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Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh IX–Hear, Speak, See No Evil: Sociopolitical Collapse

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh IX

Chichen Itza, Mexico (1986) photo by author

Hear, Speak, See No Evil: Sociopolitical Collapse

Once more a comment posted in the Tyee in response to ongoing ‘debate’ with others in regard to the 2020 U.S. presidential election and some of the accusations of irregularities surrounding the process. While not obviously related to ‘collapse’ I will add some context to draw it into my ongoing thesis afterwards.

For the sake of argument, let’s say some of these [a list of supposed election irregularities] are fabricated and/or misinterpretation of events (which is what the video of the polling clerk filling out ballots is being explained away as — they were filling out ‘damaged’ ballots). That does not mean they all are and should just be summarily dismissed. They merit further scrutiny and investigation. Conspiracies (that is, an agreement to perform together an illegal, wrongful, or subversive act) are common in politics (in fact, perhaps far too common).

A few thoughts to share for those that believe otherwise.

The fact that the sources are not mainstream should not lead to their immediate dismissal as many suggest. All one has to do is look at how many mainstream sources are deliberately suppressing the whole Julian Assange debacle or the Hunter Biden laptop evidence that suggests pay-to-play shenanigans involving his father. Or Glenn Greenwald deciding to resign from the media company he founded because fellow editors refused to publish an article unless he removed all criticism of Joe Biden. These examples (and there are many, many more — a pertinent one is how many mainstream media accepted the Bush administration’s declaration that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and then basically ran PR for the government’s invasion) should show that mainstream media is quite biased and often does not perform due diligence in its reporting, suppresses stories, or primarily runs opinion-editorials and passes them off as investigative journalism, especially if one is questioning the dominant narratives that they tend to support quite adamantly. It is often, unfortunately, only those outside of the mainstream that question the stories told by the-powers-that-be and challenge them.

And the supposed importance of elections and sanctity of voting are two of those narratives (the ones that this article goes to great lengths to further). And these are very, very important social narratives for several reasons. First, the political class overseeing society need legitimization. They need the citizens to believe with all their hearts and minds that the ruling class has a ‘right’ to be making the decisions they are making and enacting the policies they are enacting with the support and blessings of the people. Without this legitimization they would not only run into significant difficulty with social ‘order’, they would lose control of the wealth-generating systems that supply their revenue streams (their primary motivation). This right to govern supposedly derives from the choices made via the ballot box; we quite often hear leaders claim they have a mandate from the people to justify (rationalise?) their actions.

Second, people want to believe they actually have agency in the way their society is managed. Believing you have agency in your life is a fundamental need. So, people want to believe they can significantly impact the political process by voting. And we are socialised almost from birth to believe this story. Our public schools initiate us into the dominant narrative, teaching children the importance of our political system and how we need to support it. We are told it is a civic duty to vote. That if you don’t vote, you can’t complain. That major wars have been fought to protect our freedoms and the right to vote. People do not want to confront the possibility that it is all just theatre; that it is a story to keep us mollified, well behaved, and compliant; that the real power may lay well beyond their reach or influence (or as George Carlin opined: it’s a big club and you ain’t in it). The people do not want to face the idea that their leaders do not have the interests of the masses as their primary motivation; that would just create far too much cognitive dissonance.

For these two reasons alone the majority of people and certainly almost all the ruling class (and this includes academics, media, politicians, corporations) will refuse to see or acknowledge the flaws when exposed. Evidence is memory-holed. Whistleblowers are vilified (or worse). The believers and those benefiting from the dominant storyline will fight tooth and nail to defend the system. The narrative must be protected. Just read up on the various inquisitions of the Catholic Church to see how narratives that support the powerful are protected.

PS
I truly do want to thank those who challenge my thinking in a constructive manner. It forces me to rethink and reflect on my own biases and blindspots. For those who fall back on the ad hominem fallacy of attacking me or calling me names, please grow up.

One of the arguments made by Dmitry Orlov in his book The Five Stages of Collapse is that there exist a number of tipping points as it were that indicate a complex society is on the verge of collapse. He states these “Serve as mental milestones…[and each breaches] a specific level of trust or faith in the status quo. Although each stage causes physical, observable changes in the environment, these can be gradual, while the mental flip is generally quite swift.”

