Another Nuremberg

I haven’t been shopping since March 15, 2020, the first day of curfew in India. Lockdown is the neologism for this – for once an apt expression, because it is a technical term originally used by prison administrations. I haven’t been to the doctor for a year, until last week not even to the dentist, although there was every reason to do so. I don’t go to the movies anymore, I don’t enter an office of the administration anymore, I don’t enter a cashier’s office of a bank anymore. I no longer travel, neither short nor long, neither by cab nor by train or even by airplane, the latter of which has become completely impossible. A book manuscript lies unprinted on my hard drive, gathering digital dust because the mere thought of crowded shops and city streets already feels suffocating. Invited by friends I went to lunch at a tiny cookshop that didn’t require specific clothing; I couldn’t enjoy it, though. I did resume work at the library, mainly at the insistence of the manager, who assured me I didn’t have to follow any rules, even if everyone else did. In the office, to myself, I have time to catch my breath again. But the way there, a few kilometers by bicycle is an ordeal. Not that anyone would talk to me about the missing mask, no. I wouldn’t like that. I wouldn’t like that at all; I can’t stand the sight of people anymore and avoid being seen on my part. Me and people, we are a divorced couple.

There is a long history of early traumatization; life since hasn’t been too kind either. Of course, I could try to see the positive sides of life. Why don’t I try to see it more positively? Why don’t I start anew somewhere else? Why don’t I… ? – I guess because by now I lack the necessary faith that the grass is greener elsewhere. As I said, there is a long history, but it does not matter for what I have to say: That all of us individual cases with our human problems, our likes and dislikes, our opinions, insights and realizations, we don’t count any longer. Beyond our function as consumers, employees, taxpayers, cannon fodder, we have long since ceased to play any role in the way matters get handled. We are merely the objects of observation and control, generic members of statistically ascertainable norm groups. Gendered, risk-evaluated, labeled, sorted, directed, manipulated, exploited, eventually dumped.

The raised index finger for all those without a mask.
We comply with the Corona rules.

[Billboard by the City of Berlin, paid from taxpayer money]

New Barbarism

Corona just caps it all off. Hardly any intellectual fails to mention that the Corona State finally flushes to the surface what had been pushed underwater for so long: all kinds of toxic garbage, looted goods, gasping victims of terror, gnawed-up floaters, fears and traumas, screwed-up biographies, stolen dreams, lost raison d’être, abdicated freedom. Add to all that the codified injustice, the structural violence, and a mountain of epistemic baggage that keep our polities stuck in unreformable rigidity. In the face of nightmare societies competing for the worst way , one can hardly tell the difference whether I am writing about Germany, India, or say, Mexico.

A lot of words that, in short, are supposed to explain why, these days, my trust in the human capacity to bond, in the manifest social structure and – yes, also – in the specific individuals that surround me, has slipped away. I have lost the desire to see anyone anymore, lost the joy of hearing what is going on with this or that person. In the same way, when I think of the big names of our time – people from music, philosophy, politics, science, etc. – I’d rather they kept their mouths shut, because what comes out of there usually offends the mind. If the verbal garbage remained just words – ok. But unfortunately the call for ostracizing the dissenters and the demands for harder punishment of “deniers”, along with all the other fantasies of social barbarism get implemented without big scruples only too soon after… and the whole pack of established media provide a platform for the hysteria. The state’s regulations regime has overtaken many a satirical exaggeration within a few weeks by issuing ever more repressive orders. And then there are the non-state ‘measures’. A friend from Berlin writes:

“The day before yesterday I was actually physically attacked for the first time in my adult life in the park by an aggressive but at the same time somehow calculating man. Afterwards I did some asking around and in fact it happened to my roommate in a very similar way. The girlfriend of another acquaintance was slapped in the subway; another one was yelled at in the supermarket because of the distance rules. People here are starting to go crazy.”

Doublethink

There is an archaic conception of man at work, incompatible with my worldview: it’s not autonomous individuals endowed with dignity, embedded in loving communities, who shape their lives in a self-responsible manner, but fear-driven government subjects incapable of making rational decisions, who must be kept on a leash for their own good and who — as self-appointed guardians of the status quo – habitually obey pre-emptively. Real dangers have given way to obscure statistical risk potentials, your neighbor is always a danger to your life, denunciation is a civic duty, children’s birthday parties get broken up as criminal gatherings. How quickly the turnaround has happened is frightening in itself already, because as far as typical features of Nazi Germany were concerned, the rule went, NEVER AGAIN! But already in early May, six weeks into the curfew, my mother wrote from rural Black Forest:

“My physiotherapist, who is friends with a policeman, told me that in [the county seat] 1000 people call every day to report friends, relatives, neighbors and acquaintances to the police – for Corona misconduct!”

In the eyes of a not insignificant part of the population, freedom and human dignity are no longer inalienable rights, but privileges that have to be earned by conformity – and thus are reduced to absurdity. Civil and human rights dwell in best company with other terms that have been usurped into Newspeak: Attitudinal journalism operates as “reporting”, Nazis masquerade as “Antifa”, “solidarity” is understood as forced conformity, “development aid” drives whole continents into poverty, “humanitarian intervention” stands for genocide, “vaccination” has become another word for genetic manipulation, forcing women about to give birth to wearing masks is part of “health care”, the authoritarian regime pretends to be a “democracy”, mob rule prides itself on “civil courage”, the middle finger replaces the “index finger”… I could go on like this for hours and literally fill a whole dictionary – the neo-liberal dictionary of falsehoods, which I already mentioned in earlier articles.

Those who feel reminded of George Orwell have long since no need to fear overstretching the comparison. Dystopia can hardly be manifested more clearly and obviously. In the novel “1984” Orwell writes:

“[‘blackwhite’] means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as doublethink.”

Introduced later, the technical term for “doublethink” is “cognitive dissonance.”

De-Coronification

Here the question arises how after Corona — assuming the nightmare has a happy ending — a new togetherness can come about at all, given that such a massive slide into barbarism was supported by virtually all governmental, social, scientific and economic institutions, but especially by so many fellow human beings. How can one restore that trust to one’s arbitrary neighbor that is needed to build a relationship, how can one again look into the eyes of the perpetrators, of whom one knows that in their world one exists merely as an object?

