In The Territory Of The Pleistocene: An Etiology Of Collapse

When faced with a crisis it is always tempting to look back at our brief history and try to locate exactly where we went wrong and when things turned so sour.  After all, this is what historians teach us: to seek out proximate causes for our current predicament in events of the recent past.  And certainly we may learn a good deal from such analyses.  But to understand our unfolding collapse – the global proportions of which we now all bear witness to – as a failure of politics in America, and specifically democratic liberalism, is shortsighted and myopic.  Hoping to grasp the cause of this crisis, Chris Hedges asks in The Corporate State Wins Again, “When did the press, labor, universities and the Democratic Party… wither and atrophy?”  As if their collective failures could have been the precipitating cause of our current global calamity.

The challenges we face today – global systemic failure, including ecological, economic, financial, social and political systems – are the later symptoms of a disease that took hold of the human community many millennia ago, long before the emergence of the modern State.  The Corporate State or Corporate Capitalism, which Mr. Hedges points to as the loci of our recent descent, themselves have roots in the murky hinterlands of human history.  Even Hedges alludes to this remote origin when he writes: “Human history, rather than a chronicle of freedom and democracy, is characterized by ruthless domination.”

This ruthless and largely pathological lust to dominate – underpinning the Corporate State – was first given life with the establishment of institutional hierarchy and its associated tools of command and control, casuistic law.  Its footings were laid at the very dawn of historical consciousness, even before the Code of Hammurabi in Babylon.  The earliest example may be the Code of Ur-Nammu written in Sumerian approximately 2100 BC, lying as a foundation stone of modern legal authority and the exercise of political power.

Such hierarchical authority, whose etiology can be traced to the first urban centers, creates its own unique form of sociopathy, attracting those ‘infected’ into its ascendent ranks and affording them a lofty plateau from which to survey and manipulate the subjugated masses.  It provides those elevated elites with an illusion of separation, heightening their sense of self-worth and personal superiority. It is this self-induced fantasy that enables them to create laws, pass judgments, and execute decisions that apply to all but themselves. Just look at the actions of those in our Congress and in our courts, not to mention the sociopath-in-chief and his chorus-line of cohorts sitting just down the road from that august body of jurists and lobbyists. As Hedges aptly summarizes:

These elites do not have a vision. They know only one word—more.  They will continue to exploit the nation, the global economy and the ecosystem. And they will use their money to hide in gated compounds when it all implodes. Do not expect them to take care of us when it starts to unravel.

In short, the entire charade of civil society, of institutional hierarchy – be it political, religious, corporate, or armed military (for god’s sake) – the very scaffolding of the modern civilized State; all of these institutions are erected upon a singular foundation uniquely focused on enhancing command and control. That is the necessary outcome of a mode of reasoning and a logistic ushered in with the first cities approximately 6,000 years ago.  It was then that the first States drew together tens of thousands of ‘citizens’ (Ur had an estimated population of 65,000) – strangers, newly quartered within tightly packed city walls and satellite villages – all scratching to find a safe place on the growing animal farm.  Civilization itself is the pathology; hierarchy, the pathogen.

But writers like Hedges, as astute a thinker as he is, fail to see this; or at least they do not care to admit it – that the problems we face have roots older than the past several hundred years. Hedges himself seems to believe that we can rehabilitate the system: that its institutions are salvageable and can be used for good and noble purpose.  This is no doubt why he has chosen to engage in political theatre, in public demonstrations, in choreographed attempts at disrupting the machines of commerce and government.  He still feels there is some way to keep this whole charade going, but now with healthier motives and public transparency.  As if this would redirect or reverse the trajectory of our global collapse.

The fact remains that we are all creatures of the Pleistocene – a geological epoch spanning nearly two million years of proto-human and human prehistory.  That is the environment in which the evolution and refinement of our own species, Homo sapiens, took place.  The end of that epoch coincided by-and-large with the beginning of settled agriculture and the start of the Neolithic era at the opening of the Holocene epoch approximately 10,000 years ago.  It was shortly thereafter that we witness the emergence of new forms of social organization, methods of food acquisition, the building of cities, and the rapid deployment of hierarchy throughout these emergent institutions.  It was there that we lost our way on a footpath leading inevitably to the cult of the individual, along with its attendant rights and privileges – privatization, securitization, legislation, and the evolution of the modern State.

Part of the problem, I suspect, goes back to a similar reorganization of our sensorium that occurred concurrently with this new form of social organization, and the transition from a predominantly nomadic existence to more domesticated arrangements. There dawned a re-ordering of our senses, with sight grabbing top-billing in another emerging hierarchy. Modern sedentary urban life now presents itself primarily as a visual field (like a screen) spread out in front of us for inspection.  A Pleistocene world, on the other hand, was more aural and palpable; it surrounded one in sound and in the “earthly sensuous” – providing a rounder experience of the world-as-lived than that proffered by the visual maps we so cherish today. And, as the father of general semantics, Alfred Korzybski, pointed out: “the map is not the territory.” Territory is all-encompassing; the map (again like the screen) is a simple visual representation.   Moreover, the visual event is predominantly linear in organization; with relatively marginal peripheral vision, we typically see only what is directly within our line of sight. The aural and tactile surround is more cyclical, encircling us; we can hear and even feel the predator that is stealthily approaching us from behind.   We begin to recognize now just how deprived and empty life in this modern jungle has become; an emptiness due largely to the eclipsing of the sensorium by the demands of civilized existence under the watchful eye of linear (historical) Father Time.

And this gets us to the heart of the matter. Perhaps we can emerge on the other side of collapse into a new world along the lines one fellow blogger recently suggested — “decentralized societies organized around democratic communities and watersheds, with no standing armies, no more nation-states, no capitalism or macro-economies aside from loosely organized trade federations since some trade will be required.” So much for the logistics; but can we overcome our unflinching epistemological commitment to vision, to the specter of unilinear time, and its existential implications – history, planning, progress, technological advancement, production, consumption, growth and domination?

Can we step back far enough to reclaim a more natural place within the animal kingdom? Can we recover from our early civilized need to dominate nature, and the substantial hangover that really came into its own with Francis Bacon, the scientific method, and our transition into the modern era of infinite progress?

This pathology, this disease, if you will, is a feeling of dis-ease with our own feral core, a cloak foisted upon us through 6,000 years of indoctrination to the new curriculum. But, modern Homo sapiens appeared almost 200,000 years ago, and the earliest species of our genus, Homo habilis, two million years back; all indications are that they lived less obtrusively in nature and with one another.  And they lived without the terror of historical consciousness until its eruption with the birth of civilization. What the scholars will not tell us is that there was something substantial lost with the emergence of this new consciousness and the subsequent development of historical thought.  Recovering this buried genetic memory trace must begin with a recapitulation to the subjectivity of our bodies and a reawakening of our sentient selves.

It is not a matter of moral turpitude that drives us mad… it is this madness (civilization) that drives us to apparent moral turpitude. Changing the perspective and agenda of modern society (and its sociopathic masters of the universe) is not an ethical or a religious matter; it is an epistemological, even an ontological matter – it cannot be achieved by imploring, cajoling, threatening or harming. It may not be do-able at all on a grand scale. It may just require that those who have rediscovered that inner feral core do what they can to prepare themselves for a post-collapse world, and try to enjoy the Spectacle unfolding around us.

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107 Responses to In The Territory Of The Pleistocene: An Etiology Of Collapse

  1. freeacre says:

    You are right, Sir. When the white man “discovered” Lake Tahoe, he thought that it was uninhabited. But, the Washoe Indian people had lived there for 10,000 years. They lived along its shores in the summer and went back down into the valley in the Fall. It took two weeks of cleansing ceremony to approach the sacred rocks that the people knew had created the lake. They never, in all that time, created cities, and the water and the forest remained pristine.

    We’d have to go back to living like they did, or like the Aboriginals on the Australian continent did before the English invaded and colonized it. Daniel Quinn and Derrick Jensen make a remorseless case against civilization itself.

    How could we return to that state where we no longer attempt to “triumph” over nature, store up supplies, and create a caste of priests and kings to have dominion over everything? Personally, I am looking for “the asteroid” to blow us back to square one. Maybe we’ll then return to the sea like the mammals did who became whales. Maybe it will take giving up our dexterous fingers, trading them for flippers that can’t open a can, wire a computer, pull a trigger, or even stack a brick to become a species that can live in harmony with the planet and each other.

    I fear that anything short of total destruction will not be enough to cure us of our diseased minds and set us free. Enjoy the Spectacle? That’s not working real well, either.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Freeacre – you’re right; it aint working real well either. But, it’s kind of like your own approach currently… “just waiting for the asteroid!” I appreciate your joining the discussion. Feel free to subscribe and get notices of each week’s post. We all look forward to your continued input.

