Asuraville – the Anti-Thesis of Auroville

Notes From A Superfluous Man, Jessie Willcox Smith (1863-1935)

Hostile takeover of Utopia

[Part 3 of a 4-part article series on Auroville & Natural Law]

… In their dreams, though, the first settlers imagined the future city of 50.000 as designed by Mother’s architect, Roger Anger: a circular town in the shape of a galaxy, with huge kilometers-long structures, up to sixty meters high, spiralling out from the Matrimandir, the spiritual center, to the periphery, where a greenbelt consisting of forests, parks and farms would surround the actual settlement. Roger Anger who would have liked to become a better LeCorbusier designed his Auroville draft with no respect to the actual ground realities such as pre-existing settlements, topography or local culture. In Mother’s mind the plan had to reflect an ideal shape that, as with all her teachings, would have to be adapted to new realizations as those unfolded over time…

Changes

Early-on, though, and despite the Mother’s warnings her teachings – and, most importantly, the Galaxy plan – ossified into a religious matter with a small portion of the residents. Time and again attempts have been made towards nailing down Roger Anger’s Galaxy once and for all. A so-called Masterplan has been drawn (and re-drawn), presented for residents’ ratification (and questioned), proposed for application with the UNESCO as World Heritage Site (yet not submitted), and projects with the goal of building the so-called Lines of Force, vast mega-structures representing galactic spiral arms, have been initiated (and stopped). Fifty-three years came and went; the township grew slowly but steadily to 3300 residents from sixty countries. Trodden paths, alternating between dusty and muddy conditions, become plastered roads, concrete and rammed-earth structures replaced the simple organic dwellings of the early days. Tropical dry evergreen forests overgrew the once barren plateau and cooled it down significantly. Sunburnt scantly-clad youthful pioneers became “old Aurovilians” who got crowded out by middle-aged middle-class newcomers indulging in uplevel comforts. Our common dream shattered into numerous interest groups, solidarity-based sharing-economy gave way to book-money-powered shopping, and consensus decision-making has been given up for sporadic majority voting while most of the decisions are taken by a de-facto government of committees, the so-called working groups.

In effect, the Natural-Law-compatible Integral Yoga philosophy, for most part, increasingly became seen as describing a Utopian goal to be achieved somewhen in the distant future, among the post-human supermen Sri Aurobindo had envisioned. Mother’s dream still carries some weight today but it has come under severe pressure on the one hand from the left-brainy materialist city builders whose main concerns are money and power issues, and on the other hand from the right-brainy New Age head-in-the-clouds self-improvers who couldn’t care less about the economy so long as they may dwell in spiritual experiences. In this situation, in the township’s fifty-fourth year, India’s central government sent their demolition crew: a new Secretary to the Auroville Foundation and newly-appointed members to the “Governing Board”, one of the three interdependent constitutive bodies of the Foundation. Their mission: Unknown. Their purported goal: To build The City At The Service Of Truth. And henceforth unfolded the coup against Auroville’s right to self-determination which we, the residents, refer to as “The Takeover”.

Foundation

During the period after Mother’s passing (1973) relationships grew tense between the few hundred Aurovilian pioneers on the barren plateau and the Sri Aurobindo Society in the city of Pondicherry who legally owned Auroville’s lands and buildings. Those interested in the story may read a pamphlet titled “Genesis of the Auroville Foundation Act”. You will find stunning similarity between the SAS’s attempt to keep the emerging township under their thumb and today’s Takeover through the Auroville Foundation. SAS made ridiculous claims which led the whole project into absurdity such as, Auroville were a religious body, despite the Mother’s unambiguous statements to the opposite.

In 1982 the Supreme Court of India transferred the governance of Auroville from the Sri Aurobindo Society to the Government of India (GoI). It did not resolve the conflict, though, and so GoI, in 1988, introduced the Auroville Foundation Act, to provide the framework for Auroville’s development according to the Charter given by the Mother.

In the introduction to the AV Foundation Bill it says:

“As far as the day-to-day activities are concerned, they will be looked after by the residents through appropriate autonomous arrangements, which will include Residents’ Assembly and its Working Committee. The idea underlying this arrangement is that the residents of Auroville should have autonomy so that activities of Auroville can grow under an atmosphere conducive to harmonious growth.”

We obviously have a problem here: On the one hand, Aurovilians ought to be free from external pressure or rule in order to be able to align themselves with the Divine only; on the other hand, there is no law-free place on Earth. Rather than belonging “to nobody in particular” Auroville has been founded in the jurisdiction of the Republic of India, which mandates the registration of land ownership just like every other country on Earth. The closest Auroville could come to its principles, under such conditions, was its anchoring as some kind of state-approved entity which would allow at least collective land-ownership. Chapter III of the Act again emphasizes the importance for self-determined organization for the purpose of advancing Auroville’s goals as defined by the Mother:

“21(4)b: the residents of Auroville are allowed freedom to grow and develop activities and institutions for the fulfilment of the aspirations and programmes envisaged in the said Charter of Auroville.”

The Foundation was supposed to serve as a sandbox within which the residents were sheltered from all the things that come along with the old ways, such as taxation, policing, governing, wage slavery etc. The problem, though, with the obligation to register collectively-owned land under either a trust, a society or a foundation is that these legal entities have to have a governing body, and that this body is endowed with rights and duties determined by law. From there arises a conflict between the duties of the governing body – following man-made laws – and the residents’ freedom from all external rules, to follow a higher Law. It is in this space of opposing requirements that the forces antagonizing Natural Law step in, to seed confusion instead of Truth, randomness instead of Discipline, mistrust instead of harmony, and selfishness instead of Goodwill.

Auroville lines of force
“…with huge kilometers-long structures, up to sixty meters high, spiralling out” Pic: author

A flat-Earth understanding of writings

The inversion of terms and the false reinterpretation of principles is a typical sign of the decadent stages of a civilization. I have written to this phenomenon a few times already, using the term Dictionary of Falsehoods (see e.g. The Negro Debate All Over Again) Many residents’ own contribution to the undermining of Auroville’s goals, as described in part 1 of this article series, comes about through this channel: by having an erroneous understanding of what is at the core of the Mother’s and Sri Aurobindo’s teachings, twisted by intellectual blindness or ideological biases, such as hidden religious or materialistic assumptions. These express in literal application of the relevant texts, and the interpreters often neglect the fact that the teachings are not Truth as such; nor do they represent Truth – they are pointers to that-which-is.

Readers who still ask themselves which news media can be trusted to report “the truth” might wonder what I mean by the above sentence. In essence, Truth, in Aurobindan context, is that-which-is – Reality; not yours or mine, THE Reality. Yes, there is such a thing, but one cannot reduce it to words; to its overwhelming part it is not even physical. Words can point out, though, what to look for and where to look for it. Imagine you are on a walk, and as you walk around aimlessly you get hungry. Where the path in front of you is forking you see a signboard pointing to the right; it says, “Restaurant.” Now, the signboard does not fill your stomach – the food at the restaurant does. So you take the right hand path and walk all the way to the real thing, where the actual food is. Only an idiot would stick with the pointer in the hopes of getting satisfied. And yet the world is full of fools obsessed with words instead of dwelling in Truth. Seeking Truth in spiritual texts is just as fruitless as seeking it in any other kind of media, and a literal interpretation of spiritual sources is akin to taking the map for the territory.

And yet the literal interpretation of bits and pieces from the teachings and from the Act is what the forces behind the Takeover of Auroville currently apply – a flat-Earth understanding,” as one resident aptly called it, of the writings.

Decision-making in Auroville

Within the Foundation’s framework Auroville’s decision-making rests on three pillars, a) the Governing Board (GB), a group whose members are appointed by India’s central government; its role is to support Auroville in achieving its goals within the legal realities of the country; it may “coordinate activities and services,” “review the basic policies and the programmes,” “secure proper management of the properties,” “prepare a master-plan of Auroville” and “authorise and coordinate fund-raising” “in consultation with the Residents’ Assembly”; b) the International Advisory Council (IAC) which consists of five members nominated by India’s central government; its role is to “advise the Governing Board on any matter relating to the development and management of Auroville”, securing the encouragement of its ideals and the freedom of the residents to fulfill their aspirations according to the Charter; and c) the Residents’ Assembly (RA), the entirety of the adult residents. Most decisions taken require the collaboration of at least two of the three pillars, and the RA needs to get involved almost every time. From this fact, from its general liberties granted by the Foundation Act, and from the tasks the Charter requests of the residents follows that the RA is the single most important part in the decision-making of the town – apart from the Divine will.

Due to the before-mentioned obstacles in place it is no wonder, though, that Auroville today, in its actual organization, could not be much farther removed from Mother’s ideal. With the legal establishment, under Indian law, of the township as the property of a foundation directly attached to India’s central government, a legalistic view of Auroville’s functioning progressively permeated throughout its residency and institutions. An expanding Residents Assembly, growing unable to meet regularly, without face-to-face discussion could not come to consensus any longer and switched to majority voting as a decision-making tool. Few residents received that as helpful and the vast majority withdrew from participation in the plebiscites.

A number of working groups which have been established, and get staffed, by the RA execute the work mandated to them by the RA, such as town planning (TDC), conflict resolution (AV Council), funds and assets management (FAMC), Entry etc.

The more the residents lost interest in direct decision-making, naturally, the working groups began to perceive themselves – and became perceived by many residents – as a quasi-government. As a result, the working groups began to make decisions which were not theirs to make, such as a network of surveillance cameras which has been installed without the residents’ agreement, with nobody signing responsible for it and no information provided on who is watching the footage or how long recordings gets stored. The groups became more bureaucratic and less transparent in their functioning over time, keeping secrets from the residents while asking them – under threat of consequences – for data. Despite numerous attempts at reform, they turned into a tool in the hands of a corrupt few, a nearly-closed circle of cronies and a caste of bureaucrats cycling through the revolving doors of the various groups.

Two examples for how rotten things had become

In late 2019, a would-be newcomer who got cheated royally by an Aurovilian and received due attention by neither the working groups nor the Foundation complained to India’s central government and its police authority. He provided evidence for hundreds of cases of corruption and other wrongdoings. Yet again, no thorough investigation ensued, neither by the government nor from within Auroville. A high-ranking officer of the Foundation accused of being in the know got absolved after what looked like a spurious inquiry.

When Corona hit in March 2020, government orders were passed “down” without any consideration of an Aurovilian way to handle such a crisis. All the numerous health practices adopted from around the world – Ayurvedic, Naturopathic, Chinese, Tibetan, Homeopathic etc – were forgotten overnight and the residents were told by the self-appointed Corona Committee that, while everyone was entitled to have their own opinions, people should keep those to themselves and simply follow the fear-based official prescription.

Far removed from the Mother’s teachings, unaware of our role in the Auroville project, and caught in a severe disequilibrium of power, we, the residents, were easy prey for the government coup that unfolded from December 2nd, 2021 on. Some say – especially those siding with the hostile forces – that we deserved it; that we should simply surrender and let Mother have her will. I disagree. Yes, by disregarding Natural Law as a collective we sort of invited further abuse. But it is not the Mother’s wrath that came upon us; she has never been aggressive. And neither us nor anybody else deserves the violation of their Natural Rights. Under the guise of “manifesting the Mother’s dream for Auroville”, “sweeping out the resisting forces” and “putting an end to corruption” a wrecking crew consisting of one handful of officers and a select few rogue Aurovilians began the dismantling of our system of self-governance.

Auroville Takeover

The Takeover. Tactics from the textbook

Short notice

On December 2nd, 2022 Auroville’s Youth Centre and adjacent forest plots receive a note from the Town Development Council (TDC) that, within a week, trees and buildings would be cleared along the designated Crown Road, a feature of the Galaxy footprint in the so-called Masterplan. On the following day Youth Centre asks for a stay, pointing out that recent visioning meetings had come up with creative solutions that would result in less damage to forest and buildings.

Surprise attack

Nevertheless, bulldozers arrived already on the very next morning. Without work order they start felling trees. Within the hour, hundreds of Aurovilians peacefully block the destruction. The Foundation Office (FO) calls the police. They gather information and leave again – only to return at 1am, after consultations with the FO.

Disproportionate application of force

While the bulldozers proceed with the destruction the police block access to the site, arrest resident teenagers and assault some approaching protesters.

