[As we continue our forced march to the end of this road – The Big Road – we are reminded again of the legacy entrusted us by our forebears of the mid-late Neolithic period.  Storage of grain surpluses in the ancient Near East led us into a real sticky wicket, from which we are finding it extremely taxing trying to dis-entangle ourselves. But the surpluses also bore along with them a new mode of consciousness, tied to the elaboration of written symbols, lists to account for the supplies kept by the king and his court, and whatever was to be distributed to the working plebes.  So let us have Ken tell us in his own words, where this turn of events has taken us, and what we may expect in return.] – kC

It is a commonplace assertion on the blogosphere that loosely identified others are unwilling to face reality. The implied presumption being that there is a specific unitary instance of actual existence and that it is knowable by everybody. I think the problem is that even human brains have serious limitations and when reality gets too vast and complicated, nobody can recognize more than selected parts of it. As is the way of nature, different folks will select different parts derived from their personal exposures. My theory is that we tie the rickety structure of our perceived reality together with lashings of whatever works for us. I choose to call this a synthetic reality and I’m pretty sure almost every hominid on the planet has one. Even the San bushmen have lost their protection from modernity. They’ve begun seeking patent protection for the biological contents of rare plants growing wild in their desert, which they use for medicinal purposes.

The question arises, were humans always free to “do their own thing” and synthesize a reality that pleased them? If not, when did that change arise?

Paleolithic hominids almost certainly possessed brains capable of higher intelligence. What they did not have was any pressing need for it. They also did not have food surpluses that would afford them down time to work on new ways of doing things. The experience of recent era hunter-gatherers indicate that it’s actually a pretty easy and uncomplicated way to live. Who would be foolish enough to risk messing that up?

They say there’s no fool like an old fool (ouch that hurts!). The oldest fools willing to risk it that those-who-explore-the-past seem to have turned up so far are the Kebaran culture of the eastern Mediterranean area (c. 18,000 to 10,000 BCE). They may have been the first to invest in implements for grinding wild cereal grains. They were not completely sedentary, so it wasn’t a terribly risky venture.

There territorial successors and possibly descendants, the Natufian culture (c. 11,000 to 7,800 BC) continued the practice of harvesting wild grain. They were sedentary or semi-sedentary and there seem to be indications that some of them cultivated rye. The climate was changing and wild cereals were probably declining in yield. One pretty well established consequence of grain in the diet is that it tends to enable expanded population. When nature threatens to take it away or cap its yields, curious minds want to know if something can be done about it. In my humble opinion, cereal grains were the leading agent driving humanity toward the emergence of synthetic reality.

This is about the point where Craig Dilworth’s idea of a Vicious Circle Principle (VCP) really starts to come into effect. Finding ways to maintain the population level leads to a larger population, which will be threatened by some natural or man-made limitation, which curious minds have often succeeded in overcoming, thus VCP. Farming is both physically and mentally challenging. There’s never a shortage of people who prefer to avoid it. When the population and grain in storage reach a certain level, some of these people begin to grasp the idea of empire. At that point, life gets pretty darned complicated. I think that is probably about where people find synthetic reality a viable substitute for having your head hurt all the time. Nature’s version of reality gets obscured by a galaxy of cultural facets that are often far more dangerous than are to be found in nature’s domain. It seems safest to embrace only those that have significance in your particular chosen field of endeavor or social circle.

Imperial domination is not and never has been a sustainable practice, which at this time every practitioner but one has learned to their chagrin. When an empire is in collapse a lot of synthetic realities don’t hold up well. You can get thoroughly confused social segments such as the Tea Party, economists, military strategists, the governing class in general, etc. This time is different. Yes, it is. This time the empire is coming down just as what I call the Unterraforming Project (making the planet uninhabitable for most species) is coming to fruition. I have a suspicion that just the prospect of these events is wreaking havoc on all kinds of synthetic realities. It’s already crazy out there and going to get worse. A telling sign is the very recent spate of spurious attacks being leveled at each other by formerly cordial bloggers of the doomer community. Essentially all doomsayers forecasts for the future are mutually negating. All I can say is that seems to be the essence of doom. It’s reliable but only vaguely predictable.

[In closing Ken’s remarks, allow me to add the following note. The cynicism or ‘doomerism’ born of apparent collapse, is no less real then the events triggering that very trajectory.  Certainly, there may be room for hope, but remember to watch what you wish for, it may come true.  Hope itself is an expression of that change in consciousness emerging with the shift to intensive agriculture, and the hoarding of supplies by the rulers.  It was born of fear, and a life deferred, a life lived for a future not yet come.  Cynicism, on the other hand, lives in the belly of the present, absorbing the disparate elements constituting our current predicament, it soaks them in, and accepts what they have to offer while resisting the propaganda fed to the masses.] – kC

138 Responses to HEY EARTH! Y? YR PEEPS B SO CRAZY?

  1. Judith Johnson says:

    Jared Diamond writes that agriculture was the invention that doomed our species in Guns, Germs and Steel. It caused ecological devastation, overpopulation, modern disease and allowed the rise of the ruling class and their priests! The earliest Empires were a direct result of it and look where we are headed now! Great article, thanks 4 posting.

    • Malthus says:

      Yes, as did Spencer Wells in his book “Pandora’s Seed.” “I choose to call this a synthetic reality and I’m pretty sure almost every hominid on the planet has one.” Thomas Metzenger calls it the “Ego tunnel.” Sorry not sure of the Metzenger spelling. Really good article Ken.

  2. Disaffected says:

    Paleolithic hominids almost certainly possessed brains capable of higher intelligence. What they did not have was any pressing need for it. They also did not have food surpluses that would afford them down time to work on new ways of doing things. The experience of recent era hunter-gatherers indicate that it’s actually a pretty easy and uncomplicated way to live. Who would be foolish enough to risk messing that up?

    The expression “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop comes to mind.”

    Greer’s latest post addresses the VCP loosely and dovetails with this post nicely as well. Human societies are like stars and everything else in this universe (and each believes that it alone is the exception to that rule – including ours – although none have been yet); they’re born out of the chaos of previous societies, they take root slowly, they grow, they prosper, they expand and attempt to consolidate others into their realm, they grow decadent and stagnate, they overreach and begin to disintegrate usually on the peripheries first, they begin to disintegrate in earnest and usually come under attack during the process, and then they finally fall into irrelevance or disintegrate altogether.

    Ours will be no exception, and in fact is well along the curve toward disintegration along the peripheries now, having become decadent and stagnating for at least 30-50 years now (Reagan’s “Morning in America” and subsequent imperialist militarization being merely a blatantly sentimental attempt to recover an imaginarily glorified past that never actually was). Pretty much everything after WWII has been a trip down Psychosis Lane for the American west; whereupon after defeating the great existential evil of our time in Nazi fascism, wealthy financial interests determined that it was America itself who should pick up that very same mantle, repackage it a bit for greater marketing appeal, and carry it across the goal line for once and for all. And we have. And we are.

    Don’t know how long it will take, but thankfully (yes thankfully!), peak oil, global warming, and massive overpopulation will put a stop to all this madness. The alternative would truly be an unimaginable horror perpetrated on us all.

  3. Disaffected says:

    And the best “hope” that we can have under the current circumstances is that the inevitable disintegration we are all experiencing won’t be too painful for us and ours and that we’ll all be able to have some sort of positive experience of it as it unfolds. Nonetheless, life is a terminal event and often tragic from any individual point of view. Accordingly, most will (and are) stubbornly and selfishly attempt(ing) to sustain the beast of current civilization during its fall, a strategy that will only prolong the agony of its death throes. It’s gonna be long bumpy ride back to the bottom, made all the worse by the disintegration of all those synthetic realities along the way.

  4. James says:

    Humans have always had metabolic and reproductive needs and have sought to satisfy them with a mind that has only made a rudimentary mapping of reality or with one that has more substantially peeked and peered into every fold and crevice. The emergence of technology and surplus has allowed the storage of information, books, diagrams, photographs etc. that has made mind development more accessible and more rapid. This ability to form an analog world within the brain has been instrumental in designing and bringing to bear tools that could effectively digest the ecosystem and auxiliary energy sources. All activity must eventually be justified with energy gain or some survival advantage. Tools that do not “work” are quickly discarded or the maker dies.

    From the first stone throwers to today, humans have been creating new tools to break into new sources of energy. Their synthetic worldview is often one of progress, of living longer, of growing wealth and complexity, of going to heaven. All of these “visions” satisfy the limbic system, the brain structures that motivate us and send us in search of dopamine, satisfying long established and rewarding brain circuits. Our “reality” is also partially established by the limbic system. A positive future feels good and is therefore allowed to remain in the mind. A thought of a negative future has little reward and often results in a depressed immobility.

    So businessmen scramble about the planet trying to get another neoplastic growth started which will deliver to them mucho dopamine in the form of prestige, high rank within the human hierarchy, and more luxurious pleasure than the average human can imagine. Their products are often designed, packaged and advertised to provide a little pop of dopamine to their consumers. Unfortunately, just like a human with cancer, the cancer that grows in extent and complexity within the ecosystem eventually leaves an emaciated, dying body, unable to maintain homeostasis. This vision of cancerous destruction is quickly swept under the cerebral rug because it cannot compete with the positive synthetic realities whose anticipation releases substantial dopamine.

    So we continue on like a heroin addict, unable to say no or even recognize that we have a problem, because we do things that feel good, even if it kills us.