  2. Disaffected says:

    Osama bin Laden killed near Pakistan’s West Point. Was he really hidden

    The TV talking heads are all completely atwitter this morning over the “news.” Do you think the knuckleheads read my post yesterday and decided enough is enough? Brace yourselves for a national outpouring of pro-US military propaganda. This should be interesting. NY Daily News headline over picture of bin Laden: “Rot in Hell.”

    Oh, by the way, the body’s already been buried at sea. Hmm…

    • kulturcritic says:

      Where else could they dispose of a make believe corpse?

      • Disaffected says:

        The blogosphere is shredding this story as we speak. And they wonder why we believe in conspiracy theories.

    • Disaffected says:

      Obama Calls World ‘Safer’ After Pakistan Raid. Just not safe enough to call an end to the silly War on Terror apparently.

      Predictably, SecState HillBillary was quick to add, “Continued cooperation will be just as important in the days ahead,” she said, “because even as we mark this milestone, we should not forget that the battle to stop Al Qaeda and its syndicate of terror will not end with the death of Bin Laden.”

      Does anyone with a functioning brain believe any of this shit? Meet the new boss, same as the old boss, unfortunately WE WILL get fooled again. We love the drama.

  3. Disaffected says:

    It may just require that those who have rediscovered that inner feral core do what they can to prepare themselves for a post-collapse world, and try to enjoy the Spectacle unfolding around us.

    I think that’s what it will come down to. Existing systems are indeed corrupt to the core, and no real solutions are even on the drawing boards. With the collapse of communism/socialism (in spite of the fact that, in the USSR’s case, they were little more than an old-fashioned totalitarian dictatorship), capitalism reigns supreme in the “developed” world with no challengers in sight. And as we’re seeing now, capitalism is morphing into the same totalitarian monster as communism, albeit with a very clever happy face painted over the top, telling the masses that if they’ll just trust their corporate masters they’ll all be taken care of in the end. It’s a lie. I’ve skipped to the last page and read the ending. It ain’t gonna turn out like that.

    The problem is not the systems themselves, the problem is the people subjected to the systems. Given the opportunity to climb the ladder and lord it over their cohorts, we know that a significant percentage of people will always do so. And further, that once they have power, they will only want more, and more, and more. In the end, power becomes its own justification, and all the rest is just a kabuki dance put on for the benefit of the masses. Hence today’s “killing” of Osama bin Laden right on cue (election season anyone?). Theater, pure theater. Pass me the popcorn somebody…

    • kulturcritic says:

      DA – it is the system itself, built upon hierarchy and the demands of progress (national and personal: history and autobiography)

      • Disaffected says:

        Well, we’re probably getting into semantics. Yes the systems themselves are designed from the ground up to rob people of their humanity, but it was people themselves who designed, exploit, and support those systems. A capitalist system could “in theory” be run in a humanistic fashion – for a time at least – however human beings what they are, and the built in incentives being what they are (greed is good), the system is doomed to fail over the long run, as is every other hierarchical system we’ve tried to date. In that sense, yes, hierarchical systems themselves are indeed the problem, and will remain so.

        The counter argument that you’d get would be that devising hierarchical systems in order to leverage man’s one unique strength – his brain – is what gives man dominion over nature in the first place. Therein – dominion over nature – lies the rub. Dominion over nature will ALWAYS be taken to the extreme over the long run – we’ve proven it over and over again throughout history. The native American and other tribal peoples’ mindset is the correct one, but as they’ve found out the hard way, hierarchical systems are inherently superior over the short run for achieving selfish goals. Until that changes – and it may indeed take an historical reset due to pick your disaster – hierarchical systems will continue to win out every time. In that respect, we should actually be thankful for peak oil and global warming, as they represent just the two most obvious limits to our current madness.

        • kulturcritic says:

          “human beings what they are” vs. “native American and other tribal peoples’ mindset is the correct one”

          DA – don’t you see the contradiction inherent in your two statements here, made above in the same post? You cannot say on the one hand that there is an inherently corrupt(able) human nature, and then say that the tribal mindset is correct. You are suggesting that tribal peoples were able to maintain a healthy relation to others/world without resorting to the evil habits you previously attributed to “human beings (being) what they are.”

          I would say there is no human nature in the traditional moralistic Western way of conceptualizing it (be it good or evil). I would agree that there is a basic wildness to our humanity, a feral core which we attempt to deny and repress through the institutions we have created; and I believe that the denial of that core (its repression to use psychological terms) leads to pathological behavior. But that is only part of our problem.

          • Disaffected says:

            DA – don’t you see the contradiction inherent in your two statements here, made above in the same post? You cannot say on the one hand that there is an inherently corrupt(able) human nature, and then say that the tribal mindset is correct. You are suggesting that tribal peoples were able to maintain a healthy relation to others/world without resorting to the evil habits you previously attributed to “human beings (being) what they are.”

            No, not necessarily. Tribal peoples are not static either. What worked for them at any one point in time would not necessarily always work that way. Systems and people change.

            But the one thing you can’t escape Sandy, is that actual people dream up, design, implement, and exploit hierarchical systems. These things don’t just spring into existence of their own accord. Further, some peoples (Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Finland) seem to be able to make hybrid frameworks work pretty well, at least by modern standards, although they’ve certainly been corrupted by the madness that affects everywhere else as well. IMO hierarchical systems can’t be divorced from the mindsets that produce them, even though the systems, once implemented, seem to produce almost universal results in the end. In fact, I give a certain amount of grudging respect to the totalitarian regimes throughout history, in that they’re fundamentally honest in their approach. They have seen the “end game” so to speak, recognized it as their de facto ultimate goal, and charted a linear, no-holds-barred course toward its attainment. Contrast that with the US currently, where lying, deceipt, corruption, and denial are the rules of the day, but the ultimate goals are exactly the same. I’ll take my poison straight up, thank you very much.

            • kulturcritic says:

              DA – perhaps you would prefer Hitler and Stalin to Obama. I will settle for Obama, myself. Having said that, let me address your larger issue. No scholars can agree on the actual circumstances leading to the development of agriculture and domestication. Even Diamond cannot say for sure what was the trigger. Suffice it to say that even nomadic tribal peoples (preagricultural) turned to domestication at some point in time (although not all of them). Animal domestication or plant, the ensuing result was a changed consciousness of man’s relation to nature and other creatures, and eventually to his/her fellow man. The division of labor which there emerged led, not intentionally, to the emergence of hierarchy and the assorted mechanisms of control. So, you and I can agree to disagree; but if you want to do some additional reading (I wouldn’t blame you if you say no), then try, Morton Fried, The Evolution Of Political Society, and Paul Shepard, The Tender Carnivore and the Sacred Game.

              • Disaffected says:

                Sandy,
                I don’t necessarily disagree, I’m just not convinced yet.

                DA – perhaps you would prefer Hitler and Stalin to Obama. I will settle for Obama, myself.

                That’s the usual predictable response. The thing is, Obama and his ilk will gradually become Hitler or Stalin, albeit with better marketing. True dictators are always preferable from a self defense standpoint, simply because they can be identified early on and resisted (which is also why I hope the GOP makes a hasty return to power). The modern dem version is evil writ VERY LARGE, a la Orwell’s 1984.

                Although, all that said, if you’re a citizen of any of the many places currently on the receiving end of the US military’s mindless “shock and awe,” you might beg to differ with all of that, and simply assert that Obama and the US ARE INDEED the face of evil every bit as much as Hitler and Stalin. Cultural paradigms my friend, cultural paradigms.

