This Revolution Will Not Be Dogmatized

eye-to-eye-with-the-universeThe Revolution Is Already Within You

Can you feel it? If your eyes are open you’ve no doubt felt it for some time. It’s on the tip of everyone’s tongue. It’s right in everyone’s faces. It’s been the title of countless lectures, seminars, books, essays, albums and gatherings. It’s the primary focus of the global consciousness at the present, so much so that corporations and politicians are trying to figure out how they can tap into it, co-opt it and exploit it with slogans centered around the brands of “hope” and “change.”

Every aspect of our existence is currently in the process of metamorphosis. Every aspect of our culture is feeling the shift away from the old norms, which have proven largely obsolete at this juncture. Every aspect of our collective and individual psyche is enduring multiple transformations as we transition out of the three-dimensional prison of a five-sense world dominated by fear and scarcity into the fifth dimensional conscious co-creation that is our destiny and birthright as a free humanity on the sovereign jewel of the Milky Way galaxy that is this planet Earth.

The rubbish of our old norms are falling away but we haven’t thrown the baby out with the bathwater either. Combining the useful aspects of formerly opposing viewpoints into new methods and ideologies, and our audacity to do so, are largely what characterize the global revolution currently under way. Though it may be difficult to see sometimes, everybody is embracing it, even if we’re not all changing the same aspects about ourselves that others are at the same time. Everyone is either flowing with it or getting swept away by the wave. And as the tsunami of change ripples over the planet, the power structures of yesteryear are responding with desperate intimidation motivated by a fear they seek to impose on the world to remain the gatekeepers of it. But the world is growing rapidly immune to their fear, just as we are growing more immune to advertising, dogmatism, nationalism or politics.

Revolution abounds in the apocalypse that is the great unveiling of truth from an age of deception, confusion and lies. Whether we call it the emanation of the truth vibrations rattling apart the cages of the old structures, the liberation of sentient consciousness, or simply Revolution, its swirling all around us, and is becoming impossible to ignore. Whether it be the Yes Men’s newest prank, Reverend Billy’s latest stunt with the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir, the Zapatista’s commitment to stand against fascist takeover, Greece’s indomitable defiance of World Bank austerity, or the countless actions of more than two million activist organizations pushing for global, ecological sustainability, social justice, and peaceful revolution, more and more we can see that the greatest human movement in recorded history is not some hypothetical somewhere out there on the foggy horizon of the future, but an occurrence taking place every day right now. Those not yet consciously participating in it may soon begin to understand that they’ve been involved in it all along, regardless of their present trajectory, level of awareness or place within the puzzle.

Through research and participation, we cultivate our individual selves, we harness our individual courage, and most importantly, we inevitably discover that the true roots of the Revolution lie in the human heart, in the kingdom that is within. By realizing that the responsibility falls upon our own shoulders, we transform passive habits of compliance into active adventures of the unknown. By overcoming our deepest inner fears, we instantaneously change the appearance of the external world around us. By alleviating internal insecurities, we put an end to external destruction. By healing spiritual and mental stigmas, we become agents of positive change, capable of helping others through their own healing processes. By facing our fears, we go utterly beyond error. In doing so we discover one of the greatest schisms splitting our collective consciousness apart – one of the central players to war and poverty on this planet – the thorny splinter imposed on the world that distinguishes the physical world as completely separate from our unseen inner experiences. By thinking of our conscious experience of the world as separate from the world itself, we have unwittingly divorced morality from action, and lowered ourselves from autonomous spiritual beings to the status of cogs in a clockwork machine. This scientific worldview, however popular, hat has manifested in what Graham Hancock refers to as the “War on Consciousness” and is largely responsible for a collective feeling of helplessness in the people that has been beaten into us all; the false narrative that we are powerless to alter our destiny; a learned helplessness that the architects of the corporate systems have counted on to keep their subservient populations docile, thus preventing the kind of systemic revolution that would benefit the world and all her inhabitants.

Divorcing the physical world from inner experiences likely seemed a harmless and rather necessary idea when it happened. Humanity’s consciousness and overall capabilities were defined by a very different world, and thus a very different world view. But today we take for granted the idea that the external experience now dominated by Scientific materialism and the internal experience of Spiritual traditions are diametrically opposed to each other when they certainly don’t have to be. Ever since René Descartes created Dualism in the 17th Century there has existed an understanding that spirit and science are mutually exclusive disciplines, period. Spiritual traditions marched forward with an authority to espouse all of the unseen phenomena integral to the consciousness inhabiting our human world, while science was given license to claim authority over the entirety of the known, physical universe. Over the decades and centuries, these two seemingly opposite understandings grew into sharp adversity with each other. Since both have passively and sometimes aggressively struggled to gain dominance over the other, the war between them has only grown fiercer over time.

Dualism was not a solution, but a delaying of the inevitable. It’s like the brain couldn’t figure out how to allow the left hemisphere to coexist with the right, so it decided to sever all the connections between them. An organism divided against itself cannot stand. Science and spirituality are not opposites any more than Republicans and Democrats are opposites. Spirit and science are merely the clouded North and South nodes of a magnet that is as much a singular entity as the Earth’s North and South poles are. The Earth’s poles are not opposites of each other competing for dominance but rather two integral components of a larger system drawing the whole together. Science and spirit comprise two very different but essential components of the human experience; science asks, “How?” and spirit asks, “Why?” Neither question is more important that the other, though that doesn’t prevent fundamentalists on both sides from sneering from their imaginary altars of superiority. The illusion of perceiving one as superior to the other is an infantile mentality that institutions can benefit from provided they get enough people to buy into it, and their wars can rage on literally forever as long the people’s minds remain closed to new possibilities.

Reconciliation is the primary ingredient for peace. Whether in friendship, in marriage, in business or foreign policy, nobody wins until everyone is satisfied. So if we’re willing to embrace this question as mature adult human beings, perhaps we can address both questions as they pertain to this fight for domination: why and how did science and spirit draw a line in the sand between each other that over the centuries has eroded into the massive gulf that we today think of as normal?

OURS IS THE ONE TRUE WAY

Dogmatic fanaticism is the method of cloaking a framework as the ultimate means of perception by denouncing all other relevant understandings with an intolerance that refuses to allow for change or evolution. If we can learn anything by looking back at the heresy trials, inquisition and crusades, we see that western Religious dogma dramatically eroded the natural tolerance of humans into tribal rivalries. When political corruption eventually rotted the Catholic institution, Martin Luther’s secession paved the way for countless independents. The varieties of spiritual traditions, once a magnificent mirror, shattered into a million competitive sects, most of which claimed to be the “one true way,” eventually denouncing any other sect as unholy, thus spurring brutal terrorism and endless wars. More powerful and insecure institutions pitted themselves against any thought, idea, person or organization that they perceived as a potential threat to their dominance. Such was the case with the Vatican’s treatment of visionary scientists and mystics. New discoveries and revolutionary innovations intended to further enlighten humanity were interpreted as a challenge to political power, and were thus castigated as blasphemous heresy resulting in the ridicule and persecution of beautiful individuals who could see beyond the self-imposed bureaucratic limits of the institutions’ high priesthood.

Over time, as it eventually became obvious that the observations and musings of Galileo and others like him were simply fundamental, the pendulum eventually swung hard in the other direction, in-turn giving way to a subjugation and prejudice of an identical, but much more insidious nature. But now this new subjugation is on the side of Scientific Materialism, which has transformed the method of free inquiry engendered in the original intentions laid down by the scientific method into a dogmatic religion that denounces mysticism, telepathy, premonition, intuition, telekinesis, and even consciousness as nothing but delusional or wishful thinking.

Modern Science has for decades functioned on the assumption that reality is that which can be interpreted by the five senses of human beings. That is to say, that if it can’t be seen, heard, smelled, tasted or felt, science has an overwhelming tendency to dismiss it, or categorize it at best as “Supernatural,” and at worst with insulting pejoratives that pertain to belief, faith, and an assumed ignorance. Even working within the limited five sense realm, its as if scientists assume that their sensory input is somehow of superior function, even when compared against people with better eyesight, more sensitive hearing, and most troubling of all, mystics who know things that simply can’t be explained by science’s limited perimeters.

But more troubling still is the fact that science tends to dismiss anything outside of the limited instruments of the five senses, despite the fact that within the five senses themselves, human beings interpret an extremely limited amount of the total information encapsulated within the total frequency range, and this doesn’t even include frequencies that our bodes are not equipped to interpret, which are constantly at work in the greater reality outside of our limited perception.

“Beyond the limited realm of the senses, the shallow pool of the known, is a great untamable ocean, and we don’t have a fucking clue what goes on in there. What we receive through sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch is all we know. We have tools that can enhance that information, we have theories for things that we suspect lie beyond that information, filtered through an apparatus limited once more to those senses. Those senses are limited; the light range we detect is within a narrow spectrum, between infrared light and ultraviolet light; other species see light that we can’t see. In the auditory realm, we hear but a fraction of the sound vibrations; we don’t hear high-pitched frequencies, like dog whistles, and we don’t hear low frequencies like whale song. The world is awash with colors unseen and abuzz with unheard frequencies. Undetected and disregarded. The wise have always known that these inaccessible realms, these dimensions that cannot be breached by our beautifully blunt senses, hold the very codes to our existence, the invisible, electromagnetic foundations upon which our gross reality clumsily rests. Expressible only through symbol and story, as it can never be known by the innocent mind. The stories are formulas, poems, tools for reflection through which we may access the realm behind the thinking mind, the consciousness beyond knowing and known, the awareness that is not connected to the haphazard data of biography. The awareness that is not prickled and tugged by capricious emotion. The awareness that is aware that it is aware. In meditation I access it; in yoga I feel it; on drugs it hit me like a hammer—at sixteen, staring into a bathroom mirror on LSD, contrary to instruction (“Don’t look in the mirror, Russ, it’ll fuck your head up.” Mental note: “Look in mirror.”). I saw that my face wasn’t my face at all but a face that I lived behind and was welded to by a billion nerves. I looked into my eyes and saw that there was something looking back at me that was not me, not what I’d taken to be me. The unrefined ocean beyond the shallow pool was cascading through the mirror back at me. Nature looking at nature. Not me, little ol’ Russ, tossed about on turbulent seas; these distinctions were engineered. On acid, these realizations are absolute. The disobedient brain is whipped into its basket like a yapping hound cowed by Cesar Millan.”

