7 07 2012

A few months back, President Obama announced a three billion dollar  U.S. initiative “to help Africa feed itself, “which is a noble goal, but the devil was all over his details.  The first detail to note is that three billion dollars is a third of one percent of our country’s military budget.  About one day of our military spending to help the starving Africans.  Whoopee!

There were two major prongs to this plan. Two-thirds of the money,  (That’s about sixteen hours worth of military spending.)will be given to a European chemical company to build a fertilizer factory in Africa, which would use natural gas to create massive quantities of ammonium nitrate, which is a powerful explosive as well as a fertilizer.  (Remember the Oklahoma City Federal Building?  The first attempt on the World Trade Center?).  The second prong will introduce Monsatan’s GMO seeds to African farmers, “to increase their yields.”     This from the guy whose wife scored big publicity points by putting an organic vegetable garden at the White House.

Both these prongs are going to do a lot more harm than good.  The manufacture of ammonium nitrate fertilizer is an energy-intensive, CO2-producing process whose result is a bag of white crystals that, not unlike cocaine, provide a short-term boost, but, in the long-term, have a deleterious effect–in the case of ammonium nitrate, the impoverishment of the soil to which it is applied.  The high levels of ammonia in ammonium nitrate burn out soil micro-organisms, leading to depletion of organic matter and a decrease in the soil’s fertility and ability to hold water.  The short-term solution, as with cocaine, is to apply a bigger dose of white crystals.  Sooner or later, the excess nitrogen starts leaching into the water supply, which exacerbates the problem by polluting the water and making people sick.

.  Then, too, the fertilizer must be purchased, a financial demand that can have disastrous consequences for small farmers in the third world.  We’ll look more deeply at that soon.  For now, let’s just point out that placing  increased financial pressure on cash-strapped, subsistence farmers in the name of “improving their lives” is either cynical or naive.  Time and time again, there have been demonstration projects and studies showing that the best way to improve the lives of subsistence farmers and the communities they feed is to help them find ways to increase the “circularity” of their farming, by increasing their use of local, organic inputs such as plant, animal, and human waste, and by returning to non-mechanized farming methods that require more labor and less machinery and fossil fuels.  Neither the fact that we are running out of inexpensive ways to create those white crystals, nor the fact that producing the white crystals is destroying the soil and the atmosphere, seems to enter into the calculations of those who proclaim the superiority of white-crystal style farming–f’rinstance, President Obama, or Presidential wanna-be Romney.

The second prong of the fork with which our corporatocracy wishes to stick the people of Africa is the introduction of GMO seeds.  There’s two really bad things about GMO seeds.  The first is their toll on the humans who use them, and the second is the way their use destroys the land in which they are planted.  We have only to look to India to see what the President and his cronies are promising to deliver to Africa.  What we see in India is over 200,000 small farmers driven to suicide, often by the debts they incurred to buy GMO seeds and the chemical inputs necessary to grow them–not just the aforementioned fertilizer, but herbicides and pesticides that they lack the technology to apply “safely,” even in the manufacturer’s loose terms.   Third-world farmers have traditionally saved their own seed, but it is illegal to save the patented GMO seeds, and frequently impractical as well, for, if the seed is a hybrid, it will either fail to produce fertile seed,  or fail to produce a uniform variety–but you’re not supposed to even try planting them, because they’re patented.  Intellectual property rights must be respected, y’know!   So, when Obama talks about “helping” African farmers with chemical inputs, he’s talking about inducing a rash of debt-driven suicides.  Hey, that’ll clear the playing field and help solve the overpopulation problem, right?!  More on that perverse idea later.  Back to GMO crops.

Herbicide use itself is highly problematic.  Roundup, the go-to herbicide for GMO crops, is very nonspecific in its effects.  It kills soil microflora just as readily as it kills broadleaf weeds and grasses, and thus is highly detrimental to soil.  And, just as with ammonium nitrate, its production is energy-intensive and carbon-expensive.

So, to sum up, when we strip the facade from the President’s feel-good call to help foster agriculture in Africa, we find a plan that is likely to further impoverish the continent’s vast majority of smallholders, drive them from their land, and wreak havoc with the land’s ability to support plant life.  So, who does benefit from this kind of “help”?

