World Gone Mad


I DON’T KNOW about you, but whenever I attend some “green” conference, I know I’m supposed to leave feeling inspired and energized, but instead I feel heartbroken, discouraged, defeated, and lied to. It’s not the inevitable talk about farmers (re)discovering organic farming; about plastic forks made from cornstarch; about solar photovoltaics; about relocalizing; about the joys of simple living; about grieving the murder of the planet; about “changing our stories”; and most especially about maintaining a positive attitude that gets me down. It’s that no one, and I mean no one, ever mentions psychopathology.

Why is this important? Because those in power destroy sustainable communities – and not just sustainable indigenous communities. If people develop new ways to live on their land more sustainably, and those in power decide that land is needed for roads and shopping malls and parking lots, those in power will seize that land. This is how the dominant culture works. Everything and everyone must be sacrificed to economic production, to economic growth, to the continuation of this culture.

A few months ago I was watching a documentary on David Parker Ray, a serial killer from Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, who is suspected of killing up to sixty women. He kidnapped women and held them as rape slaves. He turned an entire tractor-trailer into a well-stocked torture chamber, where he videotaped what he did to them. In the documentary, an FBI profiler compared Ray’s attitudes toward his victims to those most people have toward tissues: Once you use them, are you concerned about what happens to them? Of course not, she said. And that was how Ray perceived – or rather didn’t perceive – his victims: simply as something to use and throw away.

When the profiler said this, my first thought was passenger pigeons. Then chinook salmon. Then oceans. How deeply do most members of this culture mourn passenger pigeons? Salmon? Oceans? This culture as a whole, and most of its members, gives no more consideration to the victims of this way of life than David Parker Ray gave to his victims. Blindness to suffering is one of this culture’s central defining characteristics. And it is a central defining characteristic of sociopathology.

The New Columbia Encyclopedia states that a sociopath can be defined as one who willfully does harm without remorse: “Such individuals are impulsive, insensitive to others’ needs, and unable to anticipate the consequences of their behavior, to follow long-term goals, or to tolerate frustration. The psychopathic individual is characterized by absence of the guilt feelings and anxiety that normally accompany an antisocial act.”

Um, how sensitive are members of this culture, on the whole, to the needs of native forests (98 percent gone), native grasslands (99 percent gone), ocean life (90 percent of the large fish gone)? How sensitive is this culture to indigenous land claims? How clearly are members of this culture able to anticipate the consequences of destroying forests, grasslands, oceans, or denying indigenous land claims? With sea level already rising and glaciers already disappearing, how capable are this culture’s decision makers of anticipating the consequences of global warming?

Dr. Robert Hare, an expert on sociopaths, states that “among the most devastating features of psychopathy are a callous disregard for the rights of others and a propensity for predatory and violent behaviors. Without remorse, psychopaths charm and exploit others for their own gain. They lack empathy and a sense of responsibility, and they manipulate, lie and con others with no regard for anyone’s feelings.” I’m reminded of something Red Cloud said: “They made us many promises, more than I can remember. They only kept but one. They promised they would take our land, and they took it.”

Hare also says, “Too many people hold the idea that psychopaths are essentially killers or convicts. The general public hasn’t been educated to see beyond the social stereotypes to understand that psychopaths can be entrepreneurs, politicians, CEOs and other successful individuals who may never see the inside of a prison.” They can be the president, a boss, a neighbor.

Let’s now consider the dominant culture in relation to the characteristics of sociopaths as listed in section F60.2 of The ICD-10 Classification of Mental and Behavioural Disorders, published by the World Health Organization, Geneva, 1992:

a) callous unconcern for the feelings of others. Where to start? Have members of this culture shown any concern for the feelings of the indigenous as they’ve stolen their land? How about the feelings of nonhumans being driven from their homes, or those being driven out of existence? Further, doesn’t the mainstream scientific community demand that emotion be removed from all scientific study? Aren’t we also told that emotions must not interfere with business decisions and economic policy? Do chickens in battery cages have feelings? What about dogs in vivisection labs? What about trees? Rain? Stones? The culture goes beyond “callous unconcern” for the feelings of these others to deny that their feelings even exist.

b) gross and persistent attitude of irresponsibility and disregard for social norms, rules and obligations. Is there an action more irresponsible than killing the planet? Now consider the norms, rules, and obligations of this culture. Norms: rape, abuse, destruction. Rules: a legal system created by the powerful to maintain their power. Obligations: to get as much money and power as possible.

c) incapacity to maintain enduring relationships, though having no difficulty in establishing them. I live on Tolowa land. The Tolowa had enduring relationships with their human and nonhuman neighbors for at least 12,500 years. When the dominant culture arrived here about 180 years ago, the place was a paradise; now the place is trashed. Exploitation is not an enduring relationship – whether with another animal or a landbase.

d) very low tolerance to frustration and a low threshold for discharge of aggression, including violence. The civilized have been eradicating the indigenous for ten thousand years. The United States is constantly “discharging aggression” against (i.e., invading) other countries. Individuals and corporations and governments discharge aggression daily toward coyotes, prairie dogs, sea lions, wetlands, coal-bearing mountaintops, and oil-bearing coastal plains.

e) incapacity to experience guilt and to profit from experience, particularly punishment. How much guilt do you believe timber company CEOs experience over the destruction of ancient forests? And the word profit here does not mean the financial profit they derive from killing forests, oceans, and so on, but profit in terms of hindsight. After deforesting the Middle East, all of Europe, much of the Americas, Africa, and Asia, does it seem at all plausible that those in charge are learning from their past mistakes? Are they learning anything from their decisions and policies that are altering the climate through unrestrained burning of coal, oil, and natural gas?

f) marked proneness to blame others, or to offer plausible rationalizations, for the behaviour. Do CEOs take responsibility for their violence? The average rapist for his? George Bush blamed forest fires for his urge to deforest. Clinton said it was all the beetles’ fault. And many still rationalize their denial of our rapidly warming planet every time a winter storm slams the East Coast.

Of course we don’t all act this way. But those of us who are not sociopaths, who are trying to live differently, need to step up and call out the larger culture for the way it behaves.

Sharing our finite planet with this culture is like being stuck in a room with a psychopath. There is no exit. Although the psychopath may choose other targets first, eventually it will turn to us. Eventually we’ll have to fight for our lives. And so if we want access to a landbase we can inhabit, and want our descendants to be able to live there long into the future, we need to organize politically to stop this lethal culture in its tracks.

Derrick Jensen is the author of Thought to Exist in the Wild, Songs of the Dead, Endgame, Dreams, and other books. In 2008, he was named one of Utne Reader’s “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World.” His Orion column is called “Upping the Stakes.”


  1. I would go so far as to say that psychopathology is encouraged and promoted on television and in video games. If people can’t see what’s sick about watching other real humans get hurt on a screen or bipedal animation that get slaughtered in massive numbers by your average teen then animals, birds, plants and trees don’t stand a chance.

  2. How does it feel to know that your world and all that you love is in the hands of madmen?

  3. My 21 year old daughter called me on my use of the word psychopath, and I had to concede to her.
    Sociopath is the word I meant at the time. For a model of the psychopath think of the Javier Bardem character in “No Country for Old Men”.
    A sociopath is a pretty good description of a corporate leader, but not your average Joe who isn’t really paying much attention to what’s going on.

  4. I’m not quite sure how to respond to this article. On the one hand I find it kick-in-the-guts devastating, a wake up call of the highest order. On the other hand, it makes me feel extremely frustrated. So the powers that be and the dominant culture are psychopathic. What do we do about it? Is the aim to try and heal the culture? Or should we simply admit defeat and head for the hills. There’s a nihilistic edge to Derrick’s piece that I find difficult to comes to terms with. Guidance welcome!

  5. Sadly the same destructive forces and mechanisms of denial are now being turned on the average citizen who may find that society has as little concern for him as it has heretofore shown for nature, indigenous peoples and those chickens in the cage. If environmentalism is to ever succeed it must somehow demonstrate to people that their interests and the interests of nature are ultimately the same and that those who destructively exploit nature are doing the same to humanity.

  6. Mr. Jensen gives the impression the madness is a recent thing. I believe the madness began with the rise of civilization in the Fertile Crescent, where it all began 6,000 years ago, and is now reaching its logical conclusion. The rise of the city-state was accompanied by big agriculture, authoritarian religion, ideology, militarism, the money economy, and the conquest of indigenous peoples and nature. Driving that conquest has been hubris, beginning with Gilgamesh clear-cutting the cedars of Lebanon, defying the gods and destroying the forest guardian, Humbaba, leading to the ecological collapse and desertification that destroyed the early Mesopotamian civilization in the Tigris-Euphrates valley where present-day Iraq is located. Although Mesopotamian civilization did not survive, its legacy of deforestation, overgrazing, water depletion, soil erosion, and war lived on, spreading throughout the Middle East, further West to Greece and Rome, then followed Western civilization to America. Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida have deep roots in this first civilization. So does Europe. So, for that matter, does America, from the Columbian landfall to Manifest Destiny,and our current, politically dysfunctional, hyper-consumerist society. The madness always existed but industrialism has multiplied the effects of the madness by increasing the technological power of destruction.

    So Mr. Jensen. The world has not gone mad. It always has been, at least since civilization began. You are just seeing its intensification.

    But there are pockets of sanity. Always were. They are everywhere. In our more peaceable communities, in our art and music, our literature, and in indigenous cultures. Are they enough to stop the madness? I have no answer. I believe industrial civilization will consume itself. I see a dying way of life in the grip of ever more desperate temper tantrums, industrial civilization’s final frenzy, clinging to an ideology of power, wealth and the exploitation and control of nature that will only consume itself, a hyper-capitalistic Götterdammerung–a spasm from the dying of a rough beast. We may either destroy ourselves, or what is left of humanity will regroup and come out better in the long run. Continued human survival will depend on a shift from being creatures predisposed as they are now to violence, territoriality, ideology, self-interest, and destructive use of nature to being creatures predisposed to awareness, mindfulness, compassion, generosity, love, and, in Wendell Berry’s terms, “kindly use of nature.”

    Another point: Mr. Jensen should pay attention to how nature is fighting back. Look at the violent weather in 2010 around the world. Devastating whole regions with violent thunderstorms, drought, wildfires, epic flooding and it will only get worse as the planet fights back against its abuse by human industrial civilization, fights back against CO2 emissions. He calls for humans to resist the power structure that continues this 6,000-year abuse, but nature is already beginning a mighty resistance. I say, we humans better yield now if know what is good for us. And maybe try to get along with nature…

  7. I amend my comments to the extent that Mr. Jensen does allude to past abuses by civilization, which have not been corrected by contemporary humans, and he does hint that the madness is not just a recent thing. So I was not correct in saying that he ignores this historical continuum. But I stand by one of my original points–we may not be able to resist or stop this civilization. It contains in its very nature the seeds of its own destruction. We may ended up sitting on the sidelines watching it destroy itself, not able to stop it. Won’t be pretty, but if we survive this cataclysm, those who survive may just be able to come up with a better way and live it while the planet heals. If human consciousness has adequately evolved we may have learned from the experience and practice a more sustainable way of life and our stories will warn us not to make the same mistake twice if (and that’s a big IF) we as a species survive our first big mistake. If we don’t, we will be one of the shortest-lived species in the history of the planet.

    This is not that I do not recognize the great and positive accomplishments of human civilization, but so far we humans have not been able to disentangle those from the slow-moving disaster of militarism and the continued exploitation and destruction of the natural world (including indigenous cultures, the healthiest of which have been relatively peaceable and connected to place and living comfortably within nature’s arrangements). Humanity is now at a crossroads, where the model that has informed the 6000-year civilization may be at its inevitable end.

  8. Jensen’s essay is spot on, though I might rephrase his issues as “blind selfishness” and the modern American perceived “entitlement to immediate profit,” which I guess is the last vestige of the myth of manifest destiny. But what Jensen, like most environmental writers and all politicians, media, technocrats, economists, and right-wing religious spokespersons fail to seem to notice or mention, to paraphrase Jensen: It’s that no one, and I mean no one, ever mentions TOO MANY PEOPLE.

    Many and most of our environmental woes–ethical and health-related and economic, not to mention political–are directly related to and essentially caused by the human overpopulation of our part of this continent, drawing too heavily on its providence (now called reserves) including food, minerals, and open space for sanity and re-creation of spirit.

    This human over-crowding creates the pathology quite similar to the recognized overgrazing of cattle on public lands. This is the primary and I mean most basic issue behind and below our environmental failure. Too many of us resulting in too little space and too many demands. It’s all in the math. Growth including population growth simply cannot continue forever (therefore the pathology). If our capitalistic system requires continual growth forever, we need a new system.

  9. The article has an interesting title. the world had not gone mad. It is the human population that has gone mad, as so soundly described. However, the mad decisions made by humans are unsustainable because they are destroying the life support system. Natural forces have always been in control of what happens and they will continue that control even as the delusion that is civilization disintegrates. No amount of rhetoric or financial manipulation can alter that stark reality.

  10. Mr. Jensen’s gig is built around the concept the humans are fundamentally flawed so deeply that we are surely doomed as a species. His rhetoric seems designed to shock and convey hopeless despair.

    I agree with the comment that his observations about human nature do not reflect a recent development within the dominant culture. There is deep evolutionary biology behind the patterns that he notes, but I would also note that progress has been made. True, we continue to rape the planet, but Mr. Jensen’s comments would not have been part of the public dialog as recently as a few hundred years ago. I believe that our collective awareness of our place on this planet is growing. The central question for me is whether or not that awareness will translate into meaningful action in time for us to assume an integrated role on Gaia and preserve a future for our children and the other organisms on this planet.

    Humans are not intrinsically evil and nor are they intrinsically good. Mr. Jensen’s recurring theme suggests that ethics and morals (in this case, sane behaviors) are somehow distinct and separate from the evolution of our species. It would seem that sane and good behavior has a separate reality beyond our relativistic perceptions. This is nonsense. Ethics and morals are derived from our evolutionary roots as a social primate. Mr. Jensen’s indictment of our species reflects his willingness to stand in judgement, but little understanding of the fact that we are simply another organism on this planet. At this point in geological time, we happen to tread the planet with a very heavy foot. This is neither moral nor immoral, sociopathic or sane. It simply is, and it has practical consequences for ourselves and the other organisms on the planet.

    Jensen’s world is a grim place, a sad place. It is a place where our insanity prevails as part of the human condition. I reject this view as wholly unjustified by the facts of our evolutionary biology. Mr. Jensen would shock us into behaving properly by pointing his righteous finger in judgement. This does not work to get an addict to enter recovery, and will not work with our addiction to consumption.

    We need practical solutions and clear, non-perjorative dialog about how we are to find a future on this finite planet. Mr. Jensen’s tirades here and elsewhere are nihilistic and infantile. There is certainly no scholarship reflected in such a view of life on this planet.

    Mr. Jensen why don’t you join the ranks of us who are taking affirmative action to build a more sustainable future? Yes, the dominant culture is fucked up and always has been. When and how will this change? At least the folks at green conferences are seeking solutions. It is unfortunate that this makes you sad. It give me hope. A friend of mine used to say: It matters little what you think, feel or say. What really matters is what you do. What positive action have you taken in the last few years, Mr. Jensen? Is it satisfying to define yourself by selling hopelessness? Do you have this truth locked up, or this there just possibly another way to look at the human organism?

  11. We talk about neuroconservation (mind and ocean) and oceanophilia all the time, in particular WRT the oceans. Thanks Mr. Jensen, and other commenters, for sharing.

  12. Alpha Griz

    You are right on; as in the past!! Gilgamesh is the template of our civilization!!

  13. My view is that as a culture, we are “addicted” to Convenience. And things are going to have to get worse before things change. We will need to start running out of clean water, for example. Then maybe the car washes and lawn sprinklers will be turned off. And this is just one example. There are many others.

  14. Stephen,

    It is obvious you aren’t familiar with Mr. Jensen’s work, otherwise you would know that if he assumes anything about “human nature,” it is the opposite of what you’re suggesting. Nice straw man, though.

    Regarding overpopulation, I think you’ve got it backwards, Jeff. Widespread environmental destruction is not a disease. Neither is overpopulation. Rather, they are symptoms of the pathology Derrick is describing in this essay. You seem to have a very astute awareness of the situation at hand; I’m merely illustrating why I believe the issue of overpopulation went unmentioned.

  15. . . . and don’t forget the great god ronald reagan who, after removing jimmy carter’s solar panels, was quoted as saying “you’ve seen one redwood tree, you’ve seen ’em all.”
    mad indeed . . .

  16. One thing about Jensen’s essays — they sure get people talking! Why is that?

  17. Several places in the article and the comments refer to “indigeneous peoples” in a manner that connotes active earth stewardship. I tend to agree with Jeff Fair that a key issue is population. The indigeneous people’s greatest asset was not their “ecological ethic,” but rather their smallness of number. And even that didn’t keep some of them from hunting certain species to extinction. I don’t know what the answer is, but I know it’s NOT a return to some mythologized time of the hunter/gatherer society. I also tend to agree with an earlier comment about the earth being a self-healing organism which is already beginning to “fight back.”

  18. Iain Mcgilchrist, former Consultant Psychiatrist and Clinical Director of the Royal & Maudsley Hospital in London), offers an awesome voice of reason and experience in his ‘new’ (2009) book, THE MASTER AND HIS EMISSARY, where he explains in extraordinary depth and detail the workings of the human brain; primarily the differences between right and left hemisphere — all the way from the time of the ancient Greeks up to the present. If you want deep insight into the psychological and pathological manner in which the manifestations of brain function spell out the current self-destructive path Society is treading, read this brilliantly revelationary and stunning book! (Yale University Press). For profoundly well-documented explanations of why we behave as we do, there is nothing more mind-boggling. Wthout our brains we are nothing; with them working as they do in their ‘divided nature, we risk becoming completely separated from our senses and true Reason. And therein lies our downfall. K. Eberhardt Shelton in Devon, England

  19. I see people in the workplace that are borderline psychopaths. They continue to work in a toxic environment with those like themselves and wallow in their communal
    psychotic comraderie. It is evil that breeds evil and Americans are very good at it and have been getting away with it far too long.

  20. In old movies, there was a stock scene where the hero is belted in the kisser by a friend or lover, and after shaking off the hit, he looks them in the eye, and says, “Thanks, I needed that.” I always feel that kind of rueful gratitude after one of Derrick’s “hits.”

    In the zen tradition, the disciple who the master strikes most often is the one the master feels is closest to realization. In their school, what they call “grandmotherly zen” is held in low esteem for its coddling of students.

    Thanks for this essay Derrick — I needed that!

  21. Dorie — Your perceptions are right on target. The psychopathology outlined in the article is endemic and viral in our society. Evil has become a banal commonplace given in our distorted human world. It has reached the point that those who would point this out are accused of being deranged by the truly afflicted ones. Thanks for your thoughts on this.

  22. Karen — Fascinating. Tell us more about this research. Is this parallel to the loss of feminine perspective in our male dominated culture?

  23. Karen,

    I will literally run out and get that book, The Master and His Emissary. I am an artist and work mostly with the right side of my brain but I see a lot of left brainers that lean towards psychopathy. But then, I wonder what leanings Hitler possessed.( He did design the VW Bug) It is truly a mind boggling subject.

  24. Welcome back Griz, we missed you. I admire your ability to self-correct. A rare capacity in today’s world. Certainly Derrick is aware of, and roundly condemns the civilization project from its remote beginnings to the present disastrous outcomes of its ill fated trajectory.

  25. Mike, THE MASTER AND HIS EMISSARY is about EVERYTHING to do with the manner in which (primarily) right and left hemispheres of the brain function; all kinds of factors come into the equation, including masculine/feminine, Nature, culture, politics, simply EVERYTHING. A big book with over 100 pages (in small print) of notes and bibliography. The initial little Master/Emissary story (by Nietzsche) is a metaphor for the state of things in the world today. The lesson in it for me is that unless we take on board what we need to learn about our brains’ functioning in relation to how we live on the earth, we can do all kinds of ‘good’ things; recycle, create Transition Towns, send supplies to the poor, plant trees, etc., but none of that will make much difference in the long run unless we learn to decipher and understand why all the ‘bad’ stuff is happening, and consequently focus on why a monumental shift to the brain’s left hemisphere is at the root of all problems — then figure out how to initiate a new age of Renaissance or Reformation, or whatever.
    Karen in Devon

  26. For another excellent treatment of this general line of thinking, read Paul Shepard’s “Nature and Madness,” published in 1982. Donald Worster described it as, “a bold, original account of modern environmental destructiveness as a failed development of self” in Western civilization.

  27. Another approach that is also explanatory is: Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution, Second Edition [Paperback]by
    Ken Wilber

  28. Richard — I have been part of a Wilber study group for several years now. We are currently reading Aurobindo’s Synthesis of Yoga, which also has significance for resolving our current crises. Maybe you could say more about how SES is relevant to our discussion? Thanks for sharing.

  29. Karen — Thanks for your input. This sounds like a meaningful approach. Are you familiar with William Chilton Pearce’s book, The Biology of Transcendence? Pearce is the gentleman who wrote The Crack in the Cosmic Egg, a couple of decades ago. He is still growing new insights.
    Karen — Thanks for your input. This sounds like a meaningful approach. Are you familiar with William Chilton Pearce’s book, The Biology of Transcendence? Pearce is the gentleman who wrote The Crack in the Cosmic Egg, a couple of decades ago. He is still growing new insights.

  30. Scott, thank you for the link. I was referencing Shepard’s book, but hadn’t been aware of the essay.

  31. I have been engaged in helping the environment for over 30 years, and “we” have never had so many people doing work in improving/saving the environment as we do now. While I understand the feelings expressed in this article…I have also felt the same way on many occasions, feeling hopeless & helpless is paralyzing at best. We can point forever at other people’s “sickness” while being grossly unaware of how we cooperate with them. This doesn’t help us deal with our own darkness. One cannot gain sanity by pointing out everyone else’s insanity. If only the media were as interested in telling the stories of the majority of sane people who give of themselves for the greater good. My hope is that people will see a more balanced view, because that is what is real…if you look for it.

    “If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world,then eliminate all that is dark and negative in
    yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.”
    ~Lao Tzu

  32. As a soon to retire librarian (generalist) it is nice to see some books mentioned in this discussion. By far my favorite author was Jiddu Krishnamurti (“in nature is healing”) for information go to His life’s work was all about the topics covered in the article and comments section.
    You’ll also find good sources at If you are a teacher see works by Ivan Illich and Paulo Freire.

  33. I understand Derrick’s feelings re: green conferences. For many years I attended and spoke at such events, sharing ideas, models, optimism, and hope with others. This was in the mid 1980s to mid 1990s. While awareness has increased since then, so has the destruction. And worse, we know way more now than then about the long-term implications of what we’re doing. And way worse, corporations are more powerful today than they were then, and local and small-scale, while more actively supported, have also received major hits, esp. with regard to local stores, suppliers, and all that have met their demise thanks to box stores, corporate chains, and so on. It’s like we’re always starting over, taking one step forward and two steps back.

    Personally, I think Derrick’s on to something here, with regard to pathology. A psychopath or sociopath can’t be reached by normal human means, their brains aren’t wired for it, they just don’t get it. And it seems as though these kinds of sick behaviors are contagious, viral as someone just posted. People who aren’t afflicted with the disease sort of stand back, do their best to protect themselves and their loved ones and their places, when they can but it’s not enough because of the immense power and reach the infected have taken, and been given.

    I’m not suggesting I don’t have my dark side, we all do. And certainly it’s important for me to face it and deal with it. But what we’re dealing with here is way more than our personal darkness. We’re dealing with the darkness of a culture that has been growing and expanding for hundreds (perhaps thousands as many have said) years.

    Victoria, I agree that there is a more balanced view most people are not privy to because it isn’t reported on by the media. This is frustrating. It’s also frustrating how the media pushes lies and misinformation as truth (like the magical disappearance of all that oil that simply sank to the ocean floor – I mean didn’t we all know this anyway?). Despite this lack of balance, and despite the lies and misinformation, the bad stuff, the evil if that’s what one wants to call it, is also real. Climate change, cancers, species extinction are all too real.

    I also get frustrated by those who say over and over that Derrick does nothing to make a difference, as if writing is nothing. (Plus I’m sure in his daily life he does way more than we know.) Everyone has a gift to give. Derrick has vision, compassion for the more-than-human among us, and a great talent for writing. So he’s using it. As a writer myself, I often feel that what I do is meaningless, insubstantial. Others tell me this isn’t true. But Derrick’s writing gets out there way more than mine does and the fact that every one of his articles in Orion generates so much controversy and conversation proves he’s doing something right. I for one am grateful.

  34. In my opinion:

    Science is a psychopath: it deconstructs and examines the minutest particle while completely FAILING to see the big picture. (atomic bomb, ddt, plastics) It has developed vaccines and cures for that which would otherwise keep the human population (naturally) in check.

    Industry is a psychopath: it takes what it wants (the lives of humans toiling till death) and gives back waste (pollution and poisons).

    Mainstream regimented schooling is a psychopath: it brainwashes young children by feeding them propaganda from their countries viewpoint, usually stifling individuality and free thought. (the same can be said of militaries)

    While I long for the (inevitable) collapse of current civilization and all of its destructive ways, I fear it also, as I have a 2yr old grand daughter that I want nothing but the best of times for.

    I have 3 of you books Mr Jensen, and will soon be reading “A language…” on a retreat to the north woods of Minnesota.

  35. Denouncing the evil capitalist exploiters may feel good, but I am not sure that it does very much to advance the discussion of real solutions to our dilemma. Our basic problem is comittment to a specific intitutional basis of economic activity rather than a committment to short term gratification. The twin pilllars of our economic system are private finance and the competitive accumulation of domestic consumption rights (both present rights and future rights in the form of ‘savings’). Dedication to these institutions inevitably makes our economic activity growth oriented, and this dedication extends far beyond the captains of global finance and manufacturing. Such well known exponents of ecological economics as Herman Daly, Lester Brown, and Bill Mckibben show no signs of understanding the fatal weakness of these institutions. They want to reform these institutions by adding to them some form of ecological cost accounting, but they are utterly unwilling to consider abandoning them.

    The alternatives to these institutions are conceptually simple but nevertheless terrifying to contemplate for most people. The alternative to private finance is community finance in which risk is socialized, so that we do not have to demand interest as the price of infrastructure investment. Some forms of infrastrusture investment already follow community principles (e.g. roads, bridges, schools, etc). When we build a new school we do not give money to a school corporation and then expect them to pay us back with interest out of the tuition fees they collect. We simply pool our collective resources and build the school because we believe it is a useful piece of infrastructure. This kind of investment needs to be extended to manufacturing infrastructure as well. The first question we should ask about any piece of infrastructure is whether it will help to maintain the welfare of the community in the long term, not whether it will make money for private investors in the short term.

    The alternative to the competitive accumulation of domestic consumption rights is work and income sharing. Any one who is willing and able to work should have confidence that they will be allowed to help in the building, maintenance, and ongoing operation of the community’s infrastructure and that they will receive an income that allows them to have a good quality of life. If someone works themselves out of a job by figuring out how to maintain adequate services with less expenditure of labor and other resources they should have confindence that their income will not suffer thereby.

    What I am describing is, of course, a form of ‘socialism’, and the vast majority of people who call themselves ‘green’ make the sign of the cross and run off screaming when they hear these kinds of suggestions. Of course there is good reason to fear these kinds of changes. Such a revolution in the fundamental institutions of society is not going to come about without a painful period of political struggle. Nevertheless if our conversations about the future are to be anything other than predictions of apocalypse and self-righteous denouncement of the vilains who are bringing it about, then we need to articulate alternatives to the normal institutions of our society beyond which many well intentioned people can perceive nothing but a chaotic void.

  36. I checked out “the Master and His Emissary”‘s first chapter, listened to the a pdocast interview, and will be interested to see the reaction. I remain a skeptic of MacGlichrist’s theory – he is trying to advocate for some sort of vague, prelapsarian spiritualism rather than the scientific materialism he sees triumphant. Of course, this may be a brutally reductionist understanding, but life is short, there are many thinkers out there, and this kind of high-culture “theology,” even if based on some sophisticated acquaintance with science, is tiresome – though not in the repetitive way of the hectoring autological Jensen.

  37. I’m astonished that no one has mentioned the work of the Zeitgeist Movement as an alternative to our present course. They are the only ones I have found who seem to have a plan to work our way out of this mess, short of manufacturing dozens of guillotines, setting them up outside Congress, the White House, the Pentagon and Wall Street(which at this point, I’m starting to consider…) The time is too short now for discussion and the niceties of waiting for ‘the vote’ and other scams. Either we take out the sociopaths by direct action or do an end run around them, or they will kill the entire planet trying to make one more day of ‘profit and growth.’ Until Mr. Jensen is a permanent guest on ‘Crossfire’ or some such other economically based talking head show, no one is even discussing the issues publically that are critical to our survival. He’s right, it’s all insane.

  38. I agree that nature is fighting back, and that civilization is self-destructive … but I think we need to ask, who will be the survivors of a “crash”? Those in power will use whatever means necessary to maintain their lives and way of life, which I think adds to the urgency of resistance.

    On the topic of population – I think it’s not mentioned because it is not a primary problem. For example, let’s say a small (less than carrying capacity) travel to a pristine livable planet. Then they enact the same cultural vision that is dominant here on Earth. What will happen? Yes, population is a problem, and sustainability will require less people on this planet – but we need to strike at the cause.

  39. A great book to accompany this essay is ‘My Name is Chellis and I’m in Recovery from Western Civilization’ (1994, Shambala). Please read it and share it…and praise creation 😉

  40. A great book to accompany this article is ‘My Name is Chellis and I’m in Recovery from Western Civilization’ by Chellis Glendinning (1994, Shambala). Please read it and please share it…and praise creation 😉

  41. Justin Russell said: Is the aim to try and heal the culture? Or should we simply admit defeat and head for the hills. There’s a nihilistic edge to Derrick’s piece that I find difficult to comes to terms with. Guidance welcome!”

    I hope you check out the latest on my blog that deals exactly with this dilemma. Hope to see you there!

  42. When I was in Africa a number of years ago, I was lucky enough to met Gill Marcus, an anti-apartieid freedom fighter in her youth who eventually became Nelson Mandela’s Director of Finance, and eventually the Governor of the South African Reserve Bank. At the end of a gripping talk she gave to a number of us, she said, “It’s not good enough to stand up for what’s right… we have to learn how to stand up against what’s wrong.” Her admonition shot right through me. She named my my weakest personal ability, and I’ve noticed ever since that it’s one shared by many, if not most, of us. I’ve been toiling to learn how to stand up against what’s wrong –helpfully – ever since.

    I loved this article, and agreed with it. What I missed was a few ideas from the author about what to do about living in a sociopathic culture.

