node created 2019/09/29
So long as you are alive you have a place in all this and you play a role in it. Everyone here -- on the sidewalks, pedaling by on bicycles, looking at us, or not looking at us -- has a part he's playing in this story. Everyone is doing something that relates to us. They may kick sick guys in the belly as much as they like, or kill them, or force guys with the shits to remain closed up inside a church and then shoot them because they shit, or yell Alles Scheiße, alles Scheiße! for the millionth time, between them and us a relationship nevertheless exists that nothing can destroy. They know what they're doing, they know what's being done to us. They know it as well as if they were us. And they are. You are us. One looks at each of these creatures who doesn't know and one would like to get inside their consciousness that only wants to see a piece of striped cloth, a bearded face, a line of men with a martial SS figure at their head. They're going to ignore us; whenever we go through a town, it's a sleep of human beings that passes through a sleep of sleeping persons. That's how it appears. But we know; each group knows about the other, knows everything about it.
"The Human Race"
I'm rapidly becoming anti-tech, and I live and breathe tech. People no longer seem to know how to actually talk to each other, unless they already agree 100% with each others positions on any given subject. I don't see all of this heading in a positive direction for humanity, and I think we see that unfolding all around us, every day.
Friends are predetermined; friendship takes place between men and women who possess an intellectual and emotional affinity for each other. But comradeship — that ecstatic bliss that comes with belonging to the crowd in wartime — is within our reach. We can all have comrades. The danger of the external threat that comes when we have an enemy does not create friendship; it creates comradeship. And those in wartime are deceived about what they are undergoing. And this is why once the threat is over, once war ends, comrades again become strangers to us. This is why after war we fall into despair.

In friendship there is a deepening of our sense of self. We become, through the friend, more aware of who we are and what we are about; we find ourselves in the eyes of the friend. Friends probe and question and challenge each other to make each of us more complete; with comradeship, the kind that comes to us in patriotic fervor, there is a suppression of self-awareness, self-knowledge, and self-possession. Comrades lose their identities in wartime for the collective rush of a common cause — a common purpose.

In comradeship there are no demands on the self. This is part of its appeal and one of the reasons we miss it and seek to recreate it. Comradeship allows us to escape the demands on the self that is part of friendship. In wartime when we feel threatened, we no longer face death alone but as a group, and this makes death easier to bear. We ennoble self-sacrifice for the other, for the comrade; in short we begin to worship death. And this is what the god of war demands of us.

Think finally of what it means to die for a friend. It is deliberate and painful; there is no ecstasy. For friends, dying is hard and bitter. The dialogue they have and cherish will perhaps never be recreated. Friends do not, the way comrades do, love death and sacrifice. To friends, the prospect of death is frightening. And this is why friendship or, let me say love, is the most potent enemy of war.
For legends attract the very best in our times, just as ideologies attract the average, and the whispered tales of gruesome secret powers behind the scenes attract the very worst.
"The Origins of Totalitarianism"
I know that life is a doorway to eternity, and yet my heart so often gets lost in petty anxieties. It forgets the great way home that lies before it. Unprepared, given over to childish trivialities, it could be taken by surprise when the great hour comes and find that, for the sake of piffling pleasures, the one great joy has been missed. I am aware of this, but my heart is not. It seems unteachable; it continues its dreaming... always wavering between joy and depression.
For man to sit under the sun and cry about energy shortages must be highly amusing to the intelligent life in and out of the universe.
Anyone who doesn't want to belong to the masses need only cease to go easy on themselves; let them follow their conscience, which cries out to them "Be yourself! You are none of those things that you now do, think, and desire." Every young soul hears this call night and day and trembles, for when it thinks of its true liberation, it has an inkling of the measure of happiness for which it is destined from eternity. As long as it is shackled by the chains of opinion and fear, nothing can help it attain this happiness. And how bleak and senseless this life can become without this liberation!
When all are guilty, no one is; confessions of collective guilt are the best possible safeguard against the discovery of culprits, and the very magnitude of the crime the best excuse for doing nothing.
I’m surprised how indifferent so many feel about the US surveillance scandal. Look up Germany’s history. I have spoken to people who lived in Nazi and Eastern Socialist Germany - the spying on your life by the State is one thing, but what it does to your friends and family in the long run is beyond anything you can imagine right now. You lose trust in people you love, every conversation becomes half lie/ half truth. It becomes part of EVERYBODY’s lives. Nobody is an exception. Ignore music, games or whatever you do right now and research the topic.
Nobody at any time is cut off from God.
There exists in our society a widespread fear of judging that has nothing whatever to do with the biblical "Judge not, that ye be not judged," and if this fear speaks in terms of "casting the first stone," it takes this word in vain. For behind the unwillingness to judge lurks the suspicion that no one is a free agent, and hence the doubt that anyone is responsible or could be expected to answer for what he has done. The moment moral issues are raised, even in passing, he who raises them will be confronted with this frightful lack of self-confidence and hence of pride, and also with a kind of mock-modesty that in saying, Who am I to judge? actually means We're all alike, equally bad, and those who try, or pretend that they try, to remain halfway decent are either saints or hypocrites, and in either case should leave us alone.
If you have no constraints on capital flow, then you can attack currencies freely.

