Survival

A man may be minding his own business, when, BLAM!
He is attacked, for no apparent reason, by what appears, to him, to be a madman. Or woman.
“You’re a RACIST!”
When he is not.
“You’re a BIGOT!”
When he is not.
“You’re a FASCIST!”
When he is not.
“You’re a MORON!”
When he is not.
Etc…

But if he responds with: “You’re a LEFTIST!” All hell breaks loose.
Fair enough. The term leftist is not complimentary, after all. So he tries, in the spirit of live-and-let-live, to be less unkind: “You’re a LIBERAL!” But the result is the same.

I get accused of over-using the terms Liberal and Leftist, but when they are so omnipresent, what is a man to do? They make no attempt to conceal the fact that they are my enemies, and so I learn to identify my enemy. I bear them no ill will, but the same can not be said of them. They demand not to be labeled, yet they do nothing but label others. The list of these labels is long, and acutely damaging, not to mention unfair. But they are not bothered by this. Yet, should one identify them as what they actually are, look out!

These people inhabit a different reality to me. This is what justifies their abusive behavior. Such abuse is undetectable to them. They indulge in it so often that it has become quite normal, and as such, beyond question. They do it merely because that is what they do.
They inhabit a world in which honesty does not exist, and should it unexpectedly manifest itself, then it must be attacked and destroyed, since it is an aberration in their reality. Nothing, in this place they call home, is known as what it is. It is known always by what it is not.
Conversely: an honest man is singled out as being the opposite of what he actually is. And all his other attributes, too.

Perhaps in the world of leftism, madness is the norm. It would appear so. In fact, it is a place so dangerous, that an un-mad man needs tread very carefully, like a soldier in an enemy camp, for should he be noticed, he will surely be made very uncomfortable, indeed.

He will be interrogated. This process is not quite torture – not yet – but close to it.
He will do what he does, and answer honestly. But it will not help him, because whatever he says will not be accepted by his interrogators. Although he answers, his interrogators will continue to demand answers. Anything he does say will be turned against him and used to injure and condemn him. There is no way out of this…

He has no wish to destroy those who wish to destroy him. He tells them this. They refuse to believe him. They demand an intellectual debate with him, because they believe they will win. But he does not use his intellect, because what would be the point? A sane man can never explain sanity to the insane. Because in this reality, this world in which he finds himself, sane is seen as insane, and insane as sane. Which, at some point, makes him wonder…

What is ‘sane’ anyway? Some arbitrary way of seeing things? What has it to recommend it over ‘insane’?
He suffers a moment of self-doubt, as his grip on reality wavers, under the assault. Introspection, consideration, analysis and comparison. But only for a moment. Because he knows himself, and all his ways, completely and easily. His sense of rightness over wrongness is the result of years of cultivation, based upon honesty. Tempered with a world-view that sees goodness as superior to badness. Anchored by a baseline that sees himself as part of everything, as opposed to the isolation of individual ego.
He can be nothing else but sane, because he is immune to the rantings of the insane, and knows them for what they are. The name he uses to identify them is ‘leftists’. Because any group of identical anythings must be called something. Identical individuals. United in chaos. Enemies of sanity. The legions of the lost.

But he knows their condition is no fault of theirs. It is a condition. The affected do not know they are affected. After all, there are so many like them. Identical individuals. And so they must be ‘normal’. And anything not-normal, must be hounded, persecuted, driven out, or destroyed.

Thus he offers no argument. Offers no resistance. They offer a battle he can not win. He could take them all on, valiantly, and go out fighting, and he may do this, someday. But not yet.

For he exists in a different reality to they. One that is benign. One that rewards him for existing in it. With beauty, serenity, peace and balance. This reality he inhabits is not easily won, or easily maintained. Not at first. But with skill, and application, this reality becomes all that exists.
He is not as they. With their endless conflict, endless accusations, endless hate.
He is immune to all of it, because he is not of their world at all.
Even though he inhabits the same physical realm, he is as the spirits of the trees, and birds.
Unconcerned, without fear, at one, and free.

The West seems to be doomed, and it bothers us.
But will you be doomed along with it?
Possibly there is no need for that.
A civilization is the sum of its parts, and it is the parts, that have deteriorated to the point where the civilization itself starts to crumble. There may be no saving it, and perhaps there needs not be any saving it. For every civilization falls. Every one of them. This seems normal. Inevitable.
Your own survival depends upon being able to deal successfully with whatever reality you inhabit. And, whether you know it, or not, you are free to choose this.
You are free to choose the extinction of relying totally upon intellect and reason – look at what this has resulted in – or to make these things subordinate to the greater scheme of things.

Stop your endless thinking, for a change.
Let the peace seep in. Not easy, at first, being as shell-shocked as most of us are, but easier and more natural, with practice.

There is a natural union between acceptance of the world as it is, and conservatism. Explore this more at:
http://taoism-is.blogspot.com/

Ecocide

The right has withdrawn from climate issues for the most part because the left took them over. The left then used the environment as a justification for the usual leftist agenda, which is suppressing the strong in the name of equality.

If you read this blog at all frequently, you know what we hold leftism responsible for the decline of the West (and anywhere else it touches). Since the birth of modern leftism in France in 1789, our fortunes have declined while our governments have grown more controlling.

Leftism isn’t unique; it’s a natural human impulse that comes from self-pity and the depersonalizing nature of crowds. This is why the first thing leftism does is insist that it is freedom for the individual. But then the fine print: through equality, which depersonalizes and alienates.

Wherever leftism arises, the story is the same. We, the crowd, are afraid of those who are more competent than us. We will insist on equality and wealth redistribution and lots of rules to bring those people down to our level. When we’re all equal in that way, there will be no conflict and we will all live happily.

Uh, live happily in a dreary, uniform, conformist, fear-blighted place where there’s no room to move (equality) and not ability to gain power to rise above the herd and enact any kind of change (equality also) and it’s so dysfunctional we sit around in the dark chanting Party slogans.

Leftism, liberalism, progressivism, socialism, Utopianism, anarchism, Marxist, Communism and liberal democracy are the same idea in different degrees. They want the individual to be more important than the order of the whole, which requires equality so the individual is not forced to prove its own competence. The result is depersonalization and isolation, but it’s for a good cause.

When we talk about groupthink, conformity, peer pressure, hivemind, and committee-brain, we’re talking about the exact same impulse that creates liberalism. Get along with others, don’t offend, make everyone happy by compromising everything. Avoid unpleasant or complex realities.

When this dogma took over environmentalism, at that moment environmentalism excused itself from being a serious philosophy or even its own philosophy. It became a degraded pawn of the leftists. It also ceased to be an option for those who have realized the threat of liberalism and who want to avoid it.

This is why for the past forty years or so the right has blown off environmentalism and written off environmentalists as useless hippies. Sadly for the environmental movement, for the most part they’ve played the role perfectly. Most extremists do this; it’s how they prove credibility.