~Russell Brand, Revolution (37, 38)

It seems that what prevents materialists who ascribe to the dogmatic belief structures of Science, is a preexisting superiority complex within themselves, which in turn attracts them to materialism as a means to express their disregard for everyone else. They’re attracted toward the dogmatism of the Scientific religion as a means to condescend to those they regard as inferior who will not be able to argue with their complicated terminology and specialized vernacular. In doing so, such individuals are prone to forget that the “Big Bang” is nothing more than another human delusion, because while it seems to refute Creationism, it’s really no different because neither scenario can be tested or proven. Terrence McKenna once proclaimed Science’s all-encompassing stance is “Give us one free miracle and we’ll explain the rest.” The “one free miracle” of course signifies the spontaneous appearance of all the matter, energy, phenomena and consciousness in a single instant from nothing – an instant born within infinite nothingness. It cannot be proven, but to merely question its validity is to be accused of committing blasphemy against capital “S” Science, after which you can anticipate ad hominem attacks against your character, alongside accusations of believing that a man in a white beard must have created the universe.

I’m not saying a humanoid man with a white beard standing in a sea of clouds surrounded by trumpeting angels was responsible for creating our universe, because that is equally absurd as the “Big Bang” theory. Its worth noting that this image of God that materialists ridicule so extensively is not the image worshiped by believers either. The white beard scenario is an image that is just as ridiculous to mystics and serious spiritual practitioners as it is to scientific materialists. “Believers” don’t believe in the “white beard” image of God either, because it is ridiculous. Alas, die-hard materialists are rarely willing to open their minds up wide enough or for long enough to listen to statements of nuance on the subject of spirituality. For them, if you proclaim to be spiritual, then you’re automatically swept into the “white beard” category in their mind and filed next to all of the other demographics they believe they are superior to.

For the same reason they likely won’t see any distinction between spirituality or religion, though the difference seems as obvious as it is enormous; one is a dogmatic institution with a middle-man, the other is direct communion. But that only adds fuel to their fire, for their next statement is likely to be something along the lines of, “direct communion with what? The man with the white beard?” Following Richard Dawkins’ lead, they simply shut down when presented with anything that challenges the cult of the five-senses, and this includes phenomena and case studies that have little to do with religion; the evidence that dogs can tell when their owners are coming home, that memories are not stored within the physical brain, or that telepathic phenomena such as the sensation of being stared at are universal to human experience, which are just three examples of unseen or psychic phenomena that materialists commonly dismiss and ridicule by proxy of which there is a mountain of evidence to support their credibility.

In exactly the same way, materialist skeptics relentlessly belittle the concept of prayer or mantra. They proclaim condescendingly that they “don’t believe in prayer.” Ironic that this assertion itself falls into – not away from – the subject of belief. On the outset, why wouldn’t Science be willing to at least acknowledge even the surface-level of what prayer is doing within the physical realm – that repetitions of prayers are linguistic codes that attune consciousness – that specific series of words organized into tested mantras create cymatic vibrations that intimate neurological procedures?

“My belief is that we do not currently operate on a frequency of consciousness that is capable of interpreting the information required to understand the great mystery. I believe that the mechanical model for understanding nature is a metaphor that science has got stuck on : this prevailing idea that humans are machines, biological robots with computer-like brains. This belief will, to the advanced species that we are evolving into, seem as absurd as the flat-earth theories that we scoff at now… The time we live in now is similar, because the mechanistic, reductive dogma of “Scientism”  – the belief that everything in the world can be explained using the scientific method – is about to be similarly overthrown. There are just too many questions unanswered and unanswerable. Consciousness, the consciousness that is now experiencing these words, has no explanation in science. Scientists believe that matter has no consciousness and that consciousness comes from matter, that 70 percent of the universe is made from dark matter, although they don’t know what that is, what it does, or anything. Just that it’s there. Science requires faith, the way religion does. Science requires acceptance of metaphor, just the way religion does.”

~Russell Brand, Revolution (48, 49)

But The biggest scientific delusion of all is that science already has all of the answers. As Rupert Sheldrake puts it:

“For more than two hundred years, materialists have promised that science will eventually explain everything in terms of physics and chemistry. Science will prove that living organisms are complex machines, minds are nothing but brain activity and nature is purposeless. Believers are sustained by the faith that scientific discoveries will justify their beliefs. The philosopher of science Karl Popper called this stance “promissory materialism” because it depends on issuing promissory notes for discoveries not yet made.”

Sheldrake, Science Set Free  (9)

But the absolutist dogma only exists on the surface level of the scientific world, as Rupert Sheldrake beautifully illustrated in a talk last year:

“The world of professional science is full of people who’ve had psychic experiences, who have religious beliefs and spiritual practices, who go to alternative practitioners and so forth. They’re not all scientific fundamentalists and true believing materialists. Many scientists are actually not paid materialists. They go along with it in public because not to do so would damage their career. It’s a bit like Communism in Russia under Brezhnev. How many people actually believed in the theories of Communism? In public many of them gave lip services to them. When party leaders gave speeches, tens of thousands of people were clapping in unison in huge halls of the people. But did that mean they really believed it? No. When Communism collapsed, how many were ‘true believers’ in Communism? A few, but it certainly wasn’t a majority. That’s true of science today.”

Neither science nor spirituality are to blame for the dogmatic and often tyrannical structures which resulted in their name, but of individual fanatics who, motivated by their own human insecurities and shortcomings, came to view their own respective framework as the only means by which everything could be explained and thereby gain dominance over their brothers. A true scientist, like a true guru, does not claim to know everything, nor do they assert that their worldview is the one and only path to enlightenment – that is the modus operandi of a fanatic.

“When people get all worked up about which religion is superior, that is not religion; that is individualistic, materialistic, territorial ideology asserted through the language of religion.

As Joseph Campbell says, “All religions are true, in that the metaphor is true,” and all religions
have a bit in them where it says: “Don’t kill other people.”

All that fire-and-brimstone, blood-and-thunder, jihadi, Crusades stuff is expedient
materialism. The point of religion is to remind us that we are a temporary expression of a subtler and connected electromagnetic realm unknowable on our narrow bandwidth of consciousness.”

~Russell Brand, Revolution (253)

bbfb4049ff1265d1dc1faa7db86c572aFor what is the essence of science but a method for spiritual consciousness to gain a greater understanding of the physical universe it exists within and the inhabited flesh it finds itself animating? On the other hand, what is the essence of spirituality but an acknowledgement of one’s ultimate being and connection to the greater universe by virtue of internal wisdom as gained through experiencing the physical realm and the stories spun within it? Throughout history, scientific breakthroughs came about as a result of individual humans who were struck by some sort of conscious notion within themselves, and due to that intuitive force they created studies to help prove (or disprove) that notion thus shaping what our innate understandings are. On the other side of the spectrum, spiritual breakthroughs have enabled the emergence of concepts such as truth, justice, compassion and empathy to reach into the physical world as more than mere human ideas.

Throughout the last century the two have begun to merge more and more into harmony with one another. Science gave birth to LSD, which in turn enabled Steve Jobs and his research team to discover the computer mouse; LSD allowed Francis Crick to discover the Double Helix of DNA; LSD empowered Kary Mullis to discover the PCR technique allowing for the amplification of specific DNA sequences; LSD made it possible for John C. Lilly to map the pain and pleasure pathways in the brain. A spiritual experience, created by science, yielding additional scientific breakthroughs. As the years went on, quantum theory experiments (which have become incredibly controversial due to the fact that they challenge the established dogmatic norms of the de facto religion of the scientific belief system) have given rise to the global consciousness project and a slew of other research endeavours which continuously reaffirm the familiar wisdom of the traditions of the Far East. Although the ancient cultures of the Far East seem to have never attained the rigorously exact physical knowledge of the modern West, they grasped, in principle, many things which are only now beginning to occur to us. But such traditions are all-too-often automatically lumped into the category of “religion” and thus also dismissed, despite science’s rather obvious corroboration of their ancient wisdom.

In Psychotherapy East & West, Alan Watts articulates the subtleties of this problem brilliantly, especially in how it pertains to our misinterpretation of long-standing Eastern traditions as either philosophies or religions when they are in fact neither:

“If we look deeply into such ways of life as Buddhism and Taoism, Vedanta and Yoga, we do not find either philosophy or religion as these are understood in the West. We find something more nearly resembling psychotherapy. This may seem surprising, for we think of the latter as a form of science, somewhat practical and materialistic in attitude, and of the former as extremely esoteric religions concerned with regions of the spirit almost entirely out of this world.

“The main resemblance between these Eastern ways of life and Western psychotherapy is in the concern of both with bringing about changes of consciousness, changes in our ways of feeling our own existence and our relation to human society and the natural world. The psychotherapist has, for the most part, been interested in changing the consciousness of peculiarly disturbed individuals. The disciplines of Buddhism and Taoism are, however, concerned with changing the consciousness of normal, socially adjusted people. But it is increasingly apparent to psychotherapists that the normal state of consciousness in our culture is both the context and the breeding ground of mental disease. A complex of societies of vast material wealth bent on mutual destruction is anything but a condition of social health”

As Krishnamurti articulated so precisely, “It is no measure of mental health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

Watts continues:

“Psychology and psychiatry are in a state of great theoretical confusion…the psychotherapist carries on his work with an almost wholly unexamined “philosophical unconscious.” He tends to be ignorant, by reason of his highly specialized training, not only of the contemporary philosophy of science, but also of the hidden metaphysical premises which underlie all the main forms of psychological theory…to make use of it he must overcome the habitual notion that he has nothing to learn from “prescientific” disciplines, for in the case of psychotherapy this may be a matter of the pot calling the kettle black.