    Cellular cancer is caused by dysfunction in the modulation or distribution of genetic material. Human as cancer within the ecosystem is caused by a wholly new information system at a much larger scale that, with the help of dopamine, gives humans the tools and motivation to live and grow forever. It will come to an unfortunate end, but don’t think about it lest you become depressed and immobile and start taking drugs and drinking alcohol to compensate for your lack of joie de vivre upon losing your synthetic reality.

    • Disaffected says:

      What James said. I’m trying to wean myself off of alcohol again for good. It’s a hard battle.

      • Phlogiston Água de Beber says:

        The ancient cultivators didn’t just add turbocharging to population growth. The truly weird thing is that the boost was fueled by stuff that one might be tempted to describe as designed by an insane intelligence to do harm out of all proportion to its size and weight.
        Archaeologists have reported that those farmers were substantially less healthy than their ancestors.

        Getting off alcohol is almost sure to be a lot easier if you get off wheat, rye, barley and milk first. I gave up beer in favor of wine and hard liquor, which I drink very sparingly. I don’t recommend the teetotalling route. My father was one. Even the cardiologist at his postmortem said he might have lived longer if he had drank in moderation.

        According to this video, wheat is the real opiate of the masses. And the paleoBorg as well. In addition to whatever else they’re snorting.

        • Phlogiston Água de Beber says:

          Oh shoot, whatever can I do with my fingers. It’s an article, not a video.

        • Disaffected says:

          Don’t do milk anymore, although I do do cheese (which Edgar Cayce said is an entirely different animal due to the fact that it’s fermented). Still eat some wheat in the form of high fiber wraps and Ezekial “flourless” Sprouted Grain bread. Haven’t ate conventional white bread or even “whole wheat” refined bread for years. Giving up wheat altogether would be REALLY hard for me, which is more than likely also why I’ve always had problems with my weight. I’ve tried really low carb diets before and always go crazy by the 2nd week. I’ve lately really found a liking for raw cabbage mix (cabbage, onion, and carrots) cheese wraps, and they seem to agree with me very well. Don’t mind ‘waved Broccoli either, but can’t stand the stuff raw. I’m a work in progress still, I guess. The very process of thinking about what I eat with regard to is it good for me or not often puts me in a dietary tailspin, so for the most part I just try to avoid it altogether and just eat minimally. I’m good on all the major stuff – sugar and refined wheat flour baked goods – so I try not to worry too much about the rest. And PLENTY of exercise as well of course.

        • Kevin Frost says:

          I come from a line of tee totalers so maybe I’m less prone but I’ve noticed how I want to drink more lately. Hard stuff is cleaner, usually no hangover. I don’t have any wisdom to add here. When it gets to a certain point you’ve got to do something and it’s hard. But I’ve been noticing of late. We talk about these hunter gatherer folks with some regularity here. They’re all over the world, and most of them have been hitting the bottle along the downhill journey through the great death. I don’t have any solutions to propose here but just want to say – you’re not alone. That’s all. Best, KJF

          • Disaffected says:

            Thanks KJF. I was born and raised (like many) in the midst of a dichotomy – a teetotaler mom and an alcoholic dad. Although I view it it all in hindsight now as a comedy, I’m sure it’s had its effects. Even so, I don’t blame my parents. I’ve done more than my share to contribute to my “problem,” if indeed it’s even that. I’ve quit several times for up to two years at a time during my adult life, but I can’t quite honestly say that I was any happier during those times, although I will say it enabled me to maintain an even lighter weight and better exercise schedule. That said, I’m not sure ultimate exercise schedules or body weights are the answer any more either, so I guess you could just color me conflicted. Just the idea of “ultimate” or “most efficient” turns my stomach these days as well, so I think the most accurate thing you could say about me these days is that I’m simply disillusioned of the naive ideas of youth. I’m old, kinda fat, kinda bald, kinda ugly, kinda pissed off, kinda disillusioned about everything, and kinda just ready to simplify everything and call it quits. Pretty much kinda like most of the people I know near my age and economic strata these days.

          • kulturcritic says:

            We are all together on the ship of fools!

        • kulturcritic says:

          So, we should eliminate all breads, yes?

          • Phlogiston Água de Beber says:

            The list of things we would be better off without seems to get longer everyday. The easiest shortcut seems to be the paleo diet, which is, more or less, don’t eat anything that wouldn’t have been available to pre-neolithic people. That is a pretty tall order, especially when eating out. There are breads made without any grains. Except they do usually contain rice flour and several kinds of starch. They leave quite a lot to be desired.

            The glutens and various other lectins are proteins in grains that are very hard to breakdown into amino acids. They say few humans have a digestive system able to do it. The plants mean for those that eat their babies to feel bad later, so they won’t be anxious to do it again. Unfortunately, wheat contains opioid peptides that attach to receptors in the human brain and make them want to eat more.

            Another risky food stuff is glutamate, as in MSG, hydrolized vegetable protein, ‘natural flavorings’ and who knows how many additives. Just about every processed food has it. Glutamate is a flavor enhancer, which of course tends to make you want more. It is also a neurotransmitter, which the body naturally produces to help the brain function. Science now calls it an excitotoxin because it acts as part of the trigger to make neurons fire. Too many glutamate molecules causes rapid firing of neurons, which can cause them to self-destruct. It’s little wonder there are so many damaged adults alive today. They used to put it in baby food. The food industry is not our friend.

            • If we have the good fortune we can choose to nourish ourselves and loved ones with wholesome, non-polluted, natural, nutrient-rich foods, instead of with someone’s “science experiments” designed for profit and to be addictive.

            • Disaffected says:

              Actually, a “proper” “paleo” diet would be to just go out and forage – properly! – and not invest too much time thinking about it. Good luck with THAT these days! That’s the problem with “diets,” they’re first and foremost marketing constructs, and thus, pure bullshit. Actual people – you and me – just eat, not “diet.” “Diets” are of the mind. What you actually eat is of the mouth, the gut, the bowels, and ultimately of the body. What you eat ultimately comes out the other end after it nourishes you. “Diets,” on the other hand, are often out the other end before they’re even consumed and seemingly designed expressly NOT to nourish you. All the better to sell you more of the same I might add.

  5. vyselegendaire says:

    I’m a proud Cynic, born an raised in the land of plenty :).

    • Disaffected says:

      Cynicism is just realism stripped of the need to sugar coat things for the naive optimists among us. The world needs far more cynics and far fewer optimists.

      • Disaffected says:

        Said another way, the ways that things can go wrong, especially with regard to human technological planning, are approaching infinity.

        The ways that things can go even approximately right given the same constraints are accordingly few.

        Who would you want planning your next major infrastructure project, a pie-eyed optimist or a dyed-in-the-wool cynic?

    • Phlogiston Água de Beber says:


      But, are you cynical enough?

  6. Ron McCafferty says:

    I read a story on line called Interstates 2040. It is just another scenario of the possible endings of this industrial age. Oil has been around and in use since 347 in China and in the Middle East. It would appear that America was the first to expand it’s oil supply usage into a global empire. But I would tend to think that when those first wells went dry that someone would have thought that there is a possibility that we may run out. I guess capitalism threw caution to the wind for the sake of profit. Also, what role does oil play inside the Earth? Could it be an insulator between the core, which is supposedly around 10k degrees, and the mantle or outer crust? Remove the oil and what replaces it? I never hear this discussed among the mainstream. Global warming, anyone? Then you throw on top of this all the tawdry lifestyle/crap that comes with cheap oil. The ecstasy of the need for more profit. Sedentary lifestyles and stir. Voila, you have the present course to an uncertain future.

    • the Heretick says:

      know what?
      “what role does oil play inside the Earth? Could it be an insulator between the core, which is supposedly around 10k degrees, and the mantle or outer crust? Remove the oil and what replaces it?”
      i have often wondered this myself.
      what’s going to be fun is when they are drilling a geothermal well, or two, or three, and accidentally hit a magma pocket, or two, or three, a great big fat crack in the mantle, fun and games all around. going to be interesting trying to put a christmas tree on that.
      it’s a long way to Tipperary.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Excellent observation (hypothesis) Ron, about the core and the oil insulator…. and we are heating up, aren’t we?

    • Disaffected says:

      It’s at least possible that all those empty oil pockets, never mind the fracking we’re doing now, is at least partially responsible for the number of earthquakes we’ve experienced of late. Although, just like global warming, it will be hard if not impossible to ever scientifically establish that assertion, and almost certainly not to the satisfaction of the denialist crowd.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Ralph Meima, the man who is writing this novel, Interstate 2040, is a good man, a personal friend, he lives in New Hampshire.

      • Ron McCafferty says:

        I enjoy his writing. No absolutes, just gives you something to think about. As for the role oil plays in global warming. Now, I am far from being a scientist but it occurs to me that oil releases heat slower than say water. I have read that they sometimes use water and pumping solutions to fill the voids. Water boils at 212 degrees. It is safe to say that oil has a significantly higher rate. Light sweet crude is at the top of the well, sludge at the bottom of the well. Less heat at the top of the well, more heat at the bottom. Remove the insulator value and the rate warming of the outer layers speeds up. Right?
        Another thing that comes to mind is responsibility. I know that we have had great improvements in the quality of life because of hydrocarbons and their many uses. But really, does EVERYONE need a car or two or three? I am a mechanic by trade. I would gladly give it up to help improve the future. I see the inefficiency in the technology. For every emissions device you add, every parameter the power train control has to maintain/regulate means heat. Heat robs efficiency. The American technological advancements are way behind the eight ball. It is almost like they don’t care. That bothers me. That is not being responsible. I don’t fear much of anything except what my children are going to have to deal with.

