INITIATION

5 05 2019

This is the final chapter of “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible,” by charles Eisenstein. The book is available on line here. Please consider supporting Charles’ visionary, transformative work by purchasing this book, or another of his works.

A man sets out to draw the world. As the years go by, he peoples a space with images of provinces, kingdoms, mountains, bays, ships, islands, fishes, rooms, instruments, stars, horses, and individuals. A short time before he dies, he discovers that the patient labyrinth of lines traces the lineaments of his own face.

―Jorge Luis Borges

But will we make it? If, as in so many other questions, evidence and reason alone are insufficient to determine a belief, then how will we answer that question—especially when the answer implicates everything else, even our basic stories of self and world. I offered an answer earlier: to choose the story you will stand in.

How to choose? What will you believe, given how easily reason, logic, and evidence are conscripted to the service of a story? Here is an alternative: Choose the story that best embodies who you really are, who you wish to be, and who you are in fact becoming.

Behind the fog of helplessness of the question “Will we make it?” is a gateway to our power to choose and to create. Because written on its threshold is another question, the real question: “Who am I?”…….

initiation

music: REM “You Are The Everything

Eliza Gilkyson “Lifelines”

Rumors of the Big Wave “The Only Green World





DISRUPTION

8 07 2018

prettyswiftThis is a chapter from Charles Eisenstein’s 2013 book, “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible.” Due to this chapter’s length, I am only reading part of it this month. The beginning of the chapter, and the end of this month’s reading, are reproduced below. You can find the whole chapter here.

It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.

—Jonathan Swift

The world as we know it is built on a story. To be a change agent is, first, to disrupt the existing Story of the World, and second, to tell a new Story of the World so that those entering the space between stories have a place to go. Often, these two functions merge into one, since the actions we take that are part of the telling of a new story are also disruptive to the old.

This is how I see my work, the work of activists, and even on some level the work of artists and healers. Many of the stories I have told in this book exemplify the disruption of the old story: Pancho’s interaction with the policeman, for instance. I will share some more examples soon, but let’s start by considering a class of people that is the source of the greatest despair for many people I know. It is the class of “people who just don’t get it.”……

…..I believe the conversation must go deeper still. What that Nestlé VP did to justify her company, others can do to justify our whole civilization, as long as we grant them certain premises about the nature of life, self, and reality. For example, if we grant the premise that primitive life was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short,” then any doubts about the overall beneficence of technology run into a brick wall. Similarly, if we grant the premise that nature bears no inherent tendency toward organization and that life is just a random collocation of lifeless, generic building blocks bumped around by purposeless forces, then clearly we need have no scruples about seeking to conquer nature and turn it toward human ends. And finally, if we grant the premise that each of us is a discrete, separate self seeking to maximize genetic self-interest, then ultimately there is no arguing over the broad legal and economic parameters of our society, which seek to overcome that wanton nature and channel it toward pro-social ends.

The Nestlé VP’s views are more or less sound within the framework I have described above, the framework of “making life better through technology,” of the progressive conquest of inner and outer nature. Her views will not change until that framework crumbles. They are completely at home within the Story of Ascent.

I have to note that I take issue with what I regard as Eisenstein’s overly generous characterization of climate change deniers, since we now know, much more clearly now than when this book was written, that the big oil companies became aware of the profoundly dangerous consequences of their business back in the 70’s, and chose to hide what they knew and dispute the revelations of others in the interests of short-term profits. Back then, it would have been much easier to change course than it is now, both because so much polluting infrastructure has been built and because we are now running out of time before the changes wrought by our use of oil and coal send the planet’s climate too far out of control for anything but a crash landing.

