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While We Still Have Time

In spite of the grimness of the times in which we live, there is still hope. If you feel, like I do, that the usual discourse about matters of critical concern tends to be superficial, misguided, and false, then you might find some solace and inspiration here. I will try to offer insight and a holistic perspective on events and issues, and hopefully serve as a catalyst for raising the level of dialogue on this planet.

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Location: Madison, Wisconsin, United States

I was born in 1945, shortly before atom bombs were dropped on Japan. I served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1971. I earned master's degrees in Economics and Educational Psychology, and certificates in Web Page Design and as a Teacher of English as a Second Language. I followed an Indian guru for eight years, which immersed me in meditative practices and an attitude of reaching a higher level of being. A blog post listing the meditative practices I have pursued can be seen here.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

We Have Met the Enemy

Recently I was informed that a high school friend's father raped his own granddaughter when she was about eight years old. Catholic high school, it should be noted. This was shocking, even though the guy was a roundly disliked local businessman. No one suspected how well-founded their dislike for him was. I remember honking and giving him the finger once when he was pulling out of a shopping center, attempting to cut me off. Fond memory. Stopped him in his tracks. I had recently gotten out of the Army, filled with anger, well-off guy in his big car a perfect foil.

When I was told about the molestation I said the guy probably raped his daughter too, the girl's mother. I knew her. She was a decent person, but lived a troubled life. I never thought about it in high school or the years afterward, but of all my high school cronies, the friend whose father raped his granddaughter never had any of us over to his house. Not once.

I would never have written about this, but it fits with what I have been thinking about lately. We have been conditioned to think of the criminals among us as "others," as if we live in some binary divide between the law-abiding and the lower elements. The easy calculus is that the better-off - the well-dressed, better-looking and well-housed - are just plain better than everyone else.

This of course has always been pure bull manure. The rich have been as criminal as anyone else, and the richer, the more criminal. Gandhi took the extreme view, stating "If I take anything that I do not need for my own immediate use, and keep it, I thieve it from somebody else." I'm not so extreme, but there's no question that the income and wealth disparity in this country is criminal in nature. It is also institutionally protected. Our three branches of government - executive, legislative and judicial - have become a self-rewarding, self-perpetuating legal infrastructure that secures the skewing of the reward system to the already too-well rewarded.

When I was a graduate student in Economics it was a heady thing to be a "Marxist." It was easy. Karl Marx had an analytical approach, showed how Capitalism contained the seeds of its own ruin, that over time labor would be displaced at an increasing rate, that capital would become increasingly concentrated, and that profits would eventually disappear.

Marx's predictions after the fall of Capitalism were less interesting, so one could call oneself a Marxist without being a "Communist." I had varying views, but eventually found the entire study of Economics, with its emphasis on infinite growth, to be a complete waste of my time. I gave the field up when I graduated with a master's degree, though I returned to teach a couple of dismal times.

Nowadays I am more interested in the psychological aspects of mass societies. When the Bush regime was foisting its mayhem on the planet I didn't get pulled in to the "ideological" debate. It didn't seem ideological to me at all, except as a way of disguising what was really going on - a criminal operation. An organization of people doesn't steal an election, enable the worst attacks in the nation's history, deceive the country into two wars - yes, two - and usher in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression because of ideology. They do it because they are sociopathic criminals. Every one of them.

One of the difficulties of applying the terms psychopath and sociopath to the criminality of the rich and those in power is that the definitions are ambiguous, and biased in favor of the powerful.  Here's an example. George W. Bush doesn't quite fit the given definitions, but both psychopath and sociopath apply to him. Narcissist, remorseless, manipulative, amoral, ill-tempered, violent, addictive, irresponsible. Obama doesn't fare much better, with his drone attacks, more deportations than all previous presidents combined, prosecution of whistleblowers, enabling of Wall Street banksters, special ops secret wars and more. His response to the killing of children in "Gaza" by "Israel" is that "Israel" has the right to defend itself.

What may be the most important question of our time is how prevalent psychopaths/sociopaths are among us. Estimates vary from 3% to 8%. I suspect it is much higher. What is more important, I believe, is how prevalent these antisocial personality types are among politicians, CEOs, police, judges, the clergy, and others in prominent positions. Is there something about this kind of system that produces amoral, narcissistic leaders? Does power corrupt to the degree that it turns people into sociopaths, or are they beforehand?

This way of looking at mass society of course deviates drastically from "leftist" orthodoxy. According to the official "left" perspective all evil rests in the dynamic of capitalism. Any evils of other systems are because of various forms of "counterrevolution." The analysis goes nowhere, because it is more about rhetorical stance and peer group status than actually solving problems.

The psychological approach might lead to results. The sociopathy of power in mass society is common to capitalist, communist, socialist and mixed systems. It is the single factor that prevents us from having a distributive system, and also prevents us from dealing with the threats of climate change, empire, overpopulation, crime and social paranoia.

Maybe it isn't the mass system that produces psychopathy/sociopathy. It might just be the human condition. We are supposedly at the top of the evolutionary hierarchy. So superior that we have the capacity to destroy ourselves and all other life on this planet. They way we are going, we'll achieve our goal relatively soon.

Here's a song. Here's another. This too.

For an update on what is behind the mass immigration of children from Central America ("U.S." meddling), click here. A similar explanation can be found here. Jon Stewart had this to say. Stephen Colbert also had something to say.

Here's an example of how interested our corporate media are in telling the truth. Here's another example.

How long can "Israel" continue killing the "Palestinians?" I offered this prediction in a comment on National Public Radio. It ruffled a few feathers. Here's another view from the New York Times. The New York Times is not above spinning the "Israeli" invasion, though, as this story makes note.

On the bright side, there is a grassroots revolution taking place. This documentary describes one part of it.

R.I.P. James Garner. Here's a song. Here's a clip with Clint Eastwood.