In the image of the Machine

“The conventional models of human response are based on the civilized world and, yes, there are common strands in all cultures but, for instance, when a death occurs in a tribal culture that has, like all animals, accepted death as part of life then denial is not part of the equation. Neither is bargaining – for how can you bargain with the inevitable?

When Elisabeth Kübler-Ross posited her model for bereavement, it was always going to a be a model for how the civilized human deals with death; it took no account of the way all humans deal with death, for not only are we all slightly different in our approach to everything – not just bereavement – we, as de facto civilized humans, are freaks.

Homo sapiens civilis never evolved. Civilized humans have been created in the image of the machine: we don’t behave as normal human beings any more.”

— Keith Farnish: “Underminers. A Practical Guide For Radical Change

The Empire Express, 28 June 2017

Editorial

Three distinct areas have emerged as today’s focus points: clear indication of the climate’s rapid deterioration, studies in anthropology and sociology, and the battle to bring down the Megamachine. You might also express it in terms of observation – realization – action; or, past – present – future.
A lot of that has close relationship to food supply which is absolutely no surprise to anyone who pays attention to their basic needs.
The question of how to deal with the dire realities of today’s world permeates many publications even when their main topics seem harmless. The threat of a global war, nuclear war even, and the collapse of our culture is hovering over our heads; anarchists, anti-imperialists, environmentalists and primitivists are pondering the role of violence in their struggle to save whatever they are out saving. Does pacifism equal collaboration with the omnicidal System? Is there a moral obligation to use violence against things and/or people? Or is there another way?
I think those belong among the most burning questions of our times, and while I personally tend to favour nonviolent liberation I do suppose that some situations might require the application of force. Can’t plan this beforehand, though, because it depends on the specifics of the moment. In any case, let compassion prevail. Don’t act from a place of hate.