Calling the police against peaceful protesters was in clear violation of Mother’s guidelines for Auroville as town planning is an internal matter which should be decided and handled solely by the residents. The unprovoked use of violence, again, was in square violation of Auroville’s guidelines, as well as unambiguously immoral under Natural Law.

Bribery and ultimatum

After staunch protest notes from a community gathering and Auroville’s international support network, AVI, to the Foundation, the Secretary of the Foundation offers money and relocation support to the caretakers of the concerned plots – provided the protests stopped. The response had to be given within twelve hours. The caretakers declined the money but agreed to collaborate if they could dismantle the buildings themselves.

Creating confusion

TDC and Foundation office gave a reply that differed from previously offered agreements.

FO’s spokespersons announce a community meeting exactly at the same time and place the residents announced their own.

Canceled freedom of speech

FO then gave a gag order to Outreach Media, Auroville’s media relations service, and appointed two official spokespersons of their own.

Needless to say that the oppression of differing voices is a deeply immoral act. While the behaviour of the police might have been in their own responsibility the FO violated Natural Law with their gag order and so for the first time unambiguously showed their disregard for Auroville’s principles and the self-determination of its residents.

Divide and conquer

The Residents Assembly asked their Working Committee to organize an emergency decision-making event. Four of the seven WC members, siding with the Foundation, refused the request. In the long run, this results in the duplication of working groups and a division among the residents. A direct attempt at dividing Aurovilians of local and non-local origin is made by the Secretary’s addressing the Tamil residents only in a public speech.

Employment of extra-legal external forces

Meanwhile the bulldozers return to the Youth Centre along with about one hundred hired unknown goons who aggress and harm protesters, women and children among them. More trees and buildings than planned are getting taken down. In the afternoon, the crew moved on to a different plot where events repeated. To add insult to the harm done, the Secretary later thanks the goons publicly during Auroville’s birthday celebration.

Ignoring court orders, laws, decisions and petitions

The National Green Tribunal of India issues a stay order. The work, especially the felling of trees, must be stopped. The destructive works go on nonetheless, up until this day. For justification the TDC refers to older working group decisions made in breach of the Foundation Act.

The Foundation continues to violate the Foundation Act on many instances and across its content; it attempted the restriction of the residents’ freedom of speech and assembly, the right to self-governance, the Residents Assembly’s participation in all matters of administration and self-organization, the constitutive processes of the working groups and so on. The hijacking of Auroville’s institutions usually happens by an order of the Secretary or one of her allies, to hand over keys, accounts, passwords, and equipment; it includes the phrase “issued with the approval of the Competent Authorities” but neither names those authorities nor mentions any legal rules it might rest upon.

The FO and the groups it has taken over completely ignore every request by the residents, to meet and find a way forward together. Communication flows only one way, from the FO to the residents in the form of orders, and from the FO to the media in the form of propaganda which is demonizing the residents. Residents ought to answer to a barrage of demands for data, but critical feedback attracts negative sanctions.

Petitions from supporters of the residents, such as the International Advisory Council (one of the three pillars of Auroville’s self-governance), the Auroville International supporters network, or the more than 50,000 signatories of a petition at change.org consistently get ignored as well.

In an unusual landslide decision of 89% in favour, the Residents Assembly determines that all work must stop until the policies and regulations regarding the infrastructure development of the town have been reviewed. Although the RA’s call is binding the FO doesn’t care; instead, it started the direct Takeover of working groups and other institutions of the RA from the following week on, in early February. All of the relevant orders are violating the Foundation Act, established procedures, Auroville’s guidelines, ethical principles such as the right to self-determination, or general goodwill, and they disrupt the functioning of the town’s self-governance.

Man enshrines in him the individualised Godhead, the personal Divine: the possibility of the incarnation of the Divine lies in him alone. Hence the struggle between Gods and Asuras for the possession of the human vessel.

Nolini Kanta Gupta

The hijacking of Auroville’s institutions

February 8th, 2022 – Outreach Media which had been subjected to a gag order already two months ago, became the first victim in a long series of hijacked institutions and facilities. An order directed the handover of assets. The place was then physically sealed.

March 15th, 2022 – Auroville’s construction firms are sidelined by a contract between the Foundation and an external business “for the execution of Projects related to Making of Auroville City”. Our Water Service gets sidelined by the same business which is now taking over the sludge processing.

April 27th, 2022 – The four members of the Working Committee which sided with the Foundation illegally “dismiss” their three colleagues who stand by the Residents Assembly (the RA decides who can be a member in the WC).

May 7th & 9th, 2022 – Foundation and the Governing Board order the RA to stop all decision-making processes for the time being, until the Register of Residents is updated. The reasoning is legal nonsense (see below, “General intimidation”), the order as such is illegal because it lacks a basis, and it is immoral because it infringes on the right of the residents, to meet and to decide on their actions.

May 10th, 2022 – The RA decided in another landslide vote, with 92% agreement, that the four WC members siding with the Foundation are dismissed. Nevertheless, on May 12th, the four occupy the WC’s meeting room and appoint three more members. So there are effectively two groups calling themselves Working Committee now. The WC of the Residents is able to occupy the room a few days later, but Foundation calls the police on the 18th; they shut down the whole Townhall building. Complaints are filed against the residents’ WC members, for “illeagally taking over the WC office” – sheer mockery!

May 17th, 2022 – The Foundation, claiming “anti-government activities”, demands administrative access to Auroville’s intranet facilities; they claim “anti-government activities.” They provide no further details, nor does anybody specific get accused until now. An administrator hands over the passwords under duress.

May 20th, 2022 – Using the extorted passwords, Foundation takes over the intranet of Auroville, Auronet, and SYSOP, the service in charge of the domain name of Auroville and related email addresses of the working groups, services, units and all Aurovilians and of Auroville web services. These are later misused to restrict or deny active RA supporters access to or free use of the bulletin board, to hijack working groups’ email communications, to unveil details of such communications, and to block emails coming in from, or going out to, RA supporters’ accounts. The names of the new admins and sysops have never been published.

May 27th, 2022 – Foundation hijacks the Funds and Assets Committee of the Residents Assembly (FAMC) by “releasing” the RA-selected members and replacing them with personnel of the Foundation’s choice, one of them even a non-Aurovilian. Needless to say that this was illegal, unlawful, and immoral, all in one. The members of the FAMC of the RA refuse to step down, though, so it became the second working group in duplicate.

June 1st, 2022 – Using the commandeered intranet facilities Foundation hijacks Auroville’s mass bulletin service by locking out the admin with no previous announcement. This means that the lawful working groups can no longer inform the community through that channel. The RA’s institutions replace the lost resources with external services and addresses; Foundation warns that the outsourcing of information could have negative legal repercussions.

June 22th, 2022 – Foundation hijacks Auroville’s archives by another order and replaces part of the personnel.

June 24th, 2022 – Foundation hijacks ACUR, the management of the Townhall, by yet another order.

June 28th, 2022 – Foundation hijacks the Land Board by one more order; FO dismisses two of LB’s members and replaces them, partly by non-Aurovilians.

July 1st, 2022 – Following the takeover of ACUR, several tenants, among them working groups such as Human Resources, Auroville Council or Land Board receive short-notice terminations; they have to vacate the premises within 24 hours. No replacements or support with finding new places are offered to them. Council decides to defy the order and squats its own meeting room.

July 15th, 2022 – The Sri Aurobindo Centres in India, Auroville and the Ashrams in Pondicherry and New Delhi, were informed that the Secretary of the Foundation would now be the funding coordinator for government support to Sri Aurobindo’s 150th birthday celebrations, and the grant payments would be routed through her office. Moreover, the funding would not come in the form of a simple grant but a more complex financial arrangement involving bond schemes.

July 29st, 2022 – After the actual takeover of the Finance and Assets Management (FAMC) on May 27th,, and the rerouting of the celebration funds by the Delhi government, a cold takeover of the Budget Coordination Committee (BCC) takes place. Another office order from the Foundation demands “to immediately stop all BCC disbursement of funds to all projects except maintenance [i.e. basic income] with immediate effect.”

Personal intimidation through abuse of office power

Peaceful protesters of foreign origin witnessing the destruction of Youth Centre have been denounced as “violent” persons partaking in “political” activities to the visa registration authorities (FRRO); they receive visits from FRRO officers.

Residents and workinggroup members who inquire a group of Foundation-instructed road workers breaching the National-Green-Tribunal stay-order get threatened with criminal charges, for “obstructing government works”.

General intimidation

The Secretary sends out letters to foreigner residents that their visas will only get extended after they signed a demand that, among other things, they “abide by the Masterplan of Auroville based on the Galaxy Plan conceived by the Mother”. (60% of Aurovilians are of non-Indian origin.)

A short time later, all residents are called to update the Foundation’s “Register of Residents” that supposedly had been neglected since 2005. At closer inspection, the Foundation has live access to the so-called Master List which is kept up-to-date on a daily basis. The registration form demands, mandatorily, an AADHAAR card number; that card is a unified biometric ID which, for the obvious problems it causes towards personal privacy, has repeatedly been ruled by India’s supreme court as voluntary-use only. Another issue with the Foundation’s registration form is an attached three-pages questionaire; the combination is not permissible. Foundation warns of severe consequences later, though, to people who do not fill the form. Nevertheless, only about half of the residents follows the request, many of them due to fear of consequences only.

Meanwhile, more than half of current visa applicants, through no fault of their own, experience difficulties; the processing of their applications gets delayed significantly, the period of visa validity gets reduced drastically, or they receive no visas at all. Such an amount of arbitrary trouble only occured in the 1970s, during the conflict with the Sri Aurobindo Society.

trainjack (free to use)
trainjack (free to use)

Judge for yourself

One could extend the list of atrocities perpetrated by the Foundation Office and their commandeered working groups by a number of further events but that wouldn’t add significantly to the picture. (Get the full & up-to-date timeline of events from the website Stand For Auroville Unity, which I used for my article.) The ill will and contempt shown towards Auroville’s residents is so obvious and the contrast to Auroville’s principles is so stark that, in order to judge sincerity and moral correctness of the Foundation Office, it is not necessary to consider the points each side is bringing forward; the methods in and by themselves are abominable and delegitimize any claim to virtue that could perhaps be made. The Takeover collaborateurs compound their foul play with gleeful remarks against those they have violated, and by glorifying their ‘leader’ (Madam Secretary, of course) with quotes from Machiavelli’s cynical book “The Prince”.

In terms of democratic values the balance sheet looks nasty as well: those who constantly violate the law while claiming to defend it apparently couldn’t care less about ethical consideration or morally correct acting. It seems that they think that the ends justify the means – in unambiguous indication of their spiritual poverty.

The individual strikes dealt in the coup were obviously illegal. But whether they were or weren’t is irrelevant to Natural Law. Legality does not establish morality, nor does illegality equal immorality. I cannot help but notice, though, that a trail of lies, theft, violence and suffering closely accompanies the steps undertaken by the Secretary since her taking office in mid-2021. I find that telling, from the perspective both of Aurobindan spirituality and your garden-variety interpretation of Natural Law. How shallow her understanding of Auroville’s principles actually must be would normally not concern anyone else but herself. Since she imposes her view on everyone else, by enforcing quick “development”, her ignorance becomes an issue.

In their blatant immorality the Takeover crew are akin to the petty tyrants currently running the countries of the Western bloc. As we see

  • the same methods applied as during the Plandemic – hijacking of institutions, misinformation, fear mongering, doling out unprovoked violence, causing division, demonizing dissidents, mirroring and projecting one’s own misdeeds on opponents,
  • and as the same denial of communication is happening like in other countries such as currently against farmers in the Netherlands,
  • and as the means and measures taken by the aggressors actually are in direct violation of their own proclaimed principles and harm their own purported goals,
  • and as the heat is coming from persons who are answerable directly to the central government,

it is not too far-fetched to assume that the Takeover of Auroville, rather than serving the development of the town along Mother’s guidelines, is part of the globalist predator’s agenda: the takeover of national states, land ownership, and natural resources around the world. Whole populations lose their subsistence, get driven off the land, fall into dependency from large corporations, and their communities dissolve. The case of Auroville may serve as a stark warning to all those who still think that governments have the best of their citizens in mind and that they were willing and able to work for a better world. Their interests are fundamentally different from those of their “constituency”, and so they lie to the people, always, everywhere. To protect the lie, to enforce their orders, and to keep themselves in power they use structural and physical violence and the threat thereof. It doesn’t matter whether it’s monarchy, aristocracy, oligarchy, socialism, theocracy, fascism, democracy, or what-have-you – all governments act immorally by default, all government is tyranny, no matter how comfortable it might feel to the average person.