        • kulturcritic says:

          “Water boils at 212 degrees. It is safe to say that oil has a significantly higher rate. Light sweet crude is at the top of the well, sludge at the bottom of the well. Less heat at the top of the well, more heat at the bottom. Remove the insulator value and the rate warming of the outer layers speeds up. Right?”
          I like when you guys talk like this, makes me feel like I am more intelligent than I really am. And not only do the hypotheses sound convincing, but, they could be tested. The interesting thing is that we cannot reproduce the complex structure of the earth and its core, so we have to go on faith and sound logic… or just take it for granted that we are fucking with shit we can never really reproduce in the lab. Great points, Ron!!

  7. izzy says:

    “when reality gets too vast and complicated, nobody can recognize more than selected parts of it”

    And exactly how vast reality is has always been an expanding notion. The recent public disclosure of an ET presence on the planet for at least several millennia by Canadian Minister of Defense Paul Hellyer pushes those boundaries out much farther. Many of our greatest scientific minds have always held that we are likely not the only intelligent life in the galaxy, now it seems verification of that in some unarguable way gets ever closer. Should this prove to be true – it seems intuitively obvious – the implications are undefined and uncertain, but the much-romanticized hunter/gather stage may not, in fact, be the sine qua non of human existence. Which does not, in and of itself, change the fact that things a seriously screwed up right now.

  8. the Heretick says:

    yes, the advent of agriculture changed human language and culture, much as fire did millennia before, but that is just part of the story. fire, agriculture, walled cities, religion, these only changed the structure of society to a certain level, the level of brute force, muscle power, technologies which achieved change on a micro level rather than the macro.

    we keep going back to the greeks, and it did start there, but it took a long time for the train to build up a head of steam.

    a quick aside about the nature and perception of reality. many animals perceive reality different than humans, they can see different colors, hear more acutely, we really don’t know what the neurons in their brains are processing, we can guess, probably accurately, but we do not know.
    the point here is that there is a reality of nature above and beyond what any sentient creature can perceive, so you could say we create a synthetic reality. nature has it’s own existence outside of our perception, no matter what we perceive.

    humans had plenty of problems with hierarchies and despotism before the 19th century, but we still had limited science, it was when science started taking off that our current problems began to grow. chemistry, germ theory, internal combustion, high quality steel, and last but not least atomic theory, these are what took us beyond a synthetic reality and into the synthetic society.

    when analyzing these trends i feel it is important to be able to separate the micro from the macro.
    this is all i have time for now, let me know what you think. i’ll be back.

    i realize my terminology is not just exactly right, i’ll elucidate later.

    • Disaffected says:

      I once asked one of my favorite dogs what he thought of the whole situation (this was back in the 1980’s, so not nearly as bad as it is now). He just looked at me quizzically like he always did, licked his balls a few times, then laid back down and went back to sleep. Nary a woof or a tail wag one came out of him. He always was a dog of few words. Long as I scratched his ears and fed and watered him once a day he was good to go. Wise hound, that one, I think.

      • Phlogiston Água de Beber says:

        I just asked the Beagle and Fat Cat about that. Both continued to pretend that they were snoozing. Oh, that we should possess such wisdom.

      • the Heretick says:

        i think animals are getting smarter, i have had a couple dogs that i swear could talk with the proper anatomy. now ‘they” say whales have names. you may have seen my link about elephants painting, now “they” say that painting elephants teach other elephants to paint; in other words, they have been observed passing abstract knowledge to each other.

        i’m at work, can’t stick around.

        • Disaffected says:

          “Wise” animals refuse to cooperate at all, if they even acknowledge that. “Wise” animals just stick to being animals. It’s only humans that confuse animals mimicking humans as “wisdom.”

          • the Heretick says:

            can’t agree with you there, i am not so down on the human race as all that, not today.
            we have done what we have done out of the instinct to reproduce, to maximize our genes chance for survival, doesn’t look to work out too well for most, but hey! at least we tried. i think we have to be careful to lump all humans together, there are those who are responsible for leading the masses down the primrose path, and there are those who just try to get along.

  9. Phlogiston Água de Beber says:

    I submit that the following quote from an article by Tom Clifford posted on counterpunch.org is not OT.

    St. Barack of Guantanamo, the patron saint of broken promises, still insists he is a defender of civil liberties.

    How could we not be at least a little crazy? I doubt that even Lewis Carrol could have dreamed up a society as crazy as this.

  10. Disaffected says:

    I was thinking about ol’ St Barack and presidential stuff in general while out on my morning sabbatical (walk you sick bastards!) this morning, so indulge me if you will:

    Every president since Harry Truman with a few exceptions (which I’ll note shortly) have been mere variations on a theme. All have likely been totally captured by the MIC/CIA/nefarious others (hereafter referred to as the consortium or consort for short) who now run the country, and one almost certainly died at their hands for resisting them.

    Truman (D) was the weaselly little coward anointed by the consort to succeed Roosevelt, and he played his part better than anyone could possibly imagine. All imaginary “balls out” all of the time, especially when the brainiacs at Los Alamos put the “power of god” in his incompetent, cowardly little hands, he weaseled his way into the history books like all good little chicken shit cowards aspire to, and fanned the flames of a nascent cold war and cold war mentality that lives to haunt the world to this day. Yeah, Harry was a fucking man alright! And if there’s a Lucifer in hell, Harry’s right down there glad-handing him in death, just as he did life.

    Eisenhower (R) was the first hand-picked stooge in a long line to follow, transparently military in an era which still glorified naked military aggression. Somewhat understandable after the horrors of WWII, but precedent continuing nonetheless. Also the second “prairie president” in a row (Truman – MO, Ike – KS), in an era which still glorified the farmer and their “homespun values.” And the fact that he was a grandfatherly figure certainly didn’t hurt either.

    Kennedy (D) had the good fortune to run just as TV was coming on line, but even more importantly, to run against Tricky Dick Nixon, a man so transparently transparent (more on that in a second) that even his former running mate didn’t trust him. Unfortunately, the apparently quite fuck-worthy would-be King pissed off the consort over his conduct of the Vietnam war in the aftermath of his blunders in Cuba and suffered the ultimate consequence.

    Johnson (D) was little more than a professional southern politician and horses ass, who may or may not have become interested in social issues due to genuine personal altruism (more than likely that was dictated all or in part by the consort too to keep a lid on things as they were rapidly coming apart). Johnson played his part dutifully, escalating the Vietnam War on false pretenses in Kennedy’s absence, and thus sealing his political doom. Honorably (remember that word, you won’t see it again here), he not only refused the D party nomination in ’68, but died as if on conscience command a few years later. Lyndon Johnson our last honorable Prez (well, sort of at least)? Who’d a thunk it?

    Tricky Dick Nixon (R) was a whole ‘nother animal altogether. A man truly condemned and vilified for his role in the Watergate scandal, which will forever be associated with his name, perhaps a little more perspective is in order.

    Nixon was nothing less than (Dr.) Hunter Thompson’s (one of my favorite writers of the time) self-proclaimed “white whale;” a life-long epic quest whose take down would have signaled his ultimate fulfilment. As Thompson noted so often, Nixon was truly a larger than life, paradoxical, and seemingly totally evil character, a characterization which history has largely cemented (hard core right-wing Repubs notwithstanding), latent statesmanship claims notwithstanding.

    But as I thought I about it again this morning I came to one of those aha! moments and realized something else. Nixon, born and raised a fundamentalist Quaker in a dysfunctional household in the early 1900s, was merely returning to his roots and subconsciously trying to tell the truth! In a by-then well-established imperial presidency beholden only to the consort, Nixon ultimately just couldn’t lie about that fact. He escalated the Viet Nam conflagration behind everyone’s back (for our “own good”, no doubt) during his first term, then barely tried to cover up the fact when confronted with it prior to running for his second. He then established his very own “plumber team” in the lead up to his eventual reelection in ’72, and when finally caught red-handed, boldly proclaimed that “I am not a crook” in the aftermath. Nixon it seems, was either the first honestly psychotic president of the modern age, or the first psychotically honest one in realm which now worshipped lying and deceit above all else.

    Carter (D) was above all a pivotal, but ultimately conflicted president. A former Navy nuclear sub officer and lifelong southern fundamentalist Christian, he perhaps embodied the conflicted nature of US grassroots political beliefs better than anyone before or since. Accordingly, his presidency was a disaster. Running neither hot nor cold to any particular issue, he was defined by the unfolding issues of his time: gas shortages, follow-on diplomatic/hostage issues, and general economic and public confidence malaise.

    Reagan (R) is and will no doubt continue to be remembered as the pivotal president of the 20th century and our time. A half-baked actor and political chameleon, Reagan perfectly personified the resurgent bullshit idea that if America could just return to some theatrically produced right wing idea of Oz, that “Morning in America” would return again once and for all. And thanks to the wonders of debt-based financing and the luck of a burgeoning computer revolution, it worked! Prosperity and budgets deficits bloomed in kind. Military misadventures were re-packaged as “wins,” and existential opponents (the USSR) were bluffed.

    Bush XLI (R) was a sleeper, a man neither party could love, but out of his loins a true dipshit would spring.

    Clinton (D) was pivotal, in that he signaled the engagement and upcoming marriage of the D and R parties and the official consolidation of the world oligarchy at the highest levels. A renowned womanizer, sell-out, and all around horses ass, he was nonetheless the beneficiary of the first of many subsequent economic bubbles, and thus is mistakenly viewed as a man of actual substance to this very day. In fact, like most men of his time, he lived only for pussy, money, power, and prestige.

