Elaborating on a “Response to an MRA”

A video I uploaded back in January titled “Response to an MRA”:

In that I was reading aloud an email response I’d sent back to an MRA who’d been corresponding with me. Having been approached by a number of self-described MRAs through email already, I figured it might be helpful to make this response public so as to cut down on me needing to repeat myself. I’m not interested in joining or backing any gender-related movement, having had my fill of making sense of feminism throughout much of my 20s.

In an exchange of comments with fabrizionapoleoni and Thermic Light on the comment thread since last night, I’ve decided to go ahead and post this here to try to flesh out my own thought process a bit.

As stated in the video and also in the comments, I’m not of the belief that waging a major legal battle against feminism will likely prove fruitful, and here’s why. First, let me expand on what I think of feminism.

From the way I see it, feminism became a tool of the government several decades ago intended to drive more women into the workplace so as to generate more taxable revenue and stimulate the economy. The feminist movement served also to divide the sexes and pit them against one another in workplaces as well as in academe, which trickled down to affect households and set off a boom in suing for divorces. We see this. The sexual liberation revolution that accompanied the second-wave feminist mantra came at a time of Judeo-Christian values dramatically losing their hold over people due to advancements in scientific understandings and economic concerns coming to eclipse all else (this trend had been in motion for a couple hundred years already, heralded by the Enlightenment Era and later the introduction of the Industrial Age), leaving people in the confused state of value anomie where greater subjectivity entered the arena and allowed much freedom of expression and experimentation that continues on ’til today. Not that I necessarily take issue with the sexual revolution, seeing it as a natural reaction to the suppression of female sexuality under Abrahamic religions, this being an attempt to establish a more favorable balance for women going forward. I take no issue with that on the surface, but what we don’t tend to think about is the propaganda promoted to tap into our selfish interests and to stoke hostilities between the sexes.

Keeping this as brief as I can, what ultimately wound up happening is feminism and its organizations grew in large part thanks to financial infusions from major contributors tied in with the government, as well as from the government directly. Why did the government do this? Because higher-ups sympathize with the plight of women? Not hardly. Rather it was because they and their corporate sponsors stand to benefit in a variety of ways. First off, feminism involves a lot of fear-mongering, particularly when it comes to topic of rape and child molestation (not that these aren’t incredibly important issues), where the fever-pitch scream over these matters inevitably sought redress through the courts and promoting protectionist legislation. Feminism preaches a great deal about “empowerment,” yet its real message tends to revolve around victimhood, which tends to focus primarily on women and children’s suffering. Every topic must be framed in how it affects women or mothers of children or female children, and this is justified by claiming that everything outside of feminism caters to the male perspective, as if the common man were being fairly represented already.

Saying nothing new to people so far. But what’s really interesting to me is how this sleight of hand proved exceptionally divisive, especially in light of more women increasing their dependence on the State and less so on men. But we have to remember it wasn’t too many decades back when these social programs were nonexistent and most men and women had to rely on one another to grow enough food and rear children. Pitiful was the widow or single mother who had to rely on the charity of others or churches or enter into some low form of servitude to make ends meet. Now that has all changed and feminism has aided in protecting women and children from bleak fates, or so it gives the appearance of doing. In there is where everything gets really complex and crazy, because the feminist movement embraced the notion of promoting and extending the role of the State in getting involved in our lives. The charity received is accompanied by government intrusion through the formation of an entire league of social workers and CPS employees — people who earn incomes from monitoring other people’s family situations.

But it goes deeper than that obviously. With the pushing of more laws and greater penalties, including mandatory sentencing, we saw immense growth in the penal system. More prisons built and filled, primarily with men. A huge number of which are in there on drug offenses, which is another area where the feminist movement supported tougher sentencing in the name of protecting children. Prohibition has ties with feminism going back to its inception, most notably in the alcohol prohibition of the early 20th century. In other words, when social problems confront us, the feminist movement tends nearly always to push for the State to step in and criminalize behavior on our behalf, but nearly all popular movements have aimed the same way over the last century. And where they branched off and called for individual action, their leaders were assassinated (as in the case of the most prominent civil rights leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X).

Let’s think about that for a moment, because what those two men advocated is largely where I am coming from. Dr. King spoke from the position of people changing their hearts and following their consciences, referring to the tradition of Jesus and other peace-builders. Because he understood that the problem lies within us all and that laws alone won’t change us. Malcolm X understood that power never concedes itself without being given a fight. He understood that new laws alone couldn’t rectify past injustices, remarking that you can’t stab a knife in a man’s back 9 inches, pull it out 6 inches, and then call that “progress.” He understood what ails us is deeply entrenched in our cultures and argued for the individual to grab hold of the reins of his or her own life, to take back power by refusing to bow to unjust authorities, by being willing to fight back by whatever means necessary (not excluding utilizing the courts, though he learned the hard way there too). He did not see this as a battle to be fought and won primarily within the courts, but out here in the streets, out here where we can make a difference through what we choose to do or not do, through our resistance and our rejection of that system. Both men died as a result of speaking the truth.

Returning to feminism, we saw the rise of the welfare state, promoted as needed to care for women and children and the disabled. Sounds nice in theory, except the programs established are ran by our horribly inefficient, bureaucratic nightmare of a government. Notice how little is said as to whether so many kids should be born out of wedlock as has become so common; instead attention is focused on blaming fathers for abandoning their children by not paying enough toward their support. Why have so many fathers stepped out on the families they’ve helped create? Does this not point back to people being chewed up by the economic wheel, either by employers (in conjunction with the IRS) or by the courts when marriages dissolve? I contend that it’s a cultural problem, a failure of this society to leave communities to care for themselves and determine their own collective fate. Over time communities have been broken down and each of us individuals are set out on our own, pulled primarily by economic pressures while attempting to dodge being taken advantage of. The feminist movement, whether intentional or not, helped exacerbate this problem and has done very little to counteract it.