I suspect that many corporate executives like the one Eisenstein writes about in this chapter may likewise be well aware that the one percent is quite consciously sucking the rest of us, and the planet, dry. Be that as it may, however, they are human beings like us, and if we are going to create, as I said earlier in this show, “a culture that is equitable, ecological, responsible, visionary, and tolerant,” it is going to have to find a way to include these people. That is exactly the issue Eisenstein is addressing here, so tune in next month for the next exciting instalment–or read the book yourself, if you can’t stand to wait.

music: “Pulled Up,” Talking Heads

Am,” Umar Bin Hassan

On the August “Green Hour,” I began reading with this, and concluded with the end of the chapter:

I heard another smart guy one morning on The Diane Rehm Show, an energy industry consultant. One of the topics was the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, intended to transport Albertan tar sands oil to refineries on the Gulf Coast. The consultant made the following point, which I will paraphrase: “Look, if we don’t build the pipeline, the refineries on the Gulf Coast are just going to refine heavy crude from somewhere else, and the tar sands will send their oil to Asia instead of the United States. Stopping the pipeline won’t have any impact on climate change or ecosystem destruction. That oil is going to be extracted and refined anyway, so it might as well be done in a way that brings jobs to the United States.”

Philosophers of ethics would have fun demolishing these arguments, which would apply just as well to selling body parts from the Nazi concentration camps. Whether I sell them or not, the camps are still operating, so I might as well put those body parts to good use, right? The point here, though, isn’t to expose the logical flaws in the justifications for the Keystone XL pipeline or plastic bottles, but to show how the things we take for granted determine our moral choices. In the reality bubble they inhabit, their arguments make perfect sense. If it is indeed an unalterable fact of the universe that the tar sands will be extracted, then it would be vain and counterproductive to disdainfully refuse to engage that fact. If our current petroleum-based civilization is unalterable, then we might commend Nestlé for putting its waste to good use. If we take the growing busyness of people’s lives for granted, then we must welcome the conveniences that make modern life tolerable. Within their operating paradigms, both these smart people are doing good……..

…..

Years later, he says, he still gets emails from those participants, telling him that their lives have never been the same since. “Tell me when you give another seminar,” they say. “I don’t care what the topic is.”

The power of that act of generosity was far beyond the mere economic impact on the working-class janitors. Its power lay in its violation of the laws of reality as the janitors, their supervisor, and the seminar participants had known them. The impossible happened, that day. Experiences like that tell us, “The world doesn’t work the way you thought it did. The realm of the possible is greater than you believed it was.”

Music: “Money” — Pink Floyd

Waiting for a Miracle” –Jerry Garcia Band





EVIL

10 12 2017

This is the 29th chapter of Charles Eisenstein’s book, “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible.” It’s a long one, so I won’t be reading the whole chapter this month. Please buy the book to support Mr. Eisenstein’s work. Thank you!

When we confront something we regard as “evil,” it poses a threat to the self-preservation of ego. We are so busy preserving our existence in the face of this threat that we cannot see the thing clearly at all.

—Chögyam Trungpa

Sometimes in Q&A sessions or internet comments I am confronted with the accusation that I ignore “the dark side of human nature.” I would like to unpack that statement. What is the dark side of human nature? It certainly means more than “Sometimes people do some pretty awful things,” because obviously if it wasn’t someone’s fault or intention to cause harm, that is not very dark. Besides, anyone who has read my work knows that I am well aware of the horrible things we humans have done to each other and the planet. No, when we speak of the dark side of human nature we are making a dispositionist claim: that we do bad things because there is bad within us. We bear within us evil, malice, selfishness, greed, brutality, cruelty, violence, hate, and callousness.

On the one hand, this is trivially true: all of these are parts of the human experience. Even if circumstances bring them out, they must be there to be brought out in the first place. But if it were only that, then the situationist response would be sufficient: change the circumstances that elicit evil. No easy task, this: these “circumstances” include the whole edifice of our civilization all the way down to its foundational mythology of Separation and Ascent. Yet still, a more beautiful world is still possible in principle…..

…..

Jimi told me he’d think about it. He didn’t do as I suggested, but let me tell you what happened. Later that week Jimi arranged a meeting with the thief. He went accompanied by his friend M., a martial arts expert. The thief brought two of his friends along as well. He said he really wanted the item and didn’t want to pay for it. His two friends started egging him and Jimi on, suggesting that they fight for it. Jimi (who is six-feet-two and has also studied martial arts) said, “Forget it, I’m not going to fight you for this petty material object. You keep it. I don’t want your money.”