That creates what international economists sometimes call a virtual parliament of investors and lenders who can - I'm quoting from technical literature - "carry out a moment by moment referrendum on government policies". And if they think the policies are irrational, they can vote against them by capital flight or by attacks on the currencies, and so on. Policies that are irrational are, by definition, those that benefit people, but don't improve profit and market access and so on. And therefore, governments face what's called a dual constituency - their own population, and the virtual parliament.

And the virtual parliament usually wins, especially in poorer countries. The rich countries, it was modulated, they didn't accept the neo-liberal package as completely as say, Latin America, but to the extent that they did, the effects are predictable. And the same is true of other elements of neo-liberal programs. Take say, privitization, which became a mantra. Well, by definition, privitization undercuts democracy. It takes something out of the public arena and puts it into the hands of unaccountable private tyrannies that are created and appointed by the state, which is what corporations are.
A totalitarian state simply enunciates official doctrine -- clearly, explicitly. Internally, one can think what one likes, but one can only express opposition at one's peril. In a democratic system of propaganda no one is punished (in theory) for objecting to official dogma. In fact, dissidence is encouraged. What this system attempts to do is to fix the limits of possible thought: supporters of official doctrine at one end, and the critics -- vigorous, courageous, and much admired for their independence of judgment -- at the other. The hawks and the doves. But we discover that all share certain tacit assumptions, and that it is these assumptions that are really crucial. No doubt a propaganda system is more effective when its doctrines are insinuated rather than asserted, when it sets the bounds for possible thought rather than simply imposing a clear and easily identifiable doctrine that one must parrot -- or suffer the consequences. The more vigorous the debate, the more effectively the basic doctrines of the propaganda system, tacitly assumed on all sides, are instilled. Hence the elaborate pretense that the press is a critical dissenting force -- maybe even too critical for the health of democracy -- when in fact it is almost entirely subservient to the basic principles of the ideological system: in this case, the principle of the right of intervention, the unique right of the United States to serve as global judge and executioner. It is quite a marvelous system of indoctrination.

Here is still another example along the same lines. Look at this quotation from the Washington Post, a paper that is often regarded as the most consistent critic of the war among the national media. This is from an editorial of April 30, 1975, entitled "Deliverance":

For if much of the actual conduct of Vietnam policy over the years was wrong and misguided - even tragic - it cannot be denied that some part of the purpose of that policy was right and defensible. Specifically, it was right to hope that the people of South Vietnam would be able to decide on their own form of government and social order. The American public is entitled, indeed obligated, to explore how good impulses came to be transmuted into bad policy, but we cannot afford to cast out all remembrance of that earlier impulse.

What were the "good impulses"? When precisely did the United States try to help the South Vietnamese choose their own form of government and social order? As soon as such questions are posed, the absurdity becomes evident. From the moment that the American-backed French effort to destroy the major nationalist movement in Vietnam collapsed, the United States was consciously and knowingly opposed to the organized political forces within South Vietnam, and resorted to increasing violence when these political forces could not be crushed. But these facts, easily documented, must be suppressed. The liberal press cannot question the basic doctrine of the state religion, that the United States is benevolent, even though often misguided in its innocence, that it labors to permit free choice, even though at times some mistakes are committed in the exuberance of its programs of international goodwill. We must believe that we "Americans" are always good, though, to be sure, fallible:

For the fundamental "lesson" of Vietnam surely is not that we as a people are intrinsically bad, but rather that we are capable of error - and on a gigantic scale....