“The multitudinous differences between individuals and their social contexts lead to as many ways of seeking relief from these conflicts. Some seek it in the psychoses and neuroses which lead to psychiatric treatment, but for the most part release is sought in the socially permissible orgies of mass entertainment, religious fanaticism, chronic sexual titillation, alcoholism, war – the whole sad list of tedious and barbarous escapes. Naturally then it is being said that the need for psychotherapy goes far beyond that of those who are clinically psychotic or neurotic, and for many years now increasing number of people have been receiving psychotherapy who would formerly have sought counsel from a minister of religion or a sympathetic friend…there is still no clear evidence that psychotherapy is anything more than a hit-or-miss placebo, and, save in the case of psychotic symptoms that can be controlled by certain drugs, there is no sure way of distinguishing its “cures” from spontaneous remission. And some of its techniques, including lobotomy and shock treatment, are nothing but measures of sheer desperation…there is a growing realization that, to make any progress, psychiatry must ally itself more closely with neurology and biology on one side and with sociology and anthropology on the other.

“In place of the inarticulate cohesion of mere stuff we find the articulate cohesion of inseparably interconnected patterns. The effect of this upon the study of human behavior is that it becomes impossible to separate psychological patterns from patterns that are sociological, biological, or ecological. Departments of knowledge based upon what now appear to be crude and primitive divisions of nature begin to coalesce into such awkwardly named hybrids as neuropsychiatry, sociobiology, biophysics and geopolitics. At a certain depth of specialization the divisions of scientific knowledge begin to run together because they are far enough advanced to see that the world itself runs together, however clear cut its parts may have seemed to be.”

Despite the obvious crossover that exists between disciplines within science, left-brained fetishism of western materialism by and large continues to dismiss the interconnectedness that exists at larger scales, relying instead on the neurosis of “coincidence theory” to explain away perspicuous similarities between seemingly unrelated phenomena within the illusion of separation. Hence, scientific materialism refuses to acknowledge that it could possibly have anything in common with any spiritual tradition, and wholly rejects the notion that its dogma is in any way comparable with that of despotic religious institutions, and does so with extreme prejudice.

A parallel can be seen in the psychological concept of confirmation bias – our tendency to notice and assign significance to observations that confirm our beliefs, while filtering out or rationalizing away observations that do not fit with our prior beliefs and expectations.

The term “reality tunnel” coined by Timothy Leary and later popularized by Robert Anton Wilson refers to the concept that with a subconscious set of filters formed from their beliefs and experiences, everyone interprets this same world differently, hence “Truth is in the eye of the beholder.” This is not necessarily meant to imply that there is no objective truth; just that our access to it is mediated through our senses, experience, conditioning, prior beliefs, and other non-objective factors. The individual world each person occupies is said to be their reality tunnel. The term can also apply to groups of people united by beliefs, which include but are not limited to the “Fundamentalist-Christian reality tunnel” as well as the “Scientific-Materialist reality tunnel.

Reality tunnels are usually transparent to their inhabitants because most of us take our belief systems to be in reconciliation with “the one true reality.” The true believers of the scientific dogma believe arrogantly that theirs is the only “correct view” and any perception that challenges or runs counter to this view is laughable. They are unable to see how such a contemptuous mentality is identical to the intolerance of religious fanaticism because their disdain for religious institutions is so great that cognitive dissonance overwhelms their fragile circuitry. As such, they consistently refuse to so much as examine the validity of such observations.

But true believers of such a cavalier calibre are few and far between, and though many within the scientific community are still frightened to admit it aloud, a middle way is rapidly emerging among them. This middle way is called Anatheism, and it is connected to but very distinct from Atheism.convergence1

Atheism, while bemoaned by believers, was an absolutely essential phase, for it has distilled all of the unnecessary superstitions, harmful bigotry, and silly dogmatism from the religious world. Scientific materialism has proven its usefulness as a purifying movement that’s done a lot to purge a lot of rubbish from religion in it’s attempts to become dominant over religion. The baby boom generation took this purification a step further and began the process of rooting out the last vestiges of the church’s dictatorial elements which had become complacent to justice, corrupt with power and spoiled rotten with money – a process which still today is not yet complete. But now that popular spirituality has undergone this decontamination process, there is a movement to reconnect to the divine, and that is known as Anatheism.

Anatheism has a lot in common with the Gay Rights Movement in that scientists who acknowledge unseen phenomena as valid remain in the closet, afraid to come out because of the very real threat of being ridiculed and in turn having greater trouble getting published, obtaining promotions, achieving tenure, or even keeping their jobs.

In many ways, today’s orthodox scientific priesthood is no different than the dictatorial clergy it sought to escape from. Whereas during the church’s reign, religious authorities were granted the exclusive right of reading the biblical texts while everyone else merely listened to a the middle-man’s interpretations, today’s scientific papers are published in the discriminative dialect of academese, ordained by budgetary favouritism and peer reviews often managed through political nepotism.

What is more, materialism’s obsession with purging unseen phenomena as delusion has led to unhealthy extremes. Materialists today have chosen to place their faith in systems of belief that create uncommonly harmful outcomes. This is perhaps why David Foster Wallace proclaimed that there is no such thing as atheism in his 2005 Kenyon commencement:

“…there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship—be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles—is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness. Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful, it’s that they’re unconscious. They are default settings. They’re the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that’s what you’re doing.”

Anatheism is the essence of the revolution currently under way on this planet. A spiritual connection makes us stronger, gives us longer lives, makes us happier, gives us purpose, and reconnects us to powers that throughout the last century have been dismissed but for rare cases of extraordinary ability which are labelled as either “Superhuman” or “Supernatural.” There is nothing special about psychic phenomena because all humans already have the tools necessary to explore them – the hardware of our relatively advanced human bodies. A rejection of dogma may allow for the removal of the obstacles currently obstructing human potential – a potential which is thwarted by materialism today just as it was by religious institutions of yesteryear. Revolution is really about the flowering of human potential to discover how free, capable and powerful we are, thereby liberating ourselves from the self-imposed shackles of dictatorial societies and tyrannical governments that have arisen as a natural consequence of our own internalized victimization and exploited insecurities.

Our individual reality tunnels tend to prevent us from realizing our full potential, and are by their very nature always limiting. Arthur Schopenhauer, who used the term “field of vision”, stated it this way:

“Every man takes the limits of his field of vision for the limits of the world.”

And Martin Heidegger put it thus:

“Man acts as though he were the shaper and master of language, while in fact language remains the master of man.”

And Anais Nin:

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

Jacques Lacan likewise made a distinction between the Real and the Symbolic, arguing that the Real is the imminent unified reality which is mediated through symbols that allow it to be parsed into intelligible and differentiated segments. The Symbolic, which is primarily subconscious, is further abstracted into the Imaginary, i.e. our individual beliefs and understandings of reality. This is easy enough to see in our application of language as a system of symbols that we commonly confuse for the things they are describing, but is even more pronounced vis-á-vis our mistaken conflation between money and wealth.

People go to the supermarket, and they get a whole cartload of goodies and they drive it through, then the clerk fixes up the counter and this long tape comes out, and he’ll say ‘$30, please,’ and everybody feels depressed, because they give away $30 worth of paper, but they’ve got a cartload of goodies. They don’t think about that. They think they’ve just lost $30. But you’ve got the real wealth in the cart. All you’ve parted with is the paper. Because the paper in our system becomes more valuable than the wealth. It represents power, potentiality, whereas the wealth, you think, “Oh well, that’s just necessary; you’ve got to eat.” That’s to be really mixed up.
~Alan Watts, from The Nature of Consciousness (1960)

Robert Anton Wilson concludes:

Everybody abstracts a different reality. When you come through a room you abstract the reality you’re prepared to abstract and you pick up the signals that interest you and your brain records them and organizes them…We all have our own reality tunnel and in our reality tunnel we pick out some things and ignore others. We’ve got ten-billion cells in our brain receiving hundreds and hundreds of millions of signals all the time. We just pick out the ones that fit into the established grooves in our brain that fit the reality tunnel that’s been laid down by past experiences. We all have our own belief system and the signals that fit our belief system get in, the signals that don’t fit our belief system get ignored, if they keep coming back we go to a psychiatrist to get cured and make them go away, and if we incorporate them we edit them to make them conform to our preconceived beliefs. We don’t know what is or what isn’t. All we know is what we tuned in or didn’t tune in. You only know what you’ve tuned in. If you haven’t tuned it in, it’s not necessarily non-existent, it’s just that you haven’t tuned it in.”

In this way, the real shortcoming of scientific materialism is the institutionalized clinging to the belief that there absolutely must be one and only one objective reality “out there” that we can all agree upon, and those who fail to recognize this singular reality are either not educated enough to assimilate it into their experience or are simply deluded.

For Wilson, a fully functioning human ought to be able to be aware of his or her reality tunnel, and able to keep it flexible enough to accommodate, and to some degree empathize with, different reality tunnels, different “game rules,”  different cultures and different religions. This view, if properly understood, can decrease the chance that we will confuse our map of the world with the actual world – a philosophy expressed in many Eastern schools of thought.

Therefore, Science and Spirit are not opposites any more than astronomy and astrology are opposites; they are two hemispheres of the same discipline – one hemisphere asks “How?” while the other asks “Why?” Neither question is more viable than the other, and both are integral to the human experience. To deny one in favour over the other is to limit the full potential of what is possible to interpret, understand and convey.