I have my doubts that a simple “No hard feelings” approach is enough, because I cannot dismiss Schopenhauer’s remark that “to forgive and forget is to throw precious experience out of the window”. Prior to forgiveness, there must be recognition of one’s own transgressions and subsequent repentance. It involves the willingness to take responsibility for one’s own actions, to accept punishment, to repent, to make amends or at least to mitigate the damage. Then, and only then, may one forgive, but rather not forget. We must not allow ourselves to wrap the cloak of silence around the people’s role in the oppressing, torturing and murdering of millions, as we did after the disaster of the Third Reich, because at that time the historical traumas of hundreds of millions of people in dozens of nations remained buried deep in the individual and collective psyche. Uncured they continued to smolder within the closets of apparently purified hearts and minds, affected the world view of three or four subsequent generations, and found expression during the so-called pandemic in a mass hysteria unlike any other in history. The failed Denazification of post-WW2 – failed because it got stuck with mere criminalization of identified perpetrators — must be made up for in our present.

Denazification today means de-coronification. Without another trial based on the Nuremberg model – because of the symbolism (tribunal and codex) it should indeed take place in Nuremberg – a credible and trustworthy restoration of social cohesion is simply impossible. The enormity of what has happened demands a complete reappraisal, while those responsible for the worst mass suffering in human history must be held accountable. The thirst for revenge, the cry for crucifixion of exposed representatives of the Corona regime, however, must under no circumstances guide the trial. As now impressively demonstrated, with the death of the Nazi grandees, self-afflicted or on the gallows, the phantom of fascism was by no means banished, but could return in full glory as self-declared anti-fascism, as totalitarianism in democratic guise. The goal of a tribunal should be to educate the population about its own role in the emergence of tyranny. Of course, it is also urgent to ensure that the main characters in the Corona scam are permanently prevented from further agitation. Immediately thereafter, however, the real clean-up work begins: our language, our institutions, our laws and regulations, our economy and currency, our international as well as our personal relationships, our relationship to technology and food, and our use of art, medicine, science – basically, simply all elements of existence – must be examined. A complete revolution of our way of life becomes due, the core of which must be the confrontation of our traumas: a personal Nuremberg for each and every one of us.

A gentle reminder

or, Here be long sentences.
  
Having spent nearly three months in complete seclusion from the outside world, alongside a next-to-perfect disappearance of electronic communication channels for most of that period, I had a lot of time to think about, and feel into, the so-called Corona crisis. It was a time of intense joy over the increased quality of life, owed to civilization’s coming to an almost complete halt, and it was also a time of intense agony over what my growing understanding of the crisis brought to light, both in terms of outer truths and of the resurfacing of psychological traumas. In short, I shifted from ordinary grief via excited free-fall to deep fatigue followed by burning rage within a few weeks only.
As I haven’t been bombarded with the news as heavily as most of you were. I was enough at ease to ask questions and look for the answers in places that were not mediated, not agitated, not trying to pull me one way or another. When there was opportunity I also did some research, and I could draw from having witnessed first-hand the severe Influenza pandemic of 1996 during my service as a state-qualified geriatric nurse, when most of the personnel including myself got sick and seven inmates died before my eyes.
From the evidence I saw I came to a conclusion that not only positioned me on the side of the critics of the shoddy science behind the corona scare, but caused me to disobey orders.
What’s more – and this is my meta-critique to the situation – the factuality of the health threat becomes a side issue when regarded from a different angle.
I direct my hardline opposition to the Corona regime first and foremost against the fear-mongering, health-impeding, manipulative, cruel, out-of-proportion, brainwashing, dehumanizing, patronizing, authoritarian behaviour of media, governments and the people who regard themselves as their gate-keeping subjects, the Soap Police. I would sustain that opposition whether I believed in a serious health threat or denied it altogether. (I do neither.) What happens here – 8 bn people taken prisoners, many of them driven to the edge of existence if not actually killed, but kept from speaking their truth and exposed to psychological brutality – is outright WRONG and completely unacceptable to me, no matter the reason it happens for. This position is based on direct, lived experience, not on mediated information or hypothetical considerations. The outrage runs deep, for it has a valid foundation built from suffering and pain.

During those months, when anger gave me funny ideas, I wrote satirical pieces sharply attacking the regime: the incapability of allopathic medicine to understand life in any other way than mechanistically, the irrational fear of micro-organisms, the death-phobia, the permanent irradiation with disjointed factoids, the manufacturing of news, the total disregard for people’s needs, feelings and traditional understandings, or the pre-emptive surrender to the totalitarian order to shutting up anyone and everyone who showed even the slightest sign of disagreement. Where are those pieces? Am I going to substantiate my opinions and claims with official figures, scientific reports and case studies?

Well, apart from the quick note of last Monday – a few lines of concern and two links – I decided that first of all, we have spoken enough to that topic. For months all the other oh-so-important issues, from Russiagate to North Korea, from rising poverty to dying polar bears, have been drowned out completely, even in personal conversations and alternative media. I do not want to contribute to the craze by putting more fuel into the propaganda machine of either side. Let disagreements not come between us.
It’s time to re-discover our common humanity and the huge pile of pressing issues we need to look at right now.
And what about the bright sides of life – shall we explore whether they still exist?
Secondly, although I was tempted to respond to some of my friends’ postings and the judgmental accusations and authoritarian demands therein / thereunder, I decided to drop the matter altogether; I continue to take care not to comment on Corona-related issues, at least for the time being. I do have an opinion, and so does everyone else; so what? I speak up considering that others may have good reasons to come to different conclusions. This hurts only as long as one stays attached to one’s being right. Believe it or not, you have a better chance at convincing others of your views when you enter into an open exchange, allowing yourself to change in the course of it as well. Repression causes resistance. Always.
I do empathize with the utterance of concern in dedicated places. Those who feel the need for protection from Corona have a right to act accordingly and to discuss relevant topics without getting exposed to harassment, censorship or conversion attempts.
A gentle reminder to you, my dear friends, that, in my places and in my writings, I take the same liberty to express the truth I understand asyou do in yours.
pic: Bijay Chaurasia, (cc by-sa 3.0)

And I won’t be stopped. It’s fine by me if you signal disagreement in response to my postings so long as it happens in a respectful way. But some of you need to ask themselves why they are jumping at my bringing up the topic, trying to prove me wrong, when they rarely ever cared to comment before. If you think I”m principally fighting for Corona truth you are mistaken. The central theme of my blog was – and continues to be – the problem of civilization, the wholesale destruction, the distorted reality, the mental sickness, and the trauma it causes, and the illusion of separation it is based upon. Whether we are discussing healthcare or governance or economics or arts or racism or language or climate collapse, the issue at hand serves always merely as a case study of that central theme, and the next good example is just one media hype away.

