Category Archives: Politics and Religion

UN attacks on free speech and the truth behind the Muslim riots

I’m not a big fan of Fox News but Ben Swann, on his Reality Check program, lays out some interesting facts and raises some disturbing questions.

This video takes a look at the U.N. call for banning blasphemy and whether it is based on a false narrative.

What we think and what we do — addendum

Here is some further input from Richard Moore about how to engage in productive dialog with people holding widely different beliefs and models of the world.–t.h.g.

I agree that defense of dogmas is a key concept. We all need to have a ‘working model’ of the world, in order to get along in it. If we can hold it as a model, something useful but not final, then we are in a position to learn and to converse openly and creatively. In the case of most people, and we must simply accept this, models are held to one degree or another as ‘truth’, and the less deeply a model is rooted in real understanding, the more intense the defensiveness when challenged, creating barriers to both learning and productive dialog. 
If we accept this reality, then it becomes clear that productive dialog, among people with differing models, can only happen in the right kind of ‘container’ for that dialog. It’s not about getting clever about ‘breaking down the defensive barriers’, rather it’s about providing a ‘safe space’, where each person is listened to with respect, and challenges to beliefs are avoided. When people feel ‘heard’, and they are not attacked, then their ‘defend’ button does get not pressed; they begin to relax, and pay more attention to what others are saying. In fact, much of the content in people’s dogmas turns out to have little relevance to the real world or to the problems we face as a society.
best wishes,
richard

What we think and what we do.

Here below is a very insightful expression of Richard Moore’s  political science and intellectual process. Despite its length, it is a piece that is well worth careful study.

A key point for me is the “defense of dogma” that we see all around us. To challenge any element of a person’s belief set is to threaten the entire structure of their worldview. When those foundations are shaken people get angry and defensive. This is especially clear with regard to religious zealots. Many will kill you for it, as Jesus discovered, but it is always the heretics who provide the hope for human progress. For, “the letter of the law [dogmatic rigidity] killeth, but the spirit [the fundamental purpose of the law] giveth life.”—t.h.g.

On 01/12/2012 10:28 PM, Richard Moore wrote:

Greetings,

In the previous posting I referred to some ‘angry’ responses re/ questioning the wisdom of vaccines. And indeed that was the objection: to even question this sacrament was already a sin. That is, if I spread doubt in people’s minds, they might make the ‘wrong’ decision (not get vaccinated), and that would be ‘bad for them’. I would be ‘hurting them’ (and others around them) by telling them the ‘wrong thing’.

Such observations reflect a particular underlying perspective: What ‘people are told’ must conform to ‘what is correct’, because most people cannot be trusted to think for themselves. It’s an elitist perspective: We are the informed and educated class; the unwashed masses [Orwell’s Proles] must be taught what to think and what to believe.

I sympathize with that perspective to some extent, because that’s more or less how I looked at things, back in 1994, when I first started cyberjournal. I believed that ‘educating the right wing’ was the path to political empowerment. Us radicalized liberals had the answers, and we needed to ‘explain the truth’ better, so all could see. That was how I saw things before I began trying seriously to understand how the world works.

It took quite a while, but I finally did learn two important lesson in my attempts to ‘explain’ to the Proles why they were ‘wrong’. First, I learned that it cannot be done. That is, there are deep differences in how different people see the world, and ‘uniformity of understanding’ could never come about through rational discussion. In a society with any kind of openness, with any kind of free expression, we are stuck with a diversity of views among we the people, on a great many issues. Second, I learned that conservatives get it right sometimes, and liberals get it wrong sometimes: both sides deserve to be listened to.

On top of that background, of innate diversity of views, we have all the propaganda channels, on television, over talk radio, from pulpits, and on the Internet. The channels themselves have diverse perspectives, and the outcome is an accentuation of diversity in the population. Each ‘audience segment’ is reinforced in its views, by channels that reflect those views, and which provide lots of ongoing confirmation of the validity of those views – along with frequent illustrations of the error of contrary views. These ‘channels’ include not just the ‘news’ sources, but also sitcoms, comedy shows, whatever.

Perhaps the most significant of the audience segments is what I would call, in US terminology, the ‘liberal majority’. As above, they define themselves by ‘thinking correctly’. In fact we’re talking about ‘political correctness’, but that term has become really tiresome. It’s an arrogant kind of ‘correctness’. That is, it recognizes that others may think they are correct, but it knows, in its own case, that it is ‘objectively’ correct.

