Wednesday, December 28, 2005

What Will Democracy Look Like?

To the Founding Fathers,

We come with no easy blueprint for tomorrow's constitution. We mistrust those who think they already have the answers when we are still trying to formulate the questions. But the time has come for us to imagine completely novel alternatives, to discuss, dissent, debate, and design from the ground up the democratic architecture of tomorrow.

Not in a spirit of anger or dogmatism, not in a sudden impulsive spasm, but through the widest consultation and peaceful public participation, we need to join together to reconstitute America.

Alvin and Heidi Toffler - from the book "Creating a New Civilization"

In the Open Forum at MfD, the failure of our current two-party political system was brought up and the question of "how do we fix it" emerged from the discussion. A contributor stated that the dilema we face today, in our current political arena, isn't really about "right" and "left" anymore. We now find ourselves evolving beyond taking political sides and find ourselves searching more for what is "right" and "wrong" outside of our current polarizing political structure. They go on to say, "This is about understanding that true democracy lies in the dignity of people and not in the rhetoric of politics." In my opinion, what is missing in our current form of democracy is, "The People"! Our democratic structure has moved way beyond any form of participatory system into a highly repressive, representative system which by it's nature, excludes the input of the people in the decision making process. We get the scraps off the table after our masters have gorged themselves on the fruits of our labor.

There was mention of the need for a third party and the possibility of massive numbers of people falling in line in support of a party which would be based on issues pertinent to workers. A party without the now existing conservative/liberal labels. I agree, a third party seems like it would help balance the structure out, but a part of me thinks this is like an attempt to oil the existing machine in order to make it perform better. This is a complicated issue for me and something in my brain's recesses keeps telling me the existing machine just can't be fixed due to the amount of capital which the two parties have accumulated and their willingness to use it to their benefit. I'm thinking the machine is worn out, and is no longer economical in the emerging economical/political climate. A new part here, an oil change there, and we still have the same 20th century motor which still belches out noxious consumerist fumes. This machine is fueled by labor, and as such, the owners of the current machine will always strive for cheaper fuel prices. The engine we have is not efficient and it burns labor like a 1968 Chevy 427 burns petrol. "We" are the fuel for the current machine and even though we do take an active role in the operation of it, I'm not particularly fond of the part the people play in the running of this machine. So by propping up the current system, and attempting to add on new parts, doesn't have any effect as far as I'm concerned and the machine just keeps on chugging, coughing, sputtering, and kicking out poison into the enviroment and making it an unfit and inequal place for the inhabitants of the world. I just believe we will have to design a new, more efficient model which utilizes balance of all the parts and doesn't have any loose screws, nuts, or bolts laying around after it's assembled.

I appreciate the futurists energy and their contributions. I have learned a great deal from these guys. While it's true they base a great deal of their predictions on current trends and rightly so, I believe making predictions based on current trends has a tendency of keeping one on the fence. I think our time would be better spent if we moved away from predicting our future and moved on to creating one. Reason tells us where we are going on the current path, now we have to turn into creationists in order to make the transition as humane as possible for not just the people within our nations, but the entire global population. Injustice doesn't discriminate and it's effect reaches all corners of our globe. It's not a unique problem and it's cancerous blite has done great harm to all people of our planet. People across the globe are communicating and discussing issues outside the walls and fences constructed by the political nationalists whose double speak has kept our collective minds locked away for so long. It's my opinion the people and their power of reason will one day be fully realized and the barriers, both mental and physical, which have been constructed by an elite few, in an attempt to hold on to power, will tumble and dissolve. This probably sounds like a nightmare to some, especially the isolationist paleoconservatives such as Pat Buchanan. But I have to give credit to Buchanan, as he is against the Patriot Act and he doesn't agree with the war and the "new empire's" agendas. He's the so-called "true conservative" it's been said. But unlike him, I believe the connections of communities around the world is what will save us and isolation will only make the shift into the new paradigm that much more difficult and help create more pooling of power in the hands of an elite few. Yeah, I'm a dreamer, but our realities are built on such dreams!

Just as an example of how boundaries are disappearing, let me share this with you. Right before Christmas, Cindy Sheehan began a European tour meeting not only with the foreign ministers, presidents, and other elite, but she has been visiting with the families of other children who have lost their lives in the War on Terror. Language barriers are being overcome in what Sheehan calls, "A Language of the Heart".
No matter if we all speak differently accented English, Spanish, or the heavy Glaswegian accent of my Scottish sister in sorrow, Rose Gentle - whose gentle-giant son, Gordon, was killed by Blair and Bush in Iraq in July of 2004 - our hearts all speak the same idiom of pain, and we sing the same lament of futile loss.

Yes, pain and suffering are common grounds on which the people can meet. Not the ideal of meeting places for sure, but out of this shared grief and suffering, fertile ground is emerging and new life is sprouting. A language of the heart is not hard to imagine at all. It's the place where we see things for what they really are. It's something we all share. Read this e-mail Sheehan received from a mother of an Iraqi insurgent who was killed in the same battle Sheehan's son was killed.
In conclusion, this is an excerpt of an email I received from a mother in Iraq whose son Zaydoun Mamoun Fadhil Al-Samarai, a Shi'a insurgent, was involved in the same battle in which Casey was killed. Zaydoun was later killed.

We, my friend, in the march of pain could work together, each from where she is, toward putting an end to the blood shed and toward peace and love to prevail, instead of war.

We could, my lady, work together toward peace and toward putting an end to the blood shed and give all mothers a hope for happiness because we experience pain when we lost our sons. Because, he who did not experience pain cannot understand happiness.

I will be very happy when the war ends so we can celebrate in my town, Samara, which witnessed the birth of my oldest son, Zaydoun, who I thought would mourn me when I die, but, unfortunately, I mourned him one month before his wedding.

I am conveying his fiancée's greeting, who is still mourning him.

At the end, please accept my deepest sympathies, from a mother who lost her son to another mother who lost her son.

I hope to be able to meet with you on the march for peace and love.

Yes, I believe dreamers will help design a better place, but what can be done, or what is being done here in our little world to make the transition from one world into the next? I've always heard you need to clean up your own yard before you criticize what your neighbors yard looks like! So where do we start?

There have been many groups which have grown out of the availability of the internet and the flow of information which ensued. Some lean towards existing parties, others are bipartisn, and some have their base in the believe of an entirely new design. But the important thing is these people have seen the shift and through communication are attempting to make the innevitable much better, easier, and more participatory. I believe we can gain usable knowledge from any and perhaps all of these groups. Perhaps there is a need for new terminology? Instead of "politics", maybe we could call it "citizenology" or something of the sort? The word citizenship, according to wikipedia, often also implies working towards the betterment of one's community through participation, volunteer work, and efforts to improve life for all citizens. So I suppose citizenology would be the study of how people, through participation, can work to improve life for all people. People deal with their differences by creating alliances, discussing, negotiating, and engaging people on issues which involve the self-interest of like-minded people. We need less stratification due to vertically structured parties, and more accordance through horizontal citizen engagement. The ICHECRD offers extensive links of online resource groups and partnerships pertaining to civic education and democracy within communities.

Take this quote from America Speaks website which is part of the conservative based Pew Charitable Trust. The quote portrays the growing bipartisn concern of our current structures.
Most Americans today would agree that there is something deeply wrong with how our democracy is working: citizens have largely lost their rightful role in public decision making. The American public deserves more than the vote, they deserve a voice in what happens – an impact on decisions that impact their lives, and a government responsive to their needs. However, the dramatic growth and power of special interest groups have both constrained leaders and squeezed ordinary citizens out of the process. As a result, many citizens feel alienated, and decision makers have lost touch with their constituents’ true concerns.

The vote has evolved into merely a control of the masses through illusionary democratic principles and our voices have been silenced by the representative form of democracy and a participatory democracy is the only way to allow the people's voice to once again be heard. Let's look at another example of people communicating in an effort to build a people oriented form of democracy. On the Civic Practices Network website, the following parargraph states who they are and what they see as their goals in the design of a new democratic structure.
We are community organizers, civic journalists, and youth activists. We are grassroots environmentalists, business people and civil servants working collaboratively to create safe and sustainable local economies. We are union and business innovators, dispute resolution practitioners, participatory urban planners. We are teachers and librarians working to develop civic skills at every level of our educational system. We are community health and social welfare professionals working to empower families and develop community capacities for solving problems in a diverse and complex society undergoing rapid change.