    • Straycat says:

      It is the system itself, and the hierarchical basis for the system. However, I submit that civilization is possible without hierarchy, and without a “system”. The neolithic period in the Middle East is characterized in part by the religious changes from animism to god personalities, which controlled the previously worshipped natural forces. Reaching, appeasing and extracting benefits from these gods were seen as specialized professions which required certain personal characteristics. First, they must be male. Second the male head of the family was the local priest. The ability to pacify an angry god came only through the eldest son, and that bloodline must be true and clean. Thus, the serious penalties for adultery by women, and close to no penalties for men. Indeed, the corruption of foreign bloodlines weakened the foreign contacts with the gods, and empowered those who impregnated the wives of their enemies. This developed to the practice applied to local enemies, competitors, etc.
      As groups increased so as to strengthen defenses, apply group labor to food and tool manufacture, the requirement of a male leader able to appease the gods was carried over to the newly formed groups. Thus, male kings and the passage of power to the eldest son was kept and expanded as the agricultural societies developed. The idea of the eldest son as the passing on or supernatural power goes back to the beginnings of clans and tribes in the middle east.
      Professional priests enhanced the power of kings, and gave the rulers the legitimacy to extract taxes, send young boys and men off to wars of resource capture, and to use the religion to govern the intellectual and social life of the subjects. This hierarchy lasts to this day, as demonstrated by the marriage of a “Crown Prince” and a wedding conducted by a state church. Thus, we still life with the idea that authority to decide arises from some special relationship with the gods.
      Even in post feudal societies such as the United States, our leaders are always male, always obviously religious, and considered to have special talents. The Calvinist revolution merely altered the method of identifying the elect, and not really very radically at that. The philosophies of Plato, the Church writers such as Augustine gave credence to this idea of power and authority, which carried past the Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire to infect the societies of Russia, Poland and the rest of eastern Europe, and the feudal family land aggregations of western Europe. Even today, public piety is a condition precedent to election to public office.
      An alternative view of organization and civilization was first, to my knowledge, explored by Aristotle. His notion of a worthy person is based upon the actual conduct of the person in relation to those affected by the acts, and not an a large measure by the intent. Authority arose from proper thinking and from fidelity to the real world, and not any idealized formal world such as the one posited by Plato. Leaders gained their authority by faithfulness to the real world, and to actual outcomes. Election came after the demonstration of competence and honesty, and not piety and sophistry.
      All this said, it may be that the idea of war as a national good, and the increasing control of resources as necessary to survival may no longer be either necessary or productive. The task, then is to separate the religious notions from the polity. Organized religion and the organized nation state depend upon each other, and one would disappear without the other. Church hierarchy, national hierarchy and corporate hierarchy are one and the same. Each set of organization exist by promising security, and each demands an obscenely high price for such, without delivering. So, I see the dissatisfaction with these organizations as positive, and wish such to increase. Only now is there an opportunity to examine different ways of gathering human power to peaceful ends, examining the problems of alleigence by separating the idea of a liege lord from the notion of loyalty. Problems concerning the lack of fundamental limits to the application of criminal law to non criminal matters, is equally important to any real change in the way in which government operates. Thus, I see the problem of hierarchy as a failure of examination and the problem of language as words taken to denote new things and actions retain their old connotations. Examples are alleigance, authority, liberty, freedom, sovereign, It is critical that these questions and their consequences be addressed now, because the citizens of the western world are quickly reverting to subjects whose votes are meaningless and real decisions are made by a new set of kings and princes, who are the sons and now daughters of the aristocrats of corporate power that developed after the Civil War, and which has shed its skin many times to avoid antitrust laws and regulation.

      • Disaffected says:

        Excellent comment.

      • kulturcritic says:

        Straycat – this is all over the place. How do you follow your own thoughts? In any event, I agree with your premise that religious and political hierarchies are attached fundamentally, and provide legitimacy to one another. Did you read my post from last month? Please do!! sandy

        https://kulturcritic.wordpress.com/2011/03/22/science-religion-and-the-curriculum-of-the-west/

        • Straycat says:

          Yes, I read your posts, and am doing some digging on the early neolithic. I’m sorry you think that I am all over the place. while I agree with you that the development of hierarchy as an organizing principle was and is a primary cause of class stratification, empire and war, I am unsure that an erasure of history and a return to tribal life is either necessary or doable. My rambling, as you call it, is an attempt to separate the god given idea of authority from personal connection with a deity, and from a class of aristocrats as a substitute for god’s chosen rulers to an organizational principle that arises from fidelity to reason and the real world, and authority emerging from competence and ethical integrity. Non of these real world values are a part of god connected or family/money connected sources of power.
          My rambling follows, though quite truncated, the path of original religious sources of social and political power through some of its major evolutions to the present, As you say, this is operating today. How to change this without throwing out the medical, scientific and literary by-products with the cold, dirty bathwater of empire? That is the question that I try to begin to seek answers to.

          • kulturcritic says:

            SC – I understand your position. I reread your post and in light of your last comments, see where you were headed. First, I would only caution against calling “animism” a religion. The entire world was animate for the majority of proto-human and human prehistory. (I would recommend a book you would really enjoy: Saving The Appearances, by Owen Barfield.) But, I personally would not call it religion, there are too many presuppositions that go along with such a designation.

            I also do not think that civilization, as we know it is possible without hierarchy… because, that is the way I am defining civilization, as hierarchically ordered relations, based upon a division of labor, and specialization, at the hands of a controlling interest (State).

            What do you mean by “god given idea of authority?” Sounds like you have some assumptions or an agenda that you have not shared yet. Again, perhaps I am misreading you.

            Also, I agree that a return is neither feasible or desireable. But a path ‘forward’ is also fraught with much danger and uncertainty; we have seen to that.

            Anyway, good discussion. Really!!

            • kulturcritic says:

              I don’t see that we really disagree. For me religion and politics are always intertwined in history. Pre-history is another story. I would not label what they do as politics or religion. Their view of the world is essentially different than ours. And I think we would have a better discussion if you would read the book I recommended above, Saving the Appearances.

            • StrayCat says:

              The god given idea of authority is that which was made up and sold as the basis for the power of the top end of early hierarchies. This became substituted for the earned leadership of the natural leaders whose status was awarded by actual competence. Even in patriarchal societies with leadership based on family succession, there was, before Egypt and Sumeria social methods of bypassing an inept or unwilling son for one more able.
              This often happened without any loss of “face” to the supplanted son. After the institution of god given authority, the death of the ruler, the price and often the entire family or clan was seen as necessary. The blood line had to be extinguished, so no future claim to legitimate power could arise.
              Ant path forward is fraught with danger and uncertainty, especially because of the mind set of most or all of the population. Most agree that hierarchy is a necessary, and some even see it as a good, providing stability. I think that the very term “society” has become corrupted and encrusted to the point of uselessness. So, even trying ti discuss a way forward in the temporal world is problematic.

  4. Patric Roberts says:

    Sandy,
    Great concise grounding to open a future appreciative conversation for intersecting the creative collapsing opportunities emerging in the human condition and situation. We have all the time in the world and not a moment to waste. Understanding the key reflections of systemic notions of power in the epistemological and ontological awakening of Homo sapiens is my primary concern as a participant in your emergent conversation. You are calling forth from the hinges of the breakdowns we are experiencing a new wise-sing up Homo sapiens observer stance for learning capable of enactive embodiment of effective actions in designing a future world together.

    I submit the first step is distinguishing this emergent wisdom of this old/new animal behavioral pattern from current leadership in patriarchal cultures. “Recovering this buried genetic memory trace must begin with a recapitulation to the subjectivity of our bodies and a reawakening of our sentient selves.” I claim this is a natural genetic wise ethical know how that operates in legitimacy in coexistence within the web of life and not an individual thirst for survive and security. Secondly to gather our trust in the dignity of personhood as the fundamental power originating human experience and also capable of transforming current discourses, institutions and cultural patterns based in blind power.

    It all begins in “you” and “me” (person to person) relating in appreciative conversations facing the obvious denial in civilization’s pattern and enacting a new commitment to co-create new agreed upon values, standards and justice in our community. I call these people Homo sapiens amans wise-sing up social loving animals and not Homo rapiens (arrogant aggressive patriarchy) that have emerged in modern western civilized culture in the last 10,000 years. I appreciate your primary ground of genetic memory trace of Homo sapiens appearance at least 200,000 years ago and there was a primordial matrix connecting the autopoietic personhood within a living universe not a dead one.

    The Lakota Paradigm (10 minute explanation by Jhon Goes In Center) supports your viewpoint from a living first nation’s people viewpoint. Maka Si Tomni is Lakota and means “Surrounding the Universe” and it’s evident in the story brought forth in this video that we have much more in common as a consensual natural wise intelligence than the distorted patriarchal blindness operating in modernity’s technological faster, better, cheaper crashing and going nowhere.
    The Lakota Paradigm http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nysi8S8R1Uo

    “The mind’s eye changes the way we judge things.” Frank Fools Crow
    Thanks Patric

  5. wagelaborer says:

    Bolivia just passed a Constitution which gives rights to Earth and other creatures.

    They are also calling for leaving the oil in the jungle under the ground, instead of digging it up to sell and burn.

    This is so far beyond the consciousness of most Americans that it isn’t even discussed.

    We will see what the US response will be to the sheer ridiculousness of respecting the ecosystem that we live in. I’m guessing a coup.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Wow!! wagelaborer!! It will be interesting to see if it gets press in the US; and what the pols and talking heads will make of it, if anything.

    • Patric Roberts says:

      Obrigado Brazil. Not only that they are disclosing publically contact with alien planetary intelligences. I feel like moving to Brazil. Thanks!

  6. Jack Waddington says:

    It’s really very simple, however, simplicity is not what thinking man can evaluate. ABOLOISH money and that, that goes with it, Law, then government that creates law..