That’s all well and good, but in the meantime, we are the captains of the ship that determines our future. We make what we will face. What we sow, we will reap. The decisions we make today determine what options will be available tomorrow. It sounds obvious but these truths have been forgotten.

During our years of political infighting and other incompetence, the environmental problem has increased. Why? Your television and politicians train you to say “carbon.” That’s a false correlation. Carbon rose, yes, but only because population rose and with it land use rose.

Land use determines how much land is left over for nature. This land performs many functions, most importantly (a) as a natural absorption system that soaks up our pollutants, like plants eat up our CO2 and make oxygen and (b) preservation of natural species by giving them unbroken terrain in which to hunt, eat, play, reproduce, roam, migrate, nest and tussle.

Animals and plants need more land than we think. The little jail cells they sit in at zoos are insufficient. How happy would you be in a jail cell, or even confined to the same 1-acre property for the rest of your life? If your life consistent of only an apartment and a cubicle, how happy would you be?

“Happy,” of course, is one of those vague terms no one with a brain will trust. Good for you if you raged at the screen when you saw it. I mean content, satisfied, and psychologically healthy; without those three things, animals experience a decline in physical health.

This leaves us with a crisis. The more we grow, the more we kill them. At some point, we probably will want to limit our own growth… but something opposes that. Leftism, with its incessant demands for welfare, helping the third world, mass immigration, saving the dumb from themselves, and a vast subsidy network of entitlements and government hiring, inherently supports population growth and thus, land overuse.

In other words, the people who are claiming to be pro-environment are those who are most likely to destroy it. Conservatives, by advocating none of those things, are supporting the idea of a stable population with lots of open space for plants and animals. Liberalism is ecocide.

Right now, conservatives are doing their best to resist the climate change dogma that’s very popular with Hollywood, government, industry and our do-nothing talkative neighbors. Conservatives point out that the “science” is unresolved and the motives of the climate-changers are suspiciously leftist.

To obliterate those few voices of dissent, big media and its paid employees (celebrities) are banging on that loud tin drum and howling the climate change mantra ever louder.

The problem with this is that climate change obscures the true problem, which is overpopulation/land overuse, and that by debating climate change, conservatives are letting liberals define the parameters of debate — which cuts out the real problem.

As rightists, we should stop worrying about climate change except to note that it is another hare-brained liberal plan which is sure to fail because it denies reality. Instead, we should promote our own environmental agenda:

  • Stop growth. Stop selling new land. Let’s rebuild the huge amount of space we already have, much of which is ghetto or semi-abandoned. We’re using land poorly in part because we won’t tackle our inner city crime problem.
  • Tax deductions. Want to pay less in taxes? Buy acreage of open land and donate it to an environmental trust to be kept in its natural state in perpetuity.
  • Close failed cities. Detroit died; time to move on. Bulldoze it and make it into a nature preserve. While it’s tempting to say we should do the same to Washington, D.C. not all of it is a ghetto.
  • Stop welfare. Nature thins our ranks by filtering out those who are incompetent, unmotivated or unable to control their impulses. Let nature do her work. Stop the entitlements, the make-work government and private sector “full employment,” the laws designed to protect idiots from themselves, and the welfare state. Jobs should be for competent/motivated people only. Let the rest fade away.

That’s not as easy as voting for carbon caps, secure in the knowledge that the consequences of your vote are distant and will be shared by all the voters together, lessening your share. But unlike that pretend policy, the solutions outlined above will actually prevent ecocide.

Wealth and the debt culture

People with wealth are blamed for our problems because many middle class, and certainly most poor, cannot imagine how wealth is accumulated. It’s not about how much Steve Jobs took home in a year, it’s how much wealth he had accumulated via his life’s work – that is to say, Apple and his other investments.

Sadly, the answer is literally in the palms of those who don’t understand it. Cradling an iPhone or typing on a Windows-powered laptop, people who blame the wealthy for the world’s problems lack the intelligence to come to the following conclusions:

  • In a capitalist society, new wealth is created, in part, through ideas brought to action: services & goods which are different than services & goods already on the market.
  • Sometimes, these services or goods are only marginally different or just not very intelligent to begin with, but are backed by a strong marketing campaign. Think Apple computers, pet rocks, hybrid cars.
  • Many new ideas by individuals or smaller corporations are funded by venture capitalists (read: very wealthy people) who figure out what to invest in based in part on who and how many will buy the product or service and the risk involved. That iPhone in your hand was studied and re-imagined a hundred times before it arrived in the store for you to buy, and it’s not just the engineer or focus group facilitator who got a bonus.

So people buy the products, venture capital money continues to roll in, more ideas are funded, and more people buy. Credit becomes easy to find even among the low income crowd, until there’s a glut of new stuff, and a glut of people willing to part with money they don’t have to buy the stuff.

Does this sound like a sustainable model of consumption?

Who is to blame for it? Is it the greedy venture capitalist who did the market research and parted with a few million dollars to fund an idea with plenty of risk involved? Is it the government for flooding our banks with cash and insisting that banks give it out at low interest rates?

Look in the mirror for the answer.

It’s you, dear consumer. It’s true that government, media, and large corporations in our increasingly soulless society don’t make it easier for you. But many people become wealthy not through sleazy, illegal methods, but by having the discipline to forfeit the desires of today for the long term goals of tomorrow.

Even upper middle class folks who own small businesses and devote long hours to ensuring they succeed have to give up valuable family time, gifts for their kids, and short term investments. These people are mostly honest, hard-working, and have no designs of expanding their business beyond their town.

And what do you see when they succeed? Usually they give back to the community in some way, even if it’s just sponsoring baseball uniforms for Little League.

And so it goes with the wealthy: those with wealth, who can continue to generate wealth simply by investing a good chunk of cash in safe, low-interest bearing accounts, will continue to give the lion’s share of any charity at home or abroad.

What do consumers do, by comparison? Spend. They have no wealth, and many can barely be considered affluent just in terms of household income, yet as soon a a little money comes their way, they spend it. On their homes, on themselves, on vacations, on televisions, on gizmos.

Eventually, you look at the mail and realize those eight retail cards you opened will spike in interest if you don’t pay them off soon. Spending has to curb temporarily; you can’t afford the iPad, home theater system, and the Disney trip. Choices have to be made. And not the fun choices, like Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts for breakfast.

Instead of holding people responsible for their debts or fixing the system so it doesn’t happen again, we keep the boom and bust debt cycle going – despite the fact that most people probably should never have had access to the type of funds requiring better decision-making capabilities.

When millions of people are allowed to put themselves in this position all at once, suddenly the house of cards, comprised of easy credit and a fragile banking system, falls. But as long as more wealthy are around to help pick up the pieces and save us from ourselves, then continue the venture capital game, the cycle continues.

Proles versus Elites: the battle rages on!

It is true that egalitarianism has given room to all opinions, which include the delusions of grandeur of those who would have it otherwise. We all imagine ourselves as heralds of Truth and kings in palaces if given the chance. In our lives we wish for a chance to assume a greater role – an opportunity to prove us worthy and to demand sacrifices of ourselves. Yet every day drifts by just like the previous.

