Monday, July 1, 2019

Prodigies of Peace




I’m not sure what to write about. I’ve been stuck in a kind of mental turmoil, my thoughts frozen on the event horizon of a black hole of catastrophe. Logic and reason can only take you so far and then you end up being snarled up by your own inconsistencies. For example, it’s pretty clear that civilisation is killing the planet – and by civilisation I mean our own one – the one that decimates ecosystems, poisons our mind and bodies, and hates nature.

So do I want this civilisation to crash and burn? You bet! But then that would likely mean the death of many of the people I know and love (including, probably, me) – and isn’t it a bit hypocritical to write such a thing on a computer and share it over the internet instead of scrawling it in charcoal on a piece of dried bark and parading around town with it on a stick?

So then, I think, maybe civilisation can be reformed. Perhaps we can all re-learn how to live in harmony with nature, stop fighting wars and filling the oceans with plastic. We could all listen to Greta Thunberg or AOC and demand a Green New Deal and everything would be all right again – capitalism with a nice shiny layer of green paint on it.

Or maybe not.

For some reason, and I’m not sure why this is, but for the last year or two I have been waking up in the mornings with music playing in my head. No, I haven’t fallen asleep with my headphones on, the music seems to be coming from somewhere inside. Perhaps it is because I have spent the last 18 months sitting in an office watching the hours and days tick by and my subconscious mind has been screaming at me to escape (which I did, last week, BTW). 

It’s a different track every morning, and it could be anything. Two days ago it was a pop song from the 1980s – Into the Groove by Madonna – whereas yesterday it was the theme music to the sci-fi series Westworld by Ramin Djawadi.

This morning, when I woke up, the Red Hot Chili Peppers were performing a concert between my ears. They were playing Righteous and the Wicked, which includes the lyrics:

The righteous and the wicked
War and peace
The killing fist of the human beast
P.O.P., prodigies of peace
Hear me when I'm calling you
From my knees

I am playing for a better day
Playing for a better day, anyway
Oh yeah, I'm playing for a better day
Holy Mother Earth
Crying into space
Tears on her pretty face
I thought she had been raped

Killing your future blood
Fill her with disease
Global abortion pleas
That is what she needs


Perhaps my subconscious has got fed up with being too subtle, eh?

So what can we – I mean I, or each of us individually – do about this everlasting shit show?

Well, I suppose we can fight it.

But how does one fight against this nebulous, all-encompassing beast that we all live in the belly of? It seems pretty obvious by now that it’ll fight to the bitter end – it would rather kill every last man, woman, reindeer, tree and stag beetle than give up even an inch of ground. That’s the nature of, what my friend Thomas Sheridan calls the Psychopathic Control Grid (PCG) and Dmitry Orlov calls the Technosphere, that is effectively what our civ has become. It will take down the planet rather than relinquish control.

And just who is ‘us’. I seem to know a lot of people who are all of a sudden proclaiming themselves to be environmentalists. Lit with the fire of fervour, these people are demanding that the guvmint reduce carbon emissions to zero, practically overnight. Their strategy seems to involve wearing facepaint and glitter, stomping around in the streets holding up placards and drawing chalk outlines around children whilst shouting ‘Extinction!’

Are these privileged people? Sure. Do they demonstrate their commitment to their cause by curtailing their own impact on the environment? Maybe some of them do, but not that I’ve seen. Have any of them done a bit of research into how feasible their demands are if they were to be turned into public policy and what that would mean to society? Ummm …

Here’s another question: do I feel bad for mocking them? And the answer is: yes, I probably do. I mean, from my point of view they are likely being exploited by ‘green’ capitalist corporations who are trying to inflate a bubble of ‘renewable’ energy (not that such a thing exists, of course, unless you are talking wooden windmills and passive solar energy to heat your house) so that one last big money bubble can be blown up before everything comes crashing down.

But from the protestors' point of view they are fighting an evil tyranny of fossil fuel companies who are dead-set on being dastardly and evil because they are … dastardly and evil. Never mind that their form of protest – publicly having fun and dressing up – is a media-friendly gift to governments and corporations who can now claim to ‘have listened to the people’ and will gladly cut off the energy supply to the bottom 90% of said people (preserving, of course, their own privileges) and will then proclaim in truly Orwellian fashion that all CO2 emitters are bad, but some CO2 emitters are less bad than others.

The PCG is endlessly tormenting, that's just how it rolls. 

So what to do about the killing fist of the human beast, as the Chili Peppers put it? How exactly do we fight back?

