Monday, January 28, 2008

Our Problems Part 4 Why Things are So Bad

People dwell on the world's many problems. And there are an endless number of them – religious fanaticism, war, racism, crime, poverty, environmental degradation and so forth. Reactionaries treat this misery as "man's fate". Some even revel in it, awaiting the destruction of the world when Jesus will beam them up. Progressives on the other hand, look for the source in structural terms such as capitalism, class systems, authoritarianism or patriarchy. But progressives are bewildered by the irrational behavior of so many people, a behaviour that aids and abets those structural causes of human suffering. In a nut shell, structural explanations, while fundamental truths, are not a complete explanation of why things are the way they are.

Abused individuals act in self-destructive ways. These include passivity, lack of curiosity, impulsiveness, obsessiveness, substance abuse, child and spousal abuse. I contend that the human race itself is a collective patient recovering from severe physical, emotional, verbal and sexual abuse and this abuse is the root cause of the irrational behaviour that so bewilders progressives. I say a recovering patient because most of the abuse took place in the past, most particularly in the late 19th to mid-20th Centuries. (This is, of course, not to ignore the recent horrors in Latin America with fascist coups and death squads, nor contemporary religious "fundamentalism".)

Abuse has an effect well beyond the generation that experienced it directly. Abusive behaviour is passed down from one generation to another, but even where this is not the case, there is still a negative effect upon succeeding generations. Someone raised by abusive parents who manages to break the cycle of abuse, might become overly protective of their children, thereby creating another set of, albeit lesser, problems. Someone raised in a sexually repressive attitude, may in rejecting this oppression, go to the other extreme and become irresponsible in their sexual relations.

As with the individual, so too with the multitude. Three or four generations ago abusive behaviour was the normal method of childrearing. (in the Anglosphere and Germany, most especially). One instilled fear in one's children. Emphasis was placed upon subservience to authority. Praise was avoided and children were constantly reminded of their inferior status. Methods involved heavy doses of guilt, humiliation, and other forms of emotional abuse. If this wasn't enough to make the child subservient, verbal and physical abuse were freely used. All these crimes against children were committed in the name of "love" for the child, creating a schizophrenic situation where love = pain and degradation.

The ultimate source of most of these horrors, and with their own particular variety of cruelty, stood the religious cults. The cults terrorized the young into submissiveness with visions of Hell-fire, should they show any independence or rebelliousness. They were taught to feel guilty about merely existing. Children were also taught to hate and fear the body and its reactions, especially those of a sexual nature. Natural desires were repressed to the full. Both religious and secular authorities worked full time to maximize sexual repression, not just among the young, but among adults as well. To add an even more grotesque twist, these same authorities sexually molested their charges or frequented houses of prostitution.

My tour through this genuine Hell, would not be complete without mentioning the extreme racism and misogyny that shouted from every corner. Anyone who was not Anglo-Saxon was branded as second class and this was enforced through the media and popular culture. This is abuse, and yet the Polish or Italian immigrant was to get off easy in comparison to groups even less-favoured. For people of color, endless degradation and humiliation. For First Nations, genocide. For African-Americans, a reign of terror.

Sixty years ago, and for generations before that, women were considered silly, mindless creatures, capable only of bearing and nurturing children. Any natural desire to do anything else was to be suppressed. A woman was second class compared to a man, and was duty bound to obey Father and then Husband. Sexuality was even more harshly repressed in women than in men. Thus, women had to endure severe emotional abuse and if this did not work to keep them emotionally enslaved, verbal and physical abuse were considered legitimate means.

No, I am not engaging in psychological reductionism. The structural causes of our suffering, class systems, authoritarian hierarchies and capitalism, are real, but they do not explain why many are willing to put up with exploitation and bullying, the natural results of these same structural causes. Nor do they explain the large minority who envy, emulate, or worship their Masters and cheerfully persecute, torture or kill those who seek their liberation. Given our history, we are where we ought to be. Those of us who have tried to live in more liberatory and humane ways still carry the legacy of generations of psychologically wounded people. Millions still live in that past, lying trapped in authoritarianism, racism, sexism and a multitude of other manifestations of abuse. It will take several generations more to overcome our cruel burden. But time is running out. The problems pile up too fast to wait for the population to recover. We, imperfect creatures that we are, must work to make the world a saner place, at the same time realizing we will make errors, and there will be difficulties strewn in our path by our past histories.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Our Problems Part 3 The United Front of the Stupid and the Sociopathic.