Of special interest to the designers of our future is the emergence of Electronic Democracy, and the possibility of a new participatory based Internet Democracy, which could open new positions of speech, empowering previously excluded groups and enabling new aspects of social life to become part of the political process. Actually, through online participation, is it too "far out" to believe this form of democracy could/will create a new meaning to the term "politics"? The political and social scientists are drawn to the implications of the internet in realtion to the opportunities it offers society. They continually attempt to identify whether this new technology will promote democracy and if so, how will our political landscape change? The problem is, technology along with the peoples willingness to explore and expand, is moving the issues so fast, by the time these experts put together a theory, the advancements of the people driven technology has deemed their work archaic.

Many believe however that the internet with all it's positive influence in building more democratic communities, still remains susceptible to totalitarian governments and their control by monitoring the people's thoughts, ideas, and activities. This definitely is worthy of discussion and there are ways of circumventing these controls electronically, but the best way to fight this type of undemocratic control is through cooperative community efforts to bring this totalitarianism into the public light and fight to maintain an open and uncensored flow of communication. It's still about cooperation and groups/communities of support. In order to hold on to our emerging power of knowledge, we must keep one eye focused on the Hidden State.

The internet has brought about a transparency which shows how our political system has failed it's citizens. We can now witness a small group in our nation's capitals who are attempting to overthrow the will of the people while ignoring the majority. The technology which we are immersed in shows us our political processes are nothing more than a narrow tool of the elite. From propaganda and infospin, we are constantly bombarded with tripe whose sole purpose is an attempt to save a dying structure rather than adapt to the shift and build a new democracy. One that actually is more democratic and participatory in nature. The hogs are going to scream and squeel and believe me, the current structures of power well intend to fight to the end. And I really don't know just how far the power mongers will go to hang on to their throne and it could get very ugly. So it probably is better for us if we just expect the worst. Let's just hope we can hold on to our flow of communication and keep our info-communities alive and growing.

There's no doubt the changes will be seismic in nature as we evolve into this uncharted world. The acceleration, which in no small part, is due to the introduction of the personal computer, will continue on an escalated scale. Unlike the shifts of the past, this one will happen within decades rather than generations and we will feel the world shift under our feet. The individuals and institutions who have a vested interest in the dying age will do everything in their power to resist the change. But despite all that these powerful few try, our political and economical systems must change as will the functions of our educational systems, labor, corporations, and the definition of capital. There is a great deal of speculation on what will take place and what our world will look like in the future. Consider these thoughts from around the web on what the information age will bring.

Minority Power as well as majority rule will become obsolete as various forms of public policy implementation such as proportional representation, community consensus, and systems of conflict resolution will replace it.

We could see the emergence of semi-direct democracy as (representative democracy) invented by the Founding Fathers which was appropriate for their time when 90% of the people were illiterate, no longer fits within our society of information. And since direct democracy carries the weight of "tyranny of the majority" which is obsolete, a moderate and reasonable middle ground is semi-direct democracy. People through community efforts will demand the right by petition to propose a bill, to modify a bill, to bind the vote of their legislator, to set up public hearings, to establish a legislative committee, or to make a formal expression of priorities to the legislature either for policy action or spending.

As the amount of information grows and as the pace of decision making necessarily accelerates, it becomes functionally impossible for decision making to be dominated by central control and power is spread through thousands of smaller activist groups and communities.

As the voting records, ratings, etc. will soon be readily available to everyone on the Internet, slanted coverage, spinning by political parties and management of the news will be overcome by the sheer volume of information available to everyone.

There are millions of ideas concerning what the information age will bring, from one end of the spectrum to the other, but the important thing to remember is that we actually are in the middle of the shift and the world as we know it is changing. This change is due to the amount of available information. What the world will evolve into is no doubt questionable and our future isn't set in stone, but it's how you and I use this available technology and information, and how we share it which will help build our world the way we know it should be. Yes, there are millions of people who refuse to see the old systems are decaying, but there are millions more who do share the idea that the people of the earth do have common goals and a connectivity that reaches far beyond the political and economical boundaries which have been thrust upon human beings to enforce the agendas of a select few.

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

The entire world does have one thing in common other than the unending injustices. The holiday season brings this common thread into the light. It's something we share, something we pass down to our children's children. It's the legacy we leave behind for our future generations. No, it's not our art or music I'm referring to. No, it's not our knowledge of what I speak of. It's none other than our "garbage". And the holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Years, produces as much as one tenth of the entire annual total of un-recycled garbage or approximately 25% more than any other time of the year. That equals to about one million extra tons per week in the U.S., added to an already high figure of 600,000 tons of trash per day or 210,000,000 tons a year, or the equivalence of 4.3 pounds of trash per person per day.

According to the Use Less Stuff Report, there are enough holiday cards sent to fill a football field 10 stories high and thousands of miles of wrapping paper discarded during the holiday season. Most wrapping paper and cards are not recyclable due to the presence of inks and foil, and the packaging of styrofoam, plastic peanuts, twist ties, or other non-recyclable trash ends up going to the land fills also. Paper products make up over 40% of our trash, and this year approximately 3.35 million tons of paper were used in catalogs alone. Our "need" for paper costs us over 900,000,000 trees yearly, and I don't know how most of you feel about that, but in my opinion, that's a "heluva-lot-a-trees" and that's just in the U.S.!

While paper accounts for the bulk of our trash, yard waste that isn't composted or recycled comes in second, amounting to about 18% of our yearly garbage, or close to 24 million tons yearly, according to the Enviromental Defense Fund. But with the age of information comes new and very deadly trash in the form of electronic garbage, or namely "computer trash". According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there are close to 2 million computers which end up in our waste stream on a yearly basis. It has been projected that by this year there could be over 300 million trashed computers buried in our landfills. This is not to mention other electronic equipment such as televisions, microwaves, cell phones, or refrigerators. This electronic "stuff" is full of toxic material such as lead, mercury, and cadmium and is becoming a Global Threat.

We send most of this garbage to landfills where it's usually compacted and sealed into airtight holes in the ground where it is unable to decompose and remains preserved so I suppose our grandchildren can figure out what to do with it! What is ironic is that a lot of this trash we bury every day will most likely be in better shape than our houses or cars decades from now! The time capsule to beat all time capsules! Let's face it, we are the "throwaway culture". We are continually giving the gift of garbage that just keeps on giving for generations to come. Like the energizer bunny, we just keep "throwing" and "throwing" and "throwing"! For all our accomplishments and advancements in technology and knowledge, we really suck as human beings!

I once helped my wife come up with an idea for her English composition assignment and actually, I did the entire paper for her. I did this because she was loaded down between full-time status at school and caring for three kids at home (four including me), and well, it just seemed like the supportive thing to do. My idea was to compare the legacy of human beings of the twentieth century to the legacy of our early Native Americans. I compared the pop-tops from aluminum cans and the plastic six-pack rings to the beautiful artifacts of our early country's caretakers. I won't go into detail, but I'm sure you get the picture! However, my wife didn't do well on the paper, but that's another story and has more to do with my inability to write rather than the point of the comparison. We are trashy people! :) We use, we abuse, and we throw away!

However, the garbage explosion of the U.S. has created new areas of study and new specialists are required in the study of Garbology. The High Priest of Garbology, William Rathje, who also co-editors the Use Less Stuff website, has created this new form of analyzing human behavior by digging through our garbage. Here is an interesting nostalgic look at the "timeline" of America's relationship with garbage. The time-line runs from pre-1800 to post 1950. And if you want more, just go check out the History of Waste.

You know, my sons and I collect antique bottles, and the large majority of these come from late 19th to early 20th century trash dumps of individual old homesteads. The normal dump areas are in adjacent ditches or creeks within close proximity of the home sites. So I can relate to Rathje's need to dig through garbage, maybe not for the same archaeological reasons of studying human behavior and it's impact on society, but just because we like "old stuff". And in an abstract way of thinking, digging through old garbage for stuff is kinda like recycling isn't it? :) So as you toss that next piece of trash in the compactor or trash can, think about whether it will help future generations understand the behavior of our society. And then ask yourself what sort of message is this piece of trash going to relay to our future generations! I know I'm going to try to do better! I know I can! I hope we all can!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Public Interest -vs- Private Agendas

As a follow up on the previous rant of the Power of Propaganda, this article focuses on how we've got to the point we are today, in regard to how the media 'has been', and 'still is' a powerful socially structuring tool. The power associated with the media is hard to measure as we are saturated daily with an unending collage of facts and fiction. Has the media been transformed into a form of control used by a wealthy few whose only concern is to keep the majority within their social design? Just how influential is corporate media, and what are it's potential impacts on democracy? A difficult question to answer just do to the fact we are dealing with an abstract rather than a simple formula of measurement. But yet people as far back as the 1920s became concerned with the power associated with the emerging new media of radio. The thought was, that if control of radio was concentrated in the hands of a few, freedom would cease to exist.