Ongoing Assault

Recent news
Climate scientists reveal their fears for the future – Kerry Brewster, ABC news, 20170627
An Australian climate scientist studying heat waves says, “I don’t like to scare people but the future’s not looking very good.“She and many of hercolleagues have second thoughts about having children and they are moving to places like Tasmania where temperatures are lower – as do many of the rich and powerful. If you need reliable indication of an impending climate collapse, here tweetsyour canary.
Carbon in atmosphere Is rising, even as emissions stabilize– Justin Gillis, New York Times, 20170627
That raises a conundrum: If the amount of the gas that people are putting out has stopped rising, how can the amount that stays in the air be going up faster than ever?”
If you are aware that various tipping points have been reached beyond which self-reinforcing feedback loops kick in you do not need to read this article. Just share it with people who wonder what is going on.
Both climate change and political issues may interrupt global trade at any moment now. A number of African countries depend heavily on food imports, but the problem is not theirs alone. The failure of raw materials and fossil fuel supply is sure to fell the economies of developed countries in no time. The whole situation is a threat to all of global industrial civilization and has a potential to bring it down permanently – which is why big harbours, channels, and straits have been identified as trouble areas by the anti-capitalist movement.
Subsea permafrost on East Siberian Arctic Shelf in accelerated decline – interview by Nick Breeze with Dr Natalia Shakhova and Dr Igor Semiletov, Envisionation, 20170624
Latest research results show that the threat of a multi-gigaton outburst of methane from the ESAS is real and would have severe and immediate impact on the world’s climate.
The twilight of anthropolatry – John Michael Greer, Ecosophia, 20170621
Check out any other issue where the survival of industrial society is at stake, and you’ll see the same thing. In case after case, it takes very little work to identify the habits and lifestyle choices that are dragging our civilization to ruin, and only a few moments of clear thinking to realize that the way to avert an ugly future has to begin with giving up those habits and lifestyle choices. Yet that last step is unthinkable to most people. It’s not just that they refuse to take it, for whatever reason; it’s that they don’t seem to be able to wrap their brains around the idea at all.”
Then what is it that keeps people from acting according to their best knowledge? After all, civilized humans deem themselves the most intelligent species on Earth by far. We even call ourselves homo sapiens, wise apes. The author thinks that we cannot believe anything will ever be able to come and bite us because of “A paradigm that insists that human beings are above nature—in the full literal sense of the word, supernatural—and therefore can’t possibly need to rethink their own choices for nature’s sake.”
Though the concept is not exactly new JMG puts it in a way that helps with reconsidering humanity’s place in the greater scheme of things. We are divine, but no more so than squirrels and apple trees.
Forbes’ “Go Bust” prescription for Indian farmers is a death warrant– Colin Todhunter & Binu Mathew, Countercurrents, 20170614
A piece in one of the ‘finest’ business magazines, on the need to industrialize Indian agriculture, led to this systematic rebuttal of both the analysis and the conclusion of Forbes’ neoliberal line of argument. Well written, but I am missing the insight that, very soon, the world is running into a food crisis and no one is going to eat if farming productivity is getting measured in financial rather than nutritional value.
The business model of big agribusiness in the US is based on overproduction and huge taxpayer subsidies which allow it to rake in huge profits. However, it drives a model of agriculture that merely serves to produce bad food, creates food deficit regions globally, destroys health, impoverishes small farms, leads to less diverse diets and less nutritious food, is less productive than small farms, creates water scarcity, destroys soil and fuels/benefits from World Bank/WTO policies that create dependency and debt […]
While [Forbes author Tim] Worstall argues that unproductive agriculture is a burden on society, it is not agriculture that has been the subsidy-sucking failure he imagines it to be. It has been starved of investment while the corporates secure the handouts. If anything, farmers have been sacrificed for the benefit of the urban middle classes whose food has been kept cheap and whose disposable income and consumer spending provides the illusion of growth.”
Earth is not in the midst of a sixth mass extinction – Peter Brannen, The Atlantic, 20170613
Interesting read. But palaeontologist Doug Erwin’s argument does not convince. First of all, mass extinctions may have similarities to failing power grids but they are not that, not pieces of technology. It’s simply an analogy like, comparing civilization to a ship, or seeing life as a journey, and it might be just as wrong as the computer/brain analogy. Secondly, previous mass extinction events played out over thousands or even millions of years before the collapse was complete. As we cannot foresee how the extinction of a certain species affects the web of life as a whole, we cannot tell whether key species of today have already vanished or not. We might already be over the edge (or we might not, agreed). Saying that today’s ecosystems don’t look like they were 90% collapsed is like driving a car at top speed over a cliff saying, a crashed car wouldn’t make one hundred miles per hour. From the figures I know the world has lost more than 90% of its vertebrates and insects populations within the last 100 years, and that is a pretty close call for extinction. Add to this the increasing speed at which we eat up living beings and destroy habitats, then look at ocean acidification, abrupt climate change, global pollution, and disastrous technological events, and do not forget to include the general disregard for non-human beings when money enters the game; then tell me again about being alarmist.
Mandsaur agitation: how demonetisation brought MP farmers onto streets – Aman Sethi & Punya Priya Mitra, Hindustan Times, 20170612
Humanity’s behaviour towards the world we inhabit is often described as ‘soiling our nest’. Most civilized people definitely got mental issues when it comes to natural processes, even when they are being adapted for human use, like in agriculture. The average consumer looks down upon their farmers, and generally feels that food prices are too high. But those who produce the vital goods each and every one of us depends upon work the hardest and longest, earn the least, and take the highest risks. Some of the governments know very well that they cannot stay in power if the farmers become aware of their potential leverage. That’s why they are getting shot at while the general public doesn’t care. People don’t care in Delhi, they don’t care in Auroville, they don’t care in Berlin or New York or Buenos Aires or Cairo. They don’t care in your home town, and likely you don’t care either, do you?
Maybe you should. Because when the day of food shortage comes it’s the farmers who will eat, if anyone. I say ‘If anyone’ because it seems more likely that, with all the obstacles and hardships put on the farmers, and with all the destruction brought upon the landbase, no one will eat.
Paris 2 degree rise relates to 1750 – Paul Beckwith, 20170610
The Canadian climate scientist explains where some of the confusion about the actual rise in global average temperature comes from.
It’s habitat, habitat, habitat, stupid – Robin Westenra, Seemorerocks, 20170607
An essay discussing our crop plants’ dependence on habitat, and the dependence of civilization on crop plants.
Vanessa Beeley on White Helmets, Syria – Sane Progressive, 20170526
It is thanks to a handful of independent investigative journalists that we can see the extent to which the public is being fooled into believing that governments were fighting morally good wars. The war in Syria not only shows that this is true for the West’s attack against yet another sovereign nation, but for the whole so-called War on Terror which is really only a deadly sham. In Syria, it is no longer ISIS or al-Qaeda who are being bombed by Western troops. Vanessa Beeley, Eva Bartlett and others did a great job describing how the so-called terrorists are being financed by Saudi, Israeli, US, and UK governments. Especially disgusting is the role of the White Helmets that our media style into angels. But listen to the reporter for yourself.
Now: The Invisible Committee – Non (copyriot.com), 20170520
This world is no longer to be commented on, criticised, denounced. We live surrounded by a fog of commentaries and of commentaries on commentaries, of criticisms and of criticisms of criticisms, of revelations that trigger nothing, except revelations about revelations. And this fog takes away from us any hold on the world. There is nothing to criticise in Donald Trump. The worst that one can say about him, he has already absorbed, incorporated. He embodies it. He wears as a necklace all of the grievances that one could ever imagine holding against him. He is his own caricature, and he is proud.”
This is not an essay about the US president.
The truth is not something towards which we would tend, but a non-evasive relation to what there is. It is not a “problem” except for those who already see life as a problem. It is not something that one professes, but a way of being in the world. It is therefore not something that is possessed, or accumulated. It is given in a situation, from moment to moment.”
It is a call for an anarchist revolution, written by an “Invisible Committee” of authors that has, ten years ago, published “The coming insurrection.” Its analysis of the global predicament goes deep, its scope of interest is wide, and although I am really not a friend of applied violence I have to admit that its place in the grander scheme of things seems properly defined.