    Bush XLIII (R) was the first of many puppets to come. A true (and proud) dolt and dunce, Bush was a man for his times. Asleep at the wheel, likely drunk, unapologetically stupid and un-inquisitive, Bush was little more than a barely not self-proclaimed puppet. Although all that mattered not one whit, as everyone else (including apparently the American public, who elected the fucking idiot twice) was in on the scam as well. While Cheney and Rumsfeld indulged fantasies harbored in their Nixon years, Bush remained firmly asleep at the switch while the plutocrats took firm control.

    And in such an environment our current citizen/statesman Obama (D?) was anointed. The ultimate chameleon, perhaps the best thing that can be said about him is that he’s “ultimately flexible.” Truly a man for all reasons and a prisoner of none, he’s the ultimate spear taker in the sense of political barbs, meant only to deflect the fact that nothing much is going on in a “democratic republic” which has long since been bought and sold, and is now firmly in control at the hands of its rightful owners.

    • Phlogiston Água de Beber says:

      I thought for moment there that Mr. Vidal had earned a resurrection.

    • Disaffected says:

      Christ-fuck! And I left out the “War on Terror” altogether! So much for literary realism!

    • Frank Kling says:

      I generally admire your comments, but your description of President Carter is way out of line. I remember a man who negotiated a true and lasting peace, The Camp David Peace Accord, between the Middle East’s most formidable and bitter enemies-Israel and Egypt. Only a trusted broker like Carter could have crafted this diplomatic triumph, and no president since Carter has even come close to replicating his success. Carter was the last president to keep the US out of incessant warfare. I also remember a president whose energy policies were fanatically successful. In just four years, the US reduced its importation of foreign fossil fuels by 1/3. Unfortunately, it was Reagan who reaped all the benefits. Give this honest, moral, and incorruptible gentleman a break!

  11. Kevin Frost says:

    Speaking of synthetic realities – I guess I’m an out of work political animal (how bout a natural history of unemployment?). At university I studied the subject long enough to render myself unemployable. Maybe I just have a bad attitude, but I’ve always been a bit suspicious of these theories of technological determinism. Not that I actually know anything about the way-back-when. I’m open to insights if I think they’re honestly arrived at. But some of this anthropological talk just has a bad political odour about it.

    So say you have agriculture, bit of iron age technology, plus a full stock of well recognised ‘drives’, factor in Fallen Nature, and stir. There we go. Here’s a mix that’s sure to take you all the way to these worst case scenarios. What gets my back up is the scientific reasoning cranking this stuff out. I studied this stuff (social sciences) long enough to develop something of an allergy to the whole reductionist business. But here’s where everything starts getting foggy – logic has never been my forte. So I was interested in what Sandy had to say about the classical syllogism, if I understand correctly, a, or the key logical link in an emergent legalistic ‘rule from a distance’ regime that characteristically makes war, class rule, and certain ideological or theological class comforting origination stories stick in the minds of ruler and ruled alike …

    So to the point. Anthropological reasoning under the aegis of modern liberal foundational support is fond of cooking up origination stories that suit the ‘prevailing’ ideas of our benevolent rulers. Throughout the age of bourgeois industrialism theories of technological determinism have been much in vogue, have been well received and accordingly supported at all sorts of institutionalised levels. Science marches on (in lockstep). They know what to do.

    The way I figure it, there’s two ways one can take this in. One: it’s actually true on some level so take it seriously and see how it goes. Two: take note of how the fundamental assumptions about what ‘drives’ people to do what they do are not necessarily proven predicates of ‘human nature’ but are certainly intelligible as the constitutionally established forces required to make the system work. The key term here is ‘system’. Three are noteworthy: we have the Westphalian states system. We have the (supposed) system of free market enterprise, and we have the system of pluralistic political representation coupled with a range of free choice milieus, freedom of religion, public speech, assembly and so forth. In all of these systems the ideal of systemic equilibrium is achieved by each monadic part doing it’s self interested best to maximise it’s own utilities, fuck the common good; just ‘be yourself’ and all will be well. Individualistic self interest under conditions of systemic competition is the force that makes the system work. It needs to be there for the sake of systemic maintenance and predictability. This much we know. What we don’t know is what was running through the minds of our long lost ancestors when they kicked off the cultural train of civilisational devolution. So then, my beef is this: aren’t we prone to anachronistically imputing our own rather unconscious ‘drives’ as the universals of humankind writ large?

    Returning to the ‘bad political odour’. I’m really talking about Durkheim. I always figured Durkheim was the least interesting, most reductionist and most ideological of the big three (Marx, Weber, Durkheim). But all this noise about ‘complexity’. Christ (here in Aus. we say Crikey!). All a gods children are talking about complexity. I’d thought that after the Frankfort people, hermeneutics, reflections on the ‘new physics’, all the biologists going native and such, that we’d settled accounts with positivism. But no. And these old lefties ending up on websites like this one. Tell ya, this epistemological neighbourhood ain’t what it used to be.

    • kulturcritic says:

      > classical syllogism, if I understand correctly, a, or the key logical link in an emergent legalistic rule from a distance regime that characteristically makes war, class rule, and certain ideological or theological class comforting origination stories stick in the minds of ruler and ruled alike … BINGO!!

    • kulturcritic says:

      “So then, my beef is this: arent we prone to anachronistically imputing our own rather unconscious drives as the universals of humankind writ large?”

      Yes, we are so prone, and it is our primal error. We presume some universal human nature for all time and place, and then we fill that chalice with whatever suites the maintenance of the system. For example, following Hobbes, et al, we describe that nature as evil, Fallen, selfish, violent, in order to justify increasing control that is exercised by the State. We allow Leviathan to live, in order to subdue the imaginary demons inside. Freud was correct, but also reinforced maintenance of the system. Read Marshall Sahlins, On Human Nature. Great observation Kev

    • Disaffected says:

      Over my head for sure. More power!

      • Phlogiston Água de Beber says:

        Yeah, mine too. I think I caught the meaning of his last two sentences and I’m just left to wonder who among us he was dissing.

        • Kevin Frost says:

          Sorry guys – I didn’t mean to make a snow job out of this rant (but I’m a Frost). Bad manners on my part if people are wondering if I’m attacking somebody here. No I’m not. Clarify. Sometimes people who post here do make the anachronistic assumptions I was talking about but for me it makes a world of difference whether these assumptions have nasty political implications or not. Around here that’s just not the case and again I’m sorry if anybody felt uneasy about my screed. The last and specifically academic paragraph was really directed to Sandy.
          Music lovers: name the album, band, date.
          Well, … we all need .. someone .. we can screed on … so if you want to babe .. well …

          • kulturcritic says:

            Stones, 1970, the Tongue album

          • kulturcritic says:

            So, Kevin, now that I read the last paragraph, what do I need to do to resurrect the epistemological neighborhood, here. LOL Or am I being too dramatic now? Perhaps.

          • Disaffected says:

            Kevin Frost, I now dub the… a TWEED (an upscale, prep school educated, academic something or another)! Don’t be ashamed (OR proud for that matter!), just accept it as the lower middle class American handle it’s meant to be. And in celebration, a video (PS: this might have been me at one point in my life):

            And in further celebration:

            In you simply want to go straight over the top, why fuck around and not go with the KING (err… QUEEN!).

            Never saw Freddie in person, but no one I’ve ever known has said they (Queen) were anything less than simply FANTASTIC in person!

    • the Heretick says:

      say what? crikey! it’s times like this i’m glad i got my education on the job and on the run.
      seriously, all it’s ever been about is a supposed evolutionary advantage, it’s just gone wrong for us, but it’s always just been a power grab. yes, of course the prevailing discourse is set by those in power, they always have their excuses, their flim-flam to feed the masses.
      another way to look at it is what does each persons job produce? take judges, what do they produce? rulings. orders that affect the lives of others, they don’t build houses, don’t grow food. all these power structures require the civil servants, the apparatchiks, and more often than not they are self-justifying, supposed skills which only serve the existing power structure. the same can be said of most philosophies, just a bunch of baloney to serve the dominant paradigm.

      these abstract concepts are manifested in our physical infrastructure, and it is when these prevailing dialectics no longer fit the conditions of the times, physically or mentally that societies collapse. we are at the point where the ruling class and their puppets are trying their damnedest to fit a square peg into a round hole but it’s not working. it’s been coming on for awhile, and they are getting more frantic by the minute.

      hope this makes sense to you.

      • Kevin Frost says:

        ‘Seriously, all it’s ever been about is a supposed evolutionary advantage, …’
        Well yeah. But as Lenin would have said: ‘evolutionary advantage, yes, excellent, wonderful, of course, but … ours or theirs?’ It’s true. And that’s what’s at stake. Generally speaking when we say ‘evolutionary advantage’ most people immediately entertain the ideas of competition and self interest. But our people have advantages to. People who work together, fight together, and hang in there together have advantages as well. Darwin knew this, and Marx, and especially Kropotkin. But this is what gets edited out of the anthropological script.

        Yes, Crikey. Australia. You’d love it. There’s this phrase in the national anthem ‘Australia, young and free’. Young and free. Aussies love to shorten words and make them sound friendly. Got a problem with the household circuits? Maybe you’d call in an electrician. But here you get a hold of a sparkie. Need some carpentry work done? Call a chippie. Want somebody to do a bit of brickwork? Well, that’s what brickies are for. In these days of easy credit Melbourne has become gentrified. So early in the morning you see all these clericals and management types out there jogging. So where do you go to buy runners and (upmarket) track suits? Of course: The Joggy Shop. Aussies. See? Me to.