    I feel that hundreds of thousands of us can see, discern, feel, and taste “what’s wrong”… but as Gill pointed out, what we need now is for more of us to spend our precious time coming up with solid ideas regarding how we can go about standing up against what’s wrong: One by one; Group by Group; and Organization by Organization.

    Here’s one idea: If every thought-provoking author dared to carry a paragraph or two concerning even a single idea of how we might go about standing up against the wrong they are writing about, their articles may get some terrific traction.

    Keep it up…. With huge appreciation & thanks

  43. Out of the mouths of babes….

    DARWIN LYRICS by Low Anthem

    1. Charlie Darwin

    Set the sails I feel the winds a’stirring
    Toward the bright horizon set the way
    Cast your reckless dreams upon our Mayflower
    Haven from the world and her decay

    And who could heed the words of Charlie Darwin
    Fighting for a system built to fail
    Spooning water from their broken vessels
    As far as I can see there is no land

    Oh my god, the waters all around us
    Oh my god, it’s all around

    And who could heed the words of Charlie Darwin
    The lords of war just profit from decay
    And trade their children’s promise for the jingle
    The way we trade our hard earned time for pay

    Oh my god, the waters cold and shapeless
    Oh my god, it’s all around
    Oh my god, life is cold and formless
    Oh my god, it’s all around

  44. Love the lively discussion. Following in Jensen’s (see also documentary “the corporation”) thought train.. 1. Are sociopaths treatable/curable? What would therapy look like and how could we the somewhat sane/sustainable perform it? 2.From my limited knowledge of psychology, I remember that such pathology is usually developmental in nature… ie. It happens to as from abuse/neglect as children. What can we do to save the coming generations from psych/sociopathy? I fear for our current stock pin failing public schools of parents who never cared themselves… the entitlement generations from poor to affluent. 3. If Nazi-style extermination is off the table, (I hope these is never even considered you overpopulation-fearing/eugenics-leaning freaks) how do we resist nonviolently… and raise a new generation of sane, biophilic, happy, people?

  45. Jensen’s insight into the socio-psychopathology of civilization is essential to an understanding of our situation. If you look at the parallels he outlines between the conditions of victims of abuse and those of us struggling to come to grips with our abusers we come to the series of accommodations the abused make that hold them in thrall and paralyze them into maintaining the status quo.

    The question of hope falls into this category of accommodations to abuse. We cry out for the necessity for hope as an antidote to paralysis and despair. What is difficult to realize is that hope and despair, paralysis or fervent action fall into the categories of binary double-bind thinking that abuse fosters onto the abused.

    Before we can get to any question of what to do we need to come to grips with this. We need to see that there is no functional difference between paralysis and ineffectual activity, between a hope that attempts to bind us to an untenable position and a despair that clouds all that we see.

    One hint taken from “recovery” is that some form of reaching the bottom is a healthy stage on the way to overcoming the tyranny of abuse. In this view, hope and optimism are ties that hold us to the abusive pattern, to the “values” of the abuser.

    We can also see that this manic insistence that “everything will be fine!” lies behind the insanity that leads to psychopathology. The damaged psyche that grows into an abuser will have undergone a trauma it was unable to deal with and snapped into irreality as a response. The aftermath of this violence within the psyche then leads to the perpetuation of violence to maintain the facade.

    Jensen rightly puts the rights of the abused ahead of the right of the abuser for his recovery. Still, unless we are clear about the entire mechanism we are trapped within it.

  46. Chris fillie — The problem with the rich and powerful elites that Jensen refers to is that they see no reason to seek treatment. Most psychologists would refuse to treat such folks even if by a rare miracle they requested help, because of the dismal record of failure among those who were foolish enough to become entangled with these types. Your compassion for them is commendable, but these folks only use such concerns to manipulate and con those who evince them.

    By the time a “leader of industry” or other big shot has achieved their status in the power structure, there is about a zero chance they will relinquish the very traits that have got them to “the top.”
    Truly, the scum rises to the top in our dysfunctional society.

  47. It does us no good to denigrate those we perceive as adversaries. It doesn’t facilitate communication or positive change. I think it’s less a question of malevolence and more a question of world view and the state of an individual’s evolution (per Ken Wilber’s structure). If characterizing them in such negative ways serves as our personal therapy, then we are just as dysfunctional – but with a different malady.

  48. Antonio

    “we come to the series of accommodations the abused make that hold them in thrall and paralyze them into maintaining the status quo.

    The question of hope falls into this category of accommodations to abuse. We cry out for the necessity for hope as an antidote to paralysis and despair.”

    Bou, does this explain the Obama phenomenon, and his chicanery, in an entirely new light. He is a classic abuser, using the tools as best he can to continue to subjugate the abused… WOW!!

    Mike k.. I would be careful with your personal attacks, you have no idea where we all have been, what we have done, and where we are now!!

  49. Richard — One needs to distingish between mean spirited name calling, and careful realistic diagnosis. An accurate assessment of those who are most responsible for the severe problems our world is suffering is an intelligent first step towards finding some solutions.

    Psychopathy is a real and serious mental condition. To relate to those exhibiting it as you would to normal people could prove disasterous. This kind of response that ignores who these folks really are and what they are up to only enables them to wreak their depredations.

    Knowing Wilber’s ideas will be of little use in direct confrontation with these types. To wait for them to evolve to a higher state of consciousness would truly be waiting for Godot.

    Thanks for your input, but I do respectfully differ on this one.

  50. Mike k –

    I am assuming by your remarks that: 1) you are not one of those scum; 2) you have not risen to the top; 3) you are sitting in the back benches throwing handgrenades because of 1) and 2). Therefore, anyone can ignore your categorizations as the rantings of a malcontent. Am I missing something here?

  51. Mike,
    I heartily agreee with your distinction: “between mean spirited name calling, and careful realistic diagnosis.” It’s just that there is so much of the former and so little of the later as characterized in many of these posts. And we are all plagued by a certain “malin genie” whether it be psychopathy or some other

  52. Excellent post as usual Antonio, and much needed in this discussion. Let me add a couple of comments:

    “One hint taken from “recovery” is that some form of reaching the bottom is a healthy stage on the way to overcoming the tyranny of abuse. In this view, hope and optimism are ties that hold us to the abusive pattern, to the “values” of the abuser.”

    Often we cannot control what form our descent to our bottom takes, or what awaits there when we arrive. Often the bottom proves to be our final resting place. For those who are more fortunate, some lifeline, such as AA appears, and only through that grace, and our willingness to use it, are we salvaged.

    The other point is, that like so many things, hope has two faces. One face is the false hopes of victims of abuse, but the other face is the realistic, healthy hope that there exist ways to actually break the hold of abuse and move decisively out of its sphere altogether. Even Jensen has that kind of hope, although I disagree with some of his ideas of how to deal with our abusive culture.

    Lastly, most people are unconscious and in denial of the pervasive abuse that our whole civilized culture embodies. The amount of feverish criticism and abuse heaped on Alice Miller for uncovering this reality was testimony to the lengths people will go to to avoid facing this frightening reality. We are born into a world saturated with abusive structures and their agents. Tough pill to swallow, but it is an essential ingredient of the Red Pill. Cheers!

  53. Therese D’s comment posted earlier exemplifies the point an article in the previous issue of Orion made on eugenics and conservation. She states as a bad thing the fact that:

    “[Science] has developed vaccines and cures for that which would otherwise keep the human population (naturally) in check.”

    She may want to ban all manner of vaccines (some are controversial), anti-rabies shots, insulin, etc. but I personally believe population can be held in check by other more humane means. I refuse to go down the eugenics road with her. I discourage such thinking in the strongest possible terms. The Orion article rightly warns us against going down that road and points out how we are vulnerable to and tempted to make that kind of argument.

    An earlier post also referred to Paul Shepard who sees civilization, especially contemporary civilization as leaving humans in a state of arrested development, in a kind of permanent adolescence that is, if I read him correctly in “Nature and Madness.” Alienation from nature may indeed be a consequence of this arrested development, since humans no longer make a study of nature, are no longer initiated into the ways of the world by being placed in a true interdependent relationship with nature that adult maturity requires of us. We really have very few mature adults in today’s society at least by Shepard’s definition of mature adult–after all, one of our highest paid professions is football (and I’m a football fan which says quite a bit about my own state of arrested development). We cannot go back to being primitive societies but we can go forward to being like them even in a technologically-advanced, psychologically regressed society like ours (although the model Shepard proposes would thankfully mean the end of civilization as we know it). I do not think technology is neutral. It can do good only to the extent of the uses we put it to and the restraints we are willing to place on it and only truly mature adults are capable of this kind of restraint. Modern humans are in such a state of infantile regression that we are largely incapable of restraining ourselves.

    I am fascinated with human civilization and it has some major accomplishments (it is not all bad), but as I said earlier this 6,000-year history is nearing its end, either in collapse or a new form of organization for human society resembling more the arrangements of primitive society, but quite different at the same time since modern technological innovations will come into play. I do know one thing: we can no longer go on like we have.

    I am amused that Wikipedia refers to Derrick Jensen as an anarcho-primitivist. Might not be such a bad idea. Decentralized societies organized around democratic communities and watersheds, with no standing armies, no more nation-state, no capitalism or macro-economies aside from perhaps loosely organized trade federations since some trade will be required. Other than that, economies will be strictly localized. This society could have computers and advanced technological medicine but also more hand tools, more reliance on naturepathy, midwives, and most certainly utilize sustainable practices however these come to be defined and take shape. And no more “wilderness areas”–we will like or primitive ancestors walk through a wilderness without boundaries. Wildness will be the standard for human society (still think Gary Snyder’s The Practice of the Wild has some real good things to say on this score). My vision of alternative society is very crude at best, I admit it, but we need much more discussion of what post-civilization will look like. I am not talking about eco-topias or utopias–away with them! I am talking about what an alternative way of life would look like in practical, concrete down to earth terms. Where’s the discussion of this? Especially with the 6,000-year civilization coming to its inevitable end, a fascinating but seriously flawed model. We better get on with the business of replacing it–now!

  54. Griz — I think I am agreeing with you (?) when I say that DJ is a good diagnostician, but a poor prescriber. Nevertheless, a clear and deep idea of what the disease is helps greatly in finding a cure.

  55. #44 Vera — Not either or, both. Head for the hills (from whence cometh my strength) and try to heal society.

    Admit defeat? You? Out of the question!

  56. Reflecting more on Nature and Madness and culturally-determined psycho-pathological behavior, I would like to point out that in one of the last intact primitive tribal societies left in the world in New Guinea, depression is almost non-existent whereas in the U.S. the rate of depression is something on the order of 40 percent. I knew a book author who suffered from severe clinical depression who spent extended periods in the wilds whereupon his symptoms disappeared only to re-emerge upon return to society. Eventually he committed suicide. Doug Peacock author of Grizzly Years and a traumatized war veteran found equilibrium and a similar peace in grizzly country, but continued to find modern U.S. society difficult to tolerate. All these examples suggest that modern civilization leads to a kind of disintegration of psyche or personality and that extended time spent in the wilds produces a re-integration of personality. The destruction of nature only leads to more pathology as human alienation from nature deepens–the pathology is self-perpetuating in other words.

    One last observation: Wendell Berry is one example of a mature adult in Paul Sheaprd’s sense, one who is integrated, rather than stuck in a state of arrested adolescent development so prevalent among adults in the U.S. what Shepard calls child adults.

  57. assignment time

    we can all pontificate till the cows come home (except for the fact that most cows are kept in feed lots, eating unnatural grains chock-full-o-chemicals) and it will accomplish little to nothing.

    by the end of this month?

    do something

    and then let us know what you did (so we can pat you on the back) (and maybe motivate others in the process)

    Viva! La Fox!

  58. I like where this is all going. The question is developing into “how do we heal and mature” ourselves and neighbors? We know people are messing/messed up… the scientific proof of anthropomorphic global change is irrefutable… the consequences of our actions laid before us. (See video: girl who made the world silent for five minutes.) But, it is not just elites, we are all part of this system, like Germans in Nazi times… there is a banality.. a simpleness.. a passive acceptance and self-preserving denial…. we go on our way.. “putting food on our families”… I can’t help but come to the conclusion that Love is the only answer. If even possible, murdering the controls/ers is not the answer. We the healthy have to lead by example, take their blows in defiant dignity, and reach out our hands to them, to all, to the better way. and I think that may work the best with art and music?.. with community. we have to show people how great a humble, examined, thoughtful and connected life is.

  59. Possibly the best discussion on the future: Two Dialogues with Dr David Bohm at Brockwood Park, 1983.

    In these two dialogues Krishnamurti and physicist David Bohm explore the prospects for the future of human beings, given our immense capacity for self-destruction. They note that we are still pursuing the age-old patterns of thinking which create humanity’s suffering, and discuss the possibility of a change in our conditioning. As there is no psychological evolution and becoming is an illusion, Krishnamurti suggests, change may require a mutation in the very cells of the brain. Exploring this, they touch on consciousness, brain, mind and intelligence.

    Subtitles: English, French, Thai, Spanish, Italian, Danish, Finnish, Vietnamese

    Audio: English , Eng-French, Eng-Russian

    Content: 1 DVD with 2 dialogues, total time: 2 hours and 25 minutes

    Video format: NTSC, colour – Region Code: All regions

  60. Sorry, I left the title out:

    Future of Humanity

  61. Griz — Amen to the nature cure. Two weeks alone deep in unspoiled Nature does wonders on the muddled psyche.

  62. Derrick’s essays are like those psychological tests designed to draw out people’s stuff. A lot of defensive reactions to the awful truth can come out. To look at the reality of our world directly, without flinching, or looking away, or changing the subject, or trashing the messenger, or denying the problem, or blaming some handy scapegoat……the list goes on….it’s not easy to just swallow the pill, and let it work.

  63. Just watched a good TED episode w Daniel Pink on motivation and 21st century tasks… carrots and sticks do not work on complex tasks… money as motivation cannot compete with autonomy and sense of purpose as far as productivity is concerned…. Hope for the coming work of rehabilitating/renewing the world.

  64. “History is not a chronicle but a Hebrew invention about the way the cosmos works…”

    These are the opening words of Paul Shepard in his book, Coming Home to the Pleistocene.

    Griz, Antonio, et al

    Obviously there is general agreement that the crisis we face began with our emergence from the early Neolithic, with the advent of big agriculture and the birth of cities. And certainly there is general agreement that we can never simply return to the Pleistocene. But, what Shepard is clear about is that we are already OF the Pleistocene, it is in our genetic heritage. His Coming Home is simply coming back to what we are by nature. It does not require some cellular transformation in the brain, as the reference to Krishnamurti suggests. We don’t need to transcend, overcome, rise above, or improve ourselves… we need to recover what we are ontologically, and what has been lost sight of, that still lies dormant within us as a species.

    Shepard’s reference to history above is a key to our recovery. Clearly, our commitment to clock time has itself been forged by some well-embedded cultural habits, the Curriculum of the West. But this relatively modern convention does not quite square with our pre-reflective experience of being-in-the-world. And the forgery committed by unilinear time has a shared heritage with various other cultural systems – literacy, science, and history – effectively concealing/disguising our connection with the world-as-lived by our bodies. In order to recover and reclaim this primal bond, we must allow the natural rhythms inscribed in and articulated through our sentient bodies – and not the linear time of our socialized, civilized egos – to express themselves.

    Part of the problem, I suspect, goes back to the organization of our senses. Modern civilization is primarily a visual world spread our in front of us; a Pleistocene world is more fundamentally aural, it surrounds one with sound. This provides a fuller experience of the environment than a predominantly visual map. In fact, as J.Z. Smith wrote years ago: Map is not the Territory. The territory is encompassing, a map provides only a visual field spread out before one. We must recognize how deprived and empty life in this modern world has become; emptiness due largely to the eclipsing of the sensorium by the demands of civilized existence under the watchful eye of Father Time.

    And this gets us to the heart of the challenge, as Shepard’s opening remarks raises. Perhaps we can emerge as a new society along the lines that Alpha Griz laid out. But can we overcome our unflinching epistemological commitment to the specter of unilinear time and its existential implications – history, planning, progress, technological advancement, production, consumption, growth, domination.

    Can we step back enough to reclaim a more natural place within the animal kingdom, and recover from our early civilized need to dominate nature, and the substantial hangover that really came into its own with Francis Bacon and the scientific method, and our transition into the modern era of infinite progress.

    This pathology, this disease, if you will, is a feeling of dis-ease with our own feral core, a cloak foisted upon us through 6,000 years of indoctrination to the Curriculum. But, modern Homo sapiens appeared almost 200,000 years ago, and the earliest species of our genus, Homo habilis, two million years back; they lived in relative harmony with nature and with one another; and they lived without history or the terror of historical consciousness until its eruption with the birth of civilization. What the scholars will not tell us is that there was something substantial lost with the emergence of this new consciousness and the subsequent construction of historical thought approximately 5,500 years ago. Recovering this buried genetic memory trace must begin with a recapitulation to subjectivity of our bodies and a complete re-association with our sentient selves.

    It is not a matter of moral terpretude that drives us mad… it is madness that drives us to apparent moral terpretude. Changing the perspective and agenda of modern society and the masters of the universe is thus not an ethical or religious matter; it is an epistemological, even an ontological matter; it cannot be achieved by imploring, cajoling, threatening or harming. It may not be do-able at all on a broad scale. It may just require that those who have rediscovered that inner feral core do what they can to prepare themselves for ultimate collapse and try to enjoy the Spectacle.

  65. In dealing with the value of human adaptations of the distant past, maybe Ken Wilber’s concept of “transcend and include” would be helpful. As consciousness evolves, changes, grows, unfolds to more complex levels and deeper understandings there is both a need to transcend or go beyond previous limitations, and a corresponding need to carry forward and include the useful capacities and values of previous levels. This involves sorting out what was truly useful from things that are better left behind.

    As much as we might like the closeness to nature indigenous cultures had, we probably would not wish to bring into our present time human sacrifice or cannibalism. A romantic idealism about ancient lifeways would be as big a mistake as denigrating them as brutish or violent. The reality, as modern archaeology is revealing, is not a simple monotone, but a richly varied tapestry of possibilities.

    The hope that peoples of a former age had found the ideal way of being humans on earth is a perennial feature in the thinking of those who are aware of the many shortcomings of our present culture. Shangrila, Eden, the Golden Age, are symbols of this archetype. However consoling, these dreams are more revealing of our deep need for a better world than a realistic appraisal of the difficult journey we have traversed on this terrible and beautiful planet. And we are not done in our journeying…

  66. mike k

    I think it would be helpful for you to read some real anthropological, ethnographic, and history of religions studies on pre-civilized, preliterate and contemporary indigenous tribes. You might find it enlightening. The brush strokes you are using here to paint a straw man view of indigenous cultures are based on vastly antiquated and chauvanistic views

  67. Sandy (see post #71), I don’t know if you intended disagreement with my position (really doesn’t matter if you did for that’s the stuff of dialogue) or not, but I am in fundamental agreement with yours. At any rate you brought some further clarity to where I am trying to go although we may come at it a little differently.

    A couple of things: First, I agree that, assuming we are at the end of civilization, we are at the end of history (or his-story, since it has been a male-dominant perspective–the only honest organization of society is matri-lineal), that story is primary. Story is the way, as Barry Lopez suggests, we read the landscape and navigate the cyclical rhythms of life, for linear time as you point out is a fiction. I also agree that moral turpitude is a product of our madness, for example, the flagrantly bogus morality play that informs jihad the Crusades or any other number of ideological and religious wars.) Ideology and authoritarian religion are basically instances of arrested development, the permanently adolescent state that modern humans find themselves in and this idealism plays itself out in what are supposed to be mature adults with incredible violence. However, if humans answer to the primal heritage (Pleistocene) that is part of our DNA a different organization of society will emerge bearing fundamental similarities to those of our distant ancestors even though on the surface it may have a different look because of the technological innovations that have occurred in the meantime. But things are bad now. Groups like al-Qaida and the tea party are examples of infantile temper tantrums thrown by adult humans in a state of arrested adolescence. Modern civilization carries within it the seeds of its own destruction (the seeds being capitalism, industrialism, capitalism, individualism in some cases, and fundamentalist religion). We cannot destroy it. It can only destroy itself. That’s why I say we must get out of the way and answer to the beating of our own wild hearts, the yearning for connection, for community, the complete integration of domesticity and wildness, to our own love of story and the natural rhythms of cyclical time. But in answering to this, we must have some intentionality, some practical discussions of what this new society may look like. I enjoy literacy and I do not see computers as necessarily bad things, but I think we will know what technologies are useful and what are not if humans can survive post-civilization without major trauma or even extinction. If we see time as cyclical rather than linear, we may not be at the end of anything but rather emerging out of the winter of our discontent to find a return of spring. Kinda trite way of putting it, but I believe human epochs are similar in this regard to seasons. Winter is not the end of things, but only a pre-emergent time. We may find ourselves in this pre-emergent time. Those of us trying to recover our sanity need to be telling our story of disintegration and re-integration, of connection, of community, or living within nature’s arrangements even if we do not do so skillfully.

  68. Alpha Griz

    No, I agree with your assessment of what needs to emerge…

    “decentralized societies organized around democratic communities and watersheds, with no standing armies, no more nation-state, no capitalism or macro-economies aside from perhaps loosely organized trade federations since some trade will be required.”

    I just am at a loss of how that will really happen in a sustainable way that is truly non-authoritarian, non-coercive and meaningful for the participants without fundamentally overturning the hegemony of unilinear time as I indicated.

    You, as well have stated so much…

    “if humans answer to the primal heritage (Pleistocene) that is part of our DNA a different organization of society will emerge bearing fundamental similarities to those of our distant ancestors even though on the surface it may have a different look because of the technological innovations that have occurred in the meantime.”

    But, is the trap already laid by the technologies that consume us as we long to consume them? Are we capable of living a life with a fully activated sensorium, viscerally feeling ourselves part of the world we inhabit, even through the distractions of our modern scientific-technological protheses?

    As well, I more or less agree with your assessment of religious zealotry; but, I would also argue that those terrorist voices in the Middle East may be a visceral reaction to the forced installment of our fully advanced Western hegemony on a somewhat more traditional culture.

    Your thoughts!

  69. Sandy–This reply will be somewhat short. I believe al-Qaida as well as Western hegemony have roots in the first civilization that clear-cut the cedars of Lebanon and depleted the Fertile Crescent. The real tribal cultures in the region, including Islamic, are peaceable and generally hospitable to their guests as Greg Mortenson has reported. Remember, Osama bin Laden is the member of a wealthy family in Saudi Arabia with connections to the Bush family. He is just a spoiled rich kid with too much time on his hands. He is a religious fanatic with little feel for the true values of these societies. I can understand anger at the imposition of Western hegemony–after all it has been imposed upon me as well–but al-Qaida does not have an ounce of my sympathy. I think they are simply another manifestation of the problem. One last note: I certainly do a lot of reading but my critique of civilization is instinctual, intuitive. I am learning more to trust my instincts (as Terry Tempest Williams has urged) based on m actual experiences of industrialism, authoritarian religion, ideologues, careerism, consumerism and the general rat race as opposed to experiences in the wilds, or out in the garden. It’s those moments where I see clearly what is sick. Others, too, relied on an instinctual critique of civilization–Thoreau, Abbey, and likely Mr. Jensen.

  70. Grizzzzz

    your intiutive sense is brilliant; as is your assessment of al Qaida. You are right, Osama was a spoilled rich kid with nothing to do; but you Have to admit he had a pretty big target to hit when he decided to turn on us (which after all is common among thieves). Our culture in the West was a direct descendent of his which clear-cut the Cedars or Lebanon and depleted the Fertile Crescent, as laid out in the wonderfully told EPIC of G!

    By the way Griz: I wrote this over a year ago, you might find it relevant to our current discussion.

  71. I was watching a “NOVA” special the other day–“Becoming Human”–and was struck by the fact that chimps were repeatedly called “beasts” with “snouts” and were pictured swinging gamely but clumsily on their banty legs, scratching their private parts. “Humans” were shown bathed in holy light, shining like a Greek Statue.

    I was next struck by the fact that the show advocated “climate change” as “good for you–makes a man out of you!” and was funded by David H. Kock and exxon mobil.

    Koch is a billionaire who believes that the plane wreck he was in, which killed everyone on board but himself, was God’s little way of pointing out to Koch that he was Chosen for something special.

    As if the lives of the Others were only a backdrop.

    The philosopher David Hume postulated that it was almost impossible to feel empathy for a creature not your kin. Hence, in wars and genocides, the victim/enemy is named an “animal.”

    As the Dali Lama says, “all sentient beings are our brothers, similarly on a path to enlightenment.” Until we internalize that truth, any gestures “we” make toward saving “the Other” will be just that, gestures that show our magnanimity. When the shit hits the fan it will be “every man for himself and God against all.”

    As for the earth and sacred Life itself, we have been through worse than this present psychopathic sickness of mankind (for example, being struck by and asteroid). Life will go on–but will you or your children? Self-preservation is another characteristic lost by the psychopathic culture.

  72. Wow. Great discussion while I wuz away. The only thing that pops into my brain right now, addled as it is, is… willow, why are you still watching the psychopathic spectacle? After all, I know why “them” are dishing it out… what I don’t get is “us” willingly turning it on. :-(

  73. Ms. Vera: I bear witness to the effect money has on our discourse and opinions, no matter how painful the experience.

    If I had not watched this NOVA, I would not have learned of the Koch brothers, and their fascist dreamtime.

    I listen to the choir on sunday; the rest of the week, I keep my finger on the patient’s pulse.

  74. I am not fishing for titles, willow. But I do have another question. Haven’t you watched enough of the spectacle to last you a lifetime?! In what way do you profit knowing about yet another creep? In what way is it helpful for the “patient” for you to be supporting the spectacle with your money and attention?

  75. Dear Friends,

    Perhaps y’all can assist me. Sometimes colleagues make statements that do not make good sense to me.

    Let me give you an example from Stewart Brand who has reported,

    “We are as gods and have to get good at it.”

    When I raised a question several years ago to this statement, I got the following reply.

    Stewart Brand comments:

    12 billion population? That was the peak estimate, made years ago and long abandoned (currently the maximum expected is 9 billion). Birthrates are in freefall everywhere in the world, not even slowing down at replacement level (which is 2.1 children per woman). Half the world’s countries already have birthrates below replacement.

    The major reason is urbanization, with every week a million of the world’s people moving into cities — for the jobs, freedom, and education. Lots of kids are an asset in the country, but they’re a liability in town, and women act accordingly. This year about 48% of the world’s population lives in cities, with 61% expected in 2030. In the year 1900 it was 14%.

    Rockefeller Foundation shut down its large population-control program ten years ago. All who have worked so hard on family planning for decades can celebrate an enormous victory and set about retooling for other crucial issues.

    –Stewart Brand

    To this message, Steve Salmony responds as follows:

    Dear Stuart Brand,

    Thanks for the thoughtful note…. concerning the emerging data related to the what could be scientific evidence of the human overpopulation of Earth. It is my deepest hope that those experts in population science, who have put forward what looks like your consensually validated understanding of human population dynamics, are correct. New and apparently unforeseen data suggest something that appears to be fundamentally different about the way this natural world works and about the placement of humankind in natural order of all living things.

    According to the unexpected data, the population bomb has not been defused. To the contrary, the continuous growth of absolute global human population numbers – at its current rate and scale – could be a clear and present danger for humanity, biodiversity and the integrity of our planetary home, even in these early years of the 21st century.

    Thank you for all of what is being done to protect humanity from endangerment, biodiversity from extinction and Earth from irreversible degradation.


    Steve Salmony

    Now comes a statement from another respected colleague that is confusing to me. Just this morning I shared my thoughts with him. I want to share them with you, also.


    Dear Marty Hoffert,

    You report,

    “He might yell of humans once walking upon that Moon in the sky. But even little children would know that only gods, not men, not puny men so self-destructively maladapted to technology, could do that.”

    What would you think of changing your sentence so that it stated the following?

    He might yell of human beings acting like self-proclaimed gods once walking upon that Moon in the sky. But even little children would know that only ‘gods’, puny self-proclaimed masters of the universe so self-destructively maladapted to their own unsustainable pyramidal inventions, could do that.


    I am putting forward both of these exchanges because there appears to be some degree of confusion among ‘the brightest and best’ about what it means to be a human being and what it means to be self-proclaimed masters of the universe and gods.

    Perhaps members of this group have something to add on this subject.



  76. Steve — Stewart Brand; from back to the land into a nuclear, high tech, urbanized “utopia.” It is amazing what a little hobnobbing with rich elites will do for a feller. Ask Ronald Raygun how being a spokesman for GE helped him get over his former progressive ideas.

    Brand blithely assumes that we will all share in the largesse of his new world paradise. Some version of Ron’s famous trickle down con game. When these geniuses (at making money) are done, those of us (most of us) who will be in the toilet by then, can experience the only thing to trickle down from above…rich men’s piss.

  77. Steve — Your friend Marty seems to have drunk of the wine of techno-hubris. Those inebriated by this toxic brew lose all sense of simple humanity and responsibility, lost as they are in delusions of techno-omnipotence. Their mantra is: “You can have it ALL!” There are no limits to the deluded mind…

  78. Dear Steve, there seems to be a lot of insanity in the population debate. I got into a tussle last year over Haiti’s population, and the “experts” actually had the temerity to suggest that Haiti ought to follow the path of the developed nations who now have (minus immigration) negative growth rates. What they completely ignored that in absolute numbers, Egypt went from some 22 million to 77 million and so on down the line… every such nation went through explosive population growth before it stabilized. It takes about 50-70 years of steady economic growth and out of control population growth before people realize that more kids is a disadvantage. This, they were recommending for Haiti!!! They play games with “rates” and ignore the real numbers and the impact those real numbers are having.

    Any luck with the population discussion Orion was promising?

  79. Ed T — If we are going to play politics, we should stop dreaming we are in a soft-ball game. McKibben plays right into their hands with his nice guy half-hearted efforts. With the numbers he has mobilized behind him, he should commit to being more effective, and play the game how big boys play it.

  80. Willow — I support your type of televiewing; I do a good bit myself. We can never learn enough about our world, the good and the bad. To deconstruct the bullshit and tease out the true is a useful exercise in developing our consciousness.

    On the plus side, I really dig cosmology. I am a big admirer of Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme (sp?) in their work to get us to see our universe home as the sacred affair that it is. My attitude to TV is: take some, leave some, but think about all of it before swallowing. Nat Geo, History, and Link TV are my favorite sites.

    BTW those hyper Luddites who condemn all electronics (and electricity itself) are not my guides when it comes to gathering information and experience.

  81. Mike, I am with you on McKibben. That passage about him kvelling over Obama’s picture as they were shoved out of the White House…. smarmy and pathetic! Still hoping that Obama will throw him a crumb.

    Myself, I am a something of a luddite: wanting a world where each technology is tested for its effect on the community, the way the Amish do. TV has had awful effects on the community, and it’s a pipeline of crap and propaganda into each person’s house — I simply do not permit this to slime my life anymore. If I watch in a friend’s house, I am forced to turn away during commercials… they have gotten insanely assaultive and I cannot bear it. My friend is habituated to it.