Video: Mark Passio on government, authority, freedom, and determinedness

And this is why the idea that the human condition had improved over the millennia is an illusion; it only become smarter, and so much so as to make us beg them for more of the stick and less of the carrot. Today, we are standing at the edge of a cliff. One step into the wrong direction will bring unprecedented suffering on a global scale.

It is government which orchestrates the drive towards Hell, but make no mistake, it was the majority of the population that allowed for it to happen: the corruption of some, and the ignorance, the laziness and the lack of courage of almost everyone else. It was order-following that brought us here. Auroville has been founded to experiment with positive ways, based on the capacity of free individuals to discern truth from untruth, and to voluntarily collaborate for the realization of the fact that all men are basically one. To establish any kind of governance that forces its rule on the residents by external means can only result in total failure of the township’s objectives. To do so under the guise of fostering those objectives is duplicitious, if not malicious, because it leeches people’s creative energy for an evil goal while destroying their confidence in the Good.

And, as far as the residents are concerned, to help the putschists, actively or by surrendering to their orders, is equally despicable. It’s not what you are here for, dear Aurovilians!

“Auroville is not a project of the Government of India. It is a project of Sri Aurobindo and Mother.
I support the power of Auroville’s decision making process residing in the Resident’s Assembly. Every other part of the Foundation should be at the service of the RA, not imposing their will or their budget or their timeline.”

Julian (an Aurovilian)

The name Auroville deserves for as long as it rests in the claws of government and its herd of cowards is Asuraville, the city at the service of Evil, because it has become the anti-thesis of what it ought to embody.

New Age fallacies

And so it is of high importance that Aurovilians and the world’s population alike understand the significance of events like the Takeover, no matter under which guise the strikes take place: in response to a “financial crisis”, a “pandemic”, an “invasion”, or to facilitate the “development” of towns into “smart cities”. The governments’ “measures” happen always against our personal and collective interest as they do not keep harm from us (which is a lie), they inflict harm (which is violence). We have every right to resist.

But due to a misguided understanding of scriptures, and supported by erroneous New-Age “wisdom”, many believe that the utmost we may do about events such as Auroville’s Takeover is to send protest notes. From their view, to get hit by violent crime invites the question what you have done to attract it; to point out wrongdoing is called “projecting”, and to distance oneself from the perpetrators is perceived as a form of divisiveness. To involve courts will be seen as illegitimate aggression. When you occupy your place despite orders not to, you are coming dangerously close to getting chastised as a violator. Let’s put things straight:

1) A receiver of violence has usually not called for it, and he certainly doesn’t deserve it. To say otherwise is to tell a rape victim she “had it coming.” Inflicting harm on somebody else – taking their property, freedom, health, mate, life, self-determination, or ability to judge – without their consent is always immoral. To speak the truth about what happened is a Right, and it is usually the perpetrators who project their guilt by shaming the victim. There is a clear distinction between the person who is doing harm and the person that is done harm to; to treat them as “equally involved in conflict” feels fundamentally unjust – because it is. Trust that feeling. Well knowing that they have done wrong to another the perpetrators usually avoid clarifying talks at all cost; called out they react verbally aggressive or even physically offensive. In such circumstances, when all other peaceful attempts for rectifying the wrong have failed, forcefully incapacitating them or appealing to a court or a jury for support can help with ending an oppressive situation. Courts generally are advised against both under Natural Law and in Auroville, but if the antagonist is a legal entity rather than a living person I would certainly keep that option. And the forceful response to an immediate threat or to an attack is, of course, not to be equated with violence; it is legitimate self-defense. The application of force might be wise in some cases, rather not advisable in most others, because the damage inflicted invites retaliation and has unwanted implications for years, sometimes centuries to come. Self-defense is definitely legitimate under Natural Law. Listen to your consciousness, and consider non-combative conflict resolution first.

2) Living in abidance by Natural law opens up potentials for a peaceful life. And yet, unless you don’t care about your family, your neighbour, your community, your habitat, or your guiding principles – not to talk about serving Truth – you will without a doubt fight to secure their well-being when they come under attack. Pacifism is a completely different animal; it claims that there is nothing worth fighting for and that you should leave your hands in the pockets while all that has been built up is getting damaged, stolen, or destroyed, and your loved ones are getting driven out, enslaved, raped, tortured, or murdered.

3) And for whom exactly did pacifism ever work? Has it worked for the Caribbean tribes who welcomed Columbus with a feast before they got enslaved? Has it worked for New England’s Indians when they helped the first colonists survive before those turned on them? What about Appeasement politics in the 1930s – it stopped the War? Has petitioning ended Pol Pot’s genocide against the Kampuchean “intellectuals”? Pacifism’s effectiveness, when it comes to preventing the worst, horribly fails to meet expectations.

Tyrannical regimes often times don’t start with genocide, but rather with simple immoral or illegal acts guised in rationalistic, moralistic or legalistic shrouds. A wrong sense of staying peaceful and civilized in the face of injustice only helps the perpetrators drive their inhumane agenda to its bitter ending. To prevent the worst one has to note the similarities early-on.

Considering the havoc wreaked by the plandemic measures one cannot seriously sustain doubts that most of the world’s governments would absolutely sacrifice millions of their citizens in pursuit of accumulating and perpetuating power. So I have to ask the Aurovilians who would still stay silent about the wrongness of the Takeover, Do you really think that they, the Takers, will stop the dismantling of Auroville’s self-governance before you get affected? Do you think they would not expel one thousand or more residents, and use the rest of us as walk-ons pretending to be happy inhabitants of a spiritual tourist trap? Do you think they will stop before something really terrible happens that will remain as a dirty stain on Auroville’s Karma for centuries to come?

I have to ask those who would collaborate, even, with the Takers whether you actually think that any good can come from the way you treat others? Which kind of Auroville could possibly emerge from coerced collaboration when the very first point of the charter emphasized willing servitude?

Conclusion

Yes, Karma will restore balance eventually, by extinguishing immoral societies – it’s called the Sodom & Gomorrah solution – but for you to collaborate, or to just stand by, means you are becoming a willing servitor of the Asuric forces. Deny it all you want; Karmic Law won’t consider excuses, only sincere confessions and redemption.

As pointed out already, Auroville’s state of affairs has parallels in the global context, which hardly surprises anyone who lived their lives somewhen during the last 3000 years and paid attention. We’ll explore this thread of understanding in the upcoming fourth article of the Auroville & Natural Law series, Truth or the Abyss.

“No system indeed by its own force can bring about the change that humanity really needs; for that can only come by its growth into the firmly realised possibilities of its own higher nature, and this growth depends on an inner and not an outer change. But outer changes may at least prepare favourable conditions for that more real amelioration, — or on the contrary they may lead to such conditions that the sword of Kalki can alone purify the earth from the burden of an obstinately Asuric humanity. The choice lies with the race itself; for as it sows, so shall it reap the fruit of its Karma.” – Sri Aurobindo: War and Self-Determination

[title image: The Princess and the Goblin (1920), Jessie Willcox Smith (1863-1935)]

The Auroville & Natural Law series

  1. Festering Lillies and the View Over Lush Lakes
  2. Nietzsche is dead
  3. right arrow Asuraville left arrow
  4. Truth or the Abyss

Nietzsche is dead

Friedrich Nietzsche by Edvard Munch

Natural Law and Auroville as a City at the Service of Truth

In my blog, Festering Lillies and the View Over Lush Lakes, I described some key principles of Natural Law, such as ethics, objective morality, and freedom.

Speaking of Natural Law I mean a principle of cause and effect in human social behavior. That principle is intrinsic to the human condition, proceeding from the freely born individual endowed with reason and conscience. Based on correct observation of that-which-is (Truth), when the individual undertakes an ethically stringent inquiry it results in a morally correct evaluation of what he or she ought to do; given that the process has not been spoiled by egoic motions or external influences the outcome of Morality is Right Action. Abidance by or ignorance of Natural Law determines the success or failure of human communities. Societies which value truthfulness tend to increase justice, freedom, peace, and happiness; societies driven by the selfishness of rulers and/or the general population tend towards misery. The Law is valid, unchangeably, everywhere and at all times and its outcomes are inevitable.

The beauty of Natural Law is that its functioning can be explained and understood in wholly mechanistic terms even though much of that functioning happens within the intangible ethical deliberations of the human mind. Yet mechanistic materialism cannot explain the origin of Natural Law, just as it cannot explain life or consciousness. The idea that the world – nature – merely consists of matter and forces, born from randomness, indifferent or even hostile to life makes no sense at all. On closer inspection there seems to exist an ordering principle at the beginning of the Universe, a principle that is life-fostering, and people have called that principle, among other things, “Spirit”, “Universal Consciousness”, “the One Radical Cause”, “Creator”, or “God”.

So Natural Law, along with the laws of physical nature, can be understood as a God-given set of rules the observance of which does a great deal to anchor one’s life in beneficial conditions.

Disregarding Natural Law will wreck your Karma just as surely as disregarding gravity breaks your bones.

In the above-mentioned article I gave the international township of Auroville as a point-in-case for how collective suffering and disorder result from ignoring that Law, as the original ideas of Mirra Alfassa, its founding mother, have been turned upside down by a large number of the residents themselves. Among those count not only hardcore-materialists, but those who interpret her teachings literally, rigidly, or even religiously.

To introduce Auroville’s principles to readers who have heard none or little about this settlement so far, and to help shining a light on its philosophy (for lack of a better word) from the perspective of Natural Law I decided to write a brief summary. This will also serve to better understand the events unfolding since December 2021 around the hostile takeover of Auroville by external forces. I will describe them in the third article. When regarded in their global context their significance to the future of humanity as a whole ought to become visible, as to be described in a fourth article.

Before we start examining Auroville’s founding history and its philosophical framework, the reader should note that the author was interested in questions like, freedom of the individual, just societies, consciousness, relation of person to collective, human dignity, the unity of thoughts, words and actions, the nature of truth and reality, or the future of mankind for decades before joining that township. An understanding of and agreement with its fundamental principles can be taken as given. As a long-term resident my writings about Auroville are based on personal observation and living experience. I have access to eyewitness reports, internal communications, and all of the relevant spiritual writings. Nevertheless, although it should be self-evident that each writer or speaker can only talk from their own perspective and understanding, I am giving the explicit caveat that I am not representing the “official” Auroville, neither the overreaching powers-that-should-not-be nor, to my great pity, am I representative of a major portion of its residents. That said, it needs to be noted that a tangible minority is doing their level best to live from a deep understanding of Sri Aurobindo’s and the Mother’s teachings. It will be upon these good people to stem the rising tide of Asuric (i.e. Satanic) forces.

[All following quotes by Mirra Alfassa, unless labeled otherwise.]