    Yes, I am advocating anarchy (intellectual anarchy, not thoughtless violent anarchy). We’ve assumed anarchy is terrifying, but that’s an assumption. The two previous experiments with anarchy, that I know of ‘The decenter s of Henley’ and ‘The Catalans’ at the onset of the Spanish civil war, were not terrifying, but rather pleasantly refreshing. Both these experiments were thwarted with hierarchical dictatorships. To my way of thinking, it will happen in and of itself, because there will be no other way to go, except violence, which I predict will overthrow itself.

    Jack Waddington

    • kulturcritic says:

      Jack – No problem with anarchy. I am with you on those thoughts.

      “What is haunting the globe today is the specter of primitive anarchy, a feral tendency buried deep within the marrow and musculature of the human species. It is a powerful instinct, an irrepressible will to survive the artfully constructed but cold hierarchical systems of domination that have been enslaving the planet for six millennia, and which are now failing.” kulturCritic, A Specter Is Haunting America (http://wp.me/P1lJ1g-D) – READ IT

  7. capt rick says:

    Good article, however it lacks agency
    When we look at systems, we look at the abstract when we look at causes by persons to this coming collapse we have to look at ourselves. I think the author is being way too nice to everybody down through hiostory. All of the maraudeers tiil’ tjis day including the man in the WHITE HOUSE, all have been men, Thus we need to look at what has been callled patrichry , male dominace over woman children and the planet. What is it that separates it from so called hierarchy.?How many CEOs are woman?
    I suggest we look at feminism 101 . Rnene Eisler traces the history of Patriarchy as far back as you describe. Egalitarian societies existed before this. No –dominant societies existed at least till 8000 years ago when men and woman equally shared responsibilities of the community. Then brute strength and muscle took over .
    In 1962 it was both men in the white House and in the Kremlin that almost incinerated the world over Cuba.We as a world let them off easy. They should all have been castrated and relieved of duty!!!!!!!!!!Same for heads of the big corporations today.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Capt Rick
      Once the transformation to agriculture took hold, and required slave labor to do the hard work, it was natural that the physically dominating sex would take control. Certainly patriarchy is a core issue; but, that issue to tied to a larger problematic. The Rubicon has been crossed, and we cannot return. There has been a transformation of consciousness with the emergence of civilization that has distorted the way men and women see the world of which they are a part. Yes, even women have fallen victim to the illusions of power, progress and domination (or being dominated) as have men!

      • Patric Roberts says:

        Sandy,
        Patriarchy is a cultural development based in the power of exclusion and appropriation. Today we have globalized system based in patriarchal power. I like the distinction you offer that patriarchy is not a gender phenomena rather a cultural learned behavior effecting gender relationships generally. I also submit that is why we are experiencing radical breakdowns in the nuclear family and psychological epidemic illness. The behavior based in power is the antithesis of the natural genetic wisdom of human nature. We are fundamentally social loving animals and the domain of friendship is an appreciative space that still cares, feeds and nurtures that deep genetic natural wisdom. It also offers a thread of optimism to the challenge at hand.

      • StrayCat says:

        Sandy, are you familiar with the book “The Unicameral Mind” a work positing that civilization actually had a physical effect on the brain which led to a radical change in how homo sapiens understood himself and the universe?

        • kulturcritic says:

          SC – no I am not familiar with this book, but I will check it out. Of course I have read Julian Jaynes’, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind.

  8. John Bollig says:

    Sandy, DA Stray and others,

    The issue is that we have failed todeal with the issue of the day. That issue is , how do we coexist in a world that is running on empty? May I suggest some thing radical : Not only abolish money but eliminate the need fior money. Now, I am not talking about socialism. It it communalism. Now, before you jump back into a time machine and go back to 1969, this is a conservative enviromentalist approach to the issue.

    The inspiration comes from Jared Diamond’s book, Guns, Germs and Steel. Bands and some tribes are small enough not to need money, they deal with surplus and deficit by mutual bartering. In a massively reduced world populatiion, post TEOTWAWKI, this might be the way to go since population density will be much lower and survivors will be forced to band together to deal with issues like food shelter and water supplies. We will truely go back to our roots as the apes and chimps lived in years ago.

    • Disaffected says:

      John,

      John Robb talks a lot about alternative local and/or open source “currencies” (means to facilitate economic exchange) over at Global Guerillas.

      I’ll admit that even though I’m a finance major, I don’t really grasp the fundamentals of currency systems all that well, although it’s obvious that our current one is headed for the ditch in a hurry and we’re thus gonna need a new one before very long.

      Once again, I think the knuckleheads in charge have been planning this all along and will come out on top again in the next crash, which is imminent now. I doubt it will be the ultimate crash, but I can’t imagine that we’re more than 10 years out now, probably closer to 5.

      Just another reason to think that Obama is being set up for re-election in order to thoroughly and finally discredit the dem brand, so that the Repubes can return to their throne and get down to the real business of dismantling everything for once and for all. I must admit, they’re definitely politically savvy.

      • Disaffected says:

        To add, Robb’ s writing and research fully supports your idea of communalism (which he more often refers to as tribalism, or resilient communities), and asserts that that is indeed what’s happening on the world stage as we speak. (Most pointedly in so-called “terrorist” or other anti-government groups. Realize that the term “terrorist” is intentionally pejorative, and is used simply to paint “out-groups” in an unfavorable light to those still gullible enough to be drinking from the government propaganda trough.)

        His points mostly seem self-evident to me, although the transition will of course continue to be rocky as we go through fits of free fall and spells of equilibrium. It’s gonna be a very interesting century ahead for those unlucky enough to live through most of it, at least here in the “first world.” The third world? They’re gonna be laughing their asses off at the poetic justice of it all.

    • Patric Roberts says:

      John,
      Money is nothing but a symbolic symbol for transacting human commitments between ourselves. Current financiers have run their own monopoly game into the ditch. There are many domains of human activity that are not driven by economic considerations at all like let’s go for a walk, talk, eat, make love, play a game or fish etc. I submit that in the near future all debt’s will disappear and a new trusted configurative design strategy for coordinating global human values and concerns will emerge. IMF grants to Bolivia require $13 paid of interest for every $1 to fund development.

    • kulturcritic says:

      John – I am certain that is the direction we will be headed!

  9. Straycat says:

    While one might be successful in doing away with a currency system, with all of its political and power presuppositions, however, a medium of exchange for labor and the fruits of labor is a necessity for any group with divisions of labor. Without money, which may or may not be a system, goods can only be exchanged for other goods or labor by barter. Thus, any exchange would be at the village level, and the exchanges limited severely by time and space. I further believe that eliminating law would leave the very kinds of predators that run corporations today free to steal, kill and claim such as right. The problem with law today is that is made by paid whores, in favor of corporate pirates, and applies only to the rest of us. This misapplication of law is a direct consequence of the hierarchical nature of our social institutions, and not the idea of law itself. If the law applied equally to all persons, there would be little legitimate complaint. Finally, the very impulses that created the advantage to the few predators over the rest of us is the capture of government by the self proclaimed elite. Without some form of government, those sociopaths would be free to run amok. We must find a way to abolish power apart from true authority.

    • Disaffected says:

      I’ve read that in many tribal systems the punishment for violating tribal law is simple banishment. Go away, you’re dead to us!

      While I guess our modern prison system is an attempt at imposing that same punishment, the stigma’s not quite the same. Contempt for the law in the US has now risen to such heights that most view incarceration as more of a personal failure (to get away with the crime) than as a sign of moral turpitude.

      And of course prison’s actually more about vengeance as well, often turning petty criminals into the hardened life-long variety. I’ve long thought that they should at least have the decency to give someone sentenced to life the option of immediate execution. We’re obviously not interested in rehabilitating someone through life imprisonment, so why not save everyone some time, money, and mental anguish by simply cutting to the chase?

    • kulturcritic says:

      Straycat

      Division of labor began to emerge with agriculture and domestication – with sedentary life in permanent villages and later, in cities. It is at the root of inequality and disequilibrium in post-tribal communities. It is the origin of a slave-wage labor system required for basic sustenance.

      The establishment of law is the result of the application of hierarchical power in order to control masses of peoples larger than a tribe or band, peoples who are no longer related by affine or consanguine relations.

      Population is part of the problem. We have not only overshot the carrying capacity of the earth; but we have created socio-political entities (States) that have no alternative to control but to establish laws (blind justice – because nobody really knows anyone here) to maintain order among the prospective chaos of urban life.