Pearls Before Swine

A collection of older articles that – obviously – didn’t change the world.
The demoralized mind – John F. Shumaker, Newint, 201604
Unlike most forms of depression, demoralization is a realistic response to the circumstances impinging on the person’s life […]
Research shows that, in contrast to earlier times, most people today are unable to identify any sort of philosophy of life or set of guiding principles. Without an existential compass, the commercialized mind gravitates toward a ‘philosophy of futility’, as Noam Chomsky calls it, in which people feel naked of power and significance beyond their conditioned role as pliant consumers. Lacking substance and depth, and adrift from others and themselves, the thin and fragile consumer self is easily fragmented and dispirited […]
Cultural deprogramming is essential, along with ‘culture proofing’, disobedience training and character development strategies, all aimed at constructing a worldview that better connects the person to self, others and the natural world.”
International migration flows: tracking the trends – Down To Earth, based on UN international migrant stock 2015
In 2015, the world saw the highest levels of forced displacement recorded since World War II. There was a dramatic surge in the number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people across the world.”
Ho’oponopono for beginners.
Thinking on a clean slate: preface to the human story – M. J. John, Human First – Thinking Beyond Industrial Civilization, 20141208
Nothing could be more misleading than the idea that computer technology introduced the age of information. The printing press began that age, and we have not been free of it ever since.
[…] Everything from telegraphy and photography in the 19th century to the silicon chip in the twentieth has amplified the din of information, until matters have reached such proportions today that for the average person, information no longer has any relation to the solution of problems.
[…] For most humans living today, it is hard to imagine life without technology – without second-hand intelligence-dependency. But on the scale of human history, the
Internet and mobile devices are recent inventions, a few decades back, and the modern science and technology a few centuries back. Until just 5,000 years ago, we lived in small groups, hunting and gathering. While that life might seem to be ancient, it is also the life for which our bodies and our brains are adapted. So, we have something to learn from people who still live naturally, as we did for almost 99.9% of human life here on Mother Earth.
[…] In ancient Greece, even slaves had a deep social role as part of a household, unlike even higher class modern workers, who are valued as things, interchangeable as parts in engines of profit. Medieval serfs worked fewer hours than modern people, at a slower pace, and passed less of their money up the hierarchy. We declare our lives better than theirs in terms of our own cultural values. If medieval people could visit us, I think they would be impressed by our advances in alcohol, pornography, and sweet foods, and appalled at our biophobia, our fences, the lifelessness of our physical spaces, the meaninglessness and stress of our existence, our lack of practical skills, and the extent to which we let our lords (leaders of religion, government and market) regulate our every activity. They are sure to consider us as pitiful creatures.
[…] Supposing there were no books, TV, radio, the newspapers, phone and the Internet, we would know very little of what went on or is going on in the world. We would have fewer thoughts, fewer second-hand ideas. Being less cluttered up mentally, we would be better able to concentrate on things near at hand. We would be able to live more intensely. Perhaps we would be closer to REALITY, the real knowledge or the TRUTH. This was, of course, the condition of our ancestors in bygone days, even as it is still the condition of many people untouched by industrial civilization in some of the so-called ‘undeveloped’ countries.”
A veeery long essay taken from the book “Life on meltdown: exposing the root of this genocidal collective stupidity”by M. J. John, and it has, of course much more to tell, beyond critisizing industrial civilization. I chose to quote these passages, especially at such length, because, for the resolving message to come across, it takes for the reader to let go, just one moment, of the idea that humanity is living at the apex of its abilities. There aremassive amounts of evidence today that both human intelligence and human sensory and memory functions are actually in decline. Think of it.
An anthropologist’s presentation regarding tribes of the Northern Congo basin, explaining the locals’ understanding of equality and its rootedness in different kinds of blood. Beyond the social equality – between men and women, old and young people, strangers and family, and all kinds of other dichotomies – there is also equality between human and non-human populations in their forest. I found it interesting to see how the concept of equality differs between civilized and tribal nations. Profound differences in lifestyle result from that.
This book is about fighting back. The dominant culture—civilization—is killing the planet, and it is long past time for those of us who care about life on earth to begin taking the actions necessary to stop this culture from destroying every living being […] it won’t stop doing so because we ask nicely.”

Cartoon

The train of civilization
“Must go faster!”

Famous Last Words

It can’t happen to us.

Cognitive Justice: Science and the Sacred

Let’s take a step back and forget about climate change and the planetary catastrophe called global industrial civilization for a moment. Some of the deeper roots of our predicament have been discussed here repeatedly. (see some of the articles under the label ‘collapse of civilization‘) I have also touched into the epistemological dimension of it, what I’d call ‘nature of truth and reality‘.

Today, I’d like to have my – much more learned – colleagues elaborate on how the dominant worldview, i.e. our most basic assumptions on the nature of truth and reality, not only started the cycle of destruction but perpetuate and aggravate it through a self-reinforcing mechanism called scientific discourse.

This is in no way meant to diminish the epistemological achievements of science (see below, Nagler), or to strike a blow for the deliberate distortion of facts that runs by the name of ‘alt-truth’. Yet for us to get a more accurate picture of what is going on we need to be aware that there are actually truths alternate to our own understanding and that those truths are just as valid as what is scientifically believed to be real (see below, Wilber).

Drone magic, by Mike Licht (CC)
There is an abundance of alternative views to rationalistic materialism, yet they initially are – very – hard to discover. The dominant culture is fighting an epistemicidal war against ‘the other’, a war that is unseen by most because the enemy is not supposed to even exist. Why?

Empire is not merely territory covered, not just populations made into subjects. Empire rules not only through political, economic, and military force but through the very culture that gave birth to Empire. In other words, Empire rules the minds of its subjects, and it does so by defining what they can know — what is real. This may sound overstated to some, likely most, but the cognitive injustice created by scientific discourse is actually key to the question why social injustice does not spawn the kind of movements that would overthrow Empire. Marx had it wrong because we are not simply victims, we are co-creators of oppression. Awareness has never been enough; it takes an awakening.
The totalitarian exclusion of ‘the other’ from our view has turned it from a simple alternative into the deadliest enemy of the dominant culture, because once you start seeing it, awakening to it, you can no longer buy into the common dogmas around separateness, competition, materialism, utilitarianism, or scientism.

If you are still with me let’s foster cognitive justice now, by exploring an example which helps making the issue obvious: the relationship between science and the Sacred.