  12. First let me say great post.

    We’ve lived in a “reality” we’ve crafted and perpetuated to our liking for thousands of years. This reality was perpetuated by religion and politics/those in power. Our religions say this “reality” was “divinely ordained” and has hijacked spirituality to legitimize this reality. TPTB have legislated this reality and fed it to industry (just look at Wall Street), and has funneled it through propaganda from our educational systems up to Madison Avenue; and fed to us via the media. This reality even convinced us of our supremacy over Nature and the Universe. Anyone who dared challenged this “reality” was either marginalized at best; or killed at worst.

    However, this “reality” is crumbling before our eyes. We’re witnessing our inability to conquer Nature as we see a tropical storm inundate the US Eastern Coastline, floods sweeping across Europe, and the specter of drought in various places. Religion’s losing steam in the West-especially in Europe; America’s not far behind. The economy stinks and tales of “recovery” are nothing more than fantasies cooked up by TPTB, which many are beginning to realize. And there are many (like us here in the blogosphere) that see through the propaganda about this “reality”.

    Sooner or later, we will come face-to-face with Reality Itself. I don’t know what will happen when we get there. However, I feel it will be one hell of a wake up call for humanity. God only knows what we’ll find when we arrive. Peace!

    • Disaffected says:

      So how does your moniker ‘dangerouschristian’ fit into all of this? “Reality” is actually multi-faceted and surprisingly different for each of us (yeah I know, we’re sharing it all to some extent as well). Do share and expound!

      • Glad to share and expound.

        “Dangerous” is the idea that anyone-regardless of beliefs, etc-that thinks outside the accepted norm is considered such: dangerous.

        As a Christian, I see many in the Faith who’ve bought this “reality” I recently commented about hook, line and sinker. They’ve also tried to bolster it using Scripture. Jesus and the prophets in the Old Testament warned of such thinking; and yet they’re ignored today.

        What I post (especially on my blog) would be considered dangerous. To think outside of the “reality” box, and realize there is a greater Reality is unsettling for those who don’t. Many of us would rather perpetuate this “reality” despite of what it is doing to us as a society.

        I hope I was able to shine a little light on the subject. Peace!

  13. Pingback: What is “Reality”? | Dangerous Christian's Blog

  14. kulturcritic says:

    If there is a message there, Hertick… I don’t have the patience to wade through it and do a proper hermeneutic analysis! kC LOL

  15. Kevin Frost says:

    Hi. I’m putting this here because there’s more space.

    No complaints about this epistemological neighborhood. Really, where else could I get cranky about anachronistic projection and count on being understood? But maybe I should say something.

    Folks: now I feel a bit embarassed. Again, I wasn’t criticising anybody here. Politically speaking, I feel comfy here and like the comments, most of which I agree with. If I have something critical to say, I’ll be direct. Hope you’ll trust me on that. I realise that some of the acedemic stuff is going to sail overhead. Hope you won’t object. I’ve got a fair bit of pent up stuff that I’ve been mulling for years and there are very few people I can talk to about these things. Now you know Sandy has something of a rep: high, frequent flyer, GE, VP and all. But what impressed me was that he went to Chigago and studied with Paul Ricour, and he’s trying to do something with this. The circumstances of our troubled times provides the occassion for freshly conceived efforts. I want very much to encourage these (as I fish through the archives). So I’ll be asking Sandy to go into this stuff that I imagine he would have picked up maybe from Ricour, like this critical theory of the syllogism. And as well, I have my own rants. What I was complaining about is quite general, not at all specific to this site or the people who post here. I guess my posts could be confusing as I change address at times. Some stuff is addressed to Sandy, other’s more general. But really I’m just talking to myself, and in confidence to, cause I got the feeling that nobody around here will hold it against me.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Kevin, neither I nor anyone else here will be offended by anything you say. I am sure of that. I myself appreciate your comments and respect your attempt to parse the meanings of things so that we all come to a clearer understanding of the issues facing us in this highly troubled time, as you well note. I enjoy your input, as I do others. I am pleased you comment as much as you do, and want you to keep posting as you feel.

      So, it was not Ricoeur who provided me with the insight on the syllogism as the basis of hierarchy, unidirectional time, and the birth of the State; it was rather a more unknown figure in twentieth century history and philosophy, Marvin Bram. Ricoeur helped me understand the meaning of myth and ritual, and its role in overcoming the ‘terror of history’, as Mircea Eliade called it. It was very intense to study with both men concurrently at Chicago for the year I was there in 75-76.

  16. Kevin Frost says:

    Rant Around the Clock
    kC: I shouldn’t say this, but I’m thinking that if I do you’ll probably understand even if you don’t agree. Dimitry cites Joseph Tainter and conceives collapse in positivistic terms. Energy quantum’s, inputs, outputs. Obscure laws of diminishing returns. Things go up then they go down. Why would I get bothered about this? Not really sure. I think so highly of this guy. Sui generis. How many people like this happen along in the time of a generation? How many hands do you need to count the number? He just doesn’t think the way everybody else does. He’s not a sophist. He’s very serious. How does he do it? He’s Russian. That helps. An engineer. That’s good: it suits. There’s a milieu that he occupies. I think Jay Hanson started this. Remember Jay? He was good. He used to come up with these intense, tight, clearly conceived critiques of neoliberal economics, this is back in the nineties. He was really turning up the heat. Like this guy was waving a wand in the air of the natural sciences; pointing in the direction of the economics department the chant went perhaps as follows:

    Gimme a J! J!!!!
    Gimme a U! U!!!
    Gimme an N! N!!!
    Gimme a K! K!!!!
    What’s that spell?!! JUNK!!
    What’s that spell?!! JUNK!!!
    What kinda junk?!! JUNK SCIENCE !!!!

    Revolt of the natural scientists. The engineers stand up. And so they should, there’s plenty of work to do crunching numbers: calculating debt pyramids, oil depletion figures, methane releases in the Arctic. A new generation comes along to pick up the work started by the Club of Rome back in the 70s. (I remember the head of the economics dept. talking about the Club of Rome report in class. Took about 30 seconds. He said the dire predictions had been disproved. Oh, and Marx got his numbers wrong, that took about 15 seconds). So there’s this blogosphere that mushrooms up around these dispersed but related issues and Dimitry’s right in the middle of it, and that’s such a good thing.

    What then am I complaining about?
    Basically I’m out of sorts with these pseudo scientific explanations of why civilisations go down. While I accept your conception of the ultimate origins of the problem, and would like to carry on with this, yet I take the view that the lions share of the blame for what’s happening these days goes to Western modernity. Now I don’t imagine this would ruffle anybody’s feathers but I’d want to go on to say that it’s Marx and especially Weber who explain these things and not Durkheim. The positivists are saying that collapse is inevitable because civilisations are like that. Are they? What about China? (for example). To the point that might be controversial. Max Weber spent gallons of ink and much of his life arguing that Western modernity was indeed ‘exceptional’. That was the burden of the Protestant Ethic. And all those other unreadable sociologies: China, India, Islam, Ancient Hebrews. All those books only said: ‘it (capitalism) didn’t happen here’. And that’s all he was trying to say. Again, Weber was saying that our modern Western civilisation is indeed ‘exceptional’ and quite unlike all the others. Therefore we distinguish tradition from modernity. The difference is capitalism (but not just capitalism, also the arts and sciences. Everything’s internally driven, expansive,’ progressive’, explosive).

    All this has geopolitical implications. America is taking the planet down and as it does all these explanations come up to the effect that everyone’s to blame. So it’s like ‘nothing personal’ you know, homo sapiens are a bit over the top and no reason to single out white people for an extra helping of the blame. Sure, sure. A likely story. See what I mean? To conclude then, I perceive cooptation as something inherent in the positivistic methodology that is so well suited to the natural sciences but with the social sciences, so called, on the other hand, I’m concerned.

    If there’s anything unclear in the above please point it up to me and I’ll try to explain. Or if you think it’s poorly conceived then please say so and we could discuss.

    aha. Did you do a lecture recently? How did it go?

  17. James says:

    Another word for “civilization” is “systemization” and it occurs to accelerate the flow and utilization of energy and resources. All civilizations collapse but those that exist within environments that have a high amplitude of environmental variability are likely to grow to the limit during good times and then be severely punished when natural cycles reverse or resources are depleted. Once the food plateau is crossed, there should be an accelerating decline in population that picks up speed until the last man and last woman are fighting over the last apple from the tree of knowledge.

    None of the civilizations are inherently different phenomena, Western civilization just happens to have pushed their complexity to new heights by utilizing massive amounts of fossil fuel energy. They’ll push themselves to the growth limit and then their systemic characteristics will fall apart as they’re unable to deliver the food and energy to maintain the oversized organic and technological life they’ve become. That won’t be any fairytopia and the nightmare of Grim Reaper World will replace the dreamy Walt Disney World as a must see destination. The technological complexity you see has no meaning beyond its singular purpose of taking down resource gradients and maintaining the order to do that in the most efficacious and entertaining manner possible. There is no everlasting joy or everlasting life at the end of the technological rainbow.

    All civilizations are cancerous, growing into the surrounding tissues without limitation and extracting their nourishment, but we’ve really done things right by finding fossil fuels and then using them to create tools and transportation and assorted levels of order to devour the ecosystem. In addition, the release of toxic metabolic wastes including carbon dioxide is sounding the death knell for both humans and much of the remaining ecosystem.