      • Straycat says:

        Division of labor by fiat, by the order of the ruler is slavery. Division of labor by choice, is freeing. While I love to grow vegetables, I do not like to fish. I would rather trade (or sell) my vegetables for fish. Not only are my vegetables better because of my love and attention to the earth, my fishing ability is poor, and my attention wanders. Some love to fish and will succeed without edict. The division of labor by order of the ruler was a consequence of the religious power of the ruler, and the control of the land. Not the other way around. Further, i would submit that division of labor in clan/tribal societies arose because of pregnancy, stamina, choice, and relative strength. Shamans did not hunt, and absent famine, men did not gather. Thus division of labor as shown in ethnographic studies existed long before the neolithic. While the origin of the divisions was different, it remains a division of labor

  10. John Bollig says:

    DA and Stray,

    The law is an ass. That was a quote from one of my law professors years ago. I was wet behind the ears so to speak. Prisons are not just a mark of personal failure but a training school for career crime. Prisons hold the truly dangerous sciopaths from killing plundering and raping you. Corporate Criminals get away with their crimes because of class and race. Legal prostitues and their ilk, are garden variety criminals. The real criminals are of course Multinationals. These creatures crush local economic power. They are the single most dangerous force you will ever face. They can kill you, destroy your family, your town and even your nation and you can’t do anything about it. THe love of money is the root of all evil.

    • kulturcritic says:

      John – why do we love money?

      • Straycat says:

        Money is the basis for security from want, and both men and women see this as a sign of the following: Security, freedom, power, the favor of the gods (Even the head of Goldman Sachs claimed to be doing god’s work during the economic crisis) self worth and competence. Money of course can come from theft, fraud, inheritance lottery winnings or any number of other sources and efforts that have nothing to do with personal worth, integrity or competence. So, since the era of Calvin, the anointed, the select of god have been taken to be the rich and successful. The basis for success need not be productive or even legal. Wealth is enough to demonstrate god’s favor. The love of money for its own sake is evil because there is no prior question of how it is acquired. Many a secret robber, thief or killer has reached a station of high social and political power based on the mere having a lot of money. The problem is twofold. First, that there is such a thing as a high station at all, and that such a thing as money, which is in itself ethically neutral, is sufficient to such. Again, we as human beings in a matrix society of multi-dimensional hierarchies take appearance as reality, whether from laziness or belief, thus leaving the predators to take the reins of government and make the law to reflect their wishes instead of the requirements of the real world.

    • Straycat says:

      I agree with you wholly. Even the United States began its legal history with a foundation of eighteenth century aristocracy and the notion of patronage. From Alexander Hamilton down to the present Federalist Society conservatives, the whole idea was of national power to which the citizens are supposed to be subservient. Mussolini without the Catholic Church. I prosecuted for a number of years, and always had to fight with the police and judges to apply the law equally to everyone. The class system in the United States is well developed, and more rigidly applied in the area of criminal law than maybe anywhere else. So, yes, “the law is a ass”, to quote Charles Dickens, but the idea of an equally applied law is not. Today many guilty are never prosecuted, and when actually brought to a jury are given small sentences, while black men are imprisoned for years for acts which bring members of the white suburban class probation. Many police are the most class conscious group of people in the country. Maybe it is that we have to start over, but it cannot profitably be from the beginning

  11. “it is this madness (civilization) that drives us to apparent moral turpitude”

    No, it is much simpler: it is human nature.
    Yes we could go back in the world divided in tribes, but the outcome would be exactly the same: a tribe wanting to prevail the other.
    Somebody wanting all the land.
    They didn’t have nuclear weapons, but they used sticks and arrows, not only to kill animals, also to kill each other.
    I guess the reason is a very simple one: the widespread, unavoidable truth that we will die, and there is nothing after death.
    Religion can help, as long as people believe that there is hell if you do not behave.
    But the moment you realize that you have an average of 80 years to enjoy this world, then you try to enjoy the most, even if it means you will do it on others expenses.
    Since dawn of humanity there were many trying to modify human nature, with wisdom, laws, religions.
    But sooner or later it comes out, this exasperated survival instinct, this “right” to happiness, this hope to be better having more, no matter what or how.

    • kulturcritic says:

      “the reason is a very simple one: the widespread, unavoidable truth that we will die.”

      And this is your unquestioned presupposition, Patrizia: that all of humanity, for the past two million years has lived with the fear of death. This assumption is groundless. It cannot be sustained. Fear of personal demise (death) is surely linked to a consciousness of (a belief in) irreversible, unilinear time… where we can imagine our own death (non-existence) in some future point. Much of the research in ethnology, ethnography, anthropology, and history of religions has documented that such a view of time was either non-existent or marginally present in pre-literate, pre-civilized cultures. I would further argue, that the idea of irreversible time fully emerged during the development of sedentary life, and that the associated fear of death developed accordingly. In all myths of pre-civilized cultures we find a predominantly cyclical appreciation of life: the myths of the eternal return (Mircea Eliade, etc). It is a problemmatic subject that cannot be easily concluded. But let me just quote from the Foreword by Marvin Bram, in my last book, The Recovery Of Ecstasy:

      We in the West live inside our calendars, wearing our watches. What are the arguments for this recent and remarkable self-relegation to timekeeping being absolutely necessary? merely a convenience? a full- fledged curse?

      We’re happy to make a to-us obvious distinction among the past, the present, and the future. We look at the present date on a calendar, and it’s a simple matter to find the month and day something happened in the past. It may have been a pleasant thing that happened, but it may have been an embarrassment we can’t get out of our mind, or something terrible, or something important that went undone. So it’s a mixed enterprise, looking back at the past.

      The future is more interesting. Its days and months are marked on the calendar too. It goes without saying that none of those days has happened yet, but we’re especially absorbed with them because our planning involves the future. On a particular future day, perhaps at a particular time on that day, we want something to happen. We’re probably making arrangements in the present for that future event; that’s one of our major activities. So it appears that planning for the future isn’t the mixed enterprise that looking back at the past probably is. We maximize our interests when we plan intelligently.

      That’s not quite true. The selfsame future in which we plan our next and better job, or arrange for a wedding or for college, is the only site on the temporal scheme past/present/future in which we will cease to live. We die in the future. Here is a hypothesis: the more absorbed with planning a person is, the more likely that fear of death will become a continuous presence for that person.

      It appears that thinking about the past represents a low- intensity, mixed use of the mind, sometimes rather positive emotionally, sometimes rather negative. Thinking about the future, on the other hand, is high intensity itself. Yes, thank God, I’ve arranged for Buster to go to Harvard. Oh no, I’m going to die.

      Something more remains to be said about the middle term of the scheme. First, the present is the only place we are living, acting, thinking, feeling. We’re done with the past, and the future hasn’t happened. And the nature of that living? It may well be that our present is preoccupied, one way or another, with the past and the future! The only place we’re actually living has been made thin by two uses of the mind that are in fact recent mental habits taught us in civilizations like our own. The present, for more of us than we want to acknowledge, can thin out to near-emptiness in this way. “My life is empty,” means more than it seems to mean.

      If living in the past and future instead of the present is a recent phenomenon, and not, “the way things are and have always been,” then was there once another way to live? Indeed there was. In particular, was the curse of personal death-terror once non-existent? Even more to the point, can the curse of your and my death-terrors be lifted? We can handle the low-intensity features of thinking about the past, although it might be good if we could get something in the way of positive high intensity from the past.

      Sandy Krolick has worked out a way to do both of those things, rid ourselves of the suffering of death-terror and re-conceive the past so that the new conception fills rather than empties each present moment. From one direction, take away arguably the deepest source of human suffering; from the other direction bring back arguably the deepest source of human happiness.

      • Disaffected says:

        Here is a hypothesis: the more absorbed with planning a person is, the more likely that fear of death will become a continuous presence for that person.

        Really good points, all. I’m often secretly quite amused by death announcements. A recent one celebrated the fact that the deceased, evidently handicapped or terminally ill for some time before his/her death, was now “in a better place” and was now “looking down after his progeny in a way that he/she couldn’t in life.” Apart from the obligatory up/down reference, which I always find amusing (and most real Christians in my experience do indeed believe in the literal truth of such statements), the equally ubiquitous statements about a “better place” always make me wonder to myself: why in the world don’t they end it sooner if they’re so anxious to get to the “better place.”

        I’m a fan of Nietzsche (surprise!), so I’m always amused at small minds’ attempts at consolation, rather than just confronting the issue headlong. The idea of what comes next, if anything, is certainly a hot topic for debate, although, in my view, completely “unknowable.” But the idea that’s its simply an either/or computation based upon some silly beliefs held for spurious reasons during one’s lifetime and entirely influenced by one’s local culture, is just so ridiculous that I can’t help but think less of those who hold it.

        Birth and death bookend the life in between, and there’s simply no known exceptions to that rule. Can the Christian resurrection myth, at least as it’s commonly understood, be viewed as anything less than an attempt to defy that equation? And of course, Christianity, since the reformation at least, is a hierarchical organization doing what such organizations do – exercising power and control over its subjects. I say this without a trace of irony: it’s no coincidence whatsoever that the primary Christian metaphor is one of the lamb and sacrificial rites. In fact, its pretty much a preview and a guarantee of what’s to come for its followers. Just another variation on martyrdom, which as we’re all currently aware, seems to be a popular thread in at least one other major middle eastern based religious cult.