Then enters talk of our public education system in the U.S. Lord, help us there. That’s an indoctrination program of our young people, teaching them false histories (or glossed-over history anyway) while encouraging them to engage in such movements that see the legal contest as most relevant. Furthermore, it’s a glorified daycare to set children while parents work, because nearly everything in life anymore revolves around money, acquiring it and, Americans’ favorite pastime, spending it. Young people are not taught to think critically, not unless it pertains to the scientific realm, and even there attempts appear to fall short.

Thinking about the scientific realm for a moment, another major player in this whole fiasco of the last century is the field of psychiatry, which one might initially think more women would oppose considering its history of focusing on “correcting” women who rebelled against previous societal norms. But no, feminism has become entrenched in that field, supporting and circulating its pseudo-scientific “findings” as well as accepting and adopting its lingo.  That right there worries me. Because psychiatry is closely tied to the State (not to mention advertisers and Big Pharma, but that will be discussed another time) and has been utilized to promote conformity, dicing the public up under labels said to require chemical or institutional “treatment” for varying degrees of “maladaptation.” I’m surprised more people aren’t spooked by such a field where their claims are based not on actual scientific evidence but on a social planning agenda. Psychiatry is the field of social engineering, plain and simple, and it’s brought forth tons of “experts” prescribing for us how we need to live our lives and how to raise young’ns (notice though how swiftly opinions within the field change, demonstrating how psychiatry and psychology are fields of study of human behavior, not unlike sociology, and have no place being equated with medical science). Psychology and sociology (and anthropology and philosophy, etc.) are all incredibly interesting fields of study, but they are not scientific in the way people have come to assume psychology and psychiatry to be. It is propaganda that has pushed that belief on the uncritical masses, allowing psychiatry to rise in popularity and fuse itself with our government (which is two-fold, because on one hand it is employed as a controlling mechanism to interfere with the social realm, but also pharmaceutical companies wield great lobbying power to influence Congresspeople to embrace and promote this insidious alliance).

And as in the case of everything these days, it all leads back to concerns over money and the economy. While the feminism movement is angling to promote women in positions of power throughout the power structure currently in place, it does nothing to overturn that system, though there are claims that once infiltrated, the system can then be altered from the inside out. All that says to me is this is one way in which fascism can establish itself, because the status quo will only be enhanced, never overthrown or dismantled from within as some feminists may dream. Fascism is the alliance of State and major corporations, whereby this combined power comes to control and exert enormous influence over nearly all aspects of society. When we consider that one arm at the government’s disposal involves the field of psychiatry and its drug sellers, can we doubt that will come to play a bigger role as time moves on, if only under the guise of promoting jobs and helping people? Because those are hot fields enlisting lots of foot soldiers to spread their message of “mental health” (whatever that means on any given day). A number of self-professed feminists are involved in the so-called mental health system, with a great many newcomers joining each year. That is disconcerting.

Whereas the feminist movement came out loud protesting against the Vietnam war, now we see mostly those on its fringes still making a fuss and joining in the serious antiwar rallies. Old women mostly, from my experience. The economic costs of endless warfare and the sacrifice of our young people to the war machine is one of the gravest concerns confronting us, yet the feminist movement busies itself worrying with injecting more women into academia and upper management positions in the business world, or embarking on slut-shaming protests, or squealing about differences in pay — trivial concerns if this system winds up buckling under due to financial overreach.

In a nutshell, the feminist movement today runs counter to what many of us thought it was supposed to be about, namely taking to task a system run amok. But whatever. Aside from securing voting rights and women’s reproductive control over their own bodies, the movement has been used to create more problems than it can solve. It’s time to move past reliance on gender-specific movements and to take in the bigger picture, which to me asks of us how we can fight back against these forces at play in our society. The only answers I can come to is that we as a people and various collectives therein must reestablish our ability to care for ourselves in community settings. What I’m referring to here involves neo-agrarianism, because without food and water, we won’t last long. More importantly, without regaining control over providing for our most basic needs, we will grow increasingly dependent on this system, that is our government and major corporations, to provide what we need at the prices they set, paid for by the dollars we must earn from them.

To bring about a neo-agrarian revolution, land must be secured and/or reallocated to serve purposes beyond pure aesthetics, and intentional communities will have to form in anticipation of future secession. I realize people don’t wish to hear this, but without taking the first step to generate what we need to survive, nothing else can progress. Because where we stand now we are hopelessly dependent on the State/major corporations (particularly food producers) to provide for our sustenance. And you can bet that will be one of the first things jeopardized if it ever comes down to civil war.

The way I see it is we have two choices: prop up the status quo, which includes the entire infrastructure we’ve grown dependent on, or figure out ways to reduce our reliance on that system so as to be able to fight against it. Without ground to stand on, disrupting the current system will likely lead to a lot of pain and little gain. But either way, it should be obvious that I favor the latter option. People who remain caught up in the legal contest are, unwittingly or otherwise, playing into and perpetuating the current system. The fines and taxes we pay feeds it. Do people realize that divorce courts are making a killing for the State, all because we allow the State to control the institution of marriage? Takes money and effort to change laws, and it takes even more to protect said laws once on the books, as feminists will tell you. Beyond that, there’s virtually no way to effectively attack all of the forces driving society today through the legal system because it is broken by already being bought and paid for. We will go broke trying, just as we will go broke thinking we can contribute even a fraction of what corporations contribute to buy the loyalty of politicians.