    • Kevin Frost says:

      Maybe the crucial distinction to make here is that between the rule of men and the rule of law. The presupposition of positivistic science is this ‘rule of law’ hence the search for natural laws to account for everything. So in recent decades there have been considerable efforts to flesh out various forms of systems analysis with Joseph Tainter’s being the most recent and, given the dynamics of a hydrocarbon based economy, the most convincing.

      I was concerned to drag Weber back into the argument. A century ago he was mainly concerned to argue against both the Marxists and the liberal free market bourgeois. Against the somewhat cartoon like reductions of the Second Internationalists with their robber baron theories of primitive accumulation he asserted that the origins of modern capitalism was best understood as a development proceeding from a religious movement of puritans who had done something historically unprecedented. They, unlike everything that came before or what had obtained everywhere else, reversed the traditional relation of ends and means. All prior and non European ethics had condemned avarice, the accumulation of money as an end in itself. Money was a means, not an end. But Puritan ethics, based on predestination and all for the greater glory of god broke through tradition and looked upon endless accumulation as godly and thus as possible proof of election, a nice thing in contradistinction to the eternal damnation of the mass of perdition. That’s the rest of us. Against the bourgeois liberals he argued that the modern capitalist state had become a monstrous machine, ie, bureaucracy, that had become a plaything of large impersonal forces (the icy night of the warring gods) and that human freedom had made a bad bargain with dark forces. His inspiration was to attempt to recover ‘the rule of men’ who might get on top of the beast and direct the machine towards human ends. Enter the new Caesars. The legacy of all this has been deeply ambivalent at best. Nonetheless it should be noted that Weber introduced a new political argument in the West. Traditionally the idea of the rule of law was hailed as the sin que non of individualist freedom. Weber viewed this law determined life as an iron cage and resolved upon a revival of the rule of men as the way to recover some human control over the vast forces that capitalism had built up.

      My complaints about systems theory is that ‘culture’ is left out of the equation. And we should put it back in because otherwise we would be at a loss to explain parts of the puzzle that don’t fit. I’ll just take one example. Consider the old Cantons of Switzerland. These folks have been successfully managing their forests for a very long time. They didn’t use it all up fighting it out to the last man. Why not? According to the dark forces of nature theories we should have fried this planet a long time ago, or maybe we just didn’t know how. But it just doesn’t wash. All of the colonised countries: Americas, Africa, Australia, and large swaths of the world were just fine and unfuckeduped, once upon a time. The historical phenomena of exceeding limits as a systematic regularity was contingent, I would argue, as Weber did before, upon the development of empire-as-system. Hence the crucial development of the Westphalian states system, the capitalist socio-economic order, pluralistic political forms of representation, experimental science and the rest. These are the systemic institutions that drove the fossil fuel machinery. Weber’s key argument was that this was an exceptional development. I believe he was correct in this judgement.

  18. Kevin Frost says:

    The morning after. I just reread what I wrote the night before and am not quite happy with it. It meanders a bit, wrongly suggests that Orlov is inhibited by the positivist milieu within which he seems to operate, and the last bit about taking the geopolitical blame is clunky. So, dear readers, don’t worry about it. Just me thinking out loud. And guys, please party on. Quiet around here now. But then maybe everybody’s in bed sleeping it off. It’s great being down under here. I’d like to take the occasion to recommend it. Living just a hop, skip and jump from the South Pole you feel like you got your back to the world, everything is upside down – where you guys live, not here. We’re all right. Here’s another one: you’reright. Gotta smuch the words together. It’s great. I guess there’s this undercurrent of worries, dramas, and some disorientation here so people go around telling each other it’s fine, youright, but there’s an ‘a’ between you and right, see. It’s a British working class thing but strung out in this far off land, and rough place to, somewhat. Like there’s still this commaraderie here. But best of all is the way this ‘mateship’ culture, as it’s referred to in the press is, I think pretty sane and decent. In Europe it’s devolved into footy gang culture, racist, skinheads and all this. But here it’s really family oriented and friendly. Enough. Todays imperative is to get in touch with scholarly friends in Hobart to see if they’ve got anything by Marvin Bram. Good on ya’ll (this is a hybird, just made that one up)

  19. kulturcritic says:

    I must admit, the comments this week are very odd and plentiful!

  20. Kevin Frost says:

    Synthetic Realities
    Just reread the leading essay; here’s a few belated comments after I somewhat hijacked the thread for a bit.

    Synthetic realities. Max Weber had much to say on this matter. He used a phrase ‘autonomous value spheres’ which I believe closely approximates ‘synthetic realities’. Weber entertained this view, which might be caricatured as a Humpty Dumpty theory of epistemological stratification. Once upon a time the medieval great chain of being was employed to synthesise everything into a holistic view, for better or worse. But people believed it. In modern times world views multiply and don’t really connect at all. Weber discerned religions, ideologies, the sciences, arts, lifestyles of stoic duty, or erotic mysticisms as all of them, entire world views unto themselves, that bear little or no relations to others, though there be many. Weber viewed this as happening in the sciences to, multiple disciplines in both the natural and human sciences but no unified field theory. Weber tried to explain this as a subtle consequence of a post monastic world where we have all these highly disciplined, intense, all or nothing souls cast out of the monastic quarantine and into ‘the callings of life’ enjoined to ‘work out their salvation in the world’. So we have all these somewhat heroic founding figures, say Newton, Laplace, or Darwin who exhibit keen intelligence compulsively rationalising everything that could be subjected to the domain of .. ‘reason’. Everything is claimed for the kingdom but there’s no kingdom, no rhyme or reason tying them altogether.

    On the Unterraforming Project making a difference. Good insight. The carpet is being pulled out from under the feet of all sorts of synthetic realities. Guy McPherson’s presentation of evidence in support of an expectation of near term extinctions certainly did rock the boat as many expected. Dimitry Orlov remarked on how curious it was that just after this momentous announcement the discussion was immediately diverted into a confessional drama focused on the proprieties of gender roles. So yes, Ken, it is as you say: ‘it’s crazy out there and it’s going to get worse’. I think so to. This craziness is worrisome.

    Also thanks for flagging the late Joe Bagent. Joe was a breath of fresh air. I miss him to.

    • the Heretick says:

      take all your books and throw them in the dust bin, as you probably say down under, they are going out style anyway.
      there are only a couple of things that motivates our species, well actually one thing, and that is fear.
      fear of falling, a primal instinct hardwired into our brains from when we lived in the trees, which relates to the first great fear, and that is fear of death.
      the fear of death is something every organism has, or they are just not here, they don’t survive.
      the fear of death drives us to reproduce, to replicate, as that is the only way our corporal existence is extended beyond the single lonely life.
      now, as to hierarchies, they were invented to monopolize the food and females, period. end of story.
      there is actually a couple concurrent narratives.
      the history of superstitions which we invented to assuage our fear of death, the great god in the sky, the all father; and the earth mother, the all wise gaia, both of which are highly anthropomorphic.
      the other narrative is science, which in the west started with the greeks slicing and dicing the cosmos into little pieces, which over 2,500 years has taken us to where we are today.
      our real problems started with microscopes and brownian motion, atoms and molecules, and the theory of relativity.
      we have succeeded as a species to where we have reached the point of diminishing returns, to where we are not evolutionarily adapted to life as it now exists. the methods of control, the economic system, have produced a rapacious population, at least in the west, that is rapidly growing out of control.
      social controls only work when the individual can see what they are getting out of the arrangement, and too few really see what is in it for them.
      all of our moral strictures were developed for small groups, to help the band survive, they don’t necessarily translate to the modern nation state, so, we have people twisting off, and then we have a heavy handed govt. response.
      jesus, what a gloomy, pessimistic post. look at the teevee, watch the ads, it’s all there, how to be more successful than our neighbor, have the shiniest hair to attract a mate, how to extend your potency beyond it’s natural limits, etc. etc.
      it’s all very primitive, the suits, the ties, the bright scarfs for the ladies.
      don’t know if anyone has noticed, but the collarless suit as seen in old sci-fi movies is coming into style, just among the intelligentsia, a blending of the gender roles, everyone just a cog in the machine, flat, uniform, disposable, equivalent and interchangeable.
      the rise of the Paleo-Borg.

      • Phlogiston Água de Beber says:

        The mid-twentieth century saw the rise of the boy-genius, probably because a personality type characterized by prolonged youthfulness is advantageous both in science and modern life generally. This is the evolution of ‘psychological-neoteny’, in which ever-more people retain for ever-longer the characteristic behaviours and attitudes of earlier developmental stages. Whereas traditional societies are characterized by initiation ceremonies marking the advent of adulthood, these have now dwindled and disappeared. In a psychological sense, some contemporary individuals never actually become adults. A child-like flexibility of attitudes, behaviours and knowledge is probably adaptive in modern society because people need repeatedly to change jobs, learn new skills, move to new places and make new friends. It seems that this adaptation is achieved by the expedient of postponing cognitive maturation – a process that could be termed psychological neoteny. (‘Neoteny’ refers to the biological phenomenon whereby development is delayed such that juvenile characteristics are retained into maturity.) Psychological neoteny is probably caused by the prolonged average duration of formal education, since students’ minds are in a significant sense ‘unfinished’. Since modern cultures favour cognitive flexibility, ‘immature’ people tend to thrive and succeed, and have set the tone of contemporary life: the greatest praise of an elderly person is to state that they retain the characteristics of youth. But the faults of youth are retained with well as its virtues: short attention span, sensation- and novelty-seeking, short cycles of arbitrary fashion and a sense of cultural shallowness.

        –BG Charlton

        I tried to link to the page from which I copied the above abstract, but for some reason wordpress wouldn’t take it. I think it provides a lot of support for what Heretick wrote. I’d like to add that I really liked what he wrote.

