into, World War I. Hey, it was a good excuse for arresting radicals and labor organizers. It’s kind of amusing, in light of the current political landscape, to think of the Republicans as the progressive part of our political spectrum, but that is how they started out–taking the radical position that slavery should be limited and, ultimately, eradicated. I am sure that, when they endorsed this idea in 1856, they had no idea how soon it would come to pass. That should serve as an inspiration to all of us. Thank you, Republicans!

So, what has being a two-party system meant for the form and direction of politics in this country? Read the rest of this entry »








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