Evening thoughts on Valentine’s Day

Maybe I will come to repent on certain matters. It’s a question of damage to souls.

Looking back, there are lots of reasons why, lead-ups and bad influences, and I’ll continue to take them into consideration when contemplating this matter. Not much more to say about them aloud though. Tired of my complaining anger. It was understandable at the time, but I’d really like to live the next half of my life without its bitter input. Scarred the mind, distorts the thoughts. Turns one into a full-grown problem child.

Amazing the webs we humans can weave for our own selves.

Civilization’s a hell of a drug. Plus, all this new responsibility foisted on all of us right as religions began dying. Interesting how that worked out. Though it probably couldn’t have been any other way.

To think that ideologies aren’t busily filling that vacuum is naive. Welcome to most-modern life. It’s bound to be a wilder ride.

It’s easy to get scared about the future, to feel overwhelmed, anxious, fearful about what rights we may lose. Nervous about crime rates spiking. Weirded out by the extremist fringes on sex and race being paraded in the mainstream press as if heroic and prominently promoted in various colleges — only to then have their ideologies embraced by global tech-giants Google and Facebook.

Known unknowns of the future…

Don’t know what’s going to happen to us as a nation or as the West. I care very much, but arguing with people over it isn’t changing a thing. There’s gotta be a better way. Put our money where our mouths are and gets some skin in the game.

So modern civilizations are fucking us up? Some say so. I don’t doubt it so far as its alienation is concerned. But what it’s become isn’t necessarily what it must be. Is there not room for positive change, for better innovations and more sustainable, psychologically-healthier options? I think there is. Why not have faith in that possibility?

But nothing will come into fruition the way we’d like it to if we sit here wasting time bitching while taking no effective action. No, standing around with a sign or pressing the government for more laws to govern what we’re allowed to say to one another does not count as effective action. That is unless you’re in cahoots with the idea of expanding government’s power, which isn’t a smart move any time but especially now when major corporations have come to exert more control over our political system than the voters. Not a good time to call on government to start censoring us over our pet grievances. Not smart — it won’t stop there.

We American fiddles are played easily. Get us up in arms over this or that cause, getting us foaming at the mouth at one another and demanding new laws to set limits on one another down here on the ground. It’s almost as if we humans don’t know how to stay out of shackles. Can’t seem to learn that trick. Too easily persuaded to put politics before principles. That’s us. Welcome to it.

I’ve been chomping at the bit for years. As have bunches of people. Most probably haven’t fully figured out why yet. We get to focusing on our petty grievances, our personal life drama, our perplexing pasts and upbringings, political drama, social drama, TV drama, internet drama. Can distract us for years. Often does. Hard to not get caught up in these traps — maybe even impossible. We feud as if sectarians, as if the other has caused our current national situation. Not I. Never I.

Man, I get so tired of chomping on that bit, waiting and wondering, feeling so powerless to do anything about the state of the world, let alone figure out my own personal bullshit. Then an idea struck me, something I first looked into about 10 years ago. Researching those possibilities currently. Gives me a little more hope and reminds me that this game isn’t over yet. We still do have options, at least in how we choose to live out the lives we have. Might not be able to control the future, but perhaps we can add alternatives to the mix. And perhaps we’d be better off in doing so. Maybe we’d learn more tolerance for one another, learn to work with one another on projects of actual value. Real work and real living. Ten thousand communities going their own way. It’s a beautiful dream that isn’t dead yet.

Maybe through reconnecting with nature and the roots of our survival we’ll learn a thing or two about that which we call GOD in the process. Just maybe. And likely we’ll be better off for it.

We’re not dead yet. We’re not bought and enslaved yet. Our minds and bodies haven’t ceased functioning yet. Nor has our creativity, good will, and desire for community. There can be more to this life than what some of us experience.

Isolation has its limits. Alienation is soul-damaging. Bitterness, resentment, depression, envy, false pride, and procrastination are ruining our lives.

Love can find a way.

“There is NO HONOR in this shit!” . . .

“Let Your Life Be a Friction to Stop the Machine”:

A very worthwhile video I recommend to all, most especially my fellow Americans.

A comment was left on the video’s comment section if anyone cares for my elaboration on the topic.

Thanks to Janet (known on YT as Janet OntheSpot) for bringing this channel to my attention through her feed.

“RE- The Story of Your Enslavement (Stefbot)”

A video I stumbled back across from Professor Corey Anton in 2011 in response to what remains a very popular video by Stefan Molyneux:

He was responding to this 2010 video from Stefan:

Zeroing in on the State while ignoring the roles of banks and major corporations. Hrmm. In the final analysis, I can’t go for that out of fear and loathing toward all those mammoths. How do we go about checking transnational corporations’ power without the aid of some form of government? Do people think they’re bound to play fair in mediation?  Ha!  Yeah right! See the track record.