        • kulturcritic says:

          You should also read Paul Shepard, Nature and Madness, for an extensive discussion of “neoteny” in the current context and his analysis of pre-civilized cultural maturation.

          • Nichole says:

            Or/And Bill Plotkin’s Nature and the Human Soul, although the title itself might offend some.

            It’s a meditation on neoteny and the possibility of human development past the stage of adolescence. Although our species extended adolescence may have precluded the possibility of that occurring.

            • kulturcritic says:

              Nichole – looks like an excellent work; just did a quick read about it online. Sandy

            • Phlogiston Água de Beber says:

              Nichole, I too have read a summary on amazon. It sounds like a fine book containing a very worthy idea. Your concluding sentence says that you understand the improbability of it doing any good. Primitive societies marginalize overage adolescents. Ours tends to promote them to positions of power and authority. Even if it’s possible for middle-aged to elderly adolescents to mature, why would they do so when it would mean getting thrown off the train.

              As Spengler predicted, this society is in its terminal phase. If another one has a chance to succeed it, the adults will get the opportunity to shape it, for awhile.

              • Nichole says:

                Perhaps, Agua, my desire to imagine that life goes on, with or without my own sentience, is misplaced. But, the self-indulgence, even glee, I grok as subtext in much of McPherson, Jensen, Greer, Kunstler, Orlov and even Krolick, but most especially in followers and fellow-travelers of the great men (Oddly, I recertified Greer for foodstamps in Nashville, TN, at least once. Seemed a nice enough fellow and very confidently the Archdruid.) causes me to recoil often enough at our … enthusiasm for the End Times.

                I think perhaps we should consider not going gently into that good night. But, perhaps do something more than rail against the dying of the light. Sybilization all too often appears to be a grand self-indulgence, even if I cannot easily see a path beyond asphixiation of the race/s. i believe my hope is in history itself. This won’t be the first great dying. And perhaps it is worth my effort to grow a bit and refrain from throwing another adolescent tantrum over my being unable to eat the entire cake, not get deathly ill from the indulgence and then have the cake to admire as well.

                I don’t like “hope” either. But the three sisters are beginning to grow in their raised beds and the neighbors will likely still be about to share the harvest. For this summer, that seems enough.

        • the Heretick says:

          maybe what is called neoteny is just plain narcissism.
          or, and i really believe this, we are conditioned to remain child-like because it suits the structure of our society; along the lines of manufacturing consent.
          or, we are so psychologically battered that we regress to, or never move beyond, a childlike state.

        • Disaffected says:

          I hate to say it (well, not really), but I probably exhibit most of those characteristics myself. Still not sure if that’s a bad thing. And I’m not sure there’s really a dysfunctional psychological profile per se any more anyway. Maladapted maybe, but dysfunctional? Who’s to say? I do notice that most people are surprised to hear I’m 55, and usually say (at least) that they had me judged for 10 years younger. Regardless of any of that, I’m not sure I agree with the last statement statement:

          But the faults of youth are retained with well as its virtues: short attention span, sensation- and novelty-seeking, short cycles of arbitrary fashion and a sense of cultural shallowness

          Seems to me that’s a larger indictment of our culture as a whole, to which some youth-minded oldsters might certainly be prone to as well. Seems to me we’re conflating at least two separate issues here.

          • Kevin Frost says:

            I’m going to get banned around here if I keep talking about Max Weber. We’ll make a deal. Just one more time and I promise I won’t mention the guy again for 7 days, and may St. Barrack of G. be my witness. Ok?
            Ok. But preface: money’s always short around here. Haven’t bought a new book for how long? When money comes in it goes for – kC will like this – fencing and animal feed, this sort of thing. Nonetheless I just got a new computer. It’s seven years old but it’s one of those nice Apple imacs. Which means finally, at along last, I have a machine fast enough to watch vids. So what’s the first thing I do? Right: I wanted to refresh my memory of what Clapton sounded like when he was still with the Bluesbreakers. Then Mayall playing Marsha’s Mood. Harvey Mandel. Miles in the Sky. Memphis T. by Sandy Bull, John Fahey. I actually had one of those limited releases he did. I think it was called the Resurrection of Blind Joe Death or something like that. Beautiful engraved cover art. Loaned it out, gone. But you get the idea. Well, I’m fishing around looking at the offerings and I came across this shocking item: Robin Trower and Jack Bruce playing the Albert Hall in 2005. Now you guys won’t believe me but I honestly didn’t know about this stuff. Around here the better half is in charge of sound and anything electronic. She’s from Salzburg in the high country of Austria so we listen to classical. I owe her a castle on the Rhine for introducing me to Schubert.
            So I’ve been living in lala land. But presently I’ve got this new computer, now I have to face up to the grim facts of life. We never know when to stop. I can remember – years ago – Jerry Garcia saying how he was looking forwards to playing the millennium. And I thought: ‘Jerry, my man, no no no. You’re supposed to get old and cranky, not this … ‘ But I’m right in there to. Just turned 63 a month ago but still think I’m 19. What’s going on here? Well, MW (you were warned!) talks of these ‘autonomous value spheres’. And this is well in line with sociological subjectivity ensconced within linear time; it just goes on, and on, and … . Everything goes it’s own way. In this case it’s Eros. Same deal with the ladies. At a certain age, if they can afford it, they start going in for cosmetic medical interventions. It’s kinda sad. We all want love, and that has no end. But we’re out of … out of something, we’re out of something that we should be in, you know? If we were in that extended relational world where birth, death, hard sweaty labour, and grandfolks telling the younguns stories while the parents perform the heavy lifting labour of doing all what has to be done old cranks like us would be properly retired to the lighter tasks of storytelling (Now back in MY day …) and the younger ones would no doubt have the run of the sound equipment – or not. Time would be rather more cyclic. But our time’s not like that. Ok, enough of this philosophy. I just found Broken Barricades, so gents, if you’ll excuse me for a moment …

            • the Heretick says:

              hey! keep it down over there, willya?

            • kulturcritic says:

              Don’t fence me in… Great reflection Kevin… the musical history as well as the loss of community and cyclical time. She has not had you listen to Schubert’s Death and the Maiden? or Brahms’ Intermezzi, or Lizst’s Hungarian Rhapsodies, or Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto… tell us more.

              • Kevin Frost says:

                Hi Sandy. Ilona’s world of music. All of the above, I think. But really I couldn’t say. I hear these pieces but have no idea what they’re called. I’m still pretty illiterate musically speaking. But all this was heaven sent. Schubert. He so looked up to the great man of the time, who inspired him to grow wings of his own and play music no mortal had yet heard. He played for his friends. They say the good die young. He was good. He’s still here with us. There’s such a thing as eternity. We’re always invited.

                Rachmaninoff. Again, I don’t know the various pieces. But I listened. How does one talk about such music? I read a couple of interviews with the composer, or an interview and an essay. It was, ‘well tell us, sir, about how you collaborated with the authorities? Or tell us how you elided collaboration with the authorities? But no mention of 20 million dead on the fields, his people. What these people lived through. What they built. What they faced, how they fought, and what it cost. I think the composer is not answerable to the editors of Der Spiegel, or the Guardian. He’s answerable to something else.

                Hungarian rhapsodies. Oh yes! Our Austrians are very proud of their multicultural empire (note the present tense). The passionate violins speak so clearly to these duty bound (but pleasure loving) German speakers of the south. They are of the view that this is their music. If it is music, and if the music possess a certain elevation, then they think it must somehow belong to Vienna. Again, I’m no judge, but am nonetheless inclined to this view myself. I can live with this sort of imperialism.

                Now it’s quiet around here. Ilona’s moved closer to town for school and work. Everything’s good. We just visited. She’s doing a video inspired by her favourite director – Tarkovsky. She just met a local composer who is collaborating with her. His work is similar to Phillip Glass. She’s blossoming. It’s so good. But now it’s quiet again. Her classical music was, I’d say, well received by my ancestral manes. I think we appreciated the spaciousness of the classical artists. Pause, interval. In our times the radio dictum: ‘no dead air time’ prevails. I/we cannot bear this.

                Perhaps that’s all I can say. The above post listed the highlights of my music collection when I still lived in San Francisco, my native city. But in 1970 I drew a low lottery number and decided to change locations, moved up to BC. Money always being an issue it was either keep the collection going or spend it on tools as I’d decided on woodworking. Since that time I’ve only bought two CDs, the third album of the Velvet Underground, and Miles in the Sky (stuff, paraphernalia). All of the music since has been kind of a gift of friends.

                Recalling Schubert. Be famous with your friends.

          • Phlogiston Água de Beber says:

            First I’m going to mention once again how disappointed I am that my lengthy discussion of Dr. Charlton’s article disappeared into the internet blackhole because wordpress had taken a notion to reject URLs and anything that came with them. That abstract is not adequate, but I wouldn’t copy and paste the whole thing.

            I would say that neoteny can be seen in a large portion of the present population. I think most people that understand what it means would say it applies to me. I sometimes think of myself as being 69 going on 20. That would however be the 20 of my youth not the 20 of today’s youth. Charlton attributed psycho-neoteny to extended higher education. Something wrong there, I don’t have any of that.

            If the whole culture seems childish that would be because it is dominated by very childish people. Children hate to have their party pooped on and they will do their best to crush attempts to maturate things. Thinkers debate whether humanity will go out with a whimper or a bang. I think it will probably drown in the punch bowl.

            This is the best musical approximation I know of and it comes from when I was about 20.

