Thursday, 12 December 2013

Vox Populi



Can there not be a government in which the majorities do not virtually decide right and wrong, but conscience? — in which majorities decide only those questions to which the rule of expediency is applicable? Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right. It is truly enough said that a corporation has no conscience; but a corporation on conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience. Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents on injustice. A common and natural result of an undue respect for the law is, that you may see a file of soldiers, colonel, captain, corporal, privates, powder-monkeys, and all, marching in admirable order over hill and dale to the wars, against their wills, ay, against their common sense and consciences, which makes it very steep marching indeed, and produces a palpitation of the heart. They have no doubt that it is a damnable business in which they are concerned; they are all peaceably inclined. Now, what are they? Men at all? or small movable forts and magazines, at the service of some unscrupulous man in power?

         -- 'On the Duty of Civil Disobedience', 1849,
             Henry David Thoreau

Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is the numbers of people all over the world who have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience. And our problem is that scene in All Quiet on the Western Front where the schoolboys march off dutifully in a line to war. Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world, in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem. 
       
           -- 'The Problem is Civil Obedience', 1970,
           Howard Zinn


There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can't take part. You can't even passively take part. And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.


       -- Mario Savio, 1964, speaking at UC Berkeley as part of the Free Speech Movement



CITIZEN X

If you are a regular reader of Amid Night Suns, you’ll be aware that I’m no fan of the political and economic status quo.  My beliefs about the current state of our global politics can be summed up quite simply.  In my personal opinion the men and women we have ostensibly elected to govern us are at best greedy, manipulative and deeply prejudiced, without any true comprehension of what it means to genuinely be of service to a people.  At worst they are sociopaths, Social Darwinists, war-criminals and hegemonic oligarchs.  Our world is run by a handful of competing elites who differ only in detail and not in broader brush-strokes.

Their entire charade – their gluttony that somehow passes as governance – entirely hinges upon the idea that there is no other realistic way to organize and maintain a modern society.  As though this is the most natural and expedient way for modern humans to live, with a minority of inconceivably rich who control all the resources -- and a majority of inconceivably poor where even the idea of long-term survival is virtually impossible, let alone a quality of life that most Westerners would consider worth living.  And between them is a rapidly dwindling Middle Class.  Although it may be unpalatable to say so, most of our planet has been reduced to a vast, labyrinthine slum – and most of Earth’s inhabitants forced to live like vermin.  For example Kibera, in the Nairobi area of Kenya, is the largest urban slum in Africa.  Westerners who have visited it have invariably equated it to ‘Hell on Earth’, the stench alone being practically unbearable.  It is home to over a million souls, and it is essentially a vast rubbish dump.  Most of the ground is composed of refuse and waste.  There is no running water, electricity or sewage system; nothing even approaching basic amenities or sanitation.  But despite what the African and global governments would have you believe, places like Kibera are not unsolvable problems or insoluble Abysses.  Things are allowed to remain that way.  There is a vast global underclass that is maintained by the elites and social engineers of our world, for the sole purpose of exploitation, desecration and defilement.  The poverty-stricken masses become alternately work, play and food for the global predator-class.




But we are told that global poverty is a huge unwieldy problem that even the best and brightest minds have so far been unable to solve, while our Western economies are demonstrably built upon the breaking backs of the Third-World underclass.  How else do we get to live lives of such staggering opulence when most of our brethren are forced to scavenge subsistence in the human landfill of unending poverty and squalor?  But we know all this already, don’t we?  It is simply that the facts are just so brutal and ugly and unpalatable – and the elitist propaganda so insistent – that we console ourselves with the age-old questions and answers of “What is to be done?  What can I do to change all this horror?  This is human nature; violent, predatory and unfair.  I must look away now.”  This is a perfectly understandable reaction to what appears to be an unvarnished truth.  But the larger and more prescient truth is that the super-rich elites could end global poverty many times over if they really wanted to, but they don’t.  This is Western society’s dirty little secret (or one of them, at least).  Why would an elitist, Social Darwinist and predator want an end to the most profitable and luxurious situation he or she has ever known?