My credo though – whether explicitly or implicitly stated – remains the same throughout: this culture will eat the world alive and turn it into poisonous trash. By design it can neither be sustained nor reformed; it will end, and soon, taking most everything and everyone down with it. Those who are looking for sanity don’t empower it by listening to its voice, believing its media, letting themselves get scared into panic and then soothed by false hopes, craving its offers, buying its goods, working its chores, paying its bills, divorcing themselves from others along predetermined breaking lines, or by obeying orders; to no greater extent, at least, than necessary. This means, how to face the current situation – in which ever way you define it – should become more clear as you are listening quietly for an answer within yourself rather than from external sources, approved or not.
If you feel that you can’t stand what I’m saying, if you believe that certain views are dangerous and must never get expressed publicly you have not understood a single word of what I’ve been saying all those years.
You’ve been following or friending the wrong person all along. Do yourself a favour, take a conscious decision now, like that fellow Aurovilian did who – rather than questioning me face to face – unfriended and blocked me immediately after my one-off posting. He’s a wise man, knowing too well that I’m lost to the culture of make-believe. Saves us both some breath. In a few years it won’t matter any longer anyway.

The Negro debate all over again

Two negroes are taking a walk in the woods. Suddenly one of them exclaims, “Look, there’s a mushroom!” – “So what!?” says the mushroom.