One group that is helped by alienating traditional people from their land base is foreign investors, both private and national, who are increasingly looking to Africa as a place to grow food to export, rather than to feed the hungry close at hand.  China and other countries are making deals with debt-pressed, cash-starved governments, deals that involve the displacement of thousands of people from millions of acres in order to grow crops that will not feed Africans.

The other big beneficiary of Obama’s policy is the Monsanto Corporation.  It is relevant to note, at this point, the “revolving door” nature of Monsanto’s relationship with the government. At least 35 individuals, representing both of the US’s major political parties, have been both on Monsanto’s payroll and the government’s, albeit not at the same time, as far as we know.  We’re talking about some big fish here–Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and Hillary Clinton both worked for Monsanto when they were private practice lawyers.  Searle Chemical Company-CEO Donald Rumsfeld  (remember him?) was paid a twelve million dollar bonus by Monsanto when it acquired Searle, giving Monsanto the right to produce the carcinogenic artificial sweetener aspartame  (“Nutrasweet”). after Rummy pulled strings to get it approved for human use, but that’s another story.

The Africa deal is not the only example of  Obama’s–and our whole government’s– apparent willingness to go to bat for Monsanto.    Attempts to pass laws allowing labeling of GMO foods, dairy products containing bovine growth hormones, and limiting the spread of GMO seeds have been shot down, and research suggesting that their widespread use might have serious negative effects has been suppressed., both in the current administration and the last several governments, no matter who was supposedly in charge.

Monsanto’s willingness to play with both major US political parties leads to another question.  Should we really blame Barack Obama for all this?  Or is he a genuinely well-intentioned guy, who thought he could make change happen by being elected President, but found, when he arrived, that his real role was to play spokesman for an unelected shadow government?  As Robert Anton Wilson put it, “was the new President shown a video of the Kennedy assassination from an angle he’d never seen it from before, and told ‘you’ve got a nice family.  Play along with us and nobody gets hurt.'”?  Perhaps.  A friend of mine who is an old smoking buddy of Al Gore’s tells me that Al told him in 1992 that Al and Bill knew the office they were running for was more ceremonial than executive, but they hoped to be able to make a slight difference in the direction of things.  We all know how that turned out.   (And remember, Gore had already written and become somewhat famous for  Earth in the Balance, which, along with Albert Bates’ Climate in Crisis was one of the first books to call popular attention to the mess we are tangled in now.)  Perhaps frustration with his figurehead status accounts for Gore’s lackluster run for President in 2000 and his subsequent flowering, at a convenient distance from politics.

So, maybe Barack Obama regrets his decision to become a kinder, gentler  face for the corporatocracy than Dick Cheney and that guy he was with, but we may never know, because, like Clinton and Gore before him, he fears for his safety and his family’s safety far too much to ever spill those beans.

But, whatever the unspeakable truth may be about Barack Obama’s motivations and intentions, the inconvenient truth is that the African policy for which he is at the very least serving as a charming mouthpiece is not a policy that will benefit Africa.  It is just another corporate iron hand in another velvet glove, grabbing for what’s left of the wealth of the continent that gave birth to us all, a corporate iron hand that doesn’t care who or what it crushes as long as it ends up with a fistful of dollars.  And that’s the inconvenient truth about the Obama administration’s “African initiative.”

music:  Terry Allen, “Big Ol’ White Boys


11 02 2012

Bertolt Brecht reputedly asked,”If the government doesn’t trust the people, why doesn’t it dissolve them and elect a new people?” While Robert Anton Wilson may have been the only person who knows where and under what circumstances Brecht coined this cynical bon mot, and Brecht certainly saw plenty of efforts by Nazi and Communist governments alike to put it into practice, word that a government is undertaking this program never loses its appall, and the latest place where this practice appalls me is Syria, where the government has so far killed around 6,000 people in an attempt to “continue the beatings until morale improves,” and the UN has said things are so chaotic that it is not going to even attempt to keep track of the number of dead.

Syria, like the rest of the Middle East, is no stranger to such campaigns.  When the Ottomans wanted to kill mass numbers of Armenians without having to work too hard, they just sent them out into the Syrian desert to starve.  The population of Syria’s neighbor, Palestine, has been the subject of slow-motion strangulation by the Israelis for over sixty years, and plenty of Middle Easterners would be only too happy to see that karma rebound onto the Israelis.   In classical times, the Romans crucified Maccabean rebels by the thousands, ultimately killing somewhere between a quarter-million and a million Jewish Palestinians–and now the survivors’ descendants, osmosed into Muslims through the years, are now under the heel of their brethren who remained Jewish.  But that’s not what I’m here to talk about today.