Contrary to elitist opinion, most people are not idiots. Even in the USA. The majority oppose war, are in favour of doing something about the environment and support universal health care. In most countries the majority favour de-criminalization of cannabis. True, this majoritarian intelligence may not have always existed, as witnessed by the lemming-like rush to war in 1914. But a discussion of the masse's learning curve should be saved for another time. What concerns us here is how people are today, not fifty or a hundred years ago.

Governments and the media who shill for them, must work full time to keep the intelligent majority from having any political impact. There are a number of methods employed. A favourite is to pretend to address the wishes of the majority. Even the most vile of developer-types now bleats about "sustainability." Reactionary policies turning back the clock to Dicken's era of low wages and horrible working conditions are hyped as "reforms." Ideologues who demand the suspension of our liberties are touted as "rebels against authority." Poor Orwell, spinning in his grave at this most despicable Newspeak!

Most people see through this propaganda screen. The corporate state's policies are supported by a minority, but it is a strong minority, roughly one-third of the population. This minority can be depended upon to support any corporate state policy no matter how corrupt, cruel, criminal or retrogressive it might be. With this strong base of True Believers In Infamy, the corporate state need only deceive or disinform a minority of the majority (the waverers or borderliners) to support them, and they have cobbled together a majority. This is easy to do in a "First Past the Post" electoral system, which is why the elite prefers it to the more democratic proportional system. Less than 40% of the vote gets you a government which can then bully the remaining 60% to its hard heart's content.

The "borderline population"? These consist of people who take an enlightened stance upon some issues, but not on others. They can be manipulated into supporting reactionary policies through targeted campaigns. For example, anti-war, anti-abortionists might support a pro-war party because it trumpeted about the evils of abortion. A certain number of Canadians who opposed the US attack on Iraq, favour intervention in Afganistan to "defeat the Islamofacist Taliban" or to "support our troops." Pro-environment, union-haters might endorse a government that talked green yet undermined workers' rights.

Back to the True Believer minority. This is basically a united front of the psychos and the stupid. Theoretically, more than a quarter of the population are well below average intelligence. I would not reduce the stupid True Believers to the mentally challenged, however. Many supposedly "slow" folks are very self-aware, and many average or above average are, in actions and beliefs, as dumb as posts. One of the clearest examples of stupidity is the reduction of every issue to black vs. white dichotomies. Most of the stupidity of which I write is of environmental origin. Being raised a in a mind-numbing religious cult is but one example of this manufactured stupidity. Abused children often lack curiosity and turn to rigid, obsessive, ritualistic behavior, which later in life may result in favouring reactionary political and social opinions.

About 5% of the male population are sociopaths. I have no stats on the number of narcissists, but don't think they are any fewer in number than the socios. The latter are noted for their lack of empathy and love of heirarchy, domination and authority. Such individuals are found on the center-right-far-right of the political spectrum. Narcissists also lack empathy, but not to the degree of the sociopaths, but like them, are unaware of (or don't care about) the social apects of existence that make their darling lives possible. A narcissist would typically think, "To Hell with Global Warming, I must have a Hummer!" Both deviants engage in forms of sociopathic inversion, blaming others for their problems. (1) Hence, Jews, communists, Muslims, Aboriginal People, anarchists, socialists, immigrants, Black People, women, gays, trade unionist, environmentalists etc. are chosen as scape goats for real or imagined problems.

The "psychos" become the leaders and the stupid the followers. (But do not think of the mass base as one docile mass. There are a host of lower-level leaders – goon squads, trolls, hate radio spouters, hack writers, etc.)

We will remain dominated by this United Front From Hell as long as we have a political system allowing a minority to rule over us, thus preventing the average citizen from making the decisions about his/her life in all areas of concern. Political power must be decentralized and decision-making must be done with face-to-face direct democratic procedures. Only then can the Peoples' Will prevail.

1. Serial killers/rapists, the most extreme manifestation of the sociopath, typically place the responsibility for their crime upon their victims. The classic example of ideological sociopathic inversion is found in the Bible, where the evils of the world are laid at the feet of women. Aboriginal people everywhere have had similar treatment as "savages" for fighting back against their genocidal colonizers.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Counter-culture History

Happy New Year, everyone! I have just launched a new web site devoted to the history of the Counter-culture in British Columbia. The first article is on Comox Project 1965, which was the first mass civil disobedience against nuclear weapons. Anyone with information, stories, memories etc, on any aspect of the BC counter-culture, please write. See

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