His five stages are:

  1. Financial collapse where faith in risk assessment and financial guarantees is lost.
  2. Commercial collapse that witnesses a breakdown in trade and widespread shortages of necessities.
  3. Political collapse through a loss of political class relevance and legitimacy.
  4. Social collapse in which social institutions that could provide resources fail.
  5. Cultural collapse that is exhibited by the disbanding of families into individuals competing for scarce resources.

As I suggest in a review and commentary on his book: “all that is needed for political collapse is for more citizens to come to the realization that the status quo is no longer working for the benefit of all but for the benefit of the elite. When the masses finally come to better understand the corruption and malfeasance that percolates throughout the political world, collapse of the political class will occur.”

This is perhaps what we are witnessing with greater frequency in the U.S. and elsewhere, suggesting sociopolitical collapse may not be too far off in the future. And with sociopolitical collapse comes some pretty serious knock-on effects that will upset the complex systems we all rely upon, especially long-distance supply chains and social ‘order’.

As I have argued in other places, when it comes to politics we seem to be chickens arguing over which fox will guard us while the henhouse is burning down in the background.

No Time for Castles: From Closed to Open Democracy

For proponents of deliberative democracy, today’s representative regimes offer nothing more than illusion. Real democracy means people’s power, and achieving it requires out-of-the-box thinking. We spoke to political theorist Hélène Landemore about her proposed alternative of open democracy and what this would look like at local, European, and global levels. As citizens’ assemblies in France and Ireland offer valuable lessons, and with events from Brexit to the pandemic expanding the horizons of what is possible, there is no time like the present for utopian thinking.

Green European Journal: Voting, elections, and parliaments are universally considered symbols of democracy. But amid the wider debate on the crisis of democracy, you argue that the problem is the system of representative democracy itself. Can you explain?

Hélène Landemore: It helps to go back to the history of representative regimes in Europe. They originate in what historians call “representative government”: governments where the law is made by elected legislators. These forms of government only began to be called democracies as of circa 1830 in the US and France, and 1870 in Great Britain. But the reality is that they were designed as an alternative to democracy as much as to monarchy. For their founders, democracy meant mob rule. It was chaotic and overly direct. Fear of the people characterises representative democracies from the outset. Yes, they were built on principles of popular sovereignty and consent – but that isn’t sufficient for them to qualify as democracies. The everyday law-making process was carried out by elected aristocracies with the best and most virtuous at the helm and the people as a silent sovereign occasionally nodding from afar.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Democracy, truth, fallibilism, and the tech overlords

Democracy, truth, fallibilism, and the tech overlords

In a recent conversation a friend of mine offered the following: “There would be no need to vote on anything if we knew the truth.” That statement has such profound implications that I will only scratch the surface of it here.

First, democracy presupposes that none of us knows the truth. We have our experience, our analyses, our logic and our intuitions, but we don’t have the truth with a capital “T.” We may reliably report our names to bank tellers. This is a social and legal designation, a definition backed by a birth certificate, driver’s license, and other official documents. Even here we are obliged to provide evidence of the truth of our identity to the teller.

But whether it is wise to subsidize electric cars, legalize gambling, or go to war are issues that are far beyond simple social and legal designations. Our information on such topics is always incomplete, conflicting and quite possibly unreliable. We have difficulty verifying through personal observation much of what we are told. And, we are prone to errors of logic and to misinterpretations.

For these reasons we often turn to experts to do our thinking for us. But they all suffer from the same disadvantages as we do and one additional one: Some are paid to say what they say. It is therefore in the cacophony of debate and consultation that we try to arrive at an approximation of the truth although according to the fallibilist view, we can never be sure that we are even close to the truth.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

What Else You Can Do

What Else You Can Do

You’ve been radically misled to believe that the only thing, or the most important thing, or one of the super important things you can do is vote. Voting in a functioning democracy would be a fairly important thing to do, but wouldn’t somehow eliminate the thousands of important things that would also need doing. Voting in a broken democracy is a mildly important thing to do, for the reasons you know by heart, but also for this reason: Seeing so many people so eager to do something alerts everyone else to the fact that you give a damn.