Therefore I would be glad to make a restatement on the monetary system and the banks that run it.

National debts are increasing all around the civilized world, as does our wealth. But in the end the money ends up in the hands of those who make good use of it. This is not because of the generosity of our bankers, but because people look out for themselves. Our banks merely supply the money, and it is the individual’s choice to take out the money. The money will come to those who invest it wisely, and therefore it is in the end a fair system. It will have winners and losers, yet that is due to the unequal distribution of our inherent flaws, and our system – if is to produce wealth – requires inequality to thrive.

Nobody ever took out any loan against his will, and therefore banks cannot be blamed for national debts. There is not a true problem with our monetary system, because by investing it carefully, as is inevitably done on a free market by people with the right entrepreneurial spirit, we will produce economic growth that expands faster than our debts. If people would only stop trying to imitate the idols they see on MTV and started paying their rent, there would have been no housing crisis to begin with.

All of the previous is, of course, a joke. And not because there is not a single grain of Truth in it whatsoever. It is because people are so easily cowed into following images of what they would want the world to look like, instead of what it actually is. Once one achieves a certain degree of eloquence and familiarity with a wide variety of philosophical, economic and political positions, any outlook becomes defensible. We could pick a niche, crawl into that, boost that rhetoric, grow stronger, enrich ourselves. A smart person would probably do that.

And I would have, had I not started my philosophical self-education by reading Plato’s Politeia, and thus my ultimate allegiance is to Truth.

When I approached at the scene of the Occupy Wall Street protest I was greeted by a young man whom I estimated to be about my own age. He stammered slightly yet spoke with an airy tone of voice. He was thin and wore a military coat. I had arrived simultaneously with an elderly professor and an art salesman whom I met on the spot.

“What can I do in my personal life to improve the situation?” the salesman asked.

“The world’s too big to change on your own.” the youngster in the military coat replied, who was a representative of the protest-site. “This demonstration must become a snowball-movement,” he added, “and as long as these people are here, and arrive here, it can become that.”

I recalled my discussion with the elderly professor, who had mentioned Keynes. I had told him that the Keynesian model of economics is a typical tool of the Socialist parties. After all, in times of crisis everyone is afraid to lose customers or to become unemployed. Therefore, if the state throws money at the mass, it’s a good thing, because it will prevent unemployment and will keep the economy running.

However when it’s time to cut cost again, to save money which can be spent later, the Keynesians are never anywhere to be found. Too busy preparing the next elections, most likely.

I pointed out this mechanism in Keynesian policy to my history teacher when I was fifteen years old. He refused to acknowledge it. I understood then that no matter how many arguments and facts one has to back himself up, there will always be those who can never bring themselves to face the Truth. They refuse to acknowledge it even when you poke them in the eye with it. I learned long ago that arguments do not suffice as weapons.

Of course it is true in many countries that, if your bank goes bankrupt, the state pays you a substantial contribution. You are ensured in that sense. But where does the state get this money to begin with? It is issued by banks. Which means that governments must pay interest over that money. There is a substantial difference between how a government gets money and how a bank gets money.

The monetary system allows for the following exploit: Bank A can bring one dollar to another bank, bank B, which can then legally borrow that money to others ten or even fourteen fold. Bank B can bring that money to bank C, and bank C can do the same again to bank A. By that time the money has increased without any actual product or service of value having been added to the world. Someone who calls himself a “Conservative,” would surely recognize that as an outrage. I am convinced that Socialists, and probably even Liberals, are uneasy with it as well. Especially if you consider that both Adam Smith and Karl Marx acknowledged that productive labor added services and goods to the world.

For Smith and for Capitalism in the true sense, hard work is worthy of good pay. You put a bit of yourself in your enterprise, by studying and working you develop yourself as a person. Your labor is a part of your craftsmanship, of your expertise, of your pride. And you may ask a substantial reward to acknowledge the worth of whatever you sell. My cousin is a carpenter, “I would never want to be a teacher if my pupils would be completely spoiled and ungrateful.” he told me once; “When I’m constructing an attic for a house, even when it’s freezing, I know what I’m working on. What I’m creating. I can see what my labor provides and does for the world. There’s honor in my work.”

That, in the end, comes much closer to the spirit of conservation. That’s what I told the professor too: “The media does its best to paint the protesters as crack-using hippies, ridiculing them and smiling at them. With this image the bourgeois go to work, so proud of their own industrious work ethic. But meanwhile captain finance-Capitalism is smiling at them, as they are gambling away with the money of their pensions. Any money given to Greece goes straight into the pockets of bankers, who will otherwise confiscate Greek properties. And if they do so, an economic recovery will be equally impossible.

The bottom line is that my generation will suffer for it, because when I work, the government subtracts money for pensions. But we’re dealing with a declining population, and the part that reproduces the fastest is the least industrious. So who is going to pay for my pension?”

As I asked myself these questions – and not because I’m ‘selfish’ but because I possess common sense – the words of Hady came vividly alive to me: It means nothing to salute a flag if that flag represents a dying society. Likewise, it’s a sign of poor health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society. Or, the words of Brett Stevens: “In the time of universal decline treachery may not be what it appears.”

He was hit by that, the professor, when he heard it, and he showed me a part of an article: 

“An important part of our wealth is not owed to blood, sweat and tears – as it is supposed to be – but to debts,” says Edin Mujagic, monetary economist. Because to grow as fast as we did the past decennia, we had to spend large amounts of money. Very large amounts. We did not have that. But, no problem, because we found a solution; making debts. We agreed that the money that you spend now but in fact do not possess, can be paid back at any point in time. This can go well for a while, as long as you keep growing so that there comes a point in time when you will have the money. And it went well for a while. The biggest problem is that our monetary system became addicted to debt; because in order to make money to pay off our debts, we needed more money. This is where the banks come in, since for every bit of debt we owe to a bank, the bank is allowed to rent out more money, which gives us a chance to pay off our debts.”

However this means that the total debt always grows exponentially faster than anyone’s means to pay off that debt. I must stress this is not a conspiracy – this is something which spontaneously rose up because people recognized opportunities to game the system.

And now, our governments are trying to compete against that by creating a trust-funds that must ward off speculators. However we saw before that banks have ways of exchanging money through mutual promises to pay – which can legally be counted as owned capital. This is virtual capital that can increase infinitely without being tied up with anything substantial.

Yet the wealth of the world is tied up with physically limited labor and resources. A government gains money by either taking out credit from banks (thus increasing the total amount of interest which must be paid, which is debt) or by taxing property and services. Hence the money governments can extract is tied up with the physically limited world. Which means that the governments can’t compete against large-scale speculation. It’s a balloon that keeps flooding and nobody dares to puncture it. But everyone knows it will soon burst – they just don’t want to be around when it happens.