We’re looking fucked either way right about now in the U.S. Not trying to be a “downer,” just sayin’.

Prof. Anton’s channel is very interesting and always offers up valuable food for thought and helps break inquiries down in new ways.

Why I’m not an anarchist and why libertarianism falls short (more thoughts on modern life)

Before I watched the video tonight by Justicar titled “Response to ThatGuyT’s Video: ‘The Justicar & Them Damn Libertarians’ I was starting to think the man had flown the coop based on a few videos that he made right after arguing with libertarians. But after viewing this one I’m better aware of where he’s coming from. And that’s the funny thing about him — why not instead of insulting people and labeling us a bunch of idiots does he not just post up relevant links to videos where he fleshes out his views in greater detail? That would be a lot more helpful than just resorting to snarky dismissals.

I used to refer to myself as a libertarian for a few short years, but by my early-to-mid 20s my views began to shift due to the arguments I kept hearing that left me quibbling over details. So I began referring to myself as “leaning libertarian,” meaning I share certain ideas in common with others who consider themselves libertarian, but not enough to where that label sufficiently describes my own viewpoints.

And before we go any further here, I think it’s important to draw a distinction between libertarians and anarchists. While overlap may occur between these two groups, they aren’t actually one and the same. An anarchist argues for a state-less society, and this is something I’ve never been able to wrap my mind around and have argued with anarchists about for many years. The way I see it is they’re advocating for a revolution but they don’t have a vision for where to go from there, to which I argue that another group will rise in power to fill that void out of necessity. This they always protest, but I see it as inevitable due to the complexities involved in managing any society and settling disputes (not to mention protecting property rights and persons where individuals prove unable to do so on their own). I concur that anarchists are envisioning cooperative utopias that are unrealistic and unsustainable, hence why I have never called myself an anarchist.

A libertarian, on the other hand, is a person who argues for a very limited government restricted from encroaching on matters best left to individuals, communities, and charities to tend to on their own. However, there are lots of disputes among libertarians over where to draw the lines. Some (if not many) are in favor of publicly funding the maintenance of public infrastructure. Some (if not most) recognize the value in funding a military and/or local militia. From there it gets trickier for folks to agree on much, especially considering how many have been indoctrinated into accepting neoconservatism and equating that with libertarianism, apparently not realizing they’d essentially be subject to a corporate state (i.e. corporatism). And that’s a big issue I personally take with libertarianism, dating back several years, hence why I am unable to fully embrace the label.

The way I see it is that an important role of government indeed must be to intelligently regulate businesses, which should have been more vigorously pursued throughout the last century though it was not. It appears that capitalism, if left unregulated (or poorly regulated), will eventually consume itself to where it ceases to be capitalism any longer and morphs into corporatism due to a number of major corporations gaining a stronghold across various sectors. This is accomplished by corporations growing in wealth to where they are able to buy out competitors or sell at a loss long enough to bankrupt competitors. We’ve also witnessed how major corporations have proven willing to collude with one another so as to promote their own interests, such as by agreeing not to undercut one another’s prices, thereby maintaining artificially higher prices than what one would expect in a truly competitive market. And with the wealth accumulated by major corporations, they’ve proven quite willing to bribe and thereby corrupt politicians via campaign contributions and intense lobbying pressure. This is a major problem since it places consumers/citizens at a severe disadvantage in competing for our own interests to be taken into account by our elected officials (and I’d also argue that plenty deserve to be impeached for this very reason, though many of my fellow Americans for whatever reason disagree). Average citizens don’t have the kind of money to throw around that major corporations do, especially when corporations make a concerted effort to sway legislation in their favor.

Furthermore, consumers/citizens haven’t collectively proven willing and/or able to police corporations through voting with our dollars or boycotting their services. Granted, some of the legislation passed has made it trickier for people to create small businesses capable of competing with corporate mammoths, but this is just as much the fault of consumers for choosing to support major corporations rather than spending their money at smaller businesses. And sometimes this is due to smaller businesses not having the funds needed to provide the level of service consumers have grown spoiled on and now regularly expect. We’ve shot our own selves in the foot here, by not supporting our local small businesses and by not demanding that our elected representatives protect our interests over corporate interests. This is largely due to widespread apathy where people give up on trying to discern what has long-term value and instead chase fads or go with what’s most convenient or readily accessible.