What begins, ostensibly, as a pursuit for objective understanding, ends up being an intellectually-based dogmatic attitude. A dogmatism that responds with defensive behavior when challenged. Such a response is not surprising: the dogmatism is based primarily on second-hand beliefs, which though frequently reaffirmed and reinforced, remain, like so many floating islands, unattached to deep native understanding – and are thus held with a fundamental degree of mental insecurity. That insecurity itself must be suppressed into the unconscious, as awareness of doubt would undermine the ‘objective certainty’ that is the core of the belief system.

This ‘dogmatism’ does have good intentions behind it. There are sensible reasons why objectively-minded people might want mark out a set of ‘correct beliefs’. I think it’s about wanting to achieve political empowerment. It begins with this kind of observation: people have no power because they are divided by their beliefs, and the politicians play us off against one another. If an overwhelming majority could be swung over to supporting a sensible agenda, then perhaps democracy, as we’ve understood it, could work as it’s supposed to work.

This leads to a two-part approach to seeking empowerment. The first part involves maintaining consensus, within the liberal majority, on what is and isn’t ‘correct’. The second part involves trying to promote that consensus more widely, in whatever way possible. This all makes sense. It is a strategy-for-empowerment that one can make a persuasive case for.

In actual practice, however, the strategy is not working. The channel-accentuated divisiveness continues – with that divisiveness itself being spun in various ways by the channels. Government continues to be guided by some other drummer than a hoped-for informed democratic majority. Different constituencies (audience segments) are cited as the excuses, for this and that legislation or policy decision.

As so often happens in human affairs, when a strategy isn’t working, the response is to try even harder, doing the same things even better. It becomes an urgent necessity, a matter of survival in the political arena, to maintain a comprehensive spectrum of ‘correct beliefs’: our strength is in our unity and in our having an answer to every question. And then there’s the evangelical part of the empowerment strategy, spreading the correct gospel to the Proles: nothing is worse than an evangelist working from the wrong gospel. We must have an agreed orthodoxy!

Once again – a pattern that  happens often in human affairs – a pavement of good intentions leads to a place not intended. At best, seeking wide-scale consensus, in the ways it is being done, would lead to some kind of least-common-denominator homogenized and pasteurized set of beliefs.

But in fact, the arena of this consensus process is not the one imagined by the audience segment in question, the liberal majority. They imagine they are conversing with one another, sharing around information, and are thereby coming up with their well-informed shared beliefs. They don’t realize that their beliefs are being fed to them, by a propaganda apparatus whose subtle pervasiveness eludes their perception. They don’t realize they are just one more audience segment, operating in a scripted and choreographed arena, whose purpose is to maintain divisiveness and to instill certain elite-serving attitudes.

Liberal propaganda is unique. For other audiences, the approach is direct: there’s a very clear propaganda line, appealing to shared prejudices, and it tends to come down through the channels in a hierarchical way. The dogmatism tends to be comparatively simple and easily digested, if one shares the prejudices.

Liberal propaganda is different. It is specifically tailored for people who take a certain degree of pride in their thinking, and their ability to figure things out and understand things. ‘Educated people’ would perhaps not be an unfair general characterization. For such people, in order to ignite their fondness for ‘figuring out’, it is much better to plant clues in the general environment, offhand references to this and that ‘fact’, in entertainment media as well as ‘news’ media, ‘facts’ that for a ‘well informed’ observer soon add up to an inevitable ‘conclusion’, that the observer believes he has ‘figured out for himself’.

The Obama phenomenon serves as a metaphor for this process. In that scenario, we had a candidate who was being systematically sold to us by the mainstream media, yet at the same time liberals believed they were championing an embattled grassroots movement for real change. That’s how it always goes. There’s always a sense of ‘grassroots emergence’, even though the information environment, the liberal-attended channels, make that particular flavor of emergence inevitable. The McCain campaign, through the fear it generated, was a scripted and essential part of Obama’s campaign. The two campaigns were designed and managed as a pair, giving us a puppet show where the ‘good guy’ was easy to identify.

I’ve been focusing on one audience segment, and perhaps exaggerating the picture here and there for emphasis. The more general point is that we are all enmeshed in an ongoing psy-ops program that is delivered over many kinds of channels, with a high level of sophistication and overall coherence. If we imagine there is not such a program, then our head is submerged somewhere within its matrix of channel-fed, self-reinforcing, audience segments.

This is the same kind of thing Alan Watt talks about, in his ‘Cutting through the Matrix’ interview:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3-4_hy7iAo&feature=player_embedded

I respond to what he says not by accepting him as an authority, but by how I am able to see patterns that were always there to be seen, but that I hadn’t noticed until he drew attention to them: society is being dynamically managed through various transitions and stages, along a bumpy zig-zag path toward a planned future. Bringing the various audience segments along, with one set of stories or another, is a critical part of that management process. It is mission critical, and it employs a psy-op craft that has been honed over generations.