“Yeah but this must be some sophomore’s reasoning who’s been listening to liberal professors. So it can’t really be taken serious anyway. The methods that have been tried and tested for 300 years will surely prove that nothing is wrong with our monetary system.”

Except those were 300 years in which the West completely dominated the world and anyone who refused to play the game by their rules, excluded himself from taking any part in the wealth of nations. Let me just quote the words of Leo Strauss (a not so Liberal thinker):

“The West—in fact this country [United States] together with Great Britain and Germany—could have laid down the law for the rest of the earth without firing a shot. Surely for at least a century the West controlled the whole globe with ease.” – ‘Introduction’ to: The City and Man

I looked upon the prole-test and I saw an immigrant, it looked like he hadn’t slept for days, and had been stiff on speed. Some fat Bulgarian with a heavy accent and a safety-vest approached him and said: “I’m part of the protection here. Are you tired? Do you want to sleep? I’ll show you a tent please come along with me.” The immigrant followed him slowly with an absent gaze, while the Bulgarian pushed him on by pressing his hand into his lower back.

I saw a wanderer sleeping on a worn sofa, a bottle of vodka clutched firm in his hand. There were tiny specks of egg left in his beard.

“We’re democrats,” the young man in the military coat continued, “We don’t stand here because we’re looking for someone to blame. We’re here because we want to look at ourselves. We don’t want to put someone in charge. Because then we can all go home and blame someone else in case it doesn’t go as we expected.”

“You guys are trying to bring in too much stuff.” the art dealer retorted, “And you’re bringing in things that aren’t even relevant. At least not for the financial crisis. You want to solve hunger in Africa, you promulgate free love and romance, and you’ve put up anti-nazi signs. This all really has nothing to do with it – it’s distracting.”

“Yes it does,” the protester responded, “because banking is putting the world into a more competitive state. They’re withdrawing their money from the markets. They’re taking the humanity from our lives. If you want luxury, fine you have to work, I agree. But there should be a basic minimum for everyone. There shouldn’t have to be starvation on this planet.”

“First of all,” I replied, “you need leadership. What I see around here is a bunch of people smoking pot, each on their own island with their own ideas. It’s a bundle of private opinions you’ve gathered here. This is anarchy. If you want the world to be serious about your message – and I see many civilized people have traveled here just because they’re worried about the financial prospect of our civilization – you need a concise message. But you have none. You have a bunch of hippies who are only here because they have nothing better to do. People are whimsical, they’ll say they agree with this protest, because protesting is part of their self-assembled identity. To counter that whimsicalness, you need leadership. You need some form of authority. A bunch of individualized isles is not going to create a snowball effect.”

I knew what those protesters wanted. In the bottom of their hearts they weren’t seriously concerned about government debts. What they wanted was a government to provide for them. A sort of nanny. They wouldn’t demand much of that nanny – all they wanted was a smoke a day and they’d be satisfied. A society where one might dream about ideals, virtues and goals and visions, as long as they could be kept to the private room. Other than that, invisible forces would make it very difficult for you to do anything outside of routine. But officially, you wouldn’t be forbidden to. The very way De Tocqueville imagined human Greatness would one day come to an end.

Parts: I II III IV

Return to beauty

Our society has focused on utilitarian aspects for too long: what the average person wants, how to compromise and get along, what will not offend anyone, what one size might fit all, and what sort of standard allows the average person to succeed.

The result is that we have forgotten beauty.

Unlike function, beauty does not deconstruct. If you take one pixel of a great and famous artwork, you get a color of some dubious shade — it will not be, by itself, beautiful. With several million of its compatriots, it forms an image which emerges from the effect of the colors taken as a whole.

However, managerial society does not like taking many details together as a whole. It likes simple and straightforward: deconstruction to isolate a single factor, then comparing different methods of achieving that factor, then finally making an industrial process to make that factor increase in quantity.

The other option, then, is quality.

One of Edmund Burke’s famous quotes from Reflections on the Revolution in France sums up the contemporary official attitude to architecture and planning: “I cannot conceive how any man can have brought himself to that pitch of presumption, to consider his country as nothing but carte blanche, upon which he may scribble whatever he pleases.” This is the universal versus the particular.

I am promoting a Conservative view of architecture and town planning which advocates the design of new buildings by developing from the traditional styles that already exist in diverse towns and cities rather than forcing incongruous buildings into a round hole: the exploitation of cities across the world for a Global style of architecture. There is enough disjuncture in British urbiscapes as it is after the Second World War blitzes and sixty years of depredations by local councils without adding incongruous excrescences to it.

It is difficult to get a hearing for a non-orthodox idea. The Liberal-Marxist online journal Spiked would not use an article I wrote as an alternative view to an article praising The Shard. They complimented it but asked me to chop it down and send it as letter! Why suppress a different point of view? – New English Review

Universalism is deconstruction. In order to make something fit into every situation, it must be wholly generic and without any unique characteristics. This means simplifying, standardizing, utilitarian redesigning, dumbing down, averaging, conformity, uniformity and loss of distinct features. Boring.

However, universalism is “fair” because each individual likes to think of himself or herself as a universal. They want to be able to fit anywhere, and so they think there should be no obstacles. They know the world entirely through their minds, so the inability to fit into the mental construct they have of the world in any way strikes them as paradoxical.

The problem with universalism is that with the loss of these unique traits we lose everything but the utilitarian. All is function; all is isolated, considering as if in a laboratory in a single abstract moment with no thought to the consequences.

If you wonder why our world has become ugly, and slave like and functional, this is why.

As conservatives we defend free markets and capitalism against the onslaught of socialists and their deranged managed economy brethren. This does not mean that our ultimate goal is capitalism by itself. Our ultimate goal is a sane society, of high quality and producing people of high quality.

We know too well that without such a society, markets take over. Just as when you have a hammer everything looks like a nail, when an economy or government knows nothing but itself, it soon dominates everything. Ideas do this, trends do this, and even our social systems (like economics) can do it.

The economist Richard Layard is one of many who claim that unemployment is one of those misfortunes, like divorce and chronic pain, that most affect long-term happiness. Work is good, he says, because it gives people meaning, self-respect and the chance to make a contribution; unemployment is bad because it robs them of all this.

But unemployment is by no means the only work issue to affect mental health. Any significant discrepancy between our wished-for and actual work reality can be corrosive to our wellbeing. Some find their work soul-destroying but don’t have ready alternatives, while others flit from job to job in search of “the one”. Since the perfect blend of fulfilling and well-paid work is not always attainable, many people face the challenge of concocting the next best thing.

It may help to remember that paid employment is not the sole provider of purpose, self-worth and engagement. A job can work against us if it is experienced as tedious and irrelevant. Even Layard qualifies his praise by saying that work is vital if that is what you want, and if it is fulfilling. Tying too close a knot between meaningful activity and paid employment can be perilous, as we know from people who lose all sense of meaning when they retire. – Financial Times

Certainly we did not set out to make an empire of slavery, and in fact, we tried hard not to.