        • kulturcritic says:

          In any case, I suppose when death comes, it is the end of the world as we know it!! LOL!!

          • Disaffected says:

            That’s a very simple statement that is absolutely true. People become fixated on the rather grandiose idea of “the end of the world,” forgetting that the end of their little piece of it dies when they do. It’s one of those consciousness raisers that make you stop and think.

            I think grandiose visions of the end of the world (Christianity anyone?) are really a statement about, once again, it’s believers failure to come to grips with their own rather small and miserable mortality, and trying to project it onto a larger, mythic stage as a grand struggle between goodness and light. A classic mythical psycho drama if you will. Joseph Campbell where are you!

    • Disaffected says:

      But the moment you realize that you have an average of 80 years to enjoy this world, then you try to enjoy the most, even if it means you will do it on others expenses.

      80 years is clearly inflated as well, due to the obvious effects big pharma and big med. I would think the natural total is much closer to 60, or 3 generations.

  12. pixelwhiplash says:

    I can’t help but think that the root of much of our malaise is the juxtaposition of what Sandy labeled the cult of individualism, versus dire need for a collective, collaborative approach to our common problems and goals. Is the selfishness that is apparently inherent in the human character going to be our undoing?

    • kulturcritic says:

      “selfishness that is apparently inherent in the human character”

      Pixelwhiplash –

      I did not say that individualism or selfishness were inherent in human character; I said they were consequences (central elements) of civilized experience.

      • pixelwhiplash says:

        Sandy,

        I didn’t mean to imply that you did. I should have been a little more crystalline there.

        • kulturcritic says:

          No worries Pixelwplsh – but I would suggest that selfishness we see is a function of the individualism that is a symptom of modern rationalist thinking, and that it is not inherent in the human condition. I dare say, there is no human nature, aside from what culture constructs. But there is a feral (wild or natural) state of homo sapiens that culture imprints to one degree or another.

          • Straycat says:

            While I agree that selfishness to the extreme we see it today is not any necessary part of human nature, and that individualism is in part a source of the “self above all” syndrome. I further agree that a collective, or my preference, “Commonwealth: approach to recognizing and solving problems is far preferable. But I still am not convinced that the beginnings of aggressive wars began at the dawn of the city state, as migrations and wars arising from drought, famine, and flood occurred for generations before the beginnings of agriculture. Unfortunately, I see the problem as far more complex, and much more difficult to correct because of your so elegant exposition on language and the constraints of language on reasoned discussion.

  13. John Bollig says:

    Why do we love money ?

    1. sign of wealth, power and security.
    2. way of keeping score
    3. way of dividing and destroying other people thru bribery etc.

    • kulturcritic says:

      John

      Maybe it becomes a game for those who have enough; but for most of the rest of humanity I would say it is because you require it to house, clothe and feed yourself. And we are scared shitless of not having enough. IMHO

      • Straycat says:

        For many of us, basics are sufficient. It is for those who buy the status power of money that no amount is enough. We are somewhat infected with this emotional malady, and we may well remain so as long as money equals security. If everybody has enough, then possibly the mesmerizing quality of money will diminish. Even in a descending world we have today, there is enough for everybody for a reasonably secure, productive and satisfying life.

  14. Disaffected says:

    Hoping to grasp the cause of this crisis, Chris Hedges asks in The Corporate State Wins Again, “When did the press, labor, universities and the Democratic Party… wither and atrophy?” As if their collective failures could have been the precipitating cause of our current global calamity.

    One more thing, Hedges completely missed the point here (and I’m surprised at such a basic error) completely. The press, labor, universities, and the Democratic were party were all bought off in entirety (annexed, if you will), with the few remaining iconoclastic holdouts crushed thereafter. Corporate crony capitalism is, at this point, an irresistible leviathan, taking what it wants, wherever it wants, at its leisure. Coercion is no longer in the playbook, not even for fun.

    • Straycat says:

      Completely correct. It is so hard to see the self-satisfied smiles on the faces of the University presidents and professors and the labor leaders when they have just finished selling out for a seat at the table. They never get that the meal has already been served and eaten, the dessert consumed and the after dinner brandy sniffed and swallowed. It takes a while for them to recognize that the crumbs are all they get, and the price of the crumbs is doing the dishes and taking out the garbage. By then, of course, it’s too late. An admission of failure would lose them their positions and their ever diminishing hope that the corporate masters will be kind.

  15. Disaffected says:

    Notes on the uses of mythology and the “death” of bin Laden:

    First of all, the latest, always changing “facts” on the ground, as they relate to the bin Laden execution. It’s now been revealed that bin Laden was unarmed and that rather than shielding himself with his wife, she actually attacked the Navy Seal who was to be bin Laden’s executioner, and was wounded, but not killed in the process. Questions that come to mind are: if she was in attack mode and was not killed, but he was apparently just bewildered but was killed, what was the logic involved there? Especially since this was the so-called mastermind behind the “greatest atrocity” in the history of the world and who would supposedly be just a treasure trove of intelligence (unlike the many held in limbo at GITMO, apparently just because we could) and propaganda value, wouldn’t the operating instruction be alive if possible, dead only if necessary?

    Here’s a good link pertaining the comments made afterward by government officials:

    How bin Laden died: Psy Ops in action?

    After pondering all this for the past 2 days, and in light of the overwhelming sentiment presented in the MSM (one woman when asked if she wanted to see pictures or more proof of his death replied: “No, not at all. I’ll totally take their word for it, I’m just so glad that he’s gone.”), it gradually dawned on me. This isn’t about “facts” at all. The whole story could have been fabricated completely, and wouldn’t matter one whit. This is about myth making pure and simple, and just like the crucifiction and resurrection myths of Christianity I referred to above, the actual “facts” of the matter are so irrelevant to the myth itself, that if there ever were any, they would quickly be buried (in this case, all the better, at sea), so as not top get in the way. For it is the myth that endures and motivates, inspires, and/or intimidates people for generations to come, not the mere facts at all. Religions, organized (hierarchical) or not (faith or gnostic based), have capitalized on that fact for millenia.

    Interesting results we’re already seeing. Obama, obviously, is now being transformed himself into a mythic figure. He’s already making appearances at ground zero (the holy shrine), albeit without the Shrub, who decided to defer (mixed metaphor, the initiator of the holy quest, who proved to be incapable of completing the task, appearing side by side with the Knight Templar who completed the quest), and has already announced that he will be prominent during the upcoming 10th Anniversary of 9-11 (the new holy day), as well as the christening of the rebuilt 9-11 site in – when else – September 2012 (the beginning of the primary election season).

    The mythical overtones of this event are just staggering. Bravo, Obama, BRAVO!

    • Disaffected says:

      Sorry, I missed the closing tag on that link. Sandy, a little help here?

      • kulturcritic says:

        Ok, ok… so my last post was probably not the help you were expecting. But, that’s because I did not see the tag line request until after I posted.

        Certainly, I think you hit a vein of gold, DA. This is modern myth- making for certain. But, the key is, you do such a wonderful job of laying out the process and the linkages. It is really very brilliant (IMHO).

        But, what we cannot lose site of here is MOTIVE!! pre-literate myths were not ‘invented’ by the tribal elders in order to con people into saluting the flag (if you will allow the metaphor). Rather, the myths were a statement of the inherent power of (typically natural) phenomena that gave life and foundation to the tribe. The myths were usually an event of return to origins (illo tempore, ab origine); not as an explanation of current events (in our historical sense); but as a re-founding (re-establishment) of the present moment and its powerfulness. The world was alive for preliterate peoples, and myth gave voice to that life. Anyway that is my quick and dirty reply. The myth of Obama-Osama and the Sacred Shrub, that is another thing entirely. It is more like fabricated curtains, that look pretty, but keep out the light of day. They are woven to deceive and obfuscate (and give meaning *he says reluctantly*); but their meaning is meant to hide the truth of our involvements, our crossed loyalties, our selfish race to take all the goodies for our selves, and our disregard for anything and anyone who gets in our way. Hope this helps, my friend.

        • Disaffected says:

          The myth of Obama-Osama and the Sacred Shrub, that is another thing entirely. It is more like fabricated curtains, that look pretty, but keep out the light of day. They are woven to deceive and obfuscate (and give meaning *he says reluctantly*); but their meaning is meant to hide the truth of our involvements, our crossed loyalties, our selfish race to take all the goodies for our selves, and our disregard for anything and anyone who gets in our way

          In a world as disconnected as ours in 21st century first world America, could it possibly surprise anyone that we would be a sucker for such cheap dime store novel tales? Who can doubt that our fascination with the NFL and its now overt links to the Armed Forces (Watch for the 9-11 extravaganzas this year. They all but guarantee that the current labor strike will be settled by then.) are anything but a tacit link between the American way of life and overt aggression. Hell, they’ve totally dispensed with all forms of subtlety, realizing that Americans don’t appreciate nuance anyway.