The thief was taken aback. Then he said, “You know, that doesn’t feel right. I shouldn’t have taken it like that. Let me give you some money. How about $50? That’s all I can afford.”

Whereas each had held the other in a story of enmity, now there was humanity.

Bruce Cockburn, “The Gospel of Bondage” and “The Gift

Second installment begins:

Pancho Ramos Stierle runs a peace house on the border between two gang territories in what is considered one of the worst neighborhoods in Oakland, California. People tell me that more than once, local individuals have entered the house with the intention to rob or kill, only to be converted into peace workers instead.

Years ago, Pancho was involved in a protest at UC Berkeley, where he was a PhD student in astrophysics. He was one of a group of students publicly fasting to protest the university’s involvement with nuclear weapons development. After nine days, the university got tired of it and had the police come and make an example of the group of hunger strikers. Police officers broke the human chain the protesters had made by interlocking their arms, and one officer lifted the slight Pancho into the air, slammed him onto the concrete, and brutally handcuffed him…..

…..Even if the reader is not convinced that there is no such thing as elemental, essential evil, it should at least be clear that most of the time, what we ascribe to evil actually comes from situation. Even if the reader still thinks there is a “discontinuity that divides the ordinary flawed human from the truly evil,” it is clear that we often categorize the former as the latter. That is extremely important, because whereas evil can be overcome only by superior force, anything else can be changed by changing the situation, the totality of the inner and outer circumstances. In large part, these circumstances consist of layer upon layer of story, going all the way down to our personal and cultural Story of Self.

This is the level we must work at if we are to create a different kind of society. We must become the storytellers of a new world. We tell the story not only with words, but with the actions that spring from that story. Each such action shows all who witness it that there is another world out there, another way of seeing and being, and that you are not crazy for thinking it is there.

I will conclude my reading of this chapter next month.

music: Jefferson Starship, “I Want To See Another World

Well, actually, I’m not going to finish it this month. Conclusion of “Evil” will happen in March, unless other stories take up all my time. (Local transit issues and recent Russiagate developments come to mind.) The February segment begins

Every act of generosity is an invitation into generosity. Every act of courage is an invitation into courage. Every act of selflessness is an invitation into selflessness. Every act of healing is an invitation into healing. I am sure you have felt this invitation upon witnessing such acts.

I once read a news story about a train wreck in Peru. The travelers and tourists were stranded in the mountainous area in winter, without food or heat. Many might have died that night, if it weren’t for the local villagers who came with food and blankets to keep them warm. These were poor villagers, and they were giving their only blankets.

I remember when I read that story how petty my own insecurity seemed, how tight my heart, and how tiny my generosity. I felt a kind of opening. If those indigent villagers can give their last blankets, then surely I needn’t be so concerned about my financial future. I can give. It will be okay……

and ends

I would be curious to know what people who have been victimized by psychopaths or other malevolent powers have in common. Are they just random victims, or is there something inside of them that attracts the experience?

Those who do what they call shamanic work might ask the same question about the “entities” that attach themselves to people. Are these arbitrary, predatory forces, like the impersonal forces of nature, that visit themselves upon the unlucky? Or is there an energetic hole, a missing part, a wound that perfectly complements the configuration of the entity that attaches itself? In that case, perhaps the entity is performing a service, merging with the host into a symbiotic whole. One might ask, is the entity really a separate entity at all, or could it be an unintegrated part of the psyche? Is there even a meaningful difference between those two categories? What is a self, anyway? If we are interbeings—the sum total of our relationships—then the existence of an alien, othered “evil” is highly problematic.

My response to his question about whether those attacked by psychopaths are “random victims,” in light of my view that we are all, humans and non-humans alike, suffering from the actions of political psychopaths, is that in a way, yes, we are simply random victims who have done nothing to attract this unwelcome attention except be born here on Earth. Since we have been born into this mess, however, it’s up to us to clean it up if we can.