These fears of the possibility of a reduction in democracy, and the possible domination of the people through the use of the media, brought about certain safeguards which were enacted here in the U.S. The enactment of the Public Interest Standard within the Radio Act of 1927 was the first attempt to make the airwaves a public utility. However the Radio Act also gave broad powers to the Federal Communications Commission. And the National Association of Broadcasters, with their interests in commercialism of the airwaves, began to build their business around "clear channels" dedicated for the major players such as RCA and NBC. An industry was born and it's growth soon moved away from the original concept of the air waves being a public utility, and has moved into the "marketplace" or profit model we have today.

Shortly after the Radio Act, a need was seen in regard to how broadcasters permitted political candidates the use of their airwaves. With the 1934 Communication Act, a provision was made called the Equal Time rule which required a broadcaster to allow equal time to political opponents. The view of this provision has changed considerably and remains as a point of interest as it continues to evolve such as in the definition of "bona fide news" and how this definition applies to broadcasters when airing presidential debates.

Another policy, which grew out of a concern that broadcasters might use their stations as advocates of a singular perspective, was the "Fairness Doctrine". This was an attempt to ensure that all coverage of controversial issues by a broadcast station be balanced and fair. But in 1985 the FCC began denouncing the doctrine and in 1987, with both houses of Congress voting to put the fairness doctrine into law, President Reagan, in keeping with his deregulatory efforts and his long-standing favor of keeping government out of the affairs of business, vetoed the legislation.

As deregulation of the "public interest" policies have continued, the news divisions of the major broadcasters have become subsidized by the networks and have become profit centers designed to generate revenue and advance corporate agendas. As Al Gore stated in his speech to the We Media Conference:
The news divisions - which used to be seen as serving a public interest and were subsidized by the rest of the network - are now seen as profit centers designed to generate revenue and, more importantly, to advance the larger agenda of the corporation of which they are a small part. They have fewer reporters, fewer stories, smaller budgets, less travel, fewer bureaus, less independent judgment, more vulnerability to influence by management, and more dependence on government sources and canned public relations hand-outs. This tragedy is compounded by the ironic fact that this generation of journalists is the best trained and most highly skilled in the history of their profession. But they are usually not allowed to do the job they have been trained to do.

What is happening with all the deregulations of the media industry is the growth of a monopolizing enviroment. As media consolidations continue to transform the once many media companies into just a few corporations who are concentrating the power of the media for their advantage, the availability of unbiased reporting disappears. Now the huge conglomerates are allowed to own broadcasting stations which can reach up to 45% of the national audience, which is up from 35% just recently.
"The public has a right to be informed by a diversity of viewpoints so they can make up their own minds. Without a diverse, independent media, citizen access to information crumbles, along with political and social participation. For the sake of democracy, we should encourage the widest possible dissemination of free expression through the public airwaves."

Just this month F.A.I.R.'s bi-monthly magazine EXTRA, revealed a six month study of the guest list on C-SPAN's Washington Journal. Some of the findings of the study were:

  • Republicans outnumbered Democrats nearly two to one while not a single third party representative appeared during the study period.
  • People of African and Asian heritage accounted for 4% each, people of Middle Eastern and Latin American descent were 3% each, and no Native Americans were identified at all.
  • Male guests outnumbered women by four to one
  • Journalists accounted for nearly a third of all guests (32 percent), the largest single occupational group on the guestlist. Of opinion journalists, 32 were right-of-center while only 19 were left-of-center.
  • Citizen-based organizations and public interest groups accounted for just 9 percent of total guests.

Exploitation of the media via political advertisements has also expanded as seen in the media advocacy of of the Swift Boat Vets against John Kerry and the refusal to allow NARAL's ads against supreme court nominee Roberts. F.A.I.R.'s report entitled Judgment Reserved to Judgment Reversed discusses how front groups, utilizing advertising, do the political parties dirty work on the fringes of honesty. While political slanting of the media is very noticeable and most of us have accepted that fact, more and more we also see the advantage of "big money" when it comes to utilizing the media to enhance certain corporation's public relations. Take a look at the article Media Lick the Hand That Feeds Them, which is focused on wal-mart's flexing of it's money muscle. I'm not focusing on wal-mart but they just happen to be the largest corporation in the world and therefore are a big player in the media game.

Even National Public Radio isn't immune to the one sided style of media. In a study done on NPR, it was noted that 64% of their sources were elite government officials, professional experts, and corporate representatives. The abuse by the media of allowing concentrations of power, whether that power be based in capital or in the political arena, is absolutely unacceptable. People are beginning to realize just how important mass media is in swaying public opinions through one-sided reporting. The activists who desire to bring equality back into the media and make it once again a vehicle of "public interest" have adopted a Citizen's Guide to Public Interest Obligations and a Bill of Media Rights.

In his recent speech , Gore also explained how democracy is in grave danger at the hands of the political and corporate money bags.
"Our democracy has been hollowed out. The opinions of the voters are, in effect, purchased, just as demand for new products is artificially created. Decades ago Walter Lippman wrote, “the manufacture of consent…was supposed to have died out with the appearance of democracy…but it has not died out. It has, in fact, improved enormously in technique…under the impact of propaganda, it is no longer plausible to believe in the original dogma of democracy.”

Gore goes on to explain how important the internet is to the citizens and how willing the people must be to fight for it.
The final point I want to make is this: We must ensure that the Internet remains open and accessible to all citizens without any limitation on the ability of individuals to choose the content they wish regardless of the Internet service provider they use to connect to the Worldwide Web. We cannot take this future for granted. We must be prepared to fight for it because some of the same forces of corporate consolidation and control that have distorted the television marketplace have an interest in controlling the Internet marketplace as well. Far too much is at stake to ever allow that to happen.

Walter Cronkite, on an appearence on the Larry King show, stated that "We are an ignorant nation right now. We're not capable of making the decisions that have to be made at election time, and particularly in the election of our legislatures and our Congress as well as the presidency of course. I think we're in serious danger. We sure do need to prove him wrong! It's our watch and we must build our knowledge resources so that we can fight this giant spin factory which has developed through the media. It's up to us to prove Cronkite wrong and bring accountability back into media, and educate ourselves in the ways of the machine. They can steal my possessions, but I for one won't let them steal my mind any longer! I have had enough and it's time that my thoughts make their way back into reality and out of the fantasy of the spin!

Friday, December 23, 2005


This is about the best present I could think of! I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful holiday!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Power of Propaganda

Just how much power is there in the propaganda market? Well, it shapes communities, markets, governments, and entire societies. So I would have to say that propaganda is one of, if not the most, powerful form of coersion there has ever been! In the book "Defining Power", by John Rothgeb, he defines propaganda as "distorted or incomplete presentation of information and ideas to a group of subjects in an attempt to alter their beliefs about political reality . . . Propaganda is most effective when the actor is able to seize the target's (public's) attention and to convey its message in a simple manner that the audience can understand ".

Propaganda comes disguised as the wolf clothed in the skin of the sheep. It seems so natural and easily accepted until you notice the diabolical gleam in it's eye and it's seemingly friendly smile turns into a gnashing of sharp teeth. And just how are these ideological interpretations of social structure, intended to regiment the people, spread to the masses? What better vehicle than the mass media. Our society is bombarded by them in print, on the television, and across the air waves. Of course they are spreading across the web now, as the advertisement market intends to utilize all avenues to promote the "grand design" of the few "responsible people" who know best what the rest of us "ignorant outsiders" need. Here's what Chomsky has to say about these "responsible people".
They all say (I'm partly quoting), the general population is "ignorant and meddlesome outsiders." We have to keep them out of the public arena because they are too stupid and if they get involved they will just make trouble. Their job is to be "spectators," not "participants."

The powerful political class' objective, through the use of powerful capital and the media, is to imbue our lives with diversion in order to keep us away from the real serious issues. This mass misdirection via the media is the framework designed by the powerful political class in order to maintain an order within a set of certain guidelines meant only to support their realm of power. Yeah, I know, sounds like the old typical anarchist rant! But if we can just stop for a short while and step outside these stalls that contain us, the concept is easily recognizable. These "important people" love to do our thinking for us!

A lot of the propaganda theories used today against the people were the brainchild of Edward Bernays. Bernay has been called the Father of Spin and after reading a few of his quotes I could picture a power monger attaching themselves to his way of thinking. Bernay thought it was possible to regiment the public mind through techniques of controlled propaganda. He thought the "intelligent minorities" had to utilize these control techniques directed at the masses in order to make sure the slobs stayed on the right course. He saw propaganda as the executive arm of the invisible government which must govern people by molding their minds, their tastes, and ideas. Truth becomes a problem unless it benefits the grand design. Therefore most of the world, as promoted by the mass media, is constantly saturated with lies fostered and fed by ideologies of an elite few.