THE WAR OF ART

I am a romantic at heart, and as such I still want to believe in the unconquerable nature of the human spirit.  I want to believe that future generations still have a chance at a more meaningful, sustainable and harmonious future.  Though the somewhat Gothic aesthetic of this blog may suggest otherwise, I am an optimist as well as a realist.  But we must ask ourselves the question, “Are we just too far gone as a society for the civil disobedience of Thoreau or Zinn or Savio to be of any real consequence in the second decade of the 21st century?"  Are we just far too lost, or apathetic, or privileged, to organize and cohere enough to be a mobilized force for political change?  The Occupy and Anonymous movements of the last few years seemed to start bleeding at the edges even as they had begun.  Have we as Westerners grown fat and docile on diets of empty carbohydrates, reality-television and imperious consumerism?  Have we lost our lean, hungry edge?  I don’t think so, at least not entirely.  

I think we have been swept into a cul de sac that is more interested in counterculture posturing and symbols of subversion rather than the countercultures and subversions themselves.  But this does not mean we are destined now to be toothless caricatures and parodies of the better angels of our nature.  The Reality is Now, the Moment of Power is Now.  It always has been and always will be.  THAT is why the elites and predators invest so much time in sleight-of-hand.  They would not invest so much time and effort in trying to fool that which is not a threat.  Hear this: even in your most docile and lulled state you are STILL a threat.  Why?  Because the human race is a legion of powerful creators who have been enslaved, and although we are complicit and tacit in this situation the elites are well aware that things always have the potential to change in an instant.  With the right mixture of contexts and insights empires can fall in a matter of days, revolutions can be ignited in an instant – and suddenly they are larger and more dangerous than the individuals and circumstances that spawned them.  Those who prey on us fear this possibility, as they fear their prey most of all.




Each one of us is a citizen of two distinct but interdependent societies – the Inner Society and the Outer Society.  Civil disobedience within the Outer Society is useful and fruitful and essential when facing tyranny, but it will be rootless and far less consequential without the requisite and accompanying civil disobedience within the Inner Society.  What exactly do I mean by this?  Well, as we are ‘governed’ by men and ideas and appetites above us in the external world, similarly are we governed by the avatars and symbols of those men, those ideas and appetites, within the confines of our own minds.  Figuratively speaking, there is only one true war being waged on this planet at this time – the War of Imagination.  It has a thousand different physical and non-physical permutations, but the War’s essential purpose is to keep the human race in bondage.  This is really not so hard to understand.  Pimps and warlords and even advertising executives all understand the power of getting people to invest so powerfully in an idea that it becomes a part of them; with the largest part of this phenomenon occurring at an artistic, magical or subconscious level.  This is why I always say at Amid Night Suns that Art is the Oldest Magick.  So, without the necessary internal work our potency will only ever be half of what it could be.  Without delving into the intricacies of the Inner Society and deconstructing, analyzing and understanding how the minds of the colonizers were implanted into the consciousness of the colonized we will never fully be able to appreciate or ameliorate our circumstance. 

There is a War out there – a war for your Heart, Mind and Soul.  It has been waging for thousands of years.  But the war rages also within you.  It creates spectres of doubt and meaninglessness and greed and apathy – and tries to distract you from the truth of who and what you are.  You are an infinite sentient fractal, of something indescribably vast and complex and ancient.  It is your true Voice. You have the ability to continually hone your insight, lucidity and discernment to a razor’s edge.  You have within you the power to reshape your own Internal Society, to speak truth and live with meaning.  With this as your compass the idea of transforming the world for the better becomes far less implausible.  We are not separate from world.  If enough of us change within, the world will begin to change without.  Even if the horrors keep coming for a time, at least we can take comfort in the Gnosis that we are attempting to change that which is indeed within our control.         

People, it is time to Speak Up.