A discourse provides a set of possible statements about a given area, and organizes and gives structure to the manner in which a particular topic, object, process is to be talked about. In that it provides descriptions, rules, permissions and prohibitions of social and individual actions.”
– Günther Kress – Linguistic Processes in Sociocultural Practice, 1988
Epistemology(literally, the logical discourse on knowledge) is the branch of philosophy concerned with the theory of knowledge. Epistemology studies the nature of knowledge, justification, and the rationality of belief. Much of the debate in epistemology centers on four areas: (1) the philosophical analysis of the nature of knowledge and how it relates to such concepts as truth, belief, and justification, (2) various problems of skepticism, (3) the sources and scope of knowledge and justified belief, and (4) the criteria for knowledge and justification.”
– Wikipedia

“The whole notion of ‘discourse‘ and ‘discourse community’ is a circular one – the community is defined as those that share certain discourse habits and functions, while skill in the prescribed discourse is a prerequisite for being taken seriously by the discourse community. Hence, academic discourse is thus revealed, from the outset, to be a self-referential self-justificatory practice that determines what may legitimately beconsidered as knowledge.”

In this era of increased knowledge the essence of religious phenomena eludes the psychologists, sociologists, linguists, and other specialists because they do not study it as religious. According to Mircea Eliade, they miss the one irreducible element in religious phenomena—the element of the sacred.“
– 1996 introduction to Mircea Eliade’s book „Patterns in comparative Religion“ (1958)
The dark side of modern science, and unfortunately it has one, does not arise from science itself, still less from any of the facts of nature. It arises from the impression we allow science to give us: the impression that we are merely biological machines in a meaningless material universe.
Science has every right to confine its attention to the physical, i.e. the outside world. It has no right to say, when it has done so, that it has given us the whole story.”
– Michael N. Nagler – Is there no other way?, 2001
Cognitive injustice, the failure to recognize the different ways of knowing by which people across the globe run their lives and provide meaning to their existence.”
– Boaventura de Sousa Santos – Epistemologies of the South: justice against epistemicide. 2014 (pdf)
Epistemicide: the war on, and the destruction of existing knowledge and the subsequent abortion of the possibility of acquiring new knowledge within a certain system of thought.
The way that a particular culture formulates its knowledge is intricately bound up with the very identity of its people, their way of making sense of the world and the value system that holds that worldview in place. Epistemicide, as the systematic destruction of rival forms of knowledge, is at its worst nothing less than symbolic genocide […]
There are others […] that view the encroachment of the scientific paradigm as a form of cultural imperialism […] They often experience the rationalization and objectivization of reality as a kind of reductionism that is inadequate to explain the complexities of human experience.”
– Karen Bennett – Epistemicide! The Tale of a Predatory Discourse. 2007
The modern age has forgotten that facts and information, for all their usefulness, are not the same as wisdom—and certainly not the same as the direct experience of Reality. We have lost touch with the intuitive wisdom born of silence and stillness, and we are left stranded in a sea of information that cannot deliver on its promise of ever-increasing happiness and fulfillment.”
The Way of Liberation is not a belief system; it is something to be put into practice. In this sense it is entirely practical.”
– Adyashanti – The way of Liberation: a practical guide to spiritual enlightenment, 2012

“When we find those types of statements in Plotinus or Asanga or Garab Dorje or Abhinavigupta or Shankara, rest assured that they are not simply theoretical hunches or metaphysical postulates. Those are direct experimental disclosures issuing directly from te subtle dimension of reality, interpreted according to the backgrounds of those individuals, but issuing from this profound ontological reality, this subtle worldspace.

And if you want to know what these men and women are actually talking about, then you must take up the contemplative practice or injunction or paradigm, and perform the experiment yourself […]
So this experiment will disclose the archetypal data, and then you can help interpret what they mean. And by far the most commonly accepted interpretation is, you are looking at the basic forms and foundations of the entire manifest world. You are looking directly into the face of the Divine.”
– Ken Wilber – A brief history of everything, 1996

The Empire Express, 15 April 2017

Some of the more ‘interesting’ articles regarding systems in collapse, especially climate, global civilization, food & farming, human consciousness and ecology. I recommend them for either their illustrative information on the state of affairs, or their profound insight into what said information might mean.