“I’ve been waiting two years to do something!” This remark, common on Tuesday, must sound joyous to many ears. But if you study history and notice that change comes primarily from organizing, educating, protesting, marching, disrupting, disobeying, and creating things anew, and if you’ve spent the past many years trying to get more people to do those things, then all the “All I can do is vote, oh helpless me” comments may have you pulling your hair out.

There are circumstances in which you can do very little. We are moving in that direction. But we are not there. We are still able to speak, write, assemble, and agitate — and vote. I have to think that more of us would do more if we recognized the gravity of the situation. The planet’s climate can no longer be saved, but the agony can be slowed and eased. Nuclear apocalypse is closer than ever before, but can be averted. Fascism can be undone, but not without actions that extend far beyond voting.

I’m not against elections.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How do we keep getting dragged into this electoral spectator sport?

How do we keep getting dragged into this electoral spectator sport?

Ah, elections…

Little more than a bare-knuckle boxing match. If you were to suddenly catch a glimpse of such a fight, you would see real blood, real punches, swollen lips, black eyes, and a final knockout.

It looks like a real spontaneous fight. But the match was planned, set up, with rules and parameters.

That’s an election. Except that it is shoved in all of our faces, while they lie and tell us it wasn’t a planned fight.

Not interested in seeing the blood and gore? Not interested in watching two people beat each other to a pulp? Well, you can turn off the boxing match, but good luck avoiding election coverage.

There wouldn’t be anything riding on the match if we weren’t all convinced to place bets on it. Now it matters. We’ve put down our wagers, we’ve added skin to the game, and now we care.

Some of what we have riding on the election is psychological. We have staked out a position, and right or wrong, and we want our side to win.

Somehow we think the majority will vindicate out beleifs, and make us feel more right… even if the last election did the opposite.

Ironically, an online poll shows that just 51% of Americans have faith in democracy. The slimmest majority… all that is required to maintain power over the minority.

Not discussed enough is the actual money industries have riding on the elections. Which contractors will be enriched with federal dollars? The military contractors? Those peddling carbon credits?

Will more money go to ICE or the EPA? Will workers be hired for federal prisons, or the IRS?

But these are all manufactured issues.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

No, Voting Doesn’t Mean You “Support the System”

No, Voting Doesn’t Mean You “Support the System”

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Listen to Ryan McMaken’s commentary on the Radio Rothbard podcast.

I admit it. I voted

In my home state of Colorado, all voting is by mailed paper ballots. That means, if you’re a registered voter, the county clerk sends you a ballot every election.

And then — at least in my case — it sits there on a table near my desk.

One is supposed to fill it out and then mail it back. Or drop it off in one of the mailbox-like boxes scattered around the city.

Sometimes I do it.

This time around, as the ballot sat there on the table, I kept thinking about the proposed tax increases I could vote “yes” or “no” on.

Like many states in the Western half of the United States, this state makes frequent use of ballot initiatives and referenda in elections. Voters are asked to vote up or down any number of regulations and taxes which the policymakers will be more than happy to implement if they can muster a “yes” from the majority of voters.

I’m certainly not willing to stand in line at a polling place, and I don’t care about getting an “I Voted!” sticker. But I had to admit the opportunity cost of sending in the ballot was really quite low. So, as I am not a big fan of new taxes, I filled out the ballot according to my whims, and sent it in.

Does Voting Mean You Support the Regime?

Nothing about this little anecdote would strike most people as remarkable in any way.

Since at least the nineteenth century, though, there has been a debate over whether or not voting somehow means the voter has agreed to submit to — or even support — whatever the state does.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Nobody to Vote For

Nobody to Vote For

When I say there is nobody to vote for, I don’t just mean the familiar complaint that the candidates may be different shades of evil but are all too evil to support, that the earth’s climate does not recover one iota because some even worse policy has been averted, that sadistic bombings and humanitarian bombings actually look identical. I do mean all of that. But I also mean that candidates are campaigning as and being presented as nothing, as empty figures with no positions on anything.

