Friday, June 15, 2012

We stole it all fair an' square

On the basis of sensation, of matter and motion, we may erect the fabric of all the certainties we can have or need.... I am an Epicurean.

(Thomas Jefferson)

Never be deceived that the rich will permit you to vote away their wealth.

(Lucy Parsons, 1853-1942, activist and organizer of the Industrial Workers of the World)

If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal.

(Emma Goldman, activist, 1869-1940)

The security of serfdom

More than thirty years ago I spent a long weekend with my family at a hacienda in the Ecuadorian countryside. It was almost as though we had stepped back into the nineteenth century for three days. On the second day we went horseback riding in the early morning and soon came upon an old man standing quite still by the side of the dirt road, as though he'd been waiting for us to appear.

As we rode past he doffed his straw hat, bowed slightly and said to me in Spanish, “Good morning, Patron.” It was an expected ritual, a gesture of respect and courtesy in the presence of the “landlord,” the person who exerted considerable power over the lives of the peasants residing on the patron's property, even in the late 20th century. It was about the 1 percent. It was about the 99 percent.

More than 30 years later, across the globe, it's easy enough to recall the famous line by William Butler Yeats in The Second Coming: “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.”

In the land of the free and the home of the brave--America-- the citizenry flounders in ignorance, superstition and delusion, its institutions slowly imploding and that very American trait—paranoia--seeping into the cracks everywhere. As someone said recently, America is merely the “cleanest” of the dirty white shirts. The bar is getting lower by the minute.

Potato pickers

As consumerism and globalization crumbles in Greece it appears, according to Greece's'potato movement' grows in power, that the Greeks are inadvertently attempting to create new economic models while, at the same time through trial and error, developing resilient communities.

Getting off the “global grid,” downsizing and building resiliency is no longer a lifestyle choice just for a handful of the affluent, the well educated and a few libertarians desiring to build an old mythical America of “hardy yeoman farmers.”

The ideology of death eating

The Galapagos Islands, off the coast of Ecuador, are unique and one of the most remarkable and spiritual (perhaps was) places on Earth, in my opinion. I was fortunate to have spent some time there and was saddened to have come across a recent article entitled Galapagos menaced by tourist invasion.

While human stupidity and bottomless greed—if given the opportunity—will all too often treat the planet like a personal amusement park, our predatory and archaic economic system only encourages the worsening destruction, which offers no Hollywood ending.

Who is John Trudell

Of course climate change may, sooner than we think, let us know what choices we have remaining. But perhaps ignorance is truly a state of bliss, as so many Americans are proud to proclaim: Satirist Stephen Colbert has suggested we just make climate change illegal, while Virginia Republicans ForceScientist to Stop Using 'Climate Change' Terminology.

The Gallup organization has come out with a recent poll ( In U.S., 46% Hold Creationists View ofHuman Origin ), which once again suggests we Americans are, well, “challenged” in so many ways.

Clowns in the Volkswagen

In the United States we can go on debating which of the two principal political factions, Democrats or Republicans, are the most corrupt and clueless, how useless large media organizations have become, the terrible reactionaries that control the Supreme Court, the destructiveness of corporate America, repulsive billionaires and so forth and so forth.

But if we continue to merely complain about these decaying institutions or throw up our hands in frustration we are just part of the same problem. There is no easy, comfortable or convenient way out at this point, for us Americans or anyone else.

We are going to have to build quite literally those resilient communities, develop new institutions, write better creation myths and confront the status quo continually. Of course it will likely be very painful.

But you also have the option in America of hoping you're one lucky break away from being one of the “masters of the universe” … or for that matter just standing on the side of the road clutching your straw hat when the landlord rides by.

There is no social order without trust and no trust without truth or, at least, without agreed truth-finding procedures.

(Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, historian)

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