A Dream

“There should be somewhere on earth a place which no nation could claim as its own, where all human beings of goodwill who have a sincere aspiration could live freely as citizens of the world and obey one single authority, that of the supreme Truth; a place of peace, concord and harmony where all the fighting instincts of man would be used exclusively to conquer the causes of his sufferings and miseries, to surmount his weaknesses and ignorance, to triumph over his limitations and incapacities; a place where the needs of the spirit and the concern for progress would take precedence over the satisfaction of desires and passions, the search for pleasure and material enjoyment. In this place, children would be able to grow and develop integrally without losing contact with their souls; education would be given not for passing examinations or obtaining certificates and posts but to enrich existing faculties and bring forth new ones. In this place, titles and positions would be replaced by opportunities to serve and organise; the bodily needs of each one would be equally provided for, and intellectual, moral and spiritual superiority would be expressed in the general organisation not by an increase in the pleasures and powers of life but by increased duties and responsibilities. Beauty in all its artistic forms, painting, sculpture, music, literature, would be equally accessible to all; the ability to share in the joy it brings would be limited only by the capacities of each one and not by social or financial position. For in this ideal place money would no longer be the sovereign lord; individual worth would have a far greater importance than that of material wealth and social standing. There, work would not be a way to earn one’s living but a way to express oneself and to develop one’s capacities and possibilities while being of service to the community as a whole, which, for its own part, would provide for each individual’s subsistence and sphere of action. In short, it would be a place where human relationships, which are normally based almost exclusively on competition and strife, would be replaced by relationships of emulation in doing well, of collaboration and real brotherhood …” (1954)

Galaxy

The idea of Auroville has a history reaching back into the 1920s. In no text has that idea been expressed more to the point or more emphatically than 1954 in “A Dream”. We will have to inspect its central tenets later because it has become one of the core documents of the actual international township of Auroville which has been founded only on February 28th of 1968 on a barren plateau in the middle of South-Indian nowhere. Dust storms and a mercilessly burning Sun characterized the place during the dry season, torrential downpours which quickly eroded the little soil left after colonial forest exploitation shaped the picture during the Monsoon rains. The first settlers quickly understood that if they wanted to be able to stay on the land they had to make the water stay as well. For without the water there would be no way to provide food for everyone, and it would also be much too hot for human tastes. So they built check dams in the erosion canyons, dug water catchment ponds, and contoured the land in such a way as to enable rainwater to percolate into the aquifers. They also had to fence the properties that city founder Mirra Alfassa, whom they called and still call The Mother, bought from Ashram resources; else roaming cattle from the surrounding Tamil villages would have eaten into extinction every one of the millions of saplings which grew into today’s lush forests. There hasn’t been much of solid architecture around for a long, long time, and, God knows, any plastered roads whatsoever. In their dreams, though, the first settlers imagined the future city of 50,000 as designed by Mother’s architect, Roger Anger: a circular town in the shape of a galaxy, with huge kilometers-long structures, up to sixty meters high, spiraling out from the Matrimandir, the spiritual center, to the periphery, where a greenbelt consisting of forests, parks and farms would surround the actual settlement. Roger Anger who wanted to become a better LeCorbusier designed his Auroville draft with no respect to the actual ground realities such as pre-existing settlements, topography or local culture. In Mother’s mind the plan had to reflect an ideal shape that, as with all her teachings, would have to be adapted to new realizations, as those unfolded over time. And so the constitutional four-point Charter which she gave the town on its inception does not mention the physical features of the place at all.

Auroville model. Pic: Author

Charter

  1. Auroville belongs to nobody in particular. Auroville belongs to humanity as a whole. But, to live in Auroville, one must be a willing servitor of the divine consciousness.
  2. Auroville will be the place of an unending education, of constant progress, and a youth that never ages.
  3. Auroville wants to be the bridge between the past and the future. Taking advantage of all discoveries from without and from within, Auroville will boldly spring towards future realisations.
  4. Auroville will be a site of material and spiritual researches for a living embodiment of an actual human unity.

While “A Dream”, appealing to the hopes and aspirations of the world’s discontent, works as a powerful invitation to “all those who thirst for progress and aspire to a higher and truer life” the Auroville Charter serves as an outline of what its residents are out to accomplish. From the standpoint of a materialistic worldview the ordinary person may feel that the goals presented here sound quite lofty and, altogether, seem rather elusive. Those people usually overlook the precision with which the Mother chose her words; most of the times they are also unconscious either to the existence of a higher Truth or to the ways the invisible, immaterial, unmeasurable aspects of the Universe work. Despite superficial similarites to hippiesque folklore we are definitely not discussing untenable fluffy New-Age assertions here, nor are we talking religion. Integral Yoga, as the Indian sage Sri Aurobindo called his philosophy, is a science in that it can be verified through immersing oneself in the experiment he describes.

Let’s pick the Charter’s four points apart, so you can get a better impression of Auroville’s goals. The legal reality of the world since more than one hundred years looks something like the political maps they show you on the TV news: nowhere to run. Earth’s surface has been cut up into separate plots surrounded by fences and guarded by armies. All places are taken, some are even claimed by more than one nation, and all the people therein – every single one of them – is ruled over by a government of some kind. But when your free ethical thinking is impaired by external rules it has moral implications, as discussed above. Life ‘governed’ by Natural Law thrives best in – and would tend towards – anarchic conditions. This is why the “Dream” begins with the words “There should be somewhere on earth a place which no nation could claim as its own, where all human beings of goodwill who have a sincere aspiration could live freely as citizens of the world and obey one single authority, that of the supreme Truth.” Auroville itself does not claim nationhood either. It would just become the place where the “supreme Truth” – Universal / Ultimate / Perfect / Divine Consciousness, or God, for short – manifests. And so the first point of the Charter says that it belongs to nobody you could point at; which doesn’t mean you give free pass to anyone who would misuse the unregulated setting for their selfish pursuits. In Auroville,

“Liberty does not mean to follow one’s desires but, on the contrary, to be free from them.”

The external freedom from man-made restrictions, such as money, property, laws, regulations, tradition, ideologies, religion, or moral codes supports the strive for internal freedom, to listen to intuition, conscience, and to the ‘supreme Truth’. External liberty also provides the space for manifesting – translating knowledge into lived practice – what these inner voices can teach you in an “unending education” from birth to death. Far from submitting yourself into bondage by your willingness to be a “servitor of the divine consciousness” the beneficial effects of your commitment free you up ever further. Our collective willingness provides the drive by which Natural Law improves the external living conditions towards freedom, justice, peace, and prosperity.

If you ever looked into the Buddha’s teachings and got the gist of it you’ll already know that our desires as well as our aversions are the breeding-ground of human suffering; our ignorance of that fact perpetuates suffering for ever and ever. This is why Auroville would be the place “where the needs of the spirit and the concern for progress would take precedence over the satisfaction of desires”, in order “to conquer the causes of [man’s] sufferings and miseries, to surmount his weaknesses and ignorance, to triumph over his limitations and incapacities”.

Aurovilians ought not reject the past in totality; to be an Aurovilian does not mean you have become a featureless human cleared of all tradition, religion, moral codes etc., but that you are choosing consciously, ethically from their teachings, to make use of all which resonates with Truth.

“To listen is good, but not sufficient –you must understand. To understand is better, but still not sufficient – you must act.”

Given you are going through a proper process of observation (listening, acquiring knowledge “from without and from within”) and evaluation (ethical thinking, understanding & moral conclusion) your resulting actions are bound to serve “a higher and truer life.”

Unrestrained by any arbitrary limitations your life resembles no longer the machine-like existence of the ordinary world, which is running on programmes and rules, but a living ever-changing organic realization of the Ultimate Truth (actual reality, if you think in scientific terms, only that it’s bigger than the textbooks have it), or God’s will (if you prefer spiritual terms). Both perspectives are necessary for a full understanding of what we undertake here. That’s why the underlying philosophy is called “Integral Yoga”. The Charter, between the lines, points out that Auroville is not an architectural site in the first place, but a congregation for the integration of spirit, mind, and matter. That integration takes place in people and through people, in all their diversity.

Though people of goodwill from all walks of life and from all over the world are invited to join, Auroville is not intended to represent an absurd United-Nations-like compilation of streamlined yet competing individuals but to grow a “unity in diversity” which embraces and takes advantage of the infinite forms of human expressions and where “each one is indispensable to the whole.”

Infinitely more could be said about the meaning of the Charter; different aspects could be highlighted, deeper implications could be pointed out. For the purpose of a quick introduction in the light of Natural Law it should suffice, though. Let’s move on to a bunch of other cornerstones of living in Auroville.

Preconditions for living in Auroville

The fundamental preconditions for living in Auroville have been named already. In various phrasings the Mother repeated them over and over again: To “be a willing servitor of the divine consciousness,” says the Charter. “To be of goodwill,” says another quote, and “to collaborate for the material realisation of that [human] unity,” proclaims yet another. Some of that stuff you read so far sounds pretty SciFi, doesn’t it? Unaccomplishably Utopian, hopelessly woo-woo, if you had asked me in my teens. Back then I believed that human nature was selfish, violent and shortsighted. I have learned since that I could not have been more mistaken. It is culture rather than nature that makes us selfish, violent and shortsighted. But as I was utterly fed up with the conditions I was living under (and within) I was looking for ways forward, out of the all-encompassing swamp of misery. That search set me on a meandering path eventually leading to Auroville.

A great deal of people I have talked to about this special town immediately responded that they found my leaving-behind of Western culture, my abandonment of social insurance memberships, permanently-surveilled orderliness and the overall predictability of everyday life “very courageous” when it was anything but courageous. I was totally fed up with it; I found them increasingly inacceptable and couldn’t possibly go on. The above-mentioned people also said they couldn’t take such a step. Their fascinated enchantment all too clearly showed, though, that something in them understood and would because it yearned for liberation. It was not me but them who needed courage, for courage is the will to act despite the fear of loss that tries to hold you back. A refreshingly resolute quote from the New Testament sums up the sentiment that someone with a sincere thirst for another way of being might share:

“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26, KJB)

It reverberates in the Mother’s word, “For those who are satisfied with the world as it is, Auroville obviously has no reason to exist.”The opposite applies as well, she said: “Those who are dissatisfied [with Auroville] ought to return to the world where they can do what they want,” becaue “it is not for comfort and satisfaction of desires that one comes to Auroville; it is for the growth of consciousness and consecration to the Truth that has to be realised.” And so the question of joining, or not, boils down to,

How hard does it hurt to deny yourself that great kind of being your heart knows is possible?

When – but ONLY when – you are willing to lose your guarded existence of individualist consumer choices which you pay for by selling out your conscience and your lifetime you may win something immeasurably more fulfillling. That something could await you in Auroville, or among any other group of people living by Natural Law, in one colourig or another.

“Is Auroville the only solution to the misery of mankind and the disorders of society?”, someone asked the Mother. She replied,

“Not the only solution. It is a centre of transformation, a small nucleus of men who are transforming themselves and setting an example to the world. This is what Auroville hopes to be. As long as egoism and bad will exist in the world, a general transformation is impossible.”

Mirra Alfassa, the Mother of Auroville

Yoga

With all that talk about Yoga and Spirit and the Divine, “You must be meditating a lot. What’s your practice?”, I get asked sometimes. Makes me chuckle, inwardly. I’m not exactly the meditation kind, you know; none of the diverse rituals called meditation really work so well on me. Perhaps there’s an attitude issue. I contemplate or inquire quite frequently though. Adyashanti, one of my spiritual teachers, In his booklet “The Way of Liberation”, names these three methods as “Core Practices” for bringing forth and realizing timeless Truth.” “Truth is quite literally the only thing that does exist,” he says, and calls spiritual practice “applied folly” the sincere persistent exercise of which, almost despite our efforts, guides us towards the realization of Truth. Depending on the spiritual tradition you regard – Indic religions or a-religious Spirituality – meditation is a form of Yoga, or Yoga is a form of meditation.

On being confused, resort to Sri Aurobindo who cut the Gordian knot as follows:

All Life is Yoga

whereas Yoga is the search for Union with God, or Supreme Truth, or Universal Consciousness, or the Divine, or any of the other terms which have been used for the Ultimate. The word ‘life’ can be interpreted in two ways, both of them correctly so: Everything we do in the process of living is a search for Union with God, and all living beings are an expression of the aspiration for Union with God. Life is Yoga, Yoga is life.

Our research will not be a search effected by mystic means. It is in life itself that we wish to find the Divine. And it is through this discovery that life can really be transformed,” proclaimed the Mother. Auroville has been founded for living the Yoga in the Aurobindian sense. And that means you better invest some Proper Thought, True Care, and Right Action, like you’re serious about it, that Union thing. Because it is not about you or me or them, separately; it’s about all of Auroville, and, beyond that, about all of humanity. One’s work is worth zilch if it is not dedicated to something beyond oneself, and one’s freedom is slavery to the petty ego so long as it is not concerned with the freedom of everyone. If we are good at it we can make dramatic progress early on; if not, the Universe will find other species to help achieve what it wants.

Superman

For “Humanity is not the last rung of the terrestrial creation. Evolution continues and man will be surpassed. It is for each individual to know whether he wants to participate in the advent of this new species.”

Eugenics? Transhumanism? I admit the thought is suggestive. It is one of the examples to illustrate the presence of the dark twin that every spiritual realization possesses. The satanic brother pretends to be the true good, but he twists truth into a lie, good into evil and diversity into arbitrariness. Man, by virtue of the evolution of his consciousness, can voluntarily transform himself into a physically changed being more amenable to the highest truth, and this evolution can be accelerated by spiritual practices, says Aurobindo. We are equally free to let it be. The technocratic sorcerer’s apprentices of our time, on the other hand, by means of pharmaceuticals, genetic manipulation or by merging with machines, try to impose on humanity a Babylonian megalomania that has no place in Aurobindo’s teaching.