Notice, for example, how a trouble spot can appear on the media radar (East Timor, Haiti, …). We suddenly hear a lot about some place and some problem, and we learn that an action is ‘necessary’. Then the action’s taken, there’s a lot more attention for a while, and then that episode drops totally from attention perhaps never to reappear. In such a case we are ‘managed through a system intervention’, the purpose of which is typically quite different than any of the various stories, whether pro or con, being told over the channels at the time. In most cases the ‘problem’ is in fact made worse by the ‘action’, but one may have to dig deep, typically on the Internet, to find the story still being reported.

So, by talking this way, am I being dogmatic? The answer is ‘yes’ under the definition, ‘asserting opinions in an arrogant manner’ – for me, that is simply clear and concise exposition. The answer is ‘no’, under the definition, ‘citing doctrinal material’. I’m not claiming any validity or authority for what I say other than what the ideas say for themselves. If I refer you to material in a video or article, it’s because it stirred my thinking in a way I found useful. I envision you, the reader, to be an adult who is able to look at ideas and exercise sensible judgement about what to take on board, what to leave behind, what to give more thought to – and what may deserve comment.

I have a particular way of learning, a way that upsets some people. For every topic under the sun, I’ve got a ‘working theory’ for that topic. Some of those topics I know very little about, and my embryonic theory may be way off base. My method in my writing is to present and explore my current theory for a given topic, and wait to see what people say. I tend to write in a way that is more provocative than apologetic, because I’m more likely to get energetic feedback that way. And occasionally a productive conversation ensues, as a dialog posting, or off the list. This overall scenario is my learning method, combined of course with ongoing, if sporadic, research.

I find it invaluable to have these various theories, on everything from cosmology to psychic phenomena to the origins of the human species. Theories transform new information from data into something with meaning, something with an associated ‘charge’. New information either reinforces or undermines one theory or another. Rather than just ‘absorbing’ the information, and ‘passing on’, it becomes necessary to digest the information, to update the relevant theories. In some cases, a theory is changed on the spot, sometimes radically, but more often a ‘flag’ gets attached to the theory: ‘more investigation needed here’, or ‘theory can be expanded here’.

There are disadvantages to this method. One’s perceived reliability as a ‘knowledgable voice’ can suffer, when embryonic theories are presented as unqualified assertions. Some of the ‘angry responders’ said that my statements about vaccines called into question my views on other matters, and brought into question even my integrity. This is a risk I have to take, because my method is ‘worth it’. Hopefully, with this posting, folks might be a little more understanding.

There are three significant advantages to the method. First, as I mentioned above, learning is accelerated, because every new piece of information, or new observation, or insight, leads to a ‘theory update’ process. Second, those theories which graduate to the level of ‘current beliefs’, such as ‘bankers control the world’, are very deeply grounded, supported by overwhelming evidence of different kinds – ‘overdetermined conclusion’ is the technical phrase. None of these ‘beliefs’ are second hand, based on someone else’s credibility, or based on only a single line of argument.

Theories at this ‘belief’ level do change over time, but seldom require radical revision. They are sometimes eclipsed by a broader perspective, as when I realized capitalism was merely an expendable tool of the banksters, not the primary driving engine I had previously imagined. My understanding of the internal mechanisms of capitalism survived this eclipse unchanged.

The third advantage of the method has to do with overall coherence of world view. One of the things I do, as part of the theory update process, is to keep all of the theories in harmony with one another. If an assumption or reasoning step is challenged in one theory, it is necessary to re-examine any other theories that use that assumption or reasoning. This leads to a coherent worldview, based on an organized network of frequently re-examined theories and assumptions. New information generates a holographic response in the coherent worldview as a whole.

Thus, for me, it makes little sense to talk about evidence for climate change, without taking into account the likely activities of the arctic-based HAARP project, and the real purpose of the carbon regime. Nor does it makes sense to examine vaccines, or AIDS, without taking into account the eugenics mindset of the Rockefeller dynasty, whose tentacles reach everywhere. If such considerations are dismissed out of hand, as they are by so many people, they fall prey to the interpretations fed to them over the psy-op channels. To those who dismiss ‘conspiracy theories’, no discussion is possible of the main actors and processes that are operating on the world stage. Those ‘don’t exist’. We are left only the shadows on the cave wall, to make sense of.

Rkm.

website:http://cyberjournal.org

____

Does Democracy Have a Chance?