Such runs a Sponti joke I’ve heard back at school; it stuck in my mind ever since. The absurdity of the described situation is hilarious as such, the choice of words is peculiar, and the multi-layered observation embedded in it is highly accurate.
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What is your immediate response to it? Are you taking offense by my using the n-word? Or do you see the underlying satirical remark on people pointing fingers at something that (or someone who) is disturbing their perceived state of normalcy?
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When I grew up in Germany’s seventies and eighties people would stand and stare at anyone and anything that seemed sort of off of what they were used to encounter: people of colour, long-haired men, bald-headed women, patchwork clothing, homeless folks, Turkish couples (her dressed in a chador or hijab, following two paces behind him), sports roadsters, wheelchair drivers, atheists, unmarried mothers, or two-headed cats, to name few typical examples. The Spontis – leftist political activists of the students’ and pupils’ movements in Germany who thought that spontaneity and humour were revolutionary elements – with their above-quoted joke pinpointed the discriminatory finger-pointing goggle-eyedness and threw it back at a blaming and shaming duplicitous society. “Everyone’s a stranger – somewhere,” the Spontis noted accurately.
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One would think that those times are over. But not only does discriminatory thought persist in backward countries like Japan where I – the tall blond long-haired stranger – got photographed and giggled at underhandedly on the Tokyo metro, and in India where I get invited to random people’s weddings or excluded from farmers’ meetings merely because I’m fair-skinned; the discrimination in our heads survived in Germany just as well as anywhere else. That it’s not showing as obviously today as it did in the seventies and eighties doesn’t mean a thing. What we are engaged in since the nineties are political correctness (pc) debates which in their mind-fucking sneakiness are far worse than the obvious separation and animosity of earlier decades.
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On the surface pc seems to address discrimination against others by shaming the use of certain vocabulary while underneath the emphasis on the right to be different crystallizes the specific phenomena of human existence – skin colours, sexual preferences, religious beliefs, nationalities and what not – into distinct identities such as politics, genders or races. For example, as pc does not address racism as such, merely its ways to express itself, a politically-correct racist simply takes over the new pc lingo for spewing hatred against people of colour. And thus we shift from nigger to negro to black to Afro to coloured to pigmented and so forth in a constant effort to evade the discussion we have to have in the overcoming of racism and xenophobia (as well as sexism, genderism, speciesism and other low-consciousness notions): that there is a focus on differences rather than similarities, that there is an arbitrariness to what marks someone as different, and – most significantly – that difference is perceived as unnatural or evil.
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The terms used for pc speech – which are really the same as those later-on used for discriminating against others – are subject to a self-perpetuating process called the euphemism treadmill. This means that whichever correct term is chosen for a person discriminated-against, it eventually turns into an insult, triggering the quest for a new pc term.
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The other day (sorry for being so day-istic) I have been writing a comment on one of my favorite topics, what makes wild communities generally work as compared to the multiple ever-increasing, ever-worsening problems that civilized societies experience. Both consist of human beings; almost everything else is different. With both populations being of the same species the traps of whether “human nature” exists and what it implies – the nature-vs-nurture debate – is irrelevant to the discussion. Me using the term “wild,” though, became an obstacle for people looking for a pc word pointing at the non-civilized. Someone argued that “wild” and “civilized” were the language of the European colonizer and that these words were discounting the deep wisdom and cultural sophistication of these “indigenous people,” as he called them. The whole notion of “wild” needed to be rethought after we found out that “jungles” like the Amazon, the Mayan heartlands or the North American west coast have actually been food forests, carefully stewarded lands at the time of European conquest.
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Those were careful considerations, but like so many post-modern thoughts they have not been mindful of the difference between judgmental discriminatory dominator language and distinctions consciously introduced for communicative or research purposes. The use of “wild” alone implied “colonizer” mentality to them.
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I have to admit that it is not so easy, these days, to tell the difference when our whole language, including ordinary words like “green,” “democracy,” and “free,” are getting hijacked by the corporate dominator culture. Think of the facebook “friend” and other “social-” media “community” fakery, think of “humanitarian aid” (weapons deliveries), “peace-keeping operations” (invasions), “health insurance” (enslavement to a system of chemical poisoning) and countless further examples from the Falschwörterbuch(German: fake dictionary) of Neoliberalism. More important than the face of a book is the idea it wants to sell. As all views are perspectival, all communication of views, all writing is in a sense propaganda, with the ambiguity of words (and images) used for this or that purpose. No statement, no information can be taken at face value. The recipients’ job is to notice the sales pitch and to inquire within for the deeper truth about it. So let’s do this as an exercise in the context of my distinguishing “wild” peoples from “civilized” humans.
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Regarding “wild” peoples, there is no (other) word that is fully and properly including everybody we mean by it: modes of being that are not domesticated, not based on abstraction and abstracting, on strong hierarchies, strict separation of labour, state institutions, large numbers and growth, categorization, separation – in short, not civilization. The way I have put it in the above sentence suggests negative phrasing: not-civilized, un-domesticated, non-hierarchic etc., which I find weird because it implies a lack of something. In the same way, our culture could be called un-free, non-egalitarian etc. — which I actually use sometimes for breaking the spell of mainstream vernacular. By pointing out in which way we find a culture wanting does not describe its asili, its core and ultimate cause of collective thought and behaviour. I would like to say somehow that certain cultures exist in their own right rather than being underdeveloped predecessors to the crown of human evolution.
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In many of my writings I have clarified what I mean by “wild,” and it is so obviously not derogatory of those cultures – neither consciously nor unconsciously so – that anybody with a different opinion who notices it would have to wonder why. That the term loses its negativity anyway can be seen in the establishment of “wilderness reserves” and the emergence of the “rewilding” movement. While for some there is certainly a derogatory (or romanticizing) connotation to the word, it is the only phrase that people from across the spectrum may understand, while it is not reducing the “wild” to the negation (or lack) of “civilization.”
Is there no other positive term we could use for talking about the common denominator uniting the thousands of different communities outside of civilization?
  • I find “Intact” is a wonderful word, though it requires a lot of introductory explanation as to what it relates to. Basically, “intact” can only serve as a label in the face of disturbed societies, and it becomes increasingly inaccurate with civilization’s progressing encroachment. The introduction of so much as a simple idea embedded in the seemingly harmless question of an anthropologist may already disturb social peace within previously intact cultures, like asking men who have no knowledge about fertility on the tribe’s means of birth control.
  • I also like “free” as an attribute, but it would surely be misunderstood in the sense of our shallow civil rights.
  • Primitive?” I have used it, explaining that I mean it in the sense of ‘originally, appropriately human;’ its derogatory meaning “underdeveloped” nevertheless co-vibrates.
  • Tribal” – another phrase I like to use, seems almost perfect… if it weren’t abused for “tribalism” (as in “groupism”).
  • Indigenous” (from Latin, born on the land)… well, no; Italians and British – melting-pot peoples – are indigenous to Europe, Japanese are indigenous to East Asia (though the Ainu have been preceding them), modern US citizens are indigenous to North America; it’s a matter of where you draw the historical-ancestral line required for someone to count as “native,”– 200, 2000, or 10000 years ago – and it does not define culture, the issue I’m pointing at when distinguishing the wild and the civilized. The whole concept of cultural indigeneity / nativity makes little sense without its historical perspective of conquest, colonization, displacement, domination and elimination of preceding peoples and species.
Struggling with finding a positive vocable for non-civilizational cultures since years, I have come to the following conclusions:
  1. In principle, one word would be as good as another if it weren’t for the fact that, by using language, we attempt to tap into each others’ concepts for communicative purposes. So what I am looking for are terms that express shared concepts.
  2. European languages, especially in recent decades, have been altered to a degree that they have become hardly recognizable to someone from the past. In Germany, the expression “Falschwörterbuch’”– dictionary of falsehoods – has emerged, a word that implies that meaning in language gets turned upside down so much so that e.g. ‘freedom’ has become the constitutional freedom of subjects being allowed to chose their oppressor. Has any word remained untouched, untainted? I don’t feel so.
  3. The Falschwörterbuch means to hide what’s beneath, similar to politically-correct phrasing which hides (for a while) an ugly notion, basically the idea of separation. The “indigenous” debate falls in the same category as the “Negro” debate and the rapidly expanding gender alphabet (LGBTQIA+, for crying out loud!). As long as words are to express or whitewash the notion of complete separateness and dehumanization of Other there is no end to such debates. So when we communicate to others and interpret incoming communication, a word’s meaning has to be derived from context and/or explanation. Therefore I’m happy when people question my wording. This is the moment we actually have a debate.
  4. Every word is a symbol for the “object” it creates in the mind, an abstraction from the world. The Latin root of “abstract” points out that a piece of the All is conceptually ripped from its context. As an abstract, symbolic representation of reality, a word both generalizes diverse phenomena, while at the same time it creates distinct boundaries where there are shades of gray. For example, “Germany” generalizes the many differences between regional ethnicities such as Bavarians and Saxons while it creates an artificial boundary to neighbouring countries such as France and the Netherlands where there live German minorities, derivates and mix cultures; it also reduces people’s identity to being born within Germany’s boundaries. Definitions of words are arbitrary, objectivity is an illusion. It is in the responsibility of each the speaker and the listener, to be aware of the virtual reality that words create. Without that awareness language-based communication, through illusory precision, paradoxically becomes more fuzzy than it needs to. The Falschwörterbuch’s successful manipulation of our shared reality seems, to me, a sure sign that we are generally not aware and awake.
My aim is the raising of awareness and the sparking of consideration of what makes us the culture we are, and wild peoples the cultures they are. The search for matching terms continues, probably with someone coining new pc ones.
As for the ancient cultures of the Mayas, Anasazi, Songhai, old Zimbabwe etc, I would classify them as civilizations, as they were based on separation; they were practicing domestication and were held together by force, for the benefit of a wealthy elite. Consequently they collapsed after having over-exploited their habitat and overstretched their citizens’ capacity for suffering. Obviously, Californian Indians, Mbuti, !Kung, and Aborigines lived a different kind of approach – which is what I’m pointing at when distinguishing between “wild” and “civilized” cultures.

Extinction Medallion (1st class), or, Ready for the Reaping

Seventy-five years after the end of WW2, Germans today are so afraid of the return of Adolf Hitler that they rather evaporate in a nuclear holocaust than be seen marching for peace side by side with a purported right-winger. They overlook, though, that fascist leaders, in the guise of democrats, are already standing at the helm of a system more inhumane, violent, oppressive and deadly than any other before them, be it Ivan the Terrible, Ghengis Khan, Attila the Hun, Pol Pot, or said individual whose deeds are so easy to hate and decry in our times, when you virtually risk zilch by speaking up against them.