The “superman” is a historically loaded topic, a difficult territory, especially in our time, in which humans, who have been stripped of all meaning and transcendence, try to become an omnipotent immortal homo deus. One should certainly take a very close look at who is talking about it, in what way and with what aim, and also consider Karl Kraus’ remark that the Übermensch is a premature ideal that presupposes the human being. For a huge number of our brothers and sisters are stuck in survival mode, which leaves hardly any space for expressing the faculties of our species.

To distinguish the light from the dark twin requires a sharpened eye, but one can easily acquire it with a little practice. Many of the concepts of the Auroville utopia, which at first seem confusing or impossible to achieve, only make sense once you have it. I know it doesn’t help much to say that all that seems impossible becomes self-evident after one begins to trust Aurobindo’s teachings enough to let oneself fall into his experiment. And yet, it is like that sign pointing the way to the restaurant: The hunger for truth is not satisfied by Aurobindo’s books, but in the place to which those books point the way. We will come to this in the next article.

Skeptical stares, yes, I understand. We have seen too many pied pipers to believe in anything good anymore. The cynicism and nihilism of some and the defeatism and depression of others can be understood all too well. And yet we should not be discouraged, but draw the right conclusions from the failures of our search. The good still exists. Thanks to the research of numerous men and women of all times and cultures, we know:

God is not dead, Nietzsche is.

Ken Wilber challenges the doubters:

“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.”

And as in Auroville each person is allowed full freedom,” to perform the experiment literally anything could happen. It therefore doesn’t make sense to spend much breath on foretelling in detail what it would be like to live in such a place.

“To seek Truth freely and to approach it freely along his own lines is a man’s right. But each one should know that his discovery is good for him alone and it is not to be imposed on others.”

Auroville’s motto, “The City at the Service of Truth”. Pic: Author

Organization

Ideally, the township would have no government. As indicated in “A Dream”, titles and positions would be replaced by opportunities to serve and organise;” nothing and no one has the right to impose themselves arbitrarily. Leadership would be understood as some sort of guidance, not as so-called authorities endowed with the right to rule.

“No rules or laws are being framed. Things will get formulated as the underlying Truth of the township emerges and takes shape progressively. We do not anticipate.”

Problems would be solved by consensus arrived-at rather than majority vote or even decree. Again, this requires deep listening to the Truth and the goodwill to reach beyond one’s own preferences. Provided there is goodwill, pathways that serve all members of the polity open up. Organization could happen spontaneously, even, as fluidly emerging – imagine that scene – like people going about their business in a densely populated place, collisionlessly passing each other on the way to their next stop without the need to follow rules or orders. When living by the guidance of higher levels of consciousness, starting with the basics of human interaction as described by the “Golden Rule”, a society organizing in the “Divine Anarchy” the Mother imagined becomes possible.

You guessed it: A society without government and laws has also no place for police and courts, for all of these are forms of imposition, of violence, of restrictions to freedom. You cannot possibly have them AND progress to a free, just, prosperous and peaceful society. People are not out to zap each other, as reports from any disaster area can tell you. Left on their own devices they spontaneously organize for mutual help. Even the actual Auroville of today, as impaired with fear, ignorance and greed as many of its residents are, may serve as an example for the tremendous improvement that comes with greater self-determination.

Work, money, property

They watch TV every night til they fall asleep on the sofa, play video games til they break the world high scores, or camp on the beach for months on end. They got the squarest eyes and the fattest asses you’ve ever seen, yes? – No.

What happens in the absence of “authority” has nothing to do with what you are being told about it.

Just like the maroding man-eating mobs from the movies are a myth, so is the ever-lazy bum. Where they exist they are a rebellous reaction to being hopelessly enmeshed in rigid social structures. Where there is no government, like in tribal groups, things essential both to survival and happiness are getting done – and have been since the emergence of our species. Today’s usage of the word ‘tribal’ gives a completely wrong impression of what natives’ life was and still is about. Despite derogatory stories told by conquistadores and missionaries peace, justice, freedom and wellbeing have been maintained to an immensely greater and more persistent degree among so-called “savages” than among the civilized. Neither driven by leaders nor incentivized by currency first nations are able to live in abundance – even today under the severe conditions they have been driven into – while enjoying all the leisure they like.

Now imagine a modern town where work would not be a way to earn one’s living but a way to express oneself and to develop one’s capacities and possibilities while being of service to the community as a whole.” If you can’t, pay us a visit. I once read in a feature-length article in a major German newspaper that the reporter was impressed with the fact that Auroville’s residents, while generally quite relaxed, are constantly busy with their multiple projects, activities, or involvements: arts, community discussions, sports, healing, meditation, workshops, “day jobs”, gardening, voluntary service and whatnot, none of which they receive as labour in the sweat-of-your-brow sense of having to earn a living. All of them? Well, a number significant enough for this reporter’s impression to arise; those who understood that the opposition between spirituality and material life … has no sense … as, in truth, life and the spirit are one and it is in and by the physical work that the highest Spirit must be manifested. It is not what you do but the spirit in which you do it that makes Karma Yoga [ie. the yoga of work].”

With that idea disappears another huge factor which holds societies back from developing towards real truth, justice, peace, freedom and wellbeing. “Money would no longer be the sovereign lord,” the ‘Dream’ proclaims, as we don’t need it to get our activities going among ourselves. One also quickly loses the sense of personal possessions; not only does the commune, by the power of everyone’s work contribution, provide for everyone’s basic needs; “The more we are consciously in contact with our inner being, the more are the exact means given to us.” Because it’s a real effect it has become absolutely commonplace knowledge among all spiritual seekers. Mechanistic materialists call it ‘synchronicity’; disenchanting, but fair enough.

So much for the dream of Auroville. To know Truth from illusion one must always consciously discern lived reality from the ideal, and one must distinguish between first-hand experience and mediated information. Too many visitors and, unfortunately, even some Aurovilians fail to do that. Keep that in mind while reading through this four-part series on Auroville & Natural Law.

The Auroville & Natural Law series

  1. Festering Lillies and the View Over Lush Lakes
  2. right arrow Nietzsche is dead left arrow
  3. Asuraville
  4. Truth or the Abyss

Never Again is Now

Nuremberg Court

Considering the Basis for and Purpose of Another Nuremberg

Explaining the findings of the German Corona Investigative Committee regarding the so-called Covid-19 pandemic, attorney-at-law Dr. Reiner Fuellmich, in October 2020, spoke of “crimes against humanity“. The filmed statement has been shared widely and was watched millions of times. At the same time, there were first demands in the resistance movement for “another Nuremberg”, a tribunal that would legally investigate the Corona complex. A first article in February 2021 told the story how I myself arrived at the conclusion that such a tribunal is badly needed. This second article deals with preconditions and possible objectives of such trials.

Early in 2021, the call for a comprehensive legal reappraisal of the injustices of the Corona régime became increasingly audible. One driver was of course the enormous extent of the “collateral damage” of the measures to contain the alleged pandemic. Another source for the demands was the hard-headed refusal of decision makers to take seriously indications of the complete disproportionality of their actions. The request to take note of alternative opinions and expert reports was and to this day still is answered with a constantly intensifying volley of measures, with unjustified defamation against dissenters and persistent silence about differing information. In those few trials in which judges around the world have ruled on pandemic facts rather than administrative correctness it has turned out time and again that the governments’ files contained no documentation of factual evidence. At the same time, indications are mounting that the adverse consequences of the measures were consciously accepted, and in some cases must even have been the actual goal of administrative decisions. Critics of the Corona régime have pointed to the structural similarities to the emergence of totalitarian societies, especially of course during the transition from the Weimar Republic to the Third Reich. That some kind of denazification as well as “another Nuremberg” is needed to put a society gone rogue back in its place quickly seems almost obvious. Numerous furious comments on internet platforms demanding the harshest punishments for perpetrators and intellectual arsonists testify to this.

On the question of necessity

For its illegal, unconstitutional and destructive measures the Corona state – more precisely, its agents – must be called to account before a special court; thorough reappraisal is necessary for a number of reasons, legal and other.

Firstly, the Corona complex is about crimes that occurred in lockstep worldwide; they affected billions of people in a similar way. We faced – and still face – the systematic breach of fundamental moral, legal, professional and conduct norms. Therefore, there must also be a systematic analysis that looks into the question of how it could come to this and by which factors, structures and actors this onslaught of harm was triggered and fuelled. How was it possible for all government agencies, parliaments, administrations, courts, associations, institutions, organisations, corporations and media in large parts of the world to be brought into line? How could the collective psychosis develop? How could the inhumane measures have been tolerated or supported or even actively enforced by the majority of the population? Which participants acted deliberately, and who acted indifferently or negligently, and for what reasons?

Secondly, the tribunals are necessary for practical reasons because individual sentences on a mere case-to-case basis would generate a labyrinth of contradictory legal decisions that would shroud the causes and mechanisms in twilight rather than shine a spotlight on them. Due to their high number, the proceedings would drag on for several decades; many of the aggrieved would pass before the verdict was pronounced, and some would fail to get through with their complaints. The timely clarification of historical events and the legal assessment through landmark judgments can help the law to prevail while it is still relevant to the victims.

Thirdly, the tribunals are of course a matter of justice. This includes the recognition of the damage that has been done. The suffering of the victims of measures becomes public. Getting heard plays a crucial role in justice perception, and this in turn allows the victims to let go of negative feelings; one becomes free to heal one’s psychological trauma and seek reconciliation with the perpetrators. As I have written elsewhere, I consider this to be one of the central arguments for “another Nuremberg”, because it was only because of the unprocessed psychological traumas of earlier catastrophes – Wars, Imperialism, Slavery, Industrialism, “Development”, Ecocide – that the world once again sank into wholesale barbarism. Justice also requires that the perpetrators be confronted with the victims so that they have the opportunity to become aware of their personal responsibility for what happened. This is often enough neglected, on the one hand because the perpetrators usually refuse to accept it, and on the other hand because trials are often brought for the purpose of deterrence and retribution only.

Judges at the benches of the International Military Tribunal 1945/46 (US Army, public domain)

Schopenhauer once said: “To forgive and forget is to throw precious experience out the window.” So should one never forgive? That would be neither wise nor humane. At the latest when those who have acted show insight into the consequences of their actions and when they seek to make amends, it is advisable to let go of the pain inflicted. But we should not forget, either personally or socially, because it goes without saying that valuable life lessons must not be lost. The enormity of the Corona complex therefore deserves – fourthly – a memorial. A sign must be set that we are determined to learn lessons from history. This historical phase must be given a special marker in the collective consciousness that will have a positive impact beyond the generation concerned. Humanity is currently going through an apocalyptic crisis, the successful overcoming of which the tribunals will stand for as boundary markers and monuments. A new era is beginning, a new form of society is dawning on the horizon. Understanding the deeper causes of the crisis will be of enormous importance in building a more humane way of life. The very way in which the tribunals are conducted and the outcomes they produce could set an example for our future togetherness.

Therefore, “another Nuremberg” cannot be primarily about punishment. I believe, given deeply held humanist and spiritual values in much of the resistance movement, that we will not go for death sentences or public executions, even. This would only add another traumatic wound to the nightmare already experienced. Instead, the tribunals should serve the primary purpose of restoring justice and peaceful coexistence. Perpetrators, victims, applauders, acquiescents, silent onlookers and those somewhere in between can use the insights gained with the help of psychologists, sociologists, historians, economists, medical experts and so on to gain understanding of each other’s motives. The new state must promote personal, national and international reconciliation through various programmes; it must give every individual the opportunity to learn conflict management strategies, awareness and techniques for handling uncomfortable feelings or information. Still, perpetrators have to be liable with all their assets, lose their unlawful privileges and must be stripped of their decision-making power over people. Only where perpetrators refuse to restore peace with their victims arises the need for their removal from society through appropriate means, such as imprisonment or banishment.

Why “Nuremberg”?

Would the trials take place in Nuremberg again? If they are so different in focus, scope and purpose from the war crimes trials of the 1940s, why evoke this historical setting?