More recently, in Syria’s neighbor Iraq,  ten years of American sanctions in the 90’s resulted in the deaths of over half a million Iraqis, mostly children, termed “an acceptable cost” by Democrat Secretary of State Madeline Albright, whose own children were not among the victims.  Our government’s 2003 invasion is responsible for the deaths of a million and a quarter more Iraqi civilians.   So, from a certain perspective, a mere six thousand casualties is chump change.   Meanwhile, the U.S. won’t fund abortions because so many people in our Congress and our country profess a “respect for life.”  Do I detect a disconnect here?  “Protect the unborn, but once you’re out of your momma, tough nuggies”?  But that’s not what I’m here to talk about today, either.

Perhaps a more apt comparison, at least for the time being, can be found in the situation in Libya last Spring, when rebels there, with the eventual help of NATO, threw out Col. Qadhafi, at the cost of  5-10,000 lives.  By that standard, the six thousand known deaths in Syria could almost be called par for the course, but there are important internal and external differences between the two situations. There are four times more Syrians than Libyans, in a country only 1/9 the size of Libya.  The populated part of Libya is the long, narrow coastal strip, which made it easier for the initial protesters to have some territorial integrity and create an alternative government in the far east of the country right from the beginning.  The Libyan rebels were able, in effect, to barricade one end of the hall and fight with their backs to the wall of the Egyptian border.  In little, triangular Syria, the population is in the situation of a hapless amateur trapped in the wrestling ring with Hulk Hogan, who keeps attacking again and again, from any and all angles, at any time. It’s enough to get a person nervous, ya know?

Another big difference is the two countries’ standing in the international community.  Qadhafi had gone his own way, using Libya’s oil wealth to maintain its political independence.  For this reason, and because he did in fact spend a fair amount of money on social programs that actually did improve the lives of most Libyans, as long as they were willing to kowtow to him, Qadhafi had a certain cachet in international radical political circles, especially when he proposed to start asking for gold, rather than dollars, as payment for his country’s oil.  But that made him a major pariah in the West.  Threatening to deny the dollar was a far more unforgivable sin than the Lockerbie bombing or murdering his own people, and with no major power to watch his back, his fall was inevitable.

Syria, on the other hand, enjoys a fairly close relationship with several world powers.  Its relationship with Russia dates back to Soviet days, when the current dictator’s father cultivated close ties.  Many Syrians go to Russia for advanced studies, but most importantly, the Syrian army uses Russian-made weapons, purchased with their oil cash, and Russia has continued to supply Syria with killing devices even as the rest of the civilized world has attempted an arms embargo on Syria.   (Just for the record, Syria’s oil production is declining sharply.) Russia’s only military base outside the borders of the former Soviet Union is on the Syrian coast.  The Russians do not want to see this relationship upset, if at all possible, especially since they gave their Chechen population similar treatment.  If they have to do something similar to some other would-be breakaway republic, they don’t want to help set the precedent of international intervention.

China, too, is more inclined to support Syria, where it has major oil interests.  Like Russia, China also has a strong interest in discouraging internal revolts in China, where the Uyghurs and Tibetans have suffered fates similar to what Russia visited on the Chechens.  Like Russia, China does not want to give the U.N. any precedent for poking around in what it regards as its internal business, nossir.

Iran is yet a third country that is watching Assad’s back.  Iran and Syria have a longstanding close relationship, going back to Biblical days, really, but most lately renewed over the Iran-Iraq war, and Syria’s provision of a refuge for Hezbollah, which both countries employ as a proxy to keep pressure on Israel.  While the Russians provide diplomatic support, the Iranians have “boots on the ground,” providing support, training, and reputedly troops to help the Assad government kill dissenters, or anybody who lives in the same neighborhood as somebody who might be a dissenter.

Add to this the fact that Russia is the source of much of Western Europe’s fuel supply, and that China is a source of just about everything for everybody, and that makes the Europeans (and Americans) shy about jumping into a situation that might turn out to involve tightening a noose around their own necks.  Now, throw in the many similar pogroms the U.S. has countenanced–the slaughter of half a million alleged “communists” in Indonesia in the mid-sixties and the elimination of around a hundred thousand citizens of East Timor who happened to object to the seizure of their country by Indonesia are just two further examples of U.S. government-approved mass murder, in addition to the ones I mentioned above, that deny our leaders any ability to claim the moral high ground on this issue.  There are many, many more.  There is blood on Uncle Sam’s hands, and it ain’t “the blood of the lamb.”