The myth that democracy and capitalism are interlinked and inseparable is just more of the propaganda machine. As Erich Fromm warned, our perceptions have thereby been moulded to regard the world as ‘one great object for our appetite, a big apple, a big bottle, a big breast; we are the sucklers, the eternally expectant ones, the hopeful ones – and the eternally disappointed ones.’ Therein lies the necessary basis for the rampant success of global consumer capitalism. In an article in ZMag entitled Shaping the ‘public good’, the authors state the view of propaganda, or (public information) as seen through Bernay's and Walter Lippman's eyes. These two individuals, who were members of the U.S. Committee of Public Information, believed the general public (the ignorant and meddlesome outsiders) should be nothing more than spectators of action short of voting occasionally for a "responsible man". They viewed participatory democracy was dangerous for the common man and could be overcome by a representative system of democracy where "responsible men" could make the important decisions as necessary.

So capitalism in order to remain in a position of power must have people who are willing to cooperate smoothly and there must be large numbers of these people who are willing. These willing people must want to keep consuming and their tastes must be standardized and easily influenced and anticipated. These willing people must have a feeling of freedom and they all must feel independent and not subject to authority, principle, or conscience. But at the same time, these willing subjects must obey within the realms of the social machine, and do what is expected of them. In other words, the people must be guided without force, led without a leader, and prompted without aim, according to Erich Fromm. There is a documentary called, The Century of the Self, which documents how those in power, utilizing Freud's theories, have attempted to try and control the masses in the age of mass democracy.

Yes, I know these theories about propaganda control are old, but these same theories and their use are just as prominent today as they were then. We continue to obey and be the willing subject within their plan. It's only by their grace and willingness to share their intelligence and their "grand vision" that we socially survive, and we have capitalism to thank for this blessing! Our huge productive economy dictates we make consumption our way of life. It has to be number one and our buying of goods must be laced with rituals so we can find satisfaction of our egos. Hell, we can find spiritual satisfaction through consumption can't we? Our society, and the people within it's capitalistic structure, require things. We have this need for things that can be consumed, thrown away, or replaced in an ever increasing rate. It's what we've been taught our entire lives. It's what we know! Will this capitalistic prerequisite of consumerism really bring us happiness? Doesn't the "art of consumerism" place emphasis on the idea that the way to happiness is through the desire of pleasing ourselves? What about the happiness which comes from selflessness and the desire to help others? Oh wait, that doesn't fit within the "grand design" now does it?

We have been manipulated and controlled, but not merely by denying facts and figures of state and corporate rapacity and wrongdoing. We have been deceived by endless propaganda, both explicit and implicit, promoting the idea that happiness is, of course, "wanting pleasure for oneself", while working for others is a tiresome chore - a source of satisfaction and self-righteous pride perhaps, but nothing much to do with real happiness. The propaganda has been so successful that many of us can truly not imagine how working for the benefit of others could possibly be related to our own benefit and peace of mind. Helping an old lady across the road, or donating to Oxfam, are fine things to do, but they're hardly pleasure-drenched sex with a gorgeous partner, they're not skiing through fresh powder under a blazing sun; they're not making a million and having the world at our feet. Internal Barricades

Speaking from a personal point of view, I see working for money as working for something that actually has no life, a dead thing. But, working through a motivation of compassion and a desire to help others carries with it a sense of meaning and the reward which comes from this is very satisfying and it's a living thing which actually grows the more you're exposed to it.

The mass media now has competition and believe me the "social designers" are very aware of this. Our alternative media is continually opening doors and minds. People are entering areas of knowledge nobody before us has been privilege to. Now I'm sure there are many journalists within the mass media who have integrity and they believe they are being honest. But to quote Chomsky, "The more educated you are the more indoctrinated you are. And you believe you are being free and objective, whereas in fact you're just repeating state propaganda. The new media works under a different set of laws. Laws of consensus which are meant to support the majority of the people of our planet instead of just an elite few. People are realizing new potentials they never dreamed of while in the structure of the master's grand design. We are consolidating our resources and building information power houses for the working people to draw from. It's absolutely amazing what has happened in alternative media just in the last few years. To be effective, we must re-educate ourselves and move away from the strategies that once worked but are no longer viable.
While we can celebrate the end of socialisation imposed from above, we have also lost the class loyalty, the worker solidarity and the coherent demands for universal rights and services developed from below. Political parties and trades unions are withering. Charities are likely to follow. The absence of effective mass action has enabled tiny numbers of people to capture much of the world's wealth, and tiny populations of target voters to capture the attentions of government.

The smashing of society provides us with the means of building movements which are not limited by national or ethnic loyalties, by adhesion to the workplace or to the village. It may permit us to create an internationalist movement far bigger than any which has existed before, united by a common opposition to what is now an international ruling class. But first we progressives may have to abandon almost every strategy which has worked in the past. We must have A New Mobilisation

So to rid ourselves of the chains of the propaganda model which has kept us docile and dumb for so many years, we must begin to change our own minds as well as others. We must realize the power of our own media and teach ourselves how we can use it to help the people. We also must strive to make it bigger, better, easier, and more flexible in the quickly changing enviroment of the web. We are engaged in a struggle against institutionalized greed, hatred, and ignorance, which has been spoon fed to us for generations. We've had it shoved down our throats and what really infuriates me is the fact I thought I liked the taste of it. How could I have been so naiive, for now the taste of the mass media's misdirections and untruths taste like bile in the back of my throat and I feel as if I will die if I don't get rid of the taste. I know it all sounds so Orwellian, but just slow down and take a look, do a little research, and talk to your friends and family about the idea of a propaganda run state. Then just look and listen to the advertised laden media of the papers and the airwaves and as you do, just keep the "propaganda model" in mind.
The most effective way to control people is to control their assumptions about the world. The task of propaganda is to apply power-friendly labels and make them stick - it is the key to everything. The labelling factory par excellence - the machine that applies the right labels in the right way over and over again - is the mass media system. Media Lens

So we watch, shocked as class loyalties disintegrate. We stand by while solidarity and rights disappear before our very eyes, and the trade unions slowly wither away. We wait and hope somebody or something will turn it around. So we remain with one foot within the propaganda structure and one foot tip-toeing within the hope of a better world. This lack of a mass organization, mass movement, and dedication of the people has enabled just an elite few to position themselves in way to gather up the world's wealth. It's their game now and they are making the rules. But the future is ours, and we have the tools of information. How we use these tools, and if we use them, will determine the fate of the working people of the world. Anything is possible, if we can break away from the life of which we are so accustomed.

"Tell people something they know already, and they will thank you for it. Tell them something new, and they will hate you for it."

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

9/11 Conspiracy Appetite?

Back in October of 2004, news was released concerning the flight recorders (black boxes) of the two planes that hit the WTC. It had been stated by the 9\11 Commission Report and the FBI, that the flight recorders of American Flight 11 and United Flight 175 were never recovered. But according to Nicholas DeMasi in his book Ground Zero: Behind the Scenes, three of the four boxes from the aircraft were recovered.

The story was covered by Global Free Press and it was reported that DeMasi's account was supported by a volunteer named Mike Bellone. Bellone admitted helping DeMasi and the agents and he cited that he saw a device that resembled a "black box" in the back of a firefighter's ATV.
At one point, Bellone said he observed the team with a box that appeared charred but was redish-orange with two white stripes. Pictures of the flight recorders on the NTSB and other Web sites show devices that are orange, with two white stripes.

“There was the one that I saw, and two others were recovered in different locations - but I wasn’t there for the other two,” Bellone said. He said the FBI agents left with the boxes.

Although the FBI have continually denied finding the voice and data recorders, in an article by Greg Szymanski, Bellone is quoted as saying the following statement.
"They confronted me and told me to not to say anything," recalls Bellone, referring to one of three reddish-orange boxes with two white stripes he saw in the back of DeMasi's ATV. "I said give me a good reason? When they couldn't, I told them I wouldn't shut up about it.

"Why should I? I have nothing to hide and nothing to gain. It's the truth and Nick and I are sticking to our story as we always have."

Now Counterpunch has added to the mystique around the "black boxes". Dave Lindorff writes that new information has surfaced from the National Transportation Safety Board which supports the evidence that there is indeed something covert surrounding these flight and data recorders. Lindorff states that a source within the NTSB had actually analyzed the boxes for the FBI. However the "official" word from the NTSB is that the boxes never turned up!
Why would the main intelligence and law enforcement arm of the U.S. government want to hide from the public not just the available information about the two hijacked flights that provided the motivation and justification for the nation's "War on Terror" and for its two wars against Afghanistan and Iraq, but even the fact that it has the devices which could contain that information?