The West has a tendency to dismiss ancient and prescientific traditions as nothing more than “poor, primitive people trying to make sense of a world they did not have the proper tools or world-view to comprehend.” This has been the typical mentality of archaeologists and anthropologists who have studied ancient sites such as the Mayan ruins of Mesoamerica. They’ve scratched their heads and wondered why these “primitive” civilizations would ever concern themselves with calculus or the movement of distant celestial bodies. But it seems perfectly obvious to a more intuitive investigator that the ancients were extracting meaning from the relationships between the bodies and projecting future circumstances based on the mathematical predictability of their movements. These cultures understood that knowing what the planets are doing physically via astronomy is only half of the equation, and is little more than trivial data without its partner in astrology. Sceptics may scoff and roll their eyes, but these concepts too can be understood and proven scientifically – which is the intended purpose of the scientific method.

“Astrology is one of the most ancient sciences, held in high esteem of old, by the wise and great. Formerly no prince would make war or peace, nor any general fight a battle, in short no important affair was undertaken without first consulting an astrologer.”

~Benjamin Franklin, 1751

Take for example the celestial body that has the most perceivable impact on human kind – Mercury. Mercury’s cycles have measurable impacts on human kind, and with its relatively rapid revolution around the sun of approximately 88 Earth days, these data sets are relatively easy to chronicle for anyone conducting a survey or experiment. Because of Mercury’s short year relative to that of Earth’s, the planet turns Retrograde three times per year on average. This means that from our perspective, Mercury appears to move backwards in the night sky for three weeks at at time, three times per year. “Appears” is the key word here because no planet actually moves backwards in their orbits around the Sun – they don’t even slow down. Retrograde-station-direct cycles are essentially illusions that result from our point of view from Earth, simply because the Earth is also orbiting the Sun at a different speed than the other planets. Due to the fact that the planets relate to each other on elliptical orbits, retrograde is a phenomena that occurs with all of them from time to time. But Mercury retrogrades are the most frequent, and in many respects are the most qualitatively noticeable.

While many of the more subtle aspects of planetary relationships and energies are easy to dismiss, this one is not, because among its effects we can observe a surprising disruption of our mechanical and electrical technologies. Common symptoms of Mercury retrogrades include unusual problems with phones, computers, networks, appliances, gadgets, cars etc. But on a more subtle level, trends illustrate that human communications break down, couples are more likely to fight or break up, miscommunications between acquaintances and business partners abound, close friends engage in arguments, individuals find themselves having trouble coming up with the “right words,” etc.

The reason all of this is happening is scientifically measurable, for the simple fact that Mercury is an extremely dense ball of iron rotating with close proximity to the largest and most dense body in our solar system, namely our sun. When a space shuttle rotates around the earth, instruments react to one part of the planet differently than the other due to the toroidal shape of the Earth’s electromagnetic field. The same principles apply to the electromagnetic field of the sun and Mercury, which no doubt interact with each other thus creating specific patterns that ripple out into the rest of the solar system.

And while it might be easier to digest the notion of Mercury disrupting electronics than the idea that Mercury could be affecting the human organism with a similar disruption pattern, remember that neurological pathways and physical movement are caused by electrical impulses within the body, and that human bodies too have their own electromagnetic fields.

Since we have structured our present civilization with a profoundly indolent dependence on electrically operated technologies, the effects of Mercury retrograde periods are difficult to deny because they bring about disruptions in this electrical grid. The more the grid dominates every facet of our modern societies, the more noticeable the Mercury Retrograde cycles will be and the easier it will become to conduct large-scale scientific experiments based on these observations; observations that are worth billions if not trillions of dollars to any business, corporation or government that could benefit from knowing when disruptions in their communications and technologies will occur and for how long they can anticipate such disruptions.

Though difficult to deny these effects may be, materialists predictably go out of their way to do so. It is not incredible that many people observe the temporary changes that our relationship relative to Mercury causes; what is incredible is that well-educated skeptics refuse to acknowledge that a giant ball of iron rotating around a massive star could possibly be capable of emitting complex patterns of electromagnetic energy waves capable of interacting with sensitive instruments on Earth that haven’t yet been studied in a comprehensive way by the scientific community. These energetic relationships are measurable, but science has to actually open its mind to be able to genuinely inquire about and study these phenomena before they can ever be measured and a large-scale study conducted. I’m not saying such endeavors have not been made, simply that their reach is nowhere near where it could be for such a provocative and interesting subject because institutions of mass influence refuse to acknowledge this phenomena as real because it challenges the preconceived beliefs of the Scientific religion.

But the scientific materialists aren’t the only ones guilty of dogma on the subject of analyzing the subjective effects of celestial bodies. Within the field of astrology are astrologers who have become so enraptured in their chosen discipline that they’re capable of seeing little else. If an astrologer begins to believe that everything can be explained by the movement of and relationship between celestial bodies, they too can become intolerant of other frameworks and thus dogmatic in their approach.

The more powerful any given perception or framework proves to be, the more likely its practitioners are to enter into the Wizard Prison of dogmatic absolutes and claim that their particular viewpoint is superior over all others as the one and only answer in the quest for truth.

In discussing the motivation behind the book I Don’t Believe In Atheists, Chris Hedges expounded upon the dangers of dogmatism:

In May of 2007 I went to L.A. to debate Sam Harris, and then two days later I went to San Francisco to debate Christopher Hitchens. Up until that point, I hadn’t paid much attention to the work of the New Atheists. After reading what they had written and walking away from these debates, I was appalled at how what they had done for the secular left was to embrace the same kind of bigotry and chauvinism and intolerance that marks the radical Christian right. I found that in many ways they were little more than secular fundamentalists.

I was stunned at how the very chauvinism, bigotry and intolerance that they condemn in the Christian right, they embrace under the guise of atheism. They also create a kind of binary world view of us-and-them. They embrace the use of force. They’re supporters of preemptive war. Their political agenda coalesces completely with the radical Christian right. What they’ve done is form a belief system – a leap of faith – that says that we are moving forward as a species towards some kind of a human utopia, that society can be made perfectible once we eradicate religion. They’ve externalized evil into religion itself, something the Christian right does when they externalize evil into secular humanism. The ideological framework for this is no different from the Christian right.

They are as culturally, historically and linguistically illiterate as the radical Christian right. If you read what they write and say about Muslims, it could be lifted from the most rabid sermon by a Christian fundamentalist. They condiment them as irrational religious hordes who have to be either converted to “our way of thinking,” (because of course they engage in that kind of chauvinism and self-exaltation that “our way is the civilized way, the only way, there are no other ways to be, other ways to think”), and if they won’t be converted then they have to be annihilated. I mean Sam Harris in The End of Faith asks us to consider a nuclear first strike on the Arab world. I mean this kind of stuff is terrifying.This is the worldview of the New Atheists. Hitchens is one of the great propagandists for the war in Iraq, as is Harris, but I think all of them engage in what I would call the “Cult of Science.” They say that evolutionary biology can be used as a model towards the evolution of human moral behavior, collectively; that we can advance; that time is linear. There is nothing in human history or human nature that supports that idea, and there’s nothing in Darwin. In Darwin’s Origin of Species, he never posited that human beings evolve morally. In fact, Darwin wrote, I think correctly, that we’re captive to irrational forces and to our animal natures. And so what they’ve done is make a leap – a leap of faith, really – that is just as egregious and just as self-delusional as the leap of faith made by Christian fundamentalists.

I came here and debated Charles McVety, and I’ve debated other fundamentalists in the US. When I got up on the stage with Harris and Hitchens, it was as if I was debating a Christian fundamentalist. Because what does a Christian fundamentalist do? They’re bullies. And they say I grew up in the Church, I went to seminary, but I’m not a Christian, I’m a force for godless secular humanism. This is the attack of the fundamentalists, and was the attack of McVety at the University of Toronto.

What happens when I get up on the stage with [New Atheists]? They say I don’t believe in an anthropomorphic god, I don’t believe in heaven and hell, I don’t believe in miracles, I don’t believe in the virgin birth, any of that kind of stuff, but I become a repository for superstition, ignorance, all of the things I don’t believe.

It does not matter what I say. What they’ve done is embody religion as the impediment towards human progress, and once it’s removed, we can all move forward. I would argue that the problem is not religion. The problem is human nature. The problem is the human heart. And of course religious institutions and religious figures throughout history have cheered on more blood baths than many figures. But that’s a problem that is endemic within us.

I think that religious institutions, as the theologian Paul Tillich said, like all human institutions, are inherently demonic. They’re about power. They’re about self-perpetuation. We have to separate that from the religious impulse. Religion is not something that can be studied like science. Religion is not a noun, it’s a verb. It’s a way of being. It’s a way of looking at the world. And religion like art, I think, struggles to capture those non-rational forces that are real and powerful in our life. Forces like beauty, grief, alienation, suffering, mortality. You can’t measure that with science. And I think art, like religion at its best, seeks to preserve and honor this tradition, of the non-rational, that is also part of our lives.

How, for instance, do you quantify love? I mean Freud wrote about this. Every time Freud tried to write about love he wrote about sex, and he finally [admitted that he couldn’t.]

I lived twenty years overseas as a foreign correspondent. I’m well aware that there is nothing intrinsically moral about being a believer or a non-believer. That many people of great moral courage and probity have arisen in all cultures and all traditions to fight the oppressor on behalf of the oppressed, who don’t find meaning in religious ritual, religious language – I get that. I covered the war in the former Yugoslavia. And the Serbian Orthodox church – like the catholic church in Croatia, like many of the mosques in Bosnia – enthusiastically signed on for the ethnic cleansing.

What I think both of these movements have in common, is that what they appeal to is a kind of self-exaltation. A kind of, “We have moral superiority.” As an atheist, “We look down on the less-fortunate, less-educated, less-enlightened.” Well the Christian right does the same thing. When you divide people into moral planes, that becomes very dangerous. When you believe that evil is external, and not something that we must all struggle with inside of ourselves, then it’s a short step towards eradicating whole groups of human beings, because they’re no longer human, but they’re abstractions of the evil that you want to get rid of.