          And as I said in my comments on Christianity above, the idea of religion as a team game (us vs. them) is pretty well established in western culture as well, and as usual, in the case of the US, its simply straight up in your face. Once again, the US doesn’t do nuance. At all.

          Simple-minded myth for a simple-minded people? Yep. As the marketers might say, we ain’t here to sell the people what WE think they want, we’re here to sell them what THEY want – and at a considerable markup to boot. If it’s dogs and ponies they want, by god it’s dogs and ponies they shall have.

          • kulturcritic says:

            Do the people even know what they want? Or are they led around by precisely the dime store marketing that you speak of? But, of course, they want NFL because they have been fed it like a drug, the drug of us against them, competition, another instantiation of war and video games.

            • StrayCat says:

              No, people do not know what they want. They have no access to the actual choices available to them in their own being, never mind what is available to them outside themselves. Date security, money, a computer/smartphone/ipad, a wife/husband to share the desperation. How many of us in the Western actually take (or have) the time, inclination or knowledge to begin an assessment? Wanting for most is painful, like an itch never to be reached, and never to stop. Indeed, the very condition of WANTING to want something valuable and lasting, and not knowing/sensing what or how seems to me to be a root cause of the Facebook phenomenon.

    • kulturcritic says:

      And the marketing opportunities, not to mention the incredible DISTRACTION value, is enormous!!! Great observations, DA!!!

      • Disaffected says:

        Sandy,

        Please fix that link tag. It’s driving me crazy!

          • Disaffected says:

            Thanks. Also scratch “minor” from “minor mythic figure” above. Obama has now ascended to full-blown mythic legend status. He lives in the firmament of the gods now. Hmm… could this play eventually end as a tragedy? Oh what stories we tell in order to make sense of the nonsensical.

    • Disaffected says:

      Some more thoughts (I had to rush off to a meeting, hence the missed link):

      If this whole episode was indeed a hoax (and I still lean that way, as the “facts” as presented are just a little too queer, the timing a little too convenient (the release of the long-form birth certificate last week after years of obfuscation), and the resulting media hysteria too great), I think this might signal the official anointing of Obama by the corporate/financial/MIC puppet masters as one of theirs, in recognition for a job well done the past two years. If that’s the case, expect his re-election effort to be a fait accompli. If that’s so, it also likely represents the complete and tacit co-opting of the Democratic Party into the fold of the Great American Conservative Party, with its two wings: the Democratic Conservative Party and the Republican Conservative Party. What’s the difference? Think Ford and Chevy. Which logo do you like the best. We’ll see how that plays out.

      Also, who will fill the mythic “dragon” shoes of bin Laden, now that he’s gone? Could it be that time is right to move on Qaddafi in Libya, and well aware of Shrub’s epic failure in choosing to pursue the “twin towers” of evil in bin Laden and Hussein simultaneously (a true epic journey can only countenance one hero and one arch villain at a time, especially when your audience is the American people), decided that the time was right for one to fall, so that another might rise? Watch for a ramping up of activity in Libya or elsewhere in the coming months as a sign that this is so.

      One thing’s for sure, the facts of this whole affair will remain (and in fact, will be sealed) in a burial shroud of mystery, all the better to perpetuate the real purpose: the spinning of an EPIC MYTHIC TALE.

      • kulturcritic says:

        Great analysis, DA

      • kulturcritic says:

        I don’t know about anyone in particular filling his shoes. More important perhaps is that he is now a martyr for the greater cause of Moslem identity and its epic war against the infidels!

      • Disaffected says:

        And the myth making continues:

        Bin Laden considered 9/11 anniversary attack on US rail system

        The great dragon bin Laden was even now, ten years after his epic outrageous attack on the righteous and innocent Americans, plotting yet another misadventure before our Prince Valiant Obama, using his mighty sword the navy Seals, felled the mighty dragon with a single blow from his strong right arm.

        Ain’t it grand?

        But the dragon’s body – Al-Qaeda – lives on, and is capable of feats of magic like regrowing its head, possibly multiple heads where there were just one. Therefore the armies of peace and light must be ever vigilant and continue their holy war on the great dragon. With God’s help, Prince Obama – our Knight Templar – will lead us on to certain victory, although exactly when that might occur can’t be certain

        One hundred years war you say? NAY! PERPETUAL WAR say I, for what price be paid is too dear to defeat existential evil? Would that the forces of goodness and light be deterred in their quest to root out evil and darkness once and for all for lack of a mere pound of silver? NEVER say I, for as has been said, the weak and the poor will be with us always, let them, as has also been said, INDEED eat cake! For this is an EPIC JOURNEY of good against evil, and let them who stand in the way be struck down with the power of TEN Navy Seals by thunderous blows to the head and be forced to sing praises to our new boy prince – PRINCE OBAMA – from the bowels of perdition forever and ever AMEN!

        Long live Camelot – THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!

  16. John Bollig says:

    DIS,

    Obama /Osama name game is a bit of a quandry for the simple folks out there. I still believe that this adventure is designed to give that person a way to hide his dismal performance on economic matters. Obama is a fraud along with most of congress, the supreme court and the washington insiders. They are not real. My instincts are to look at the real picture of higher and higher gas prices, more social disruption and a spiraling decline in standards of living during the next five years. I have a strange feeling that not only will I not be alive five years from now but the internet will be long gone sally.
    The only hope for myself is to grow a large garden and go local. Get a wind turbine and learn how to fix it and get a really good well dug. Find an area with a lot of trees and near a good water supply. My only hope is to grow enough food for myself and my girlfriend to survive, because the system that we have become slaves to will collapse like a house of cards.

    Also I have plans to get a number of guns to augment my arsenal of weapons.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Good place to start, John… the garden and the water! Guns too are helpful, until there is no more ammo to purchase (although you could stockpile)

      • John Bollig says:

        Sandy,

        I have a few guns but ammo is the key thing here. The cheap 22 rounds that I have will be for hunting small game. The heavy action will begin with the bolt action rifles. Many if not all of my guns above 22 cal can kill a man at 300 yards. Have taken the local college shooting course. Nobody needs to be defenseless in a senseless world. Russian guns and ammo are going to be valued. Water supplies are going to be really important here. So will a acre of ground to grow a garden. Just like russian serfs and workers during the communist era, the largest production of food came out of the small plots that workers were allowed to keep after collectivization. We will be forced into growing our own crops or we will starve. It will be a painful lesson but a lesson I have no intention of being a part of. The one way that I intend on surviving is by taking courses on raising chickens and pigs. I figure that the way to get meat on the table is to learn how to raise your own meat and then find someone who will do the work of processing the meat.

        • kulturcritic says:

          John – you are absolutely correct about the Russians. And here in Siberia where I live a good part of the year with my wife and her family, we maintain a large family garden at our dacha, We also have a banya; both are heated with wood (although there is propane right now for cooking in the dacha kitchen). Though we do alot of cooking on the wood stove and outdoors over wood embers. The Ob river flows right by the dacha for fishing, and there is a large underground spring that supplies the dacha community with fresh water; the forest is behind us with lots of wild berries, mushrooms and other herbs, etc. Some small game as well. My only shortfall is shooting. Don’t own any guns, only shot target practice twice in my life; both times with a young marine friend of mine back in Colordao. Might have to rectify my weaknesses.

    • Disaffected says:

      John,

      As I hope my posts alluded to, OF COURSE this was all smoke and mirrors for the purposes of returning some luster to the tarnished image of the US in general, and Obama in particular. The particulars? We’ll probably never know.

      The “BULLSHIT!’ crowd, of which I’m a proud member, are beginning to loosely congeal (characterization mine) behind a meme that goes something like this:

      Osama was probably under house arrest in Pakistan by some unspecified group(s), whether the Pakistanis, the CIA, and/or others. It’s my feeling that no matter what, the CIA had MAJOR skin in this game. The agreement was no doubt, shut up and enjoy your captivity in relative luxury, and we’ll continue to let you breathe air. In return, we’ll broadcast far and wide that you’re political enemy number one and an existential threat to baseball, apple pie, etc. All would have known, including Osama, that this was merely a temporary state of affairs, purely at the pleasure of his US captors. Osama, in poor health and probably desperately seeking Allah anyway, would have had little choice but to agree.

      This scenario sounds at least plausible to me. Osama held as political prisoner in exchange for eventual martyrdom. It would seem to serve the interests of all involved quite well.