Well, here’s a thought that I’ve been having, and it starts with three premises:

Premise 1: Like a virus, ‘civilisation’ (aka the PCG) attempts to colonise all life forms, including, and perhaps especially, humans.

Premise 2: When it does so it undermines an organism’s ability to live its life in a manner to which it has naturally evolved – leading to fields of GMO plants growing in chemically saturated substrate (‘soil’), animals reared and killed in giant factories, and humans confined to perfunctory roles in office cubicles and retail outlets, while being harvested for their profit potential.

Premise 3: The PCG is addicted to expansion and control and will not voluntarily stop this expansion until it has turned the planet into an unliveable wasteland.

Premise 4: Its expansion is enabled by abundant and cheap fossil fuels, which as everyone who has studied peak oil will know, are now becoming less abundant and less cheap.

Premise 5: As it senses its expansion and therefore its survival is under threat, the PCG will attempt to consolidate its power at the centre, sacrificing all extraneous and ‘unproductive’ sectors, such as me and you and the oceans and the remaining forests.

Let’s be clear, the PCG is what most natural non-industrialised cultures would recognise as a ‘demon’. In the observable world it manifests as a huge interconnected mass of corporate, military, pharmaceutical hardware, that isn’t under the control of any particular human being, but just exists to sow mayhem and death seemingly with an emergent intelligence of its own.

But given Premise 2, that it colonises organisms and that it needs space to do so, one small way that it can be fought is to get to work on the one thing that you have control over (for the time being) i.e. yourself.

Decolonising your own mind and body would seem to be the beginning of fighting back against the PCG. If you refuse to play along to whatever extent that you are able, then you become a useless cell in the bloated body of the PCG.

It's intuitive that all organisms have the right to live their within their own gods-given biophysical limitations and to the extent that their free will allows, without having to be dominated by others. This is necessary for full-systems integrity, so you could say it it a type of natural law rather than a human-invented 'right'. 

But how can we decolonise ourselves? I’ll be honest and say that I don’t know. I don’t think there is a book somewhere entitled “Decolonisation from the Psychopathic Control Grid for Dummies” and even if there was it’d be printed by a company owned by another company, that's owned by a media conglomerate that is part of the PCG, and it would contain dud information that'd get you killed. As I said, that's the way the PCG rolls: everything is coopted for its own advantage. 

So for the most part we’re going to have to use the one thing that the PCG cannot ever commoditise: our innate intuition.

My innate intuition tells me, for example, that people in industrialised societies like the one I live in used to live close to the land. They hunted, fished, gathered berries and herbs, were reverent to the sun and the seasons, respected the limitations of the soils and knew that when it was all over their own bodies would nourish the plants and therefore the animals that they had borrowed from during their own life span.

And so one way I am going to fight back against the PCG is to get to know intimately the land where I live. This will involve a lot of learning; about plant lore, human (and animal) history, sleeping under the stars, walking through it, nurturing it and writing about it. 

Really, at this stage in the ongoing train wreck of our civilisation it’s one of the few options left open to us.  Sure, we can all eat vegan diets, protest to career politicians, drive less, fly less, consume less … and that’s all well and good, but from the perspective of the PCG it couldn’t care less about our small individual actions as it simply allocates the resources we don’t consume to somewhere else on planet earth where they can be consumed more efficiently. 

It does this by getting the recently colonised (in ‘developing’ countries) to pick up the slack by offering them cheap credit and enslaving them that way. Let’s remember that every single government in the world is committed to infinite economic growth within our delicate planetary ecosystem, and that any serous challenge to this ethos is met by tanks and bombs and prison sentences.

But we don’t have to be slaves. If we each took a bit of control back and related to the patch of planet earth in our immediate vicinity new pathways of being could – and I reckon will – emerge. 

So, to go back to the Chili Peppers, we can but try and opt out of helping the Killing Fist of the Human Beast, instead be Prodigies of Peace.

I will have more information soon on my efforts in another blog. 

16 comments:

  1. And so one way I am going to fight back against the PCG is to get to know intimately the land where I live. This will involve a lot of learning; about plant lore, human (and animal) history, sleeping under the stars, walking through it, nurturing it and writing about it. "

    Sounds like an excellent plan. Something I've been trying to do most of my life. Doesn't lead to wealth and fame but pays off in satisfaction. I am partial to the Buddhist notion that the world is perfect as it is and trying to improve it is a waste of time. Sounds passive but opens us up to appreciating what there is rather than trying to change the world into something more to our liking.
    Similar to the Christian notion of accepting the will of God.
    Also about the only way not to get sucked into doing the bidding of the technosphere.