OK, just one more example of mass deaths caused by U.S. government policy–it is now estimated that about thirty thousand Mexicans have been killed in just the last four years due to the “war on drugs” (or, in this case, the war over drug profits)–that’s a kill rate similar to what we are seeing in Syria, albeit in a country with five times Syria’s population.  The war over drug profits would be over tomorrow if marijuana were legalized and thus inexpensive enough to out-compete crack and meth.  Coca?  Talk to the Bolivians–they’ve got a plan.  But, I digress.

What the Syrian situation adds up to is a dangerous pile of kindling with the potential to spark something like World War III if it is dealt with crudely.  It looks to me like the U.S. couldn’t go in there with guns blazing to protect the civilian population without our blazing guns setting fires that cause far more damage than the intervention might prevent.  Mere hand wringing is not an acceptable alternative, either.  What would a Green foreign policy on this issue look like?

I need to preface what I am about to say by remarking that it is a  very easy for me, sitting here in the safety of America, to proclaim, and not necessarily so easy for a citizen of Homs or Damascus.

First and foremost, I believe, a Green foreign policy would support the essential nonviolence of the Syrian movement.  Bashir Assad’s brutal response to his people’s peaceful protests will, ultimately, undermine him,  but only if the protestors can maintain the moral high ground.  This is where the rubber meets the road for nonviolent resistance, the place where the bombs and artillery shells start to fall–and yet fail to instill fear in the people at whom they are aimed.  Non-violent resistance is not easy, and it is carried out with no guarantee of the personal safety, much less the success, of those who undertake it.   But if we are going to create an alternative to mass murder as a government policy, we have got to start by rejecting mass murder as a way to change governments.  That is the great challenge, and the great hope, of the situation in Syria.  A non-violent revolution there will take the wind out of the sails of Russian, Chinese, Iranian, American, Israeli and Palestinian peddlers of repression alike, and mark a new, peaceful direction for unraveling the tangled knot of Mideast tension.  Violent intervention, at best, will fuel more old scores than it settles, and at worst create a regional or even global conflagration that we can ill afford at this time of planetary environmental peril.  If the essence of the Syrian uprising can remain nonviolent, and replace Assad with a truly populist movement, it would mark a major turning point in world politics.  We need a major turning point much more than we need more violence.  It’s time for a change.

music:  Judy Collins, “Carry It On”


8 01 2011

Last month I referred at some length to the writing of Robert Anton Wilson, and this month I want to examine another of his essays from my “deep green perspective.”

The closing essay in “The Illuminati Papers” is entitled “The RICH Economy.” R-I-C-H stands for”Raising Income through Cybernetic Homeostasis.”

It opens with these words:

If there is one proposition which currently wins the assent of nearly everybody, it is that we need more jobs. “A cure for unemployment” is promised, or earnestly sought, by every Heavy Thinker from Jimmy Carter to the Communist Party USA, from Ronald Reagan to the head of the economics department at the local university, from the Birchers to the New Left.

I would like to challenge that idea. I don’t think there is, or ever again can be, a cure for unemployment. I propose that unemployment is not a disease, but the natural, healthy functioning of an advanced technological society.

The inevitable direction of any technology, and of any rational species such as Homo sap., is toward what Buckminster Fuller calls ephemeralization, or doing-more-with-less. For instance, a modern computer does more (handles more bits of information) with less hardware than the proto-computers of the late ’40’s and ’50’s. One worker with a modern teletype machine does more in an hour than a thousand medieval monks painstakingly copying scrolls for a century….

Unemployment is directly caused by this technological capacity to do more-with-less. Thousands of monks were technologically unemployed by Gutenberg. Thousands of blacksmiths were technologically unemployed by Ford’s Model T. Each device that does-more-with-less makes human labor that much less necessary.

Aristotle said that slavery could only be abolished when machines were built that could operate themselves. Working for wages, the modern equivalent of slavery — very accurately called “wage slavery” by social critics — is in the process of being abolished by just such self-programming machines.