Music: Buffy Ste. Marie, “Priests of the Golden Bull,

Zakir Hussein, “Balinese Fantasy

Buffy Ste. Marie, “Power in the Blood

The March reading begins with this paragraph:

The idea that evil is part of a larger alchemical dance vastly complicates the usual narrative of fighting on the side of good to conquer evil. We might instead see the evil we encounter as the externalized image of something hidden within ourselves. In contrast, the concept of absolute, merciless evil is closely analogous to the impersonal, merciless forces of the Newtonian universe, which visit destruction randomly upon us. It is also analogous to the ruthlessly competing gene-controlled robots of Darwinian natural selection. Both of these are key pillars of the old story. Does it not stand to reason that evil is as well?

And ends at the end of the chapter, with an amazing story:

My friend Cynthia Jurs met Christian Bethelson while she was doing peace work in Liberia, which had suffered a horrendous civil war in the 1990s. A rebel leader known by the nom de guerre of General Leopard, Bethelson was infamous in a milieu of massacre, child soldiery, and torture. If any human being is evil, it would have been him; he was, in his words, a man with “no conscience.” Eventually the war ended, and with it Bethelson’s livelihood: he had no skill other than killing. He decided to go to the nearest war, in Ivory Coast, where there might be demand for his gruesome services. On the way his car got stuck in the mud. Who would have guessed that another car would be stuck in the mud on the same stretch of road at the same time, and that that car would be bearing members of a peace group called the Everyday Gandhis? Intrigued by their conversation, he announced himself as a former rebel general. He thought they would vilify him, maybe even beat him, but to his astonishment the group gathered around him, hugged him, told him they loved him. He decided to join them and dedicate his life to peace.

Let us hold out for no less a miracle planetwide. Let us accept the invitation that it offers us into a larger sense of the possible.

music: Incredible String Band, “Painted Chariots





HOPE

11 04 2015

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.

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.

—Arundhati Roy

Hope has a bad name these days among certain teachers. On the one hand, it seems to suggest wishful thinking that distracts us from a sober assessment of reality and fosters unrealistic expectations. As Nietzsche put it, “Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torments of man.” Meanwhile, in the language of “spirituality,” hope implies a rejection of the present moment, or perhaps a taint of doubt eroding the creative power of one’s intentions. But let us not be so quick to dismiss this primal element of the human psyche. What does hope tell us, “springing eternally,” as it so often does, like a flower alongside the desolate byways of despair?….

When my children were little they attended a Montessori kindergarten. Never before or since have I encountered a school so vibrant with love, laughter, and gentleness. The teachers treated the children with deep, honest respect, never patronizing them, never coercing them, never manipulating them with disapproval or praise, giving them an experience of unconditional love. Those kindergarten days are now but a foggy memory to the children who went on from there into the harsh, degrading world of separation, but in my mind’s eye I see a small golden glow inside of them, and within that glow I see a seed. It is the seed of the unconditional love and respect they received there, awaiting the moment to sprout and blossom and deliver the same fruit that my children received to those they touch. Maybe a year or two of kindergarten isn’t enough to overcome the brutal apparatus of separation that governs modern childhood, but who knows when and how it might blossom forth? Who knows what effects it will bear? To be in a sanctuary of love and respect every day for one or two years during such a formative stage of life imprints a person with a tendency toward compassion, security, self-love, and self-respect. Who knows how that imprint will alter the child’s choices later in life? Who knows how those choices will change the world?

music:  Neil Young, “Who’s Gonna Stand Up?”

Talking Heads, “Nothing But Flowers” (first is the official video, second is homemade video for longer album version)

 

music:





SEPARATION

5 07 2014

This part of the show is the first chapter of “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible,” by Charles Eisenstein.  Readings from this book will be a regular feature of my monthly slot on The Green Hour until I have read the entire book on the air.  I will continue to link to chapters as I present it, but please buy this book!  Charles will be a featured speaker at the Green Party’s annual meeting in St. Paul, Minnesota July 24-7.  What follows is the opening and closing paragraphs of the first chapter.