What is the most common foreign policy position on the websites of Democratic candidates for U.S. Congress? Quick! It’s not hard! You got it? You’re wrong. It was a trick question. Most of their websites do not admit to the existence of 96% of humanity in any way shape or form — although one can infer that the world must exist, because so many of them express such deep love for veterans.

Numerous resources claim to fill the gap, but like private weather profiteers regurgitating federal data, they mostly just pick out bits of the almost nothing coming from the candidates and re-package it as Useful Voter Information. The Campus Election Engagement Project has nothing on Virginia’s Fifth District Congressional race, and on the Virginia race for U.S. Senate it has next to nothing.  In a nod to the existence of the earth, it tells us the candidates’ positions on the Iran nuclear agreement, plus three questions on the environment. But the fact that one of the two candidates’ whole schtick is hatred of immigrants, glorification of racism, and fascistic devotion to Trump doesn’t come up in the predictable policy questions. Nor does the duplicity of the other guy’s constant support for presidential war-making, while claiming to oppose it, make the cut.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Whole System Is Rigged

The Whole System Is Rigged

From elections to media to the markets, it’s all controlled

As the dog days of summer wind down, it’s hard not to notice how the climate is suffering brutally right now across many areas of the globe.

Crop failures have hit hard across Europe. Australia is under an intense drought. Warm water representing ‘archived heat’ has penetrated deep into the arctic.  Coral reefs are dying through mass bleachings. The stocks of ocean fisheries are in deep trouble. Insect and bird populations remain in a state of collapse.

It couldn’t be any more clear that our society’s demands for ever-more “growth” are taking an increasingly dangerous toll. “Growth” is now the enemy of life on the planet; yet there are precious few leaders willing to admit as much.

What we need is less pressure on vital ecological systems and precious remaining resources. But good luck finding a politician willing to admit that.

Though a refreshing exception is French environmental minister Nicolas Hulot who dramatically resigned his position last week, on live television, declaring “I don’t want to lie to myself anymore.”  His view is that the government is not addressing the major environmental issues properly and he didn’t want his presence to give the false appearance that it was.  Kudos to Nicolas, though I’m not sure that losing such a rare principled person in government is a step in the right direction.

Operating On Blind Faith

Most politicians appear to think that there are no big issues out there ecologically-speaking. Of course, very few of them spend any time outside or understand where their food even comes from. Most subsist on the blind faith that our planet will somehow always bounce back from the abuses we inflict on it, despite reams of mounting evidence that it’s hitting a mulitplying number of breaking and tipping points.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Technocrats Rule: Democracy Is OK as Long as the People Rubberstamp Our Leadership

Technocrats Rule: Democracy Is OK as Long as the People Rubberstamp Our Leadership

Technocrats rule the world, East and West alike.

We are in a very peculiar ideological and political place in which Democracy (oh sainted Democracy) is a very good thing, unless the voters reject the technocrat class’s leadership. Then the velvet gloves come off. From the perspective of the elites and their technocrat apparatchiks, elections have only one purpose: to rubberstamp their leadership.

As a general rule, this is easily managed by spending hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising and bribes to the cartels and insider fiefdoms who pony up most of the cash.

This is why incumbents win the vast majority of elections. Once in power, they issue the bribes and payoffs needed to guarantee funding next election cycle.

The occasional incumbent who is voted out of office made one of two mistakes:

1. He/she showed a very troubling bit of independence from the technocrat status quo, so a more orthodox candidate is selected to eliminate him/her.

2. The incumbent forgot to put on a charade of “listening to my constituency” etc.

If restive voters can’t be bamboozled into passively supporting the technocrat status quo with the usual propaganda, divide and conquer is the preferred strategy. Only voting for the technocrat class (of any party, it doesn’t really matter) will save us from the evil Other: Deplorables, socialists, commies, fascists, etc.

In extreme cases where the masses confound the status quo by voting against the technocrat class (i.e. against globalization, financialization, Empire), then the elites/technocrats will punish them with austerity or a managed recession.The technocrat’s core ideology boils down to this:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Mere Anarchy is Loosed Upon the World

Mere Anarchy is Loosed Upon the World

I have to admit that I was a bit surprised at the vehemence of some of the replies to my recent guest post, “An Open Letter to West Virginians”.  Some of my fellow TBP´ers took strong exception to the military draft, voting, the political parties, and the existing world in general.