We are faced with a serious conundrum with no easy answers, and I don’t think it’s possible at this point for any consensus to be reached. For those operating under faulty logic, I say let them go their own way. Let them learn for themselves what will and won’t work. This is why my mind keeps returning to the notion of people fragmenting off into smaller, intentionally-created communities where the members share common objectives and beliefs. Much as I can appreciate diversity, and I believe it can still be preserved under this strategy through trade alliances, it has bogged us down to where we can’t agree on much. So we’d be better off splitting and going our own ways versus continuing to fight one another, tooth and nail, trying to convince one another, turning toward domination strategies when that fails. We’ll drive one another increasingly insane if we keep this up.

Furthermore, our evolutionary history prepares us for smaller group engagement whereby we have more influence and negotiations become possible. Once things get too big and too out of control, we wind up at each other’s throats down here on the ground while the puppet masters loot us and force leashes around our necks. That is no future I wish to take part in. Yet another reason I am keen on not producing children forced to contend with what lay in store. One way or another, it’s going to be ugly. It’s a matter of whether that ugliness will come through the preservation of the status quo and its ceaseless wars and its drive toward micromanaging us all, or if we’ll be willing to get down and dirty in defense of another way of life. As always, the choice is entirely up to us. If we take no action, we will simply be swept along with the tides, and surely we can see where that will wind us up.

That’s enough to say on that subject for now, but anyone wishing me to consider different angles feel free to post a comment.

The reading of “Body Pleasure and the Origin of Violence” by James W. Prescott (my thoughts follow)

YT user ChristophDollis recommended I watch the following video titled “Abusers, Orgasms, Pain and Pleasure…” uploaded by Stefan Molyneux:

Pausing at the 34 min. mark, let me first say thanks for suggesting this clip of the reading of a piece titled “Body Pleasure and the Origin of Violence” by James W. Prescott (from “The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists” — Nov. 1975). Interesting hearing what people have been putting out into the universe and how much of the public has overlooked it. The rest of my comments below aren’t directed at anyone in particular and are simply thoughts stimulated by the video.

One reason I believe the public tends to glance right past material such as that (besides not finding it entertaining) is because we’re all affected by exactly that which Dr. Prescott is discussing. While 1975 was before my time, not much has changed in the way of improvement in our social relations since then most certainly, yet our heads remain firmly planted in the sand. Not many of us are out here actively seeking information and answers, partly because many people lack time and/or energy, but also because we are a socially and sexually fucked up lot. lol That’s not putting it delicately, but I doubt many would disagree if they really stopped and thought about it.

We’re a society of sado-masochists basically, and plenty of folks are attached to being that way. They see it as normal or even healthy. It affects so many of us that it indeed appears to be the norm. Pressing pleasure and pain boundaries is all the rage these days, whether that be on the softer or harder ends of the spectrum. And arguably on the less extreme end it’s difficult to argue that such behavior is terribly detrimental when it can be quite enjoyable play for both involved. Furthermore, I do believe sex has become a balm of sorts to pacify us as we struggle through modern times. Sex can have drug-like qualities of its own, particularly in how it allows a mental escape. I’ve been particularly skeptical of these claims circling about “sexual addiction,” but I do get how sex has for many an obsessive allurement. It’s where pleasure-seeking meets sexual dysfunction brought about in a wide assortment of ways. People do need touch and I’d agree many lacked enough of it and go on seeking it however which way. This easily can lead into the topic of prostitution and pornography, which then necessarily runs into economic bullshittery, but I’d prefer to keep it relatively brief right now.

Pornography must be mentioned, because it reflects just how sado-masochistic we’ve become. Americans may argue that many of us don’t truly engage in the cruelties exhibited on common pornos, but it’s enough that we use them for masturbatory material. How many of us don’t? It gets into our psyches through viewing, and we don’t resist it and demand more affectionate sexual displays because why? Because we are lazy and will take whatever is put before us? Because we grow conditioned to viewing this sort of material since many of us were exposed by our teen years? Because some have grown to genuinely like it? Men and women genuinely are turned on watching a woman be gagged by cock, making choking sounds, looking pathetic, while the man has hold of her hair and is calling her a “stupid whore”? That is truly exciting, is it? And all this anal sex, is that really what everyone wants? Many have told me no, but I also know that plenty are curious.

The trouble is that people tend to imitate pornography, this is my observation. Everyone has their own experience to pull from, but this is my view of it. Especially younger males. Older males over the age of 45 approach sex differently, though it’s difficult to put into words. Less formulaic approach to sex, perhaps. The younger man is oftentimes re-acting a routine, one that apparently is supposed to include oral sex performed on him and involves a lot of banging, not much kissing, not much caressing. That’s a weird thing to me and it turned me off on much of my own age group in my 20s. I’ve watched my share of porn and still do occasionally, so I do know where they’re getting this stuff from. It’s not just the way of men — it’s the training of young men and women to be bad lovers. That is my take.

The lesson of porn is one too often of aggression and intimate distance. Because a penis is inserted into a vagina, we call that intimacy. That is not intimacy. That is mere function. Calling the purely physical act itself intimacy is so completely detached from considerations of realness, genuine attraction, mutual respect and feelings of exhilaration. This mindset is robbing sex of the sanctity it rightfully deserves.