Hedges’ central point, while directed toward secular fundamentalists, is as true of them as it is of all who express dogmatic views of intolerance. CJ Werleman has observed that evangelical atheists display a cultish commitment to science, a childishly simplistic view of religion, a severely bigoted stance toward Islam, and a slavish faith in what they take to be the beneficent U.S. secular state. Stephen LeDrew takes this observation to its logical conclusion, asserting that today’s atheism is “only manifestly a critique of religion” while its somewhat veiled but veritable aim is “the universalization of the ideology of scientism and the establishment of its cultural authority.” Ultimately, it is about power.

Ultimately we find that the only constant is change. As such, frameworks, understandings and perceptions are constantly evolving. The Scientific Community has continuously updated their estimates based on the latest research conducted by the most contemporary minds with the most cutting-edge, up-to-date tools available. So who is to say that the field of science is today as advanced and complete as it can possibly be – that it cannot be updated to accommodate Anatheism? Just as our tenancies of dogmatic fundamentalism – either to religion or materialism – must be kept in check, so must it be with all absolutist thinking; either that time is linear or that it is absolutely not linear. The same kind of superiority complex can easily lead one to believe in the myth of progress as it an lead another to believe that everything that can be invented already has been. Our understanding of the universe is continuously being updated, but placing too much emphasis on our respective frameworks prevents us from experiencing fresh perspectives. In turn we are liable to rely only on autopilot behavior, as though we already know everything there is to know. One would think that a firm belief in the myth of progress would provide insight into how clueless we are now, based on how clueless we have always been. And somehow, despite the apparent self-awareness that linear thinking might provide, the tendency to think of ourselves as infallible persists. Throughout history science has inched away from older and cruder methods of inquiry to where it is now, but we’re deluding ourselves if we think that because blood-letting and eugenics and the static universe theory are behind us and widely considered taboo, that today’s scientific understanding is the panacea.

The roots of chemistry for example, seem to many to be embedded in alchemy, which was misconstrued as the quest for turning base metals into gold. This understanding of alchemy, however, is a misconception. True alchemists were never concerned with physical gold as was commonly believed, but the art of personal transformation from ignorant suffering toward enlightened liberation and bliss.

“Just as gold is the most perfect of metals because it cannot be corrupted, perfection in a human being means freedom from pain, suffering, doubt and fear. The secret is not in how you look, but in how deep you are willing to look.”

~Deepak Chopra

This takes us full circle to the concept that the Revolution is not something that happens “out there” but a spark that can only be generated within. This also emphasizes that the goal of anatheism, in this case, is to transform the dogmatic scientific morals from their current state of intolerance, arrogance and relative ignorance, into a state of free inquiry to catapult a new era of open-minded exploration, which seems to be the genuine intention behind what the scientific method is supposed to be all about.

At the core of all of this is the fundamental understanding that we are all dogmatic and ignorant to various degrees – most humans are! Our arguments and our wars are derived from an inability to recognize that truth is amorphous; that we can learn something useful from everyone and anyone; that our perception of reality is different from reality itself; that any given perception or framework, no matter how useful, is not exclusive in its validity. Ultimately peace will be the by-product of a collective recognition that all viewpoints are correct; that everyone has valid input to share; that dogmatizing any one viewpoint hinders valid information from ever getting past the filters of preconceived beliefs; that all dogma obstructs free inquiry and expression; that narcissistic megalomania, however unconscious or habitual it may be, blinds the beholder from reality. The Final Revolution is therefore the process of deprogramming the dogmas that have allowed hatred and violence to flourish all around us, threatening to extinguish everything we know and love. As Carl Sagan once pronounced, “An organism at war with itself is doomed.”

“Once the fiction of one ‘reality’ dies as a concept, and the operational fact of ‘realities’ (plural) becomes generally recognized, we might all discover that human beings can actually live together without constantly making war over who has the ‘real reality’.”

~Robert Anton Wilson, Cosmic Trigger; Volume 2

The Final Revolution is well under way. It cannot be stopped. We can choose to flow with this ride or be swept away by the torrent, but clinging onto the old world as it was is no longer an option. There is no aspect of our world or of ourselves that will be unchanged by this remarkable period of our history, proving more and more that this is truly the most exciting time that any of us could have possibly hoped to be alive.

we-are-made-of-starsGabrielle Lafayette is a journalist, writer, and executive producer for the Outer Limits Radio Show.

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Veterans Against War Porn

pawel-kuczynski-ak47

Painting by Pawel Kuczynski

US VS THEM

Apart from analyzing the tendency of the war-film genre to glorify violence, justify racism, and fetishize murder, there are a number of factual errors and historical inconsistencies with Clint Eastwood’s newest film American Sniper, as well as the book it’s based upon. The film’s portrayal of Christian dominionism confuses the peaceful message of Jesus. The juxtaposition of 9_11 with Iraq invites viewers to make connections that don’t exist. Implicit jingoism encourages movie-goers to express xenophobic hatred vicariously through the film’s barbaric protagonist. The book is even worse, fostering anti-Muslim hatred and a blood lust that rivals the sentiments of Heinrich Himmler. The book spins elaborate lies, from making claims about “punching-out” former Navy SEAL Jesse Ventura to accounts of sniping looters in New Orleans during hurricane Katrina and more.  Savvy analysts understand the divide-and-conquer mentality that is at play here, since this film continues to reignite an age-old national debate, pitting American “patriots” against liberal “hippies.”

As a veteran myself, I have several grievances with the national debate currently underway. On one side it is hailed by “red blooded American patriots” as the incredible story of the deadliest sniper the American military ever produced, while on the other hand, condemned by anti-war activists as offensive propaganda. But as the tweets have revealed, spectators are coming away from American Sniper with a blood lust for killing Muslims, which appears to be the intended reaction for garnering support for the next level of imperial mobilization in the Middle East. Clint Eastwood denies this accusation, of course, proclaiming the film as a champion of anti-war ideals. Despite his lip service, the proof is in the pudding, as they say, and spectators are coming away with irrefutable jingoistic, xenophobic, and blatantly racist prejudice. Wasn’t the official narrative of the Iraq war to fight for Iraqi liberation? Didn’t the news sell us the moral high ground of being their liberators? Wasn’t the occupation itself named, “Operation Iraqi Freedom?” So if we were there to liberate them, why would we glorify in murdering them so indiscriminately?

Despite all this, I would like to offer a third point of view, somewhere in the middle of the two extreme polarities. I see this national argument as an opportunity for us as individuals to overcome our own personal biases, regardless of what side we believe is right. Learning is not about agreement. This is our chance to understand that as long as we’re arguing with each other, we’ll never be able to tackle the root of problems concerning us all.

essence_of_propagandaFIRST OF ALL, I AM A VETERAN

Even before I joined the military, I was intuitively skeptical of the impact that films depicting war have on our individual psyches, and thus the influence they have on the collective overmind. Many of my friends growing up were seduced by the violence of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now despite the fact that the film’s intention was to illustrate the horrors of war. The problem with most war films is this: even if they attempt to take a stance that screams, “Look how horrible wars can be,” uninformed viewers have an overwhelming tendency to get caught up in how cool it looks to shoot the weapons. The only films I ever saw that made me think twice about my decision to join the military were The Deer Hunter starring Robert DeNero, and Born On The Forth Of July starring Tom Cruise. These two films depicted the true cost of sending young men into battles in far away countries for reasons they cannot understand. Before I saw either of these films, the thought that I might lose a leg or an arm or be paralyzed for the rest of my life had never occurred to me, because from John Wayne’s The Longest Day through Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down, I was sold the world view that there is only glory to be had on the battlefield, either in a hero’s death or the validation as an important patriot with glorious award ceremonies and ticker tape parades.

Having said that, I’m always hesitant to lend my eyes to films depicting physical violence and bloodshed because of the messages they can send, whether they intend to or not. As with most forms of screen entertainment, many Hollywood films are meant to shape perception within the public to garner support for Geo-Political decisions made on our behalf, which is why movie theaters are Federally subsidized. For the same reason that recruiters are positioned in high schools to grab up our best and brightest before they’ve reached the age of reason, war films play as instrumental a role in military recruitment as first-person-shooter video games do. These forms of screen media masquerade as nothing more than entertainment, all the while programming a state-sponsored narrative of justified imperialism into the malleable minds of those subject to the electronic hallucinations of the glowing rectangle.  Seth Rogen took a lot of flack recently for drawing an apt comparison between Eastwood’s new film to the film-within-a-film, Nation’s Pride – the Nazi propaganda movie that appeared in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds. The purpose of effective propaganda is to numb the mind away from reasonable thinking, and anesthetize the emotions away from empathy. As Chris Hedges recently pointed out in TruthDig, “American Sniper caters to a deep sickness rippling through our society. It holds up the dangerous belief that we can recover our equilibrium and our lost glory by embracing an American fascism.” He goes on to say:

“The culture of war banishes the capacity for pity. It glorifies self-sacrifice and death. It sees pain, ritual humiliation and violence as part of an initiation into manhood… The culture of war idealizes only the warrior. It belittles those who do not exhibit the warrior’s “manly” virtues. It places a premium on obedience and loyalty. It punishes those who engage in independent thought and demands total conformity. It elevates cruelty and killing to a virtue. This culture, once it infects wider society, destroys all that makes the heights of human civilization and democracy possible. The capacity for empathy, the cultivation of wisdom and understanding, the tolerance and respect for difference and even love are ruthlessly crushed. The innate barbarity that war and violence breed is justified by a saccharine sentimentality about the nation, the flag and a perverted Christianity that blesses its armed crusaders… It fosters an unchecked narcissism. Facts and historical truths, when they do not fit into the mythic vision of the nation and the tribe, are discarded. Dissent becomes treason. All opponents are godless and subhuman.”