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    1. Hi Wolfgang - nice to hear from you!

      I have a lot of respect for many things Buddhist, but I have to admit I wrestle with some notions. The funny thing is, when your comment popped up I was reading a book by Derek Jensen and he was talking about exactly this topic!

      In his view, some people use Buddhism as an excuse for inaction, arguing that 'everything is perfect as it is' or that 'everything is a waveform and we should not seek attachment.' I understand this, and there's mounting 'proof' that this is true and that consciousness is everything (Bernardo Kastrup has a lot to say on this), but I would still maintain that we have free will to effect change on this level, and that we should do so.

      It's a slippery subject, and probably one that we'll never get to the bottom of, and maybe that's even the whole point of it.

      And if one synchronicity today weren't enough, a friend whom I haven't seen for many years just this evening asked me if I wanted some free tickets to a festival where one of the bands playing is called ... The Red Hot Chilli Pipers.

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    2. Congrats on the tickets. And synchronicity working for you.
      "I would still maintain that we have free will to effect change on this level, and that we should do so. "
      Agreed. We should all do what we're good at. Outcomes not guaranteed however.
      The notion that the world is perfect in any case does not mean that it is always in alignment with human desires whatever they may be. It is not a political position but rather a more mystical view outside the constraints of time.
      On a strictly material level, my judgement on the overall effect of our current civilization is that its greatest achievements will be runaway global warming and the sixth great extinction. All the rest is trivial side effects.
      One way in which the world is perfect is that it delivers consequences for our actions.

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  2. So glad to see you back; hoping your new-found freedom is chosen & welcome, not imposed & problematic.

    All we can do is try and live in the real world and not inside our heads, or inside our own social boundaries, or those of the black box in the corner of the living room and the so-called newspapers. And learn what we can about how the things that really matter work, or grow, or are built, so that we can pass that knowledge on to those who will need it, even if we ourselves never do. Also, we need to try to work out what the things that really matter actually are...

    At the end of the day, we can only do what we can do, but every small act of covert sabotage against those who would enslave us like frogs in an ever-warming pot is a little step towards an eventual tipping of the balance. The PCG machine is, at the end of the day, fragile...

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    1. Hi Thrift - hope you are well.

      Yeah, real world trumps make believe most of the time. I have a friend who is into chaos magick and he says we all create our own realities, primarily through calibration of our outlook and our creative output. This all sounds well and good to me but I confess not to understanding how this can happen when, say, you are starving or being tortured. Perhaps this is all related to zen, as Wolfgang hinted above, and that acceptance of fate is key.

      Dmitry Orlov, in 'Shrinking the Technosphere', says the PCG is on the way out anyway due to a falling net energy surplus. We can only hope that he is right, and perhaps give it a little shove as it fails.

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  3. Hi Jason, good to read your thoughts again.

    I share your feelings regarding 'fake' enviromentalism - this was bought sharply into focus at Glastonbury this weekend - everybody cheered David Attenborough then dumped there rubbish on the ground, abandoned their tents etc and then went home.

    I don't believe that people understand the implications to their lifestyles and aspirations of a genuine zero carbon economy. And then there is the whole, unspoken, issue of how far the populations of asia and africa will be 'allowed' to enjoy the benefits of industrialisation that we in the west take for granted...

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    1. Hi Echo - yes, what a mess Glastonbury was. Here where I live in Penzance, the town has declared itself 'plastic free'. That is, to say, one or two members on the town council declared it and the rest of them couldn't be bothered to oppose it. Now, there are people and film crews arriving asking how a town of 20,000 people can live without plastic - of course, it's all make believe and quite embarrassing if you ask me.

      Nevertheless, at least it gets people thinking about it, I suppose.

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  4. Re, "I'm not sure what to write about." How about the occasional book review or maybe the occasional nod in the direction of authors you have found worthwhile reading. Doesn't matter what the topic. I am currently a two hour drive or or bus ride from the nearest book store. No libraries around here either. Always open to suggestions.

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    1. That's not a bad idea, Wolfgang. I've been reading a lot of stuff over the past couple of years that doesn't really relate at all to this blog. I suppose what I really meant was that I didn't know what to write about when I started writing this post - I tend to just sit there and then write the first thing that comes into my head!

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  5. Your thoughts have paralleled my own -- in the outlook for our collective future, the actions of XR, and the increasing interest in pre-industrial knowledge. Nice to know I'm not alone, as I know nobody personally who has such similar thoughts!