Whether money is exchanged or two lovers find one another in a bar or sex is filmed and distributed for others to view, it is not my concern. None of that automatically desacralizes sex in my eyes. What does is the negative, resentful and/or apathetic attitude that so often accompanies sexuality, at least as practiced in the U.S today. The lack of respect for the act is apparent to me, and it sickens me, even as I’ve been caught up in just such a lifestyle myself. Extricated myself from it, by and large, but I am still affected by it, and my body responds to it, even as my mind knows better. That is the result of conditioning, of youthful exposure, of porn increasingly influencing the mainstream media (which I term as “porn culture”), of widespread acceptance (especially within my age group), and undoubtedly upbringing factors in. We live in a social climate of value anomie where everything is up for experimentation, especially if money or attention can be attained off of it.

Sexual displays garner attention. People respond to that, as is natural, especially for those who feel deprived of enough attention. Sexuality, therefore, isn’t so much addictive as it is magnetic. We’re drawn to it like moths to a flame. Social and intimate dysfunction opens people up to drawing toward sexual dysfunctionality. This I do believe.

Yet people defend it. Tooth and nail. They tend to argue from a libertarian legal perspective (which, to an extent, I share), stating whatever adults are involved in voluntarily should be allowable. While I’m not an advocate for censorship or bringing in new laws to attempt to control our behaviors, I have come to take issue with the hard-line attitude in support of virtually all pornography and violent displays, because it leaves off the table the moral, social, and psychological dimensions to this ordeal. It’s as if legality is all people want to see in any of this; all other concerns are reduced and dismissed as mere personal preferences.

Having now finished watching the entire video clip, I basically agree with what that man said. However, I worry about his strategies being employed someday in a “Brave New World” kind of way, which would create a host of problems all unto itself. Call me a Luddite of sorts, which is probably accurate to an extent, but I have trouble with comprehending how modern life as Westerners experience it is healthy for humans in terms of its push toward “experts”micromanaging everything and economics ultimately determining our collective fate. Much more could be said in response to this clip, which I am glad to have listened to, but it’s approaching dinner time.

Dr. Faye Snyder speaks with Stefan Molyneux

What an excellent interview and discussion between Stefan Molyneux and Dr. Faye Snyder. So glad I was turned on to looking her up today. All this talk about childhood and development has me tripping down memory lane a bit, reflecting and thinking…

[TMI story-sharing since removed.]

Thinking about personal histories and childhood bonding (a personal post)

Normally I’d prefer to use this blog to point to writings, films, and other sources of what I consider interesting information and ideas. When I started this project, it was my intention to remain relatively private with my personal business, seeing as how my face is now attached to my words online. And everything written on this Internet feasibly becomes permanently part of the public record.

But I was just struck with some thoughts again tonight that tie into the ongoing talk on “evil” and the sickness of our society. Not ashamed of who I am or most of what I’ve done, so I might as well share a little about who I am so as hopefully to make more clear my perspective.

Earlier a couple of commenters on my “Why I’m No Longer a Feminist” video comment section brought up Dr. Faye Snyder, someone I’d never heard of before. Searched for her on YT and listened to the first few minutes of a man reading her piece titled “I Am Adam Lanza’s Therapist.” Then my own thoughts crashed in, because while the RAD acronym is new to me, thoughts on this topic are not. How you are brought up and how well you bond with others is so supremely important. I do know this, to where it’s easy to take as granted that others, on some level, acknowledge this as a truth as well. People who are deeply traumatized as children grow into broken-spirited adults. We Americans live in a society that has grown socially toxic over time, and it’s because we the people are broken, coming from broken homes and broken communities. All that leads to broken dreams, broken spirits, broken hearts, and, in some cases, broken minds. This I do believe to be true.

“Reactive Detachment Disorder” — guess that’s one way to label the symptoms of broken lives. Where do we think all this depression is stemming from? All this anxiety and self-destructiveness? This cowardice? I get it. Personally refuse to speak in DSM lingo, but I do comprehend some of this heart-breaking problem we have today. It’s everywhere and we’re all observers and participants. So too do we all play the roles of victimizers and victims.

It deserves to be stated that social complexities are mind-blowing because unlike with physical and chemical sciences, there’s really no math to explain it or experiments that can control for all possible variables. And the social and psychological sphere is constantly in motion, never at rest, always moving on through time and Ages. We tend to think of the bulk of human history simply as “progressive” (but it depends on one’s definition there). When you add in ponderings on physics and imagine how that all might tie in, life becomes so big, so amazing, so wondrous and beyond comprehension that to me it justifies being referred to as “God.” It’s not merely chemical and physical and biological processes — life is bigger than that, especially for us humans in our ongoing struggle to make sense out of a life as beings separated from the jungle and tribal conditions that marked much of our evolutionary history. So many metaphors exist pointing to this space in time when humans became more than animals, which is to say more complex, more consciously aware, cast out of the animal kingdom to proactively determining our own destinies. Thinking in this way, the social realm becomes no trivial matter, nor can it be easily explained and put into neat language for others to digest on-the-go. But I’ll try my best at breaking things down as I see them, from my own perspective, as this blogging project unfolds.

Returning to the topic of Dr. Snyder and talk of the Sandy Hook massacre while reflecting on so many that came before. The Columbine massacre occurred when I was 17, and youths of my age group were caught up in the goth fetish and/or violent rap music and/or heavy metal (as was I, to an extent). Thinking back, we were an angry lot, teens of the ’90s. And I can’t speak for where others lived or who they hung around, but I bounced from state to state as a teen and wound up dropping out of high school to start working. The people I befriended included some very angry people, very pained and training in how to pay it forward. Tried to avoid those characters, but they’re out there.

