Sunday, January 31, 2010

We-the-People as Vendors

In our society citizens are vendors, business persons. You have to sell something to make a living. The only product most of us have to market is our time/energy, our labor, which we sell to the highest bidder. Education and skill improve our competitive position as employees. Employers increase profits when they reduce or keep wages low. Most of us drudge away our sales day, at best making the best of it. Failure at or refusal to engage in business has serious consequences - the street being the ultimate enforcer, the bottom line.

So our life-blood is traded for whatever level of food, shelter, education, health care and entertainment, we can attain. But suppose these were givens, the goal in fact of our society as a whole, for all, instead of enrichment of the few, the clever and the ruthless?

Suppose we set out as a nation to solve this riddle: how to create a society whose top priority is the basics (food, shelter, education, health care) for every citizen, at a sustainable level - one which doesn't despoil the earth, air, soil, water? This as the driving force of our culture, to replace the pursuits of profits, privilege and power.

If this attempt were made anywhere else and showed the least chance of success it would be crushed, as it was in Nicaragua, Chile and other countries, by the United States. It has to begin here and before the momentum of patriarchal capitalism finally consolidates its power internationally.

It will happen when we elect state and national governments, and courts, who embrace these values. That can only happen if we-the- people first adopt them, which can only happen through grass roots education, which we best be about. The means to this, as I’ve said in other posts, is to be found, not exclusively but clearly, in the teachings of Eckhart Tolle.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


What is happening in places like Bosnia, Rwanda, Sudan, Israel, the United States, where people kill each other with casual bravado?

Certainly some killers are acting out their own abuse as children. A particular political, religious or economic situation might be pounced upon as an opportunity for the release of rage. The psychopath sweeps lesser but like souls up in the frenzy, granted permission by a situation of chaos to act out. If the abused are in authority others go along or risk becoming victims themselves.

As children we learn to limit who we identify with to those of our own family, neighborhood, city, nation, race, class, religion. The them/us mentality is fertile ground for national, ethnic or religious conflict, aggravated by the abusive scenario and exploited by unscrupulous leaders.

Rulers try to direct the process, getting us to think of allies as tentative members of the home team, and rivals as not quite human. Rulers will naturally find dangerous those who advocate expanding identification beyond the state to the whole species. A people who considered all human beings family might limit a ruler's capacity to drop bombs, to dominate economically, or expand territorily.

Now how do we get directed into limited identification? In the U.S. the rulers behind the throne are those who finance elections. Naturally the well-heeled give to those who will do their bidding and withhold from those who will not. Since campaigning is incredibly expensive, anyone running for office unable to buy television time, newspaper ads etc; can't get the visibility to even enter the discussion.

Corporations and wealthy individuals, the prime financiers, can be counted on to support those who will serve their interests, who will maintain and expand their wealth and power. Since this same class owns the major media (television networks, daily newspapers, radio stations) they also largely control the debate. They will certainly not hire someone who believes that capitalism is inherently unfair, stacked against the mass of people in favor of the few. No, your career prospects are definitely improved if you think that capitalism is humankind's greatest creation.

If you for example thought that no one should own more than 500 acres of land, that income over $300,000 should be taxed at 100%...stuff like that. Well you need not apply for editor of the New York Times, columnist for the Atlanta Journal Consitutuion, CBS anchor etc; no matter how great an editor or writer or anchor you might be. So to those who are hired those ideas would seem completely off the wall, not serious, not worthy of discussion. They are excluded, not with a feeling of censorship but with a sense of responsibility.

When all the assumptions a population encounters, everywhere they turn, conform to those of the rulers then on that rare occasion when a non-conformist idea arises it seems quite crazy, readily dismissable. What is being described here is a subtle propaganda system. It is aimed primarily at those who are invested in the system, the middle and upper classes. For the rest there is stupefying television, sports, and other diversions - the occasional, carefully limited election.

There are differences among the rulers and those differences are mirrored in the media. In the eighties, some columnists thought we should send U.S. Marines to Nicaragua. Others thought we should fund mercenaries, the "Contras". Still others, the "liberals", thought we should just crush the Sandinista government economically. But virtually no columnist in the major media took the position that Nicaragua had an elected government and should be supported in its attempts at democracy, land reform, redistribution of wealth. Such a view was radical, not worthy of discussion, even unthinkable to many.

Also not included in the options toward Nicaragua was the possibility of non-violent conflict resolution, a meeting to seek a solution that benefits both parties. Washington always claimed to be trying to push Nicaragua toward democracy but beyond the rhetoric was a fear of democracy, fear of the example of a successful equitable society. Other countries might get ideas. People in the U.S. might get ideas. The upstart must be nipped in the bud.

This meandering attempt to address the opening question concludes with a tentative answer. Limited identification is one of the major factors that perpetuate war and injustice. Acquiring this trait is a matter of course in a highly indoctrinated society and it becomes lethal when exploited by those who wish to dominate others. When our primary loyalty lies not to any particular country or religion but with the whole human family and the well-being of the natural system that makes life possible then the killing will, at long last, stop.