However, by making all individuals equal, we created an intense competition for resources. Nothing is given except to those who are used ruthlessly by our commerce; thus, we all compete by packing off to work. The old style jobs, where you inherited a role and unless incompetent kept it, are gone.

The resulting instability makes a society constantly at war with itself. True, it’s in the name of a good cause — but the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Despite population growth, the number of Americans with jobs fell again last year, with total employment of just under 150.4 million — down from 150.9 million in 2009 and 155.4 million in 2008. In all, there were 5.2 million fewer jobs than in 2007, when the deep recession began, according to the IRS data.

The figures are just one more indication of the toll that the worst downturn since the Great Depression has taken on the U.S. economy. – The Washington Post

If you add more people to a society, competition becomes more difficult and good jobs more scarce.

Since 1965, we have imported people from impoverished countries to be our cheap labor, and we have outsourced much of our own cheap labor to other countries.

The result is a concentration of wealth toward the top. However, we did this in the name of equality, fairness, morality and “freedom.”

Could it be that motivating ourselves by deconstructed ideas like “freedom” ends up making a cheapened, spread-too-thin, broken down and mediocre version of our past society?

It seems like that’s what we are living in now.

Let’s do away with these linear ideas, and replace them with complex ideas like beauty, honor, adventure and quality.

Prole-Run America (PRA)

When we go looking for solutions, we must sure we have correctly identified the cause of the problem we want to fix. Although that sounds obvious, most people confuse a problem for its cause.

Every problem that appears such that we recognize it has a cause and until we find that cause, we are treating symptoms but not curing the patient. To make matters difficult, these causes are often removed by time and distance from the point of impact.

As you wander through politics, you will eventually find that there is only one issue: the health or lack thereof of the civilization. Everything else is a method to that end. However, most of these end up being misdiagnosed causes and so even radical fixes do not in actuality fix anything.

For the heretical, a few examples:

  • Banks are not the cause of bankruptcy; bad regulation and mass irresponsibility are.
  • Bad government is not the cause of bad government; a clueless population that elects liars and demands unrealistic benefits is.
  • Crime is not the cause of crime, for example; degenerates plus tolerance for degeneracy causes crime.
  • Drug abuse is not the cause of drug abuse; misery, boredom and permissiveness causes drug abuse.
  • Degeneracy is not the cause of degeneracy; lack of will to make moral decisions plus lack of strong social standards is.
  • Pornography is not the cause of rape; a stultified desire for power over other human beings is the cause of both.

Note that cause/effect reasoning is abused in another way, also, which is the liberal tendency to blame social institutions and culture values for the failings of the individual. If Johnny drinks his way through life and ends up impoverished, the banks did it to him, in this view.

We have no shortage of mis-diagnosed causes of our decline, but here’s one example of a talented writer who has picked an intermediate cause and claimed it as the primary cause (in his defense, he never claims to have found a root cause).

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the reality of Black Run America; a nation where every institution is entirely devoted to protecting and promoting the interests of Black people above all others. – SBPDL

He has noticed something true, but it’s not the root cause. The truth of race in America is that all of our diversity-mania, anti-discrimination hysteria and perfervid rage for an egalitarian order is actually a method. This method aims to achieve something else, which is Total Equality (TE).

Since 1789, when the French Revolution overthrew the monarchy and created a republic based on equality, we have been living in an era without leaders. Instead, we are led by the People themselves, which by statistics means we are led by the most numerous group, the proles.

Today, we are living in Prole-Run America (PRA). It is run by proles, who vote, buy products and create social trends. Those votes, purchases and trends in turn determine what the power structure accomodates. The People are the focus of the society and its leaders, and the rest follow their lead.

Then, in order that we may see clearly what we are doing, let us imagine democracy to be divided, as indeed it is, into three classes; for in the first place freedom creates rather more proles in the democratic than there were in the oligarchical State.

That is true.

And in the democracy they are certainly more intensified.

How so?

Because in the oligarchical State they are disqualified and driven from office, and therefore they cannot train or gather strength; whereas in a democracy they are almost the entire ruling power, and while the keener sort speak and act, the rest keep buzzing about the bema and do not suffer a word to be said on the other side; hence in democracies almost everything is managed by the proles. – Plato, The Republic

When you hear about an “evil” corporation, realize that this corporation is selling products the proles demand. An evil bank is writing the policies that government commands and the People desire. Our evil politicians are in office because most of our people voted for them, even if on the basis of lies.

The problem is not our institutions, our leaders, or diversity. Those are intermediate causes. The root cause is that we have handed power to the group least suited to wield it, which is the average (meaning not distinguished by any superior performance) citizen.

The average citizen is oblivious to anything outside his little world. He is selfish, and doesn’t really care about the consequences to others. He litters, and drives too big of a car, and watches too much TV. He’s not suited for anything, except buying products and voting for manipulative politicians.

Prole-Run America (PRA) is what happens when we put all these gullible proles in charge of the most powerful nation-state on earth. They vote for pleasant illusions, and they get angry when unpleasant truths are mentioned, and do their best to bury them and drive away the truth-tellers.

In large groups, they band together and decide to take money from other people, or to make war on other nations like Libya whose only sin is not being a liberal democracy like us. The proles swarm and make trends, turning our culture from forward-looking to inward-looking.

They insist that every concept in politics, economics or the news be super-simplified until it barely explains itself. They will make you rich for pandering to their urges, making excuses for their failings, and offering them whatever venal act or product they desire.

As a result, everyone follows the proles. We need their votes, purchases and trends. Why have Beethoven when the proles want Lady Gaga? Why have filet mignon when the proles want cheeseburgers? Why have sensible politics when the proles want more free handouts, welfare and entitlements?

Prole-Run America (PRA) is the downfall of America. It is a once-powerful country destroying itself from within. Just as the evil corporations are not our problem, the evil Vandals are not our problem. They are just the coup de grace which will come after we destroy ourselves.

Our problem is the individual. The individual citizen, detached from responsibility or concern for consequences, follows his selfish and insular desires. In his wake, he leaves mounds of garbage and poorly-executed ideas. He doesn’t care; he’s getting what he wants.

Most of our fellow proles right now are congratulating themselves on living in the best time ever. They are blind to the fact that this country is disintegrating, and soon will be no more. They don’t notice, because they are distracted by all this free stuff, and good things to buy, and how important they feel.

Together the proles form a crowd, and unaware of the superior logic of anything more complicated than what they can understand, they join up like a lynch mob to smash down the bad ideas and replace them with “safe” ideas in which everyone is equal. The wisdom of crowds turns into brainwashing conformity:

We tweak our stories so that they become better stories. We bend the facts so that the facts appeal to the group. Because we are social animals, our memory of the past is constantly being revised to fit social pressures.