“The meaning of the Hitler salute”

Political correctness actually requires you to speak up against them lest you want to be called an anti-semitic tinfoil-hat nazi conspiracy-theorist. No relativization (ie. putting sth into relation) allowed whatsoever. Platform tickets obviously still sell like hot cakes when Germans wish to have a revolution in the train station; and so it has been from the early 1800s on through 1848/49, 1918/19, and 1989/90 til the present day, when civil disobedience starts with seeking permission for a demonstration from the authorities. And when they march for environmental protection, as seen recently at the XR/FFF climate strike in Berlin, carrying a hammer-and-sickle flag – for lack of imagination of real alternatives to capitalism – bloviating about capital and class struggle and expropriation, they couldn’t care less that communism disregards the non-human world just as much.

And the olive-Green Party? It’s the party that, in 1999, sent German soliders into their first war since WW2, in violation of the UN charter, and under the pretense of (contrived) Serbian “concentration camps” in the Kosovo. It’s the party that would love to see us back at war with ‘evil’ Russia, that has forgotten about its demands for leaving NATO, and that supports nuclear power plants. And we really, really love to vote for them because they make sure we’ll continue to segregate our constantly increasing household waste while the right of big industry to pollute unimpededly til Kingdom Come is never questioned (for fear of losing jobs).

Wouldn’t it be nice if we got born with a hunchback already, so we may serve our democratically chosen oppressors more obediently?

Ivan Illich and the end of transportation as we know it

The computer solves the problems we didn’t have without it, they say – not to mention a growing number of problems it created, like the surveillance state, cyber addiction, and the possibility of fully-automated warfare, to which there is no solution other than abandoning the use of electronic processing.
Similarly, high-speed transportation saves us time on trips we wouldn’t have taken before the advent of the respective transportation technology, says Austrian social philosopher Ivan Illich in his book Energy & Equity (1974).

This became especially apparent around 1900 when the mileage of passengers had increased by a factor of one hundred within just fifty years after the introduction of railroads. People picked up business at greater and greater distances, to the disadvantage of the places they lived. Beyond a certain average amount of energy per capita put into transportation, means of moving shift from metabolic energy driven to mineral fuels driven locomotion. Next thing we know is, we abandon our innate freedom of moving on our own feet, to any place and in any direction that is not legally of physically barred, in exchange for pre-fabricated routes, to approved destinations and at a price.

From the moment its machines could put more than a certain horsepower behind any one passenger, this industry has reduced equality among men, restricted their mobility to a system of industrially defined routes and created time scarcity of unprecedented severity. As the speed of their vehicles crosses the threshold, citizens become transportation consumers. – Ivan Illich, Energy & Equity, p29

As with other factors of society – wealth, power, privilege – the results of industrialization of traffic are not shared equally among its participants:

Extremes of privilege are created at the cost of universal enslavement. An elite packs unlimited distance into a lifetime of pampered travel, while the majority spend a bigger slice of their existence on unwanted trips. The few mount their magic carpets to travel between distant points that their ephemeral presence renders both scarce and seductive, while the many are compelled to trip further and faster and to spend more time preparing for and recovering from their trips. (p29)

Ivan Illich, by Wikimedia user Adrift Animal (cc 4.0 intl)

People in industrialized countries spend four to seven times more time “on the road” than their fellow men in more traditional cultures. They travel up to one hundred times longer distances per day, using up to one third of their income for commuting to the job that pays their trips to the job. The product of the transportation industry, Illich says, is the habitual passenger, a person uprooted from her place of origin. She is rushed in a closed cabin behind the windows of which untouchable landscapes pass by. Her time is scarce, her feeling of autonomy low, and life without means of transportation provided by remote powers such as governments, automobile industry and railroad services, has become unthinkable to her. Without external help she feels immobilized.

The habitual passenger must adopt a new set of beliefs and expectations if he is to feel secure in the strange world where both liaisons and loneliness are products of conveyance. To ‘gather’ for him means to be brought together by vehicles […] He takes freedom of movement to be the same as one’s claim on propulsion […] As a result, what he wants is not more liberty as a citizen but better service as a client. He does not insist on his freedom to move and to speak to people but on his claim to be shipped and to be informed by the media. He wants a better product rather than freedom from servitude to it. (p37f)

Could it get any worse? Yes it can. From Illich’s view, the whole setup is foolishly self-defeating because not only does this set of living arrangements affect the individual, eating away on her freedom, leisure, connectedness, and wealth, it also widens the gap between privileged and burdened members of society continuously, thus putting tremendous stress on the integrity of society as a whole.

Beyond a certain threshold, further energy input makes a society’s compounded time expenditure on transportation rise significantly. In other words, speed increases for those who can pay for it while everyone else spends more time inbetween places.
In Germany, for instance, more than 16% of mostly rural railroad lines have been closed since the inception of the first inter-city express connections (ICE) in 1991, the rate of train delays rose, and people spend more time waiting for connecting trains due to a thinned out railway schedule.
Within cities, inequity leads to visibly slower traffic on average. Illich compared Bombay in the early seventies (where the very few cars already began to impair the flow of pedestrians and bicycles) with Western megacities like Paris, London, or New York. He found that the rate of locomotion in India was superior to that in fully industrialized countries.

Beyond a critical speed [around 25 mph], no one can save time without forcing another to lose it. The man who claims a seat in a faster vehicle insists that his time is worth more than that of the passenger in a slower one. Beyond a certain velocity, passengers become consumers of other people’s time, and accelerating vehicles becomes the means for effecting a net transfer of life-time. The degree of transfer is measured in quanta of speed. This time-grab despoils those who are left behind, and since they are the majority, it raises ethical issues of a more general nature than kidney dialysis or organ transplants. (p42)

So growing energy comes at the expense of equity – a mechanism that should ring alarm bells with anyone concerned about people’s participation in decision-making. If ecologists are right to assert that non-metabolic power creates pollution, it is also true that it corrupts the citizens, processes and institutions of society. 
 
Looking back at fourty-five years of ‘progress’ since Illich’s essay the brilliance of his analysis has not faded in the face of ‘new’ – more-of-the-same – developments. If anything, the manifestations of high-speed transportation have become more pointed in the places I have visited in my lifetime, be it in the United States, the European Union, Japan, or in India. Speaking up at the time of the Oil Crisis of the early-seventies when OPEC’s policies wreaked havoc on the transportation-intense – or should I say, transportation-addicted – economies of the West Illich took traffic as an example for pinpointing how the dominant culture phrases its problems in all the wrong terms. There is no “energy crisis”, he said, just a crisis of ever-increasing demand, and that’s as true today as it was back then. Instead of replacing fossil fuels (as the promise went, and still goes), so-called alternative energy sources help with covering the still-increasing demand for more, topping up the stagnating fossil fuels. The price both humans and the community of life must pay for our trips– habitat destruction, pollution, breakdown of social cohesion, human alienation from landbase, waste of lifetime on commuting etc pp – has accumulated to the point where civilization stands at the brink of collapse while a sixth mass extinction begins to denude the Earth of species diversity. Therefore it is only logical of Extinction Rebellion to seriously consider cuts on transportation. 
 