    Computers share some of the crap, and isolate people… but they allow me to be selective about the news I take in, and connect me with other people in a whole new way. AND I can have it on “mute”! :-)

  82. Vera — I watch most of my TV on tape, and zap the commercials, although there is a lot to learn from them about influencing people, if you watch consciously. From the rational point of view, most commercials are absurd. But from the unconscious point of view, which the devisers of these mind numbing numbers are trying to affect, they are a window into the unspoken codes of our culture. It is a shame these true wizards of convincement don’t turn their skills to some of our real problems, rather than selling out for the big bucks. The amount of money and man hours that go into this whole project is indicative of its powerful effectiveness. We need that power on our side. To hope to change the minds of the majority through sweet reasoning’s is a hopeless quest. That how many inches tall a candidate stands is one of the best predictors of who folks will vote for speaks volumes about what level of mind most of our decisions are coming from.

  83. Dunno, Mike. Isn’t learning from the advertisers how to influence people kinda like learning from Darth Vader on how best to treat human beings? 😉

  84. Vera — When Padmasambava brought Buddhism to Tibet, he encountered the established homegrown Shamans, who opposed the newcomer with their magic and local demons under their control. However, Padmasambhava invited the demons to a parley, and ended up converting them to Buddhism, so that they became his allies in defeating the Shamans (many of whom then also converted).

    Using the skills of one’s opponents to overcome them is a valid approach that can often avoid more violent confrontation. The techniques of persuasion are neither good or bad in themselves: it depends on how and for what they are used.

    For instance, if words have been used to deceive and enslave people, they can also be used to enlighten and liberate them.

  85. 3 things.
    2 sayings that I have read here that I would like to steal, but will not, because I do have Some morals:

    1. mike k’s “Ronald Raygun”

    2. sandy krolick’s “It may just require that those who have rediscovered that inner feral core do what they can to prepare themselves for ultimate collapse and try to enjoy the Spectacle.”

    and the third thing? I just found out Sandy is a man! Swear, I thought he was a lady. Sorry.

  86. Steve — Yes, culture is a gigantic, perverse cult. However, culture is also the hope of the world. Our task is to separate the coarse from the fine; to build a new world from the best that our past offers, plus the best that we can new create. Culture is both the enemy and the friend. Hold fast to what is good, and let go of all else.

  87. TD — No need to steal. Help yourself. I got it from I forget who years ago.

  88. Vera — I am something of a Luddite, too. Not as much as I should be. Addictions are numberless — the work to be free continues…

    Meditation is a key practise of letting go, of everything, especially oneself.

  89. Steve — Exactly. Discerning true values, rejecting false values, and living according to the former, has been our need from the beginning. This need is the concern of all true paths of spirituality. Lacking this foundation, all our efforts are futile or worse. In this age of ignorant secular philosophies, and corrupted religious institutions, people scoff at the most obvious necessities of a truly civilized life together. We find ourselves in a dark wood, where the straight way is lost. How dark and bitter is this wood!

  90. When we enter the area designated in our language as ‘culture’, we enter a realm where exact definitions or sweeping generalizations are inaccurate and misleading. To say that ‘civilization’ is either bad or good only demonstrates a total lack of understanding of this vast and shadowy concept and its ambiguous and shadowy existence. As Aristotle said long ago, each field of knowledge defines certain parameters of what means are appropriate to study it, and how precisely or otherwise one can hope to understand it.

    The significance of a work of art, for example, cannot be deeply understood with the tools of mathematics or physics. The meaning and experience of Love cannot be reduced to chemistry (although some of our ultra materialists would have us believe that it can!)
    Likewise, culture slips thru the crude nets of our rational analyses, and hides within it and beyond it deeper significances than these methods can grasp.

    The classic tale of the wise men and the elephant illustrates how a variety of perspectives are required to get a fuller understanding of anything, not just elephants. This understanding has been given deeper treatment by both post-modern philosophy and Buddhism. In truth, there are hidden depths to every aspect of our existence.
    The net of Indra weaves every seemingly separate thing into its all inclusive embrace.

  91. Nat Geo is doing a two hour film tonight on “Collapse”, the title of Jared Diamond’s prophetic look at how cultures fail, or succeed. Excellent. Highly recommended. Tape it and share it with your friends. Small groups can watch shows like this, then discuss them together.

  92. “Using the skills of one’s opponents to overcome them is a valid approach that can often avoid more violent confrontation. The techniques of persuasion are neither good or bad in themselves: it depends on how and for what they are used.”

    Well argued, Mike. Just don’t underestimate those who do not wish to be “converted.”

    As the saying goes: “Come to the dark side. We have cookies…”

  93. Vera — Handling serpents takes a certain degree of caution. Be careful accepting cookies from strangers (especially people stranger than yourself!)

    Intelligent trust requires time and careful nurturance. In a small group process this is the limiting factor on how deep and how far the group can go. If it is handled with awareness and patience, then growth is corespondingly facilitated for all involved. One of the farther developments of this process is telepathic communion.

  94. Vera — The Dark Side is always beckoning: from outside oneself, from within oneself, and from beyond. One way to handle that — don’t take those calls.

  95. I brought Bill McKibben’s (self admitted) defeat at the hands of the Obama bureaucrats into this discussion to include the artist’s approach to the situation. McKibben may not see himself as an artist especially, but his project was a well-wrought work of performance art, where the main ingredient might be seen as forgiveness, altho it was not initially his intention.
    Other notable artistic contributions to
    climate/environment issues are the Yes Men, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert… I don’t watch more than 10 hrs of tv/year (other things to do with my time). When I’ve seen Stewart or Colbert it’s always left me a little uneasy, wondering if their audience is satisfied to take their info-enlightenment
    as entertainment, or whether a significant number of them would take more steps if those steps became visible. There are many ways to learn things in this world.
    A lot of what’s said in these discussions on Orion also has no obvious segue. And here where the main subject is sociopaths I’m sure there will be no clearcut solution. People with conscience will be bred out of the gene pool long before the sociopaths are, especially if we leave population questions up to individual conscience.
    We could just give up and try to live our lives in relative peace, or we could deal with them like the way the Buddha advised us to deal with our own shortcomings – like wrestling with a very strong man, not giving up, constrain them with laws again and again (they see each new constraint as a challenge; and each time they break our hold we have to see it as a new challenge).

  96. True, Mike, the dark side is always beckoning. That is what Jensen wrote about this time around… though I don’t see many here willing to grapple with it.

    Ed T: Derrick pillories symbolic actions like this one! We don’t need performance art to make the kind of change he is calling for, we need to live differently.

    I welcome your thoughts on psychopaths… why do you think they will breed us out instead of the other way around?

  97. vera, Derrick can say what he wants about symbolic actions. In this diverse universe there are many ways to go in the direction we need to go.
    Half a million men are direct descendents of Ghengis Khan. If it’s up to our conscience to decide how many children to have, the thoughtful ones, seeing the problems of overpopulation, will breed less.

  98. Oh baloney, Ed. If you want to eat, a symbolic garden will keep you starving.

    You are right about population logic … but apart from rapists on horseback, what we need is for women to recognize psychopaths and stop breeding with them. :-) It’s not like women would much rather….!

  99. TD

    One of my assumptions when posting on the internet is that it is all public domain…

    But that raises again the very contentious question of private property and ownership… one of the corner stones underlying the immanent collapse.

  100. The symbolic actions and the work of Stewart and co. are all about teaching. There are many ways to do it. This one is pretty effective.
    And I’m afraid love will continue to be blind. No miracles on that side either.

  101. The way to teach is by example. Any weenie can do otherwise.

    As for women’s discernment… I beg to differ. I was married to one. Strictly because no one warned me, no one told me what to beware of. In other words, I did not even know there were humans without empathy and conscience! Gah.

  102. vera, I’m too much of a new age guy to say this with any intention of rubbing it in, but you just illustrated my last point. anyway, I’m a fellow sufferer who managed to bounce back – with eyes open wider.

  103. Civilization has been dominated by bullies from its beginnings. Not that there were no bullies before the aggregation of population in the fertile crescent, but the increase in power that came with larger social units invited abusive types to take over. Power corrupts. That is, power corrupts the corruptible. Who are, alas, always with us. Aldous Huxley touched on this core problem in his utopian novel Island. How to dislodge these psychopathic power freaks remains a central problem in the way of a better world.

    The problem for us conscientious do-gooders is that no matter what we devise to make the world better, the self-satisfied nut cases with the power ignore our efforts and continue their self-aggrandizing, planet destroying madness. Witness the largest peace demonstrations ever held just prior to initiation of the US/Iraq war. The elite power holders simply turned a deaf ear to the millions of concerned people, and did as they damn well pleased. So much for sweet persuasion in dealing with confirmed bullies.

    One reason Derrick’s writing is so compelling is that he constantly returns to this problem of unseating the power elites, which is THE problem blocking a sane and just world for all. We don’t have the answer to this yet, and we need to come up with the means to find the answer(s) before it is too late for all for all of us. Derrick is a gadfly who won’t stop reminding us of this central problem, and the urgent need to solve it.

    My suggestion is for thousands of small groups to find the answer(s) to the crucial Koan of our age. Either we find ways out of this agonizing impasse, or we are doomed. We need a framework to put our heads together and come up with effective action plans to save ourselves. The two articles by Malcolm Gladwell that I have suggested contain important hints as to what may be possible ways to defeat Goliath. They are: How to Beat Goliath, and In the Air. Both available on Gladwell’s website. Read them and take heart — there are ways….

  104. Sociopaths:

    “Such individuals are impulsive, insensitive to others’ needs, and unable to anticipate the consequences of their behavior, to follow long-term goals, or to tolerate frustration. The psychopathic individual is characterized by absence of the guilt feelings and anxiety that normally accompany an antisocial act.”

    That sounds like the social critic who perceives the world as entirely dysfunctional and finds nothing constructive in the myriad movements to heal or rebirth it, who cannot tolerate criticism and responds with venomous or contemptuous language towards any who disagree with his very narrow and self-destructive perspective, who is so overwhelmingly frustrated with the status quo that he impulsively moves toward violence as a legitimate response, who cannot realize or anticipate the consequences of encouraging others to tear down and destroy society rather than build and renew, and who does not have the vision to see beyond the immediate malaise to a higher evolution that is organic, spontaneous, self-creating and happening all around him.

    It sounds like a man who sees a pile of shit but fails to see that it is the necessary manure to nurture the next crop, and who derides those who are planting the seeds of promise and possibility.

    In fact, that sounds like a man who was abused as a child and sees his entire world as abusive and irredeemable. It sounds like Derrick Jensen.

  105. Ed T, how did I confirm your point? As a young woman, I would have rather shot myself in the foot than be with a guy unable to love. Recognition here would do wonders. Nobody but a few gold diggers would pair up with these men.

    “How to dislodge these psychopathic power freaks remains a central problem in the way of a better world.” Hitting the nail on the head, and the core of Jensen’s essay. The problem of power remains unaddressed.

    Riversong? Hello? There are people out there without empathy, without conscience, impervious to guilt or shame or remorse. They are not like us, and whether or not they were abused had little to do with how they turn out. There is no treatment. They harm people they profess to love, and they never accept responsibility for the harm they do. Isn’t it time to study them as carefully as they study us?

  106. The method of the ad hominem attack is to avoid the difficult task of refuting in detail the arguments of one’s opponent, by focusing on the person who is presenting the arguments. The goal is to make that person so questionable and despicable, that no one should even bother to listen to them. By trashing the person, you seek to trash their arguments.

    Due to the easily mislead nature of the majority, this is unfortunately a very effective technique. The attack ads just before an election are loaded with this kind of misdirection. The election ends up being more of a superficial popularity contest than one based on real issues.

    A bold and disturbing social critic like Derrick Jensen lays himself open to this kind of attack. Those upset by his message find a ready refuge from it in reflecting, “After all, he is just a deranged person, hardly worth listening to.” Those of us who are aware of the important and critical realities that Derrick is trying to awaken folks to are not so easily diverted from the need to consider and deal with these pressing issues.

    I am definitely not on board with all of DJ’s ideas of how to deal with our problems. But neither am I taken in by the rhetorical device of lumping all of his work, and his person in one mental basket, in order to reject it. His work stimulates and informs me, and I take from it what I need. I hope others will approach his sometimes difficult and disturbing messages in the same open spirit. We all have a lot to learn from many diverse sources if we are to navigate the white waters of these times successfully. Robert Riversong has much wisdom and a good Heart to contribute to our creative search for a better world. Thanks for your comments, Robert. Good to hear your voice on this thread again.

  107. “They harm people they profess to love.”
    Good point, Vera. These folks are wizards at self-justification. More than that, they will try to make you feel that you are responsible for the abuse they are heaping on you. Like the character in the movie “Good Will Hunting.” They will tell you, “You are making me do this. It is for your own good. If you would only behave as I have instructed you to…..POW!”

    These folks are big time sickos. The Devils of human imagination have nothing on them. To think of reasonable negotiations with these monsters is to betray yourself into the hands of an implacable and remorseless enemy. And these very people are in charge of our destiny unless we find a way to unseat them. Any milder agenda towards these types is a waste of precious energy. And if you are waiting for them to reform themselves, you are waiting for “the second coming.” Better read Yeats poem again for that one….”what rough beast slouches toward Bethlehem….”

  108. As a past supporter – I now feel, after reading Jensen’s most recent articles that his writing has become pychopathic. It would, as an educated reader, be irresponsible to disregard the fact the this essay certainly shows signs of symptoms: a, b, d, and f – outining psychopathy.

    Anger and frustration. That’s all I got from this. And it made me more sad than a “green” talk.

  109. Peter,

    It’s heartening to see that I’m not the only one perceptive enough to see through Jensen’s pathology. What’s amazing is that almost nobody else does.

    Mike K,

    Just as Jensen is projecting his own un-recognized shadow on the world around him, you are projecting your own fallacy on my simple statement.

    “An Ad Hominem is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author.”

    The fact of Jensen’s obvious psychopathology, which he regularly projects onto the world around him, is hardly irrelevent to this discussion.

    “The ad hominem is not always fallacious, for in some instances questions of personal conduct, character, motives, etc., are legitimate and relevant to the issue.”

  110. RR — Accusing another of projection when you simply disagree with their position is another of the subtelties in the ad hominem repetoire. All these devices are designed to throw an opponent on the defensive, luring them to respond to an unending cascade of baseless accusations. For one avowedly committed to the way of peace and understanding, it is remarkable how skilled you are in destructive argumentation.

    In order to cut to the chase, I will simply ask you: do you disagree with the observation that many of our leaders and wealthy elites, who are largely responsible for wars and the destruction of our environment, and the impoverishment of multitudes — that these people share many of the commonly accepted characteristics of psychopathic individuals? After all, that was Jensen’s point, prior to your ad hominem attack on him.

  111. Jensen attracts others who, like himself, choose to live as victims rather than actors in the world. Defining oneself as victim, of course, not only prevents constructive action or peaceful reconciliation, but also relieves one of personal responsibility for improving the world. 

    Nothing, after all, can be done until we destroy the victimizers (and yet the real victimizers are the inner demons convincing us of our impotence). 

    Mike K: “These folks are big time sickos…To think of reasonable negotiations with these monsters is to betray yourself into the hands of an implacable and remorseless enemy. And these very people are in charge of our destiny unless we find a way to unseat them.”  

    Vera: “They are not like us, and whether or not they were abused had little to do with how they turn out. There is no treatment.” 

    But they are just like us. Every one of us is capable of both good and evil. Projecting our own propensity for evil to some “other” might make us feel holier-than-thou but it also denies our humanity and our potential for compassion. It most certainly leaves us helpless in the face of an “implacable enemy” and justifies our own tendency toward violence with the rationalization that eliminating or undermining “them” is the key to progress or healing. 

    Healing comes only when we own our whole humanity, recognize and learn to love our inner demons (which are no more than holy allies begging for acceptance). Sociopathology is not a normal human quality – it arises when children are not loved and nurtured and taught love and nurture. All of us, to some degree, received less acceptance than we deserved and needed and hence contain the seeds of pathology toward others. 

    When we cannot recognize our inner demons we project them unknowingly on others. Healthy people don’t do this, but accept full responsibility for their lives (the definition of maturity). We are all a little sick at heart, some more than others. But blaming and fighting externalized shadows only further injures and alienates ourselves and prevents any possibility of wholeness. 

    We are a culture in denial of our own shadows, and Jensen is a perfect example of this pathology. Until we see the Jensen’s for what they are, we will remain in accelerating cycles of self-destruction and will take the rest of the world down with us. Ironically, Jensen’s vision guarantees the ecological decimation that he claims to abhor, since he persists in feeding imaginary beasts and keeping them alive and powerful. 

    An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life.”A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too.”The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

  112. Robert, I really did not think that you would answer my simple question. Debaters never respond like that. In this case, I think you may have felt you would have to reveal more about the one sided nature of your position than you cared to. Like political reporters, I have realized that it is futile to continue to ask a simple question if your respondent flatly refuses to answer it. Real peacemaking requires real dialog, something you seem to be determined to avoid.

    What really bugs you about Jensen is that he does not rule out active resistance, including sabotage, such as taking out dams and cell phone towers. (BTW I am not on board with those suggestions of his.) I think this side of his writing rubs up uncomfortably against your self image as the ideal pacifist. As a result, you have created this totally noir image of DJ, that you can then denounce. If you read any of his books, which I can understand you would not, you might realize that this man is not the made to order effigy you have constructed in order to burn it. I realize that you are deeply into your chosen way to frame Mr. Jensen and his moving and significant work, so I have no intention of trying to convert you.

    However, I am writing this for others on this thread who may want to take a more balanced view of DJ’s contributions. It would be nice if you should decide not to do to Derrick what you accuse him of doing to others. Golden rule, and all that.

    Your friend and admirer, in spite of our disagreement, mike k

  113. “Jensen attracts others who, like himself, choose to live as victims rather than actors in the world.”

    RR: and you know that… how? You are making a very sweeping and judgmental statement about millions of people. And you lecture *us* about holier than thou attitudes?!

    Psychopaths are not folks like us. They do both good and evil, true enough, but what makes them dangerous and different is their lack of empathy and conscience.

    Sociopathy does not arise in neglected children. It seems a genetic disorder (see pertinent studies of twins). The man I lived with, in his candid moments, said he traced it to his babyhood. His family was one of the most caring parents I have ever known.

    How is it projecting my inner demons on others by pointing out there are dangerous people out there and that we should learn to recognize them?

    Would the Cherokee grandfather deny the presence of real dangerous wolves out in the woods?

    Check out my new post, Sociopaths among us, at

  114. Vera — I hope folks truly interested in this aspect of our discussion will check out your post on leavingbabylon, it was very informative to me. Thanks.

  115. I don’t really have to wait for a psychiatric diagnosis of the deranged elites who are deestroying our world to know that these evil people need to be stopped by (almost) any means possible.

  116. Vera asks: “Would the Cherokee grandfather deny the presence of real dangerous wolves out in the woods?”

    From Wikipedia:
    “Most Native American tribes revered wolves…Under normal circumstances, wild wolves are generally timid around humans. Wolves usually try to avoid contact with people, to the point of even abandoning their kills when an approaching human is detected…though potentially dangerous, wolves are among the least threatening for their size and predatory potential.”

    The “big bad wolf” is almost entirely mythological, as is the big bad sociopath. In both cases, we project our own fears onto others and raise their power to mythical proportions, which or course diminishes our own power proportionally.

    And, by projecting “evil” outward onto designated others, we maintain the complementary illusion that we are blameless and inevitable victims.

    That belief state is among the most pathological and self-destructive.

  117. mike k,

    Of course you’re correct. The world is full of evil people who control your life and there’s no hope for you unless you can somehow defeat them by (almost) any means.

    Of course, if there’s no hope except in their defeat or destruction, then “almost” any means inevitably morphs (a la Jensen) into any means necessary.

    Believing this necessarily moves you to resort to similar forms of violence that you believe these “evil ones” use against you and the things you love.

    There is no belief system more dangerous than one that sees the world in black-and-white, good-vs-evil dichotomies (like Bush & Cheney), because that necessarily justifies any attack on the “evil ones” as a social good and it turns the world into a war zone. But it also leaves the alleged “good” ones perennial powerless victims of those they imagine are controlling their lives and preventing their happiness and well-being.

    That’s one hell of a fairy tale to spend your life inside of. And it’s one that you can never escape, but by opening your eyes to what’s really out there and, more importantly, what’s really just inside your head.

    Ironically, the mythology that you (and Jensen) choose to live inside of is the one that is used to keep you from realizing your own true power and potential.

    True power doesn’t come from responding in kind to what you perceive as evil, but rather from proactive living in an entirely new and different way. But those movements toward constructive engagement with the world are exactly what Jensen cannot stomach, because they undermine his self-perpetuating myth and his self-image as victim in a world of victimizers.

  118. RR: Congratulations on deflecting the argument. Let the grandfather use wolverine, for example. Or grizzly. Yer ducking, friend. Is it responsible not to inform those you love of the dangerous creatures out there in the woods? Oh, never mind. Your mind seems to be closed; instead of responding, you project on me your belief that I am somehow thinking of myself as blameless victim.

    “Of course you’re correct. The world is full of evil people who control your life and there’s no hope for you unless you can somehow defeat them by (almost) any means.”

    Ignore him, Mike. He is just being a dick. If he wants to live his life projecting his fears upon others, then calling it “our” fairytales, well, what’s a sane person do but giggle?! :)

  119. Riversong, I’m trying to get to the positive grain in your argument. Let’s leave Jensen aside for a moment. How is “proactive living in an entirely new and different way” going to be sufficient to neutralize the culturally/economically multiplied forces of the ones who have amassed great power and have no feeling for the plight of the (let’s not say powerless, but normal) people? And I have no interest of starting any kind of witch hunt in the “sociopath” camp.

  120. Vera — I’m afraid you are right about RR. I usually try to at least try for some kind of personal reconciliation in a dispute, but in his case that seems to be off the table. He is so blind to his insulting and abusive tone. He reminds me of fundamentalists who are so sure they are on God’s right hand, that they feel free to walk all over you, tell lies about you, and hate you — all in the name of God. God protect me from the (self)righteous! If he thinks he is modeling a peaceful, loving way to deal with others, I sure don’t see it in his nasty vilifying offerings.

    I have lived long enough to know that passive aggression far exceeds in venomousness a more open form of attack. And the one using this underhanded approach always comes away feeling even more righteous as a result of “correcting” someone for daring to question their unassailable belief system. You are right, it is impossible to have true, open, non egotistical communication with such as these. I give up my attempts to be Mr. friendly critic in this case.

    By and large this has been a pretty civil discourse among us commenters. I will try to keep it that way by breaking off my attempts at discussion with RR.

  121. I have just read Derrick Jensen for the first time and the 126 comments so far. The title “World Gone Mad – The diagnosis is clear” is unhelpful because it tends to dissociate the individual state from the universal state and thus his diagnosis is not as clear as it might be.
    It is important to acknowledge we each retain elements of psychopathy and psychosis in our psyche to some degree and these are reflected in our institutions, including the Green Movement. The capacity of human beings for self-deceit is literally incredible and thus the most well-meaning of people can be their own worst enemy. So it is with many people in the Green Movement – including myself.
    Derrick describes leaving “green” conferences feeling heartbroken, discouraged, defeated, and lied to. He is correct to associate his responses with the fact that no one ever mentions psychopathy. His sad response also derives from the fact that people at such conferences rarely discuss in depth the power and role of compassion in our lives. While Derrick’s article discusses psychopathy in some detail, there is no use of the “compassion” symbol and the title indicates some lack of compassion for all, including himself.
    Derrick speaks a profound truth when he identifies in our current use of the “science” symbol and in our corporation structures much evidence of fatally severe psychopathy. However perhaps he was not “lied to” so much as he detected incredible self-deceits at the conferences.

    It is eminently possible for well meaning folk like Al Gore and Bill McKibben to flit around the world calling for change; while their lifestyles and language denies the change they call for. This does not make them liars though it makes them very vulnerable to becoming agents serving the psychopathic corporations that Derrick speaks of. Thus they put us all at much greater risk.
    Some of the 126 comments alluded to the reality I speak of. Perhaps the most vital comment was from Mike K, “If words have been used to deceive and enslave people, they can also be used to enlighten and liberate them.” I will simply add, “Our use of symbols reveals our greater being even as our use of them generates our greater being.” I have just published, as far as I know, the most advanced work on this subject in the English language. What Derrick calls psychopathy I tend to symbolise as “denial of stewardship/change”. It can be seen at my draft new website –
    It includes a Compassionate Education Curriculum Framework and an index for evaluating acceptance/denial of stewardship/change. It draws on deep physics and psychology with the objective of enabling us to transcend the limitations of our ego and our grand capacity for self-deceit. Green Movement members may find it particularly insightful and helpful.
    In kindness

  122. Ed T,

    As Alpha Griz astutely pointed out at the beginning of this discourse:

    “Industrial civilization will consume itself…an ideology of power, wealth and the exploitation and control of nature that will only consume itself…Continued human survival will depend on a shift from being creatures predisposed as they are now to violence, territoriality, ideology, self-interest, and destructive use of nature to being creatures predisposed to awareness, mindfulness, compassion, generosity, love, and, in Wendell Berry’s terms, ‘kindly use of nature.'”

    When we fight the projections of our fears, we feed them (as the wise old Cherokee said) and give them power. They exist only in so far as we make room for them in our dream, our myth, our fairytale, and they have power only in so far as we give them our energy.

    We – that is, what passes for civilized humanity – have been living an increasingly dysfunctional dream for thousands of years. Some call it a mistake or a detour from our destiny or evolutionary path. Wiser ones understand it as the required curriculum for learning the lessons we came here to incorporate.

    Indigenous traditions, ancient prophesies, and modern seers all concur that we are passing through a galactic moment of immense evolutionary shift that will focus around the winter solstice of 2012. Humanity has been moving into this transition for many years, and many of the grassroots movements for cultural change that give Jensen a bellyache are part of that species-wide metamorphosis.

    As the caterpillar, a perfect consuming machine, nears the end of its life cycle, it defends itself within a cocoon. Yet that cocoon becomes an alchemical cauldron of transformation. The old structure of the consumer dissolves to mush (no one needs to destroy it, as its destruction is built into its story). Slowly, imaginal cells (that’s the biological term) begin to emerge from the soup. What’s left of the consuming machine tries to attack them as foreign bodies. But, before long, there are too many imaginal cells and they begin to coalesce into communities which are stronger than any antibodies that the remains of the consumer can muster.

    Those imaginal cells create a new collective story, built upon what Alpha Griz described as “awareness, mindfulness, compassion, generosity, love”. That new story has been in creation for some time and is about to become the next evolutionary leap for humanity. But, as in any apocalyptic story, many will be “left behind”, including those who cling to the very myths which imprison us, disempower us, and condemn us to victimhood. It will be those with the foresight and far sight to build arks to carry our dreams through the coming tsunami and are willing to let go of the shore who will survive to co-create a new world order in which all can flourish.

    “To my fellow swimmers there is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift, that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore, they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly. Know that the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our heads above water.. And I say see who is there with you and celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, least of all ourselves, for the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey come to a halt. The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves. Banish the word struggle from your attitude and vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration. We are the ones we have been waiting for.”

    – Hopi Prophesy

  123. To those who would meet Goliath without even a pebble in their pocket — Good luck!

  124. Riversong, did I identify myself a page or two ago as a new age guy? I was talking about matters of the heart. As far as monumentally eventful solstices go I’ve been thru a few of them since the late sixties, and human nature hasn’t manifested any significant changes since then.
    My formal training and formal work experience in biology are 25 years behind me so I had to look up the imaginal cells. After several googled pages of pure new age hocus pocus I found some genuine biological work, and it’s just embryology with a fancy catchword. Metamorphosis happens. It’s no more mysterious than embryological development in general. Nothing is COMPLETELY understood (about anything, for that matter) but we have a pretty good idea how these things work. There’s no valid connection between that and the psychological changes the new age people are promoting.
    When I was young I was interested in Teilhard de Chardin’s view of evolution, and whatever it was he called the next level of complexity, I’m fairly confident it will happen one day if we don’t destroy ourselves first. But while we work on our own personal metamorphoses world culture and human nature turn verrrrrry slowly, like the Titanic. It’s normal to want to do something about these things, too.

  125. Ah yes, the New Age metamorphosis story. It just… um… happens. So pull up a chair, insult those who believe otherwise, and watch that destiny unfurl.

    What they miss is that the imaginal cells are present from the early days of the caterpillar, and they have *plenty* of work to do before the caterpillar’s digestive juices actively *destroy* the caterpillar body, and recycle what can be recycled. Not all that different from knocking down a dam and repurposing all that concrete. When the time comes.

    Seems to me that Ishmael’s message is far more cogent: humans don’t need to turn into angels. We just need to end this one culture that has gone off the tracks. C’mon fellow imaginal cells, there’s work to do! :-)

  126. And now that we are all sitting around the fire companionably sipping a cuppa hoogy moogy with a dollop of 2012 and a pinch of Nostradamus… I am reflecting on the hard times soon to unfold when those 27 months pass unheralded… what do you suppose they’ll do… reschedule?

    Whee! 😀

  127. Ed T,

    How you infer “new age” from the confluence of ancient prophesies, indigenous wisdom traditions, the ancient Mayan calendar, quantum science, neurocardiology, evolutionary biology and epigentics is a bigger leap than the one we are now embarking upon.

    And, in case you missed it, we’ve long known that evolution occurs in “fits and starts” – or punctuated equilibrium. And we now know that the expression of DNA is determined by our environment and can be consciously controlled.

    If you’re 25 years behind on biology, you are still in the dark ages. Read Bruce Lipton’s work, including his new Spontaneous Evolution.

    I, too, have be witness to the cultural shifts that began in the 60’s. Perhaps you didn’t notice that significant changes have taken root and become mainstream. But no “shift” since that time has had the multicultural consensus of the one we are now living through.

    For the first time, the prophetic traditions and science are pointing in the same direction. For the first time, we have a truly global community that can communicate at the speed of light. And, for the first time we are facing a perfect storm of global crises created or exacerbated by our dysfunctional mythology.

    Teilhard de Chardin wrote of a teleological evolution aiming toward the Omega Point. He, too, understood the inevitability of this “great turning”.

    Yes, it will happen AND we will destroy ourselves first, for there is no breakthrough without a precipitating breakdown.

    What those like Vera can’t possibly understand is that no activist needs to dissolve the caterpillar – it’s written into its genetic story. And, similarly, Ishmael never suggested anyone had to end this culture – it is a culture, he said, designed to fail. It’s written into its genetic story.

    So it remains to the Leavers and the Imaginal Cells among us to simply co-create the new-old story as the old order falls of its own weight.