The power of this phenomenon was demonstrated in a new Science paper by Micah Edelson, Tali Sharot, Raymond Dolan and Yadin Dudai. The neuroscientists were interested in how the opinion of other people can alter our personal memories, even over a relatively short period of time. The experiment itself was straightforward. A few dozen people watched an eyewitness style documentary about a police arrest in groups of five. Three days later, the subjects returned to the lab and completed a memory test about the documentary. Four days after that, they were brought back once again and asked a variety of questions about the short movie while inside a brain scanner.

This time, though, the subjects were given a “lifeline”: they were shown the answers given by other people in their film-viewing group. Unbeknownst to the subjects, the lifeline was actually composed of false answers to the very questions that the subjects had previously answered correctly and confidently. Remarkably, this false feedback altered the responses of the participants, leading nearly 70 percent to conform to the group and give an incorrect answer. They had revised their stories in light of the social pressure. – Wired

Alone, we can make reasonable estimates. Together, we fall, because we influence each other and converge on a mean. This mean isn’t one that exists in reality, but in the human mind. We become locked in the intersection of narcissism and oblivion, unaware of anything but ourselves.

Our problem is not one of the issues on the surface, like diversity, the national debt, or the wars overseas. Our problem is that those problems came about because we cannot make decisions, because our motives are corrupt, and because the People cannot lead. Proles are not competent as leaders, and are even worse in large groups.

As a result, like Rome and Greece before us, we enter the slow spiral of decline:

In “Suicide of a Superpower,” out this week, I argue that the America we grew up in is disintegrating, breaking apart along the fault lines of politics, race, ethnicity, culture and faith; that the centrifugal forces in society have now become the dominant forces.

Our politics are as poisonous as they have been in our lifetimes. – Pat Buchanan, “Is America Disintegrating?”

We are falling apart because there is no center.

Instead, we have as many centers as we have people, each pulling in their own direction.

Equality does not produce leadership. It produces the destruction of leadership. Our country drifts without the ability to make firm choices. We try to be everything to everyone. When that doesn’t work, we fight even harder for universal True Equality, like cultists following a dying religion.

As we fall apart, the profiteers are always there:

Today, most authoritarian rulers prefer to keep a low profile. In any case, real power no longer belongs with the medal-wearing figure strutting in front of the crowd, but with the grey men watching from their corporate boardrooms.

To multinational giants such as Glencore, the world’s biggest commodity trader, which controls 50 per cent of the global copper market, 60 per cent of zinc and a quarter of the world’s barley, sunflower and rape seed, most of these dictators must look like pygmies. – Daily Mail

They would not exist if it were not for the proles who demand their products cheaply so that we can all live like kings, or at least whatever slice of kingly life an equal king can lead. Our politicians do nothing because the voters punish inconvenience and unpleasant truths, and reward pleasant illusions.

You’d have to be a fool as a politician to do anything but lie, manipulate, cheat and steal. The voters basically told you to do that. They do not accept true answers; they demand illusions instead. As a result, they sabotage their own prole-leadership.

Add President Clinton to the long list of people who deserve a share of the blame for the housing bubble and bust. A recently re-exposed document shows that his administration went to ridiculous lengths to increase the national homeownership rate. It promoted paper-thin downpayments and pushed for ways to get lenders to give mortgage loans to first-time buyers with shaky financing and incomes. It’s clear now that the erosion of lending standards pushed prices up by increasing demand, and later led to waves of defaults by people who never should have bought a home in the first place. – Business Week

They are only too happy to accept “free” things which are paid for with money taken from others. No one in the crowd expects to have to pay it back; they doubt that they’ll ever have much money in their lives, so nothing minus nothing is still nothing. Might as well get something for themselves, no matter the cost.

Some of the 40 million Americans currently receiving food stamps from the nation’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program may soon be able to use them at participating fast food restaurants.

Yum! Brands – the parent company of Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, KFC, Long John Silver’s and A&W – is lobbying to have food stamps be accepted at their restaurants. – WALB

They have trained you to see an evil corporation and blame it. But that’s as off-base as blaming black people for the fact that liberals use them as moral shields for their own wrongdoing. “I’m nice to black people, so I can’t be evil, even if you caught me red-handed!” is a familiar refrain.

What’s going on here is a study in cause and effect. The evil corporation arose because the opportunity is there and the voters are too dumb to figure it out. But what set it down that path was illusory promises and irrational policies, set into motion because those ideas sounded pleasant to 300 million proles.

Prole-Run America (PRA). It will be the last stage of America, and then we can rebuild again. The next nation will start with a simple premise, which is that leaders do what is right, and not simply what is popular, trendy or profitable as the proles would do.

Israel fights to survive

You can take a nation and subject it to constant warfare, deprivation and even inconceivably apocalyptic threats. It will survive. But the minute it stops believing in its own legitimacy, it dies.

In Israel today we are seeing an old conflict, even an ancient one, playing out: is the government created for its own purposes, or is the government an outward manifestation of the will of a collective, organic group united by shared values, called a culture?

Our modern view is that every person is equal, therefore whether you fill Paris with Somalis and Inuit or Japanese and Peruvians, those people are still “French.” Why? Because they live within the lines on the map that defines the political agreement known as “France.”

The old school way (which is experiencing a massively powerful revival) is to think that wherever they live, people of French descent share certain values and an outlook on life, and thus are a united people, both culture and heritage. Move them to the moon, or Somalia, and they’re still French.

Pundits and other witty and underpaid (thus bitter) people love to tear down anything they see as above them, so they are targeting the notion of the nation. They want to replace it with the nation-state, which is a subset of globalism; nation-states are lines on maps, not organic populations.

As a result, these people have made the claim that no country can assert its need to be of a single culture, and still be democratic/free/whatever.

In response, Rivlin announced that he would not conduct any further debate on the issue in the Knesset Presidium, claiming that the bill does not contravene the essential definition of Israel as a democratic country. He did, however, express his objections to the bill, which states that Israel’s democratic regime would be subordinate to the state’s Jewish identity, and which drops Arabic as an official language.

Both Jewish and Arab MKs from the left-wing parties, as well as other public figures, have expressed deep concern about the bill, sponsored by MK Avi Dichter (Kadima ), which, in practice, does away with the State of Israel’s constitutional foundation. They argue, justifiably, that the bill contravenes the Declaration of Independence and its principles, and threatens the delicate balance between the state’s national identity and its democratic and civil character. – Haaretz

Those who object to Israel as an organic population are wrong, of course. All that is required to be a democracy is to use democratic means of determining power. There is nothing in that definition about citizenship, or even who can vote. Any democratic power structure is a democracy.

What they’re objecting to is that this is a democracy by a population for its own self-interests, and not the globalist ideal of the nation-state where anyone can wander in, rent a room and be a citizen. The nation has higher values than commerce and obedience to leftist dogma, which makes it a threat to leftists and international finance.

Israel has successfully dodged this problem for sixty years but now it is coming home. As missiles rain from the sky, Iran develops a nuclear weapons program, and the USA waffles in its support, Israel must face the hard questions. Is it a state of Jews and Judaism, or merely another place to rent?