From understanding how addicted most of us seem to speedy transportation we can just as easily understand why both the current establishment and most of the citizenry alike resist the idea that aviation, private automobiles, container and cruise ships get restricted for the sake of life on Earth. Given the choice between death and unemployment, they opt for their sources of income.
The cure that Illich saw lies in the limitation of energy use. Speaking of traffic he meant lowering the maximum speed of vehicles to around 15 mph, which implicitly translates into less distance covered per day, closer-knit communities rather than urban sprawls, fewer roads with less space and materials used etc.

High speed is the critical factor which makes transportation socially destructive. A true choice among political systems and of desirable social relations is possible only where speed is restrained. Participatory democracy demands low energy technology, and free people must travel the road to productive social relations at the speed of a bicycle. (p23f)

Post scriptum
Ivan Illich (1926-2002) was a philosopher and catholic theologian.

I have first come across Illich’s work ten years ago when I happened to see a funny yet disquieting clip quoting from his book Deschooling Society. While he did not question civilization as such his revolutionary ponderings certainly deposited explosives close to its foundations. Unsurprisingly enough his name has almost vanished from public awareness. His findings, though, stood the test of time, so far, and his written legacy found its way into libraries all over the world. Many of his manuscripts and notes have been collected in the Illich Archive in Wiesbaden, co-founded and co-maintained by professors Reimerand Marianne Gronemeyer who base their work on Illich’s philosopy. In upholding the origial spirit, they apply those teachings to our times.

Frozen in movement

Do you believe in numbers? Do you believe in the power of the collective?
Me, I don’t. Not any more.
There is no collective; there never was; certainly not with global industrial, nor with any other civilization, for a civilization, by definition, is based on the story of separation, and the individual becomes the constituent building block of society, just like the atom becomes the constituent particle of matter. A collective in a civilized society is nothing but an illusory container full of particles in Brownian motion, confined by the jar’s walls which prevent the mass from moving outside. You may float up, you may sink down, but what does it matter? You don’t become one true collective by swimming in the same pool. What’s worse, as long as there’s no free influx of fresh water it is and it stays a pool full of excretions by the imprisoned particles. It’s suffocating eventually.
Immersing oneself in such a social container is an effective way of totally getting the notion – the culture medium – that drives a society or one of its subcultures, and drives it crazy. Up and down you float, left, right and center, until you’re sick and tired of the homogenous view and get the yellow blues. Unless you truly believein the premises that make up the culture medium, that is. Try nation states; try music genres; try street gangs; try corporations, try professional milieus; try academia; try political parties; try activism, for a change (that never comes).
The reason for incest and infighting, for bad breath and dirty deeds, is people’s confinement in separate containers, and the reason for exploding on contact with any of the other containers, again, is their long-standing isolation from fresh influx, so that their chemistries have become incompatible.
Let’s stop the metaphor here, as long as it’s somehow coherent. There are other forces at work as well, I know, and I don’t want to play down the benefits to be gained from interactions within a milieu, but in the end it just doesn’t satisfy my hunger for truth or community. Those are not to be had in groups produced from separation, within societies split and shattered along the personal interests of its constituent people-particles. The very notion of interest requires the exclusion of differently-interested others and the denial of inconvenient aspects of truth.
img by Piotr Siedlecki (pd)
When you are part of the atmosphere that circumvents the jars you cannot help but get drawn in and spat out somewhere sometimes, or react violently in other places. It’s what has to take place, to allow for a minimum of social glue that the incubator, the larger encompassing container, is too rigid to provide. Government and ideology, science and religion are partial themselves; they cannot do the job that each and every single one of the people-particles better did themselves.
There, the metaphor breaks down, just in time for pointing out that the responsibility for making sense of truth, for social coherence, and, last not least, everybody’s well-being and happiness cannot be outsourced to the greasy film on top. We better understand that if we try to fight our way out of the jar, each on our own, just like how we’ve been taught, we are never going to make it. What it takes is true community, a state in which people act from a place which is much stronger than self-interest: love and compassion for the other; in fact, the end of othering our not-quite-so-separate neighbour.
It cannot be done by force; it cannot be done by law; it cannot be done through reasoning; it cannot be done on large scale. International accords and nation states, even cities are too big for this. It has to be done one by one, face to face, right in the place where we are and nowhere else. The fact that I write this on a solitary blog hosted on an (anti-) social platform is kind of hilarious. Yet I got to work from what I have. I’m a writer, I’m an activist, among many other things. I live in a commune (does that make me a communist?), yet community is a state that sometimes has a hard time becoming realized; it’s because our minds, over decades, have been brainwashed into competing with each other. We have no other choice but to try again and again, day after day. So do I, in thinking, in living, and in writing about living and thinking. Words are but a medium; more often than not they fail to transport what’s meant But if you attempt to live a life both outside and inside the various jars you will know what I refer to. You are the one I am writing for.