Sometimes I feel nostalgic for the cultural mythology of my youth, a world in which there was nothing wrong with soda pop, in which the Super Bowl was important, in which America was bringing democracy to the world, in which the doctor could fix you, in which science was going to make life better and better, and they just put a man on the moon.AmDream-2

Sometimes I feel nostalgic for the cultural mythology of my youth, a world in which there was nothing wrong with soda pop, in which the Super Bowl was important, in which America was bringing democracy to the world, in which the doctor could fix you, in which science was going to make life better and better, and they just put a man on the moon……

I do not offer this book as someone who has completed this transition himself. Far from it. I have no more authority to write this book than any other man or woman. I am not an avatar or a saint, I am not channeling ascended masters or ETs, I have no unusual psychic powers or intellectual genius, I have not passed through any remarkable hardship or ordeal, I have no especially deep spiritual practice or shamanic training. I am an ordinary man. You will, therefore, have to take my words on their own merits.

And if my words fulfill their intention, which is to catalyze a next step, big or small, into the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible, my very ordinariness becomes highly significant. It shows how close we all are, all of us ordinary humans, to a profound transformation of consciousness and being. If I, an ordinary man, can see it, we must be almost there..

James McMurtry, “Twelve O’Clock Whistle

Talking Heads, “Once In A Lifetime

Eliza Gilkyson, “Through the Looking Glass

 





SEDUCED BY THE SINGULARITY?

23 02 2013

It’s hard to believe that the trilogy of “Matrix” movies came out over ten years ago.  I still think of them often and fondly, and just recently understood something new about them, which I would like to share with you.

This involves what Ray Kurzweil has termed “The Singularity,” the point at which computers become more intelligent than humans and, because of their superior intelligence, start running the world on their own terms, without  regard for our wishes.  Although I don’t believe “the Singularity” is ever expressly mentioned in The Matrix movies, it is obviously a “post-Singularity” scenario.  As you may recall, in their attempt to prevent the computers from taking over, humans geoengineered the planet into being perpetually cloud-covered, in an attempt to cut the computers off from solar power.  The computers triumphed anyway, and use the electricity generated by living human bodies as their energy source, keeping almost all the humans in a kind of suspended animation dream-state.  Everybody thinks they are interacting with each other in a “real world,” but they are actually participating in a well-constructed virtual reality.

Someplace along the way, somebody created an animated “prequel” to The Matrix, showing how the computers hunted us humans down, subdued us, and thrust us into pods so we could provide them with energy, not unlike what wasps do to spiders.  But I think it might not take a war.  I think a lot of people would actually volunteer to be empodded. Read the rest of this entry »





THE FANTASY-BASED COMMUNITY

11 12 2010

The late Robert Anton Wilson is one of my favorite writers.  Best known for his fiction, especially “The Illuminatus Trilogy,” in which he successfully merged every conflicting conspiracy theory that came across his desk while  he was editor of “The Playboy Forum”  (talk about “truth in strange places”!). Wilson also wrote with penetrating insight about the connections between psychology and politics.

Of course, the Ur-document connecting psychology and politics is Wilhelm Reich’s “The Mass Psychology of Fascism,”  which, in spite of being eighty years old, still has a great deal to say about current conditions.  Here’s just one example:

Suppression of … natural sexuality …makes the child apprehensive, shy, obedient, afraid of authority, good and adjusted in the authoritarian sense; it paralyzes the rebellious forces because any rebellion is laden with anxiety; it produces, by inhibiting sexual curiosity and sexual thinking in the child, a general inhibition of thinking and of critical faculties. In brief, the goal of sexual suppression is that of producing an individual who is adjusted to the authoritarian order and who will submit to it in spite of all misery and degradation. At first the child has to submit to the structure of the authoritarian miniature state, the family; this makes it capable of later subordination to the general authoritarian system. The formation of the authoritarian structure takes place through the anchoring of sexual inhibition and anxiety.