Coincidentally, all of us face this problem. If you build a nice place, others want to come stay there and take advantage of what you have made. In the process, they obliterate what you are, and leave behind more of what can be found anywhere else. Diversity is lost. Specialization is reversed.

American foreign policy fails in the mideast

American wars since WWII have followed this pattern: find an enemy who competes with our superpower status, then discover some “reason” (justification) for declaring war on them, and then conquest following by a police action against a guerrilla army.

This was the pattern in Viet Nam and Korea, and now Iraq and Afghanistan follow it. We must construe our enemies as enemies of “freedom” and democracy so that we feel justified in smashing them utterly, and once we’ve done that, we try to fix the mess we’ve made.

In doing so, we start believing our own press releases, and actually bring “democracy” to these places. However, they are not ready for what we want from them, which is modern liberal democracy; they are too invested in their own politics. As a result, democracy becomes a method of brutality.

The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has said he would side with Pakistan in the event of war with the US, in a surprising political twist that is likely to disconcert his western allies.

“If there is war between Pakistan and America, we will stand by Pakistan,” Karzai said in a television interview, placing his hand on his heart and describing Pakistan as a “brother” country.

The offer was widely interpreted as a rhetorical flourish rather than a significant offer of defence co-operation. Despite recent tension between Pakistan and the US, open warfare is a remote possibility. – The Guardian

Not surprisingly, many of our former allies have turned on us. They know we are insincere, and a tottering empire which has corrupted itself by replacing its culture with commerce and a nanny state, made its people decadent, and lost sight of any goal except power and wealth for their own sake.

Our mideast policy fails when we expect these people to do anything but what they were doing before we intervened, which is make tribal warfare upon one another.

The US suffered a major diplomatic and military rebuff on Friday when Iraq finally rejected its pleas to maintain bases in the country beyond this year.

Barack Obama announced at a White House press conference that all American troops will leave Iraq by the end of December, a decision forced by the final collapse of lengthy talks between the US and the Iraqi government on the issue.

The Iraqi decision is a boost to Iran, which has close ties with many members of the Iraqi government and which had been battling against the establishment of permanent American bases. – The Guardian

However, it’s hard to blame these places: the problem is within our nation, not theirs.

We are the ones who can only motivate the voters to approve war when we construe our opponent as Hitler or a godless Satan.

We are the ones who are so unsure of our “right” to intervene, even if the results are better, that we later expend billions and thousands of lives trying to democratize the unruly.

We are the ones who are so neurotic in our own tentative approval of liberal democracy, since we’ve seen firsthand how it turned peaceful thriving 1950s America into a chaotic urban warzone, that we export it like a drug addict looking for others to share a needle.

And now, we are the ones to watch our fond notions collide with reality. In our heads, we are white knights bringing democracy and peace and love; in reality, we are another warlord intruding on their territory, and they want it back.

What follows is inevitably brutal.

A local military commander in the city of Misrata, where the forces which captured him took his body, said “over-enthusiastic” fighters took matters into their own hands when they came face to face with the man they despise.

“We wanted to keep him alive but the young guys, things went out of control,” he said speaking on condition of anonymity.

Few people in Libya — where thousands of people, including civilians, were killed by Gaddafi’s forces in the seven-month rebellion — say they are troubled by the manner of his death.

But if he was indeed killed by his captors, it will cast doubt on the promises by Libya’s new rulers to respect human rights and prevent reprisals. – Reuters

In the name of morality, we are the brutal killers without remorse. Do we expect people to believe our propaganda about being the moral alternative?

Of course not. Instead, they are getting back to business after the brief interruption of our silly moral crusade. Like church ladies dismayed that the homeless people we are “helping” turned around and sold those work tools to buy booze, we are projecting our own values onto others, and coming up short every time.

An Egyptian court has sentenced a Facebook user to three years’ prison for creating a page on the social networking site to publish opinions thought to be offensive to Islam and the Prophet Mohamed.

Judge Sherif Kamel, head of the Azbakiya Court of First Instance, said Ayman Youssef Mansour created the page “Al-Monadel Mard” on Facebook and used it to express opinions that threaten national unity. Mansour’s opinions were seen by the court as derogatory to Islam. – Almasry Alyoum

We have made a false world of ourselves from our comfy suburbs, the television advertisements that apparently we believe, and the political half-truths (“white lies”) we tell to each other to avoid being offensive and to make friends with everyone and anyone.

Our foreign policy in the mideast has failed not because the mideast is a horrible place, but because we went in with unrealistic expectations and never adjusted our fond mental image to match reality. Nature, being logical and consistent, simply served us up with the failure we deserve.

Chain Reaction

For thousands of years the world was big.  A man’s only concern was his family, his community, and his nation.  Even at the national level, news took days to arrive.  It took a full day for Pheidippides to run from Athens to Sparta in order to inform the Spartans that Persian forces were invading.  Even as recent as the Civil War era, one can imagine that news from across the country took days and only the most important stories were considered.

Today the world is small.  Every news story from every corner of the globe is right there in front of you, on your computer screen, within minutes.  Furthermore, the news is an odd combination of the lurid/sensational/ultra-violent but also the twee/inconsequential/feel-good.  The most horrific and the cutest – massacres, catastrophes and kittens rescued from trees.

Is man cut out to reconcile so much disparate information so quickly?  The world was large for thousands of years then in a mere 100 years, the world has rapidly become smaller and smaller.  Our social reality is out of sync with our biology.

Man was not meant to hear about and reconcile the news from all corners of the earth.  Understanding the dynamics of a county or state is hard enough, let alone an entire country, let alone the entire world.  It is no surprise we neglect our own backyard as we hear of more sensational stories from abroad.  Rather than prioritizing on the basis of proximity, we prioritize on the basis of what is most sensational.  But as we are distracted from our own problems, they grow and grow.

We are not only distracted, we are also desensitized.  When we are bombarded with news of natural disasters, riots, death, and violence, we slowly become numb to these things, in general.  As post-modern theorist Jean Baudrillard formulates:  information annihilates meaning.  When all we hear is murder, rape, arson, they begin to lose their impact.

Being “connected” to the world has its upside.  But perhaps our instant mass-communication system has connected us in ways which we never bargained for.  It not only distracts and desensitizes decent people, it also connects and empowers the indecent.  Perhaps we are a little too connected.  Mass hysteria is a well documented phenomenon.