Note the rhetoric: "we as a people" are not intrinsically bad, even if we are capable of error. Was it "we as a people" who decided to conduct the war in Vietnam? Or was it something that had rather more to do with our political leaders and the social institutions they serve? To pose such a question is of course illegitimate, according to the dogmas of the state religion, because that raises the question of the institutional sources of power, and such questions are only considered by irrational extremists who must be excluded from debate (we can raise such questions with regard to other societies, of course, but not the United States).
A good way of finding out who won a war, who lost a war, and what the war was about, is to ask who's cheering and who's depressed after it's over - this can give you interesting answers.

So, for example, if you ask that question about the Second World War, you find out that the winners were the Nazis, the German industrialists who had supported Hitler, the Italian Fascists and the war criminals that were sent off to South America - they were all cheering at the end of the war. The losers of the war were the anti-fascist resistance, who were crushed all over the world. Either they were massacred like in Greece or South Korea, or just crushed like in Italy and France. That's the winners and losers. That tells you partly what the war was about.

Now let's take the Cold War: Who's cheering and who's depressed? Let's take the East first. The people who are cheering are the former Communist Party bureaucracy who are now the capitalist entrepreneurs, rich beyond their wildest dreams, linked to Western capital, as in the traditional Third World model, and the new Mafia. They won the Cold War. The people of East Europe obviously lost the Cold War; they did succeed in overthrowing Soviet tyranny, which is a gain, but beyond that they've lost - they're in miserable shape and declining further. If you move to the West, who won and who lost? Well, the investors in General Motors certainly won. They now have this new Third World open again to exploitation - and they can use it against their own working classes. On the other hand, the workers in General Motors certainly didn't win, they lost. They lost the Cold War, because now there's another way to exploit them and oppress them and they're suffering from it.
Forum with John Pilger and Harold Pinter in Islington, London, May 1994
Don't let school interfere with your education.
Given the track record of institutional science and the ever-growing list of regulatory failures, moral failures and outright abuses pushed in the guise of scientific expertise, why do so many people seem to think that simply doubling down and bullying the general population into compliance with expert consensus will ever work? What if institutional science in the US has a legitimacy crisis because it has failed to police its own corruption and failed to address its own limitations and vulnerabilities? What if everyday people can see this more clearly than those striving on the margins of these institutions?

Personally, as a scientist, I am comforted that there are enough others out there who doubt the entire notion of a scientific establishment that the population should "trust" to make decisions without oversight. Our numbers are growing, and I know many people who fight every day to ensure we will never be ruled by unquestionable expert consensus. Anyone who has been inside these institutions knows exactly how petty and arbitrary the hierarchical structures can be. I'd rather be ruled over by elite families than squabbling, territorial, overconfident scientists who can be bought off for nothing and blackmailed easily.

I think the constant stream of these articles just illustrates the massive social blind spot that comes from training STEM professionals solely for careers rather than for citizenship, communication and community membership. STEM training itself has sadly become a hierarchical, cult-like, anti-intellectual system that deprives students of critical thinking skills.
In seeking my own restoration and that of those I had wounded, it became clear I wanted restoration for those who hurt me as well. I wanted their humanity recognized and whatever twisted them acknowledged. I wanted healing and restoration for generations.
There's a time and a place to dig in your heels and say NO to something. It usually comes when someone else has been reckless. If you do it for everything, then either you're the problem, or you're surrounded by recklessness. I think you can figure out what to do then.
You cannot be just one color. If the bloody thing is ever gonna work out properly, then we all have to intermarry and screw each other blind, and get to be.. coffee-ish.
You know my old saying, "Slavery was never abolished, it was only extended to include all the colors."

And what hurts is the steadily diminishing humanity of those fighting to hold jobs they don't want but fear the alternative worse. People simply empty out. They are bodies with fearful and obedient minds. The color leaves the eye. The voice becomes ugly. And the body. The hair. The fingernails. The shoes. Everything does.
I can have no other notion of all the other governments that I see or know, than that they are a conspiracy of the rich, who, on pretence of managing the public, only pursue their private ends, and devise all the ways and arts they can find out; first, that they may, without danger, preserve all that they have so ill-acquired, and then, that they may engage the poor to toil and labour for them at as low rates as possible, and oppress them as much as they please; and if they can but prevail to get these contrivances established by the show of public authority, which is considered as the representative of the whole people, then they are accounted laws.
"Utopia" (1517)
Q: Why do the police always travel in threes?