V for Violence

Not so long ago an Ecuadorian told me that he appreciated one thing about the dictatorship that once ruled his home country — things got done; instead of chaos there was order, instead of dispute there was ‘peace’. My grandparents and other members of their generation used to say that not everything had been bad about Hitler’s Germany; there had been full employment for everyone, the riots in the streets that were so common during the Weimar time would have stopped, and there had been the Autobahns, of course, of which everybody was proud. This perception overlooks that comfort came at a high price — the misery and death of thousands, even millions of perceived enemies of the regime. Yes, you could live quite comfortably at that time, have a family, a job, a home while your freedoms were stripped from you and you were lied to at a grand scale which of course you knew and accepted as necessary. Others, though, had to pay for your wellbeing. Full employment came through the remilitarization of the country, in preparation for a war that cost sixty million lives, the highways were built by political prisoners, and the riots went away because they happened only in order to destabilize the state, to pave the way for tyranny.
Germans today say, Thank God we are living in a democracy, we have everything we need, and there hasn’t been a war in decades. Now, like then, it is others that pay the price for our wellbeing — other humans as well as non-humans. Now, like back then, or even more so, the perceived benefits of the regime sugarcoat the tremendous violence and fear that constitute everybody’s lives. And now, like in the not-so-good old times, we simply deny the fact that this is so. Every German, back then, helped perpetuate the tyranny through their thoughts and deeds, by just doing their jobs, by obeying immoral orders, by repeating the propaganda in their conversations, by shopping politically correct, by voting for the right guy, and by keeping their mouths shut in the face of injustice, and that has not changed the slightest bit since.
What has changed, though, is the scale at which these things happen — now globally — and the lengths at which both governments and subjects go to cover up the violence their comfort is based upon and comes along with. As violence has become omnipresent, this can only succeed through its normalization. Both those who say they cannot see any violence in their environment, and those who have a dislike for their situation but don’t know what to do — listen, read. I got something for you.
Violence is not just wars and molotov cocktails and truncheons. It is not just the blood and guts and gore you see, either.
Violence is built into the fabric of our daily lives, as structural violence. And even that is not the whole story.
Violence is in the food you eat, not only the obviously murderous meat, but the greens as well which get beaten out of the ground with the help of pesticides and poisonous fertilizers that kill the soil; Daniel Quinn calls it totalitarian agriculture. Yet food violence does not stop there; day by day we ingest up to one hundred thousand different chemicals that ‘accidentally’ have entered the ‘products’ and we never get told about it. Those in power think you don’t need to know because it’s not all that bad. Maybe it ain’t, if we ignore the ever rising number of cancer cases. Food violence continues in the notion that you must not eat if you do not pay, or you will go to prison. But who cares after all the violence dished out right from the start.
Violence is in our drinking water, treated with chemicals, often bottled in plastics made of oil. Violence is having to pay for a sip of water.
Violence is in our politics that divides us into left and right and reduces us to fanboys and fangirls of cardboard characters who verbally beat each other up. Politics is the science of dehumanizing the ‘other’ so they can justify ripping them off, exploiting them, and, in case they resist, killing them in the name of national security.
Violence is in our relationships which for most of us are nothing else but contracts. Give me what I want, then I give you what you want. If you disagree I’ll take it away from you anyway; unless I can’t, then just go to hell.
Violence is in the law and its thousands of paragraphs that rule into your life. You don’t agree, you go to jail.
Violence is in the constitution that makes you a subject of the state, thus takes away your freedom so it can pretend to generously providing it to you in the first place.
Violence is in the mass media that tell you lies about what is going on in the world and keep you hynotized with manufactured information and entertainment that have no relevance to you.
Violence is in education, the schools you must attend, sitting still for hours that pile up to years, the useless curriculum you must learn while at the same time you don’t know how to take a shit outside the million-dollars sewage treatment systems. Violence is the marks you get and the detention you receive. Does getting pressed into a standard mold for the sake of making a good wage slave of you violate your well-being? Hmmm.
Violence is in the books you read which normalize everyday violence and banalize it to pointless stories. The same goes for films and music.
Our whole culture in all its aspects is violent. We are all sick with it.
Violence is the deprivation of the ability to create and repair items by our own hands.
Violence is the right denied to copy and modify pieces of art or technology.
Violence is in the polluted air of our cities.
Make no mistakes, violence is everywhere.
This daily struggle for money, the rat race and the competitive dog-eat-dog life are getting us depressed, enraged, hateful, aggressive, narcissistic, drug-addicted, obsessive, split-minded, and/or we suffer from attention deficit. Who do you turn to for help?
The shrink and the loony bin who tell you that it’s your own fault that you are mad, when all you ever wanted was to better adapt to this violently insane society. Come get your detention spell in a sanitarium, with lots of colourful pills that knock you out, kill every coherent thought and make a good student / worker / consumer / tax payer / citizen of you again.
And our hospitals are no better, with their suppression of symptoms and their war against germs, led with chemical weapons that make you sicker than you have ever been before. Medical science is guaranteeing as much.
Violence is in science when it claims there is no other truth than scientific fact, that there is no sacred dimension, no meaning in life, no soul, and that love is just a bunch of chemicals and neurons in your brain. Most scientists claim that they were not responsible for the violent use of the outcome of their research through technology. I don’t know if this can be called violence but it sure is a sign of cowardice, and it is outright wrong.
So violence is in technology; the machine guns and bombs, yes, and also the vending machines, the cell phones, and the tv sets which disconnect us from each other and thus destroy our every relationship;
Violence is at your workplace to which you are a human resource only; remember the many times when you wouldn’t go to work in the morning, but you did anyway, for fear of getting laid off. Remember the many times when you didn’t dare to tell the truth, for the same reason.
Violence is in the economy to which you are a consumer only, and to which the whole world is just a pile of stuff to be extracted for profit. Think of the many jobs that do not get done because there is no money in it, and the many destructive things done just for the sake of profit.
Talking about money, that’s violence in the form of paper bills and computer digits, the debt of somebody in a Ponzi scheme who will never be able to pay back and thus will lose everything to the bank.
Last not least, violence is in the state that treats you as a subject and a tax payer.
The German word for violence, Gewalt, is contained in the word for the state’s authority, Staatsgewalt, and in the word for checks and balances, Gewaltenteilung. Language establishes a connection between governance and violence and sort of justifies the structural and also the physical brutality from above that runs by the name of ‘monopoly of legitimate use of force’. In its German translation, Gewaltmonopol, we have yet another phrase which includes violence. You can’t get more explicit about it.
As the state is not a person but simply a supersized group that consists of individuals, it is not far-fetched to say that the violence of the state is an amplification of the violence in all of us. I believe this has ramifications for how to go about it.