Ongoing Assault

Recent news
A long catalogue of crimes committed against the ocean makes sure that the near-term collapse of Indian society due to food crises becomes inevitable.
Exiting the Anthropocene – Roger Boyd, Resilience.org, 20170410
Seems like the Anthropocene is over before it really started. The author writes up a realistic description of the factors that will bring the curtain down. Too bad we cannot read such essays on the front pages of our favourite newspapers and magazines, because,While the evidence that the door to the end of the Anthropocene is opening wide mounts, our society seems unable to grasp the scale and urgency of the danger.”
Is this the start of runaway global warming? – William P. Hall, PhD, Kororoit Inst., 2017,0408
“This essay focuses on observations of what appears to be the start of runaway warming in the Arctic that may have profound effects on global climates over the next few years;”
A fine introduction and comprehensive overview on the climate situation and the outlook for the near-term future.
The end of ice – Dahr Jamail in an interview with Jennifer Hynes, Extinction Radio, 20170405
Independent journalist Dahr Jamail talks about the research for his upcoming book on climate change. Both the state of affairs and his personal outlook on the future are discussed.
What’s scarier than the Permian Extinction? – Robert Scribbler, 20170405
Burn all the fossil fuels to find out…”
America’s farmers face uncertain future – Tim Radford, Climate News Network, 20170405
Worldwide, scientists have repeatedly warned that climate change driven by human dependence on fossil fuels presents serious problems for farmers: many crops are vulnerable to extremes of heat, and climate change presents a hazard for harvests in Africa, Asia and Europe.
America in particular could face substantial losses, and, at the most basic level, the grasses – almost all the world’s staple foods are provided by the grass family – may not be able to adapt to rapidly changing climates.”
Not to forget Yemen and Nigeria, along with several countries that are standing at the edge. “Ethiopia has learned from previous droughts and took adequate precautions. Yet the scale of the current drought is too great for Ethiopia, and indeed the entire region, to cope with,” says German development minister Gerd Müller.
Extreme heat threat rises for megacities – Tim Radford, Climate News Network, 20170403
If global warming is contained at 1.5°C – the ideal target identified at the 2015 climate summit in Paris − the researchers say the number of megacities, with populations over 10 million, in the danger zone will double from today’s figure […] Other scientists had already established that if global temperatures rise by 4°C this century − in the notorious business-as-usual scenario in which humans go on burning fossil fuels and depositing ever more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere − then some parts of the globe could become intolerably hot for at least part of the day, and potentially uninhabitable.”
Vital groundwater depleted faster than ever – Alex Kirby, Climate News Network, 20170402
The study’s authors say excessive abstraction of groundwater for irrigation – part of the wider virtual water trade – is leading to rapid depletion of aquifers in key food-producing regions, including north-western India, the North China Plain, central US, and California.”
Despite international efforts to address food insecurity, around 108 million people in the world were severely food insecure in 2016, a dramatic increase compared with 80 million in 2015, according to a new global report on food crises released in Brussels on 31 March 2017 […]

The dramatic increase reflects the trouble people have in producing and accessing food due to conflict, record-high food prices in local markets and extreme weather conditions such drought and erratic rainfall caused by El Niño.”

Pumped dry: India’s accelerating and invisible groundwater crisis – Asit K. Biswas et al., Ecologise, 20170326
India is now facing a water situation that is significantly worse than any that previous generations have had to face. All Indian water bodies within and near population centres are now grossly polluted with organic and hazardous pollutants. Interstate disputes over river waters are becoming increasingly intense and widespread. Not a single Indian city can provide clean water that can be consumed from the tap on a 24×7 basis. Surface water conditions are bad. However, the groundwater situation is even worse.”
This includes natural and anthropogenic pollution, sea-water intrusion, explosive growth of tube-wells, and farmers pumping like there is no tomorrow.
Nearly half of India’s jobs are now in the agricultural sector. If the current trends continue, by 2030 nearly 60% of Indian aquifers will be in a critical condition. This means that some 25% of the agriculture production will be at risk. This would aggravate India’s employment situation.”
Well, let’s not worry about jobs. As stated elsewhere, in 2030 there will likely be no one to get laid off. In the meantime, climate change is unfolding, developing from rapidly to abruptly, and the Indian subcontinent, together with the heart of Africa, might evolve into one of the first regions to become uninhabitable for humans.
The Russian-American writer on his new book about our physical and psychological dependence on global infrastructure and hi-tech for daily survival, and about needing to return to pre-fossil-fuel driven lifestyles and technologies. Both book and podcast

Pearls Before Swine

Discoveries of older articles that – obviously – didn’t change the world.
Seeing Wetiko: On capitalism, mind viruses, and antidotes for a world in transition – Alnoor Ladha & Martin Kirk, Kosmos, 20160511
This is not an anti-European rant. This is the description of a disease whose vector was determined by deep patterns of history,” it says in the essay. The Wetiko, or Wendigo, is a native American concept of an infectious and self-replicating mindset that acts like a virus. It is responsible for the Western culture’s hunger for more, its destructiveness and its denial of it all.  

“This approach of viewing the transmission of ideas as a key determinant of the emergent reality is increasingly validated by various branches of science, including evolutionary theory, quantum physics, cognitive linguistics, and epigenetics.” 

Highly recommended for reading.

False solutions? 3 ways to evaluate grand climate proposals – Jeremy Lent, Patterns of Meaning, 20160322
We need a way to distinguish authentic pathways to a sustainable civilization from false solutions. I suggest three ways to consider any proposal you might come across:
  1. Does it push political power up or down the pyramid?
  2. How does it treat the Earth?
  3. What are its cascading effects?”
‘Civilization’ and ‘sustainable’ in one sentence makes me cringe. Apart from that, when we are pursuing right action, these three questions might make sense. The text contains several good points like,
Geoengineering proposals are based on the notion of the earth as a massive piece of machinery to be engineered for human benefit. Not only are these approaches morally repugnant for anyone who sees Nature as having intrinsic worth, they are also fraught with massive risk, since the earth’s systems are in fact not machine-like, but the result of complex, nonlinear relationships that are inherently unpredictable.”
I elaborated on that, not so long ago, in my article Doom-dee-doom.
Only sixty years of farming left if soil degradation continues – Chris Arsenault, Scientific American, 20141205
58 years to go. Plenty of time to make some money and to think of how to create soil in industrial labs…

Cartoon

The train of civilization
“What if we used bio-char instead of coal?”

The sound of trumpets

L&R: Many people are striving for a state of being beyond suffering. Would you suggest they better stop seeking?
SH: [sighs] I wouldn’t suggest anything to anyone because, what do I know? But for myself, the doing is the suffering. Psychological doing. The trying to change it, to make it better. The activity of always grasping out, that’s the suffering, and the real investigation begins when I don’t try to change it, but I just ask, what is it? It’s the absolute abandonment of improvement. This is a very different way of seeing life. It’s a deep curiosity about what life is, not the attempt to make it into something better.