If this has your "conspiracy theorist appetite" whetted, and you hunger for more, just visit the 9/11 Fraud blog and you should find enough info to satisfy even the largest hunger pain!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Rules of War

The origination of certain rules of war, and the idea of humane warfare can be traced back to the United States. One of the first documents pertaining to war was the The Lieber Code of 1863, which concerned the governance of armies in the field. Then came the Hague Convention, followed later by four different Geneva Conventions ending with the latest, Geneva Convention of 1977.

Have the rules changed since 9/ll? Are we working under a new set of laws? Do we need to be? Take into account these two points of view concerning why the United States should or should not continue to recognize and conform to the international conventions on warfare. The two professors, John C. Yoo and David D. Caron, are both from UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law. I would like to mention that Yoo has contributed to the Patriot Act and believes not only that the Constitution should be interpreted according to the intentions of its authors but that he happens to be one who can divine what those intentions were. Yoo is a member of the elite Federalist Society.

Has the U.S. already written a new set of laws governing warfare in the field? Let's take a look at what the Army Field Manual presently describes as a war crime, and who is responsible. Of special interest is the section within the manual which covers government officials.

510. Government Officials

The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a war crime acted as the head of a State or as a responsible government official does not relieve him from responsibility for his act.

I'm not pointing any fingers, just pointing out the bottom line when it comes to responsibility. Oh wait, I forgot, he can't be held accountable and if the Constitution doesn't mean anything to our elected "representatives, why would the Geneva Convention or the mention of war crimes?

With all that said, I would like to touch on a particular corner of the war in Iraq. Actually the use of a certain weapon and the community in Iraq where the use of this weapon has drawn world-wide attention. Does anyone know what sort of weapon will literally melt the skin off the bones but yet leave clothes intact? If any of you have military experience, you'll probably know that the agent I'm talking about is white phosphorus (Willy Pete). Really horrible stuff guys! It's a cleanser of sorts, as once it's on you, as long as the agent can get oxygen, it doesn't stop burning until there's nothing left to burn. The use of this agent against military targets isn't specifically banned by any treaty. But many consider WP as a chemical weapon, even the Department of Defense, and therefore it should be outlawed under the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Many of you may have heard about the Fallujah Massacre. Should the use of Willy Pete be banned by international law? I'm not judging anyone but rather I want to stress the need for constant vigilance when humanity is at stake. The terms humane and war are incosistent with most people's reasoning I agree. But if we can't stop the insanity that carries us to war, the least we can do is show the world exactly how inhumane it actually is! Keep it in their faces, show the world what the cost of war really is! Don't let them ignore it. Don't let them paint it glamerous. Don't let them hide it under a cloak of democracy. You view the video of Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre, and then tell me what you think should be done about the chemical commonly know as "Willy Pete!

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Illusion of Democracy

Is there any possible way the exclusive "Club of Politico" can get any closer to the Orwellian idea of doublethink, than we are already? I will agree that the members of this club are highly educated and knowledgeable, but they are ethically retarded and their morality radiates from such a distant place within them, that the majority of the time it remains obscure. The members of the politico club, have chartered many new lodges within the club based on conservative as well as liberal doublethink. A sampling of some of the conservative charter members of the politico club are the "AEI Club", the "Heritage Club", and the PNAC. The liberal side of the spectrum is not as near advanced nor coordinated as the conservatives but they aren't rolling over and submitting defeat. Some of the liberal politico club charters are the PPI, and the CAP. Although the liberals charters are not as large and their numbers are fewer, the richest members of the liberal politico club vow to build bigger and better doublethink tanks!

This bilateral form of politics has pooled money and power into these two politico clubs and has literally forced so many of the citizens of the U.S. into a "lesser of two evils" form of democracy which is merely a "pseudo democracy" at best. When the people are forced to choose their leaders from among those already chosen through a "grand design" of an exclusive club, democracy is empty and meaningless. It may look like democracy but under close examination and scrutiny, it's obvious for anyone who has the ability to think for themselves, that what is being portrayed as a democratic state is merely a hollow shell of a true democracy.

Our freedom of choice is limited by a control of money, facts, and ideas. As long as our choice meets the requirements of one of the politico clubs, we can say we have the freedom to choose, and we live in a democratic state. But what if we don't follow either of the "grand designs" proposed by the two giants of doublespeak? What's that? You say we have the freedom to support and vote for an independent or third party candidate? Well, you are right, we do have that right but herein lies the problem of this bilateral system of politics and is what makes this system a pseudo democracy in my opinion. As long as the majority of political and economic power is pooled within these two exclusive clubs, our rights hinge on their designs and any freedom of dissent which will bring about reform in a pseudo democratic system is artificial. This right to vote for a candidate of our choice only gives us the illusion of democracy.

It is the job of our politicians within these exclusive clubs to act as buffers between the people and the power structures they represent. They have been given the task of keeping us docile and complacent in order to maintain the structural integrity of their clubs. Politicians are not representatives of the people but rather corporate interests rank much higher than the people when it comes to representation. If these elected politicians within these clubs do not act as functionaries and abide by the club's basic rules, they are black-balled out of the club. These large corporations hold the power to manipulate governments and economies. They holster their power in their threats of capital flight and other measures. As long as these pseudo democracies are hopelessly compromised by immense influence of large corporations, real democracy will only exist within the dreams of the people.

We've seen many attempts by these "dynamic duos of doublethink" to thwart dissension among the citizens in their fight for control. From Operation Chaos to the FBI's COINTELPRO, we can see how the powers in these clubs do not look kindly towards any form of dissent among the people within "their" democratic system. There has been so much forced propaganda from these two power structures, they can't even remember what is fact and what is fiction! Another example of control of the masses can be seen in the formation of the Office of Public Diplomacy and it's propaganda generating and media manipulation mission flagrantly named "Project Truth" and later renamed to "Project Democracy".

Most of the players who took part in these " information murders" haven't gone anywhere and are still at work within both of these political camps. The agendas haven't changed and the "Club Politica" is still attempting to control the populations through ownership of media and it's ability to twist and sway public opinions. Both the conservative and the liberal clubs are not separate and in fact are really one club. A giant "Club Politica" which is run by the omni-potent theory of capitalism and it's miracle tool called the "marketplace". These club members hail the free market as the world's salvation and they continually attempt to make "freedom" synomymous with freedom of markets rather than democratic freedom. Why do they do this? Because democratic freedom only exists in "our minds" and if we continue to support these exclusive clubs of capital without question, that's where democracy will continue to exist....only in our imagination!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Walls of Fear

Human beings are very strange, highly complicated animals. And as a highly intelligently evolved species, armed with the ability of reason, we should be able to conquer practically any problems which present themselves. The one factor of our existence which pushes us to become caretakers of the earth is our intelligence. For this one ability is what makes us the diamond among the rocks. Armed with this great gift and capability, we should be able to recognize and solve problems. We should be able to understand very complex ideas through abstract thought. And we should be able to learn quickly and adapt our thought process by using available knowledge, tempered with our experiences. We should, but why can't we?

With this said, I would like to touch on the subject of immigration, as it is presently viewed here in the U.S., and also the divisions of thought on the subject. To begin, we should put a little history into the mix in order to realize what the foundation of exclusion is built upon. The Chinese Exclusion Act was the first law which suspended or controlled immigration in the U.S. The act targeted ethnic Chinese regardless of their country of origin and this complete exclusion or limitations of this ethnic people continued up until 1965 with the passage of the Immigration Act. These people came to the U.S. because of horrible conditions in China and the availability of railroad jobs at the time. These people were accused of immoral and unsanitary habits, and creating unfair competition in business, as they were seen as the major factor in the lowering of wages in the U.S. The people in the U.S. feared these conditions within the country would only grow worst if the influx of these people into the country wasn't curtailed. This is sounding really familiar, just can't put my finger on it yet!

These general immigration laws often placed a head tax on who was allowed in the U.S. borders and the laws excluded any immigrant that was found to be an idiot, lunatic, convict, or anyone else who may become a burden of the state. I apologize, but after that line, my thoughts wandered towards our politics here in the states and I found myself laughing at the thought of losing the majority of our politicians if we had laws which would enact forced deportation of idiots and lunatics. But what am I thinking, what country on our earth would take in politicians from the U.S.?