I personally don’t see living under corporatism as a better option than living under big government. Both concern me, though corporatism admittedly worries me a bit more due to it pushing arbitration clauses that circumvent our rights to a trial (both Wells Fargo and Netflix I’ve noticed have these clauses included in their small print, as do countless other corporations — even my landlord tried including an arbitration clause in my lease, which I had stricken from it). Because then we’d be at the mercy of arbitrators who I’m willing to bet would be even more easily swayed to upholding corporate interests than a judge might be, and that’s a serious concern. Especially if we’re envisioning a society with no State government capable of holding corporations liable for their shenanigans. Who in a stateless society would determine if there was a conflict in interest between arbitrators and the corporations who fund them, and even if they did, who would have the power to stop this from continuing on unchecked? The people?

People are already finding themselves more and more at the mercy of major corporations to provide what we need because no local alternatives exist (especially when it comes to supplying highly-specialized and technologically-complex goods and services). And no small number of people rely on corporations for their income as their employees. A conflict in interest is already sown into this situation, yet when I listen to anarchists and many libertarians speak on such matters, they talk as if we’re starting with a blank slate. We’re not. The game is already in motion and major powers already exist and have global reach and influence.

This is where it gets very sticky in these sorts of topics, and I feel frustrated that some folks like to bark at how dumb people are for simply having a more local frame of reference. It’s perfectly human for us to comprehend these matters in simpler local terms and to envision market exchanges on a one-to-one basis. Unfortunately though, we no longer live in that sort of world and everything’s become so much more complex, perhaps too complex for most of us to appreciably make sense of. I don’t find that funny so much as tragic, because, once again, this demonstrates how and why average people find themselves in a disadvantaged position in navigating within the current economic climate. We did not evolve to live within heavily-populated and complicated systems of this magnitude. The last century has set humans off into a new orbit never before experienced, totally unprecedented. And I, for one, am not convinced civilizations of this scale are compatible with our best interests, at least not as they’re structured and governed today.

For as much as we like to play confident about our ability to comprehend the marvels of modern life and the paramountcy of economics, it seems rather evident that we’re failing at our prescribed roles within this scheme precisely because of how foreign it is to us and how great the learning curve is to wrap our minds around it on every level. I am becoming convinced that this is asking too much of people, and though humanity has aspired to move into a whole new era filled with conveniences and scientific innovations and brand-new mediums for interaction and entertainment, it’s proving to be a double-edged sword as we individually and collectively lose power over our lives. So much is dictated to us, right off the bat, not much room for choice provided—because we’re groomed to participate in what’s developed over time. We consent because we can’t even take in enough of the picture to realize what’s going on and where we stand until we’re already several decades into living. That’s why it winds up feeling like a trap, because it’s not as if we came up fully informed about this reality or had any way of conceiving how it would eventually impact us on down the road.

It’s a tangled web humans have woven, and this web just gets trickier with each passing decade. We’re confronting not only massive governments but also a whole new economic paradigm at a point in history when fewer and fewer of us learn how or are able to provide for our own sustenance. This places us at the mercy of the “powers that be,” and I think concerns stemming from this is what underlies people’s anxiousness about the current situation despite it being common to zero in on one aspect while minimizing the importance of another that’s every bit as relevant and capable of being just as coercive and domineering.

It is true that people have lost a good bit of their freedom in exchange for living within rising civilizations. Everything in life is indeed a tradeoff, and one issue people are reckoning with today is the realization that what’s now in place might not permit people to return to simpler living that’s more suitable for human psychological health and social well-being. This is the predicament our entire species is being forced to confront in this day and age, and these changes are occurring all over the globe, whether people go along with it (as many Westerners have) or it’s imposed upon them. Power turns out to be one hell of a drug, and it’s centralizing in the hands of a relative few like never before. We may kid ourselves with dreams of direct trade and barter, but we’ve come to live in a whole new world with rules all of its own. I’m not endorsing this, just acknowledging it.

But perhaps these are trivial ponderings from a poorly-educated Southerner that don’t amount to squat. Either way, not all of us can or are willing to adapt to what’s unfolding around us. Many, if not most, will aim to and as a result will spend their entire lives disgruntled and complaining and dreaming of other designs for society. I say let dreamers dream…

The above piece recorded in video format:

“Erich Fromm: The Automaton Citizen and Human Rights”

A 1966 speech by social psychologist and psychoanalyst Erich Fromm.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

What rights? We only have privileges.