American-Sniper-Visage

Veterans For Peace recently responded to the film in a similar way, contending:

“Following spaghetti western acclaim, Clint Eastwood, now 84, moved on to Dirty Harry movies… Over the years, he has honed this very masculine style and become a popular film director exploring the American psyche mostly from the reactionary right — though his films are always a dialogue with issues on the left. American Sniper is no different with its limited contrapuntal theme of PTSD and homefront family adjustment.

“Harry Callahan was famous for whacking creeps who deserved to die with his long, phallic .44 magnum. It was great cinema. The formula was simple: Feature a good guy who hates bureaucrats, loves to cut corners and is a man comfortable with violence and put him at odds with bad guys who are absolute perverted creeps whose death at the hands of the good guy would be cheered by an audience shoving popcorn down its gullet. The films were realistic in the sense of being harsh, brutal and loud. But they were far from realistic in the sense of being complex, morally gray, contradictory and confusing — like life itself.”

So when it comes to Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, I’m first and foremost appalled by the message we get early on that the message of Christ has anything to do with racist bigotry or a fixation of murder. How can any true Christian bemoan the crucifixion of Christ and then revel in the slaughter of other human beings?

Beyond achieving the feigned moral high ground of killing for Jesus, the film presupposes that sniper Chris Kyle was sent to Iraq because of what happened on 9_11. You don’t have to be that well informed to understand that the only connection that exists between 9_11 and Iraq is the Bush administration’s lie about Weapons of Mass Destruction which were never found in the deserts of Iraq. A deluge of patriotism that flooded our soldiers into Afghanistan created a tidal wave of militarism, the momentum of which has since bled over into operations conducted in over 75 countries under the radar of our journalists until Jeremy Scahill spilled the beans with his newest investigative report, Dirty Wars.

When the twin towers fell, I was an ROTC cadet reporting in to my commanding officer for my morning duties. It wasn’t long after that I joined the US Army’s ranks in the combat specialty of Infantry despite having the ASVAB scores to go anywhere I wanted within the organization. I graduated infantry school, and shortly thereafter graduated Airborne training. I knew I had something special to offer and was prepared to show the military how capable I was. I declined further training due to a neck injury I sustained while in Airborne school that desperately required the attention of my chiropractor back home (and chiropractic was not, and still is not, a medical practice recognized by the US military as “legitimate”). Regardless, for people like me, it didn’t matter where the military sent us. We were absolutely convinced that our help was necessary to protect the nation, and that the military was working on behalf of the nation’s best interests. After nearly a decade of military service, it became impossible to ignore how bamboozled we all were. Despite the fact that the depth of the lie was emotionally difficult to deal with, denial of the truth was absolutely out of the question once I became witness to the crimes our government insisted were not happening. Not everyone in the civilian sphere bought into the government’s vein attempts to cover up their atrocities, but there are enough Americans unwilling to question the official narrative peddled by our corporate media. Citizen apathy is all that is needed to continue to perpetuate the global military racket that continues to this day.

notpropagandaFETISHIZING MURDER

I don’t enjoy talking about my service, and no fellow veteran I know who has taken lives was ever proud of it, which brings me to my next point about the book of the same name upon which the movie American Sniper is based. Chris Kyle, who is credited with 160 confirmed kills (God knows how many more) reads like a demented serial killer, reveling in the destruction and death that transpired at his fingertips during four tours of duty. This initially led me to question what role the book and subsequent film were meant to play in the society to shape public perception, and how much of it was altered to appeal to the pro-war narrative, because no veteran I know personally has ever talked the way Kyle did about murder. The only people I’ve ever met who revel in the death of others in combat situations are people who have never been in combat, or psychopaths who derive a sadistic pleasure from the pain of others.

As far as the first group are concerned – people who tell stories that never happened – we’ve all me these guys. You’ve probably bumped into one of these clowns at least once. You know, the loud guy in the bar drinking alcohol and telling you about how he was a sniper in Iraq or worked with the special forces in Afghanistan, spinning tales to whomever will listen. The first prerequisite in determining the legitimacy of  an individual’s service the military is his willingness to talk about combat. Nobody I know who saw ‘trigger time’ overseas enjoys talking about combat and will flatly refuse your requests to reminisce by changing the subject of leaving the conversation altogether. Posers, on the other hand (which there are many) who have been programmed by video games and war films to glorify war, will tell war stories that didn’t happen to anybody who will listen. They do this because the culture has brainwashed them into thinking that they can obtain respect, get laid, and gain notoriety if they can convince people they too are an American war hero. If you bump into people like this, a great test of character is to ask them what their MOS was when they were in the military – that stands for Military Occupational Specialty. If they weren’t in the military, they won’t be able to answer this question, and ten times out of ten when I bump into chaps who can’t wait to talk about battles they’ve fought in, they are unable to answer this question.

Now understand – I’m not saying Chris Kyle was a poser. But if he enjoyed the act of killing during his service, then I’m led to believe that he’s either a psychopath, or the narrative of his life has been altered to either boost book/movie sales, and/or to garner further blind patriotic support for our continued persecution of Muslim people’s through military force.

Praising the act of killing into fetish territory is not the behavior of any genuine veteran I know, which leads me to believe that Chris Kyle is either not responsible for the death-glorification that appears in the book (which, by the way, is conspicuously absent from the film), or he was a psychopath. I’ve also considered the possibility that many of the stories were fabrications, either ghost-written by other writers or embellished by the editor to make it sell better, because there are many claims throughout the text that are blatant lies: in the book we’re meant to believe that Chris Kyle punched former Navy Seal Jesse Ventura; that Kyle sniped thirty people in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina; that he murdered two men attempting to car-jack him. There is no evidence to support any of these claims, and Jesse Ventura even filed a law suit for defamation of character when Chris Kyle was still alive.

The media have twisted up the Ventura facet of the debate as well, vilifying the former Minnesota Governor for victimizing the poor widow of Chris Kyle for monetary gain. That’s not what happened. Ventura has since set the record straight about the chapter of American Sniper entitled, “Punching Out Jesse,” that the publication company was forced to change. Despite the fact that a jury came to the conclusion that overwhelming evidence proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the incident in question never happened, instead of amending or omitting the entire chapter, the publication company offered money as payment to Ventura for damages. Ventura objected to the money, demanding they remove the blatant lies from the pages of the book. Though they’ve changed the name of that chapter in subsequent publications, they stonewalled Ventura on altering the content, wrote him a check, and now the media berates him for taking money away from Kyle’s widow. Money that the Kyle estate claimed was going entirely towards charity in the name of veterans organizations, which turned out to be another lie, as only about 2% of the proceeds were ever donated to said charities – according to the National Review.

This brings me to the strange circumstances surrounding Chris Kyle’s death, shot by a former Marine on a shooting range shortly after Ventura’s lawsuit began. Some analysts are drawing parallels between the Chris Kyle narrative and the Pat Tillman story; men who’s image was worth billions in recruitment advertising to the military-industrial-complex; men who, at least as documented in Pat Tillman’s case, saw the war for the racket that it is.

I revel in the opportunity to speak my mind on the subject of war porn and violence porn because a common misconception infecting the discourse of our society is that if you’re going to question the war you need to be prepared to respond to accusations of being anti-American or anti-military. As an ROTC cadet and a person who sacrificed his early life to join the military, is anyone prepared to call me anti-American? Since I was honorably discharged from my service, is anyone prepared to call me anti-military? The troops that Americans claim to support find themselves completely alone when the return home – 22 of them kill themselves every day. You think it’s because they’re proud of what they did? You think it’s because they’re happy with what their actions helped accomplish? You think its because they believed that their battles resulted in freedom for Americans?

And how does patriotic support of our troops equate to the anti-human stance we take on the ten million homeless veterans walking our streets every day, who we demonize for being poor? If anyone is qualified to say this, I as a veteran am: you cannot support our troops and be against the war, because if our troops are committing crimes, we are no different than Nazi Germany. Just following orders is a coward’s excuse, and hiding behind a rifle requires far less courage than standing up against a corrupt government that continues to commit crimes in the name of “freedom” while wearing the cross and wrapping itself up in the red, white and blue.

I’m not the only veteran taking a stance to set the record straight here. This week’s broadcast featured former Marines Adam Kokesh and Ross Caputi, men who served in Fallujah, Iraq – some of the bloodiest fighting in the entire Iraq conflict. They also calls the Iraq war what it is – an imperialistic resource exploitation that American soldiers are being sold on the basis of fighting for freedom.

No one has ever said it better than two-time Medal of Honor recipient Major General Smedley D. Butler:

BUtLER“I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. “I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.

“I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

“During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”

For this reason, I can’t help but cringe when people reflexively respond to the news of my military service by pumping my hand and thanking me for my service, which is part of the reason I rarely bring it up. Please don’t thank me for my service. Thanking me for my ‘service’ is tantamount to thanking a former Nazi for crimes against humanity. I didn’t fight for your freedom – I fought to help guarantee the profits of oil barons, banksters and oligarchs, and am doing everything in my power to atone for that mistake.

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Image source: Allriot t-shirts

This post was composed by Outer Limits producer and Army veteran Brandt Miller.
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The Fastest Growing Industry In America

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MANUFACTURING GUILT

The price we all pay when we ignore our truth tellers while often too great to bear, is difficult to measure until it’s too late to matter. But as with many truths, denial is the path of least resistance many of us choose to walk, especially if we internalize the myth of separation that whispers sweet apathetic nothings of complacency in our ears. And what could be easier to deny than a problem we rarely if ever see? Its too easy not to care about our prison population because we have no proximity to them. Unless we ourselves are in prison, we will never be directly confronted with the 2.4 million Americans serving sentences in penitentiaries. America leads the world in few categories, but per capital incarcerated citizens is one of them. There are many reasons for our obsessive incarceration, but the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was able to see the underlying causes nearly five decades ago.