      Bigger questions to my mind are these: What was Obama’s REAL relationship with the CIA? Might he have crossed over at some time MUCH earlier (as in before 9-11 itself?), and have merely been a cooperative decoy serving US interests all along (Remember, this is a multi-millionaire son of great privilege, who may have found his way home to his REAL philosophical roots after all, OR, as speculated above.)?

      While I’m just a rank amateur throwing ideas out there idly, these are just a hint at the things that I think might be possible; realizing that in the real world of intrigue in which we live, such arrangements don’t necessarily fall under the rubric of ‘conspiracy’ per se, but merely ‘business arrangements’ among extremely sophisticated operatives.

      In short, I’ve no doubt that the world ‘as we know it’ is a GREAT DEAL more complex than almost all of us imagine, and that further, the few who fully appreciate that complexity, especially in their respective fields, are FULLY ABLE to leverage that complexity to their EXTREME advantage. I have VERY LITTLE doubt that that’s what’s going on here. VERY LITTLE AT ALL!

  17. Disaffected says:

    More notes on the 9-11 myth:

    For those of you who follow American football, Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall is in the news and hot water with the NFL and his corporate sponsor, Champion USA Athletic, for comments he made via Twitter after the bin Laden execution announcement. Mendenhall questioned the collapse of the twin towers and the manner in which they fell (pancake style in their own footprint, universally recognized as a controlled demolition pattern), a key point of contention for the 9-11 “Truthers” (the term represents the co-option and commodification of a belief through the magic of labeling/branding).

    Mendenhall should have the good sense to mind his Ps and Qs if he’s to continue as a good NFL/corporate (the two are one and the same) representative and reap the considerable monetary benefits they bestow. The NFL, of course, opens its 2011 season on 9/11/11, barring the continuation of the current labor lockout, which I contend will be settled by Presidential order if need be in order to ensure that the mythic tale gets retold to the great fanfare and pageantry befitting its cultural status.

    “Truthers” by now should realize that 9-11 has transcended all mere “facts” of this world, and has ascended to that very special place of cultural myth. The myth of 9-11 could no more be challenged in the current environment than the existence of Christ to devout Christians. All efforts to do so only reinforce the faith of the true believers. The jubilation after the execution of bin Laden was indeed confirmation of the continued and lasting impact of the great 9-11 myth, whether or not ANY of it was ever true in the first place.

    • kulturcritic says:

      It’s weird; I never got any sense of that jubilation over here in Siberia… so much for being away from the American media machine!

      • Disaffected says:

        It was a carnival atmosphere over here, at least in the popular media. No one I know at work even mentioned it, although I’ll admit, I don’t get around all that much.

        I was struck by the maturity and insight of Mendenhall however I was disappointed to see him finally “apologize” for his remarks, as he had nothing whatsoever to apologize for IMO. But, as I said above, he’s owes his living to the corporate media and the tales they tell, so dance to their music he must.

  18. John Bollig says:

    Sandy,

    The new age of death that awaits us will make the black death look like a walk on the beach. The four horsemen have made there first visit and they will make more visits until the population is back to preindustrial levels.

  19. Disaffected says:

    Boy King Obama appears on 60 Minutes tonight to crow about the execution of bin Laden. Might be mildly interesting to the faithful, but I think I’ll wait for the recap on the internet boards tomorrow.

    For those who are interested in a decidedly “alternative yet mainstream” view of all things financial (specifically) and MUCH more, I highly recommend Naked Capitalism, especially the comment boards that follow the articles. MUCH, MUCH, MUCH wisdom to be gained therein IMO.

  20. John Hunt says:

    I’ve been stirring this same “stew” for quite some time now, and have pulled out these thoughts:

    A PRODUCT (anything from raspberries to religion to the daily news) is CORRUPTED (it ain’t exactly what I ordered, or it fouled my nest getting here) in proportion to the LENGTH (all kinds of intervening things – miles, corruption at the loading docks, false advertising, Fox “News”, “Priests”, you name it) of its distribution channel.

    Having had to “design” a distribution channel for a product that my multi-national Corporate Master was introducing, I know what that means, existentially.

    From an evolutionary perspective, “species survival” being the operative frame there, virtually 100% of our “sensorium” (thanks for that word, which I take to mean the integrated way that we touch, taste, hear, see, balance, smell, etc.) evolved at “the speed of foot” (Spoot? I’ll trade you words!). So that whatever we needed to provision ourselves, we were confined to all of the scales of existence (“range” if you will) implied by spoot. What we needed was within the ideal reach of our sensorium.
    Strangely, here and there, globally and virtually simultaneously, we rode out of our forests on horses, wheels, the backs of slaves, and so on, so that just about all of our basic provisions now come from places that are out of the practical reach of our evolved sensorium. I imagine atrophy at this point. Remember the song, “In the year 2525”? Flippers again?

    In short, from an evolutionary perspective, we warped our genomic time and space references. That cannot be sustained. Back to slow food.

    Think about those stone-age (been there for some 50,000 years) Andaman Islanders who survived (100%!!) the Indonesian tsunami (nothing quite like a cohesive, culture-integrated oral history to keep the story straight enough, through vast numbers of generations between events – “when the earth jiggles a certain way, and the birds suddenly do this or that, and all the dogs howl, and you start seeing fish doing crazy shit, GET YOUR ASS TO HIGH GROUND!”) . And they did! Oh how I love telling that story to the technopriests!

    “It’s the Principalities and Powers stupid!” . . . .Saint Paul

    But no one sums it up better than Lanza Del Vasto: “Find the shortest, simplest way between the earth, the hands and the mouth.” . . . . as quoted by Wendell Berry in “The Unsettling of America – Crisis in Culture and Agriculture”

    • kulturcritic says:

      John – loved your comments. Thanks for the refresher on the Andamaners… they had that Spoot shit under control. LOL

      • John Hunt says:

        D ya think they maybe all survived because, upon feeling the ground shake, etc., etc., the tribal chief booked a conference at one of the resort islands upstream, to discuss the “Problem – Why Are The Creatures Going Batshit?”? My point here is that, having warped our time reference to a scale where we cannot even feel fear appropriately, our response time, culturally, to our self-inflicted crises, has become fatally slow. In pursuing the speed of light, we’ve stopped ourselves, dead in our tracks. How fucking ironic!

        Oh, and another note: There’s a lot of white noise out there about “multiculturism”. I take exception to that word. A true “culture” is always place specific. Once the people of that culture have been dis-placed (virtually all of us by now) we carry some of the tatters of what once “worked” in a different place, whose entire biosphere had agency in the formation of that culture. I think something like (there’s got to be a better word) “multi-cultural ARTIFACTS. ISM?”
        In any case, I don’t want to denigrate the high value that our cultural artifacts contribute to some degree of mutual understanding and, hopefully, harmony. But the fact remains that we obviously have warped our space references to the point that whatever we claim our multi-faceted “culture” to be, it does not serve the space that we occupy. No working culture, worthy of the name, will tolerate its members habitually shitting the nest. If nature, batting last as she always does in these matters, somehow finds a way for us to re-harmonize it’s, of necessity, going to involve a colossal contraction of human activity, including massive suffering and die-off.

        “There’s a bucket of blood in every barrel of oil”

        “If it ain’t local, it ain’t organic”

        • kulturcritic says:

          John-

          Give me some idea how “our cultural artifacts contribute to some degree of mutual understanding and, hopefully, harmony.” All I see is a cultural hegemony destroying other cultures of the globe, particularly more indigenous ones. For example, native American Indian cultures.

          • John Hunt says:

            Absolutely true that, when displaced (and I think cultural dis-placement is joined to the hip of all civilized society) these artifacts, without the spacial moorings of their origins, can be readily corrupted to serve other masters. But then, there is music. But even that is readily co-opted. Jazz, classical, hip-hop – the whole loaf. I stop short of blaming the artifacts themselves. It’s the principalities (who have even appropriated humanity itself – “persons”) that do the co-opting.
            Even St. Paul got that part right when he described the swirl of principalities within the Roman Empire as “creatures”, that took on lives of their own. It’s hard to witness their jaw dropping arrogance and their manifest damage to the entire web of life.

            Even so, many of these artifacts inform me in a positive way. They can be very instructive, but it takes a lot of listening, and often, charity, to weave them into the local fabric.

    • Straycat says:

      Great comments. The distance between product and use has extended not only from distance, but because every new hand on the product extracts a fee. The corporocrats have developed this into a science, and accept higher cost to themselves if they in turn, get to charge for their own useless mitts on the product of others. Real estate closings are a simplified and readily understandable example of this. Time for me to read some Wendell Berry.

      • John Hunt says:

        Thanks! Absolutely. This really hits home when you start growing your own food. I tell people who are interested, start with a small patch of garlic. It will always grow and readily adapts to different climates and conditions. Very easy to selectively breed for successive generations. It never fails.

        Wendell Berry recently received a presidential humanities award of some sort. His work changed my life.

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