It is questionable whether the city of Nuremberg can provide the appropriate setting that such an elaborate undertaking requires. Probably one would conduct several series of negotiations in different places all over the world, separated according to problem areas, levels of responsibility and cultural aspects of the Corona complex, and one will probably coin a new name for it. Preliminarily, however, the word “Nuremberg” is a suitably short term for communicating the idea of having a tribunal that is investigating crimes of unheard-of proportions. Now and then, an ideologically hypnotised majority of the population supported unlawful government action that has claimed the lives of many millions of people and ruined the lives of countless others; it is not quite impossible that the same currents and circles of people are behind it, i.e. that there is continuity with the crimes of the twentieth century, as Holocaust survivor Vera Sharav, for example, believes.

Trivialising history?

Does recourse to historical events of the 1930s and 40s trivialise Nazi crimes? Some are of this opinion, but I myself believe that no inadmissible identity is being claimed here. The crimes of the Third Reich and its collaborators were unique in their historical dimension. The Corona crimes are not to be equated with them, because they have their own character and context. However, in my view, the reappraisal will undoubtedly make the structural parallels of both events visible and adequately acknowledge the suffering of those affected. The documentation of the Corona complex might help to prevent future generations from making similar mistakes. Numerous Jews, for example, pointed out that Holocaust remembrance must above all help preventing the beginnings of another genocide. For decades it was “Never Again!” Well, if we are to succeed with stopping the train to Auschwitz, “Never Again” has arrived. It took eight years for the targeted discrimination against Jews to culminate in systematic extermination. Comparisons are not equations, they are the necessary juxtaposition of events, in this case for the purpose of keeping history from repeating itself.

While the first Nuremberg Trials could not prevent the re-emergence of a totalitarian regime – more comprehensive and profound even than its fascist predecessor – they have been the inspiration for a far greater, quicker and more determined resistance movement as compared to the 1930s. We do not yet know whether the tide can be turned in time, but the day will come when the régime collapses. We’d better prepare for it.

Is there a sufficient data basis?

The documentation of the crimes around the Corona complex is especially important to the German resistance. Since July 2020, the Stiftung Corona-Ausschuss (Corona Investigative Committee Foundation) is working on establishing the factual basis for the pandemic and the measures implemented to combat it. Another initiative called Corona Cases has recently started to collect relevant judgments and legal opinions. Corresponding lawsuits are sometimes deliberately initiated by lawyers in order to have core questions of the critics of the measures clarified or to highlight weaknesses in the current functioning of society. At the beginning of December 2021, a Centre for Reappraisal, Clarification, Legal Prosecution and Prevention of Crimes against Humanity Based on the Corona Measures (ZAAVV) was founded as a necessary main pillar for collecting evidence that can be used in court. They will not run out of work for a long time. The number of publicly accessible materials alone is incredibly large. The film testimonies of victims of the measures, for example, probably count in the tens of thousands already. Tragically, the mounting “collateral” goes unnoticed by large sections of a population which clings frantically to the story of a new kind of killer virus.

Evidence archive at the Nuremberg Trials 1945/46 (US Army, public domain)

Is there a legal basis?

Lawyers will be able to provide far more in-depth answers about the legal basis of Corona tribunals than could be discussed in a cursory examination like mine. Nevertheless, several noteworthy points stick out.

As already mentioned, obvious fundamental violations of laws and national constitutions have been committed by numerous actors, ranging from false statements about a drug, incitement, corruption, profiteering, medical malpractice, abuse of office, obstruction of justice and bending of the law to dehumanizing treatment, deprivation of liberty, child abuse and homicide. Criminal and civil law, as well as state and national constitutions, already provide sufficient basis to initiate investigations in all countries.

The Nuremberg Trials themselves provide the precedent for a tribunal of international stature. They also created – at the time – new law, first and foremost the Nuremberg Code, the worldwide ethical standard for medical experiments, which emerged from the medical trials. A whole series of other international treaties resulting from the experiences of the 1930s and 1940s would have to be directly applicable, including the United Nations Charter. The UN, for all the criticism that can be levelled at its role in undermining our communities, also holds relevant norms such as the Convention against Torture, or the Convention on the Rights of Children. Whereas in the 1940s, international ethical regulations existed only with regard to war crimes and breaches of treaties, meaning that Allied judges had to retroactively declare obeying immoral orders unlawful, most of the ethical norms relevant to the Corona complex have long since been transformed into applicable law in most countries. In Germany, for example, there is a duty for state employees, such as teachers, police officers and soldiers, to refuse unconstitutional orders. The Constitution itself, Article 20.4 enshrines a general right to resistance when the democratic order as a whole is in danger:

In the absence of other means, all Germans have the right to resist anyone attempting to do away with this [constitutional] order.

So the judges of the Corona tribunals do not need to refer to some fictitious universal morality, which the perpetrators would not share anyway; they can judge on the basis of existing law that applied at the time of the crime. Therefore the perpetrators cannot plead ignorance, they cannot claim that they simply followed orders and they could in principle be held accountable in any country in the world.

Pending questions

Since the considerations of having “another Nuremberg” already arrived in places outside lawyers’ forums – some take tribunals almost for granted – it seems to me that the time has come to discuss the idea publicly and, if necessary, to flesh it out. If it’s just a matter of settling accounts with the regime, there’s no need to go to great lengths. Kangaroos can’t make mistakes. However, a unique opportunity opens up here to use the instrument of the tribunal for the improved reconstruction of our societies. The “Nuremberg” reference may seem exaggerated or inappropriate; admittedly. But it is the most memorable term at the moment for addressing the necessary reappraisal of the Corona complex.

Of course, in a short essay like this, no conclusive recommendations can be made and certainly not all questions can be answered. For example, it must remain open how to seize hold of the perpetrators, who the judges will be, whether juries will be involved, in which places the sessions will be held and who should decide on all these things in the first place. As a very general recommendation it might be good advice to seek broad international consensus, including from non-lawyers. Principles of humanism and compassion would have to be the benchmark from the beginning.

[Title image: The Nuremberg Palace of Justice at the time of the Tribunals, 1945-46; US Army photograph, public domain]

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.

Forest planet

Millions of trees, billions of trees, trillions of trees to be planted. This is what recent headlines ask of governments. After nuke plants built to replace coal power, after desert ecologies falling victim to solar panels, river valleys drowning in catchment lakes and hill tops getting plastered with windmills, now it’s savannas becoming destroyed by artificial forests – all in the name of the CO2 narrative.
What’s wrong with renewables and carbon sequestration? Nothing with those things as such. The problem lies with the notion of man-the-engineer, man-the-saviour, man-molding-the-future-of-planet-Earth. Man who is God; an idiot god which is afraid to die, that is. We’re obsessed with numbers, with mass, and we tend to forget the space inbetween, the relationships, the immaterial matters; such as the longing of living beings to build their own community.
Not lonely, autonomous, sovereign beings populate the world. Rather, it consists of a constantly oscillating web of dynamic interactions in which one is transformed by the other. The relationship counts, not the substance.

[Andreas Weber: Matter and Desire. An Erotic Ecology]
Every ecosystem has its own value. Rather than a system it is a community of beings organizing themselves in a way that works for them and for the world. So even when we attempt restoration of wetlands or forests we need to honour these beings’ better knowledge in bringing their place back to life. Even with the best of intentions behind our attempts to help, we think too often in economic terms. The lumber friendly arboricultures of central Europe, for example, are not forests; they are impoverished monocultural deserts ridden with bark beetles and troubled by Waldsterben 2.0 . In Lusatia, on the other hand, a region in Germany heavily reshaped by lignite strip mining, nature is quickly and steadily recovering all on its own. A succession of plants and animals reconquers the moonscape shaped by giant excavators. We’ve also heard of Pripyat’s growing forest ecologies, wild boars conquering Fukushima, or the revival of coastal waters after the trawlers have left the scene.
Photo by Lou Levit on Unsplash
Humankind has got a role in restoring a balance that resembles the Holocene, preventing the planet from slipping into a new hothouse Earth. We better not try to decide what is best for the planet, though. We got enough to do with removing dams and fences and heavy weaponry and chemical factories and nuclear power plants, with turning industrial agriculture into permaculture gardens, with breaking down our lifeless societies into living communities, and – first and foremost – with challenging and changing our unquestioned assumptions on how the world works and what our role in the Universe is.
Some of us may plant trees in places where there once have been forests. Some of us may plant sea grass where there have been meadows before. Some of us may reintroduce locally extinct species or restore swamps and wetlands and savannas. But in my humble opinion, all of this would happen in homoeopathic doses, guided by local savants of ecology, and in an unobtrusive manner.

Fingerprints on water

Being asked the question, What do you do to make the world a better place?, or, What do you do to live up to your highest understanding of what is good and real?, the answer is… less.

I live in a small space without walls. There is neither clock nor calendar in there, no TV, no radio receiver, no washing machine, no stove; I own five electrical items only – a solar candle, a light bulb, a camera, a laptop, a tablet – and I am committed to not replace the latter three once they come beyond repair. I’m slowing down, inwardly and outwardly. I don’t own a motorized vehicle; I arranged my life in such a way as to be able to rely on my bicycle or walk for 99 out of 100 days. I stopped traveling for pleasure. I use a dry compost toilet. I wash myself and my laundry in a bucket; my daily water usage is around 30-40 liters max. I don’t eat meat. I don’t smoke, drink, or dope. I don’t phone. I reduced the consumption of music and movies and books and sweets and clothes. I wear my stuff for years and years, first for “proper” dressing, then for casual home use, after for gardening, and finally for rags with which to clean floors and vegetables. I live on little more than one Euro per day. I stopped buying stuff, with the exception of bread and some fruits which are not available from the farm, a toothbrush once in a while, some soap.

drawing by Wilhelm Busch (1832-1908)

The list of material items I have removed from my life goes on for much longer. I don’t want to bore you with it. I also think that this is not the most important part of my story of doing less. Sure, the less I consume the less I pollute. But then again, I’m aware that I’m just one man among billions of others – many of whom consume more than their purse allows them to. I also know Jevons’ Paradox, according to which saving resources only results in an overcompensation; somebody else will consume what I left untouched, and perhaps more than that. I am also aware that, compared to a tribal human, I own more things than I probably need. I certainly cannot carry everything at once. I still take flights twice a year, to visit my aging mother. I don’t believe in offsetting. I’ll just quit it once she’s gone. Let’s stay positive saying, there is room for future reduction, to a life like fingerprints on water.

On the plane of the immaterial I am cutting down on many things as well. I don’t protest, campaign, petition. The hectic activity, the anxious frenzy, the omnipresent noise and light and technological stink and the constant advertising and information-pushing begin to cause me nausea. I have downscaled my knowing, reasoning, judging, arguing. That makes it harder to write and talk, but then again, what is there to say that hasn’t already been told by somebody else? And can I really claim I’m right with what I say? Who is that Mewhich tends to inflate to epic proportions? I haven’t found the needle in my haystack of yet-to-be-discarded items with which to collapse the balloon-like person I think I am, but I sure have fun releasing some of its air through the vent. The smaller it gets the less ugly it becomes. 
 
Am I leaving my mark in this world by not leaving a mark when I leave,as a Texan musician put it in the late nineties? I believe I have done too much already to achieve this, and I don’t even know whether it’s desirable. Our very existence changes the world, for better or worse. So why don’t we go for the better? My goal is not about reducing everything to zero. It’s rather about chipping away that which is destructive, disturbing, disruptive, delusive; to find the right balance between being and becoming. Like most people in industrial civilization I weigh too heavy on the planet’s capacity to sustain life. That’s why my path leads downward, away from the apex of our culture, towards the foundations of existence.

Owning less goes straight against the paradigm of separation; consuming less is incompatible with the locust culture currently ruling the whole planet; and doing less, to me, is the confession that the complexity of the world is way beyond my understanding. I just don’t know what is good for everybody. I hardly know what is good for me. I’ve got an intuition, and I follow it. I don’t know where this ends but it feels good to trust that feeling, and I do not suffer from less stuff. There is no sacrifice, no loss, no self-denial. It’s rather the opposite – every gadget, every insurance, every untruthful relationship, every idea, every activity that fell away provided space and time for something much more valuable: the essence of it all, the unadulterated sensation of living, the meaning of being alive. Not that I got that to the fullest; as already shared, I still own things, thoughts, personae. Life is becoming more and more interesting though.