L&R: It sounds like, you are very OK with it. Is that your method?
SH: It’s not that I’m OK with it. The neurotic mind is never OK with anything. But if I see that I’m actually the expression of something, [then] for that expression to try to change itself is absurd. That’s like the sound of trumpets trying to change the fingers pushing the valves. But we might be very curious who the trumpet player is.
(Erleuchtungskongress 2016, Steven Harrison, interview w Ludmilla & Roland)

The Empire Express, March 2017

A world in collapse, it turns out, is a busy place. One has a hard time keeping up with all the breaking news of mid-term and long-term significance. “May you live in interesting times!” is one famous Chinese curse that Westerners usually fail to understand. We are currently learning the hard way what it truly means. Though not consistently. Often times I want to cry out loud how the worst of desasters still pass us by as though they were scenes from the movies. And really, all that rapid change can just make you dizzy.
With my own writing, I can only cover a small spectrum of topics. At its foundation lies a worldview, or rather, an understanding, that expresses itself in essays whose contents get inspired by the overabundant information flowing in.

In this digest, I would like to present some of the more ‘interesting’ articles I came across recently. I recommend them for either their illustrative information on the state of affairs or their profound insight into what said information means.
Starting out as a monthly category, the frequency may change if needed.

Make careful choices on what you invite into your consciousness and take your time taking in, exploring further, and processing it.

Ongoing Assault

What if all I want is a mediocre life? – Krista O’Reilly Davi Digui, No Sidebar, 201703x
Is a simple life a good enough life?
Can democracy save us? – George Barrett, CounterPunch, 20170327
“Here in Germany there is a term for the (inadequate) proposals of the Green Party to change popular thinking about environmental issues: the Greens’ suggestion in the last national election that it would be a good thing for everyone to refrain from eating meat for one day every week was scorned as attempted “Öko-Diktatur” (Eco-Dictatorship). The Greens were lampooned mercilessly in the press for wanting to control the behavior of Germany’s allegedly politically conscious citizens, and sustained losses in the election as a result. That is the mentality faced by anyone who seriously believes democracy or dialogue can save the environment […] Of course, I am aware that this sounds like a plea for authoritarianism, and I suppose that it is, although I am fully aware that it will not win me many political allies. But I believe that a deluded optimism is far more dangerous than a clear view of a frightening future. In spite of my anarchist heart, I want life on this planet – not only human life, but especially plant and animal life, which it appears ever more likely we would destroy along with ourselves – to survive. And that means, as I see it, in fact, some kind of Eco-Dictatorship.”
Fukushima: government guilty of destroying Pacific Ocean — Daniel Newton, NeonNettle, 20170327
The Maebashi district court ordered government and operator to pay some commpensation.

“Radioactive Debris from Fukushima approaching North America’s western coast. If that weren’t bad enough, Fukushima continues to leak an astounding 300 tons of radioactive waste into the Pacific Ocean every day. It will continue to do so indefinitely as the source of the leak cannot be sealed as it is inaccessible to both humans and robots due to extremely high temperatures. It should come as no surprise, then, that Fukushima has contaminated the entire Pacific Ocean in just five years. This could easily be the worst environmental disaster in human history” and “will likely continue affecting wildlife and humans for the next 250,000 years.”

The nuclear disaster has contaminated the world’s largest ocean in only five years and it’s still leaking 300 tons of radioactive waste every day.

Read more at: http://www.neonnettle.com/news/2003-fukushima-japanese-government-guilty-of-destroying-pacific-ocean-
© Neon Nettle

The nuclear disaster has contaminated the world’s largest ocean in only five years and it’s still leaking 300 tons of radioactive waste every day.

Read more at: http://www.neonnettle.com/news/2003-fukushima-japanese-government-guilty-of-destroying-pacific-ocean-
© Neon Nettle

The nuclear disaster has contaminated the world’s largest ocean in only five years and it’s still leaking 300 tons of radioactive waste every day.

Read more at: http://www.neonnettle.com/news/2003-fukushima-japanese-government-guilty-of-destroying-pacific-ocean-
© Neon Nettle

The nuclear disaster has contaminated the world’s largest ocean in only five years and it’s still leaking 300 tons of radioactive waste every day.

Read more at: http://www.neonnettle.com/news/2003-fukushima-japanese-government-guilty-of-destroying-pacific-ocean-
© Neon Nettle

The nuclear disaster has contaminated the world’s largest ocean in only five years and it’s still leaking 300 tons of radioactive waste every day.

Read more at: http://www.neonnettle.com/news/2003-fukushima-japanese-government-guilty-of-destroying-pacific-ocean-
© Neon Nettle

The nuclear disaster has contaminated the world’s largest ocean in only five years and it’s still leaking 300 tons of radioactive waste every day.

Read more at: http://www.neonnettle.com/news/2003-fukushima-japanese-government-guilty-of-destroying-pacific-ocean-
© Neon Nettle

The nuclear disaster has contaminated the world’s largest ocean in only five years and it’s still leaking 300 tons of radioactive waste every day.