Tom Atlee of the Co-Intelligence Institute does some fine work. For several years he’s been compiling a list of resources for democracy and participation.  In a recent newsletter, he provided some recent additions to the list. Here is what he said.-t.h.g. 

Here is what we’ve found so far.  Please spread the word and share with us any other sites that describe multiple resources on these subjects.

1. Participedia – http://participedia.com/wiki/Welcome_to_Participedia

2. ParticipateDB – http://participatedb.com/

3. The National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation’s Resource pages – http://ncdd.org/rc/, especially http://ncdd.org/rc/item/category/participatory-practices

4. Orton Family Fund’s “Community Matters” – http://www.communitymatters.org/cm-network

5. Craigslist Foundation’s LikeMinded – http://craigslistfoundation.org/blog/we-are-likeminded/

6. WiserEarth – e.g., http://www.wiserearth.org/all/search?phrase=democracy and http://www.wiserearth.org/all/search?phrase=participation and others

7.  Wikipedia.org – e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Collective_intelligence and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Government and others

8. A Pattern Language for Group Process – http://grouppatternlanguage.org/wagn/Pattern_hearts_and_pics_by_name

9. People and Participation.net – http://www.peopleandparticipation.net

10. Deliberative Democracy Helpline – http://www.deliberative-democracy.net/helpline/

11. Co-intelligence Institute lists:

a. Community Resources from the Co-Intelligence Institute – http://co-intelligence.org/CommunityResourcesCII.html (includes extensive materials on multi-process programs)

b. http://co-intelligence.org/CI_compilations.html (which features https://app.secure.griffith.edu.au/03/toolbox/ )

12.  Involve:  e.g., http://www.involve.org.uk/tag/tools/ (they used to have a great glossary wiki with methods and ideas http://groups.involving.org/dashboard.action but it seems to have disappeared…)

13. E-Democracy – http://E-Democracy.org

14. Tom Atlee’s list of participatory budgeting resources – http://tom-atlee.posterous.com/participatory-budgeting-practices-places-game

The Haircut

I don’t know who authored this. A friend sent it to me. If you like it, pass it on–t.h.g.

The Haircut

One day a florist went to a barber for a hair cut. After the cut, he asked about his bill, and the barber replied, “I cannot accept money from you, I’m doing community service this week.” The florist was pleased and left the shop. When the barber went to open his shop the next morning, there was a ‘thank you’ card and a dozen roses waiting for him at his door.

Later, a cop comes in for a haircut, and when he tries to pay his bill, the barber again replied, “I cannot accept money from you , I’m doing community service this week.” The cop was happy and left the shop. The next morning when the barber went to open up, there was a ‘thank you’ card and a dozen donuts waiting for him at his door.

Then a Congressman came in for a haircut, and when he went to pay his bill, the barber again replied, “I cannot accept money from you. I’m doing community service this week.” The Congressman was very happy and left the shop. The next morning, when the barber went to open up, there were a dozen Congressmen lined up waiting for a free haircut.

And that, my friends, illustrates the fundamental difference between the citizens of our country and the politicians who run it.

Mark Twain said that “BOTH POLITICIANS AND DIAPERS NEED TO BE CHANGED OFTEN AND FOR THE SAME REASON!”

Who’s responsible?

This article by Charley Reese spotlights the contradictions between what our political leaders say and what they do. It’s very satisfying, but remember another sage observation: “people get the kind of government they deserve.”–t.h.g.

545 People vs 300 Million People – By Charlie Reese

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits?

Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don’t propose a federal budget. The President does.
You and I don’t have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does.
You and I don’t write the tax code, Congress does.
You and I don’t set fiscal policy, Congress does.
You and I don’t control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one President, and nine Supreme Court justices equates to 545 human beings out of the 300 million are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.

I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a President to do one cotton-picking thing. I don’t care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator’s responsibility to determine how he votes.

Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits. The President can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.
The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes. Who is the speaker of the House? John Boehner. He is the leader of the majority party. He and fellow House members, not the President, can approve any budget they want. If the President vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to.

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted — by present facts — of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can’t think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is (just exactly) WHAT they WANT to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it’s because they want it unfair.
If the budget is in the red, it’s because they want it in the red.
If the Army & Marines are in Iraq and Afghanistan it’s because they want them in Iraq and Afghanistan (and Korea and Germany and Bosnia, etc).
If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it’s because they want it that way.
(If they are EXEMPT from every law they pass which is imposed on the rest of us, it’s because they want it that way.)

There are no insoluble government problems.

Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power. Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like “the economy,” “inflation,” or “politics” that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible.
They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who (REALLY) are their bosses.

This article was first published by the Orlando Sentinel Star newspaper

Who is the enemy, a war veteran speaks out