The intention of my article was to cause West Virginians to reflect before falling for the cynical and dishonest Democratic Party tactic of using sock puppet veterans as candidates, in a vile attempt to deflect attention from their true, treasonous program.  I used as an example the campaign of one Richard Ojeda in, of course, West Virginia.

I did not intend to support a military draft, applaud the senseless wars we are involved in, to praise our two main parties, or exalt the usefulness of voting under current conditions.  I surely did not mean to express support for the world as it is.  Anybody who has followed my comments should understand my basic positions on all of these points.

That said, let me reiterate my views on all of these things so you have a better idea of where I stand.

Military draft.  Like it or not, the “draft”, i.e., compulsory military service, is one of the bedrock obligations of a citizen and it has been since the Roman Empire.  In our particular case, service in the military dates back to medieval times in England when every man was required to serve according to their station.  Nobles had to provide a certain number of armed men for a certain number of days a year, knights had to maintain a horse, weapons and armor, and yeomen had to furnish themselves with weapons and train on a regular basis.  In many cases the yeomen were required to furnish themselves with the English longbow and practice regularly – this requirement won the battle of Agincourt for the English king.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Self-Governance in an Unreasonable Age

Self-Governance in an Unreasonable Age

Part IV: A Conclave of Reptiles

Once again, the country descends into the fetid morass of double-talk, obfuscation, and contemptible cacophony known as election season. Right on cue, every slithering incumbent and mucilaginous political rookie is crisscrossing his/her/its respective area of operations in the hope of bamboozling the required number of dolts into scratching an “X” in their favor. It is a perfectly ridiculous exercise, founded in fanciful expectations, false hopes, and dreams of remembered greatness.

This biennial exercise in national self-delusion will take place across a vast, arid political landscape bereft of any cooling breeze of intelligent debate and denied even the barest sprinkling of intellectual honesty to settle the duplicitous dust of what passes for political discourse in this ghost of a country. Instead, the voting populace will get its usual entrée of verbal offal dressed up with the emotional condiments of their choice. Then, the farce will come to its emotional apogee on election day (oh, blessed day) when the electorate will once again squeeze out a collective turd that looks pretty much identical to the deuce they dropped two and four years earlier. The product of this national bowel movement will smell the same and you wouldn’t want to step in it, but at least it’s out of the system for a few months. At least until the sibilant whisperings of our reptilian ruling class begin to tickle our ears once again…, and again…, and again. Welcome to scatological Ground Hog Day on the Potomac.

The Definition of Insanity

As usual, the voters will return some ridiculous percentage of Senators and Representatives back to the very Congress, which they ostensibly hold in utter contempt.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The All-Important Doorman

The All-Important Doorman

The All-Important Doorman

Picture this: A tribal leader from a distant country visits the US. He’s brought to a large apartment building in New York City. When he gets out of the car, he looks up at the great building and is quite impressed. A uniformed doorman exits the foyer and comes out on the sidewalk. The tribesman sees the gold braiding and brass buttons of his coat and immediately decides that this is a very important person. Again he looks up at the building and says to the doorman, “This is a very great home you have. You must be very important indeed.”

Of course, if we were present, we might chuckle at the tribesman’s naiveté. The owners of such a great building would never greet people at the entrance. They leave such trivial tasks to hired servants, whilst they run the real business without ever needing any direct contact with visitors as they enter the building. And, in addition, doormen come and go – they are, after all, disposable. The owners – those who control what happens in the building – retain their positions over the long term… and may remain anonymous, if they so choose.

We find this simple concept easy enough to understand, and yet we chronically have difficulty in understanding that, in most countries, the president, or prime minister, is not by any means the man who makes the big decisions in the running of the country.

We assume that, because we were allowed to vote for our leader, he must actually be our leader. But, as Mark Twain has at times been credited as saying, “If voting made any difference, they wouldn’t let us do it.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

‘Ticking a box is no longer an option’: David van Reybrouck on elections, imagination and Brexit.

‘Ticking a box is no longer an option’: David van Reybrouck on elections, imagination and Brexit.