Read more at: http://www.neonnettle.com/news/2003-fukushima-japanese-government-guilty-of-destroying-pacific-ocean-
© Neon Nettle

Near Term Human Extinction has saved my life – DareToBeDifferent, 20170327
“This [Guy McPherson] lecture sent shock waves through me and of course sadness, numbness, but also validation. Validation because I could see how this war machine, deteriorating capitalistic, species slaughtering, ice cap reducing system was all leading to something […] The most important thing is now I am trying to live a life of excellence and I am definitely living here now. It’s changed my life completely and I feel like looking back on it all finding out about NTHE saved me.”
Why being realistic feels like doomsday thinking – Joe Brewer, Medium.com, 20170325
“To avoid the negative has a name in psychology — it is called denial. And far too many among us are in denial right now.”
[Regarding the discussion on climate change] – Charles Eisenstein, 20170324
Although I sometimes get the feeling that figures do not matter enough in Charles’ perspective — after all, without figures we couldn’t state that there is more to the weird weather all over the globe than atmospheric hickups and freak occurances — I absolutely support the points he makes about climate change (and all the rest of our huge pile of civilized trouble) not being physical events merely. There is an emotional dimension to it, a spiritual dimension, and elements that speak to us as biological, tribal beings. Having neglected those has played a huge part in getting us stranded in our predicament. Now, Charles means to say that, if there is a solution, it might be hidden within the neglected and the denied aspects of our lives. For certain, pursuing life not as a supposedly flawed machine but as the wholesome human being that I am, to me, is worth whatever it takes, regardless of outcome. And that is not at all as anthropocentric as it sounds at first. For us to live like humans, to feel human, and to be human does not require our cultural ‘achievement’ in the first place, but our embeddedness with the living planet. Even in its wrecked state there is nothing we can do to improve it.
“This year, NOAA [the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] predicts that a weak to moderate El Nino may form which would further exacerbate climate change driven water stresses in India.
These are tough conditions. But the worst may be yet to come for 2017.
April, May and June is the hottest, driest period for India. And the state is entering this season with almost a 150 million people already facing water stress. Moreover, the warming of Equatorial waters in the Pacific as another El Nino is again expected to emerge increases the risk that the 2017 monsoon could be delayed or weakened. So with a water crisis now ongoing in the south, conditions are likely set to worsen soon.”
We may change to less water-intense crops, but those are not suitable for feeding everyone. The human population needs to go down. People need to understand that it is basically the amount of irrigation water that determines the amount of food available, and that, generally spoken, to reduce the amount of water used for farming results in the reduction of human food. Think about it.
“Climate change is out for the time being,” officials say.
Key issue of climate change: the not at all surprising state of affairs.
Failed government policy regarding electricity and a growing population wanting to eat are meeting changing climatic conditions that impact the Monsoon as the main provider of water.
A recently published study looked into how life recovered after the “Great Dying”, the end-Permian extinction event during which more than “90% of all living creatures went kaput” and found interesting analogies to our current 6th mass extinction.
“This is what makes it so interesting,” Foster told me, “Because you have this huge volcanic eruption that releases all these gases, and then you look at what’s happening today [with climate change] and they’re all the same gases. They’re causing the same effects. So we can say, ‘This is what it did in the past and this is what we might be looking at for the future […]
We don’t think we will reach the threshold we reached in the Great Dying,” Foster told me. “Or, we hope we won’t, anyway.”
Well, one can hope, of course, but for hope to have a tangible efect we need to hope much harder than before, it seems. The article in The Atlantic in which the above-mentioned study was reported describes a few of the conditions we could have found back then — and maybe again tomorrow — if only we were able to survive them for longer than a few minutes.
Adrienne Lafrance did a fine job here because she doesn’t come from that arrogant point of view that ‘this can’t happen to us’. She writes, “the story of life on our planet isn’t the story of a single species at the top of the food chain, but ultimately a tale of relentless adaptability.”

Have We Been Denying Our Human Nature for Four Hundred Years?Eurocentric modernism has unhinged us from our human nature, argues Rajani Kanth in his new book – Lynn Parramore, Films for Action, 20170314
The article doesn’t fully go to the root of our predicament, but it has some damn good points about how our culture does not work out – and where to look for solutions. A must-read.
Revolutions Are Bloody, But So Is Doing Nothing – Paul Craig Roberts, Institute for Political Economy, 20170314
I concur. Staying silent is a political act that supports the ravaging of the living planet.
The convergence of critical climatic tipping points in a brief overview, and the bleak outlook on near-term developments. 1.2C increase since 1880 baseline as mentioned in the article translates into 1.6C increase since 1750 (real) pre-industrial baseline. Beware of snow jobs.
Yemen and several African states across the continent are facing severe droughts. Early stages of abrupt climate change – 1.6C above pre-industrial baseline – and we already see the world burning.

Pearls Before Swine

Discoveries of older articles that – obviously – didn’t change the world.

12 Life Lessons from a Man Who’s Seen 12000 Deaths – Deepak Ramola, Uplift Connect, 20160621
You may have heard of Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse who wrote about the top-10 regrets of the dying. Here is something similar from an Indian perspective. They share certain insights, but there is also a specifically South Asian understanding that Westerners can learn from, like, “Acceptance is liberation”. Facing death consciously liberates from the all-pervasive background fear we often carry around all our lives, and so helps with experiencing life more intensely, more joyfully.
From the NonProfit Industrial Complex with Love – Cory Morningstar, The Art of Annihilation, home, 201703x
How the environmental movement has been hijacked by the mainstream and turned into the activist arm of industrial interests.
Sustainability is destroying the Earth – Kim, Stories of Creative Ecology, 20120828
Similar to Cory Morningstar’s article, Kim shows how sustainability is an expression of the unwillingness to let go of our destructive culture.