Wilson wrote this in the late seventies, and for the most part  it is as true today as it was then.  Politicians promise jobs, but businessmen, guided by economics, are working even harder to eliminate jobs, or at least move them out of the high-priced US economy and into a country where workers expect and receive less–like China.  The result is that we are stumbling towards not just a “post-industrial economy,” but a “post employment economy.”

Wilson suggested that we junk the concepts of “welfare” and “unemployment compensation” in favor of a “national dividend,” a “Guaranteed annual income,” or a “negative income tax” to ensure that everybody in the country could meet their basic physical needs.  He also proposed coupling this with

a massive investment in adult education, for two reasons. (1) People can spend only so much time (schtupping)…and watching TV; after a while they get bored. This is the main psychological objection to the workless society, and the answer to it is to educate people for functions more cerebral than (schtupping) … watching TV, or the idiot jobs most are currently toiling at. (2) There are vast challenges and opportunities confronting us in the next three or four decades….

But something has gone awry.  The “idiot jobs” have largely vanished (call “idiot job” a twentieth-century evolution of Marx’ term “alienated labor”), but the economy has not been socialized to make sure everybody is included, much less educated; instead, the massive savings created by eliminating the American middle class have gone to the wealthy few, increasing the level of  class division in the US to the point where we are now one of the least financially egalitarian countries in the first world.  The top 20% of Americans control 85% of the country’s wealth: the middle 40%, about 15%, and the bottom 40%, only 0.3%. Among the top 20%, the breakdown is just as breathtaking:  the top 1% of America’s wealthy control about 35% of the country’s wealth, while the next 19% control half the country’s wealth.

It is also worth remarking that Wilson, in the palmy 70’s, expected that, in addition to lifespan and intelligence increase, we would turn to space migration.  This was before we started coming to the realization that we have used up our planet’s resources fighting wars and filling the oceans with plastic tschotschkes and the air with carbon dioxide, and no longer have the wherewithal to embark on a major space program, if indeed we ever did.  The answer to the question of “why haven’t we had evidence of intelligent life elsewhere in the galaxy?” may be that planets the proper size to produce critters like us are too small to bankroll, as it were, interstellar travel, unless the critters out there are a whole lot wiser than we’ve been.  We have no way of knowing where we fall in the intergalactic intelligence bell curve, y’know?

.  Then again, maybe we’re just so psychologically toxic that they’ve got a quarantine shield around us so we won’t be able to detect and infect them….after all, our radio and television transmissions have, by now, reached other stars, and between the news and the soap operas, that’s not the greatest PR for our species…the first major TV broadcast was Hitler’s Nuremberg rallies…but I digress…

What has most especially gone awry, as I was saying, is the distribution of income in this country.  There are twenty-five hedge fund managers in America who “earned” (if you can call it that) twenty-five billion dollars among them last year.  If it were taxed as “income,” the government would get 35% of that, but instead it’s taxed as “capital gains,” so the government only takes 15%.  That twenty-five bil alone is enough to pay $30K a year to about 1.2 million people.  OK, that’s just a drop in the bucket–there are 22 million people out of work in this country right now. Well, our military spending, including “supplemental appropriations,” comes to about $1.25 trillion dollars.

Five hundred billion–less than half of it–would be enough to pay every unemployed American $30K a year.  Put that in your pipe and smoke it, folks.  And sure, military spending is borrowed money, but putting it in circulation here in America would do a whole lot more for our “national security” than using it to blow up what’s left of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Another example–the government bailed out the banks to the tune of $4.7 trillion dollars, and corporate profits in the US last year hit  a record $1.6 trillion–in part because they’ve “cut labor expenses,” i.e., put people out of work  Let’s see….  44 million people could be paid $30,000 a year out of a trillion dollars, and we are looking at about $7.5 trillion between defense, bank bailouts, and corporate profits. Defense and corporate profits alone come to $2.85 trillion, enough for 125 million people to receive that $30K a year.  That’s half the adult population of the country.  Throw in the bank bailout, and the slush fund that currently goes to a few wealthy individuals and corporations could pay out that $30K to 330 million people–that’s every man, woman, and child in the country and then some.  So, the money for Wilson’s proposal is here, but we ain’t getting it.  It’s going to the uber-rich and we’re footing the bill, losing our jobs and homes in the process. Somehow I don’t think this is what Jesus had in mind when he said “Unto them that have, shall be given.”