David van Reybrouck lives in Brussels, is a pre-historic archaeologist, but works mostly as a literary writer, and as a non-fiction writer.  He’s probably best known for his book ‘Congo: the epic history of a people’, for appearing in the film ‘Tomorrow’ (‘Demain’), and for his more recent book ‘Against Elections: the case for democracy’, which is a brilliant read.  We met up via Skype, and talked imagination, Brexit, and reimagining how we make decisions together.

I wonder if you had any thoughts on in what ways the current way that we practice democracy in the West diminishes our imagination, maybe particularly in relation to our ability to imagine something other than business as usual?

You could say that the procedures we use today to do democracy have drastically narrowed down the scope of what is politically imaginable.  To me, although I’m interested in politics, it’s become quite a bit of a boring game, really.  It’s all about winning elections, trying to build a coalition, trying to run a government, or be against the government that is in power.  The bickering that is going on is not very rich.  The strategies that are being used for political gain and political loss are less interesting than watching the Tour De France on a boring day.

Political journalism very often has come down to a form of sports journalism, really.  Like, who has made what manoeuvre and what will it bring to him or to her.  The political game as it is being played these days is a pretty boring one, and a pretty predictable one, yes.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Dear Spain, Mainstream Media: A Majority of Catalans Want Independence (Stop Saying Otherwise)

Even though 92% of voters in the Catalonia election voted for independence, mainstream media keeps repeating the lie that a majority in Catalonia were against independence. Here’s the real math.

Mainstream Media Lies

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal repeated this frequently stated lie “A majority of Catalonia’s 7.5 million inhabitants don’t support independence, recent polls show.”

Today, ABC news repeated the stale news we have heard so many times before: “Until this crisis erupted, polls showed about 70 per cent of Catalans wanted to vote in an independence referendum. But only 41 per cent were actually in favour of cutting ties with Spain.”

These media outlets all parrot each other. Lies get repeated over and over and over. The Guardian and countless other places made the statement. No one bothers to link to or even cite the date of the “recent poll”.

I believe the allegedly “recent” poll was taken in July. Regardless, it was superseded by a more recent poll.

Most Recent Poll

The most recent poll was taken October 1. The results are as posted above. Counting ballots confiscated by Madrid, the real turnout was 57%.

Some may dispute the number of confiscated ballots. Don’t blame me, blame Madrid. If Madrid did not confiscate ballots and prevent people from voting, that reporting issue would not be in play.

It’s a certainty those confiscated ballots were overwhelmingly in favor of independence. In addition to the confiscated ballots, many who wanted to vote were forced away by Madrid police.

Its likely that yes had an outright majority from the 770,000 stolen votes alone. Add in other suppressed votes and its a certainty yes had an outright majority.

Dear mainstream media, the majority of Catalonia wanted independence. Please stop your lies.

Ohio Communities Face ‘Voter Suppression’ in Push to Rein in Oil and Gas Development

Ohio Communities Face ‘Voter Suppression’ in Push to Rein in Oil and Gas Development

We’re losing our ability to legislate and be a check and balance on the government,” Tish O’Dell of the Ohio Community Rights Network told DeSmog on September 15.

O’Dell had just learned that yet another local ballot measure — this one in Bowling Green, Ohio — was facing a possible legal challenge. “The Bowling Green initiative is the only one that made it through all the administrative hurdles to get on [the ballot],” O’Dell said.

It is the latest in a flurry of anti-fossil fuel ballot initiatives across Ohio which have gained the required number of signatures but likely won’t appear on ballots come election day. This year, initiatives in Youngstown, Medina County, and Athens County have all been taken off the ballot.

Fracking Backlash

These ballot initiatives are a response to the surge in activity related to hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and pipeline development in Ohio and would establish new county charters or amendments to city charters that elevate the communities’ governing authority over legal privileges enjoyed by the industry.

Since 2015, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, non-elected local boards of elections, and the Ohio Supreme Court have struck a total of 10 proposed county charters from Ohio ballots. Initiatives have been removed for Athens (2015, 2016, and 2017), Fulton (2015), Medina (2015, 2016, 2017), Meigs (2015, 2016), and Portage (2016) counties.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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