One boy I dated when I was 15 and he was 17 had been sexually molested by his father, as had been his sister and he suspected his younger brothers were enduring it in his absence. He was one messed up individual. The abuse had required a surgery when he was very young, under 6, and left him wetting the bed from there on. This is just a boy I met and wound up dating for a few months who unraveled these details over time. We parted ways and 5 years later he called my stepdad, asking for him to give me his number. Talked to the boy two times on the phone, and in the second conversation he told me he was being accused in the courts of sexually molesting his very young daughter. I walked away and want to hear no more, because after briefly knowing him I’m sad to say that he maybe could’ve done such a thing. He was a broken individual on such a serious level that his life will forever be fucked up. That is such a sad truth, seeing how serious dysfunction breeds dysfunction for the young going forward and their young too, somehow, some way.

Met a lot of people over the years, most of whom I don’t keep in contact with. Met plenty at schools and at coffee shops and, later, at bars. All kinds of people. But the people who particularly interested me were those closest to me, members of my own family. I grew up watching my Papa (grandpa) suffer inside, knowing he’d suffered his whole life, abandoned and abused. I related to his pain and he to mine, much as our circumstances differed. He was a long-time alcoholic, and it hurt his kids. One of his kids was my mother. I do not know of my biological father, nor he of my existence. I was born out of wedlock to a 19-year-old single woman who lived with her parents in a trailer in a small town in Mississippi. My mother is not right in the head for reasons I’ve never been able to understand completely, but talk with my Grandma over time leads us to believe she may be this way because of head injuries sustained as a baby in a bad car accident.

Let me say right now that my Papa is one of the most important people in my life, and I love him and his memory forever. He was not what I would call a fully good or fully bad man. He was a complex man with pain in his heart and wounds that would not entirely heal, so he lived as an alcoholic until he was 50 (and I was 9). It’s been said that he could be physically abusive and I’m well-aware of how he could run his mouth. But he’s the closest to a father-figure in my life, and we shared a strong bond. He has certain qualities of character that I look up to and respect immensely. For example, through him I learned someone can be afraid, truly afraid, and still summon the strength and guile to stand up and confront people when needed. He had pride and a heart. He didn’t believe in kicking an underdog when they’re down, unlike lots of other people in our town. He wasn’t afraid to stand up to authority and tell it like he saw it.

But underneath all of that, I occasionally glimpsed that little boy in him that was injured by the people he was raised by. In whispered conversations in the kitchen in the early morning hours, my Grandma used to tell me stories about Papa’s past, about how his mother left him with his grandfather when he was 6, screaming “You can keep the little bastard!” I cry just thinking about that, about how it must feel carrying that around in one’s heart for 65 years (he died at age 71 in 2011 — may he be resting in peace now). She told me of how his father and stepmother yanked him from his loving grandfather and essentially made my Papa their slave, working him hard at physical labor, pulling him out of school after the 8th grade and regularly severely beating him until the age of 17 when he escaped by lying about his age to join the National Guard. He met my Grandma a year or so later and they immediately began creating a family of their own.

My Papa was an alcoholic throughout all three of his kids’ upbringings, and he was an angry man who saw injustice everywhere. In a number of ways my and his personalities are a lot alike.

I spent half of my upbringing with my Grandparents, and my infancy was probably redeemed thanks to them and their care and support for me, particularly up to age 4 (which is when I was moved away with my mother and stepfather). I bonded with my Grandma especially as a baby because she was the one who tended to me the most, and she’s very loving toward babies which is a blessing. Papa too, at least by the time I came around — he just lit up and we bonded. Some of my favorite memories are of riding around in the little pickup truck right beside my Papa, him prompting me to chat on the CB radio to his trucker friends, feeling like such a big girl going with Papa to do his day’s business. He’d show me off to his friends like I was really something. I would’ve followed that man anywhere. To some he might’ve looked like a worn-out man in a cap, spitting chew and talking shit (lol), but he was the biggest man in my universe. None have yet to compare with his originality.

But unfortunately the pain and suffering he endured isn’t some anomaly. So many people running around deeply hurt by their pasts; plenty hurt bad enough that they got problems, emotional, psychological, social. One could argue that in today’s society we’re all touched by the pain, somehow, some way, directly or indirectly through our media and our shared culture. We’re touched by one another, figuratively speaking (or literally, as is sometimes the case). I see as I look out on people I love and also on strangers that early childhood trauma, abandonment, and abuse leaves a hole in people’s hearts. It can’t be helped and it may never be completely restored. I don’t know and won’t make definitive claims, but this is how I see it. And that pain tends to pay itself forward, somehow, some way.

This is another reason why I decided many years ago to not birth children of my own. I wish for the cycle to discontinue so far as I’m concerned. People can tell you all the self-help info they’d like, but there comes a point when the risk isn’t worth it, that it’s better to acknowledge that more nurturing and attentive people are better suited for parenthood. And that’s fine by me. There’s plenty else to do besides breed — one of the great joys of living as a woman in this moment in history when I have the option to make this choice thanks to technology and cultural transformation.

I’ve tired of typing about this right now, so let’s just leave it there. Part of me cringes revealing such personal information about myself and my family, but it represents part of who I am as one individual out here, one drop in the collective bucket.

An excerpt from Thomas More’s book “Utopia”

Here are selected excerpts from Thomas More’s book Utopia, written in the early 16th Century and later translated to English by H.V.S. Ogden, pages 80-82 in Book II:

Is not a government unjust and ungrateful that squanders rich rewards on noblemen (as they are called), goldsmiths, and others that do not work but live only by flattery or by catering to useless pleasures? And is it just for a government to ignore the welfare of farmers, charcoal burners, servants, drivers, and blacksmiths, without whom the commonwealth could not exist at all? After their best years have been consumed by labor and they are worn out by age and sickness, they are still penniless, and the thankless state, unmindful of their many great services, rewards them with nothing but a miserable death. Furthermore the rich constantly try to whittle away something from the pitiful wages of the poor by private fraud and even by public laws. To pay so little to men who deserve the best from the state is in itself unjust, yet it is made “just” legally by passing a law.