As Wilson said, “there are vast challenges and opportunities facing us in the next three or four decades,” all the more so because in the three or four decades since he wrote that, this country has largely been making a determined effort to deny and ignore those challenges and opportunities.

I sincerely doubt that jobs as we have known them in our lifetimes will be making much of a comeback.  As Les Leopold points out in Huffington Post:

We now need 22 million new jobs to get us back to full employment (5 percent unemployment). In addition, each month the economy must generate another 105,000 jobs just to keep up with new entrants into the workforce. To get to full employment, the private sector would have to create about 630 firms the size of Apple (35,000 employees each). These numbers don’t lie. Does anyone on Wall Street really believe that the private sector alone can pull off this miracle? But really, why should they care? They’ve got theirs, thank you very much.

And neither the higher education that Wilson hoped for, which involved propagation of culture and teaching people to think, nor the practical education we now know we need to meet the challenges of a hotter, fossil-fuel deprived world–gardening and food preservation, blacksmithing, hand weaving and sewing and the like–are being funded.  Instead, the mega-corporations who have stolen our birthright use outlets like Fox News and the “Conservative Christian” networks to hypnotize people into believing that what’s bad for them–complete corporate control of their lives–is good for them, and what’s good for them–ecological consciousness and self-direction–is bad for them.

Can you say “sheep,” boys and girls? How about “lemmings”?

There’s a lot more to talk about here, but I’m running out of time…to be continued next month!  Those of us who are far enough away from Big Brother to think for ourselves have a sacred trust, if you don’t mind me using the s-word, to guard our insight and share it as best we can.  The interplanetary possibilities Wilson saw in humanity’s future are probably no longer possible. Longer lives may be slipping from our grasp, as well. The intelligence increase of his vision is still within our grasp.  Let’s give it all we’ve got.  We’re going to need it.

music: James McMurtry, “We Can’t Make It Here Anymore”


11 12 2010

In closing, and in the spirit of rending that “veil of illusion,” here’s an extended quote from Robert Anton Wilson’s “Illuminati Papers” on various forms of stupidity, and how to heal them.

26. Biosurvival stupidity is imprinted almost immediately after birth, is caused by traumatic fright (due to our primitive child-rearing practices), and takes the form of chronic anxiety. This is epidemic in our society; In 1968, a U.S. public health survey showed that 85% of the population have some symptom of chronic anxiety, eg., heart palpitations, frequent nightmares, dizzy spells, etc.. Chronic depression usually accompanies this, in the extreme forms, one finds autism or catatonia, which are biopsychic or cellular decisions that human beings are just too nasty to be worth relating to, or paranoia, the fine art of finding enemies everywhere, especially among ones’ friends.

27. Biosurvival stupidity causes so much stress on the organism, and so much alienation from other humans, that it creates stupidity on all the other neural circuits as well, and thereby prevents the development of a high level of intelligence on any circuit.

28. Biosurvival stupidity can be alleviated by the practice of various martial arts (aikido, karate, kung-fu, etc.); by asana, the yogic technique of holding ones’ posture for long periods of time every day; or by psychotherapy. Asana and psychotherapy take much longer to produce dramatic effects than martial arts do, but may be necessary in acute cases.

29. Emotional stupidity is imprinted when the toddler is first learning “family politics” (mammalian hierarchy games) typically, the victim confronts all problematic situations in interpersonal relations with one stereo-typed emotional game, (e.g., A good long sulk, a temper tantrum, “depression”, a drunken bender, suicidal thoughts, howling or blustering in traditional angry-primate matter, etc.) One or another of these robotic emotional reflexes can be found in about 99% of the population.

30. Emotional stupidity can be alleviated by the yogic breathing technique known as pranayama, or by Gurdjieff techniques of establishing an internal “observer” who monitors the emotional reflexes, .ie., makes them conscious instead of mechanical. Pranayama produces quicker results; the Gurdjieff techniques ultimately produce deeper, more long-lasting results.

31. Semantic stupidity is imprinted when the older child begins dealing with words and concepts (abstract artifacts produced by the higher brain centers after the human stock separated out from the other primates.) The most pervasive form of semantic stupidity consists of confusing the local (tribal) reality map with the all of reality. Dogmatism, rigid ideological systems and bizarre reality maps (ideological schizophrenias) are also rampant. Symbol blindness ranging from verbal illiteracy, is also common and often found in those who are very skillful in handling one narrow range of symbols, e.g., the painter who can’t solve a quadratic equation, the scientist who can’t or won’t read poetry , etc..