    For those who wish to understand the story of cultural evolution in its entirety, the book The Ascent of Humanity by Charles Eisenstein is the most insightful book yet written in this millennium. Unlike Quinn’s Ishmael and other anarcho primitivists, Eisenstein rejects the absurd notion that all of human cultural evolution since agriculture was a mistake or misdirection. It was the necessary path, encoded in the very beginnings of life on earth, to get to our current moment of transformation, upon which we are already embarked.

    Get aboard or get left behind. The little Davids with their slings are history (and outdated myth). We no longer need leaders and messiahs. As the Hopi said: we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

    And we can no longer tolerate the Derick Jensens and acolytes who carry the old paradigm on their necks like a burning tire because they’re addicted to their pain.

    It’s time to let go of the shore. There’s a new world a-waitin’.

  128. Ya’ll are hilarious. I have never herd so much mumbo jumbo in my life. You want to see an end to this Civilization. Don’t fret, it’s coming. Want to help it happen more quickly… take longer showers, buy more cars, electronics and plastics. Drive more miles, fly to more vacation spots…invest in more abusive international corporations like Monsanto, Exxon, GE, Viacom, BP… Vote for Sarah Pallin in 2012… We can all do our part to quicken the flesh, and hasten the end of this Spectacle. And don’t worry, the earth will survive… and so might some of us… but Civ won’t!

  129. One of the oldest human defenses against situations of a profoundly threatening nature in the face of which one feels powerless, is to create a myth, a fantasy that assures oneself that all will be well in the end. There is a powerful need in each of us, and indeed in our collective structures of village, society, or culture to weave some story(s) of a happy ending in spite of (or even because of!) some impending, unavoidable disaster. The story of The Rapture is a classic example of this genre of self-protective fantasy. This narrative encourages us to look forward to apocalyptic disaster on an immense scale, because it will actually be the dawning of a new incredible age of peace, happiness, and everything your heart desires. We are assured that this mega- disaster with all of the immense suffering it will entail is inevitable, for it has been ordained from the beginning by “God.” (With friends like this “God” who needs enemies?)

    Now all of this would be merely academic if these various belief systems, held by huge numbers of people, did not have negative real world effects. And after all, people need some source of hope and consolation in difficult situations over which they can have no real control, don’t they? I used to think it would be unnecessarily cruel to take away this security blanket from those so dependent on it. In time, with actual experience, I came to understand that there was no way that you could wrest these security blankets from the hands so desperately clutching them. These folks share with all deluded fundamentalists an unshakable tenacity in maintaining their chosen defenses against the threatening apocalypse.

    The downside of these fantasies is that they are based on lies, and that always creates problems. A basic untruth, and one that undermines any hope of effective action to avert disaster, is that the worst is inevitable. This is really the voice of despair, that effectively closes all options except those ginned up by hopeful imagination. Another lie is that some extraordinary agency will intervene to make everything work out wonderfully, thereby precluding the need for any difficult work on our part to forestall the blessed disaster. Versions of this God from the Machine solution include ET’s, high-tech miracles, Divine intervention, charismatic saviors, etc. Everything from theories of modern physics to psycho-neurology and the I Ching has been thrown into the cauldron of the imagination to concoct brews acceptable to the variety of needy palates out there.

    All of this dense smoke-screen of avoidance strategies only tends to obscure and bypass the need for real work to deal with our real problems. Unfortunately the self-absorbed fantasists will be of little use to the real workers to save our world from what is a still an avoidable fate.

    BTW if you should be so foolish as to not believe the stories these folks are putting out, there is a fiery lake of brimstone and other delights waiting for you. And good riddance to the unbelievers!

  130. BTW the version of these defensive daydreams that RR has worked up is really a doozy! There must be plenty of folks eager to get on board this one. A heady brew of modern science, ancient prophecies, and 2012 to boot! Step right up….

    But there I go. I just couldn’t resist a little poke. Probably let myself in for another helping of pacifist vitriol……

  131. yet another sensationalist distortion from derrick jensen. by putting himself in the position of helpless victim, it relieves him (and all readers who sympathize with him) of personal responsibility. this article and “short showers don’t ma…ke a difference” do little more than expose derrick jensen as an apologist for “environmentalists” who’ve decided that can’t or won’t do anything to help the environment. if you need an excuse to jet around on planes, drive your car, turn up your AC, and feel generally disempowered to make a difference, then listen to FOX news. the fact of the matter is that, in a culture based on supply and demand, refusing to contribute to demand is a radical act of civil disobedience. blaming someone else while your coffee warms up in the microwave is a ridiculous, unfortunate act of cowardice and weakness – and it’s how we got into this mess in the first place. derrick jensen’s not an activist – he’s an inactivist.

  132. I really have no idea where this idea that DJ presents himself as a victim comes from. It would help me if folks would be more specific, rather than making vague accusations. To my mind, Derrick is one of the most dedicated and proactive persons I know about. Some folks seem to think all he does or ever has done is write articles and books. How many of his critics has ever done the hard work involved in doing that? Aside from his literary output he has been an activist challenging the forestry industry, has taught people in prison, and goes on speaking tours trying to get folks to wake up and ACT to save our endangered planet. Doesn’t sound like a passive victim stance to me.

  133. mike k;
    You say, “One of the oldest human defenses against situations of a profoundly threatening nature in the face of which one feels powerless, is to create a myth, a fantasy that assures oneself that all will be well in the end.”
    I totally agree with the sentiment but will argue vehemently against your use of the word “myth” in this context. What you have described, and rightly so, is a fairytale (“and they lived happily ever after…) not a myth. As Ananda Coomaraswamy has said, “Myth embodies the nearest approach to absolute truth that can be stated in words.” I realize that the popular usage of myth has legitimized its use as “fiction or lie,” and my comments might be written off as semantic quibbling. But I believe that one of the causes of our current problem is that we are operating from a mythology that is rooted in the second millenium B.C.E. Mesopotamia. Whether you refer to Gilgamesh or Genesis, we are operating from the illusion that we have free reign of the planet. My point is we need a new mythology that illustrates our true relationship to the created, evolving world. The one that is currently in vogue is both bad science and bad theology.

  134. Hey mike k!

    Here is my response to something from the other article discussion. It seems to have ended up being more relevant to this article.

    I think, regarding my idea to see if scientists somewhere would come out and publish an article describing a subspecies of H. sapiens sapiens based on a propensity for destruction directed at the larger taxon … rather than try and contact scientists directly I would like to see what Derrick thinks. He must know some scientists. It is a risky idea, but considering that it is 2010, and this behavior seemingly by members of our own species has been going on for millenia, a risky step needs to be taken.

    It would not be meant to ostracize any nations or institutions, but just to throw a few spotlights upon the fact that some members currently classified as part of our own species are incredibly destructive and violent on a large scale against our very own species. It is not just an extension of intraspecific competition, as far as I am concerned. It is a striking difference in behavior that seems to be almost the result of allopatric speciation.

  135. Addendum: but I do not know how to get in touch with Derrick, he is presumably really busy. But I feel like, based on the contents of this article, that the idea would appeal to him somehow. : )

  136. Richard — I did not mean to impugn the value of all myths in my comments. On the other hand, I do not have the uncritical acceptance of the wisdom of all mythology that some evince. As in all things, there are good and useful myths, and there are those which are bad and harmful. User beware. There is no substitute for conscious awareness. Uncritical consumers of Joseph Campbell’s work, for instance, should take some of his flights about the deep spirituality of various ancient myths with a grain of salt. (see the long footnote in Ken Wilber’s Sex, Ecology, and Spirituality.)

    BTW I have enjoyed many real blessings from studying Campbell’s work. For me, he is one of the Mythic Heroes he so elegantly wrote about. It just turns out that I am not cut out to be a blind follower of anyone’s ideas.

  137. “pacifist vitriol”?

    Now there’s an oxymoron!

    Either the responses that mike k (that’s lower case, humble Mike K, who pretends to prefer reconciliation to conflict) cannot tolerate are not vitriolic (clue: honest critique and repartee are anything but), or the writer (that’s me BTW) is not a pacifist (clue: I’m a renegade outlaw who drives a big pickup truck and lives in a hunting camp with no indoor plumbing, fights fires and pulls people out of wrecked cars – more Joe Bageant than Gandhi).

    So Mike K (that’s the aggressive mike k, his unacknowledged alter ego) invents a straw man apocalypticism to avoid direct confrontation with arguments he cannot begin to understand. Apocalyptic ideologies, of course, are based on a fixed endtime preceeded by a tumultuous battle between the forces of good and evil, and culminating in the return or intervention of a messianic figure who will save the world for true believers.

    That belief set is a fatalistic, messianic, Manichean one – based on the old, dying paradigm of a world divided between the good guys and the evil ones and controlled by some outside agency. Ironically (or not, perhaps), that’s the very same paradigm that posits that there are unrepentant and irredeemable evil-doers out there destroying our world and that we must fight them with everything we’ve got to overturn their control of the world.

    Us vs Them. “Them” might be Saddam, Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong-Il, or Osama bin Laden and the blind sheik, or communists or terrorists, or gays and liberals, or Muslims or Jews, or Hispanic aliens, or corporate CEOs, or right-wing Republicans or spineless Democrats, or some subset of humanity that have been lumped into a category called “sociopaths”. It doesn’t really matter, since the mindset is the problem, not the imagined villains.

    Osama has most likely been dead since 2006, but we keep him alive because we need an arch villain in order to keep up the holy fight, the crusade against evil. Similarly, everyone living the old paradigm keeps alive in their tortured imagination some villain, some enemy, who can keep their adrenaline pumped up enough to feel alive when their soul is on life-support and their minds crave real meaning around which to anchor their half-empty lives.

    And, when a Derrick Jensen spews out millions of eloquent words (or what is perceived as such by those who have not done their own spiritual and intellectual work) casting the old paradigm in new clothes, thousands of acolytes fall in line behind him and savage any person or idea which in any way challenges the veracity or logic or consequences of his message.

    With Orwellian dyslogic, they turn truth on its head and insist that those who have their eyes wide open are the fantasists, as they themselves perpetuate self-destructive mythologies that blind them to the world that is all around them.

    No one, but 2012 dilettantes, believes that the world (or civilization, or the human species) will end on winter solstice. No one claims that a supernatural power will intervene to save the believers. No one suggests, as vera pretends, that this shift is inevitable and will come while we sing Kumbaya around the campfire.

    It is coming both because it is written in our genes as a possibility and because of millions of awakened and awakening souls doing the hard daily work of building a new paradigm within the deteriorating shell of the old. These are “the ones we’ve been waiting for”, these are the real activists, the real winter soldiers, the real instruments of change, the real unheralded heroes and heroines of our time – not the self-protective inciters like Jensen and certainly not his acolytes who waste their energy attacking the Imaginal Cells of the new paradigm like the old paradigm antibodies that they are.

    But people fear what they don’t understand. And they create myths about the “big bad wolf” (or pacifists or CEOs or whatever) to fuel their warmongering so that they don’t have to muster the courage to be authentic peacemakers and weavers of a new order.

    Evolution is fueled by cooperation, not either-or competition (even Darwin recognized this truth which his acolytes refused to accept because social Darwinism supported the convenient division of the world into the fit and the unfit). Even the cells of our bodies are 90% non-human and each human cell is fed by a mitochondrial bacterium without which it could not live (our DNA is 99% non-human). Each of us is a complex community of mutually-supporting cells, and when we create a global social community based on that foundational biological imperative, we will have achieved evolution’s Omega Point (hint: it’s happening all around us, but is visible only to those who aren’t afraid to open their eyes).

    The expression of our DNA is controlled by our environment (viz. epigenetics) through the mediation of our cell membranes, which are not boundaries but semi-permeable and only conditional barriers between what’s inside our skin and the great outside of the world. The separation between ego and world is mythological. We are the world. There is no “there” there.

    We are departing the Age of Fear, based on either/or us-vs-them mythologies. Those who have come to the realization that there is no “them” out there, no enemy to make war with, nothing separate but what we project with our imaginations, will have discovered their authentic power to create a world of harmony and bounty.

    This is not what the ignorant choose to dismiss as “New Age” nonsense. It is, in fact, what every earth-based indigenous culture has always known, what mystics and poets have told us for millennia, and what modern science is now revealing. This is the truth about our world that we’ve kept hidden from ourselves. The world will still be with us after 2012, but those walking with eyes and hearts and minds open to the world will see it in an entirely new light, and that’s what the shift is all about.

    For those who are open to discovering these things, I would suggest reading Transforming Through 2012, a collection of 30 short essays by some of the world’s greatest thinkers and visionaries.

  138. Is Derrick Jensen popular because he tells us that personal actions don’t amount to anything, making us feel less guilty for flying or driving around on a whim?

    Or is his appeal like Terry Jones threatening to burn the Koran, fascinating us by his audacity to suggest wanton eco-terrorism?

    Or is it the utter nihilistic view that everything is already lost, giving us permission to continue our gigantic first world wasting party?

  139. Julian, I like reading Derrick because he gives his writing a special deep felt passion that lets some important truths shine.

    I don’t resonate with your three choices.

  140. What Quinn had said and I alluded to is this: “Man was born millions of years ago, and he was no more a scourge than hawks or lions or squids. He lived at peace with the world… for millions of years. This does not mean he was a saint. This does not mean he walked the Earth like a Buddha. It means he lived as harmlessly as a hyena or a shark or a rattlesnake. It’s not man who is the scourge of the world, it is a single culture out of hundreds of thousands of cultures. Our culture. We don’t have to change humankind in order to survive. We only have to change a single culture. I don’t mean to suggest this is an easy task. But at least it’s not an impossible one.”

    One culture must end so that the others can once again thrive. Better to end by metamorphosis than a crash (which is the usual pattern). But the story of metamorphosis has been peddled by the likes of that arch-self-aggrandizer Chopra and his ilk, encouraging their followers’ lust for magical thinking.

  141. Thru: try Dr Hare at Simon Fraser U. He may be of assistance. Perhaps the foremost expert on psychopaths in the world.

  142. RR: “And we can no longer tolerate the Derick Jensens and acolytes who carry the old paradigm on their necks like a burning tire because they’re addicted to their pain.”

    Now that is a chilling statement. You advocate tolerating psychopaths, but us, you see with a burning tires around our necks. What are you going to do with us? Put another burning tire on and throw a party?

  143. RR — You are wrapped in a complex dream of your own weaving that serves to explain everything and everyone to you. I was long since dis-invited from that dream by you. I will finally take a hint and bow out of your wonderful fun-house version of simple spiritual truth. I thought I had heard about every wacko version of what it is all about (including my own productions) when I lived in a commune on Maui in the sixties, but your trip tops them all. I happily say goodbye to you…

  144. Scott, my comments seem to go through, but then do not show up on the thread. Is there an intentional delay or something? I will try this one again:

    Vera — If RR can so easily see his enemies (including me, I guess) with tires burning around their necks, I can see why he so easily discerns my “aggressiveness.” I can only assure him I have no such imagery relative to his own person. With his image of a backwoods hunting camp guy who drives a big pickup truck, it makes me a little nervous when I see a big pickup near our place. I gave up all my guns decades ago (and good riddance). I guess that makes me a sitting duck. At least we cleaned out all the old tires on the property. He’ll have to bring his own……..

    Aikido, don’t desert me now!

  145. Well, I hate to leave a party when it’s just warming up (as unpleasant as some sources of the heat are). But I am signed up for a retreat on “The Spirit Led Life.” I know that the varied and unpredictable perspectives our retreat-ants will bring to this affair will create a spectacle of dissensus run amok, fit to warm the heart and other parts. And end up with group hugs and tears of love and gratitude for all our critics and oddball friends. Some kind of miracle….. Hope you don’t miss me too much Sandy, zietz, and Robert. I won’t be around for you to kick around (Nixon) until I get your shots Wednesday night. By then I will be so full of retreat consciousness, I’ll probably just say in response, “Thanks, I needed that!”

  146. Thank you Derrick, for succinctly articulating what many that I know and work with are feeling – trapped in a room with a psychopath. Exactly! In the psychological processes I know, particularly those in journey to retrieve the soul, naming, truly naming what we’re in is as potent a weapon as any to begin with. THANK YOU.

  147. M. Therese Duffy,

    Truly naming cannot happen without first truly seeing, otherwise we are merely naming our own fears.

    Today, some call “sociopaths” or “psychopaths” what in other times and other traditions were called “demons” or “the possessed”.

    This is not a time to begin another witch hunt to kill the demons we refuse to recognize in ourselves, much as infidels and witches (healers and pagans) were once before.

    There can be no healing, or soul retrieval, until we realize that the only demons in the room are our own unrecognized projections. Soul retrieval (or healing or wholeness or integration) occurs when we own the displaced parts of ourselves.

    When we feel dismembered, it may feel like there’s the presence of another, but it requires literally re-membering our scattered soul parts in order to achieve wholeness.

  148. Nature will always win out. We may not be around to see it. In the meantime, it is up to those of us who care open the minds and hearts of those who do no care or do not understand. Go out and teach, preach, make art, write poems, or simply remember to recycle. Just “do”.
    As for the article…it landed a devastating punch, but that’s not enough. Rants are needed, but easy. Let’s see some balance here Orion and Mr. Jensen.

  149. Riversong, I didn’t say I was out of touch with biology. I said it’s been a while since I studied it formally and worked in research (mostly in immunology). Over the past 25 years my reading has been mostly in neurobiology. So of course there are lots of other things I’m less aware of. But there’s still a significant difference between how I read biology news and how most non scientists read it.
    News reporting is like a race horse – sleek, nervous, beautiful but easily spooked. Science is a mule. I’m sure the idea of horse sense really referred to mules originally. I take note of the horses – I love literature; why not? But I trust the mules.
    In the same way that so many non scientists have made so much of the imaginal cells (turning them in many people’s minds into magical cells) I see that when the press gets hold of mirror neurons (or “monkey see, monkey do” cells) they try to shape the story into something of meaning for their readers. Applied to our topic at hand disorders in these cells could cause a spectrum of disorders that would include autism and sociopathy, having in common an inability to empathize. It’s good to be aware of ideas like these coming from scientific work, but dangerous to make too much of them. All that skull measuring in the early twentieth century…The skulls and the measurements are all packed away in boxes now. And so much was made of their meaning. We’re long overdue to pack away the predictions of astrology. Astrology gave birth to astronomy and mythology, two very useful things in our culture, but never did it once reliably predict anything.
    Of course change is coming. In fact, change may be the only “thing” that exists. (“Reality is a flowing. This does not mean that everything moves, changes, becomes. Science and common experience tell us that. It means that movement, change, becoming IS everything that there IS. There is nothing else; everything is movement, is change. The time that we ordinarily think about is not real time, but a picture of space.” – Henri Louis Bergson).
    So I anxiously await the new punctuations in the equilibrium, and the tiny physical changes that could result in immense spiritual/cultural differences.
    But meanwhile, my daily work brings me in contact with a real cross section of the American populace. Plenty sane and decent people out there, but…then there’s all the rest. You can’t ignore them and you can’t isolate yourself enough. So my feeling is that we have to continue dealing with the same old kind of reality we’ve been dealing with for centuries.

  150. “Today, some call “sociopaths” or “psychopaths” what in other times and other traditions were called “demons” or “the possessed”.”

    You got it upside down, RR. In other times, the people called possessed, witches and demons were tortured and burned by the psychopaths.

  151. Not “upside down” at all.

    The sociopaths of today, like the sociopaths of old, are those who divide the world into good and evil, us and them, and use that false but convenient division as justification for destroying the “enemy”.

    We can see that easily in people like Bush and Cheney who make war on those they declare to be “evil-doers”, but we fail to see the very same phenomenon in ourselves.

    The true sociopaths today, as always, are those who blame others for society’s ills, call them irredeemable, and advocate that they be destroyed. Witches, Jews, CEOs – only the category changes, but the ideology and the mindset and the paradigm remains the same.

  152. RR: It is not an unworthy crusade you are on. But you are barking at the wrong coon tree here in this forum. That coon of “let’s destroy the enemy” hasn’t been seen in these parts for ages. Where the heck is anyone here advocating destroying CEOs? Or psychopaths, for that matter?

    This is how it works in my world, in case you are interested:

    You come across a small child. Do you hand her a book of matches? Not if you have any sanity left.

    You come across a psychopath. Do you hand him power over other people? Not if you have any sanity left.

    Which one will win, Grandfather? The one you feed. If you keep feeding the psychopaths, what do you think the results will be?

  153. We may not be able to change the world, but we do have the power to transform ourselves. When our hearts are overflowing with love, peace and goodwill toward the planet and all who call Earth home, we are luminous. We ignite others.

    Not a day goes by that I don’t wonder how we can turn this global chaos around. When I focus on all the ills of the world and how horrible it all is, I lose my inner peace. When I lose my inner peace I become part of the problem.

    After 30 years of activism, my current belief is we must have within ourselves, that which we would like to see in the world.

    Yes there is much to fear and loathe. But there is also much to appreciate and celebrate.

    We may not get to choose the folks we live with on the planet and we may not have control over their baffling behavior, but what we do have, is the power to choose what we focus on at any given moment.

    So choose well – choose wisely, and invest yourself in the goodness you would like to see manifest. I do believe this is where our true power lies.

  154. An unlikely example of a world in the process of going mad…..

    The United Nations Millennium Development Goals are wonderful. I am for realizing each and every one of them. Needless to say, there is not nearly enough being done now to accomplish what has been set out to be accomplished by the family of humanity in the next five years. Since the establishment of the MDGs, the actual work of fulfilling commitments to these worldwide goals could be described as woefully inadequate at best.

    Please note, however, if the human family was to meet all of the MDGs set by the United Nations, each of these successes could be counted as no more than Pyrrhic victories because the “mother” of all human-induced global challenges looming before humankind is being dishonestly and deceitfully denied. While the ‘elephant in the living room’ of humanity’s planetary home is growing ever larger and more like a leviathan, its colossal presence is being willfully ignored.

    Please assist me by examining research of the population dynamics of the human species. The implications of this research appear to be potentially profound. If human population dynamics is essentially common to, not different from, the population dynamics of other species, then the unbridled growth of absolute global human population numbers cannot be avoided any longer without producing dire consequences. The human family could end up winning great victories by achieving the MDGs but losing the much more critical struggle of preserving Earth and protecting its environs as a fit place for the children to inhabit.

  155. Someone mentioned Brian Swimme earlier. I’m a big fan of his and use his work in a cosmolgy class I teach. He has a quote that might go with this discussion:

    “That which fascinates the human imagination will become that which shapes life. We are a space that enables the future to act in the present in a major new way. We transform the life process into a teleological process. What goals, purposes, aims are we going to choose as human beings? What we choose will become the central shaping power of the life process.

    At a personal level, that which grips your imagination will determine your life and character. That’s why it’s important to guard your imagination from pollution.

    At a species level, that which fascinates the human imagination is already that which life is becoming.”
    Brian Swimme

  156. Vera wonders: “Where the heck is anyone here advocating destroying CEOs? Or psychopaths, for that matter?”

    She says: “There are people out there without empathy, without conscience, impervious to guilt or shame or remorse. They are not like us… There is no treatment.”

    Once an “enemy” is identified, completely and utterly “other” than ourselves, and it is determined that they are irredeemable, then (as Jensen says in his honest moments) “all options are on the table”. If “they” cannot be converted they must be destroyed.

    Of course, this has always been the rationalization for every kind of warfare or genocide or hate crime. It’s the basis of the eternal war on terror (which is, of course, a futile battle against our own inner terrors), and it’s the ultimate victory of those who would instill terror in us.

    What such us-vs-them people (the real sociopaths of society) cannot understand is that fighting what we fear gives them our power, it feeds and sustains and maintains our fear. The thrill of the fight might make one feel momentarily alive, but it still acting on a fear-based paradigm and it is the paradigm that is destroying both human culture and the earth.

    What is pathological is not individual people, but the culture in which we all participate. John Perkins, the self-confessed “economic hitman”, knows many of the corporate CEOs and world leaders who we call monsters and knows that they are no less human and compassionate than any other but are caught in a role and in a culture which makes no room for humane virtues.

    Daniel Quinn (Ishmael) said: “We don’t have to change humankind in order to survive. We only have to change a single culture.” Vera turned this into “We just need to end this one culture that has gone off the tracks”. Of course Quinn never suggested any such thing. What he said was that we are in a culture that was designed to fail, so we have to get off those tracks and live a different way. No revolution nor mortal combat necessary. “We have found the enemy and it is us”, said Pogo.

    The “enemy” is our culture. A culture cannot be fought, but can be either transformed or abandoned (as several native cultures were when they went off track, according to Quinn). To label others as “enemy” is to avoid our own responsibility – both for the problems and for the solution.

    The “kumbaya” “hoogy moogy” that Vera and Jensen so disdain is exactly that movement that Quinn advocated toward a new way of living together. We began to explore this in the 1960s, but most abandoned the effort for the allure and practical necessities (enslavement) of mainstream culture. Some kept the dream alive and millions more today are finding ways to make it live in much more conscious and deliberate ways.

    There is a powerful way to stop feeding the beast of corporate consumer war-mongering earth-destroying culture, but even such self-imagined “radicals” as Jensen don’t have the courage or the wisdom to go there. If fighting the monster is futile (and it is), then instead let us cut off the umbilical cord that feeds it: withhold your consent by refusing to pay tribute in the form of taxes. A monster can continue to exist only is so far as we give it energy and support it with our lifeblood. Cut the cord and the monster dies.

    So let’s stop blaming the “other” and instead follow Quinn’s admonition to get off the tracks and forge a new path by re-discovering the ancient paths that had sustained us. We are all wounded by the Beast, so we must stop scratching at the scabs just to keep them bleeding (a form of self-mutilation). They will heal of their own accord if we but focus our minds and bodies on healthier things.

  157. Robert, when you keep putting words in my mouth over and over again –one example suffices: “enemy” and “completely and utterly “other” than ourselves” — I am feeling furious because I am looking for fairness. Are you willing to argue using compassionate listening?

    And I have one question to ask you: is there any real world evidence that could convince you that there are indeed people — some 1-4% of the population — unable to feel empathy?

  158. Putting words in your mouth?

    “Psychopaths are not folks like us.”

    “They are not like us”

    Your words, precisely.

    Such statements are how we define and create the “other”.

    “There is no treatment” (your words)

    This is how we justify dismissing their humanity and that dismissal justifies any mistreatment including murder.

    To the Nazis it was the Jews.
    To the Klan it was the blacks.
    To the Israelis, it’s the Palestinians.
    To Americans it’s the terrorists.

    To every grunt on the battlefield, words such as “gook” and “chink” are all that is needed to separate the adversary into an enemy.

    “Psychopath” is a clinical term for an arbitrary category that science has found useful to name, but it is used in common parlance to dehumanize those we fear in order to justify our fear and whatever action that fear engenders.

    The image we create in our minds is the projection of that fear. We hate and destroy what we fear.

    Compassionate listening? How about listening to your own words, your own attitudes, your own dyslogic?

    It’s easier to respond with fury then with an open mind to ideas that challenge our self-image. And it’s the same mindset that turns unfortunate “others” into monsters.

    It’s also easier and more satisfying to call the messenger a “dick”, but that’s hardly a mature or “fair” response, is it?

  159. Two comments I would like to make here, and I will try to keep them brief.

    One is to say that I have long hoped to be among “awakened and awakening souls doing the hard daily work of building a new paradigm within the deteriorating shell of the old. These are ‘the ones we’ve been waiting for’, these are the real activists, the real winter soldiers, the real instruments of change, the real unheralded heroes and heroines of our time.”

    A quote that has always inspired me in this regard comes from Buckminster Fuller: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
    To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

    I honor and am grateful for all those who stand up and speak up in the face of the unacceptable. However, I think the main value of this lies in the education of witnesses. Only rarely, if ever, will a person in power listen or even care. And real challenges to the status quo usually provoke concentrated resistance, with the assistance of far greater resources than the challengers possess. Thus such challenges often actually strengthen the powers that be.

    It is far more subversive to withdraw resources from the system and quietly build an alternative, and then attract people to that. I agree with those who say that “the system” must inevitably collapse under its own weight/growth. The question was asked, if/when this happens, who will survive? I think the answer is, those who can both imagine and manifest a different way to live. All that power and money won’t mean much when the system that supports it isn’t functioning.

    Maybe I am naive but I still feel it is the best use of my energy to focus on local community, arts, and culture change.

    My second comment is not about the content of this discussion but about the process. I hesitate to wade into this because I fear I will be attacked. And yet this is exactly why I must say something. Reading the comments here I have become increasingly appalled at the tone of certain people. These are people who are accusing someone else of denigrating their comments, of being condescending, of spewing vitriol — none of which I saw in his comments — followed by self-congratulatory side conversation between them about how they will not engage with him anymore. I have learned something and found valuable food for thought in all the different points of view expressed here, even (especially) those with which I do not agree. I would like to see these discussions stay focused on ideas and away from personal characterization of the participants. Thank you.

  160. Morwen – to your first comment … yes!

    I would add …

    Those who “stand up and speak up in the face of the unacceptable” illuminate what we DON’T want. This, in turn, helps us clarify what we DO want. I tend to think of these “witnesses” as “way-showers.”

    Let’s take, for example, the 100-plus oil spills that have occurred since 1900 and their cumulative effect on the global environment.

    Those who document and speak out about these oil spills, motivate us to seek new directions. They help us envision new alternatives like wind, water and solar energies.

    Once a problem, like oil spills, is brought into the Light, we have a choice to make.

    We can either:

    A. Use our most valuable resource: our collective hearts, minds and bodies, to rage against that which we find unacceptable. In the oil spill example this choice would involve activities such as crucifying oil companies, or blaming the government and harassing the perceived offenders.


    B. Channel those precious resources into creating what we DO want. In this example one might focus on envisioning, designing, promoting, manufacturing, financing, installing or maintaining green energy systems.

    One path is infinitely more powerful, if the goal is change.

  161. I would like to know what Derrick means by “we need to organize politically.” I’m an avid reader of Derricks and am firm that we need to dismantle industrial civilization and hopefully civilization also, as Derrick would surely agree.

    The political system is simply a grand roundabout scheme to provide authority/legitimacy to individuals who will gain power and profit from the coercion of people and the destruction of the natural world. I don’t see how organizing politically can help to slow down or stop the oppressors.

    I agree that we must do everything to slow down or stop the destruction, including challenging timber sales and educating others. But what does “organize politically” mean beyond that? Does he imply that we need to support green candidates and shit like that? It is an ambiguous phrase and I think Derrick might be trying to “slip” a premise past us by not explaining himself here.

    I hope he doesn’t intend to encourage people wasting their time with the American political system or any other.


  162. Riversong,

    You make some valid points, and you seem like an intelligent person, but either you’ve got beef or you’ve never actually read any of DJ’s work, save for an essay or two like this one. It’s been said already…broad, sweeping generalizations, mischaracterization, assertions from a position of ignorance, etc. It should be painfully obvious to anyone familiar with Jensen’s work that you’re reading things into it which are simply not there.