“Family values,” anyone?  Now do you understand “conservative” opposition to readily available birth control and abortion, entheogenic drugs such as marijuana, and any kind of sex education besides “just say no”?  How ’bout the Republicans throwing a hissy fit about a sexually-themed art exhibit at the Smithsonian?  Reich’s insights do help put the puzzle pieces into place, don’t they?

Robert Anton Wilson covers much of the same territory, but is much easier to relate to than Reich.  He did his thinking in English, not German, and he has a much better sense of humor than Reich.  I’ve been rereading Wilson’s “The Illuminati Papers,” and one passage in particular caught my attention:

…a man with a gun is told only that which people assume will not provoke him to pull the trigger. Since all authority and government are based on force, the master class, with its burden of omniscience, faces the servile class, with its burden of nesIGcience, precisely as a highwayman faces his victim. Communication is possible only between equals.2X The master class never abstracts enough information from the servile class to know what is actually going on in the world where the actual productivity of society occurs. Furthermore, the logogram of any authoritarian society remains fairly inflexible as time passes, but everything else in the universe constantly changes. The result can only be progressive disorientation among the rulers. The end is debacle.

And that is what is happening in America today.  Sure, the “gun” is not blatant–but it’s true that those who hold power over others will only be told what is agreeable and soothing to them–or at least that’s all they’ll stand to hear.  Bearers of bad tidings, whether in the guise of Al Gore or Julian Assange, (both of whom stand accused of sexual impropriety–how peculiar!) will be discredited, if not actually shot, and the ruling class will continue to live in its own little world and act out its obsessions, until “debacle,” as Wilson puts it, finally renders them completely impotent.  Unfortunately for all concerned, we’re a long way from that.  Let me give you a few examples of how the wealthy, living in fantasyland, are running amok.

Locally, we find that Jack May is once again proposing to build a bridge to nowhere so he can develop his white elephant property on Bell’s Bend.  The economy has done nothing but get worse, but nobody around Jack has the courage to risk his displeasure by telling him what a stupid idea he’s championing.  The economy has gone so far south that we’re starting to look like a banana republic, and I guess the May entourage figure they’d rather smile and nod in agreement and continue to collect a paycheck than tell him the truth and lose it all.

There’s plenty of examples at the national level.  In Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi tells the grim story of “foreclosure courts,” where judges rubber-stamp foreclosure cases in a matter of minutes.  One of the engines that drives this is the banks’ law firms, who charge the banks $1400 per foreclosure.  The “rocket docket” courts, as Taibbi calls them, often “process” a hundred or more cases a day.  Let’s see–a hundred cases a day at $1400 each–that’s a hundred and forty thousand dollars a day going from the banks to the lawyers to put people out of their homes.  Your stimulus dollars at work!

Every now and again, there’s a fly in the ointment.  A homeowner shows up with a lawyer, and a genuine defense takes place.  Here’s where it gets really kinky.  Almost invariably, the defense lawyer can prove that the banks’ paperwork is not in order, which should serve to invalidate the foreclosure.  The dates don’t line up–for example,

(the mortgage) places the date on which Wells Fargo obtained  (it) as May 5th, 2010. The trouble is, the bank bought the loan from Wachovia — a bank that went out of business in 2008. (But)….Wells Fargo sued Cooper for foreclosure on February 22nd, 2010. In other words, the bank foreclosed on Cooper three months before it obtained her mortgage from a… company  (that had been out of business for two years at the time Wells Fargo alleges it purchased Cooper’s mortgage from said company).

Sure smells like fraud to me!  But what do the courts do?

Do they investigate the possible fraud that such a patently surreal paper trail seems to indicate?  No.

Do they simply dismiss the case “with prejudice,” a legal term for, “You have no business filing this lawsuit, and don’t you dare bother the courts with it again!”  No.