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    1. Hi David - I think there will be a lot of interest in old knowledge the more system failures hit us. For the time being it's just a fringe interest, confined to the margins of society.

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  6. Hi Jason,

    Good to hear your voice again. Your words are in the very nature of an existential crisis. And I applaud your considered approach to resolving your internal issues.

    Mate, my lady and I have travelled to a bit of the third world in Asia. We've never been wealthy enough to travel to first world countries (excluding perhaps New Zealand). I doubt that I'll ever make it to Europe or the US. Nope, ain't gonna happen.

    The thing is, because so few people get out of their first world bubbles, they don't realise just how far we can actually fall from our present, and relatively cushy living standards, and still get by just fine. I'd be curious as to your thoughts in the matter?

    Even considering - for the briefest of brief moments - that there is anything that you personally can do about the larger currents is in itself an expression of hubris. From there nemesis presents itself as a form of despair - and that is an energy sink – and I see plenty of that. The question has always been thus: Given what you know, what do you intend to do? And you have mightily grappled with that beast!

    Cheers

    Chris

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    1. Hi Chris. I've also been travelling a fair bit, although lack of funds since the financial hiccup has seen me mostly rangebound since. And - yep - first world people can live on waaaay less than we currently do, that's for sure. I've seen people in India getting by living in not much more than a cupboard.

      That said, the kind of countries we live in make it very hard to subsist if you voluntarily drop out of the system. If you haven't got a bit of property or land behind you the chances are you'll end up on the street. I think this'll be something of a theme going forwards.

      As you rightly identify, there's nothing we can 'do' about the grand current, but I reckon there's plenty we can do in our immediate orbit. It could just be sowing wildflowers on wasteland, helping out a neighbour or writing a book about fixing washing machines.

      I just read Derek Jensen's book 'Endgame' which is pretty impassioned (and probably sparked off me writing this post). A quote that stuck out for me was "The good thing about being so fucked is that there's no end of things you can be getting on with that need fixing." (paraphrase).

      Never were truer words spoken ...

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    2. Hi Jason,

      Exactly, but I'm not sure whether people fixate on collapse because they fear a loss of perquisites. I can't really relate to that fear, if only because things are pretty good here on only a fraction of the energy that people seem to want. The fear I feel may not be entirely justified. Dunno.

      And double exactly, you can't hide from intermediation. It is part of life and you've painted the dilemma as it is. I'll be interested in your take on that story, as it is a biggie. My perspective is that you have to walk in both worlds. Some bloke who was probably smarter than all of us a couple of millennia ago said something about: Render unto Caesar. :-)

      Mate, you're on fire! A wise man that Derek. There is so much low hanging fruit. Makes anyone who does anything at all look good... How are those hazelnuts going?

      You appear to have spent your time cogitating and getting your thoughts together well.

      Cheers

      Chris

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    3. Ah, yes, I think we are all walking in several different worlds at any one time. There's a lot of abstract stuff going on in the 'collapse sphere', with various things all going on at the same time but at different speeds. At least, that's my take on it.

      A lot of people fixate on the idea that something terrible is going to happen - I'm not sure they realise that something terrible is already upon us! And yet ... how much has their day to day life changed?

      Haha - I like reading Derek Jensen. He's the polar opposite of JMG but I think it pays to triangulate your reading and I can take away plenty from both.

      Incidentally, I've been talking to my mate Marty recently (yes - *that* Marty) as he's been in town making a new record, and he offered a pretty bleak view of the music industry at present. Basically, he has to tour just to survive, with each tour paying for itself but nothing extra. He has no pension or savings, as most medium successful musicians assumed album sales royalties would see them into old age - they hadn't counted on Spotify coming along.

      The rest of the time he lives in his recording studio here in Penzance. making new records and trying to sell them to whoever will buy. one A recent crowd-sourced distributor just ran off with everyone's money, including Marty's, so he's a bit gutted about that.

      I told him about you and he says 'Hi'.

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  7. There is not enough land for everyone to have a piece. Those who can't have a piece need to have facepaint and glitter. They need to stomp around the streets drawing chalk outlines around children while shouting ‘Extinction!’

    It is the beginning of awakening. You are not the 'Savage' in 'Brave New World' and the privileged roadblock dancers with placard and facepaint are not visitors in helicopters to watch you in befuddled amusement. Good thing too. The savage was slowly turning at the end of a rope in the end.

    Look at it this way if you must. The sheep are finally starting to walk in the right direction. Once they get going perhaps they could be hard to stop. Pray for time.

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I'll try to reply to comments as time permits.