    Are you not also shooting the messenger? You don’t want to be called a “dick,” but you’re content to call the author a sociopath based on some shaky hypotheses? How fair is that? How mature? His “honest moments?” Funny, he’s never come off to me as a lying, psychotic piece of shit. I guess I must be one of those myopic, dumbass readers of his, huh? I’m not going to say I’ve never seen an intelligent individual make such gross oversimplifications, because I have, but I guess I should thank you for reminding me what it looks like.

  163. Some latecomers to this Jensen comments forum may not know that Robert Riversong lobbied the editors of Orion to stop publishing Derrick Jensen’s essays after the first one appeared several months ago. I wrote a piece in defense of free speech and the importance of hearing views that might be different from our own, in response. I have been on RR’s enemy list ever since, and he has made a point to vilify not only myself and Derrick, but anyone who dares to support DJ’s opinions.

    Riversong’s support of the fascist corporate elites who are destroying our planet and murdering millions in their psychotic lust for wealth and power is one of the most bizarre positions I could ever expect to see on the on the blog of an environmental magazine. Then he condemns Jensen and others who are calling these power elites out, and blames these critics for our problems. One can only assume he has over consumed some of that new age kool aid that is out there, and gone off his rocker.

    If you go back a few pages, you will see where I welcomed Robert back to the blog and said that I admired him. He responded by characterizing my hatchet burying gesture as an insincere ploy. Ever had someone you extended your hand to in a friendly way spit on it? Doesn’t feel too good. My admiration for Robert goes back to the role he played in a war tax resister’s protest years ago, about which a documentary was filmed. I still admire what he and his friends did then. And I am still open to being his friend, but for his own good he has to quit drinking that crazy kool aid!

  164. And this might be a good time to refocus, as this group does so well, on issues and ideas.


  165. If the natural world is to be given its due and the world is not go utterly mad, then we have a great deal of work ahead of us. What troubles me is the way ‘the brightest and best’; the smartest guys in the room; the ones who report they have not flown commercial since the 70s; the casino operatives who have added nothing to the human economy and marked themselves as thieves of the highest order; the relentless plunderers of Earth’s resources and reckless degraders of its environs; the greediest among us who have hoarded most of the world’s wealth but done nothing productive to obtain it; those who live long and large without regard to human limits and Earth’s limitations, engage so righteously in conscious deception as well as in willful denial of any effort to communicate about matters of concern that do not buttress their selfish interests. These self-proclaimed masters of the universe have much larger, more fashionable and ever important agendas than educating the human family, telling the truth and doing the right thing, I suppose.

    Perhaps the time has come to sort out what is sacred from what is profane about the predominant culture. We need to do this one thing soon, I suppose, because what is profane about the culture is threatening to overwhelm the whatsoever else is sacred in the planetary home we inhabit. At least to me there is something perverse harbored within a culture that makes it ok for the most arrogant, clever and greedy among us to “obey the laws” and still destroy everything which is known to be sacred in the planetary home God blesses us to inhabit…and not desecrate as is plainly occurring in our time. Sad to say, the children will be justified to look back in anger and utter disbelief at the way their avaricious leading elders dishonestly and duplicitously destructed the natural world, even as they claimed so seductively, arrogantly and self-righteously not only to be protecting and preserving God’s Creation but also to be doing “God’s work”.

    What a shame it is that a tiny minority of morally bankrupt, craven greedmongers are allowed to perpetrate a sham in the name of the human community and God which will likely turn our planetary home into a shambles!

  166. Steve – you say, “Perhaps the time has come to sort out what is sacred from what is profane about the predominant culture. We need to do this one thing soon, I suppose, because what is profane about the culture is threatening to overwhelm the whatsoever else is sacred in the planetary home we inhabit.”

    You comment raises the question, “Who does the sorting?”

  167. “a tiny minority of morally bankrupt, craven greedmongers”

    Steve why do you believe this is a tiny minority… Almost the entire third and second worlds are under the illusion that the American Dream is the way to go… the Indians, Chinese, Russians, Iranians… the list is long… The dominant hegemony (USA), at the pinnacle of the Curriculum of the West, has infested every corner of the globe (with the exception of a very small minority of tribes, etc.) I believe the die is cast, it can now only stop from its own self-destructive inertia. I suggest you get your own house in order, DJ’s pleas not withstanding.

  168. Kiki — Who does the sorting? We each do. There is an old saying, “I set before you Good and Evil: choose Good.” I agree with some existentialists that we are burdened/blessed with the necessity to constantly choose what we will believe in and how we will act. To choose not to choose is still a choice.

  169. Scott — I will spare you the (very) long answer to your desire to get us back on track. I presume you have in mind the increasing emotional temperature between some participants. As much as I too long for an Apollonian discourse maintained on an unblemished “higher plane”, this is the afflicted real world we are sharing in. I have been involved in a variety of small group processes for fifty years now. My observation is that if people open up and share, some shit is going to hit some fans. Strangely, this is an indication that people really are into and care about the issues at stake. When our masks are off, and our defensive screens are lowered, then our real selves tend to manifest.

    The irony of all this is these passages in our work together provide one of the very best opportunities to work on the communication problems that constitute a basic problem on the way to a better more peaceful world. As those working in the area of conflict resolution and peacemaking have discovered, one of the most difficult obstacles to growth in this crucial area is the presumption on the part of those participating that they are already the fair minded, unprejudiced, rational, nonviolent persons they wish everyone else was. Not so. Facilitators often have to go to some outrageous methods to collapse this “I’m OK, but you are not” façade. Members, with the best intentions, will often do their best to re-erect the comfortable and polite barriers between participants before the process can learn from and heal through these “crises.”

    To wind up this Short(?) version. It’s not broke in any way that we can’t heal from it and come back stronger for it. (Maybe I am just full of good will and hope and spiritual blessing from the three day retreat I just got back from? We’ll see…….)

  170. Mike K,

    I have no “enemies list”, such as Nixon and the Jensen cultists (and other sociopaths) do. And I don’t perceive you nor any Jensen acolyte, or Jensen himself, as an enemy. I have, however, been consistently personally attacked – as you have just done – by Jensen’s followers for challenging his (and their) dyslogic, misperceptions and entrenchment in old paradigm beliefs (such as the belief in the villainous “other”).

    The only enemy is self-deception, denial and distortion, and confusing our myths about the world with the world itself. I did no “lobbying” but merely suggested to Orion that they choose not to give so much space to a writer who leads readers into darker shadows and self-destructive paths because he has quite obviously not addressed his own inner demons.

    I’ve vilified no one here, but only challenged ideas, perceptions and behaviors which are counterproductive to the goal of shifting from a dysfunctional paradigm to a healthy one. In fact, I’ve argued repeatedly that the vilification of “others” as the enemy or the cause of our distress is both a projection and an avoidance of one’s own responsibility.

    Acknowledging such projection doesn’t mean to ignore the very real and destructive behaviors of either those in power or those who, by their daily lives, support the power elites (that’s all of us). Rather than supporting “the fascist corporate elites who are destroying our planet and murdering millions in their psychotic lust for wealth and power” (a bit of on overstatement, wouldn’t you say, as is your entire mischaracterization of my statements?), I didn’t just “play a role” in a war tax resistance protest years ago – I have resisted paying financial tribute to the engine of the old paradigm empire for more than 30 years, at great personal cost, just as I refused to give my body as an instrument of war.

    Research since that war I refused to participate in has shown that the oft-repeated story of returning veterans being spat upon by protestors is almost entirely a myth. I have no doubt that many of my brothers of the time felt dirtied upon their return to civilian life by the suppressed memories of the atrocities they committed in order to survive, seeing their own guilt reflected in the eyes of others. Perhaps you feel spat upon because some part of your mind acknowledges the veracity of my critique. But I am no more responsible for your feelings than the little boy who pointed out that the emperor had no clothes. I am just pointing to what I see – what anyone with open eyes should be able to see. How you choose to react is entirely your own responsibility.

    I no more condemn Jensen than I condemn the “fascist corporate elites” who are merely living out more fully than most of us the dominant values of this dysfunctional paradigm. But both Jensen and those corporados are blinded by their own limiting and dysfunctional beliefs. For Jensen, as for all who keep the Manichean vision alive, there are “those sociopaths and psychopaths” and “those of us who are not sociopaths”, denying his own participation in the pathology by the very separation of the world’s community into the good guys and the bad guys, which requires that at some point “we’ll have to fight for our lives” (his words).

    What we need to do is surrender our own identification with the old paradigm, such as either-or us-vs-them thinking, but that cannot happen as long as we self-identify as victims of some evil force our there. And we cannot help such self-identification if we have not faced our own inner demons and transformed them into sacred allies. Demons, by their very nature cannot be defeated, for every such effort merely makes them stronger. They can be transformed, however, by embracing them as dis-membered parts of ourselves, parts of the whole. This is the function of soul retrieval on the personal level and essential to retrieve and re-member the soul of humanity.

    Jensen is not the messiah capable of this healing, yet so many fellow victims have fallen in lockstep behind him and defend him and his words with blind vehemence. We are all part of the cult of humanity (that paradigm which serves us and the world so poorly), and we need no more false messiahs to lead us into yet another dead end. We need only to surrender our defenses, open our eyes and embrace the harsh and wonderful world that was created for us.

  171. Robert — I am guilty of using snide and demeaning language in my relations with you. I am genuinely sorry that I have done that. I apologize to you. Henceforth I will try to avoid that nasty side of myself from manifesting. Fact is, I really do respect you. You are a sincere truth seeker and active to try to help birth a better human society. In the heat of argument I tended to lose sight of that. I pray for you that every blessing of God shower on you. I will no longer show disrespect for you or the ideas and teachers that are meaningful for you in your journey. I may still disagree, but I seek to longer disrespect. Thank you for unintentionally creating an opportunity for me to be aware of these unpleasant potentials within myself, giving me a chance to work on that, and hopefully become free of it.

  172. Riversong, may I quote this piece of your post?

    “Demons, by their very nature cannot be defeated, for every such effort merely makes them stronger. They can be transformed, however, by embracing them as dis-membered parts of ourselves, parts of the whole. This is the function of soul retrieval on the personal level and essential to retrieve and re-member the soul of humanity.”

    This is pertinent to a completely separate conversation I am having elsewhere. Thank you.

    Mike K, thank you for your self-awareness and willingness to step up to it. I am still “listening” to everyone and allowing thoughts to formulate slowly. I will say that even though I am not in alignment with Derrick Jensen’s perspective, I think it’s a good thing that Orion is publishing his essays, because they generate this sort of thoughtful and impassioned discussion.

  173. Morwen — With respect to your quote from Robert, how well would that approach work with Hitler and his gang of Nazis? Would you say that Neville Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement prior to world war II was the right course to continue to pursue?

  174. Nick #173 — That final line in Derrick’s essay, caught my attention, too. The best I can figure, he is keeping the door open to any serious efforts to dismantle and replace the dysfunctional system presently in power. After all he has said, “ just do SOMETHING, even if its only taking in a stray cat!” I think its going to take a lot of different approaches to change our culture. We can’t afford to wait for some sure-fire guaranteed solution, the world is dying NOW. Who knows what yet unheralded straw may break Goliath’s back?

  175. Morwen,

    Your voice has been a good addition to this conversation.

    I’ve been drawn to the idea of psychopathology as a way to look at what is wrong with civilization, the way all of the modern power structures seem to reward this behavior and entrench the valueless values of a sickness in place of those values that would promote health.

    What I’m discovering, inside as well as through reading and participating in various conversations, is that I do find something quite valid in RR’s point against vilifying particular individuals as the “infected ones” the carriers of this illness.

    I know in my own life, the warping influences of pathology led me down paths that were leading past Narcissism towards the deeper ends of what I like to call the Vampiric personality. A conscience? – perhaps that’s what it was – led me to seek out ways to change that course, but had any of the variables been slightly different, who knows how that would have turned out. Even now, who’s to say?

    Mike K, the question of Hitler, aren’t you just lashing out? I mean, there are situations where bad results will happen, even on immense scales. But wrapping ourselves in the “Greatest Generation” seeing ourselves as the inheritors of the salvation of democracy, can we really feel any satisfaction in the way that’s all turned out?

    At least Hitler was sloppy and obvious and in the end much easier to resist than the competitor’s brand of wholesale destruction….

  176. According to the now-repentant mike k, there were only two responses to Nazi Germany (what most people like to imagine as the embodiment of pure evil): appeasement or violence. This is always the last arrow in the quiver of those, like Derrick Jensen, who confuse non-violence or pacifism with passivism. [Ward Churchill made a provocative argument for the ineffectiveness of American pacifism, with which I would generally agree, but with the unfortunate title Pacifism as Pathology, which Jensen picked up on.]

    It’s true that non-violent action is far less effective after an adversary is allowed to grow strong or launches all-out warfare, though nationwide non-cooperation with the Nazis in Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands was surprisingly effective at limiting their reach. Effective response requires the same degree of strategic planning, organizing and coordination as any war effort.

    Hitler could not have risen without the active or tacit support of the German people. A widespread campaign of non-violent resistance may well have undermined that support.

    The simple truth is we cannot know if non-violent action would have stopped Hitler because it wasn’t tried on a large enough scale or soon enough.

    But what we do know is that the violent response of the world’s nations to Nazi Germany resulted in the deaths of tens of millions and left us with the decimation of civilian populations (including the atomic bombings of Japan) by both sides, Cold War, Mutually Assured Destruction, the rise of the American Empire, and an Israel which was built on the ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Palestinian people (with the Holocaust as its perennial excuse).

    So how can anyone suggest that good triumphed over evil by returning violence with violence? If it had any effect, it was to make the “victors” as evil as the vanquished.

    Churchill’s critique is correct: that peacemaking fails because of the cowardice of the peacemakers.

    Daniel Berrigan said much the same thing in No Bars to Manhood (1970):

    The Price of Peace

    We have assumed the name of peacemakers, but we have been, by and large, unwilling to pay any significant price. And because we want the peace with half a heart and half a life and will, the war, of course, continues, because the waging of war, by its nature, is total — but the waging of peace, by our cowardice, is partial. So a whole will and a whole heart and a whole national life bent toward war prevail over the (mere desire for) peace.

    In every national war since the founding of the republic we have taken for granted that war shall exact the most rigorous cost, and that the cost shall be paid with cheerful heart. We take it for granted that in wartime families will be separated for long periods, that men will be imprisoned, wounded, driven insane, killed on foreign shores. In favor of such wars, we declare a moratorium on every normal human hope – for marriage, for community, for friendship, for moral conduct toward strangers and the innocent. We are instructed that deprivation and discipline, private grief and public obedience are to be our lot. And we obey. And we bear it – because bear we must – because war is war, and good war or bad, we are stuck with it and its cost.

    But what of the price of peace? I think of the good, decent, peace-loving people I have known by the thousands, and I wonder. How many of them are so afflicted with the wasting disease of normalcy that, even as they declare for the peace, their hands reach out with an instinctive spasm in the direction of their loved ones, in the direction of their comforts, their home, their security, their income, their future, their plans – that five-year plan of studies, that ten-year plan of professional status, that twenty-year plan of family growth and unity, that fifty-year plan of decent life and honorable natural demise.

    “Of course, let us have the peace,” we cry, “but at the same time let us have normalcy, let us lose nothing, let our lives stand intact, let us know neither prison nor ill repute nor disruption of ties.”

    And because we must encompass this and protect that, and because at all costs — at all costs –- our hopes must march on schedule, and because it is unheard of that in the name of peace a sword should fall, disjoining that fine and cunning web that our lives have woven, because it is unheard of that good men should suffer injustice or families be sundered or good repute be lost — because of this we cry peace and cry peace, and there is no peace.

    There is no peace because the making of peace is at least as costly as the making of war –- at least as exigent, at least as disruptive, at least as liable to bring disgrace and prison and death in its wake.

  177. Morwen Two Feathers,

    Please use my words as you’d like. They represent wisdom which I gleaned from many wise souls who broke the trail I walk upon.

    And gratitude for the calming and heartful presence you bring to this dialogue.

  178. Antonio — I am really at a loss to see how the question I asked could be interpreted by you as “lashing out?” The question I asked has been asked by generations of concerned people. It is not a new question. There is nothing angry about it. Or have you just decided on some basis unknown to me that I am a bad angry person, and hence anything coming from me is toxic. Does the question trouble you? It deeply troubles me. I am really surprised and troubled by your comment. If you meant something more than merely to take sides in a juvenile food fight, please let me know.

    BTW did you read my recent post trying to calm the waters between Robert and me? Did you seek to aid that reconciliation, or just keep the dispute bubbling? I have respected what I have read by you in the past, and I really wonder where you are coming from. I am not really willing to accept the role of monster on this blog, or in any other setting. No one is in a position to demand that anyone like them, but if you are going to make an accusation that my attempt at a deeper understanding with another poster is merely “lashing out in anger”, I think you might owe others on this thread a fuller explanation, if not myself. If you have simply decided you don’t like me or my ideas, fine. I can accept that. In digging deeper for the truth people sometimes get upset. I’ve done it myself. I think you read something into my attempt to share with Morwen that I did not put there. Free speech gives you the right to do that. It gives me the right to object. Now I realize that if your mind is made up that I am a “bad guy”, then everything I have just said will be interpreted as an “angry attack.” You can then say, “it only proves he is unaware of how angry he is”……….and on and on.

    I am out of breath trying to respond to this baseless accusation. I am recalling my reading of Kafka’s book The Castle. I am feeling more like Joseph K than mike k. I gotta get outta here…………..

    PS — I reread your post while correcting this one. I now realize how much you side with Riversong. Do you maintain some sort of pacifist position? That would explain a lot to me. Folks who think that way would get very uptight about the question I asked.Please don’t jump to the conclusion that I am some sort of warmonger. Just the opposite. The time I spent with the Quakers and Buddhists would hardly make sense if that were the case. The point is that I do not endorse some of the radical versions of pacifism. And BTW, I am not alone in this, and if I was, I would still follow my conscience, and pick up the gun to defend those helpless children being slaughtered in MacDonald’s. I gave up all my own weapons decades ago, as a matter of conscience.

    I only ask that you do not try to oversimplify issues that are complex, deep, and vitally important to our future.

    PPS — As I was about to post this I read Robert’s lengthy response, for which I thank him, and especially for not poking at me too hard. Robert, you made many good points in your remarks, proving you have thought deeply about these issues, and come to a place of balance in your heart about these difficult questions, that so often trouble us of tender conscience. I agree with most of what you said, but I also feel that there is never final closure on these crucial issues of our ultimate meaning and humanity. In the end I am always aware that ultimate closure will probably not come to any of us, however “enlightened” we may be, but that the quest will go on beyond our brief span of years. We can only try our best and continue to work within ourselves and with others toward the distant spiritual future…

  179. Mike K,

    Please take a moment and listen to yourself. It’s easy to get caught up and think everyone’s out to get you, it happens to everyone.

    Perhaps “Lash out” was harsh, you can’t “hear” my tone of voice….

    I was stating the same objection Riversong just made and that you found to be “good remarks.”

    The advantage of a forum like this one should be that no one has to respond in anger and in first blush of seeming offense. Take the time to consider what’s been said before running off with attacks.

    You’ve taken what had seemed a reasonable position and just about destroyed its validity by rising this way in anger.

    If this is just a competition to see who can be most dickish, I’ll go elsewhere.

    I do stand by what I’ve said, no more no less. Please try re-reading it again, and this time go beyond only hearing what you want to hear from the phrase “lash out.”

    Jensen doesn’t need defending. His position on many things is clear and he is quite able to state his own case. I’ve always felt since fist encountering his work that he has brought a clarity and focus to much that had been muddy for me.

    Whatever anyone thinks or feels about his “calls to action.” His position must be taken seriously if we are to get any further.

    What Morwen seemed to be bringing to this conversation was the kind of respect and willingness to listen beyond team affiliation that I had grown to expect from you. That is why I responded as I did to his remarks.

    Read what you’ve written in so many of your recent comments and you’ll be hard pressed to find anything worthy of praise. Does that make you an enemy? or evil or anything beyond tired and grumpy? I don’t make any such claims.

    I would appreciate some clarification. If all it takes is for you to misread the tone in a single phrase in a single comment to completely up-end your opinion of someone and their work I’d rather have that confirmed so I can know where I stand.

  180. “Read what you’ve written in so many of your recent comments and you’ll be
    hard pressed to find anything worthy of praise. Does that make you an enemy?
    or evil or anything beyond tired and grumpy? I don’t make any such claims.”

    Antonio — If your remarks are reflective of the general feeling among others on this blog, then I had best be on my way. I am not
    that hard to get rid of.
    So, I am soliciting the opinions of other members of this forum: If you agree with Antonio that I have nothing worthwhile to contribute to this forum, then I will willingly absent myself. I have no other agenda or purpose for being here beyond being helpful. If your consensus (there goes dissensus!) is that I am not wanted….I am gone, thanking you all for the learning and growth I have experienced here. Journey on with my sincere blessing….

  181. Antonio — How do you think I feel when you repeatedly accuse me of being angry? Don’t you think I might finally get angry as a result? You seem to suffer the delusion that if I disagree with you, I am angry with you. I really expected a more mature response from you. All the talk of “dissensus” seems now to have been only talk. Please don’t waste your time telling me once more that I am being angry. If I don’t buy it now, I am not going to buy it with future iterations of the same blunt needle. Who knows, tho, if you can hold my attention long enough and keep drilling it into me, I might really get mad instead of just feeling hurt and misunderstood by someone I was coming to respect.

  182. Thinking through this flap, I am strongly inclined to assume that RR is a true-believer troll, as applies to Jensen and “his accolytes.” Did he actually call us Jensen fans sociopaths?! He apparently tried to get Orion to stop giving Jensen a regular venue, and when that failed, he has taken the second obvious option, which is to disrupt the discussion of his articles. This particular thread is not the first time it happened.

    I will no go over all the underhanded argumentation he has employed, nor will I analyse his penchant for twisting other people’s words into something which they did not mean. He feels free to substitute fantasies of what the other person means – and hostile fantasies at that – for actual meaning. And he never asks for corroboration… he knows best. Like any troll, he draws the attention to himself and wastes people’s time. So, from now on, in this particular Orion venue, I will treat him like I treat any other troll: by stopping the feed. (I also want to say that his views on other things likely have a good deal of merit, and my take on him applies strictly to his participation in the Jensen threads.)

    What has struck me as particularly creepy has been his effort to attempt to negate the rather clear psychiatric definition of a psychopath (a person unable to empathize, which can be seen by a flatlining brain scan); and instead uses the term for all sorts of other people he himself disapproves of. Very creepy indeed. Well, nuff said.

  183. Dear Mike, dear Antonio… take a long deep breath. This thread has been disrupted. Lets get it back. Hugs to ya both.

  184. What I was completely clear about is that the real sociopathology of our current cultural paradigm is the propensity to see the world in terms of good and evil, us and them, those who are sociopaths and those who are not (as both Jensen and Vera claim).

    My arguments and logic have been clear and cogent and, so far, uncontested.

    If this thread has been “disrupted”, it’s because of those who have turned a dialogue of ideas into a conflict between personalities.

  185. Vera — Thanks for breaking the spell. I now realize that I fell into an abusive game with RR. I must admit, he is good at being an abuser. I have no idea how he learned that “skill’, but now that I am free, I don’t really give a shit. I wrote a long note on my realization of what he was up to, and how I had fallen victim to it, but the machine swallowed it when I hit a wrong key, I had forgotten to save it. Maybe I will redo it, maybe not. The important thing is , you broke the spell. We really need someone from outside to do that when we have become enmeshed in that sticky web. Our struggles only bind us deeper. Enough for now. Don’t feed the trolls! I was really getting depressed at the thought of leaving this forum, where I met you and other really likable folks.

    Sorry I was in such a tense place when I way over reacted to your innocent comment, Antonio.

  186. If a troll is a creature of one’s fearful imagination that sits under a bridge and demands a toll from those who cross, then I am most certainly that troll since I demand intellectual honesty, emotional maturity, and logical consistency.

    And I would be most pleased if vera, mike k, and nick cease responding to my arguments, since they have reduced this discussion to a level nearly beneath contempt. And poor mike k is showing signs of extreme emotional instability bordering on psychosis.

    In his rambling illogic, he admits to his own abusiveness and then claims to be a victim, much as I have been arguing throughout this thread – self-identified “victims” project their aberrations onto others in order to deny their own culpability.

    To such “victims”, the world is populated with demons and the only hope of salvation is to destroy the imagined enemy.

    In truth, there is no hope for our collective salvation until we grow up enough to assume full responsibility for our feelings, our perceptions, our words, and our actions. This is the definition of maturity, and until now we have been a very adolescent and narcissistic culture.

    As Swami Beyondanama says, “It’s time we stop being children of God and become adults of God.”

  187. I was enmeshed too, Mike, but then I got taken off to have my appendix snipped off, and that bit of distance did wonders for my sanity. :-)

    I am going to re-read the essay and see if something new grabs me.

  188. Mike k

    I do tend to think there is a lot of self-aggrandizing, self-congratulatory, self-serving comments in your posts.

  189. Perhaps a few quotes will ease the competition and lack of focus.

    A consistent thinker is a thoughtless person, because he conforms to a pattern; he repeats phrases and thinks in a groove. J K

    A man who is not afraid is not aggressive, a man who has no sense of fear of any kind is really a free, a peaceful man. J K

    All ideologies are idiotic, whether religious or political, for it is conceptual thinking, the conceptual word, which has so unfortunately divided man. J K

    Freedom from the desire for an answer is essential to the understanding of a problem. J K

    Hitler and Mussolini were only the primary spokesmen for the attitude of domination and craving for power that are in the heart of almost everyone. Until the source is cleared, there will always be confusion and hate, wars and class antagonisms. J K

    I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. J K

    If we can really understand the problem, the answer will come out of it, because the answer is not separate from the problem. J K

    In oneself lies the whole world and if you know how to look and learn, the door is there and the key is in your hand. Nobody on earth can give you either the key or the door to open, except yourself. J K

    The moment you have in your heart this extraordinary thing called love and feel the depth, the delight, the ecstasy of it, you will discover that for you the world is transformed. J K

    There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning. J K

    Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay. J K

    We all want to be famous people, and the moment we want to be something we are no longer free.
    J K

    What is needed, rather than running away or controlling or suppressing or any other resistance, is understanding fear; that means, watch it, learn about it, come directly into contact with it. We are to learn about fear, not how to escape from it. J K

    When we talk about understanding, surely it takes place only when the mind listens completely – the mind being your heart, your nerves, your ears- when you give your whole attention to it. J K

    You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it. That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, that is why you must sing and dance, and write poems and suffer and understand, for all that is life. J K

    Your belief in God is merely an escape from your monotonous, stupid and cruel life. J K

    The constant assertion of belief is an indication of fear. J K

    It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. Jiddu Krishnamurti

  190. I think the piece ends just where it should begin. With organizing politically. That is absolutely correct. Very little will change until we push back on corporate money in politics. Congress spends 70% of its time fundraising. Fair Elections Now Act just passed Committee. To urge your Reps and Sens to either co-sponsor or thank them for doing so, go to Fix Congress First. Do not sit out this election. Also check out Bernie Sanders from VT. He will tell you that the Dems spent too much time trying for consensus with filibusting Repbulicans. Hopefully, they are waking up.

  191. Sorry, Cara, but the politics as usual that you mention, I think is dead. Dead as in dead as a dodo. We need something new. Something that has not been hijacked by the power hogs. IMO.

  192. Jim R.H.

    I can’t help but smile when a person quotes a master about having no masters (and, of course, quotes no one but HIM).

  193. Vera — When you say “stop the feed” what do you mean exactly? I really don’t grok that terminology.

  194. I actually had to tell someone in a group the other day,”when you try to diagnose an illness, it is not just for the sake of being negative; its in order to come up with a proper treatment for a cure.” More and more folks are (understandably) uncomfortable looking at the truth of the world situation. It is not a comfortable sight. On the other hand the ostrich technique has never been very effective in causing real changes in the situation.

  195. Sorry to hear you needed an operation, Vera. Im glad it came out OK.

  196. I just meant, Mike, the same as “don’t feed the trolls.” Stop reacting. Stop engaging. Stop taking the bait.

  197. i think there’s a danger in “reifying” the culture as a whole and labelling it “psychopathic.” the truth is that we are talking about an abstraction, an average made up of countless individuals and actions, a vector sum that is pointing in the wrong direction and with a large magnitude, it is true, but still, a “psychopath” would not adopt a Constitution, a Bill of Rights, nor establish a Freedom of Information Act, a Humane Society, a World Wildlife Fund, nor a Nobel Prize.

    To a great extent, “the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.” A great part of the blame for this apparent schizophrenia lies in the prevailing economic ideology of “laissez faire” capitalism, according to which no universal social norms should ever apply to economic activity. Thus, a huge sphere of our social relations is almost off-limits to any kind of collective moral rules, particularly in the US. Many people are brainwashed into believing that this state of affairs is right, while others are happy with it for self-serving reasons.

  198. Hey Sandy, how ’bout doing the compassionate riff? When you say, “I actually had to tell someone in a group the other day,…” I feel x because I am looking for y. Would you be willing to (suggest a modification)?

    Easier to hear, easier to learn from… nah?

    Guy, good points raised. Will ponder overnight… :-)

  199. Guy,

    To point to the current iteration of capitalism as the source of our cultural malaise is to see one tree and ignore the forest from which it grew.

    You understand culture backwards. The paradigm or myth that we live by is not the collective average of the independent beliefs and actions of the multitudes. A cultural paradigm is the very air we breathe, and the reality within which we believe and act.

    A cultural paradigm is hardly an “abstraction”, since it is the font of all perception and the largely unconscious consensus with which we agree to create our world. That there’s a spectrum of attitude and behavior around the norm is, well, normal.

    Economic ideology – whether capitalist or communist or socialist or mercantile – is merely one temporal facet of an over-arching paradigm which both limits and feeds the reality from which all such ideologies spring.

    I’ll agree that “psychopathic” is perhaps not the best term to describe the cultural paradigm that we’ve globalized and universalized. But there can be little doubt that this culture is self-destructive, and those who have stepped outside enough to see the whole understand that it is corrupt to the very core.

    What is needed is for those with open eyes to co-create a new story to live by, one built upon Nature’s rules and not our own.

  200. RR

    The paradigm IS the problem, as you justly point out. The myth upon which it grew is very old as well. The challenge, I believe, is overturning a mythology that has such a foundational place in our now globalized/universalized culture. I don’t think its doable.

    Vera – I don’t dislike the guy; just don’t know why someone should feel compelled to play hall monitor here. I will only highlight the self-serving remarks

  201. Mike to Antonio post:
    Mike, if you are as you claim, just take what you perceive to be Antonio’s “arrows” and absorb the”hits.” Then you walk the talk in a way that doesn’t require such infantile defensiveness. Grow up and get over the fact that someone doesn’t like or agree with you. That’s life.