The court advises the bank’s lawyers to get their paperwork in order and come back and try again.  Often, the “revised” paperwork still doesn’t line up, but the possibility of fraud never enters the judges’ minds, it seems.  The banks have plenty of money to throw into this effort, unlike the homeowners they are evicting, who are often dealing with medical problems or job loss that got them into default in the first place.  And so, the corporate demons wear the human beings down with assault after assault, and take their homes away from them, as if this were somehow a solution to something.  It’s not.  The banks can’t live in the homes.  The banks can’t even sell the homes, for the most part.  The foreclosed houses just sit there, and often enough somebody steals all the metal plumbing parts out of them, and soon they’re not just unsellable, they’re uninhabitable. But the law says the banks can have them, so the banks take them.

From the banks’ perspective, increased homelessness resulting from the destruction of the American middle class is not their problem.  Congress, likewise dominated by the wealthy, has done and likely will do nothing to fix this gross injustice.  The “progressive disorientation” of the ruling class progresses a little further.

Speaking of Congress, there’s the tax and budget situation in this country right now.  The President has just caved on his promise to keep middle class tax cuts and raise taxes on the wealthy, some of whom, like Warren Buffet, have even said, “tax us more, please!”

The Republicans, who claim to be in favor of fiscal responsibility, want to keep these tax cuts, which are, at least in theory, going to cost the government $3.7 billion dollars, three billion from the middle class, and the remaining 700 million from the wealthiest Americans, those who make over a quarter million dollars a year.  The wealthiest Americans, the top one percent, are the only part of our population who are getting wealthier in the current economy.  Winner take all, I guess.  The tax break the self-styled “party of fiscal responsibility” wants to give to our wealthiest citizens–the top one-tenth of one percent, who earn over $2.7 million a year, would come to $370,000 per year per household.

I don’t know about you, but I think that one-year benefit for the urber-rich would last me the rest of my life. What do they spend it on?  Beats me!

Maybe when the Republicans say they’re for “fiscal responsibility” they mean they’re basically responsible to whoever’s got the most money.  It was, after all, Bush the younger who referred to  “the haves and the have mores” as “my base.”

Would it be impertinent to mention that all those conservatives who get all misty-eyed over the 1950s as “the good old days” conveniently ignore the fact that the tax rate on the wealthiest Americans in the 50’s was 91%, and now it’s only 36%?

The partisan wrangling over taxes is a labyrinth that would be only too easy to get lost in, so let’s pull back and look at another facet of America’s debt crisis.  A “deficit commission” came to the conclusion that the country needs to cut social security payments and medicare to stay out of debt, in spite of the fact that these programs could be fully funded if the wealthiest Americans paid their fair share.

The deficit commission does get our “truth in strange places” award this month, because they actually dared to mention that the country needs to cut its military spending, but maintenance of the empire is so sacrosanct that this has hardly received any mention.  Certainly, neither the ‘fiscally conservative” Republicans nor Democrats are going to cut military spending,   It’s vital to our national interest! Who cares if it’s bankrupting us!

Another facet of this disconnect from reality at the top of our political system is the announcement by the Republicans that they are going to abolish the House Committee on Global Warming, saying it’s a waste of money. Well, I would have to admit that this House Committee has done nothing of substance to stop global warming, but ignoring the problem will not make it go away.

OK, back to that original Robert Anton Wilson quote:

…the master class never abstracts enough information …to know what is actually going on in the world … authoritarian society remains fairly inflexible as time passes, but everything else in the universe constantly changes. The result can only be progressive disorientation among the rulers. The end is debacle.

Here in America, both our mainstream political parties are firmly committed to inflexibility, and seriously disoriented..  Mr. Wilson’s “debacle” looms ever larger on our horizon.  A collision between the fantasyland of America’s ruling class and the reality  of a bankrupt, impoverished, militarily impotent America seems immanent.   Make sure you’ve got plenty of drinking water and popcorn–it’s going to be quite a show.

music: The Beatles, “Within You/Without You”








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