32. Semantic stupidity can be alleviated by a diet rich in lecithin and protein, by courses in remedial reading, logic and scientific method, and by practices in general semantics.

33. Socio-sexual stupidity is imprinted when the DNA blueprint triggers the mutation to puberty. It consists of robotic repetition of one stereo-typed sex role, usually accompanied by a deep-seated conviction that all other sex-roles are abnormal. (“mad” or “bad”)

34. The only alleviations of socio-sexual stupidity currently available are the various forms of psychotherapy, of which group encounter is probably most effective.

35. Alleviating or totally curing these four types of stupidity would produce human beings roughly matching the idealistic definition given by Robert Heinlein in “Time Enough for Love”: ” A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, design a building, sail a ship, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyse a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight effectively, die gallantly. ”

36. Roughly speaking, if you can handle 14 out of Heinlein’s 21 programs, you have released 2/3 of your potential intelligence, and are 2/3 of a human being. If you can handle 7 of them, you are 1/3 of a human being. Scores above 14 mean you’re probably a genius and probably know it; scores below 7 mean you’re certainly a moron and certainly don’t know it. (.ie., you are convinced, are you not, that the world really is a terrible place and that your inability to cope is due to the world’s evil rather than to your own stupidity?)

37. A quicker intelligence test, which also indicates the trajectory of your development, is this: If the world seems to be getting bigger and funnier all the time, your intelligence is steadily increasing. If the world seems to be getting smaller and nastier all the time, your stupidity is steadily increasing.

music:  The Beatles, “Sgt. Pepper Reprise>A Day in the Life”


9 01 2007

And finally, I would like to remember the recent death of Robert Anton Wilson, who has for over twenty years been one of my inpirations, for his ability to merge spirituality, psychology, and politics—and never lose his sense of humor. This excerpt from his 1980 book, The Illuminati Papers, is typical of his advanced thinking.

“If there is one proposition which currently wins the assent of nearly everybody, it is that we need more jobs. ‘A cure for unemployment’ is promised, or earnestly sought, by every Heavy Thinker from Jimmy Carter to the Communist Party USA, from Ronald Reagan to the head of the economics department at the local university, from the Birchers to the New Left.

“I would like to challenge that idea. I don’t think there is, or ever again can be, a cure for unemployment. I propose that unemployment is not a disease, but the natural, healthy functioning of an advanced technological society.

“What I am proposing, in brief, is that the Work Ethic (find a Master to employ you for wages, or live in squalid poverty) is obsolete. A Work Esthetic will have to arise to replace this old Stone Age syndrome of the slave, the peasant, the serf, the prole, the wage-worker — the human labor-machine who is not fully a person but, as Marx said, ‘ a tool, an automaton.’ Delivered from the role of things and robots, people will learn to become fully developed persons, in the sense of the Human Potential movement. They will not seek work out of economic necessity, but out of psychological necessity — as an outlet for their creative potential.

“(‘Creative potential’ … refers to the inborn drive to play, to tinker, to explore, and to experiment, shown by every child before his or her mental processes are stunted by authoritarian education and operant-conditioned wage-robotry.)

“As Bucky Fuller says, the first thought of people, once they are delivered from wage slavery, will be, ‘What was it that I was so interested in as a youth, before I was told I had to earn a living?’ The answer to that question, coming from millions and then billions of persons liberated from mechanical toil, will make the Renaissance look like a high school science fair or a Greenwich Village art show. “
This is the kind of creative thinking that I would like to foster in contemporary politics. Given the current decrepit state of our economy, is such utopianism still possible? Well, as Peter Singer pointed out, there really is plenty to go around; and Wilson himself said, in one of his last interviews, “My optimism rests on the fact that, historically, in emergency, people often mutate in unpredictable and creative ways. As John Adams said, the American Revolution took place ‘in the minds of the people in the 15 years before the first shot was fired.’ I suspect a similar revolution is occurring in the minds of educated people worldwide.”

That means the revolution is over, and we have won; all that’s left to do is to implement our program. Let’s roll!

music: Kate Wolf, “Friend of Mine”

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