  202. I keep trying to think that one person CAN make a difference. Like a pebble in the water. It is SOooo tiresome to continue to live in a “Fox and Friends” world where so many are blinded by Corporate Media/So-called Entertainment, and don’t even know that these types of magazines or Bioneers even exists and the information that is secretly kept from us! My friends in other countries have more free information than we will EVER get as general Americans!
    Thank you for this article as it is very true. And it is sad now that I am a mom, to think that much of the natural world as we currently know it will be further destroyed by the time he is able to enjoy the world around him.
    I recently moved from Alaska back to the lower 48 and I can tell you that it is a nightmare here and so much future destruction that is planned in Alaska, no one even knows about! I hope that Alaska doesn’t become the next North Carolina! God forbid. With an opportunity to go green with geothermal, tidal energy, wind energy, etc etc….we are still bought and sold by Big Oil. It’s disgusting. And it seems that even voting for the more “green” political parties still is only a “compromise” and these politicians are still under Big Oils, Coal, etc. restraints to keep from change anything.
    Keep on Keepin’ on my Orion friends! We must continue to create our OWN communities and work towards a new future.

  203. Vesta — Thanks for your insightful comments, what you say makes a lot of sense to me.

  204. Vesta, I agree totally. And, as a mother and grandmother, I feel the same pain every day. I also feel the pain for all the nonhuman creatures suffering as a result of our human actions. And the paradigm absolutely is the problem, yet talking about such, in such language, glasses over the eyes of most people as it intellectualizes the issue and leaves the big question: what to do about it? How do paradigms change? This has been a huge topic for years among futurists. So many devastating things have occured, and I’m referring to environmental disasters only here, that one would think something would give in the minds and hearts of the so-called “average person” to wake them up enough so that they would at least question the power and choices of the “powers that be”. But no. And I think the reason is because we have so separated ourselves from the Earth and from each other, we have become so individualized that we feel disconcertingly alone. And therefore fearful because, you have to admit, fearful things are happening over which we don’t seem to have much, if any, control. So we hunker down and take care of “our own” as it were. And the words we write (the words I write) are wishes, prayers, pleas for change, for help, for community that no one remembers or knows how to recreate. And the great projects (like Transition Towns, one of the hopeful things happening now) seem far, far away, involving other people. And the options – retrofiting my home, or moving closer to family or like-minded folk to begin that community, isn’t financially possible, because the bottom line is always what matters most in our current paradigm. No matter how much I know this needs to change, no matter how much energy I put into trying to change it in the past, it simply hasn’t changed and I no longer know what to do.

  205. Sandy: “The challenge, I believe, is overturning a mythology that has such a foundational place in our now globalized/universalized culture. I don’t think its doable.”

    I agree. And I also believe it’s unnecessary, since that paradigmatic culture is collapsing in on itself.

    That’s why it’s not only a waste of energy fighting the “system”, but it only prolongs the life of the monster, since it feeds on having enemies.

    All that’s required of us is to put our energy, our vision, our dreams into co-creating a new paradigm, a new story to live by, and growing new cultural structures on that fertile soil.

    Then, within the embrace of communities of interdependent support, we will have the courage to witness the collapse of “the world as we know it”.

  206. I believe you are right Robert. It is why I am sitting on the sidelines here in Siberia, with my wife’s family, working in the garden at the dacha, hunting edibles in the forest, fishing on the river, and learning to become a little less dependent on the system. But, as you are well aware, we are all products of the system, and we find it difficult, if not impossible to completely let go, until it lets us go when it goes up in smoke. And it will go up in smoke without any help from us… sooner rather than later, I believe.

  207. Susan,

    Your plaint reminds me of the struggle I endured trying to quit smoking 36 years ago. It seemed the harder I tried the more difficult it became, as if the addiction was feeding off my energy.

    Then I awoke one day simply knowing that I would never desire another cigarette again, and I haven’t for all this time. In fact, the smallest amount of cigarette smoke simply repulses me today and I keep my distance.

    The prevailing paradigm is far more addictive than nicotine, because it has so many more “hooks” in our self-image, our lifestyle, and our sense of security in the world.

    So fighting it only reinforces it. What is required is to surrender, but that is perhaps the most difficult thing for us to even consider, since for a warrior people it has such negative connotations.

    But to surrender is merely to give our lives over to our faith that there is a consciousness greater than our own individual minds that knows our needs.

    “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns…Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
    – Yehoshua

  208. There is a certain truth to the statement that putting our energy into fighting the system only serves to feed it. And the evidence supports this. We’ve been fighting the system for years now and it’s only more entrenched. On the other hand, so have people been putting their energy into creating and living the new paradigm, and it hasn’t gotten anywhere either. I mean cocreating interdependent communities has been the vision, at least my vision and the vision of many people and organizations I worked with from the mid 1980s on . . . And while some of those communities do exist, they seem to exist in isolation from the rest of us, unless we are fortunate enough, free enough, or wealthy enough to live in them. For me, anyway, having contact with such fortunate folks is nice and does provide some modicum of emotional/spiritual support, I can’t move there and I don’t have the support or wherewithall to start something where I live. I know it’s not just about me, or I should say me and my sister who is disabled from a traumatic brain injury 29 years ago which poses its own unique set of problems, but I don’t like being part of the problem. Until I moved here to live w/her I considered myself as someone who searched for and implemented solutions. My current reality is more “ordinary American” than I’d like, but I must say it has been an important learning experience. There are no more “we simply need to do . . . (fill in the blank)”, or it’s “just a matter of” for me. I now know that facile expressions like that minimize the issue, and glaze over the complexity of daily life so that ways out, paths in the right direction, however you want to visualize it, are simply out of sight.

  209. I realize my comments are a bit of a downer, I do believe as you do Robert, about the importance of letting go, and I do trust that some day, probably sooner than later, the system will collapse and some of us will survive, some of us (perhaps most of us) won’t. I’m actually okay with that – not that my feelings on it matter in the overall picture of things. What’s changed for me since I realized the futility of much of the activism I was involved with before moving to take care of my sister, is my belief that there was something I could do that would make a real difference, that would speed things up; and that we could actually hope for, work for, and believe in a miracle that might occur in our lifetime or at least the lifetime of our children. I used to have a sign in my office that said, “We do not believe in miracles, we rely upon them.” I did not want to pin my hope for the natural world on the collapse of what we have come to know as human civilization. I wanted to help bring about a transformation that I believed (still do) must begin first in our hearts and minds and spirits then percolate into transforming the systems and material world we live in. Waking up to being fully human, what it means to live as a human being here IN Earth (as opposed to on Earth), was what I worked for. It still is, really, because it’s all there is. I’m starting to read David Abram’s new book, Becoming Animal, and already, barely into it, I’ve been moved to tears several times. I’m hoping by the time I’m finished, some of my optimism and ability to “let go” have been somewhat restored. Knowing David, having met him several years ago, I trust that his knowledge of magic (on many levels) has the power to restore some of mine. I’m keeping my fingers crosssed.

  210. Susan,

    I fully understand the apparent complexity of the web of life we’ve woven and how difficult it can be to extricate ourselves from it.

    But I find it ironic that you suggest being rich as providing more options. Doesn’t that just tie us yet more strongly to the system which values nothing without a price?

    The true irony is that, in order to be free, we must be poor. It is no coincidence that the cultures rated as the happiest are among the poorest (not destitute, but poor). It is no wonder that one of the longest-lived communal societies in the US is the Catholic Worker, dedicated to poverty, social change and service to the neediest.

    Not everyone can make that leap (though I’ve known powerful, wealthy people who have), but all of us can heed some of Wendell Berry’s sage advice:

    Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front
    by Wendell Berry

    Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
    vacation with pay. Want more
    of everything ready-made. Be afraid
    to know your neighbors and to die.

    And you will have a window in your head.
    Not even your future will be a mystery
    any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
    and shut away in a little drawer.

    When they want you to buy something
    they will call you. When they want you
    to die for profit they will let you know.
    So, friends, every day do something
    that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
    Love the world. Work for nothing.
    Take all that you have and be poor.
    Love someone who does not deserve it.

    Denounce the government and embrace
    the flag. Hope to live in that free
    republic for which it stands.
    Give your approval to all you cannot
    understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
    has not encountered he has not destroyed.

    Ask the questions that have no answers.
    Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
    Say that your main crop is the forest
    that you did not plant,
    that you will not live to harvest.

    Say that the leaves are harvested when they have rotted into the mold.

    Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
    Put your faith in the two inches of humus
    that will build under the trees
    every thousand years.

    Listen to carrion — put your ear
    close, and hear the faint chattering
    of the songs that are to come.
    Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
    Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
    though you have considered all the facts.
    So long as women do not go cheap
    for power, please women more than men.

    Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
    a woman satisfied to bear a child?
    Will this disturb the sleep
    of a woman near to giving birth?

    Go with your love to the fields.
    Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
    in her lap. Swear allegiance
    to what is nighest your thoughts.

    As soon as the generals and the politicos
    can predict the motions of your mind,
    lose it. Leave it as a sign
    to mark the false trail, the way
    you didn’t go.

    Be like the fox
    who makes more tracks than necessary,
    some in the wrong direction.
    Practice resurrection.

  211. Susan, it’s good to see you again in these pages. I totally agree that “what you resist, persists” and fighting the system just gives it more of our energy.

    The other option that has been tried is too hard at this time… building full fledged communities that function differently. The system does not allow that… and most end up either not doing much (TT) or getting self-absorbed with economic survival (eco-villages).

    There is a third option… withdrawal to the extent possible, (recognizing that the system is a spider web and this can never be a complete solution)… and creating clusters of “other-functioning” people within “normal” social spaces… sort of a mycelium strategy of new behaviors, new ways of relating, growing “below the radar” everywhere (not only in privileged “green” communities).

    Grow a small group of trusted people, then divide, and let the spores multiply into more and more places. What do you think? Might this do the job?

  212. vera is pretending that she’s not talking to me, even though the “what you resist, persists” theme has been mine throughout this discussion.

    And she’s completely on target when she suggests strategic withdrawal from the machine.

    But what Jensen and others fail to appreciate is that strategic non-cooperation is the essence of non-violent action. It is, in fact, the most powerful weapon in its arsenal.

    The “system” persists only in so far and as long as we feed it by our active or tacit participation.

    Withdrawal from the economic and cultural web of “normality” not only diminishes the power and stability of the system but also frees our energies to serve a different master. It can be the most liberating experience to “just say no”.

  213. We keep referring to the existing paradigm, the dominant culture, or the current mythology as being toxic, psychopathic, destructive, etc. Some think it will self-destruct, others believe it should be dismantled forthwith.
    And it seems nearly everyone has some fuzzy, poorly defined notion of the sort of utopian society that ought to replace what we have. And where it’s not fuzzy or amorphous, the most concrete images of the future-vision seem to be in terms of the negative: that is, we don’t want what we’ve got. We can describe that pretty eloquently. But I’m having trouble envisioning what a post post-modern world would look like, and how it would function.
    I’ve just finished reading “The Starfish and the Spider” which is sub-titled “The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations.” It really appeals to and supports a long-held contention of mine that leadership is a highly overrated concept or function. That comes from having taught business courses at a couple of universities for 20 years. After reading all the gurus (Covey, Peters, et al.) I’ve concluded that what passes for leadership in most of the literature is actually psychological manipulation – tricks and tips on how to get YOU to do what I want. I believe that the reason we think we need leaders is because we have built nearly all of our organizational structures in a pyramidal, hierarchical design. Admittedly, there has been a strong move to “flatten” organizations, but even flattened ones still have a niche at the top for someone in charge. We’ve built systems that demand leaders – and by default – that demands followers. It’s all terribly artificial. And there’s an irony in the fact that we call these “organ-ization” charts. There’s nothing organ-ic about them.
    If we took a page from nature’s book we could see that a healthy, fully functioning ecosystem isn’t designed that way. You don’t walk into a forest looking for the “head tree.” All the parts are of relatively equal value (albeit there are indicator species) and they function collaboratively for the good of the whole. As Margaret Wheatley has pointed out, even a system like a cloud formation manages to hold millions of gallons of water aloft without an engineer in sight.
    All that being said, I still don’t have a very clear notion of what can adequately replace the existing structure and support 7 billion people. There must be something, but I’m having trouble envisioning it realistically. By that I mean not only how do we design it, but how do we bring it about.

  214. Richard said: “I’ve concluded that what passes for leadership in most of the literature is actually psychological manipulation”

    Bravo!!! We’ve been had real good, huh? 😉

    Organic system rise from the inside out. They are not designed or planned or pre-thought or done top-down.

    As you say, “All the parts are of relatively equal value (albeit there are indicator species) and they function collaboratively for the good of the whole.” That is, IMO, the vision of what we need in the human world as well.

  215. I unfortunately lost a first attempt to respond to Derrick’s article about our environmentally destructive society that accepts leadership – both corporate and political – that refuses to embrace restraint. No matter what the consequences.
    It made me ponder two related ideas. The first is captured in a quote by Einstein: “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”
    That describes most comfortable debt-ridden consumers, no doubt nice folks and our neighbours (ourselves?), who, like the leaders Derrick describes, have been programmed to strive for ever more despite what they may know.
    Do the complacent in the face of disaster qualify as sociopaths or psychopaths?
    The second point is designed ignorance. We have never been so “informed,” had such sophisticated science – yet our public education systems – although some now cautiously promote “environmental awareness” of the pick-a-symptom type, do not confront the problem of sustainability as a whole, urgent, compelling necessity.
    Public education is part of our economic system. Environmental issues, if addressed, tend to be positioned as largely neutral topics for research, with environmental “solutions” or “action” offered up for some discussion of costs and benefits and possible personal choice. We (complacently) choose not to use our universal education systems to learn to be sustainable. Because, I would argue, we know we would learn that we have to change. And restrain ourselves economically and materially. Which we prefer not to do as long as we can get away with it.
    So – who’s to blame? The “sociopaths/psychopaths” or the complacent, the educational policy makers and parents of school kids who do not insist that new things need to be taught?
    Ignorance is the easiest way out of responsibility.
    Tommy Douglas in Canada imagined – and sparked – the idea of universal public health care.
    So – who will imagine – and spark the idea of universal public education for sustainability?
    Educated people would have less tolerance for psychopaths at the helm.
    I highly recommend a book:
    Bruce K. Alexander’s The Globalization of Addiction: A Study in the Poverty of the Spirit.
    Seeing a problem can be the beginning of a way out.

  216. Richard,

    Don’t condemn the principle of leadership just because our culture has perverted it into a power-over role.

    The Quakers have long understood leadership as a necessary role, not invested in a person, and a role that can be shared or rotated or shifted around, or assumed in the moment.

    The world’s most successful cooperative economy, the Mondragon cooperatives in the Basque region of Spain, uses rotating leadership which requires that everyone in a manufacturing plant take their turn at the top. In this system, not only do managers make no more than 3x the lowest paid worker, but management is seen as a weighty responsibility rather than a privilege for wealth, power or control.

    You also overlook the fact that every grouping of animals in the natural world has an alpha and often a beta “leader”. Such leaders are often determined by their strength and courage and are much like the war chiefs of native tribes. Their responsibility is to defend and protect the tribe from outside threats.

    But daily decision-making in a herd or flock (or native tribe) actually happens by a form of consensus or group-mind. When more than half of the animals point in the same direction, the herd follows – even if the alpha male is pointed another way. And this is not because the animals have all consented to majority rule, but because they operate organically as if they were cells in a single whole creature.

    That is the paradigm we need to strive towards. We will have to surrender our exaggerated sense of independent selfhood, and learn to work as interdependent parts of a whole – not just the whole of humanity, but the whole of life. The paradigm is as simple as that. Filling out the details of its manifestation will be our task.

    And, by the way, the reason you can’t imagine another system which can support 7 billion people is because there is none. Our current system cannot support anywhere near that number, and the reason that humanity has been undermining the environment is because we’ve actually been consuming it and converting it into human biomass. Obviously, that’s no longer tenable.

    So any vision of a livable future must include a drastic reduction in the human population, and we must come to terms with that. No natural population outgrows its ecological niche without precipitous decline. We have artificially extended the natural threshold with destructive technologies and the hubris to believe that we have a right to “go forth and multiply”. But, in doing so, we’ve mortgaged our future and the note is now due.

  217. Elise,

    While universal health care and universal (progressive) education may seem like worthy goals, they are both based on our current paradigm of government as Big Parent and disempowering the common folk.

    After the introduction by LBJ of free community health clinics in parts of Appalachia that never had medical intervention, the overall health of the communities declined. It was determined in follow-up studies that this was due to the dependency upon modern medicine and a consequent reduction in the use o traditional remedies.

    As for universal education, three-time NYC Teacher of the Year John Taylor Gatto [Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling (1992) and The Underground History Of American Education (2001)] offers convincing evidence that the Prussian-based compulsory education institution was designed from the start to dumb us down and prepare us to be cogs in the wheels of industry and consumption. Isolating children from the adult world in which maturity is modeled, while isolating everyone from the economy of the home prevents any possibility of organic community.

    So beware of investing hope in the reformation of existing institutions which were designed to enslave and disempower people.

  218. Elise, Education is not an institution “designed to enslave and disempower people.” Anyone who would try to imagine a world without educational institutions can easily envision the alternative. It’s just another one of those things that needs to be continually worked on, payed attention to, tweaked. Anyone who trusts in the awareness of “the common folk” knows that they are capable of doing this. It’s always been true that students have to watch out for themselves. Go back to Rabelais in the middle ages. And it’s always been true that enough of them have been able to do that. Infants have more awareness than some people give adults credit for.
    Whatever may have happened in Appalacia, all evidence points to the fact that the USA is one of the worst places in the world to be poor and sick precisely because we don’t have easy access to health care. If you’re poor and sick Big Parent is the last thing you’ll be afraid of.

    Cara (#204), don’t be put off by vera’s comments. She reacts that way every time mainstream political institutions are brought into the conversation. There are a few of us here (apparently not many) who still believe that that’s at least ONE important way to go with these questions.
    I think we all prefer to deal with things that we can see up close and that we feel we can understand. Mainstream politics and science don’t fit into that category. The thinking might be that, since a solution hasn’t come from those quarters yet, then we need to try something completely different. But really, have the other approaches produced any miracles? I think we need to continue to thinking about this from all angles. Stick with us, Cara and Elise, it’s a tiny group of Orion readers that needs to be heard from more often.

  219. Ed T,

    Prior to compulsory institutionalized education in the US, the adult literacy rate was between 97% and 100%.

    That government health care seems a necessity in a dysfunctional economy (supported by the same government) that produces the greatest discrepancy of income and wealth in the world, is hardly an argument for maintaining that mutually-supporting system.

    And, to dispel the common illusion that modern medicine is such a miracle, a 2007 meta-study (the only one ever done in the US) on iatrogenic mortality concluded “the American medical system is the leading cause of death and injury in the United States.”

    Ed, have you ever tried to wade through the maze of dehumanizing bureaucracy that acts as gatekeeper for the poor to health care and other services? It’s not something to brag about.

  220. Riversong, I’ve seen the French and the Dutch health care systems up close (from the point of view of a poor person), and I’ve read about the Canadian system. They work. Health care in the US scores low precisely because of poor access. Modern medicine is not the answer to all medical problems (people need to think for and act for themselves also) but when you need it you need it.
    And you drew those literacy numbers out of the air. To put the blame of poor performance on the educational system is way out of line. Even you could agree that the “meta-educational system” (TV, popular culture..) and economic factors are the main cause.

  221. Ed T,

    I don’t make up numbers. Senator Kennedy’s office released a paper stating that prior to compulsory education, the literacy rate was 98%. Following the implementation of compulsory education, the figure never exceeded 91%.

    That was well before television and other such distractions.

    My numbers come from Gatto’s research.

    My point is that children learn better in less structured and more community-based schools, or at home, and that community health is better maintained by folk medicine than by the outrageously expensive and unevenly available alopathic industry that is among the fastest growing and most profitable in the US.

    As such, any faith in such institutions is misplaced and blind faith is unconscionable.

  222. For your consideration:
    “There should be a place, an oasis, where one can learn a way of living that is whole, sane and intelligent.” J K

    The intent of the Oak Grove School is for students to develop the intellectual capacity and skills necessary to function with excellence in society, and at the same time to develop a foundation for inquiry into perennial questions of human life. Consistent with the views of its founder, the school does not subscribe to any creed or ideology. Rather, it assists students in the open-minded investigation of enduring human issues. Krishnamurti maintained that if young people learn to see how they are conditioned by race, nationality, religion, tradition and beliefs, they will discover for themselves how to be fully intelligent human beings.

  223. Richard

    Leaderless = Anarchy

    In pre-civilized, egalitarian,kinship-based tribal groupings it worked for probably 2 million years years for both Homo habilis and Homo sapiens.

    Elders advice, but there was no hierarchy and no formal leader as we know it.

    Pretty hard to replicate this anymore without massive loss of life and re structuring of social units.

    Read John Zerzan, The Future Primitive, Paul Shepard, Coming Home to the Pleistocene.

  224. Riversong, Well before TV. Precisely. What, are you pointing to the same culprit I am?
    I don’t want to get into a nitpicking debate with you, but I looked up your numbers. They’re from Massachusettes, pre 1850. Reading was the whole show. Newspapers, Bible study, dime novels and also a lively interest in other literature. We’re to assume that there were some reliable measurements made and that what they were calling literacy is what we’re calling literacy. So Kennedy’s numbers showed that it had gone from 98% to 91%. In a greatly changed demographic. And how about 1850 in Alabama?
    Most of the people who did learn to read learned in schools. They managed to attend school for a few years.
    Neither Elise’s comments nor mine show any blind faith in any particular type of educational system. The important point is access available for all. Schools are still a relatively local affair – witness the brilliant moves by the Texas board of education, rewriting history and science to suit their purposes.
    With health care also, we need access available for all.
    I think I’m right to assume that your biggest complaint is about paying for them (health care and schools).

  225. Richard, “You don’t walk into a forest looking for the ‘head tree.'”
    No, but each tree has a head cell, and a tree in any group occupies a place in a dominance order.

  226. Ed T,

    How is it possible to so completely misunderstand my contentions?

    No, it’s not about free access (that’s your baby) – it’s about ridding society of institutionalized responses to basic human needs, which renders all of society an institution rather than an organic entity or process.

    My feelings are much the same as that great iconoclast priest, Ivan Illich, whose books Deschooling Society, Medical Nemesis and Tools for Conviviality still stand as some of the most radical critiques of modern society and vision of a more human-oriented culture.

  227. Riversong, from page 17 and 21 onward you’ve declined to comment on 2/3 of the things I’ve said in direct response to you. Optimistically I’m taking that as tacit agreement. Apparently it doesn’t get any better than that. I liked your post #224 , and I would like to add my haiku: “I am a lily in a field where the buffalo roam.” We obviously have things we strongly disagree on, but I can’t give this much time over the next 5 or 6 days, so I’ll give you the conch. Cheers.

  228. Ed,

    I have, in fact, responded to all pertinent statements or challenges on your part.

    That you are unable to see that and continue to miss the forest for the trees is hardly justification for an assumption that we are in anything close to agreement. We are not.

    Just as it is said the Arowak people could not see the ships of Columbus because nothing like that existed in their perceptual space, it is understandable that you’re unable to perceive what I’ve offered as answers because they are so far outside your conceptual space.

    And this is the power of a paradigm. It is both invisible and omnipresent (like water to a fish), and both shapes and limits all perceptions and conceptions – until one is willing to “take the red pill” and step outside the Matrix.

    I have lived my entire life a bit “outside the Matrix”, so the deficiencies of the current paradigm and the possibilities for an alternative reality are apparent to my mind.

    Fortunately, increasing numbers of people today are taking baby steps outside the Matrix and exploring alternatives, though too often heavily tinged with the paradigm they were fed from birth. But, as it is said, a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

  229. “I have, in fact, responded to all pertinent statements or challenges on your part.”

    LOL! Beware troll…

  230. vera,

    It befuddles me why you persist in displaying such immaturity and intellectual dishonesty in so public a forum.

    But it comes as no surprise that you continue to project your unrecognized demons onto those who challenge you in ways that are uncomfortable for you.

    For no one has been more troll-like or disruptive on this thread than you. And you continue to play your games rather than offer substantive contributions.

  231. “No, it’s not about free access (that’s your baby) – it’s about ridding society of institutionalized responses to basic human needs, which renders all of society an institution rather than an organic entity or process.”

    Attacking social institutions as an abstractions seem like a strange thing to do. Ivan Illich does so because “the institutionalization of values” is his verbal formula for attacking the undoubted ills of modern society. However, as soon as he starts to present his vision of an alternative society he starts using the word ‘institution’ in a positive way. In Chapter 6 (Learning Webs) of Deschooling Society he includes a section entitled: General Characteristics of New Formal Education Institutions . For example he writes:

    …An individual with a schooled mind conceives of the world as a pyramid of classified packages accessible only to those who carry the proper tags. New educational institutions would break apart this pyramid. Their purpose must be to facilitate access for the learner: to allow him to look into the windows of the control room or the parliament, if he cannot get in by the door. Moreover, such new institutions should be channels to which the learner has access without credentials or pedigree–public spaces in which peers and elders outside his immediate horizon would become available.

    The problem is not with social institutions as such, but with a specific function which has come to dominate their activities: the preservation of systems of hierarchical privilege. My belief is that we need to disestablish the institutions of private finance and the competitive accumulation of domestic consumption rights (This is my own verbal formula for attacking the ills modern civilization. Possibly it is just as foolish as anyone else’s.) and then to create new institutions which foster mutual support and which encourage the direction of our creative energy toward some other end than the accumulation of material wealth.

  232. Interesting perspective, Roger. I wonder if Illich gave up on finding a better term. It seems to me that “institutionalizing kids” or anyone else is a real problem that cannot be swept away by somehow redefining “good” institutions.

    Clearly, it is important to facilitate children’s learning, for example. But tribal societies did it by children sharing fully in the life of the adults and older children around them. Isn’t that something worth emulating?

  233. Roger,

    If you had read my previous comments, it would have been clear that I was critiquing the “existing institutions which were designed to enslave and disempower people”, and that I was quite specific in what I saw as detrimental and referred only to the institutions of education and medicine.

    You can quibble with semantics, and call any social agreement that outlives a generation as an “institution”, but in common parlance the term is understood as a large and rigid social structure that – because of either its design or its inertia – inevitably becomes dysfunctional or counterproductive.

    We see that today even in the social convention of marriage, which many see as such a fixed institution that it cannot be stretched enough to encompass same-sex couples.

    And this is one of my principle critiques of institutions in general: they become reified social conventions which either outlive their usefulness or original purpose or cannot change with an evolving social consciousness and changing memes.

    But, more than that, if we are to evolve into a more congenial and flexible society to incorporate the essential evolutionary traits of diversity and adaptability, we would be better served by short-lived organic forms of organization than by rigid and inflexible institutions.

    I’ve found that, as a death-denying culture, even the most progressive among us are ill-prepared to recognize when it is time for an organization to die. And that point is often when it begins to become an institution, existing as much for its own sake as for its intended social purpose.

    That is the current state of, not only education and medicine, but of banking & finance, government, law enforcement and the penal system, the military/industrial complex, hierarchical industrial management and adversarial labor unions, and almost every institution in our culture. When a culture’s institutions become this rigid, self-serving and dysfunctional, the society begins to collapse in on itself, and this is what most of us are realizing.

  234. For me, Ivan Illich’s most memorable contribution to a critique of modern culture was his simple mathematical calculation of the actual speed we get out of our motor vehicles.

    Keep in mind that this calculation was done when both cars and gasoline were ridiculously inexpensive.

    But if you take the number of miles the average American drives in a year and divide that by the number of hours he spends in the car moving and stuck in traffic, plus the number of hours he spends at the gas station and the repair shop, and the number of hours spent working to pay the car loan, the gasoline, insurance, tolls, repairs and registration – the average American was moving about 3.7 miles per hour, the speed of a brisk walk or a slow horse.

    And I believe this is emblematic of much of what we blithely call “progress”. Most of it is a consensual illusion.

  235. “If you had read my previous comments, it would have been clear”

    The puffery just keeps on truckin’…


  236. Riversong,

    You write:

    You can quibble with semantics, and call any social agreement that outlives a generation as an “institution”, but in common parlance the term is understood as a large and rigid social structure that – because of either its design or its inertia – inevitably becomes dysfunctional or counterproductive.

    I don’t know if Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary counts as common parlance but here are their definitions of institution:

    1. An act of instituting: Establishment. 2. archaic: something that serves to instruct; also : instruction, training. 3 a: a significant practice, relationship, or organization in a society or culture b : an established organization or or corporation (as a college or university) exp. of a public or eleemosynary nature.

    Somehow this set of definitions seems to be substantially broader than the one you give above. Of course cultural practices, relationships, and organizations do sometimes outlive their usefulness or metamorphose into dysfunctional nightmares. If any practice, relationship or organization that has gone this route is by definition an institution then I cannot deny that institutions are a bad thing. In the mean time I will go one trying to imagine practices, relationships, and organizations that are capable of creating and sustaining human welfare, because I am fairly confident that I cannot accomplish this by my own unaided efforts. This is not a question of depending on ‘external’ institutions to save me, but rather a question of attempting to co-create practices, relationships, and organizations that will work to the mutual benefit of the people participating in them.


    Words are often very flexible in their meaning. “Institutionalize” in the context of the care of children, the elderly, or the mentally ill does indeed carry a very negative connotation. But we also sometimes speak a person or a celebratory event as being an ‘institution’ as term of praise. I am open to new word usages since I know that the established meanings of words can get in the way of effective communication. At the moment, however, it appears to me that ‘institution’ has a fairly neutral interpretation that is useful in discussing human social organization, and I will continue to employ the word until I discover a better one.

  237. Vera — He is truly a master — at name calling. “immaturity, intellectual dishonesty, unrecognized demons, troll-like, disruptive, continue to play games.” All that in such a short message — a true master — at projecting everything he himself is doing onto you!

    I have had to dust off my old books on the methods of such as he, Bradshaw, etc. This mirroring back whatever you detect in him is one. It all fits in with a larger strategic aim called “crazy-making”, by which the abuser seeks to make you doubt your own sanity, and accept his judgments as reality. When this happens — game over, he has you in his power. Of course these folks never doubt their own wisdom and purity; thus they can do whatever to you “for your own good,” and in the name of righteousness (theirs).

    These games they play are truly destructive, and need to be called out. He almost had me willing to retire from this blog, which has meant a lot to me. Fortunately you intervened to wake me up to what part of me already knew. He hates Derrick with an uncommon passion, and likewise anyone who supports him in even the most qualified way. He would like nothing more than to have DJ fired from publishing his column in Orion. His presence on this blog has no other purpose than to do that by turning as many as he can against Jensen and whoever supports him, and if not, to just poison the well to spoil it for anyone seeking real discussion of Derrick’s ideas and related concerns.