So when I weigh in mind all the other states which flourish today, so help me God, I can discover nothing but a conspiracy of the rich, who pursue their own aggrandizement under the name and title of the Commonwealth. They devise ways and means to keep safely what they have unjustly acquired, and to buy up the toil and labor of the poor as cheaply as possible and oppress them. When these schemes of the rich become established by the government, which is meant to protect the poor as well as the rich, then they are law. With insatiable greed these wicked men divide among themselves the goods which would have been enough for all.

[…]

If that one monster pride, the first and foremost of all evils, did not forbid it, the whole world would doubtless have adopted the laws of the Utopians long before this […]. Pride measures her prosperity not by her own goods but by others’ wants. Pride would not deign to be a goddess, if there were no inferiors she could rule and triumph over. Her happiness shines brightly only in comparison to others’ misery, and their poverty binds them and hurts them the more as her wealth is displayed. Pride is the infernal serpent that steals into the hearts of men, thwarting and holding them back from choosing the better way of life.

Pride is far too deeply rooted in men’s hearts to be easily torn out. […]

 

It’s a very short read, and while the “utopia” described doesn’t resonate with my heart’s fantasies, nor was it necessarily More’s ideal but instead a useful alternative with which to compare and contrast his own society (under King Henry VIII). It’s eye-opening to learn that credit, gambling, and greedy, self-serving leadership was in high fashion in the 1500s just as it remains today.  Kinda depressing actually that we the masses haven’t wised up much, if any.

An excerpt from the book “The Cunning of History: The Holocaust and the American Future”

From the book The Cunning of History: The Holocaust and the American Future (1975) by Richard L. Rubenstein, below is a piece I transcribed in 2008 for safe-keeping.

This excerpt is taken from chapter 1, Mass Death and Contemporary Civilization:

The passing of time has made it increasingly evident that a hitherto unbreachable moral and political barrier in the history of Western civilization was successfully overcome by the Nazis in the World War II and that henceforth the systematic, bureaucratically administered extermination of millions of citizens or subject peoples will forever be one of the capacities and temptations of government. Whether or not such a temptation is ever again exercised, the mere fact that every modern government possesses such power cannot but alter the relations between those who govern those who are governed. The power must also alter the texture of foreign relations. According to Max Weber, “The state is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of force within a given territory.” Auschwitz has enlarged our conception of the state’s capacity to do violence. A barrier has been overcome in what for millennia had been regarded as the permissible limits of political action. The Nazi period serves as a warning of what we can all too easily become were we faced with a political or economic crisis of overwhelming proportions. The public may be fascinated by the Nazis; hopefully, it is also warned by them.

In studying the Holocaust, the extermination of Europe’s Jews, it is necessary to recognize that our feelings may be strongly roused. Both the Nazis and their victims elicit some very complicated emotional responses from most people. These feelings are important but they can add to our difficulties in arriving at an understanding of what took place. In order to understand the Holocaust, it is necessary to adopt a mental attitude that excludes all feelings of sympathy or hostility towards both the victims and the perpetrators. This is a methodological procedure and, admittedly, an extremely difficult one. Nevertheless, this bracketing is necessary, not only because of the emotions aroused by the Nazis, but also because of the ambivalent reactions Jews inevitably arouse in Western culture. In view of the fact that (a) most Europeans and Americans are the spiritual and cultural heirs of a religious tradition in which both the incarnate deity and his betrayer are Jewish and that (b) the fate of the Jews has been a primary datum used to prove the truth of Christianity from its inception, it is difficult for even the most secularized non-Jew to be without a complex mixture of feelings when confronted with Jewish disaster. The feelings are likely to include both guilt and gratification.

Nor are Jews normally capable of greater objectivity in dealing with the Holocaust. The event has challenged the very foundation of Jewish religious faith. It has reinforced all of the millennial distrust on the part of Jews for the non-Jewish world. It has also raised the exceedingly painful issue of the role of the Judenräte, the Jewish community councils which everywhere controlled the Jewish communities and which were used by the Germans as a principal instrument to facilitate the process of extermination.

Both Jews and non-Jews have good reasons for responding with emotion to the Holocaust. […]

[…] It is, of course, somewhat easier to assess the meaning of the Holocaust today than it was a generation ago. During and immediately after World War II, the shock of the experience was too great. As the camps were liberated, brutal media images of survivors who seemed hardly more than walking skeletons were mixed with images of mounds of unburied corpses. The pictures hinted at the frightfulness of what had taken place, but their very horror also tended to obscure comprehension. The moral and psychological categories under which such scenes could be comprehended were hatred, cruelty, and sadism. The past was searched to find parallels with which the event could be understood. Human history is filled with incidents of rapine, robbery, and massacre. It was to such categories that the mind was initially drawn. In addition, the Jews had been the victims of degrading assault so often that there was an understandable tendency to regard the Holocaust as the contemporary manifestation of the anti-Jewish violence that had so often exploded during the two-thousand-year sojourn of the Jews in Europe.