A video I recently created titled “What rights? We only have privileges.”:

The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights referenced in my video (which I personally reject) can be viewed here: http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/

And here’s George Carlin summing up the situation quite nicely in a way that only he can:

Love = Respect, Care, Responsibility, Knowledge

Following is one of my favorite excerpts transcribed from Erich Fromm’s book The Art of Loving (1956).  Beginning on page 24:

It is hardly necessary to stress the fact that the ability to love as an act of giving depends on the character development of the person.  It presupposes the attainment of a predominantly productive orientation; in this orientation the person has overcome dependency, narcissistic omnipotence, the wish to exploit others, or to hoard, and has acquired faith in his own human powers, courage to rely on his powers in the attainment of his goals. To the degree that these qualities are lacking, he is afraid of giving himself—hence of loving.

Beyond the element of giving, the active character of love becomes evident in the fact that it always implies certain basic elements, common to all forms of love.  These are care, responsibility, respect and knowledge.

That love implies care is most evident in a mother’s love for her child.  No assurance of her love would strike us as sincere if we saw her lacking in care for the infant, if she neglected to feed it, to bathe it, to give it physical comfort; and we are impressed by her love if we see her caring for the child.  It is not different even with the love for animals or flowers.  If a woman told us that she loved flowers, and we saw that she forgot to water them, we would not believe in her “love” for flowers.  Love is the active concern for the life and the growth of that which we love.  Where this active concern is lacking, there is no love. This element of love has been beautifully described in the book of Jonah.  God has told Jonah to go to Nineveh to warn its inhabitants that they will be punished unless they mend their evil ways.  Jonah runs away from his mission because he is afraid that the people of Nineveh will repent and that God will forgive them.  He is a man with a strong sense of order and law, but without love.  However, in his attempt to escape, he finds himself in the belly of a whale, symbolizing the state of isolation and imprisonment which his lack of love and solidarity has brought upon him. God saves him, and Jonah goes to Nineveh.  He preaches to the inhabitants as God has told him, and the very thing he was afraid of happens.  The men of Nineveh repent their sins, mend their ways, and God forgives them and decides not to destroy the city.  Jonah is intensely angry and disappointed; he wanted “justice” to be done, not mercy.  At last he finds some comfort in the shade of a tree which God has made to grow for him to protect him from the sun.  But when God makes the tree wilt, Jonah is depressed and angrily complains to God.  God answers: “Thou hast had pity on the gourd for the which thou hast not labored neither madest grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night.  And should I not spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand people that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?”  God’s answer to Jonah is to be understood symbolically.  God explains to Jonah that the essence of love is to “labor” for something and “to make something grow,” that love and labors are inseparable.  One loves that for which one labors, and one labors for that which one loves.

Care and concern imply another aspect of love; that of responsibility.  Today responsibility is often meant to denote duty, something imposed upon one from the outside.  But responsibility, in its true sense, is an entirely voluntary act; it is my response to the needs, expressed or unexpressed, of another human being.  To be “responsible” means to be able and ready to “respond.”  Jonah did not feel responsible to the inhabitants of Nineveh.  He, like Cain, could ask: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  The loving person responds.  The life of his brother is not his brother’s business alone, but his own.  He feels responsible for his fellow men, as he feels responsible for himself.  This responsibility, in the case of the mother and her infant, refers mainly to the care for physical needs.  In the love between adults it refers mainly to the psychic needs of the other person.

Responsibility could easily deteriorate into domination and possessiveness, were it not for a third component of love, respect.  Respect is not fear and awe; it denotes, in accordance with the root of the word (respicere = to look at), the ability to see a person as he is, to be aware of his unique individuality.  Respect means the concern that the other person should grow and unfold as he is.  Respect, thus, implies the absence of exploitation.  I want the loved person to grow and unfold for his own sake, and in his own ways, and not for the purpose of serving me.  If I love the other person, I feel one with him or her, but with him as he is, not as I need him to be as an object for my use.  It is clear that respect is possible only if I have achieved independence; if I can stand and walk without needing crutches, without having to dominate and exploit anyone else.  Respect exists only on the basis of freedom: “l’amour est l’enfant de la liberté” as an old French song says; love is the child of freedom, never that of domination.

To respect a person is not possible without knowing him; care and responsibility would be blind if they were not guided by knowledge.  Knowledge would be empty if it were not motivated by concern.  There are many layers of knowledge; the knowledge which is an aspect of love is one which does not stay at the periphery, but penetrates to the core.  It is possible only when I can transcend the concern for myself and see the other person in his own terms.  I may know, for instance, that a person is angry, even if he does not show it overtly; but I may know him more deeply than that; then I know that he is anxious, and worried; that he feels lonely, that he feels guilty.  Then I know that his anger is only the manifestation of something deeper, and I see him as anxious and embarrassed, that is, as the suffering person, rather than as the angry one.