Who cares

I have been a ‘die-hard metal fan’, as they call the kind of folks that bang their heads at the thrashing beat of drums and screeching sounds of guitars, a guy who, like all the other die-hard metal fans, used to say, “I don’t give a shit what people think. I really couldn’t care less.”
Well, I was lying.
Of course I cared! That’s the whole point of being a die-hard metal fan. You yearn to be other than the others, you want to show off your freedom to all those sheeple out there who don’t dare to bleat. You want to be seen.
So I was lying; I did care, and I was wrong about my perceived liberty, too, as I know now. Being different, as well, is not the desirable thing I thought it was. There are no sheeple. Or rather, all of us are sheeple, the lifestock of the 1%, and each living being deserves getting cared about in kinder ways than rejection as an ‘other’.
Caring is the point of being an activist. Because, if you didn’t give a damn you wouldn’t be out there risking your reputation, your job, or, for some of you, even your life. Yes, you want to make a difference, physically. And then you want for that difference to take roots in the collective consciousness, you want for it to persist and have a lasting impact; you wish for people to finally wake up to what you can see so clearly.
Yet, to get to the point where you can see so clearly what most others don’t, you must have significantly reduced caring about mainstream opinions, and that means, you let go of wanting to be an acknowledged, highly valued member of society. Because the very moment you start to deviate from their kind of truth you are on your way out.
From this perspective, a quote from one of Richard Bach’s novels makes a lot of sense:
“Well, what’s wrong with losing ninety percent of my audience? What’s wrong with losing ALL my audience? I know what I know and I talk what I talk! And if that’s wrong then that’s just too bad.” –Richard Bach
In the end, as an author, you are writing for the sake of truth as such. You are writingin support of those who already understand the truth you tell, the ones who need support with staying strong and sane in an ocean of falsehood. You are writing for the ones you care about. You are writing for whom and what you love. Hell, does it make a difference! It makes an infinitely greater difference than voting for the right guy or buying from a green shop.
So let’s care. Let’s care a lot! Let’s care about our friends and neighbours, about the toads, the grass, the cockroaches, the sky, and the creek. Let’s care about truth.
Truth is not depending on a democratic majority, or anybody else but its speaker at all. Let truth be told, no matter what. You don’t know what else to say. A certain way along the path, you cannot stand anything but the truth; no matter how small the deviation, you cringe under the slightest of falsehoods, and you would rather be dead than contributing to the big lie that is our culture. This is how much you care.
You’d rather be dead.

Fund a mental

Feeling a new blossoming in the urge to write essays, and having finished most of the work connected to the translation of Thomas Henry Pope’s novel TheTrouble With WisdomI decided not to jump to the next translation project immediately, but to look into the material that I have created so far. With several years of abstinence from writing regularly, I had almost lost oversight of all the utterings that have collected over the years of awakening out of the civilizational paradigm. There is the idea of gathering some of the better articles in a philosophical-spiritual diary.
Pulling most of the relevant texts together in one file has been a no-brainer and an expenditure of merelythree days. During the last two weeks I have been doing nothing but drafting the outline of the book and eliminating everything that definitely does not belong into it. I am half way through with that, and, at this stage, it looks like it is going to be a 300+ pages Brontosaurus containing more than 100 texts, many of which turned out to “sound” very similar in tone and line of argument. I do have a hard time eliminating some of them while keeping others, when there is hardly anything with which to discriminate them by.
While sifting through those essays I re-encountered many interesting sources of information which they have been based upon, and it is somehow a fun thing to re-evaluate them in the face of the knowledge and understanding I have today.
A less pleasant discovery was hearing about what has become of some of the people who provided that information.
Anson Chi, the author of the novel Yellow on the outside, shame on the inside, has been arrested for trying to blast a major gas pipe and has been sentenced to more than two decades in prison. I remember having had a short email exchange with him about his work in 2009; he told me he was already writing on another novel – that never came, of course.

Michael C. Ruppert, whom I discovered in connection with my inquiries on the causes of the financial crises of 2008 (“Crossing the Rubicon”, 2005 [sic!]), and whom I followed to his analysis of the money trail of the 9/11 events (The truth and lies of 911, from November 2001 [again sic!]), in 2009 came out with a film called “Collapse” (see blog entry) within which he already confirmed that he, despite sporting a rationalistic mind, had a hard time dealing with the expected end of civilization emotionally.
Recent inquiries revealed to me that Ruppert had entered a social downward spiral and went through much physical, mental, emotional and spiritual turmoil since then. Following video footage through the years you can see how he physically deteriorated under the weight of his knowledge and his personal condition until he committed suicide in April 2014.
In six webisodes of Apocalypse, Man(mind the comma) Ruppert explained in late 2013, early 2014, how his research on governmental corruption had led him to look into the dangers of a corporation-driven worldwide war for resources, and how all that had became irrelevant by the discoveries GuyMcPherson made regarding climate change. I’ll come to that later.
Looking back at my own development it seems clear to me how becoming aware of the deeper driving forces in and of our world can lead you to a very dangerous place. What is going on in the world on the material, vital and mental levels can hardly be taken without adequate spiritual development. Yet, for some people, sufficient spiritual understanding can only be reached through a complete destruction of every foothold in society. There has to be the insight that nothing will make a difference, and nothing can be done, and that this is not a bad thing at all.
Information of any kind has absolutely no value to anybody unless it meets an open heart and is being backed up by personal experience. True communication simply cannot be established. All warnings are cast to the wind, and you have to let go of trying to change the world, trying to change society, trying to change people’s minds – until you arrive at a place of calmness.
For both Ruppert and me this development was necessary; for both of us it has led to a major crisis; for both of us it meant an opening-up to spiritual life. And if this doesn’t take root in you deep enough and fast enough, too much knowledge kills you.
I had my breaking points in 2008-09 when I understood that I could not continue life within the framework of German society, and again in 2015 when, after years of struggling against malicious forces, it has become crystal clear that false, manipulative, or incomplete spirituality, abundantly present especially in big intentional communes, can be an even more destructive force than plain materialism.
It was a close call, but in the end I overcame the moments of crisis through surrendering to what is. I am grateful for that because, otherwise, I think I wouldn’t have been able to bear the things McPherson has to say. I wouldn’t have been able to understand his advise on how to look at this kind of knowledge, and what to do about it. It’s sure scary, if nothing else is.

Are you left out or right in?

Today I read a „Call on world leaders to support the global action plan to get every girl in school and learning.“globalcitizen.org
Was it really such a blessing if everybody had to go through mandatory curriculums consisting of government-approved Western thought patterns? Women, especially those who are uneducated, still do have distinct worldviews which are based in everyday life rather than imposed-upon mental concepts. How about free access for everyone, to any kind of education? Are inequality, disparity, and diversity not the facts of life, and are they not generally a good thing? Are we not looking for acceptance rather than sameness and equality? I think that the question in front of us basically runs like, How to achieve a state in which being different does not equal getting overpowered and voiceless?