There was also the paucity of facts. It was known that millions had been killed, but, until the German archives and the survivors’ memoirs became available, it was not possible to get an accurate picture of the destruction process as a whole. Because of the total collapse of the German state in 1945, its archives became available soon after the events had taken place. Under normal conditions, many of the most important documents would never have become available. Even after having been made available, the archival material, the transcripts of the war crimes trials and the avalanche of memoirs all had to be digested. To some extent, that process is still going on. Unfortunately, whenever scholars have attempted to comprehend the Holocaust in terms of pre-twentieth-century experience, they have invariably failed to recognize the phenomenon for what it was, a thoroughly modern exercise in total domination that could only have been carried out by an advanced political community with a highly trained, tightly disciplined police and civil service bureaucracy.

As reflection replaced shock, attention shifted from a description of the mobile killing units and the death camps to the analysis of the process by which extermination was carried out. The process was a highly complex series of acts which started simply with the bureaucratic definition of who was a Jew. Once defined as a Jew, by the German state bureaucracy, a person was progressively deprived of all personal property and citizenship rights. The final step in the process required the cooperation of every sector of German society. The bureaucrats drew up the definitions and decrees; the churches gave evidence of Aryan descent; the postal authorities carried the messages of definition, expropriation, denaturalization, and deportation; business corporations dismissed their Jewish employees and took over “Aryanized” properties; the railroads carried the victims to their place of execution, a place made available to the Gestapo and the SS by the Wehrmacht. To repeat, the operation required and received the participation of every major social, political, and religious institution of the German Reich.

The essential steps in the process of annihilation have been outlined by the historian and political scientist, Raul Hilberg, in his comprehensive and indispensable study, The Destruction of the European Jews. According to Hilberg, since the fourth Christian century, there have been three fundamental anti-Jewish policies, conversion, expulsion, and annihilation. Until the twentieth century, only two of the policies were attempted in a systematic way, conversion and expulsion. Throughout the history of Christianity, there have been countless attempts to inflict violence upon Jews. These assaults were often encouraged by religious and secular authorities. Nevertheless, such outbursts, no matter how extensive, were never transformed into systematic, bureaucratically administered policies of outright extermination until World War II. According to Hilberg, the Nazis were both “innovators” and “improvisors” in their elimination of the Jews.

Before the twentieth century, the Christian religious tradition was both the source of much traditional anti-Jewish hostility and an effective barrier against the final murderous step. Something changed in the twentieth century. As always, there were men who sought to rid their communities of Jews and Jewish influence, but the methods proposed were no longer limited by traditional religious or moral restraints. The rationalizations with which a massacre of the Jews could be justified were at least as old as Christendom. […] For our purposes, it is sufficient to note that those stereotypical images did not lead to systematic extermination until the twentieth century. There was little that the Nazis had to add to the negative image of the Jew they had inherited from Martin Luther or from the Pan-German anti-Semites of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In every instance, the Jew was depicted as an enemy within the gates, a criminal and a kind of plague or species of vermin. Gil Eliot has observed that such images ascribe to an adversary or a potential victim a paranthropoid identity. As Eliot has asserted, once a human being has been stripped of his human and given a paranthropoid identity, the normal moral impediments cease to operate.

To repeat, something happened in the twentieth century that made it morally and psychologically possible to realize dreams of destructiveness that had previously been confined to fantasy. Part of the reason for the radicalization of the destructive tendencies can, of course, be found in such specific events as the defeat of Germany in World War I after four years of fighting of unprecedented violence. An element of even greater importance was the fact that the secularized culture which substituted calculating rationality for the older traditional norms in personal and group relations did not mature fully until the twentieth century. Yet another factor was the conjunction of the charismatic leadership of Adolf Hitler, the bureaucratic competence of the German police and civil service, and the mood of the German people at a particular moment in history. Himmler and Goebbels, for example, were convinced that Hitler’s leadership gave the Germans a unique opportunity to eliminate the Jews that might never be repeated.

All of the elements cited played their part, but more was involved. The Holocaust was an expression of some of the most significant political, moral, religious and demographic tendencies of Western civilization in the twentieth century. The Holocaust cannot be divorced from the very same culture of modernity that produced the two world wars and Hitler.

[Emphases his. Links obviously mine.]

The gist of “paranthropoid identity,” as I understand, is it represents assigning someone sub-human status where they are considered primitive by comparison.

Navigating in the New Economy — an excerpt from the book “Dark Ages America”

Today I’m looking at the book Dark Ages America by Morris Berman (2006). Let’s begin on page 15:

Liquid Modernity is the title of a book by the Polish-British sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, who defines it as the condition of a society that lacks a clear sense of orientation, or the kind of stability that derives from a long-standing tradition or set of norms. In Will Hutton’s version of it, it is a situation in which all of life is lived in “a permanent state of contingency.” It is the social and cultural face of globalization, the ideational and emotional counterpart of the New Economy. America has been the cutting edge of this way of life, a society characterized by speed, fluidity, and transience—obsessive change, in short. Being modern in this context means having an identity that is always shifting, always “under construction.” In effect, says Bauman, it is like living a life of musical chairs. The problem is this fluidity is not a choice we are free to make. Despite the unifying patriotic rhetoric that permeates the United States, on some level Americans are not really fooled: at bottom, each person knows he or she must continually “reinvent themselves,” which is to say, go it alone. America is the ultimate anticommunity.