Now if you ask me whether I recommend my way to everybody, I say, Of course – not! My pathworks for my feet. What I (do not) do is a manifestation of myunderstanding. You need to follow yours. In fact, you have no choice but to do so. If anything you can only choose what you wish to understand. Maybe that’s a suitable point for starting the revolution, and maybe it starts with understanding less.

Interview: NTHE is, you die from a thought. Essayist

Euroville. A recent essay in the blog “Mach Was!?”caused some disappointment among social media consumers. Under the headline Damn the god-given right to electricity the author, Pax, railed against the assumption that our global industrial civilization could continue to function for an extended amount of time. On Facebook he predicted that there would be “no information-based economy, no further growth, no future tech, no welfare state” unless the survival of other species was secured, and that this required a radical reduction of our lifestyles to become “as simple as to be unimaginable by your average Westerner”.
In an interview he gave ME on Thursday, Pax put more fuel on the fire. During preliminary talks he said, “Near-term human extinction [NTHE] is the outcome of a virus, a parasitic culture called civilization. Just like with any potentially fatal sickness, you can choose to ignore or deny it, yet that doesn’t make it go away. You die. And what’s worse: you die from a thought.”

artist: Banksy, source: Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

ME: Jürgen, tell us a bit about your motives for writing that essay.
Pax: During the last decade, in my search for viable paths into the future, it became more and more clear that certain roads are not an option. Following the Club of Rome, the IPCC, or any number of environmental and scientific research papers, business-as-usual, for example, leads us straight to hell, and any prediction based on this model can realistically not contain imagery of thriving cities, space colonies, mass transportation and all the rest of it. Yet open any major newspaper or read any economist’s predictions and you’ll get exactly that. Even critical magazines like Down to Earth, feature stories which would have been good science fiction tales in the sixties; nowadays, though, it’s just bad journalism, or elitist propaganda even. You get all that “green” gibberish about growing industries under a “renewable energy” paradigm; climate change – a thing of the past, and life can go on as it did before, with a new cell phone generation, the next CPU generation, another vehicle generation. It is time to contradict – loudly! – the idea that this could be an actual option. We try anything like that, the planet will be toast. Or we take another route, and then it’s obvious why this future will never come to pass.
Tangible change, in other words, means a profound reduction of most everything people of the civilized culture believe, do, and produce. Simply put, we are talking about a much simpler lifestyle on the physical level, and nothing less than a revolution on the mental level.
ME: How did people react?
Pax: I was sort of amazed that I received an immediate supportive comment and that the Facebook announcement of my essay has been shared, even, because I already expected that the actual number of hits would be the lowest in two years of writing about collapse of civilization and near-term human extinction as a result of anthropogenic climate change.
ME: Do you have any idea as to why there was so little interest in your essay?
Pax: You can attack civilization, its institutions, the government, people’s meat consumption or their travelling habits, and it’s all fine and well. You can even suggest we are in for near-term human extinction, and they will read it for fun. When you demand the abolishment of money they may already think that you’re a little bit crazy; but hey, it’s a free country. Yet when you tell them that their god-given right to electricity, as I put it provokingly as a headline, is void you have reached the limit of what is acceptable even to those who believe in NTHE. In other words, they would gladly go to hell in a handbasket wittingly (the NTHE believers) or unwittingly (the NTHE deniers); yet the one thing that must not happen before everything collapses on us is the reduction of our lifestyle to anything less than what it is today. It seems ridiculous to them, repulsive even, I guess. The title worked like a photograph of a pile of poop on a book cover, I suppose.
ME: Don’t you think it likely that we simply have arrived at a cyclical low, or that it’s sort of a hickup we’re going through, and that it could be all well and fine someday soon?
Pax: Not with all the crises converging on us at the same time, each of which could spell the end of the global industrial system by itself: from multiple major currencies (Dollar, Euro, Rupee) threatened by collapse, to the decline of cheap fossil energy, to diminishing energy returns on input, to the overheating of the planet, to ocean acidification, to the steep decline in insects, vertebrates, and marine populations – more to the point: the collapse of the biosphere, – chemical poisoning of our food, the loss of arable soil and of forests, the disappearance of potable water, the steep rise in social disparity, dwindling resources like copper, aluminum, wood, sand,… the list goes on and on. As if this wasn’t terrifying enough, it seems that the West is hell bent on kicking off a major war, and we all know where this is likely to end.
The global industrial civilization of our days, in an unbroken line, goes back to the Frankish, the Roman, the Greek, and the Mesopotamian empires. There is an ever clearer signature of violence that accompanies each stage of development, and it all goes back to a core understanding, you could say, a certain thought that is fundamental to our culture. It is the idea of our being separate from the rest of the World, and from each other. First we are looking for differences, then we divide the world along those differences, then we devalue one part as “bad”, and finally we try to control or destroy that part. Apply it to “Human/Non-human”, “Culture/Nature”, “Noble/Common”, “Sick/Healthy”, “Pure/Dirty”, “Civilized/Barbarian”, “Advanced/Primitive”, “Christian/Heathen” – you get the point. As long as there is an “Other” to separate from and fight against we could turn our aggression against that “outside” threat. But what do you do once you have conquered the whole planet? This is the moment where it necessarily breaks down, as we either need to stop the behaviour that our civilization requires for keeping itself propped up, or we turn against ourselves and commit collective suicide. In essence, this culture – and everyone it takes down with it – dies of a wrong assumption: our separation from an “objective” world “out there.” Death by imagination – it’s tragicomical, if you think of it.
ME: So you don’t believe in human ingenuity.
Pax: If I believed in human ingenuity I’d have to blame it for bringing about the predicament we’re currently in. Intelligence and ingenuity, in fact, have nothing to do with it, no matter whether you look at it from a high vantage point, or whether you inspect the situation up close, eg. with regard to how decisions are made on an everyday basis: Some think there is no need to act because they don’t see the urgency of the situation, or they don’t see any situation at all; others think there is no use for action as they believe we’ve passed various tipping points beyond which it’s already too late. Thus, NTHE is more or less a done deal, proven by unwillingness to open our eyes to the reality within and without us. Where are intelligence and ingenuity in there? There is no such thing as human ingenuity, superiority, or intelligence; The brain is an organ with which we think that we think, as the saying goes. We have maneuvered ourselves into a corner from which it will be hard to escape, especially as we either cannot or want not see, in the first place, that we are cornered.
ME: How long will it take to recover from this collapse?
Pax: As opposed to previous collapses, today’s civilization cannot be resurrected once it has fallen. Historic calamities have been regional; civilized life went on elsewhere and the extent of the fall, ie. the loss of organization, knowledge and technology, has been relatively small. The huge majority of people still knew how to plant or gather or hunt food and how to create necessary things manually. Today, we have less than 2% of the population in industrialized areas working in agriculture, and they don’t know what to do without heavy petroleum-fired machinery and chemical applications. The loss of biodiversity, groundwater, and top soil, together with much higher average temperatures and the resulting bad weather, will lead to very bad conditions for food production. This will be a main contributor to population losses in the billions.
As you cannot run a global economy in a depopulated world, no one will be able to ship oil from Arabia to where it’s needed; all the easily-available resources have been mined already, so you cannot create new machinery based on the kind of technology we are used to, and you are not able to maintain the nuclear power plants. It takes twenty to sixty years to decommission any one of those, provided you have sufficient fresh water, electricity, and trained personnel available during that time frame, and we have more than 400 reactors which will go Fukushima if you neglect your duty for one day. Some scientists find it not unlikely that ionizing radiation would strip away Earth’s atmosphere.
Rather than asking, how much time does the recovery from collapse take, the question is, how much time does our species have before it goes extinct from heavy irradiation, chemical pollution, and starvation.
ME: What is your verdict then? How much time do we have?
Pax: Sorry, this is the domain of the gods. Expect lightning to strike any second from now. The 1% are playing war games, and it doesn’t take much for it to become nuclear. It could happen already as we speak. Regarding the other factors playing out my personal guess is somewhen between 2020 and 2023. I’d be surprised if we made it to 2030. Nobody can say for sure, though, be it priest, scientist, or fortune teller.
ME: Is there really nothing that can be done?
Pax: Options are abound. The crux, though, lies in our ability and/or willingness to awaken to the real situation, which means to allow ourselves to feel the pain and the grief for what we have done – still do, – then to let go of everything that promised comfort and familiarity, and to get into action. Yet that is exactly the kind of thing that the thrust of our civilization renders increasingly hard to achieve with every passing minute.
Charles Eisenstein, in his latest book “Climate: A New Perspective,” made some viable proposals for a profound healing of most of our ailments. Or look at Buddhist, Mystic, Non-dualist, or Modern spiritual practices for getting into harmony with the world; or take the lifestyle of so-called primitive tribes whose whole existence is based on being embedded into, rather than separated from and controlling, the world of non-humans. Check the Internet for “Rewilding”. Or look at our predicament from Jungian psychoanalysis, or read what Paul Levy has written in“Dispelling Wetiko: Breaking the Curse of Evil”.
From understanding what the mentioned groups and persons say, it becomes crystal clear what needs to be done when we are concerned with the state of the world: It requires “a radical revolution of the mind,” as Jiddu Krishnamurti put it, which will result in an equally radical departure from what we call “civilization”.
The drastic reduction of our activities and energy turnover is an absolute must for the survival of our species – and most other species as well, – and time is running out, if it hasn’t done so already. We cannot know for sure. The critical factor here is that it’s not just a matter of action or abstention thereof; this change has to come from deep within, and it must necessarily result in the utter abandonment of our culture’s core, or we’ll achieve exactly nothing.
ME: How do you respond to your critics who say that back-to-the-trees was neither possible nor desirable? Isn’t a simple life, or primitivism, as they hold, a return to barbarianism?
Pax: First of all, I’m not talking about a backward movement, because then I would buy into the civilized rhetoric of progress and ascent. Civilization has not moved the human race forward or upward. It was not an evolutionary logical progress; we have simply stepped out of the large consent of primary peoples who see the Universe as an indivisible living whole, and themselves an integral part of it. So if we choose to apply the word “back,” it would be in the sense of backing out of a dead-end road. Civilization has taught us a lot of things which cannot work; that’s something we might be grateful for – provided we leave enough of our habitat intact to be able to make use of it.
Secondly, equating the culture of non-civilized peoples with barbarianism is based on a false image of those peoples. In fact it is them who, to an overwhelming degree, live by ideals that European moral philosophy only rhetorically adheres to – unity, brotherhood, freedom, equality – and it have been civilized people who consistently acted in barbaric ways towards others. From the tribals’ perspective, we carry a sickness or a demon, as you can read from Professor Jack D. Forbes’ description of the native Americans’ view, “Columbus and Other Cannibals”, for example.
No culture anywhere in the world was hell bent on joining Western civilization. The question why many of them fought to death, to maintain their “primitive” lifestyle, is answered eg. by Professor Marimba Ani’s exhaustive analysis “Yurugu: An African-centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior”. Her work makes unmistakably clear how European civilization – which has developed into today’s dominant global culture – is not an improvement on, but a profound deviation from, the ways of every other culture in the world. It is impoverishing both materially and spiritually, it reigns by delusions, lies, greed and violence, and it denudes life of everything worth living for. Unless you fall for its rhetorical ethics, its attractiveness is zilch.
Thirdly, unless we choose to undergo a voluntary downsizing while following a planned exit strategy a period of barbarianism is very likely to accompany the breakdown of our societies. Clearly, the resulting cruelties would be an outgrowth of the ways civilization works and how civilized people think. As it is not sustainable the remnants of our society would go extinct very quickly.
ME: How do you feel about all that?
Pax: I feel sad about the loss of so much beauty, especially considering that it could have been avoided. Sometimes I carry a sentiment of rage over the utter stupidity of it all, but basically I have accepted the fact that people cannot be spoon-fed with insight, understanding, or empathy, which are requirements for the profound change needed here. My way of dealing with emotions is to study them closely, and to write essays and books about collapse-related issues. Those writings also serve to strengthen the backs of those who have awakened from the civilized delusion, and to inspire them to stand up for their convictions instead of remaining in the culture. That’s what I meant by writing, those who wish to pursue the destructive path of civilization may continue to do so, but they have no right to do so undisturbedly.
ME: Do you have second thoughts sometimes?
Pax: Sure, all the time. What if we did this, what if we tried that, what if we got it all wrong… yet no matter how often I turn the matter left or right, up or down, I end up with the same results. I don’t hear others express similar doubts very often, be it deniers or doomers. Belonging to the fringes of society, being the weird guy is a thing I have become accustomed to early on; so I am very aware of how each person shapes his or her reality according to individual perspective. I might be wrong, and I certainly hope so. Because I know there are dimensions of truth beyond the reality I just described…
ME: …or final thoughts?
Pax: In the essay it says, “those who…” a lot, and one could come to the idea that I was pointing fingers at others while seeing myself as innocent victim of evil forces. That’s not what I am about, though. I am not throwing stones at others to hurt them; I throw stones into the ponds of people’s souls, I beat at the bush of their over-confident mind, to stir up something that lies dormant there. “Saving the World” cannot be my responsibility, though, nor anybody else’s. Points made in terms of, “if everybody understood,” “if enough people followed,” “if things were different” – they don’t get us anywhere. We cannot force any of those “if’s” into existence. People are what they are, the world is what it is, so activists have to work with what-is, not with imaginations of should-be. In the end, we’re thrown back on ourselves, and this is a great starting point; especially when you understand how closely Self and Reality are intertwined. In this sense: yes, we’re fucked – impregnated with something yet unseen.