It wasn't until 1918 that the need for a passport arrived here in the U.S. and the war in Europe was primarily what initiated the need for placing tighter restrictions on the borders. The fear that spies could enter our country and leak valuable information or possibly commit espionage was the reason for restrictions. The need for a visa system grew out of the need for tighter restrictions of entry as well as the Naturalization Bureau. The borders opened again after WWI with restrictions and quotas on particular ethnic peoples. Once again at the onset of WWII, fear of the horrible possibilites of espionage and terrorism brought about changes in immigration laws and the borders tightened once again as the bureacracies grew. One change during WWII which increased immigration was the Bracero Program. which allowed immigrants from Mexico to enter the U.S. in order to fill gaps within the agricultural labor market. Another similar proposal has been offered by our current administratio in Washington but has been pushed to the back burner due to the fear of terroism. The laws and different legislations are too numerous to list but if anyone is interested, this information can be researched within the Legislation History, and in this pdf of An Immigrant Nation.

From what I have read so far concerning immigration, one thing keeps coming up in regard to immigration laws. And that one thing is "fear". Fear is a very powerful emotion here in the U.S., and it seems this emotion has always been used as a catalyst in the passing of legislation and how immigration has been viewed through history. The fear of disease, immorality, stupidity, loss of jobs, loss of primary language, loss of established habits, terrorism, loss of a particular way of life, and this, and that, and mice, and snakes, and well...., you get the point? Fear! I've never really given it all that much thought before, but by letting fear have so much control in our lives just can't be a good thing. Have the people of the U.S. allowed themselves to learn or construct a culture in which fear predominates their thoughts? How has this Culture of Fear affected our relations with one another and the rest of the world? If we use this quote from Lactantius as a measuring stick, how does our intelligence measure up?
Where fear is present, wisdom cannot be.

Now wisdom can be defined as an ability to make correct judgments and decisions and the amount of wisdom can vary according to experience. Wisdom should be a quality we all strive for in my opinion. Through wisdom we will become more enlightened and only through this enlightenment will we evolve to the next level of humanity. We have been given a great gift of intelligence. Now we must learn to use it to our advantage and begin the process of enrichment of the entire human race. The use of fear as a social control is well documented and it's political uses and abuses are a threat to our growth as intelligent human beings.

We now have minutemen on our borders down south. They are protecting the U.S. from the accumulation of all these fears which have been washed over our senses for so long. These volunteers are thinking and doing what they've been conditioned to think and do. Brooks Dame joined the minutemen in Arizona and wrote of his experience.
As his taillights faded off into the desert night I looked down where the detainees had been seated and saw a piece of garlic laying on the ground. I squatted down to examine it. They believe that rubbing garlic on their skin keeps snakes from biting as they make their trek through the desert to find a better life. Does it really work? I don't know. It may have worked on the snakes, but it didn't work on Minutemen.

There are actually people requesting a curtain or wall be built the entire length of the American/Mexican border. Where will it end, or more important, when will it end? In a world that is increasingly becoming smaller and global villages are growing and sharing their knowledge of the importance of humanity and it's future, how much longer will immigrants be immigrants? How much longer will the people of the world allow fear to be used as a behavioral control imposed on them by an elite few?

What are the causes of migration of people? Well I would say most people migrate, either temporarily or permanently, because of the opportunities in richer countries. They desire to earn more money and widen their horizons. I also think people migrate because richer countries have jobs available for willing workers. And also another reason is social and economic upheavels in the migrant's country which leaves them little choice. When viewed through the eyes of fear, this migration is a threat to a way of life. But if looked at through the eyes of hope, as a migrant does, migration is a promise of a new way of life. Migration has existed ever since we walked upright and it's hard for me to buy into it being bad. And this fear associated with it I refuse to recognize. It's how the world has always worked. It's a life that our ancestors lived. It's about survival and we have to begin to talk "global" now people. We can no longer be seclusionists and build racial and ethnic walls. As the racial walls come down we also have to tear down the walls of greed. The old "Only the Strong Survive" mentality belongs in the museum along with the tools of torture, discriminatory ideals, and the weapons of war.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Humanity's Future

I just finished reading an amazing article concerning our future. A future about people and their ideas which are changing the world as we know it. The article deals with current emerging trends that will possibly reshape out world by the year 2015. I like how the authors actually placed a time frame within the piece. Seems to show a real belief in our abilities. Most futurist predictions travel in a linear thought projection even though real change is almost never linear. Real change usually comes to us as more of an undercurrent preceding the monster tsunami which is to follow. Change creeps into our lives quietly and it has a way of disguising itself in the "here and now" but later when viewed in retrospect, the subtle changes are looked upon as profound, necessary and inevitable. The editors of Ode place the power of change in the people's imagination, not in expert's linear thought processes. "The best way to predict the future is to help create it."

Ten trends are discussed which could reshape our world over the next 10 years. These ten trends are:

Just do it...yourself

The reign of experts and authorities is nearly over.

This trend deals with power of the Internet and our ability to access knowledge and information at any time we want. This eliminates the need for experts and authorities who hold information for ransom. We can all become specialists if we utilize the tools available to us and we are sincere in our quest for the required knowledge. We are becoming a do-it-yourself society where any of us can develop chosen talents which can be used without the approval of the old status, class, education structure. We are breaking down the walls of structure which limited us to a certain class position within society. We are breaking the chains of "information slavery" and we can now collectively build our future through our shared knowledge and experience without relying on a select few who have for decades attempted to monopolize knowledge. It is our watch people, and I know we can do it better! I see this as happening and I have to agree with this trend.
Mahatma Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Now it is even easier: The tools you need are easily available. Most importantly— you can make a unique contribution that will enrich your life.

Hello and welcome, everyone

Diversity is key to economic and cultural vitality.

This trend has to do with the immigration issue and how open borders will create multi-ethnic and multicultural nations which will boost the economic success of a community. According to the authors, the mix of races, religions, and nationalities will determine the wealth of a nation. The need for passports will be a thing of the past and the infusion of unique blends of influences will be the yardstick of influence among cities and the nations they lie within. Immigration labor offers to fill niches within countries which have existed for decades. The immigrants contribute to the host nation's economy by paying taxes and at the same time, they help their own nations by sending monetary support to their families. The money they send to their families will greatly outweigh any foreign help which is offered by other developed nations. Will this help close the gap between the rich and the poor? The authors say this flow of immigrants will even stop overcrowding and some countries will even see diminishing populations as immigration continues to become the norm. The history of the U.S. is full of stories of the immigrants that built this nation and it wouldn't have had such a vitalized growth period without immigration. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door." With the Patriot Act in place, this trend toward open borders would seem to be a real struggle in my opinion. But then I'm being negative and thinking more linear I guess!
There are no good reasons to restrict immigration. Soon passports will be relics from a distant past, documents to be viewed in a museum. Remember: Columbus never carried one.

The liberation of education

Farewell to standardized tests, assembly line schools and one-size-fits all curriculum.

I definitely agree that every child and adult has a right to an education and the availability of knowledge. An elimination to standardized testing and the old idea of the one-size-fits-all curriculum seems very practical to me and I have studied about a few schools here in the U.S. who have incorporated a very new, democratically, consensus oriented way of teaching children which enforces the abilities of each student without focusing on a student's seeming deficiency in a particular area. Remediation of a perceived problem is carried out through positive reinforcement and alternative teaching techniques. One thing for sure is that we are all unique and different. I like that about human beings! And due to our uniqueness, our learning processes should also be unique. So in my opinion, this trend not only makes sense, I believe the changes the Internet has brought is helping this to occur now. I watch my grandchildren, and their knowledge grows exponentially as they master the acquisition of available knowledge. Their ability to use and to adapt with new technology at such a young age absolutely floors me!

The best learning happens in an open setting that encourages people of different ages to interact in many ways. One example might be elders explaining the wisdom of the past to youngsters who then teach the older generation how to use new technology. Learning—when it is free—is never-ending, because the essence of learning is not acquiring knowledge, but finding meaning in life.

Natural health

Healing is less about battling disease and more about cooperating with our own bodies.

The authors discuss the possibilities of utilizing ancient traditional medicine from the world over and incorporating these preventatives and practices into the current practices of Western medicine. Stress should be placed on medicine not remaining a profit generating business but rather medicine should be a basic right of everyone. Some diseases don't always occur from an outside source but can occur from an out-of-balance situation of our internal systems as well. The importance of life-style and diet has been proven to be a very good way to fight off disease and even Western hasn't always concentrated on these simple methods of life-style and diet but now these simple, holistic, common sense practices are very much a part of industrialized medicine. New alternatives such as biofeedback are emerging as a possibility in self-healing and something as simple as watching fish in an aquarium and meditation has helped thousands to eliminate stress. I have to agree on the emergence of alternative medicine and it's importance as well as the wisdom passed down from generation to generation. My Grandmother had her remedies as well as my Mother. A lot of the old ways have been lost but there has been a rejuvenation in learning the old ways and expanding the knowledge of the elders. The human mind is a fascinating thing, and the possibilities that surround self-healing is incomprehensible to most, but we're talking about the availability of knowledge and how it will impact our future aren't we?
Instead of drugging or beaming the hostile invaders to oblivion, there are ways to collaborate with the body to support and strengthen the natural healing process.