Of course, we didn’t get to this peculiar state of affairs overnight. The notion that each person is free to choose his or her own destiny was the ideal of a New World that was rejecting the social chains of the old one. As the British writer Ian Buruma puts it, “the promise of freedom in America is precisely to be liberated from the past.” Not for Americans the suffocating restrictions of class, history, religion, and tradition, but rather the absolute weightlessness of choice. This remains the lure of America for many traditional cultures, or at least for many individuals in those cultures: the world of limitless possibilities. The irony for Americans, however, is that in the fullness of time, the limitless possibilities and the absolute weightlessness of choice became as suffocating as the social restrictions of the Old World. American citizens cannot choose not to participate in the utterly fluid, high-pressure society that the United States has become. Liquid modernity, is, in short, quite rigid: a world of compulsive self-determination. But since it is norms that make life possible, when normlessness becomes the norm, the social order turns into a hall of mirrors. The way of life, says Bauman, may prove to be the greatest discontinuity in human history.

Work

The consequences of liquid modernity show up in many areas of American life, including, notably, the realm of work. It is, after all, the arena in which most of us spend most of our waking hours, and the impact of globalization here is going to be especially telling. What do we find? Within a single generation, almost everything has changed. A young American with moderate education, says Bauman, can expect to change jobs at least eleven times during his or her lifetime. The modern place of employment, he adds, typically feels like a “camping site.” Fleeting forms of association are more useful than long-term connections. The main source of profits are ideas, not material objects, and so everything seems ephemeral. Workers know they are disposable, so see no point in developing any commitment to jobs, workmates, or even to the tasks they perform. Everything seems to be ever new, endlessly produced, consumed, and discarded. Globalization means greater competition, intercommunal (and, often, intracommunal) enmity. The most functional work attitude in such a context is one of cynicism. 

[…] Similar descriptions (sans sociological analysis, for the most part) can be found, among other places, in the Wall Street Journal. Thus reporter Clare Ansberry describes the “just in time” labor force that has to make it “in an ever-more-fluid economy.” In Cleveland, for example, the Lincoln Electric Company shifted salaried workers to hourly clerical jobs. A & R Welding of Atlanta maintains a cluster of welders to work out of state, when needed. In South Carolina, the Nestle Corporation has created an in-house roster of part-time workers “who stick by the telephone to hear if they should report on a given day to assemble frozen chicken dinners.” Flexibility, writes Ansberry, can be a euphemism for less pay (and fewer benefits) and largely random work arrangements, but workers really have no choice: it’s that or nothing. The New Economy takes no prisoners.

A dramatic case study of the new work ethic is provided by computer programmer Ellen Ullman in her memoir, Close to the Machine. This new ethic, she says, is one in which all of life is about “positioning.” Projects and human connections bubble up and collapse with dizzying speed; everyone is running his or her own little virtual company in which skills aren’t cumulative and everyone is disposable. There is constant talk of “teamwork,” but it is a phony courtesy, part of the workplace “process.” In reality, says Ullman, we are all “creatures swimming alone in the puddles of time.” Her description of the people she met along the way is that of nonpersons, people who say and do all the right things but who seem to be completely empty. And all of this, she concludes, is very likely everyone’s future:

We wander from job to job, and now it’s hard for anyone to stay put anymore. Our job commitments are contractual, contingent, impermanent, and this model of insecure life is spreading outward from us. . . . We programmers are the world’s canaries. We spend our time in front of monitors; now look up at any office building, look into living-room windows at night: so many people sitting alone in front of monitors. We lead machine-centered lives; now everyone’s life is full of automated tellers, portable phones, pagers, keyboards, mice. We live in a contest of the fittest, where the most knowledgeable and skilled win and the rest are discarded; and this is the working life that waits for everybody. . . . Where we go the world is following.

An equally disturbing portrait is provided by the American sociologist Richard Sennett in The Corrosion of Character. What is now absent from our lives, he writes, is a sense of narrative coherence. The way we have to live in order to survive in the New Economy has set our inner lives adrift. One can no longer deploy a single set of skills through the course of a working life; in fact, the fastest-growing sector of the American labor force is that of temporary job agencies. The domination of consumer demand has now created a “strategy of permanent innovation.” Skill, craftsmanship, and commitment are dysfunctional in a world in which, according to Bill Gates, one should “position oneself in a network of possibilities.” Such a world, however, might well be regarded as a form of dementia.

[Emphasis his.]

Let’s leave off there on page 17.

Blue Gold: World Water Wars

This is one of my favorite documentaries to share with others, titled “Blue Gold: World Water Wars”:

Anyone know what time it is?  Better start wondering.

And all for what?  For power. Simple as that. For power, greed, money-lust…a desire to achieve ‘god-like’ status among humans.  For what?  You’d have to ask them. Probably because they have a vision of it working out in their favor, perhaps believing their ideologies (if they indeed embrace any) are the cure to what ails humanity. Or perhaps it grows out of contempt for fellow humans. I don’t know. But it is real and serves to teach us the deeper meaning of that which we term “evil.” From what I can tell, it appears evil is frequently born of sheltered, willful ignorance and a sense of special, selective entitlement.

This documentary is also available for viewing on Netflix. To learn more about this documentary, check out the official site here. Quoting from that site:

In every corner of the globe, we are polluting, diverting, pumping, and wasting our limited supply of fresh water at an expediential level as population and technology grows. The rampant overdevelopment of agriculture, housing and industry increase the demands for fresh water well beyond the finite supply, resulting in the desertification of the earth.

Corporate giants force developing countries to privatize their water supply for profit. Wall Street investors target desalination and mass bulk water export schemes. Corrupt governments use water for economic and political gain. Military control of water emerges and a new geo-political map and power structure forms, setting the stage for world water wars.

We follow numerous worldwide examples of people fighting for their basic right to water, from court cases to violent revolutions to U.N. conventions to revised constitutions to local protests at grade schools. As Maude Barlow proclaims, “This is our revolution, this is our war”. A line is crossed as water becomes a commodity. Will we survive?