Martin warned us of a triple threat so insidious that it jeopardizes the very fabric of our precious republic. That triple threat was the three-legged monster of racism, poverty and militarism. This triple threat results today in the imprisonment of more black men than were enslaved in 1850 – and it isn’t merely a relative increase with respect to population growth, because the population of our prison population has increased disproportionately to the population of the country. Since 1970, America’s overall population has increased by 55.48%, but America’s prison population has increased by 700% over the same period of time according to the ACLU. America imprisons more people than Communist China!

Most of us are unaware that the rapid Privatization of prisons by companies like the GEO Group or Corrections Corporation of America results in that taxpayers only pay for the cells that don’t have prisoners in them. That’s right – if there are empty beds, taxpayers pay the price, thus turning empty cells into a financial disincentive. But most shockingly, we are grossly unaware of the degree of involuntary servitude our 2.4 million prisoners are subjected to, and even less aware of which corporations benefit from prison slave labor vicariously through subcontractors.

As Chris Hedges wrote in Truthdig:

“Prisons employ and exploit the ideal worker. Prisoners do not receive benefits or pensions. They are not paid overtime. They are forbidden to organize and strike. They must show up on time. They are not paid for sick days or granted vacations. They cannot formally complain about working conditions or safety hazards. If they are disobedient, or attempt to protest their pitiful wages, they lose their jobs and can be sent to isolation cells. The roughly 1 million prisoners who work for corporations and government industries in the American prison system are models for what the corporate state expects us all to become. And corporations have no intention of permitting prison reforms that would reduce the size of their bonded workforce. In fact, they are seeking to replicate these conditions throughout the society.

“But corporate profit is not limited to building and administering prisons. Whole industries now rely almost exclusively on prison labor. Federal prisoners, who are among the highest paid in the U.S. system, making as much as $1.25 an hour, produce the military’s helmets, uniforms, pants, shirts, ammunition belts, ID tags and tents. Prisoners work, often through subcontractors, for major corporations such as Chevron, Bank of America, IBM, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Starbucks, Nintendo, Victoria’s Secret, J.C. Penney, Sears, Wal-Mart, Kmart, Eddie Bauer, Wendy’s, Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Fruit of the Loom, Motorola, Caterpillar, Sara Lee, Quaker Oats, Mary Kay, Microsoft, Texas Instruments, Dell, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Nordstrom’s, Revlon, Macy’s, Pierre Cardin and Target.”

But the scope this exploitation isn’t merely limited to individuals serving sentences in the Prison-Industrial-Complex. According to there are twice as many individuals currently serving correctional supervision such as parole and probation, paying for urinalysis testing and probation fees. And the 5 million Americans on state supervision are among a sector of the population that is growing even faster than the population of our citizens incarcerated within ‘correctional’ institutions.

Of course there is a tendency in this country to simplify these issues. So often we’ve heard, “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time,” as though the corruption of our public institutions and the militarization of our police forces will go unnoticed to you if you simply follow the rules. But there are many punishable offenses which are not, strictly speaking, crimes.

New laws are being passed all the time to funnel larger numbers of American citizens into these corporate work camps. We’re legislating our way into hell, and we’re doing it one law at a time. America’s fetishism for new statutory regulations has created such an atmosphere of totalitarianism, that even the elites are finding it difficult to ignore. Writing in Politico Magazine, Charles Koch (of all people) recognizes this problem:

“Congress creates, on average, more than 50 new criminal laws each year. Over  time, this has translated into more than 4,500 federal criminal laws spread across 27,000 pages of the United States federal code. (This number does not include the thousands of criminal penalties in federal regulations.) As a result, the United States is the world’s largest jailer.”

it isn’t difficult to see how we got here. Many politicians depend on the perception of being “tough on crime” to get elected, which all-too-often translates to vapid attempts to legislate morality, and correct societal ills by means of criminalization rather than compassionate reason. Heroin addiction is not a crime -it’s an illness, and a public health problem. Homelessness is not a crime – it’s a symptom of poverty amid an economic atmosphere so desperate that 47 million Americans depend on food stamps, 40 million Americans are below the poverty line, and 600,000 homeless Americans sleep out of doors on any given night. Nevertheless, it is in the establishment’s interest to perpetuate “tough on crime” slogans by means of exaggerating crime rates in the media. Crime rates in America are as low as they’ve ever been, but the reporting of crime in the mainstream media is more fanatical than ever before. When combined with cop dramas like CSI, Criminal Minds, and Law & Order that depict pathetically cartoonish portrayals of the world outside, the media’s overreaction to the reporting of crime perverts the collective psyche of America to the point that fascism seems normal.

Mark Warr, criminologist and professor of sociology, studies social reactions to crime and author of Companions in Crime: The Social Aspects of Criminal Conduct confirms that public perception of crime is radically out of sync with reality:

“People are bombarded with information about crime from the media, which makes them believe the world is a much more dangerous place than it really is. This creates a climate of fear that can negatively affect the way we live, the way we go to work, the times we shop and the precautions we take for our families and children.”

To cite just one statistical gem collected by Columbia Journalism School’s Dart Center, we’re provided a small glimpse into the extent of our media’s increasingly egregious fear mongering:

“Approximately half of crime news in New Orleans focused on homicide in 1981, while only 0.4% of the total crimes committed were actually homicides (Sheley & Ashkins, 1981).”

So if violent crime is so low, then why are more people than ever entering the prison population in America?

In terms of what is considered legal and what is illegal in this country, we would be wise to heed the words of Martin Luther King when he reminded us that, “We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was ‘legal,’ and it was ‘illegal’ to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany.” If that seems like an extreme example, I invite you examine a small sample of some of Ameica’s more ridiculous statutes, which have created a climate where it is illegal to collect rainwater in Colorado, Utah and Washington, it is illegal to consume raw milk in 17 states, and federally it is not only still illegal to possess the ancient medicine we know of as Cannabis despite overwhelming public outcry, but 15 million Americans have been arrested for Cannabis possession since 1970. This is just a tip of the iceberg when we consider all of the additional fines and citations accumulated by millions of Americans every day for inconsequential and often petty, technical offenses, such as traveling 5 miles over the speed limit or failing to come to a “complete stop” at a signal. And now the paranoid atmosphere of the Terror War further ensures that the divide between the crowbar hotel and the so-called free world is often only one honest mistake away.

But the height of America’s legal absurdity comes into view vis-a-vis the hypocrisy of Nixon’s War on Drugs, which rages on to this very day.

THE FOUR-FOLD RACKET

While the War On Drugs is frequently referred to as a “failure,” this appraisal assumes that the goal of the drug war is to make America a drug-free zone. The truth is that the Drug War is an elaborate profit scheme whereby the established regime can quadruple-dip their profit margin. The initial profit comes into view with state-sanctioned cultivation and importation for large shipments of highly profitable substances, such as cocaine and heroine. It wasn’t just savvy businessmen like Frank Lucas who figured out how to use connections within the US military to smuggle heroin into America inside the coffins of dead servicemen. The government themselves, and the corporations who buy politicians through campaign contributions, have been caught with their pants down on numerous occasions conducting state-sponsored drug trafficking. This kind of state run gangsterism might have remained merely a rumor were it not for the brave journalism of Gary Webb. Marc Levin wrote in October 2014:

“Webb’s reporting uncovered the story of how tons of cocaine were shipped into San Francisco by supporters of the CIA-backed Contras and then distributed down to LA to a Nicaraguan named Danilo Blandon, who sold it to a street dealer from South Central, Freeway Rick Ross.”

The next profit margin is enjoyed almost exclusively by police unions and other law enforcement agencies who bust the users and distributors on drug crimes, imposing fines and seizing property. In fact, the American racket of seizing property without convicting anyone of a crime known as Civil Asset Forfeiture accounts for nearly $2 Billion in police revenue annually.

The third profit margin occurs when police take the newly seized drugs and turn around to sell them. Because so much of these kinds of sales happen in the shadows by the untouchable enforcers of law, this problem is more rampant than we know. But occasionally such operations become uncovered, as it was in Chicago in 2013 by New York Daily News:

“Three Chicago-area cops robbed drug dealers of their stash while executing search warrants, then turned around and sold the heroin, cocaine and marijuana, pocketing the cash.”

There is one more kind of profit in this business, and it involves the largest financial institutions in the world. In March of 2013 Senator Elizabeth Warren grilled officials from the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency on the subject of HSBC’s $1.9 Billion settlement on charges of laundering money on behalf of Mexican and Columbian drug cartels. No members of HSBC were charged with a crime despite the admission by HSBC that they were responsible for laundering $881 Million in drug money, as well as violating America’s sanctions with Iran, Libya, Cuba, Burma, and the Sudan. Warren concluded her questions with the following statement:

“If you’re caught with an ounce of cocaine, the chances are good you’re gonna go to jail. If it happens repeatedly, you may go to jail for the rest of your life. But evidently if you launder nearly a billion dollars for drug cartels and violate our international sanctions, your company pays a fine and you go home and sleep in your bed at night — every single individual associated with this. And I think that’s fundamentally wrong.”

This is especially alarming when we consider that more than half of the people in prison are in there for drug-related reasons. Today’s drug war is not only a conglomeration of the three legged monster of Racism, Poverty and Militarism that Martin Luther King warned us about, but is a war that has been perpetuated to lay the groundwork for today’s American Gulag Archipelago. A vast network of prisons that rivals any concentration camp complex ever known before.

Though they’re only caught occasionally, these kinds of operations are business as usual for American institutions, and documentation for these kinds of cases exists as far back in the historical record as you care to go.