Countries. What countries?

The rise of regional power in a globalized world will redraw our maps once again.

Could we see states within the U.S. separate and become viable independent nations? That's pretty hard to imagine even from a very imaginable guy like myself! But the rise of "global villages", as globalization continues to grow, could possibly change the world in ways which are hard to imagine. As economies move into a more international market, perhaps it is possible that we will see some big changes as international finances begin to tear away their boundaries. If the financial boundaries dissolve, why couldn't all the other borders and boundaries begin to follow? Would it be possible to become a global nation, not just economically speaking, but a nation or federation democratically structured to support justice, equality, and make available to all inhabitants a quality of life only imagined?
As many businesses have shown, smaller entities—within a larger framework—are more efficient and productive. And bringing decision making closer to the people stimulates democratic participation. Power (closer) to the people! It is an old saying with fresh meaning in a world that is uniting and breaking up at the same time.

Where are you?

A revolution of authenticity will bring surprising social change.

Here we are talking about individuality and it's capabilities in changing the world. I can see the old bureaucratic, organized, structure which robbed humanity of authenticity and new ideas, falling away as awareness continues. I think all of us have become disillusioned with the current structures in place, whether we are talking about unions, businesses, or politics. We've been holding up a system which is just more of the same ol'-same ol' of being what the structure dictates it to be, rather than supporting creativity which comes from the thoughts and ideas of individuals who may just have an insight on the solutions of the problems we face in society. This integration of new thought in my opinion is indeed possible and extremely important for our future. I agree this is a possible trend as it seems to me to already be taking place and we are already exploring new possibilities and ideas which will benefit the human race, not just in our communities and our nations, but throughout the world.
This lack of authenticity, especially among those with power, spawned widespread cynicism throughout society. It alienated people from their work, from politics and from institutions created to serve the public.
Ultimately this process of alienation led to change as more and more people tried to embrace what is genuine, leaving behind roles they learned to play and becoming themselves.

Winning for all

Détente in the feud between science and spirituality.

In this trend of the future, the authors speak of a new balance between matter and spirit. A new paradigm which is equally supported through an alliance of our sciences and our spirituality. A world where the separation known to most of us as "church and state", no longer exists and a realization that our entire world is interconnected. I do believe we are all connected and it only makes sense these connections would encompass both the scientific world as well as the spiritual world. I don't find this unbelievable at all because the elders have always taught us that all of life is related, but when you speak of this within the current mainstream ideologies, people look at you as if you had a swastika tattooed on your forehead. The thought of a society that transcends material structures and exists also in a spiritual understanding of the importance of all of life, is very appealing to me. Since I've become more web-savvy and have connected with people over the entire world, I've seen this interconnection already and there's no reason why I would not believe this won't continue and grow.
Matter and spirit are meeting. Thoughts transform into physical reality; they materialize. We see what we want to see. We see what we create. We are what we think. This growing consciousness changes politics, economics, science and the arts.

We are family

The return of the tribe—but with one key difference.

Now I really like the idea this proposed trend is saying. Extended families, primal connections, in which all of us take part. Merging from small nuclear units into multi-dimensional families which may span the entire globe sounds absolutely inspiring to me. The richness and possibilities of developing ties with other people and sharing knowledge is awesome. We're already doing it and these ties are stronger than what one might think. The feeling of family does exist in these shared thoughts and ideas we pass back and forth in our communities. Even the occasional fight between siblings is there. :) Our home is no longer just a fixed structure within a smaller community, within the borders of our country. We communicate and build family relations with people over the entire globe. People who aren't afraid to think, share, learn, and teach as we strive to create a much better world in which to live.
But unlike the clans our ancestors knew, the tribes of tomorrow will not be concerned only with survival and protection from outsiders. They will be more focused on fulfilling the dreams and visions we share. As we each pursue our search for meaning, we may shift, over time, from tribe to tribe. Through all these webs we will create a unique blend of blood ties and lasting friendships.


The hardest lesson may be accepting the bounty of the universe.

Now this idea is one of the hardest to imagine. The end of the scarcity of energy! Granted our nations invest too much in wars and other inhumane endeavors. And if the same amount of time, money, and energies were invested into alternative sources, then the possibilities could be vast. As the article mentions, "Just two minutes of sunlight would provide enough energy for the present annual consumption of the whole world". Just what we are capable of is hard to measure and just looking at history tells the story of the brilliance of the human mind and it's capabilities. In just a little over 100 years, what we have accomplished is absolutely amazing and when we compare what we've accomplished in one century with the preceding 4.5 billion years, it's just unbelievable. So maybe I can see the human race accomplishing the availability of unbounded energy. Especially if some of the other mentioned trends do actually become a reality.
We live in an endless universe, yet tend to see our futures within the context of present limitations. For us, the end of oil is the end of energy. Oil may be finished at some point. But the atoms that constitute oil will still be around and we will find ways to reconstitute them in different patterns to create new energy. We always have.

From greed to need

The main purpose of business evolves from profit to service.

Wow, now this is really stretching the imagination now! Businesses and corporations existing to serve the people and their well-being rather than profits. If the only profits acquired were to be used to continue their service to humanity, what kind of world would we see? If money were used merely as a tool rather than an objective, what could we accomplish? Great thoughts, but very difficult to visualize considering what we have as a model now. But the human spirit is much more powerful than anyone can imagine also, and it's power has and will accomplish many unbelievable things. Of course if we take these proposed future trends in conjunction with each other, it's easier to see how this could be possible. In other words, all these trends hinge on the possibility of the others. So in that context, is it possible for capitalism to shift from a greed to need base?
The good news is that crowds of young, energetic people have turned away from old-fashioned corporations that only serve their shareholders. They want to make more meaningful contributions to the world and to themselves. They constitute a new generation of entrepreneurs that is transforming capitalism. They are changing the world—one business at a time.

Now that was all ten of the proposed trends of change in our future. But they added an additional idea also which is the most important of all and without the possibility of this last trend, the others will be nothing more than a pipe-dream. The last one could also probably be the hardest of all the others...

Let’s get civilized

And one extra idea, that’s the most important of all.

Civilization! So far we've managed to really screw it up! How do we define civilized? When Gandhi was asked the question, "What do you think of Western civilization, Mr. Gandhi"? He replied, "I think that would be an excellent idea". With senseless killing, violence, genocide, starvation, and injustices piled endlessly on top of each other, is it possible for human beings to change and create a civil world? This is the tough one for sure! I believe we've made beneficial gains but it just seems as if there is so far to go! Let's no give up!
As we discover the capacity to create reality on our own terms, it is possible to imagine a really peaceful world. It begins in our minds. In yours. And ours. So on the way to a better future, we invite everyone with all our hearts: let’s civilize.

Check out the article at Ode, Your World in 2015.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Evangelicalism or Dominionism?

The preferred approach of problem solving for the evangelicals is to consider small facets of a problem without any thought given to viewing the problem as a whole. Under capitalistic dominion, I suppose it's not allowed to consider any problem on the whole. Could that be because if those approaches to thought were applied to our overly-religious and over-capitalized democracy, the whole thing would fall apart? So they have become adept at focusing on small bites of the problem at a time while ignoring the mass of the problem, and as such the problem continues to expand and grow.

The absolutism and "blackness" and "whiteness" of religion and the desperation of greed-driven capitalism make for an inherent dishonesty that has no place in ethical discourse, medical or otherwise.
Presidential Ethics in the Bush White House

One get's the feeling lately that the Evangelical Christians who helped in Bush's re-election have declared war on the liberal thinkers, or anyone else for that matter in the country who doesn't adhere to their religious beliefs and their "Culture of Life". As they wave their banners blazened with the words, "RECLAIMING AMERICA FOR CHRIST', one just can't help but notice their quest for reclamation bears a close resemblance to what is known as "dominionism"! And just how does George Bush figure into all of this?

The goal of the Great Commission is not just that a few individuals here and there are to be discipled but rather that eventually whole nations are to be brought under the subjection of Jesus Christ. The Church’s task is not completed until institutions, cultures and civil governments submit to the King of kings. In accordance with this, the The American Family Association (AFA) as well as the Christian Coalition of America have been involved with blacklisting and boycotting many businesses which don't meet their decency requirements. The art of blacklisting was a big hit back during the time of the Hollywood Ten when McCarthyism was at it's peak. Could religious dominion and the exhibited blacklisting possibly be the prelude to a theocratic oligopoly in North America?