The rebellion against extinction

We had an extraordinary amount of papers and articles coming out within the last twelve months, addressing the severity of the existential threat to the biosphere and humanity as a whole. Think of the Second Warning of Scientists that has been signed by more than 20,000 academics so far, think of Jem Bendell’s work on Deep Adaptation, or David Lauterwasser’s excellent summary titled, The Collapse of Global Civilization Has Begun. Even Germany’s two nationwide public TV channels, ARD and ZDF, for the first time ever, took climate change into account from early August on, when trying to explain the severe drought and other abnormal meteorological events on the evening news.
And let’s not forget that the IPCC’s special report of October eventually began to rattle a larger amount of people, with its dire warning to politicians – though the numbers presented therein haven’t changed much and the window dressing continued to cover the real extent of the climate crisis. That this politico-scientific body spoke up as it did was sort of miraculous in itself, but the public reaction to it begins to amaze me.
Pic by Edward Kimmel, (cc-by-sa-2.0)
Having heard so far only a few lonely voices (which by their conservative provenience felt exciting enough, like Willy Wimmer, vice prez OSCE in the 90s, or Professor Rainer Mausfeld) who considered a public uprising a due and ethical response to politicians’ potentially lethal play with fire, I noticed that the scene has gone haywire just within the last few weeks. In Britain, a new movement called Extinction Rebellionhas emerged which announces massive non-violent resistance to the kind of politics that ignore climate change and continue to foster business as usual.
Already they have been running a few minor actions like occupying Greenpeace headquarters. As one of the first major undertakings they plan the disruption of London city, to create political pressure that would lead to a WWII-style mobilization in order to deal with existential threat. The demands include reducing carbon emissions to zero by 2025, reducing consumption, making investments to taking carbon out of the atmosphere, changing transport and introducing regenerative agriculture, restoring ecosystems etc.
These goals are technically feasable and socially achievable. As historical precedence shows, well-targeted civil disobedience performed by a few hundred individuals can quickly escalate into a wide-spread rebellion supported by millions of people. The Extinction Rebellion movement plans to expand to other countries in Spring 2019. Ideally, by then, people in France, Russia, the US, India, Brazil, Australia, China, Korea, and elsewhere would have already found their own courage and started to disrupt the business-as-usual trajectory of governments and corporations like they did in Hambach forest, Germany, or in Standing Rock.
Let’s tell the governments of the world that the time has come for them to act as human beings instead of occupying the planet like aliens from outer space. And let’s advise the same to our neigbours, friends and families, for each of us is contributing immensely to extraction, exploitation, transportation, consumption, and pollution – in other words, to the mass suffering and killing of fellow men and creatures.
People who have followed my blog in the last couple of years know that I do not entertain the hope that we will actually make it through the catastrophic changes awaiting us. However, after having read and co-translated into German Charles Eisenstein’s new book Climate – a new perspective (which is another excellent 2018 publication I’d recommend studying) I actually see a realistic chance that some of the worst consequences of civilization’s joyride can be prevented and the runaway development can be stopped. We also need to shut down those nuclear power plants, stash all radiating material in the Earth’s core or in space, and close all chemically hazardous factories before … well, you know. The time window – if there is one – seems extremely small.
Extinction Rebellion logo
But first of all, the power structures which are in the way of doing so have to be overcome.
While I, personally, see this matter as a no-brainer I do understand that most folks have reservations against stepping out of under the umbrella against bad weather governments are regarded as. Yet, no matter where you politically stand, rebellion is justified when government fails to fulfill its self-acclaimed role as protector of the people. In some countries this is a constitutional right even.
The time has come to do what needs to be done. Today we declare rebellion against extinction.

In Churchill’s words

“No man is free if he fears death. But the minute you proffer the fear, at that momentyou are free.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

When people speak of Gandhi and Martin Luther King with great reverence, as role models for successful non-violent resistance, what is often being overlooked is the fact that not only did those resistance leaders apply counter-intuitive methods and not only did they speak with great charisma. What made those protests successful back then was the protesters’ complete determination to their goals, a determination so complete they would go to great length and would take all kinds of personal discomforts and disadvantages on themselves, willing even to go to death for their conviction. The symbols of freedom they created and held up have not just been mere declarations of preference, taste, ideas, or moral indignation. It was the protesters’ perseverance in complete determination to their goals that gave power to those symbols, and only through determination was it that they were able to touch the hearts and minds of their fellow men, and inspired them to support their plea.

The situation today is of similar urgency, yet we don’t see that kind of determination and perseverance much these days. Have we given up the struggle for social and environmental justice because we’re tired? Is it because we don’t believe in our cause any longer? Are we, as a society, as mankind, too fragmented, too deeply lost in identity politics, in selfish strive for personal happiness? Is it that we believe, instead, in a materialistic world view which has all but killed life’s spirit within us? It might be one of those, or, more likely, all of them together. The Gandhis and Luther-Kings of today run by the name of Vandana Shiva, or Arik Ascherman, or Ahed Tamimi, people who did not surrender to injustice, did not get scared into silence by threat of violence, will continue to speak up for what they know is right, and continuously take action in favour of their proclaimed goals. It’s not that their number was small – it isn’t. What is missing, though, is the support on the streets, with the determination to withstand anything it takes to end the evil system which is devouring the world.

As a protest, Standing Rock has been standing out because there was an urgency to it, and an international solidarity rarely seen these days. Standing Rock has also been a complete disaster, not because they’ve been overrun, but because there has been no public outcry, no follow-up activities, no spreading of civil disobedience across the US and other industrialized countries.

In the same way, Occupy and its sympathizers have failed to continually block and boycott the powers they were up against. It’s like the late sixties all over again, like the stone-throwing student protester Joschka Fischer who, thirty years later, as Germany’s first Green Party foreign minister, in breach of international law, sent soldiers to Serbia, into the country’s first war after WW II. This transition from fringe opposition to conformity just happens so much faster now. All of us, we’re back to work; all of us, we’re populating shops and malls and sales, as if our indignation and our lust for something new had been just a passing phase and as if our continued functioning as cogwheels in the Machine didn’t contribute to the very injustices we’ve been pointing out. As if it weren’t our lives that are at stake now. Or aren’t they? Is this just me making up worst-case scenarios or is our planet actually getting dismantled right at this moment? And if this is so, would we let ourselves get shepherded to the butcher’s block, or would we rather stand up and shout at the top of our lungs, “I shall not surrender! We will never surrender!”, just like the people of Palestine do in their seventy-year struggle against Israeli occupation and apartheid policy?

I’m not saying that, “if everyone had joined the protests the problem would have been solved”, for the fact remains that this kind of logic doesn’t work, neither hypothetically nor actually. Still, there lingers the question why, at a time when our survival as individuals, as a community, and as a species stands under immediate threat, our eyes and ears stay closed, our minds stay numb, our mouths stay shut, our hands stay deeply stuffed within our pockets.

Is it because we’ve sold our bodies to the man for a little bit of dough, we’ve sold our minds to the establishment for a little bit of hope, and we’ve sold our spirit to the likes of Adam Smith and Richard Dawkins, for the promise that selfishness will continue to make the world go round?

If you plan on not letting yourself get silently led into the dark, bloody night of the slaughterhouse, your time for making a statement is exactly now, and you better make it a matter of life and death – because that’s what it actually is.

Repeat until liberated

Seeing the necessity to stop the runaway train to extinction, how can we accomplish the shift from materialistic to holistic worldview? The question is relevant because not only are people physically entangled in the traplines of civilized life, it makes them also think that ‘beauty’ and ‘sacred’ and ‘joy’ were merely empty words which cannot afford them a living. But this is just a matter of perception. The task, from my understanding, is to provide opportunity for seeing things differently, by getting in touch with that more beautiful life. This goes beyond convincing others that “I am right”. First of all, it is also about proving to ourselves that we can actually stop the destruction within our own sphere of influence. Secondly, I think, the most convincing point in a debate is an argument which relates to an actual experience, so this experience has to be facilitated if it doesn’t already exist.
Thirdly, with only a minimum of contemplation and inquiry, it becomes unquestionably clear that at the basis of our many problems lies money; at the basis of money lies civilization; and at the basis of civilization lies the mindset of separation, of division and control and manipulation and selfishness. By liberating ourselves from the grip of that mindset, and by cutting ties with its manifestations in society, we can literally end the nightmare, one person at a time. This is by no means theoretical gibberish. It has been done millions of times over the millennia, it’s being done by people right now.

My practical advice is a one-and-a-half steps program which I and others like me have gone through. I wasn’t conscious about it back then, but the urge to get out of the machine made me do what was necessary. It has been nicely explained by Keith Farnish in chapters 9 & 10 of his book “Underminers” which is freely available from the web. The advice runs something like this:

1. Reduce time on wage slavery by reducing the need for money,

a) by cutting the acquisition of goods and services we do not really need, eg arranging our housing and job such that we can reduce petrol or even sell the car, and
b) by reducing the spending on things we might do or create ourselves, eg gathering a group of friends and neighbours who are looking after children rather than paying for day care; growing food instead of buying it; observing plants and animals instead of watching TV or cinema.

This has already the effect of bringing us closer to understanding the foundation of our existence, and of building an alternate social structure we may fall back upon when the machine collapses. It’s the first step to reconnecting to the holistic worldview, it reduces our consumption (with all that this implies, eg. exploitation, pollution, sickness), it gives us more power over our lives, and it’s a self-reinforcing feedback loop: The money we save can be translated into time we reduce on wage slavery.

The following half step is using the time we saved on wage slavery, to better connect with people around us for further common projects, to help others who are in need, to ask the bigger questions in life (eg. what is important to me, and who is me anyway?) and to research how to do more things ourselves, like how to avoid or deal with health issues, how to repair the sink, how to accomplish tasks without using high tech, how to build simple structures, how to resolve conflict… None of this is rocket science. By applying the newly-gathered knowledge, we reduce the need for money even further.

Repeat until liberated.

To those who feel like jumping at me, replying, “All good and well, BUT…!” — just continue with your life as before. What you want is change happening without your having to change your life. We need to accept that good things don’t come ready-made, by pressing a button and ordering from a menu. Though a different feel to life will arise immediately, the process takes some time till we’re out of the worst, and there will be challenges. Only if we possess the urge to make a leap will we gain confidence in our abilities; only then will it become a self-perpetuating, empowering process instead of a drag.

Most fellow travellers say that their lives have simplified amazingly; they mention a deep sense of liberation as a result; it is often coming along with a feeling of sacredness within all of creation, a joy of being alive. One begins to feel at home in a caring world rather than being driven by having to compete for the last crumbs. We can then say, “I feel fine, I am satisfied, I don’t need anything.” Hence we will become free to act without expecting anything in return. We can spend time on urgent or beautiful or helpful things although there might be no money in it. And we won’t waste it any longer, on falling prey to battle cries, advertisement, xenophobia, blind belief in authorities, dreams of consumption, and delusions of grandeur.
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