The line between legal and illegal seems to be more of a matter of one’s bank balance than of evidence-based assertions in the name of justice. And it follows that in the pervading ideology of gangster capitalism, the ownership class are not fond of anyone who spills the beans on their schemes, nor of individuals capable of rallying the public toward rejecting the tyrannical despotism crawling all around us. The establishment has repeatedly taken decisive action to silence figures like Martin Luther King and Malcom X, the Black Panther leaders and any other powerful orator capable of drawing a crowd and fanning the flames of righteous indignation. Popular leaders and effective journalists were, and continue to be, systematically exterminated to prevent any uprising capable of opposing the status quo in a meaningful way. Leaders whose popularity and notoriety protected them from assassination were imprisoned instead. One such leader was, and is, Mumia Abu Jamal.

Mumia’s incredible story chronicles an ineffable journey from gifted broadcast journalist working the streets of Philadelphia, to death-row author whose books have made him perhaps the most famous prison inmate of modern times. Assessing the reason for Mumia’s incarceration, a thorough examination of the historical record demonstrates not only that the evidence for Mumia’s guilt simply does not exist, but that the state framed him in 1981 explicitly to shut him up. Accepting life in prison as an opportunity to write seven bestselling books, today his very existence challenges our beliefs about freedom of expression. But in order to properly understand this brilliant writer, we must come to grips with the modern American Gulag, which brings me back to the fastest growing industry in the American Empire. The truth is that Mumia’s story is not exceptional. Leonard Peltier’s story shares an eerie parallel. Both men were imprisoned for crimes they did not commit, but because they were well spoken and socially adept, it was politically advantageous to imprison them and make examples of them.

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IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE?

While we were distracted with Game of Thrones and Call of Duty, our country has transformed into a the dystopia that American’s have repeatedly denied would ever happen here due to the delusion of American Exceptionalism that refuses to acknowledge that seeds of corruption could ever germinate in the U.S. For those who say “it can’t happen here,” we need but simply recall the internment of Japanese Americans in 1942 to recognize that it has happened here already, and is happening on a daily basis courtesy of a $75 Billion per year industry that garners profits for shareholders based on how many people are in jail. And now with the advent of “Guaranteed Occupancy Agreements,” if prisons fail to fill the beds, the taxpayers bear the burden. “It can’t happen here” is a sentence uttered in ignorance of the American Government’s bombing of Philadelphia neighborhoods on 13 May 1985. “It can’t happen here” is a perspective of wishful thinking that ignores the Waco siege in Texas of April 1993. “It can’t happen here” is a fantasy that outright ignores the writing on the wall provided to us by the likes of Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, Karen Hudes, Sherry Peel Jackson, and countless other whistleblowers. We can no longer afford the luxury of apathy that drives us to blindly accept this as “just the way things are” by perpetuating the lie that “it can’t happen here.” The more we ignore it, the worse it will become. Until we realize that the militarization of police nationwide is nothing short of the inception of an American Gestapo that sees the citizen as the enemy, increasing numbers of our children will attend Con Colleges and Gladiator Schools, or worse.

Even if we embrace the immature thinking that the people in prisons deserve to be there, someday most of them are going to get out and rejoin society, conceivably. When they get out, if they haven’t dealt with the internal strife that led them into prison in the first place, they’re more likely to return to prison, end up homeless, or commit suicide than effectively reintegrate into society. Jobs are already difficult to find, but try finding a job if you’re a convicted felon. The state refers to the Gulag euphemistically as the “Department of Corrections” but nothing remotely corrective happens behind bars, because there is no profit in seeking solutions. It is not in the monetary interests of this machine to allow inmates the social mobility to leave the prison system once they’ve ventured inside it. This problem is exacerbated intensely by America’s modern paradigm that sees Prisons as a Business, which is a major reason why the number of incarcerated Americans has multiplied by several orders of magnitude and rates of recidivism have soared over the past few decades. Its all on track to follow the Capitalist “Infinite Growth” paradigm until and unless something significant finally stands in its way.

In 2010 I spoke with a young man named Daniel who worked for the organization Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP). Despite the escalating drug war, Daniel was confident that the future looked hopeful. His positive outlook centered on how Baby Boomers would react to their children going to prison; that when they inevitably witness what is happening to their progeny, it would be inconceivable to allow this to continue. Daniel’s analysis couldn’t have been more lucid, and illustrates perhaps the only way to turn this around before it’s too late to reverse the Southward trend down tyranny’s slippery slope. The voting public are by and large comprised of elderly citizens, who were sold today’s America on the promise that they needed to be kept safe, which meant being tough on crime, and being tough on crime meant expanding the Prison Industrial Complex. Now that our parents can no longer ignore how the jagged teeth of this system tears their children apart, the dinner table conversations couldn’t be more necessary. There has never been a time when it was more important to turn the television off, put the cell phone down, and engage. We stand at the edge of oblivion, and whether they’ve been hypnotized by the media or not, whatever the mass of people deem as acceptable is what will prevail. We can no longer afford to maintain a mentality of apathy, complacency or indifference when it comes to America’s Prison Industrial Complex.

us-incarceration-rate-cartoon1SLAVE-ON-SLAVE EXPLOITATION

America’s mainstream opinions are anchored in the facade of carefully prepared sound-bytes designed to prevent discussions by fueling bigotry concerning those who question or condemn the status quo.

If, for example, you dare to question the intention behind the reality of modern warfare, droves of unconscious masses declare that you’re demeaning the brave soldiers that have fought and died for your freedom. If you dare to propose that river waters are more important to the health of unquantifiable life forms than a pipeline that threatens to pollute it, hoards of consumers condemn you as radical, leftist, environmentalist scum obviously trying to destroy our economy. In exactly the same way, if you dare to question the practices at work inside our Prisons, you’re denounced by the mob for putting all of our communities at risk by letting evil off the hook or taking sides with the ‘evil doers.’ Such obtuse opinions fail to acknowledge how evil it is to exploit the world to obtain a few fleeting crumbs from the sands of impermanence.

But by and large many have enjoyed the luxury of remaining blissfully unaware of the state of the country, until we arrive at the point where we are now. There have been so many arrests, and now so many people are in prison, and the police corruption has reached such fever pitch, that these issues have become all but impossible to ignore. But many American’s continue to struggle with the great difficulty of juxtaposing ‘American Exceptionalism’ with the state of America as it is today. It’s perfectly natural in such a situation to wonder how this is possible in the freest and most prosperous country in the world? Unfortunately, despite what we’re routinely fed through the media, not only is America not the freest or most prosperous country in the world, there is a growing consciousness which recognizes the warning signs that we may be goosestepping our way into yet another repetition of history.

When we look at the Prison-class, and what it is further becoming with the privatization of prisons, what we see emerging is a permanent slave population harvested from already impoverished communities. We see an atmosphere of jailing society’s undesirables, starting with the homeless because people can universally condemn the homeless population. And that’s usually how fascism gets going. This isn’t a mere possibility that we may be headed toward – we’re already there now. You’d think the overwhelming militarization of our domestic police forces would illustrate this straightaway. According to The Guardian:

“Since 2006, state and local law enforcement have acquired at least 435 armored vehicles, 533 military aircraft and 93,763 machine guns, according to an investigation by the New York Times published in June. This was made possible under a department of defense program that allows the agency to transfer excess military property to US law enforcement agencies. More than $4.3bn worth of gear has been transferred since the program was created in 1997, according to the Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO)”

Militarism is one of the chief factors in the triple threat to American liberty that Martin Luther King warned us about. And it continues to march through our society claiming the lives of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Rumain Brisbon, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley, Kajieme Powell, Ezell Ford, Dante Parker, John Crawford III, Tyree Woodson, Eric Garner, Victor White III, and Yvette Smith just to name a few of the black men executed by law enforcement officers within the last 12 months. The atmosphere of police murders today is such that Americans are 8 times more likely to be killed by a cop than by a terrorist.

 

FreedomWatch_prisonDON’T DO THE CRIME IF YOU CAN’T DO THE TIME?

There are very good reasons for sending people to prison, and they include war-crimes and money laundering. Unfortunately no war criminal guilty of genocide and no banker guilty of embezzling the world’s economy faces so much as a shred of justice. Meanwhile our institutions habitually send millions of people into the hell of prison because they changed the state of their consciousness – an act that harms no one but potentially themselves. The masses go along with this scheme because it is easier in the short term to punish people than to take the steps necessary to heal them in a responsible way that will last.

Perpetuating the pain of people that most often grew up in very painful circumstances is only going to maintain this new slave-class – which is, of course, the goal of the ownership-class. Providing meaningful programs to heal deep psychological wounds and guide personal responsibility, education and self-progression would provide new-found strength that could ripple out into our communities and culture.

A transformation is possible, but requires our participation and dedication to a radical paradigm shift that embraces compassion-based solutions instead of profit-focused punishment. As long as monetary incentives to lock people up persist, the ownership-class have no reason to change course from their present trajectory, though they may use words on occasion to admit they are aware of the depravity of the situation, as Charles Koch has. This industry is too profitable to abandon, and private prison industries have spent tens of millions of dollars sending their lobbyist armies to Washington to secure their bottom line.

We must also recognize how the deliberate use of legalese to distort language and thereby coerce the population into consenting to unjust statutes makes us as liable for the present situation as those who have recognized how to exploit it.

If we are honest with ourselves about the present income inequality that has now reached fever pitch, it is simply a continuation of exploitation on behalf of the ownership class who reap the benefits from people of modest means who, for whatever reason, willingly consent to their own enslavement because they mistakenly believe they are free. The true success of this system lies in America’s routine acceptance of it. It is accepted because, “if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Romans 8:25). Americans see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires, and in dreaming for carrots they will never grasp, have rendered themselves docile for the duration of their lives.

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Gabrielle Lafayette is a journalist, writer, and executive producer for the Outer Limits Radio Show.
Alexandria “Rain” Smith is a poet, artist, and host of the Outer Limits.
Check out the more frequently updated tumblr page at outerlimitsradioshow.tumblr.com
Contact the research team at outerlimitsradioshow@fastmail.fm