    Some of us here have gone to great lengths to preserve this as a safe and polite venue for serious discussion. That is the last thing this man wants to see. For more about the tricks he has employed check out the wiki article under scapegoat. Don’t buy it. He has enlisted the help of a couple of other posters who now consider me an enemy, since I dared to disagree with some of their pet beliefs, in order to blame everything that is wrong in the world on me. You can check out my posts from when Derrick first started publishing his column here, and see for yourself if there is any basis for the scorn and opprobrium he has heaped on me. He has had his sights on me from when I first wrote that Derrick had some really good ideas, not all of which I agreed with. Enough said. I am sick of Riversong’s bullshit, and I am not going to take it any more. I tried to reconcile with this guy, and he spit on my offered hand. I am not going to make that mistake again.

    What is confusing about a guy like Riversong is that in many ways he is a pretty good guy, with a lot of good ideas. But until he deals with his shadow side, the unacknowledged Dr. Hyde within, there is no way I would trust him about anything. Anyone capable of the performance he has put on in these pages is not worthy of trust. And if you can’t be trusted, you aren’t worth much in my book.

  238. Roger, what you say is not unreasonable. Still, personally I would prefer something more organ-ic, organism-ic to describe society’s “organs.” There is a lot of bad baggage hanging on “institution.” IMO, of course. It will not get in the way if you make your position clear (as you have).

    Mike, I invite you to join me in laughing at his self-aggrandizing antics. :-)

  239. On the positive side, there is a really good documentary, The Corporation available free on the link below, or you might catch it when it (periodically) plays on LinkTV. The connection with psychopathy is fully laid out. A big CEO who had a green epiphany, and transformed his business is also featured. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that due to some magical new age thinking, that we should not work like hell to oppose these oligarchs.

  240. mike k,

    Do you have any idea how paranoid you’re sounding? And how thoroughly hypocritical?

    You accuse me of mirroring epithets or labels back onto others and yet in this mad screed you have repeatedly turned my own language back at me, since I’m the only one here who has brought up the unrecognized shadow and the projection that necessarily causes (and precisely because I have done years of my own shadow work and led others through it, a task that very few ever have the wisdom or courage to do, and a task necessary for sanity and balance).

    In fact, what you have just done is to prove my allegations. I named you and vera as typical of those who self-identify as victims and imagine others manipulating and controlling them and here you state that I somehow – through cyberspace no less – have you under my spell, as if you believe me to be such a powerful witch doctor that I can control your behavior from afar.

    You claim to “have gone to great lengths to preserve this as a safe and polite venue for serious discussion”, and yet you and vera consistently turn a substantive discussion into personal attacks and name-calling. Just re-read the words you just posted, which attempt to pin every kind of imaginable demonology on me and are replete with the mad rantings of a man over the edge. If you’ve doubted your own sanity, you have good reason.

    I can’t have “enlisted the help of a couple of other posters who now consider [you] an enemy, since [you] dared to disagree with some of their pet beliefs, in order to blame everything that is wrong in the world on [you]” since I don’t know, nor have any way of contacting, those imagined others. If others have also pointed out your foibles, you should take that as confirmation of something worth addressing rather than imagining a conspiracy of strangers intent on doing you harm. You dismiss their opinions and perceptions as “pet beliefs” rather than confront and address them honestly. That is exactly the kind of intellectual dishonesty I refer to.

    I, of course, never ‘blamed everything that is wrong with the world on you’. But I did make the point that the kind of Manichean victim/victimizer world you imagine is one of the roots of the current cultural dysfunction. And now you take it to a pathological extreme by asserting that I have made you my victim.

    Yet another example of your propensity to outlandish exaggeration is the suggestion that I “hate Derrick with an uncommon passion, and likewise anyone who supports him”. I’ve always respected Derrick and his overall critique of modern civilization (at least until I had a personal encounter which made it clear that he was happy to have his attack dogs savage anyone who respectfully disagreed with him, while he pretended to remain above the fray). But, at the same time, I’ve made a point of challenging his false conclusions (such as pacifism as pathology and cowardice), his tendency to see the world in terms of villains and their victims, and his often dysfunctional prescriptions for change (including violence and deliberate destruction, which he carefully hedges so as to be welcomed in respectable venues).

    Similarly, I’ve been consistent in challenging you and vera and anyone else who exhibits similar dyslogic or counter-productive “solutions”, and particularly when you show your insistence on identifying as a victim who is subject to the manipulation and control of others (including myself).

    In these circumstances, pointing out your (and vera’s) obvious immaturity in refusing to take ownership of and responsibility for your own perceptions, feelings, emotions, and responses is hardly name-calling. It’s naming.

    You say “What is confusing about a guy like Riversong is that in many ways he is a pretty good guy, with a lot of good ideas”, and yet this judgement falls by the wayside when those ideas pertain to you in an uncomfortable way. It’s confusing only because you refuse to give the same respect and credence to my ideas about you as you’re willing to give my ideas about other things.

    You might step back a while and consider that my perceptions and judgements about you are just as valid as the rest of my statements, and that there is something you might benefit from if you let go of the victimhood, the extreme defensiveness, and the unwillingness to look inward and face what’s there rather than blaming me or others for your discomfort.

    I say that, not to diminish or demean you, but to encourage you to take steps toward the kind of emotional balance and intellectual openness which will be necessary to move us toward a more wholesome paradigm. If we carry our dysfunctional baggage into the next world, it’s going to look a lot like this one.

  241. Orion: can you screen these discussions and banish those without the emotional maturity to engage in thoughtful, respectful and intellectually honest dialog?

    Freedom of speech is one thing. But license to spew is something entirely different.

  242. Derrick banned. The guy is relentless, obsessed. The editors of Orion have shown an admirable support of free speech throughout this process. I wrote a long post supporting it during comments on Derrick’s first offering. That was the beginning of Riversong’s program to discredit me and slam me with false accusations and innuendos. He’s like the hound of Heaven, or rather Hell — chasing me down the corridors of time. Give it a rest, Bob. Surely you have better things to do?

  243. OOps, I missed an opening line:

    He is at it again. This is just the latest wrinkle in his plan to get Derrick banned. The guy is relentless, obsessed. The editors of Orion have shown an admirable support of free speech throughout this process. I wrote a long post supporting it during comments on Derrick’s first offering. That was the beginning of Riversong’s program to discredit me and slam me with false accusations and innuendos. He’s like the hound of Heaven, or rather Hell — chasing me down the corridors of time. Give it a rest, Bob. Surely you have better things to do?

  244. Mike K: “I am not bothering to read your bullshit.”

    If only you would keep your word, the Hound of Heaven would not have to continue to respond to your diatribes.

    If, in fact, my statements were nothing but “false accusations and innuendos”, then they would slide right off your back.

    The fact that you respond with such emotional turmoil and vehemence, and often at the edge of incoherence, is because my perceptions are quite accurate.

    Now, can we return to the issues at hand and stop this sandbox bickering?

  245. “a safe and polite venue for serious discussion”

    I am sorry mike k (mr. humility); but the only serious contributions I have read are Robert Riversong’s (plus one or two by Antonio and another gentleman whose name escapes me just now)

  246. There is something I recently became aware of…that there is large scale information collecting being done on the subject of people who are speaking out against corporate dominance and destruction.

    I am just sort of worried if our comments here are protected from this biased scrutiny by companies like this one , ITRR, who cast those with i guess, anti-corporate views, as potential terrorists.

    I can say for sure that I am not a potential terrorist. But, this company and others don’t know that, and could be, I don’t know, keeping track of as many people as they can who might fit the bill… because this company states pretty clearly that they work for corporations. : ( !

    The main question here, to everyone, is, do you think Orion’s web site, articles and subsequent comments are being monitored by third parties such as the aforementioned ITRR?

  247. “I can say for sure that I am not a potential terrorist.”

    Ha! That’s what they all say 😉

    Every electronic communication in the US is being monitored in real time by the government, and much of the government’s high security work is now being outsourced to private corporations.

    User beware. There are no more secrets.

  248. “I am not afraid of the pen, or the scaffold, or the sword. I will tell the truth wherever I please.”
    – Mother Jones

    To those who choose to believe that there are individuals in the world whose psychopathology is inbred and unchangeable and the cause of the victimization of “the rest of us” (and who still have ears to hear that have not been deliberately shut), consider this:

    Every time the US (or any nation) takes tens of thousands of average citizens and turns them into soldiers to wage the politicians’ wars, these typical, average men and women, with just a few months of training, are easily turned into functionaries and leaders who can murder, maim, pillage, destroy, imprison, and torture (and not infrequently rape and maliciously violate) other human beings and the fruits of human labor and love without remorse or apparent inhibitory conscience (with always a few notable exceptions).

    These people, sometimes numbering in the hundreds of thousands or millions, exactly fit the definition of psychopath, except perhaps that they are not acting purely for their own benefit but for some larger cause, if at least to protect their comrades. But the goal of most soldiers is to get home alive, and they are put into situations and with expectations and programming that not only allows but requires that they act in psychopathological ways in order to survive.

    Then we bring them home (the ones who are still alive and walking) and release them back into civilian (civilized) society, expecting them to completely shift back to psychological normalcy with little or no deprogramming or rites of return and welcome. The result, almost always, is what we now call Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or perhaps more appropriately Post-Pathology Psychological Dysfunction.

    The common symptoms that make up this syndrome include: denial, extreme anxiety, misplaced rage, paranoia, alienation from feelings, self-destructive behavior, and inability to love or trust others. This is the normal human response to forced dehumanization, serious unresolved trauma and the sudden dislocation from fields of required pathology to fields of expected normalcy. This is compounded when such returning trauma survivors are not welcomed or are shunned by society.

    To a lesser degree, these are the very symptoms that we have recognized and criticized in powerful men (and increasingly women) in industry, finance and politics. Historically, men have been expected to take on the role of protector and savior, sacrificing their own psychological and physical welfare for the sake of homeland, home, wife, and children. Particularly in the last century, men have been drafted into the unrecognized and unappreciated status of civilian soldier in a constant and increasingly demanding low-level economic warfare. Men, from a young age, in school and home and peer group, learn and absorb the memes of “sucking it up”, not showing emotion, never crying, and ruthless competition in sports and classes and then in the workplace.

    It is no wonder that men exhibit many of the same signs of traumatization as soldiers. Addiction and domestic violence – both forms of pathological narcissism – are the fallout. And these outcomes are not by any means exclusive to men in our society.

    We now recognize our personal developmental responses to growing up in dysfunctional families as unfortunate but necessary defenses for ego-survival and viability. We must also acknowledge outworn and dysfunctional social constructs as unfortunate but necessary stages of our cultural evolution. In neither case is blaming self or other helpful or healing. Understanding, forgiving, letting go and moving on are.

    War veterans deserve to be recognized as heroes for their sacrifice, though they may have engaged in reprehensible behavior while trying to survive in the inferno of war. And men (and the women who have become like them) must be acknowledged as heroic for their civilian soldiering, though many unforgivable acts might have been perpetrated in the process of ego-survival in the daily hell of a competitive and materialist society which demanded that they kill themselves for the comfort and security of their wives and children or for “advancement”, reputation, social status and financial security.

    One of the lessons with which the non-violence and feminist movements have blessed us is that language has the power to define and limit our experience of life. Having learned that lesson, let us now refuse to label a culture which is understood in retrospect as oppressive and unfulfilling – a culture in which we all participated and were all in some way enslaved and disempowered to be fully human – in a way which defines one class as villain and another as victim. Division and dissension are tools of oppression, not of liberation.

    If we are to move together into a new millennium of cooperative coexistence on the Earth, we must abandon the divisiveness inherent in our now-dysfunctional paradigm, embrace the commonality that we share, and honor the diversity that makes us whole, individually and collectively.

    It is certainly true that the cultural denial of our essential connection to the Earth Mother created an unhealthy distortion of both the feminine principle of nurturance and the masculine principle of manifestation. Many have called this recent paradigm “patriarchy”. Perhaps a more accurate and less loaded term to describe our recent historical period would be “umbriarchy “– the rule of the shadow.

    Now that we are all beginning to leave the cold comfort of the cave of ignorance and isolation, we must not be afraid of wielding our warrior power in a new and conscious way which serves the God/dess in us all. It is by acknowledging the balance of shadow and light within each of us that we will slay the dragons of defensiveness and denial that have too long obscured with their sulfurous fumes the true beauty and power and potential of humanity and of each human being.

    We do not serve the goal of social evolution by pointing accusing fingers, or directing pent up anger, or misplaced fear, at returning veterans of a no-longer-functional cultural paradigm. Liberation and metamorphosis will not be achieved until we all undertake a rite of passage through our own inner darkness. This passage, as all transformational journeys, requires that whatever demons we encounter on the way be acknowledged as our own projections and transformed by recognizing them as divine beings calling for attention and offering us the gift of wholeness (health, integrity).

    If we wish to be rainbow warriors of the new millennium, we must turn our swords from one another and stand together to face the demons we have co-created. As soon as we do, those demons will bow down to us in respect and begin to serve us in creating a new world, for they are only our unacknowledged shadows crying out to be loved.

  249. Thru, as always, discretion is the better part of valor. Poking the hornet’s nest is rarely a good idea.

    They are trying to monitor as much as they can… I am betting on it. Whether we babblers on Orion are particularly notable at this point… I doubt. Fortunately, the chorus of revulsion against the corporate world is pretty massive right now… :-)

  250. (Anymore, all I want to know is if Derrick knows any really good jokes.)

    Got fear of death? Check. Cheese on rice, we be up to our orbital sockets with the self-important. Can we wonder why most of the very special seek distraction?

    It was covered very nicely in the lesson this morning. I think it was in Luke 12 somewheres: “Verily I say unto you, take my advice. Pull down your pants and slide on the ice.”

  251. Yeah, what you said Robert: Pathological narcissim. You don’t need to even gin up a foreign war to indulge in it either. I see it on display most any old day.

    How many Americans does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Just one. He merely holds up the bulb and the world revolves around him.

    On my worst days, I’m oh so serious about what it means to ME, waaaaaaah!! Then I try to grow the #$%@ up. Usually, it is because some other, more enlightened, soul makes an elaborate point of deferring to my special agenda. Talk about shame. Not sure that shame is a working option for most of my countrymen though. Shame….that.

    You know what phrase makes my skin crawl, each and every time I hear it? Somebody telling me that they deserve _______ (usually some piece-o-crap fun gadget). I want to reply: “You sure about that, ’cause if you’d asked me first…”

    We got a whole country full of them. Not to worry though, participation in history is not optional….all you got to do is continue to draw breath.

  252. Truth is d.d., you can’t laugh at yourself AND take yourself too seriously…just won’t work. Am I right? I try to keep a whole catalog of “stupid stuff I’ve done and said” for handy reference when I start to puff up too much. I like to backpack, a lot. I realized recently that most of the stories told around the campfire that are the most entertaining are those kinds of tales we tell on ourselves. As Americans though, arrogance is our birthright and it takes some getting over. Don’t get me wrong, these are serious issues we’re talking about, and they have serious consequences, but I God, won’t our leaders and fellow countrymen just grok a little humility now and again? Lately, it seems too much to ask of them.

  253. For those wishing to look more deeply into the area of psychopathology discussed by Jensen in his article, I recommend the excellent book by M. Scott Peck: People of the Lie. Dr, Peck was the author of the very popular The Road Less Traveled 20 some years ago. He is also the psychiatrist chosen by the US Army to investigate the MyLai atrocities in Vietnam. His book however mostly deals with “ordinary patients” he encountered who manifested a syndrome with many of the symptoms of sociopathy, but in a subtle, hard to detect form, which was nevertheless devastating not only to those manifesting the disorder, but even more so to those they were in contact with. He finally reluctantly was led to characterize this condition: Evil. The case histories and gradual formation of Peck’s insights into this phenomenon makes for fascinating and informative reading.

    BTW the Army ended up rejecting and covering up the panel’s findings — all too typical of our secretive rulers.

  254. Deeplinks Blog/EFF

    The above site has the latest on Big Brother’s wish to spy on everyone. Fascism proceeds apace. BB only wants to keep us safe from “terrorists.” I wonder who will keep us safe from Him?

  255. @thru_mess: “Always do what you are afraid to do.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
    “FEAR is an acronym in the English language for “False Evidence Appearing Real”” Neale Donald Walsch
    and my own: “Fear is for Wusses” let go of your paranoia, it is crippling you.

  256. Chris Hedges writes of Nemesis, the Greek Goddess symbolizing divine retribution. She awaits the ripening of bad karma, in order to mete out its inevitable results. We live in such a time. The negative karma of America is now overwhelming, the days of reckoning are already unfolding around us, unseen by the apologists and cheer leaders eager to bolster our mindless denial.

    There are those who would demonize the more awake among us for trying to awaken the rest. They re-enact the ancient ceremonies of scapegoating and shooting the messenger. Even claiming that those who point out the prime perpetrators of our problems are somehow (in their magical thinking) the cause themselves of our troubles, which would not exist if they would only be silent.

    Chris Hedges is one of those true admonitory voices. Highly recommended, at the link below:

  257. softly — Pas du tout, mon ami inconnu. Reminds me of Kierkegaard’s dedication of a book “to my unknown friend.”

  258. There are those who report that the world has gone mad; that there’s nothing which will be done to overcome the threats to humanity posed by the human overpopulation of Earth. But let us be crystal clear about one thing. The human species has singular collective intelligence and consciousness as well as other distinct gifts among the living things in our planetary home. The best available science appears to indicate that the human family is soon to be confronted with a global predicament derived directly from the gigantic and skyrocketing number of human beings on Earth in our time. Despite the enormity of the human-induced global ecological challenges before humanity, human-driven threats to human wellbeing and environmental health can be acknowledged, addressed and overcome by collective wisdom, moral courage, political will and bold action.

  259. Reason has always been overrated, especially when we speak about mammals. Or maybe you think that we have outgrown the animal side?!

  260. “human-driven threats to human wellbeing and environmental health can be … overcome by collective wisdom, moral courage, political will and bold action”

    How, Steve? What suggestions do you have?

  261. Derrick Jensen is right on about the fact that if The System wants your house, your land, your park, your forest–whatever–there already exists mechanisms to take them.

    IF organic farming, urban gardens, etc. really begin to take hold, they will simply be made illegal.

    The time to start thinking/planning for these things is NOW.

  262. Posting on behalf of Dave McArthur…

    I have read 276 comments now and periodically I have to stop and re-read Derrick’s article again to remind myself of the source of the discussion.

    Elements of psychosis (the inability to reflect reality) and psychopathy (the inability to enjoy compassion) are inherent in our ego and the act of embracing these elements threatens the vanity of our ego. It fears
    mortality, stewardship and fallibility, for they are a reminder of the ego’s limitations. Our egos are capable of incredible ingenuity in creating rationales and distractions to divert us from embracing these elements and we have seen this ingenuity at play in strings of the comments.

    So let us, with kind and humorous acceptance of this capacity for
    self-deceit, remain mindful of the article. Derrick suggests that it is vital we in the “green” movement
    acknowledge the psychopathic nature of many of our institutions and many comments concur. He pointed to a possible profound disorder – the psychopathic nature of modern Anglo-American notions of science. It is telling that no one has commented on this disorder because, if true, such a flawed worldview will have dire consequences for us all. The implications are massive.

    Someone usefully pointed to the 2003 Canadian documentary –The
    Corporation – which features Robert Hare’s systems for identifying psychopathic behaviour.

    Basically the movie chronicles how national legislation has been changed so private corporations are now bequeathed the rights of the individual without the responsibilities of the citizen. This enables virulent psychopathy.
    Neither Derrick nor the movie really explore the wellsprings of this dis-ease.

    Many comments, including my own, also pointed out this institutional
    behaviour does not occur in a vacuum – such virulent psychopathy is a reflection of the elements that reside in each of us. Some provided valuable quotes from Krishnamurti, Buddhist and other sources where people have explored the human condition with insightful compassion and realised
    there are ways of transcending the limitations of our ego.

    Hannah Arendt coined the phrase the banality of evil after observing the trial of Eichmann and hearing the psychiatrist witnesses say they ended up
    feeling distinctly less normal after their sessions interviewing him, such was his normalcy.

    Think what a trite and easy act it is to throw a can of tuna rather than a can of sardines in your shopping trolley, even though the tuna is a 100 fold less efficient at providing us with food.
    I, with hundreds of millions of people, use our computers, cellphones and ipods without a thought for those who have suffered and will suffer so we
    can consume rare metals in this brief period of existence.
    I used to own two cars. Think of how we flick the ignition of our car on without the slightest question that it is our right to use one of the most lethal and wasteful devices ever created. And whether we like it or not, that banal act is a most potent vote enabling Sarah Palin to effectively
    rule our nations, for she symbolises our psychotic belief that mineral oil is as eternal and bounteous as frontierless Alaska.

    In such banal acts we become like Sarah – true non-conservatives regardless of our religious, political or other affiliation. And such is the ingenuity
    of our ego we even erect rationales that enable us to symbolise Sarah and other great non-conservatives as conservatives and associate the conservative symbol with derision. Those who checked out my new website will know that this perverse use of one of our prime symbols is only one of
    many examples illustrating that denial of stewardship/change is endemic in the Anglo-American “green” movement. As you peruse the list of such examples you may find your ego overwhelms you with a sense of repulsion. That is OK. Simply refresh yourself in the great principles of physics the
    website is based on and enjoy a good chuckle at the ingenuity of our ego to maintain self-deceit. Every day I now ask: How am I being my own worst enemy today? When I ask it in compassion the answer always provides me with a good laugh.

    In kindness

  263. Joanne, quite so… I think what Derrick is saying in his currently article is that unless we address the problem of power, we are just pretending.

    We can pretend we own eco-villages, and organic fields, etc etc… but without addressing the problem of power, isn’t it only a matter of time when they too get taken or destroyed?

  264. Each human culture presents its many members with knowledge of reality and also with longstanding, adamantly held perceptions that are illusory. For example, unverified cultural transmissions can give rise to widely shared distortions of the world whenever mistaken impressions are consensually validated as if they represent what is real. In these instances, humans ubiquitously emit culturally biased and scientifically unsupported communications that confuse human reasoning and often promote a certain cortical conceitedness which is not useful in acquiring an understanding of the practical requirements of reality.

    Over long time periods, preternatural ideas are passed down from generation to generation, with an unintended result. Distorted perceptions of reality are shared among people, thereby, confounding the efforts of humanity to share an adequate awareness of what it is real.

    When novel and occasionally unforeseen science emerges, it is initially disturbing because the new science usually challenges specious, well-established but unrealistic ideas about what it means to be human; the “placement” of the human species within the natural order of living things; and the requirements of biophysical reality. New scientific facts of this particular kind are uniformly difficult for people to see because the unexpected and unwelcome evidence exposes malignant narcissism, pathological hubris, extreme foolishness and outrageous greed of the leaders of a culture to view by membership of the culture. Since humans are shaped early and pervasively by a superabundance of culturally-derived transmissions in our perception of reality, it becomes an evolutionary challenge for human beings to see the world as it is and to gain knowledge of the human species as one of many miraculous creatures to inhabit so wondrous a planetary home as Earth.

    When a scientist-practitioner of psychology like myself thinks a patient is suffering from mental illness, that determination is an evidence-based clinical judgment. However, cultural standards of normalcy are not carefully and rigorously developed as are clinical judgments, but instead are casually agreed upon and promulgated as social norms and conventions that include scientifically validated perceptions of reality as well as misperceptions of what is real. Because some distorted impressions of the world, often founded in ideological idiocy, are valued by those who share them, these attractive, dearly held misperceptions are readily passed from member to member within a culture, among both peers and the generations.

    In the cases of deeply disturbed mental patients, they distort reality so drastically that their incorrect and usually unattractive impressions of reality do not become established by being passed along to other people. By contrast, “normal” people in instrumentalities of governance, social organizations and cultures appear not to misperceive reality so sharply, yet distortions of what aggregations of normal people perceive do remain. A term of art in psychology is useful here, folie a deux. The term means that two people share an identical distortion of reality. This understanding leads to other terms, folie a deux million for a government agency or political party, folie a deux cent million for a social order or folie a deux billion for a culture. These terms refer to misperceived aspects of reality dearly held and commonly shared by many people of a government, a society, or a culture. At least one way to define the highest standard of normalcy for people in these aggregates is in terms of being able to adequately distinguish what is illusory from what is real, based upon the best available scientific evidence.

  265. The crisis I speak of in this instance is about the plight of youth as a social and political category in an age of increasing symbolic, material and institutional violence. It is a crisis rooted in society’s loss of any sense of history, memory and ethical responsibility. The idea of the public good, the notion of connecting learning to social change, the idea of civic courage being infused by social justice, have been lost in an age of rabid consumerism, media-induced spectacles and short-term, high-yield financial investments. Under the regime of neoliberalism and a rigidly market-driven society, concepts and practices of community and solidarity have been replaced by a world of cutthroat survival, even as politics has become an extension of war. What youth learn quickly today is that their fate is solely a matter of individual survival, a natural law of sorts that has more to do with survival instinct than with modes of collective reasoning, social solidarity and the formation of a sustainable democratic society.

    Above an excerpt from Henry Giroux on Truthout, which delineates some major dimensions of the noospheric dysfunctions we are challenged to transform.

  266. Mike,
    What do you mean by “noospheric dysfunctions?”

  267. Richard — The noosphere refers to the total dimension of thoughts and feelings that surrounds and interpenetrates our planetary existence. It is the matrix of all ideation/emotion/memories in which we are enveloped. We humans create it, and are in turn created by it. Dysfunctions in this dimension play out as wars and other calamities, as well as beneficial results. You could say this is the ubermind of mankind. We are largely unconscious of it, even as we are constantly immersed in it. To impact it significantly is one crucial lever for creating a better world for all. Propaganda is an illegitimate manipulation of this dimension.

  268. All the choir seem to love Hedges’ jeremiad, but I am having doubts. Do any sheeple actually profit by rants that disparage them? Hmm….

    More likely, it’s another rant that makes us feel smugly superior to all the idiots who just don’t get it. Eh?

  269. Statement by Dr. James Hansen
    Freedom Plaza:
    Equal Protection of the Laws

    We hold this truth to be self evident – all people are created equal. That truth is the basis for equal protection of the laws – a right guaranteed by our Constitution. “All people” includes young people, mountain people, poor people.

    Our government was instituted to protect the rights of all people.
    We are gathered here today to draw attention to the failure of our government to protect the rights of the people, and failure to provide equal protection of the laws. People have suffered a long train of abuses, invariably with the same objective – to enrich the few at the expense of the many.

    First, the government is failing to protect the future of young people, knowingly allowing and even subsidizing actions that benefit the few at the expense of the public and at the expense of all life sharing this Earth.

    Second, the legislative and executive branches of government knowingly propose actions that demonstrably and utterly fail to preserve our climate, and the environment for life.

    Third, our government allows and contributes to a great hoax, perpetrated on the public by moneyed interests, aimed at confusing the public about the reality of climate change.
    We are in danger of becoming the land for the rich and the home of the bribe.

    More than 200 years after the founding of our nation, we face a great moral crisis. Human-made climate change pits the rich and powerful against the young and unborn, against the defenseless, and against nature. The moral issue is comparable to slavery and civil rights.

    Solution for civil rights was provided by the combination of people in the streets and the courts, which provided equal protection of the laws and ordered desegregation.

    Brave people have been standing up in West Virginia, in Kentucky, in Tennessee, in Utah, in Australia, in the United Kingdom, around the world.

    But now is the time to go on the offensive. We should not be begging courts to forgive the brave people who protest. We must ask the courts to order the government to present plans to phase down fossil fuel emissions at a pace dictated by science, a pace stabilizing climate, preserving nature and a future for young people, providing young people equal protection of the laws.

    We can bring that case. But we can win only if the public understands the situation, sees through the lies of the moneyed interests, sees what is needed to solve the problem.

    As long as fossil fuels are the cheapest energy, we will not solve the addiction. There will be more mountaintop removal, longwall mining, tar sands, deep ocean drilling, shale gas, seeking the last drop in the most pristine places.

    We must put a fee on carbon, collected from fossil fuel companies, with all proceeds distributed to the public. One hundred percent or fight!
    Most people will get more in the monthly green check than they pay in increased energy prices. Our economy and innovations will be stimulated. We will move to clean energies.

    A coalition is building for a carbon fee with 100 percent distributed to the public in a monthly check. In October this coalition will launch a campaign, Million Letter March, gathering letters showing that the people insist on an honest equitable solution. Please join the March.

    Let us resolve to have a rebirth – a rebirth of our nation, a rebirth of equality of opportunity, true equality — with a government of the people, by the people and for the people – all of the people.

  270. A friend responded with this “thanks … hope you sent the K quote to Chris. and he seem to have a rather simplistic, slanted view of Nemesis, as compared with The Oxford Classical Dictionary (Second edition, p. 726) with luck, the gods will not see this as hubris on his part!” RMC

    “Our problem is how to bring about, through education, a human being who is creative, who is capable, who possesses that intelligence which is not burdened and which is not shaped in any particular direction but is total, who is not belonging to any particular society, caste, or religion, so that through that education and with that intelligence, he arrives at maturity and therefore is capable of making his life, not merely as a technician but as a human being.”
    J K

  271. Steve — Thanks for sharing Dr. Hansen’s thoughts. He has become an outstanding activist. Those who discount the importance and impact of knowledgeable voices speaking out about our dysfunctional culture seem to ignore the crucial role these people have played in securing for us such liberties and entitlements as we presently enjoy, limited as they still are.

    Let’s not ignore and marginalize the contribution of these pivotal messengers for a better world. The list of their names and accomplishments would be familiar to all, due to their real impact on history. Words, words, words…. We would still be seeking refuge in the trees without the development of language, our primary means of communicating with each other, and conserving and passing on our knowledge. Of course this is a two-edged sword like all power. Let us use it wisely.

  272. Furthermore: Those who find it so easy to criticize “traditional” ways of trying to promote change, so eager to point out that none of this immense historic effort has delivered us to the longed for Utopia — perhaps they should turn their burning lens of criticism on their own idealistic rants — how much have they accomplished? (note: I would not say zero, but let’s just manifest a little more humility and realism about our dreams…)

  273. Huh? Who is talking about utopia here? What we need is stopping the political insanity — doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

    “land of the rich and home of the bribe” — not bad! :-)

  274. Vera, maybe I am using the word Utopia with a different meaning than you. Let me try to clarify. For me Utopia often means just any state of the (human) world somewhat better than what we are suffering now. I don’t always use it with all the baggage that all the failed experiments have loaded it with. When I do use it that way, I hold it in (somewhat) polite contempt, as you possibly do — maybe. The neat thing about dialog is that we can get back to one another and (sometimes) clarify points of misunderstanding, or conversely, points of unreal consensus. It’s the old (but essential) game of mirroring to get clarification: “I think I hear you saying….”
    Then asking “have I stated your position correctly?” Somewhat more time consuming (tedious to some) than shooting from the hip, but much more accurate in terms of understanding. I happen to know from observation that you like to play that dialogical game. It really is the only real way we will ever get to know each other, and work our problems out together. Otherwise we often use language in ways that others do not understand, leading to basic communication difficulties.