This need for such an increase in Christian Supremacy is disconcerting to say the least. As this has been seen before in our history, and the result was the forced cultural assimilation and extermination of the native cultures of North America. These human beings suffered the loss of their lands, confinement on reservations, outlawing of their native languages, and even forced sterilizations.Without paying close attention to the interpretation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment ("Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"), we could see ourselves in the middle of another religiously motivated cultural genocide.

The separation of church and state is inherent in our constitution and the Supreme Court has stated that no government — federal, state or local — can perform any action or make any policy which blatantly favors one faith or church over the others, or which favors belief in a God or Supreme being over non-belief. There is a reason for this and the people who drafted the constitution and the bill of rights knew from past experience that religious persecution shouldn't be tolerated in a "free democratic socieity".

Now I'm not a staunch advocate of the removal of our ceremonial deisms by no means. But I am concerned, due to what I have seen as of late, that there seems to be a need of caution and a level of vigilance should be maintained. But perhaps I am leaning too heavily towards the left or maybe I've been consumed by some sort of conspiracy theory born from reading multiple fonts across an endless flow of texts. Maybe I should step back and take a breath. Perhaps all this Dominion Theology is nothing more than business as usual in our capitalist world!
A better explanation is that the Christian Right, like other mass movements, is a bundle of internal contradictions which work themselves out in the course of real political activism. Ideas have consequences, but ideas also have causes, rooted in interests and desires. The Christian Right is in a state of tension and flux over its own mission. Part movement to resist and roll back even moderate change, part reactionary wing of prevailing Republicanism. The Christian Right wants to take dominion and collaborate with the existing political-economic system, at the same time. Liberal critics, who also endorse the ruling system, can recognize only the Christian Right's takeover dimension. Radicals can see that the dominion project is dangerous because it is, in part, business as usual.

Well in any case, I've grown too old for assimilation anyway, but I suppose extermination is still possible! :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

By Consensus or Majority Rule?

Reaching consensus has always been a difficult undertaking and I'm sure it will continue to plague future organizations and communities for years to come. The good points of "consensus" far outweigh the problems associated with the process in my opinion. The well known "You get what you pay for" philosophy comes to mind. One point to be considered would be that consensus attempts to create cooperation by allowing "all participants" to work together to reach the best possible decisions for the entire group. The process is simplified by just placing one proposal on the table at a time. I think the process of reaching a decision could possibly be as important if not more important than the decision itself!

Of course, it's much easier just to go with the "majority rule" structure because it's quicker and much easier for those involved, but this structure actually creates competition and conflict between participants. Often times as not, what discussion that exists within the "majority rule" structure resembles arguments and attacks of another's point of view, more than a discussion.

Okay, it looks like the "consenus" structure is more rational and probably offers a greater level of democracy also, as all participants have a voice in reaching the decisions. So how can we make the process more adaptable and easier for concerned groups? Firstly, I would think there has to be some basic thought on successful decision making via a consensus of the participants. Initially, it would seem rational that if an individual is affected by a decision, then that individual needs to be involved in the decision making process. There would need to be a commitment to active cooperation, as well as communication skills when it comes to speaking and listening. And every participant must show respect for everyone's contributions and actively participate. Disruptive behavior shouldn't be allowed, and I think we all know what I mean by that. Overboard flaming is what I'm referring to, and we all should know when someone goes over that apparent but invisible line! There will be some conflicts no doubt but all involved should be allowed to explain their stance and why they think it's in the group's best interest. Now I would reccomend everyone to reference On Conflict and Consensus and see how you feel about the handbook on "Formal Consensus".

Are there possible alternatives other than the majority-rule or consensus approaches to democratic decision making? There are also examples of groups which combine some features of both consensus and majority-rule voting. One of these is the school of Shaker Mountain. What they do essentially is take a vote using the majority-rule method but then those who voted in the
minority are asked if they want to explain their opinion. The group then listens carefully to the minority's opinion, allows full expression of the opinion, perhaps changing the decision of the entire group. But once the minority opinions are fully explored and there are no more options, then the majority's decision will be upheld. This method originated in the Iroquois Confederacy.

Two of the most common approaches to self-government are democratic decision making by the majority and decision by consensus of the group. Shaker Mountain school evolved an interesting blending of the advantages of both these approaches, being heavily influenced in the early years by their involvement with the traditionalist Mohawk Indians of the Iroquois Confederacy (We had regular exchange visits with them). This is perhaps quite fitting because it was the influence of the Iroquois confederacy that convinced Benjamin Franklin, among others, that democratic decision making was a good form of government and, therefore, a good one to be used for the fledgling independent colonies.

Another example would be the Coalition for Self-Learning, which focuses on "paradigm shifting" and the shift from teaching to learning, and from media consumption to media generation. The coalition defines itself as a matrix of individuals and groups, networking freely and acting in concert in mutual support of the Mission Statement, which states The Coalition for Self-Learning envisions and co-creates a world of cooperative life-long learning communities.

Life-long learning communities are diverse, open places where individuals develop meaningful ways to enhance, enrich, honor and celebrate each other, families, communities and society, acting as a significant element in an emerging cooperative commonwealth. The Coalition promotes ideas and actions for creating learning communities. The Coalition expands and advances the relevance of learning to societal change. The Coalition explores, develops, disseminates and implements new concepts for organizational systems that result in the equitable sharing of power and wealth, well-being and self-sustaining conviviality of the Earth and all its life forms. The Coalition demonstrates that the Internet is a powerful tool for organizing actions, learning creative concepts and engaging constructive discussion.

Another very interesting and fascinating group is the World Wide Web Consortium. The mission of the W3C as they are known, is the creation of web standards and guidelines. They also maintain a formal guidline pertaining to groups, whether they be working groups, interest groups, or coordination groups. Of interest is the section on Group Consensus and Votes.

The W3C process requires Chairs to ensure that groups consider all legitimate views and objections, and endeavor to resolve them. Decisions may be made during meetings (face-to-face or distributed) as well as through email. The following terms are used in this document to describe the level of support for a group decision:

1. Unanimity: All participants agree.
2. Consensus: No participants object (but some may abstain).
3. Dissent: At least one participant objects.

Now what if the size of the group or community becomes a problem in reaching a consensus? Or would the size of a group matter? Some say that the larger groups can be aided by breaking up into affinity groups consisting of 5-20 people per group. When the community is large, this is a possible solution in reaching consensus in a more timely matter. W3C proposes, that while interest groups have no limit on participants, in order to allow rapid progress when a working group grows too large, it may be split into an Interest Group (a discussion forum) and a much smaller Working Group (a core group of highly dedicated participants). Some larger groups have offered the Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing approach in the formation of groups. Others support the collection of affinity groups (cells), working together in what is called a "cluster". Another plus in dividing into these smaller cells is the security and trust these smaller groups offer when involved in more serious activism through direct action, as Chomsky relates.

"If you assume correctly that whatever group you are in is being penetrated by the FBI, when something serious is happening, you don’t do it in a meeting. You do it with some people you know and trust, an affinity group and then it doesn’t get penetrated. That’s one of the reasons why the FBI has never been able to figure out what’s going on in any of the popular movements." -Chomsky-

For an insight into shared information possibilities, I reccomend reading Pyramids, Labour and The Hub Theory along with the ensuing discussion. Both offer an excellent insight on the organization of "common thought" in the organization of communities and the replacement of leaders by facilitators/coordinators which is much more participatory in nature. Or contemplate on this statement made by one of the contributors at MfD on leaderless groups and their ability to reach a consensus.
The leaderless group is small enough that it can reach consensus. Those who can’t mesh with the rest of the group will move on and join groups where they can reach consensus. Each of the groups will expand, contract, disappear and reappear with different participants. Those groups, or nodes, will seek out other nodes to network with. When an issue arises, which affects the nodes, the ones affected will begin to network and “web” to address the issue. When the issues or “event” to address the issue is exhausted or resolved, the nodes dissipate to resume their networking with like-minded nodes.

Very similar to the affinity groups (cells) mentioned above and their respective clusters.

Reaching consensus offers some difficult hurdles for sure, but in my opinion, the rewards of such an equal participatory enviroment is well worth the effort involved. Whether we are talking about a small group, a local or virtual community, town, city, state, province, or federal governmental system, I see a need to move from the current forms of decision making towards a much more equal participatory system. I see some form of consensus as being necessary for the r-evolution of a more just society and no alternative should be quickly dismissed as being impossible merely because it is antiestablishmentarianistic! :)
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