Knowledge has one more, and a more fundamental, relation to the problem of love.  The basic need to fuse with another person so as to transcend the prison of one’s separateness is closely related to another specifically human desire, that to know the “secret of man.”  While life in its merely biological aspects is a miracle and a secret, man in his human aspects is an unfathomable secret to himself—and to his fellow man.  We know ourselves, and yet even with all the efforts we may make, we do not know ourselves.  We know our fellow man, and yet we do not know him, because we are not a thing, and our fellow man is not a thing.  The further we reach into the depth of our being, or someone else’s being, the more the goal of knowledge eludes us.  Yet we cannot help desiring to penetrate into the secret of man’s soul, into the innermost nucleus which is “he.”

There is one way, a desperate one, to know the secret: it is that of complete power over another person; the power which makes him do what we want, feel what we want, think what we want; which transforms him into a thing, our thing, our possession.  The ultimate degree of this attempt to know lies in the extremes of sadism, the desire and ability to make a human being suffer; to torture him, to force him to betray man’s secret in his suffering.  In this craving for penetrating man’s secret, his and hence our own, lies an essential motivation for the depth and intensity of cruelty and destructiveness.  In a very succinct way this idea has been expressed by Isaac Babel.  He quotes a fellow officer in the Russian civil war, who has just stamped his former master to death, as saying: “With shooting—I’ll put it this way—with shooting you only get rid of a chap. . . . With shooting you’ll never get at the soul, to where it is in a fellow and how it shows itself.  But I don’t spare myself, and I’ve more than once trampled an enemy for over an hour.  You see, I want to get to know what life really is, what life’s like down our way.”

In children we often see this path to knowledge quite overtly.  The child takes something apart, breaks it up in order to know it; or it takes an animal apart; cruelly tears off the wings of a butterfly in order to know it, to force its secret.  The cruelty itself is motivated by something deeper: the wish to know the secret of things and of life.

The other path to knowing “the secret” is love.  Love is active penetration of the other person, in which my desire to know know is stilled by union.  In the act of fusion I know you, I know myself, I know everybody—and I “know” nothing.  I know in the only way knowledge of that which is alive is possible for man—by experience of union—not by any knowledge our thought can give.  Sadism is motivated by the wish to know the secret, yet I remain as ignorant as I was before.  I have torn the other being apart limb from limb, yet all I have done is to destroy him.  Love is the only way of knowledge, which in the act of union answers my quest.  In the other person, I find myself, I discover myself, I discover us both, I discover man.

The longing to know ourselves and to know our fellow man has been expressed in the Delphic motto “Know thyself.”  It is the mainspring of all psychology.  But inasmuch as the desire is to know all of man, his innermost secret, the desire can never be fulfilled in knowledge of the ordinary kind, in knowledge only by thought.  Even if we knew a thousand times more of ourselves, we would never reach bottom.  We would still remain an enigma to ourselves, as our fellow man would remain an enigma to us.  The only way of full knowledge lies in the act of love: this act transcends thought, it transcends words.  It is the daring plunge into the experience of union.  However, knowledge in thought, that is psychological knowledge, is a necessary condition for full knowledge in the act of love.  I have to know the other person and myself objectively, in order to be able to see his reality, or rather, to overcome the illusions, the irrationally distorted picture I have of him.  Only if I know a human being objectively can I know him in his ultimate essence, in the act of love.

The problem of knowing man is parallel to the religious problem of knowing God.  In conventional Western theology the attempt is made to know God by thought, to make statements about God.  It is assumed that I can know God in my thought.  In mysticism, which is the consequent outcome of monotheism (as I shall try to show later on), the attempt is given up to know God by thought, and it is replaced by the experience of union with God in which there is no more room—and no need—for knowledge about God.

The experience of union, with man, or religiously speaking, with God, is by no means irrational.  On the contrary, it is as Albert Schweitzer has pointed out, the consequence of rationalism, its most daring and radical consequence.  It is based on our knowledge of the fundamental, and not accidental, limitations of our knowledge.  It is the knowledge that we shall never “grasp” the secret of man and of the universe, but that we can know, nevertheless, in the act of love.  Psychology as a science has its limitations, and, as the logical consequence of theology is mysticism, so the ultimate consequence of psychology is love.

Care, responsibility, respect and knowledge are mutually interdependent.  They are a syndrome of attitudes which are to be found in the mature person; that is, in the person who develops his own powers productively, who only wants to have that which he has worked for, who has given up narcissistic dreams of omniscience and omnipotence, who has acquired humility based on the inner strength which only genuine productivity can give.

[Bold emphasis mine.]

Stopping on page 30.

Feels important for me to return to this passage and re-read it from time to time.