      • Kevin Frost says:

        Ok. If fear is the only thing worth talking about what follows from that? Leviathan? Countervailing forces? If we’re hard wired for the goverance we’ve got, why complain about it?

        • Disaffected says:

          Pretty good point.

        • the Heretick says:

          who’s complaining? i’m positively looking forward to it, at least it will be honest, elemental.
          we aren’t hardwired for anything though, we still have our own free choice, to an extent; the trick is to cut thru the extraneous BS, which is what most of us have been taught our entire lives.
          the thing is, quite seriously, in some circles i pass for absolutely intellectual, i know, hard to believe.
          here are stats, if you want to trust them.
          50% of adults in the USA are unable to read on an 8th grade level, this means when you say “counter-intuitive”, they think you are a goddamn rocket scientist.

          the dialectic of collapse will be conducted at a grade school level, unless sane educated people can somehow get thru to TPTB.

          • Disaffected says:

            the dialectic of collapse will be conducted at a grade school level, unless sane educated people can somehow get thru to TPTB.

            Seems to me, since the “educated people” are the ones responsible for this mess in the first place, it might FINALLY be time to turn it over it over to the grade schoolers to get it settled properly.

            And by the way HT, education is ENTIRELY overrated, and I would have thought YOU of all posters on this board might have remembered that. PhD this, PhD that, PhD BULLSHIT!

            • the Heretick says:

              ” education is ENTIRELY overrated, ”
              yes and no. life at sane sustainable level may not require many of the skills utilized today, after all, many of these supposed skills are only valuable in that they serve the power structure (lawyers, cops, military, advertising executives, insurance adjusters, politicians) you get the idea.
              even in the humanities much of the current discourse is really just a matter of opinion, no matter what rationale is attached.
              for real survival living there has got to be a lot of learning involved, plat lore, skinning, butchering, soil chemistry, testing for contaminants………
              so, no, you won’t get an argument from me.
              my comment is to the point that we can have high minded discussions, bring up philosophy and philosophers, but if and when TSHTF? it’s going to be the hoi-polloi who take over, and no one, no one, left or right is educating them.
              my concern is what sort of moral code will apply when things turn into a matter of life and death, hey, it may not be the environment that does us in, it could be our neighbors.

      • Heretik
        I wonder what ‘fear of death’ might mean to an individual enmeshed within a pre-civilized community where the concept of history (or autobiography) and flow of unidirectional time is not yet articulated, and where the individual feels intertwined within a larger framework of relations, human and non human?

        • Kevin Frost says:

          Heretik. Speaking of death. You mentioned somewhere that you came from KC, Show Me state? Well, that’s Lance Michael Foster’s ancestral country, Kansas/Nebraska area. You may perchance have encountered him on Orlov or Greer threads. Lance is of the Iowan people. Course they got cleared out long ago, some moved down to OK, Lance’s people went up to Montana where he presently lives, around Helena. Lance is mixed blood and lives in several different worlds. He grew up Catholic, but learned his peoples customs. He’s an anthropologist actually, but as well has a strong interest in hermetic arts and was interested in Greer’s duridry for a while. Ah, Lance has a blog. Google Sleeping Giant. He thinks a lot about death, and writes about it. The follow on post by Phlog treating the issue of maturity or this tendency to remain a teenager in the indefinite way some of us boomers do. I think I get the idea. But anyway, this guy Lance is remarkable. He’s genuinely mature. Really brought me up short like. Possibly you might find something of interest there. Everybody: Lance is interesting.

          • Phlogiston Água de Beber says:

            Agreed. I used to see Lance’s comments and was always impressed. In the comment that got lost I tried to make a case that as the population sustains an increase in neoteny it naturally disdains wisdom and caution. The inevitable result is rise to power of the likes of Clinton, Bush, Obomber, Blair, Cameron, Berlusconi, Sarkozy, Merkel, Netanyahu, Blankfein, Dimon, Tillerson, Koch Brothers to name a few.

            Not everyone fears death, but everyone fears something and that’s all characters like those above need to know. They just have to press the right buttons with each group. We are not the first to go so crazy, the Romans certainly did. We are the first to have the opportunity to render all hominids extinct. If there is one thing thoroughly modern neotenized humans seemingly cannot bring themselves to pass up it is opportunity.

            • Kevin Frost says:

              Right. Hope and fear are as common as Pavlov’s dogs. But the point, as you note, is how the button pressing constitutes the primary techniques of governance. It says something about the governed, but not very much.

            • the Heretick says:

              i just almost put something in my comment about how these fears are exploited, but you said it better than i would have, yup, it’s a friggin’ madhouse.
              this whole war on terror, 90% of it can be understood as blowback, but we don’t change our ways, no sirree. we just keep on with the same old counter-productive neo-imperialist foreign policy.
              tell you what, i gave up on trying to change anybody’s mind on that score a while ago.

              a lot of these other problems, what makes who do what, i’ma just about to that point on them too.

          • the Heretick says:

            i’ve got it bookmarked, unfortunately right now i have to work. they expect me to work for my pay, it’s really quite unfair!

        • the Heretick says:

          probably not as bad, it is the individuation that causes a lot of these psychological problems; however, fear of death would, i think, always be there to some extent, but it could be greatly alleviated.

          what happens in animals minds i think would be fascinating; i’ve been accused of projecting human traits onto animals, but i don’t think we give animals enough credit, it’s really interesting.

          • Kevin Frost says:

            ‘the individuation that causes a lot of these psychological problems’. I think so. Quite. Animals aren’t afraid of death the way we are. Pigs aren’t worried, unless they see a gun. Then they worry. The only problem with the animals I can see are those collarless suits you were talking about. Other than that …

            • Disaffected says:


              You’d do quite well with a small dose of LSD. I think it would free you up quite nicely. In a good way.


            • the Heretick says:

              so, animals just live in what we would call an innocent state, there is a passage in Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, where van der Post talks about the angel with the flaming sword blocking the path back to Eden, i can nevr find it when i look for it.
              but here’s a little something.
              ” To me it was simply that the older I got, the more and more I felt that we had lost, there was a bushman in everybody, and we’d lost contact with that side of ourselves. And we must learn again from the bushman. Trying to find out what is that side about.
              I thought how strange it was that people were digging up old ruins — archeologists excavating to find out what archaic man was like, and here he was walking about in our midst. Why didn’t we ask him? That really is at the back of it: the fact that the bushman personified an aspect of natural man which we all have, but with which we’ve increasingly lost contact and that has impoverished us and endangered us.
              And when I spoke to Jung about it he said this is not an extravagant thought at all. He said every human being has a 2 million year-old man within himself. And if he loses contact with that 2 million year-old self he loses his real roots. So this question of why modern man is in search of his soul and has lost his religious roots had a lot to do with my interest in the bushman.
              Because I found that the difference between this naked little man in the desert, who owned nothing, and us was that he is and we have, but no longer are. We have. We’ve exchanged having for being.
              So if the bushman goes, through what one knew of him, his stories, and his art, he would still be important to us. He must live on through these things. And that’s what I’ve tried, merely tried, to bring back — to use him as a bridge between the world in the beginning, with which we’ve lost touch, and the now.

              — Laurens van der Post at 87, 1994, interviewed in his home in Chelsea

              we have no story, that is why i went off on my little rant about fear, our dialectic is so screwed up we talk about what we have talked about before, analyzing how we got here instead of where we are going. this is why sandy interjects his little questions here and there, like the shrinks do with their patients, gentle nudges back towards reality. me, i’m more the sledgehammer type.

          • Disaffected says:


            What happens in animals minds is what happens in YOUR mind, especially since you are one OF them :

            Smear a piece of whole wheat bread with a large scoop of fresh ground peanut butter, chew it too little, swallow it too fast, and see what happens. Do this in absence of water (preferably warm), and see what happens as your brain begins to realize (very quickly) that you are about to die, and in an extremely embarrassing way at that, unless you clear your airway.

            Simple but effective.

            THAT’S what happens to animals brains when they are about to die.


  21. the Heretick says:

    not talking about Scofield, taking about the Animals and Eric Burdon, waay underappreciated.

  22. Schubert – Death and the Maiden!

    Tried to upload song/video… obviously everything today is private property, and death to those who attempt to share it with others.

  23. Liszt!! Same problem here!

  24. DrCiber says:

    Let the crazy games begin: http://trollthensa.com/

    • kulturcritic says:

      DrCiber… very interesting proposal!

    • Phlogiston Água de Beber says:

      Just by clicking the link their garbage collectors are already sucking in the story. The thing is, they already know who our friends and family are. To really mess’em up the whole country should start dialing numbers randomly. With enough calls almost everyone will make contact with at least one person already under suspicion. And don’t do it for just a few hours or days. Do it regularly for a long time.

      I’m not advocating that anyone actually do this, but if enough people did it, I suspect it would hurt them. There is no defense but GIGO.

      • Disaffected says:

        But perhaps you are advocating for (a) forward looking entrepreneur(s) to actively subvert our national security? Hard to imagine right now how such a business(es) would fly in the face of current and prospective NSA/CIA restrictions, but in the current “US of money above all else,” who the fuck knows?

        Imagine a whole intelligence sector (actually, not that hard, since it already exists) to the world economy, where Big Brother both spies on you for your own “security,” and then sells you “protection” on the “private” market from those very same efforts. Once again, not hard to imagine, since it exists and is immensely profitable already, yet most people never think of it that way.

        And GIGO doesn’t work for the most part either. Individually maybe. On any larger scale than that? Nope. Enter the entrepreneurs…

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