Cartoon

The train of civilization
Economic Joyriders
(August 27, 1891 Statesville, North Carolina: A passenger train of the Western North Carolina Railroad derails upon entering Bostian’s bridge, plunging to the creek below)

Letting go of control

Kelly Brogan, psychiatrist, on a trip to Rajasthan, India, collected impressions that resonate with my own sense of being (here). A lot of what she describes got already lost for many a native, due to the fast-progressing urbanisation, mechanisation, automisation, utilisation and exploding consumption, but it is still somehow present in rural areas and can be felt, especially when I perform one of those quick leaps back and forth to Germany.
In her article Spirituality and Mental Illness, Kelly writes:

“They showed us the fact that loving creation allows them to love each other, and to love all that comes in their path. When the son asked me about my job, I seized up, certain that the notion of a psychiatrist would make no sense whatsoever to him. The idea that there are professionals trained to manage and alter the human experience through pharmaceutical drugs – to someone who has faith in all that comes, in the many ways that divinity can be expressed, and in the dividends of a commitment to integrity…to this person, Prozac would not compute. 
This is what India showed me.
It showed me what my American soul had forgotten…which is that there is something more beautiful, more sacred, more wondrous available when we live connected to our trust in something larger. Because this something larger lifts us up out of our limitations, our smallness, our distractions, and holds us in a web of the collective so that there is never something random, awful, and unlucky that can simply just happen. So that there is always meaning and ok-ness.”

Regarding psychiatry, she quotes Charles Eisenstein who said, “The reason that conventional psychiatry – whether pharmaceutical or psychoanalytic – is powerless to substantially help the vast majority of patients is that it does not, and cannot, recognize the wrongness of the world we live in,” and I really couldn’t agree more. Though, in some way, there is no wrong or right, there is just existence as such, on a certain level we are beings that need a framework to live within. Some frames work better than others, and some are utterly destructive because they are dysfunctional from the start:

“It has never been more clear to me that the Guild of Psychiatry is one of the greatest threats to a soul’s journey, perhaps simply because there is no acknowledgement of the soul. This is why I believe that avoiding and coming off of psychiatric medications is the greatest form of initiation to self that exists in the West today.”

An article worth reading, an author worth following.

India without monsoon is like a fish without water

What climate change looks like on the ground in Southern India, in the federate states of Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu. With crops failing catastrophically, and fisheries getting suffocated and depleted, what are people going to eat?


– “The situation is certainly going from bad to worse. At this rate, the water will last for only the next 90 days in most places. We are taking all possible measures, but irrigation is perhaps the last thing on our minds now as we need to save water for all other purposes […] The [Kerala] government decided to, for the first time ever, impose a water rationing system across households and industries.”

“Farmers in Mandya district, part of the Krishnaraja Sagar dam ayacut area [Karnataka], have failed to harvest even a single paddy crop this year.”

[In Tamil Nadu], “around 40 farmers protested outside the Trichy collector’s office, holding dead rats in their mouths, stating that over 47 farmers had committed suicide in the state in the last two months. [Chief minister] Panneerselvam declared all 32 districts drought-affected […] with the deficit [rainfall] ranging from 35% to 81%”

“The numbers in the three states have raised alarm bells everywhere, and what is even more worrying is what they indisputably portend — the coming water wars that will stem from Tamil Nadu’s dependence on its neighbours.”

This is just for starters. We didn’t have a Blue Ocean Event yet, and we have merely seen a 1.6°C rise in global average temperature. 

Beside seafood and grains, the third leg of human nutrition, veggies and fruits, is in decline as well, thanks to pollinator’s struggle for survival.

People need to be prepared, carefully, to expect this, and worse, to extend into the forseeable future, and to find ways to live on less. And not just in India — also in all other countries in the world, especially the industrialised regions. No one is going to deliver food into the cities when farmers are starving, themselves.

A penny for your farts

I’d like to end the month with something weird (?) to ponder.
Whether our lives are predetermined or rather change their course according to our actions, is a question that has never been answered. The latter might trigger a chain of events, though, that is indistinguishable from deterministic fate. Like this:

Scientists have found out that carbon dioxide takes decades to have an impact on Earth’s average temperature. Today’s global average temperature is the result of carbon emissions back in the 20th century, and they already triggered seventy or more self-reinforcing feedback loops that increase temperatures further, without us having to push. A rise by 6C is already locked in and that means, our food base is as good as dead, and so are we.
Our worst onslaught against the previous climate equilibrium is yet to come, though — the even higher carbon emissions of the last few decades, and we are still continuing the pollution.

The sum total of our actions has driven the planet far beyond the treshold of habitability for humans; extinction is a done deal. I can only hope that this is not a problem for anyone. We all got our daily lives to live, deals to make, appointments to take, and scrape up some money for paying the carbon tax on our farts. Near-term human extinction comes somehow inconvenient, which is why many Americans tend to deny climate change. Europeans, ever so energy-efficient, don’t waste their time on denial; they just refrain from thinking the facts through to their very end, while the rest of the world truly doesn’t know what is in store for us. But ignorance is no excuse. Cling together, swing together, and we are just dead men walking.

“All individual organisms die. When the last individual of a species dies, the species is extinct. All species go extinct. Although there is no reasonable counter to these obvious statements, most people refuse to believe humans will be extinct in the near future. In this death-denying, death-defying, omnicidal culture, the thought of our own death—much less our own extinction—is a bit too much for the typical citizen to bear.” —Guy McPherson, Extinction dialogs
 
„So when people dismiss global warming as “doomsday” they are doubly wrong. Firstly, they ridicule those who see how serious this situation is (using language of the absurd to dismiss it). And secondly, they presume the collapse-of-the-future won’t happen — when in reality it already did.“ —Joe Brewer in Extra Newsfeed, 9.1.2017