This phenomenon of mass hysteria or chain reactions manifests itself in many different forms:

  1. Computer worms are essentially chain reactions.  The ILOVEYOU bug is especially funny because of its unassuming origins.  It was apparently an accident not even borne of maliciousness.  There is some speculation that it was all over a girl.  It is somewhat reminiscent of Dr. Strangelove.  The littlest mistake or accident is amplified a thousandfold.  That an empire can be taken down by a mere accident is a hard pill to swallow.
  2. Flash mobs can be silly or they can be violent (kind of like the stories in the news).  The key here, is that a flash mob is a chain reaction organized and set off by telecommunications, social media, or viral emails  And although much bigger than a “flash mob,” the London riots in the summer of 2011 reveal this same dynamic – discontent multiplied exponentially through social media and cell phones/mobile devices. To be defeated by a worthy adversary is one thing, but to be taken down by a bunch of yahoos is a humiliation.
  3. 2011 has seen large protests all over the world.  In fact, 2011, thus far, could almost be called the “year of the protest.”  The “Arab Spring” began in Tunisia but really became a big story when it hit Egypt in February 2011.  Curiously, big protests hit Wisconsin in February 2011 as well.  Currently, this wave of mass protest has culminated in the Occupy Wall Street movement.  What’s interesting is that not only is a single protest, in and of itself, a chain reaction, but that all of the protests, from all corners of the globe, in total, resemble a chain reaction.  It started in Tunisia, then spread across the entire Arab world, from the Arab world to Wisconsin, from Wisconsin to Wall Street.
  4. If any news story is justified in being spread instantly across the world, 9/11 was certainly it.  But to repeat those videos over and over and over, in chain reaction form, seems to go beyond the media’s duty to report the news.  The unintended effect is desensitization.  The long-term effects of 9/11 have still not been felt.  The children who watched that video over and over on the evening news are just becoming full-fledged adults right now in the year 2011.  In this sense, the video of 9/11, repeated over and over, will act as a mental time bomb.  In the next 5 to 10 years, the kids that watched that video over and over will become the leaders of our nation.  It is then that we will feel the real result of that mental virus, whether positive or negative.  Perhaps it will harden them, perhaps it will desensitize them.  But that isn’t the point, the point is that, in this case, the chain reaction didn’t just spread across space, it spread across time.

Honest show of hands:  who even remembers that the Interstate collapsed into the Mississippi river only four years ago!?  Miraculously, only 13 people died, but strictly as a visual, it rivals 9/11 in terms of resembling a Hollywood disaster movie.  Not only does this catastrophe symbolize America’s infrastructure literally collapsing, it also symbolizes our desensitization to catastrophe in general.  Call it an intuition or a hunch, but this event seems oddly forgotten about by the media and the American people.  Perhaps this is, already, the temporal chain reaction of 9/11 manifested as desensitization.

Our non-stop news cycle, which is not even a cycle, but a perpetual onslaught, distracts us with the most sensational and lurid, and desensitizes us to catastrophe in general.  No wonder the West is going to hell in a hand-basket and we are talking about Hank Williams Jr.

The vulnerability of being connected should be understood.  If something is stretched far and thin it becomes that much more vulnerable at any one point.  All it takes is a thug with a vendetta, or a news story sensational enough, even if it’s thousands of miles away, and the chain reaction is underway.

On the other hand, if something is consolidated it is much harder to puncture.  With this in mind, the value of being insulated gains its full power and takes on a positive connotation.  It is a survival technique to avoid being swept away in mass hysteria.  Turn off, tune out, and re-connect with reality.

The Rainbow Death

“Long, long ago, it is said, there was a mighty civilization, where we now sit.
Beneath our feet, throughout this forest, lay an endless glory of buildings, the likes of which we have never seen.

It was a place of miracles, where a man might live past eighty years, enjoying riches beyond imagining. There was food, all year round. Heat without fire. Great distances could be traveled without walking.
Men could speak to other men, over vast distances. The image of their faces could be seen, by others, over many leagues.”

The assembled children, and a few old women, stared at the shaman, wide-eyed, as they always did, when he told this tale, although he had told it many times before. As had shamans before him, too. For with each new year, there would be born a few new children, and so, in its time, the tale would be retold, that all should know of it.

“Men lived in towers that reached the sky. Their work was easy, and light. They had no need to hunt, no need to sow. No need to gather fuel, and no need to war.
The women walked as men, and did not toil, as our women toil. The children walked as men, and did not sit, as we do, around fires, in the night. For there was light, that came through iron strings, that turned night into day.”

A gasp of perennial astonishment rippled among the audience, as they tried, and failed, to imagine this mystery.

“Men flew like birds, through the sky,” continued the shaman. “Gleaming birds, as big as a whale. A time of wonder. A time of magic.
With such power in their grasp, those people should still be here now. That they are not, has puzzled our tribe, for generations.  For their tribe was not like ours, as we are not like them.
There were a few, it is said, that were as we are. Light of skin, with faces similar to our own. But alongside these, were a multitude of different peoples, with different ways, and different appearances. It is uncertain how this came to be. As many things remain unclear, after so much time has passed.”

A child squalled, briefly, as its mother shifted her position. The wind sent icy fingers through the trees. Shadows of orange and yellow played over the earnest faces, young and old, alike.

“What is not known, is the manner of their passing. With so much, what could have happened? Our wisest men have pondered this, for generations. How Gods could vanish, leaving so few remains upon our lands. This, we may never know…”

The shaman stopped, suddenly, his mouth still open, and it felt to him as if in all these years of telling, and retelling The Legend, that he had been deaf, dumb and blind. His eyes flared wide, his mouth snapped shut, and he leaped to his feet as if his years were but months. He cast his eyes around, from face to face, his breathing quickened. He raised his arms and spoke in a voice never heard before…

“The Death claimed the Gods. The Rainbow Death! Children given the power of men. Women too. The power of men removed from men. Men loved other men, and were given power for this. Women loved other women, and were given power for this. Boys taught to love other boys and be rewarded for this. Girls too.
The ancient laws all overturned, and made punishable.
Enemies imported and given power over men.
Enemies placed above the men.
None of them wanting, any more, to hunt, build, forage or cultivate. All expecting to live without making it so. Ahhh…”

The shaman stopped, and there was silence. The scene lay frozen, but for the flickering shadows cast by the central fire.

The silence deepened, as the shaman saw his vision, and grasped for understanding. Finally he spoke, his voice the voice of reason, once more.

“They died because they did not care about living. Life, to them, became so lacking in value, that they simply stopped living.”

He stopped, again, as he decided what he must do, with this new revelation.
Here was nothing to be revered and retold. This was ugliness beyond ugly. There was no good in it.
It was time to let the age of wonder go. This time, forever.
With great sadness, and great resolve, he gathered himself and spoke one last time.

“The Gods were not Gods at all. They were less than us. They were finished with living, long before they no longer lived. They fell from The Way, and did not care. And so they died.
This, I know, is the way of it, for I have seen it, finally.
And so, each one of us, may give these ghosts their final rest.
By never speaking of them again.
Our lives are hard, and our rewards are few. We must toil to live, and live to toil.
Yet in this, we are richer, by far, than the ancients. For we know this thing, while they allowed themselves to forget.
So, henceforth, we will tell this tale no more. We will begin history again, and honour our own accomplishments. For it is certain, that none of the wonders the ancients possessed, could prevent their complete extinction.”

He smiled at each face, in turn, moving slowly around the circle. Nodding to each. Taking his time.

“This, and only this, is what is important,” he finished. “Our tribe. Our children. Our circle. Our fire.”