A: One to do the reading, one to do the writing, and the other keeps an eye on the two intellectuals.
The United States is deeply in debt - that was part of the whole Reagan/Bush program, in fact: to put the country so deeply in debt that there would be virtually no way for the government to pursue programs of social spending anymore. And what "being in debt" really means is that the Treasury Department has sold a ton of securities - bonds and notes and so on - to investors, who then trade them back and forth on the bond market. Well, according to the Wall Street Journal, by now about $150 billion a day worth of U.S. Treasury securities alone is traded this way. The article then explained what this means: it means that if the investing community which holds those securities doesn’t like any U.S. government policies, it can very quickly sell off just a tiny signal amount of Treasury bonds, and that will have the automatic effect of raising the interest rate, which then will have the further automatic effect of increasing the deficit. Okay, this article calculated that if such a "signal" sufficed to raise the interest rate by 1 percent, it would add $20 billion to the deficit overnight - meaning if Clinton (say in someone’s dream) proposed a $20 billion social spending program, the international investing community could effectively turn it into a $40 billion program instantly, just by a signal, and any further moves in that direction would be totally cut off.
"Understanding Power" (2002)
For the masses, the feeling that technology develops along an inevitable path reflects their lack of agency — the fact that the crucial decisions about the technological conditions of society will be made by a largely self-regulating confraternity of elites. For engineers and scientists, technological development appears to be driven by a combination of what they can imagine, what is technically feasible, and what governments or markets demand. Even those whose particular genius produces the breakthroughs feel this as an inevitability, as if they are possessed by some inner logic that is the real force ushering in this new world.
Until now the totalitarian belief that everything is possible seems to have proved only that everything can be destroyed. Yet, in their effort to prove that everything is possible, totalitarian regimes have discovered without knowing it that there are crimes which men can neither punish nor forgive. When the impossible was made possible it became the unpunishable, unforgivable absolute evil which could no longer be understood by the evil motives of self-interest, greed, covetousness, resentment, lust for power, and cowardice; and which therefore anger could not revenge, love could not endure, friendship could not forgive. Just as the victims in the death factories or the holes of oblivion are no longer "human" in the eyes of their executioners, so this newest species of criminals is beyond the pale even of solidarity in human sinfulness.

It is inherent in our entire philosophical tradition that we cannot conceive of a "radical evil." And this is true both for Christian theology, which conceded even to the Devil himself a celestial origin, as well as for Kant, the only philosopher who, in the word he coined for it, at least must have suspected the existence of this evil even though he immediately rationalized it in the concept of a "perverted ill will" that could be explained by comprehensible motives. Therefore, we actually have nothing to fall back on in order to understand a phenomenon that nevertheless confronts us with its overpowering reality and breaks down all the standards we know. There is only one thing that seems to be discernible: we may say that radical evil has emerged in connection with a system in which all men have become equally superfluous.
"The Origins of Totalitarianism"
A human being has so many skins inside, covering the depths of the heart. We know so many things, but we don't know ourselves! Why, thirty or forty skins or hides, as thick and hard as an ox's or bear's, cover the soul. Go into your own ground and learn to know yourself there.
Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.
That's the genius of our ruling class. They're so brilliant that no one knows they even exist. The political-science professors, perfectly sane men, look at me with wonder when I talk about the ruling class in America.

They say, "You are one of those conspiracy theorists. You think there's a headquarters and they get together at the Bohemian Grove and run the United States."

Well, they DO get together at the Bohemian Grove and do a lot of picking of Secretaries of State, anyway.

But they don't have to conspire. They all think alike. It goes back to the way we're raised, the schools we went to -- after all, I'm a reluctant member of this group. You don't have to give orders to the editor of The New York Times. He is in place because he will respond to a crisis the way you want him to, as will the President, as will the head of the Chase Manhattan Bank.
He smiles a lot. But I think there might be worms inside him making him smile.
"The Stand"