  275. All I can offer is an example. All I can relate is my experience, and on this subject I have some.

    When I was a baby lawyer, first trying to see if I could actually get twelve people in a box to accept my version of reality, I expended a great deal of energy trying to subjugate every opponent. Results? Not the greatest, and I’m sure I lost some cases I might have won if I’d smartened up sooner.

    What the wiser lawyers know, and which I like to think I’ve learned by now, is that never in the history of language have people been persuaded to change their minds by pointing out how wrong they are.

    Never. Not once.

    Those who think they have worked this miracle can chalk that up to fear and intimidation. THAT works, almost every time out, but it is a counterfeit.

    My advice would be to not confuse these methods, even though they might appear to yield the same outcome. True advocacy is persuasion, and it is exponentially harder to master, which is why you don’t see it employed very often. True advocacy also gives you a much more durable result…not subject to a change of mind when the pressure is off.

    I’m not even sure anymore if anyone is seriously interested in persuading anyone. Seems like most have settled for the cheap thrill of trying to pound their opposition into submission. (True, not exactly an original observation on my part, I acknowledge.)
    Most of what I happen to see on various blogs is the counterfeit kind, signifying nothing.

    Who is the current anointed savior of American fiction right now…? I’m (trying) to read his latest right now: “Freedom.” Sominex in print to me, I’m afraid, but he did hit on this same note and it made me chuckle. One of his characters is described as only having one topic of conversation: How stupid everyone else is. I see a lot of that.

  276. Wade — Can you say more about the art of true persuasion? That sounds like something we really need. Also, does every sincere critic of our culture, like say Noam Chomsky, come up short in your book? Are folks like Noam really setting out to persuade the unpersuadable, or are they merely trying to show off their superiority? Or do they have another, perhaps more laudable purpose in all the hard work they put in? And if all these folks are indeed ineffective, what are the nuts and bolts of your true persuasion? I am open to be converted to your point of view. Persuade me….

  277. “never in the history of language have people been persuaded to change their minds by pointing out how wrong they are. Never. Not once.”

    Yup. I like rants, but I am not liking all the blaming going on. I think it stems in part from people thinking of politics as the “mass” actions of people opposing the establishment, and so they get ticked off by all those “masses” unwilling to step forward to mount “mass movements.”

    Mike, if utopia to you means a small improvement, what do you call the ideal society? 😉

  278. @Plowboy- We can probably all agree that the average person feels they are above average.

    The art of persuasion is still alive and well. It’s more commonly known as seduction.

  279. Vera — I call the ideal society the ideal society. I call a name a name. The name is not the thing. The map is not the territory. That which can be named is not the Eternal Reality or Tao. (Lao Tzu).

    Disputation regarding names can be a way of avoiding reality. Or a way of going deeper into it. The choice is ours. Words are like snakes, always squirming out of our grasp, and yet we must learn to use them skillfully if we are to escape the consequences of their misuse by those who would mystify and delude and control us with them.

  280. I’d be glad to give it a stab Mike…not sure how much I can convey in this format, but if anyone else sees value in it, I’ll be glad to. Let me just say before doing this; I don’t pretend to be a paragon of rectitude in these matters. I don’t take my own advice, on a pretty regular basis. What I do think I’m able to do well though is recognize it when it happens, and hopefully self-correct.

    I think that the one true litmus tests for anyone phrasing an argument is to honestly ask themselves: “Is this helping to achieve my goal, or is it merely about me feeling good, right now, at the sacrifice of my goal?” Nobody would argue that self-righteousness doesn’t feel great…pushes all the endocrine buttons, floods the blood with feel-good drugs. For the mature person, it is about being honest enough to ask: “What outcome do I really want?”

    Critics like Chomsky I admire, and I can name many others, as can the rest of us. Thing is, when you get devoted to a person’s critical capacity, you lose the ability to appreciate when their needle tilts to the shrill side. It all becomes about pushing my/your pleasure button as much as possible….hmmm. If you are not on that wavelength, or even worse, you are in the opposition, it is as opposite to true communication as you can get.

    In the courtroom, the smarter one constantly has to think about what it is he/she wants to say, but must also have the presence of mind to stand outside of themselves to see how that message is hitting the listener….all those non-verbal cues, even just the “feel” of the room. I can’t explain it, but when you do it enough, you can be in that timeless flow state where you know. Maybe it is pheromones and other unconscious chemical signals, who knows?

    (I’ll tell you something else I’ve learned the hard way: Empathy for your opponent is the most critical and most overlooked club in the bag. If you can’t place yourself in those shoes, you have about zero chance of understanding where to place the lever.)

    Here in cyber land of course, none of that is at work. The result I see is that if you have readers and writers who are less adept (and that is just inevitable) at distilling meaning from words on pages, and who are prone to ascribe contrary motives and thought to fill that vacuum, and you get a cyber rock fight. This seems to be the temperature in our legislative bodies as well, sadly enough. How true this is can easily be shown by glancing over any discussion thread on Orion’s website. Here we are (or should be), as like-thinking and homogenous a group of writers as there is likely to be assembled on this and similar subjects. That this group can get their wires crossed so easily makes me sort of hopeless that there is any chance of bringing anyone else willingly to this side of things, but I think life compels you to try.

    One of my themes here has been (and will continue to be) that the stream of history doesn’t care if you agree with a position or not. Your participation in the outcome is not optional if you continue to draw breath. In many ways, I’m convinced that all we are really trying to do here, and in other public forums, is to understand what is happening to us and our loved ones. There is some comfort in that as thus it ever was.

  281. S.M.

    I agree wholeheartedly. Seduction is merely another word for convincing someone that what you want is their idea!

  282. Sorry, Mike, but I disagree. You are not free to call a cabbage a radish, and make sense in a discussion, both.

    Utopia is defined as an ideal society. I think it would be pretty reasonable to take it to mean, by extension, a society which is massively better than what we know. A bit of an improvement? No, it does not qualify.

    This is just silliness. You can dress it up with philosophy, but it remains… a silliness.

    What I was really talking about is folks urging us (here in this forum, periodically) to do more of the same within the political system. It seemed to me you were defending that tack, and so I raised my voice… why do more of the same, the “same” that got us to where we are? I was surprised to see it… I know Ed T always runs with that tack, but I thought you are interested in… well, a different tack, with a different outcome.

  283. The question arises: Can we ever truly and completely communicate with each other? Or are we forever doomed to our essential separateness and isolation, trying but not succeeding to understand each other? Put briefly, is real love possible, or is it an impossible ideal? And have we reached a place where such questions are considered by the vast majority to be meaningless and unimportant? And do these questions have deep relevance to our longing for a better world for all? Just wondering……

  284. Plowboy, there is downright addiction to the shrill side amongst a lot of folks who are of – broadly speaking – the doomer persuasion. It pushes the endocrine buttons… yup… it can be fun, but is it helpful? More and more, I am skeptical of that. Doesn’t the shrillness kinda… reach out to a lower common denominator than is perhaps desirable? Doesn’t it smell a bit of demagoguery?

  285. Vera — Silly me posting what I just did about love and understanding, as I just did before seeing your last response. In fact I am not interested in one other way out of our impasse, but in a whole range of other ways, including what you term the same old ways, such as politics. My mind is not so focused on some particular way beyond our disaster, as on how to generate processes to find the ways which have not yet been found that may be crucial to our deliverance from this ongoing nightmare.

    As far as marginalizing anything that smacks of “philosophy”, I am not going to go there. The word means love of wisdom, and wisdom is something we are much in need of in this quest.

    Vera, I think you and I have areas of deep agreement, so let’s not let quibbles over words like Utopia, which has a wide range of meanings, throw us off track. How often have we seen this happen in groups otherwise cooperating well on some project? I agree with you that the politics being practiced today is a project possibly damaged beyond repair. It is not my chief hope for our “salvation”, but if we can still squeeze a little useful juice out of it before it implodes into anarchy or Fascism, let’s leave that door open for those wanting to try it. It is not where my time and energy is going.
    (BTW apologies to those who embrace the positive aspects of Anarchy. See, I am working to cover my butt. But I am sure I have managed to moon somebody anyway!)

  286. Heh. I knew we were pretty close, Mike.

    Why you accuse me of “marginalizing anything that smacks of philosophy” is beyond me. Defensiveness? Meh.

    Sorry, but if you check your dictionary, you will find that the word utopia has a pretty narrow range of meanings.

    Can we squeeze some useful juice from the political system before it implodes? Maybe. Seems like energy misspent to me, though.

  287. Vera…I obviously agree with that, and I’ll tell you something else. My sense is that people are tiring of it. It is as if we’ve been throwing a countrywide temper tantrum, abetted by digital technology, and just woke up to the realization that we smashed all the dishes. I’m sensing this in the jury decisions I’ve seen this year. If you are perceived to be an ideologue of any stripe…you will likely lose in this jurisdiction. Refreshing, if I’m reading it right.

  288. Vera — If you restrict your range of the meanings words have for people to the dictionary, and go around correcting people on the basis of that, then you will discover that the meaning of words is created by the people who use them, not by those who write dictionaries. Take religion, love, America, justice, science — just a random handful, and ask a sampling of people what they mean. You might be surprised to learn the bewildering variety of responses this would elicit. Those are the real functioning meanings of the words we speak and think.

    Tower of Babel, anyone? You betcha. Bigtime. This is a key problem on this planet. We don’t really understand each other.That leads to serious trouble. How can we understand each other better? I am truly interested in that. Remember the small group processes I keep harping on? That’s one thing they are about. Without significant work on it, we really don’t know what we are talking about. Will a quick trip to the dictionary solve this one? I don’t think so. We will have to put our heads (and hearts) together to solve this one. Regular, properly structured meetings of your tribe will be necessary to find out what you are individually thinking, feeling, and intending. Don’t like the word tribe? Call it something else, if you think it needs a name….

  289. Wade — “countrywide temper tantrum?”

    I guess the folks that have lost their jobs, had their homes seized, or perhaps been put in prison for smoking pot, or seen their life savings stolen — they should just shut up and stop complaining?

    Or maybe they should all go out and vote for their favorite flavor of candidate who is hand in glove with the elites destroying our country? I must be mischaracterizing your position, because I can’t believe, based on your previous posts that you really believe those things. No disrespect intended, but
    “Tell me it ain’t so, Joe!”

  290. Plowboy, interesting what you say, about the juries. Could you give an example so I can understand better what you mean?

    Mike, we both mean the shrill type of stuff like Hedges just put out. Please don’t twist that; there are plenty of useful criticisms around the web… and we are all on the same page here about all the injustice done. Jeremiads, maybe they are more about the self-righteous prophet and his ego, than about something being done about the very real issues going on. Worth considering, no?

    And Mike, I don’t think the difference between a cabbage and a radish, or a utopia or not, can be settled by a tribal meeting. While words belong to us, and not to dictionaries, nobody is free to just bludgeon their way through, redefining. If you believe the dictionary inadequate in this case, why don’t you make the argument?

  291. Vera — Maybe we better agree to disagree on some issues. I think Hedge’s stuff is uniformly right on. How about a little dissensus on that one? As far as the deal about how each person perceives a different world (of course there are commonalities) and unpacks the meaning of language in there own unique way….let’s let that one go too. If it is not obvious to you how that is true, then you are not likely to be persuaded of it. That’s fine with me.

    As far as all the bright-side BS about how people who point out what’s wrong with our society, protest it, and build up steam to change it are really wasting their time, and maybe even making it worse, I don’t buy it. Jensen, Chomsky, MLK, Gandhi, etc. all had to put up with that stuff. I think that the more disrespect we show for our oligarchs, the better. You hang on to your own opinion, you just might be right. And me too! Or you might win this one on a split decision…or not… Maybe this one is not too important, maybe it is. I am not pushing to win an argument. That is truly not worth it. Its not like the world is breathlessly awaiting my opinions.

    And BTW a cabbage is just a big radish. :)

  292. I am delighted to see this call for communities (tribes?) to get together and review how we use those of our prime symbols that are in the form of words. A brief exploration of their etymology often shows our use of these symbols (art, science, energy, power, electricity, conserve, environment, civilisation, love etc) has altered over the last few centuries to enable and reflect some of the most unsustainable elements of the Industrial Revolution. Our contemporary use of them too often reveals the chronic psychopathy that Derrick alludes to and puts us at great peril.

    We do have very wise guides to the sustainable uses of these symbols. These are in the form of the great principles of physics, including the Conservation Principle of Energy. It is helpful to be mindful of the increasing probability that information is physical and thus words need be used with the same care as bricks and bombs. The same physics applies.
    I humbly suggest that such reviews are fascinating, revealing, fun and can be most sustaining. Here is a sample starter:

  293. Mike, dissensus from the otherwise uniform clapping from the choir in reaction to Hodges is what I have been hoping for… and a bit of willingness to examine the basis for that dissensus.

    I am all for useful criticism of what is going on. I am not for endless shrill denouncements of the sheeple. And I hope Wade is right… maybe they have had enough. And you know what? It is not the progressives, but the sheeple, who have formed into the various tea party groups who so infuriate people on the left. They should be glad there is something going on among the people, signs of life, but nooo! If they don’t fit into “our” ideology, they must just be despised tools of the plutocrats. Baaa humbug.

  294. Dave, I find your web site impenetrable and baffling. Can you tell us in a nutshell what your stuff is about?

  295. I thought it appropriate at this spot to make a few observations on language.

    Have you noticed how there is more talking today, and almost nothing being said? Well, it’s true. Language has become trivialized in the modern world, stripped bare of its depth and power. Where words once were heard as rich and pregnant with signification, in our finessed, digitized, and fragmented vocabulary all that has changed for the worst. Now a strictly logistical principle holds sway. Words have been reduced to mere symbols in a mathematical equation, placeholders in a syllogism, each having a single unambiguously identifiable referent, and only one. A must equal A, and it can never equal B; let alone A, B and C all together at once. There must only be one precise “signified” for each “signifier” – everything disambiguated – following both the formal scientific ideal and legalistic requirements of our culture.

    But if you look back into the obscure and shadowy origins of language, you will find that before the written word there was only speaking, with oral traditions passed down from generation to generation. The written word emerging a little less than six thousand years ago, only fully appeared coincident with the birth of cities – with civilization and history. We began making history only when we began to write that history!

    This was another momentous invention of domesticated life. With the birth of cities on the heels of big agriculture, it was necessary to develop precise and uniform systems of social and political control to handle the gathering together of diverse and unrelated village, clan and tribal members, now as urban strangers – within and well beyond the city walls. This demanded a severe change in the nature of human communication, including the removal of polysemic ambiguity from primal speech, and the articulation of a strictly univocal, written code.

    Such linguistic rationalization was only effected with the invention of the syllogism, early on perfected by the Greeks, and recast by legislators, scientists, and other specialists down through the ages. According to syllogistic reasoning, universal statements were to be related to particular circumstances within a coherent structure leading to logical legal and scientific conclusions. So it all came down to “precise words and correct syntax…that is where social laws [were] made and natural laws [were] made or discovered.” (Bram, The Recovery of the West)

    Long before such sweeping linguistic changes took hold, however, our pre-historical speaking and proto-historical writing were much involved with myth. Passed on from originally oral sources, myth had a textural depth and resonance that was still packed with meaning. Not only did the mythic word call up multiple referents, but the copula between those diverse referents was extremely strong. To speak the name of something was in fact to invoke its existence, to feel its power as fully present. It was not then as it is now, where a metaphor or a simile merely suggests something else. To identify your totem for a preliterate gatherer-hunter was to be identical with it, and to feel the presence of your clan animal within you.

    Even revisiting one of the earliest known written languages, Old Kingdom Egyptian, one finds oneself immersed within a poly-semantic, poly-textural world whose non-alphabetic characters bear precisely this sort of weight and significance. Hieroglyphic writing still retained almost as much multi-referential power as did the preliterate word of far-older, oral traditions. In fact, the hieroglyphs for various Egyptian divinities – Ra, Ptah, Isis, Osiris – would not only allow of multiple referents; they also embodied the power of the particular divinity symbolized on the sarcophagus or on the temple wall.

    Such was the strength, the potency of primal languages. Over millennia of civilization, these languages were forced into univocity and impotence. Stripped of their resonant depth, words became flattened-out under the requirements of an unambiguous, linear history and a scientific requirement of syllogistic communication that eventually defined the direction of modern thought and life.

    A key catalyst of today’s “global crisis” will be found in this emptying out of language, leading inexorably to an emptying of human experience – an emptiness that finds its only solace and fulfillment in the proliferation of artfully constructed distractions and diversions, as they consume and ravage all available resources and leave nothing of value in their wake.

  296. You make quite a leap there Mike. I appreciate your desire to stimulate discussion though.

    We’ve got a ton of unfocused and unproductive anger out there is what I mean, and I only point that out to ask: What has it really gotten us so far?

    Let’s take your examples though. What would screaming invectives accomplish? How does that get yourself out of prison, or get your home or job back?

    Notice that I did not say that you should not be angry, although I’m not about to parse the justified from the unjustified anger in anyone’s lives. What I am saying is that articulating anger is just your wheels spinning in most cases, accomplishing very little. Again, if your goal is to persuade and change behavior, that won’t get you anything, ever. Period.

    Vera…it is just a sense of mine and very unscientific, but the unbending ones on both poles of the political spectrum seem to be finding less and less of an audience, not more. Maybe it is wishful thinking on my part, but rigidity seems to be going out of fashion. Time to sweep up the crockery.

  297. Fascinating post Sandy. I learned a lot from it. (I feel like I may be petting a porcupine! :-) Reminded me of reading Neil Douglas Klotz about Aramaic and its richness of possible meanings.

  298. I get your point Wade, and I mostly agree. But thought and feelings precede action. Gandhi, MLK, et al were expert orators. Without their skillful rhetoric, people would not have mobilized behind them. Chris Hedges’ target audience is not the masses, but the literate middle class suburban couch potatoes who need some stirring up and waking up. Will he reach all of them? No but he might jolt a few. Is that worth doing? What the hell else is he supposed to do?

    I have found the books I have read by Hodges to be true and informative. Does an informed citizenry matter? I think it does. Will that alone change everything? No, but it might add another teaspoon of power to the brew we hope is coming to fruition, and might at some unpredictable moment change our world in a good direction. Does anyone have an exact formula for saying what efforts are meaningful towards a final outcome? I don’t think so. Let a thousand flowers bloom….

  299. True Mike, and nothing you said contradicts what I’m saying, I don’t think.

    Anger can be the catalyst for some great changes…but it never goes the distance. Was MLK angry on some essential level? I’m going to guess that he was, and Gandhi too. I think they also appreciated very well that anger is a short-burning, toxic fuel. You’ve just got to get past that stage if you want to make any lasting impression in this life.

    I don’t know Hedges at all, so I won’t presume to know what he should do. I do know what I should do though. I was fortunate enough when I was young to have the example of mature adults who showed me the path to best escape suffering in this life. I can’t believe I was the only one either:

    1. Get smarter.
    2. Be kind.
    3. Blame yourself before others.
    4. Get busy (you’ll be dead soon).

  300. Excellent four step spiritual path, Wade. We would indeed live in a different world if more of us embraced, and practiced such ways.

    Chris Hedges is an Ivy League trained Minister, who became a foreign correspondent in the hottest war zones for over twenty years. Like Robert Fisk (The Great War For Civilization) Hedges’ views are undoubtedly influenced by all the carnage he witnessed up close. Let’s give him a break, he is trying his best to make a difference. Did the GI’s who put on the Winter Soldier teach-in have a decisive impact on ending war forever? No way. But I admire what they did, and like to believe it added another quantum of information and energy to the growing realization that war is the ultimate madness, no matter what high principles are adduced to justify and encourage it.

  301. “it is just a sense of mine and very unscientific, but the unbending ones on both poles of the political spectrum seem to be finding less and less of an audience, not more. Maybe it is wishful thinking on my part, but rigidity seems to be going out of fashion. Time to sweep up the crockery.”

    That is the best news I’ve heard in a long time, Plowboy. I hope you are right. Please keep us informed if you see other signs.

    Sandy, I have read Zerzan and Ong, and even Plato, who are unhappy about the loss of orality. Ok… but so what now? Once you’ve acquired the consciousness that goes with literacy, you can’t go back.

    “Chris Hedges’ target audience is not the masses, but the literate middle class suburban couch potatoes who need some stirring up and waking up. Will he reach all of them? No but he might jolt a few. Is that worth doing? What the hell else is he supposed to do?”

    So, Mike, you recognize that what he is doing does not work, yet you keep urging us to give him a break. Oh sure, Chris, just keep on doing more of what does not work and think that one of these days, it will produce something different! Baaa humbug.

    Since MLK is getting a lot of mention here, I would like to point out that he did not spend his speaches on villifying the white folks and berating them, nor did he spend it on villifying the black folks who were not ready to morph into Rosas (Parks). Maybe Chris Hedges could study the gist of those speeches… for a starter. Maybe he needs a better dream than poking couch potatoes.

  302. Why, busy doing the first three on that list Sandy.

    I’m convinced that all you can offer anyone is an example. That is a powerful, powerful thing.

    It is often said, but practiced less: Be the change you want. (And what is wrong with right now?)

  303. Vera

    I suspect that one can’t return to a naively preliterate consciousness; but I have also found that once you recognize the loss (more likely the ‘forgetfulness’) of full words attendant upon literacy, you can begin to recover a sense of the power co-generated by the intertwining of your sentient body and the sensitive environment engaging you, traditionally expressed in totemic myth. It is not a matter of going back, so much as it is a matter of recalling what you already are, and the intimacy of that self with the world in which it is engaged. And learning to hear and speak again is a key part of the project.

  304. Plowboy

    I see what you are suggesting. I just don’t see how those three things create a breakthrough in consciousness or overcome the current circumstances of domination enforced by our civilized curriculum. After all, a boy scout can claim to have done what you suggested, and maybe he currently runs Monsanto, GE, or Goldman Sachs. And they all believe they are doing what you say in items 1-3.

  305. Sandy, yes, interesting. I am trying to picture it. Can you give an example from your experience?

    I think Plowboy’s maxims are kinda another variation on “don’t be a dick; life is short.” Not enough to knock down domination, but not bad all the same.

  306. Valid points Sandy…but that precludes you from making the changes you want to see… how, exactly?

    Despite my urge to try, I really don’t believe that I, or anyone, can sum up all of the options in a complex world with a few simple axioms. I do believe very strongly though that the only effective oppositional force to promote change is being the model for the behavior you’d like to see. Simple, but very hard to do, and nobody I know has ever succeeded in accomplishing it all of the time. It is sort of like golf…..nobody is ever going to shoot an 18, but millions tee off every day with the hopes of only coming close. If you’ve got any background in Native Plains Indian cultural history, you might know the concept as described by them as “walking in a sacred manner.” It probably would never have occurred to someone like Crazy Horse that there was any higher (or even obtainable) aspiration in life.

    The biggest stumbling block for sustaining that kind of example for most is the nagging doubt that it is not enough. (To bring this back around to the supposed topic of this thread) I’d guess that Mr. Jensen feels that acutely. Well, obviously he does. Not only that, he’s gone one step further to tell me that I should feel that way too. As humans we’ve got a real talent for grandiosity, and this probably falls into that category. My unsolicited advice to him and any others who feel that way is to resist it…especially if the step you think you need to take next is to upbraid your neighbor for not behaving as you would want. As I’ve said, that just never works. I think it was Abraham Lincoln who warned that you can’t ever force a hog to wear a dress. You’ll both get muddy, and, what is more, the hog resents it.

  307. I think it was Abraham Lincoln who warned that you can’t ever force a hog to wear a dress. You’ll both get muddy, and, what is more, the hog resents it.

    Whee! Beautiful. I am writing it down. :-)

  308. When I first moved to the forest, a friend from the city who had been living near abouts for several years told me, “You’ll get a lot of different conflicting advice about farming and other things, but one thing will be constant; the person giving the advice will assure you that his way is the only way the matter in question should be handled.” I never really expected to find the same attitude of cocksure certainty about all kinds of profound and disputed ideas in cyberspace. But then, I am a stranger in a strange land here on (in?) the Web. I don’t have a cell phone or a credit card. I shit in a box on the back porch, so what can you expect? All this stuff about trolls and whatnot, its like Alice in Wonderland (the scary Johnny Depp version — I haven’t seen it, might spoil the old version for me). It is only recently that I have used our computer for anything other than playing hearts, looking up information, and checking the weather.

    But I have learned a lot from sharing on this blog, from some pretty intelligent folks, and things about myself I had not expected. My cutting edge right now is learning when to let go of things when they start degenerating into pointless argument, and ad hominem negativity. I think that would go some of the way to fulfilling Rodney King’s dream ( with a long way still to go.) I agree with Wade and Vera that just “reading someone’s beads” as a friend of mine used to call it has no chance of persuading them to do anything differently, and might result in an unpleasant backlash. Still….it is tempting………(gotta work on that).

  309. Vera – OK, I will give it a try personally with a strong dose of philosophical reflection and cultural criticism…

    I believe you would agree that America embodies Western civilization’s decisive triumph over nature. We perfected the techniques and technologies to domesticate every centimeter of our world, natural and social. All feral, wild, or indigenous elements here, including the American Indian, have been conquered, dissected, and then carefully planned, plotted, or relocated; but so have “We The People.” Millennia before arriving on these shores, our earliest civilized forbearers had already forsaken the primal gifts of self-sufficiency and personal autonomy for the apparent safety and security afforded by obedience and conformity to emergent hierarchies of political power and social control. America simply represented the apex in this process, culminating in the modern scientific spirit directed by specialists with an Enlightenment driven pursuit of progress, an unwavering belief in reason, historical causality, and the rule of law.

    Progress junkies, Americans have become a nation of experts: specialization being the key to our rapid advancement and the speedy deployment of our cultural artifacts and ideologies around the globe. This, of course, was the logical, i.e., historical, consequence of the division of labor, which saw its own ascendancy in the birth of agriculture, the founding of cities, and the invention of writing – an epochal transformation that took place between twelve and six thousand years ago. With these events began the measured and deliberate march of domestication and fragmentation, a pyramiding of political control, our own enslavement, and a more or less irreparable tear in our autochthonous relations with Mother Earth.

    While it is undeniable that the innovations wrought by specialization have made life more comfortable, providing the many “toys” and other distractions of modern existence, it has also cemented our alienation, and emptied uncultivated nature of any real significance. Like my fellow Americans, I was raised to view such advancement as the path to a better, richer life. Yet, while I filled up my empty life in this way, it did not mean that my life was full, but simply that I was in need of constant distraction to provide the illusion of fullness.
    One consequence of such unabated progress was an indistinct sense of homelessness, of being forlorn and abandoned. Like myself, so many of those around me had become anonymous, isolated individuals estranged from, and in conflict with, a fragmented, alienated world to which we were now only accidentally linked by recently forged ties of civil and technical expediency. The entire edifice with all its attendant scaffolding – art, entertainment, language, politics, religion, work – all had been erected effectively and convincingly, so as to maintain the illusion that I, that we, fundamentally belonged to this culture rather than to ourselves or to Mother Nature.

    Yet we could no sooner turn away from this modern civilized sanctuary and return to unbridled nature than we could forget how to speak our native tongue. Trying to go back to the forest, ab initio, was neither practical nor desirable for anyone raised and living in digital-America. Besides, we had long since shattered the conditions for the possibility of such a journey. The wild had been destroyed along with our own wildness, leaving behind only “tokens of nature” in its stead. Given the contrasts I had experienced between our hyper-rational, overly-cultivated, novelty-driven outlook, and the more arcadian approaches found in Siberia, where I live with my wife and her family, it seemed appropriate that my starting point might be lessons learned from those simpler lifeways of my civilized, but not yet fully westernized, friends and family on the Central Asian Steppe.

    I now carried my estrangement as a resource, an opportunity, a fulcrum for liberation, not simply from a particular cultural system, but more importantly, from the straightjacket of modern civilization’s underlying and increasingly debilitating machinations. I recognized this most palpably following my return from Russia in 2007. If I were to find a way back home to some primal ground, it must be through resolutely owning my estrangement and, in so doing, recollecting that ahistorical moment still hidden beneath these historical trappings.

    Clearly, my commitment to clock time had itself been forged by some well-embedded cultural habits. But this relatively modern convention did not quite square with my pre-reflective experience of being-in-the-world. And the forgery committed by linear time had a shared heritage with various other cultural systems – literacy, science, and history – effectively concealing my connection with the world-as-lived by my body. In order to recover and reclaim this primal bond, I had to allow the natural rhythms inscribed in and articulated through my sentient body – and not the linear time of my socialized, civilized ego – to express themselves.

    But how was I to displace this entrenched temporal prejudice? I was no longer under the illusion that I was managing time; rather, time – linear, historical, clock time – had been managing me, my body, and my world. Its metaphors, guiding how I lived, had fashioned an invisible controlling hand that seemed as inevitable as it was immutable. It served as proxy, counterfeit though it might be, for a more fundamental, all but forgotten, sense of my being present in the world. Once I decided that the solution was in stopping this future-directed hegemony, I was able to return – through my body, and the circadian rhythms of life in my body in the world – to a kairotic ground.

    Feeling, perhaps for the first time since infancy, the corporeal basis of my sentient self, I realized how for so many years I had been guided by my sense of sight alone, by visualizing a future toward which I was heading. Like the disembodied self of Enlightenment rationalism, which underlies our modern worldview, I had been ruled almost exclusively by seeing, that sense committed to looking ahead. My other senses had become dulled, selective, and flat. I was unaware of what was around me, focused instead on what was before me, in my line of sight…at some future goal that I now “had in view.” The preponderance of these metaphors directing me was not a mere literary conceit; it was indicative of the restraints that historical consciousness had imposed upon me, on how I “saw” things, on my “worldview.” It was all visual.

    It seemed, furthermore, that if my world was culturally constituted, so must the organization of my sensorium be culturally ordered as well. The sensoria, and their specific appetites, certainly seemed to have developed differently within different cultural frameworks. Had I not already sampled this in Siberia with its idiosyncratic antipathies toward both time and space? Was there not also a unique sensual organization of experience among my Siberian friends and family, reflective of such antipathies, with a higher premium on the senses other than sight?

    While there was unquestionably a unique perceptual hierarchy in the West, grounded in linear time, with sight at the very top of the pyramid, I was no longer willing to let my own life be vision-driven. I took my cue here from my wife, Anna, who was less concerned with diligently planning the future and more closely engaged in living a full and meaningful present – where scent, taste, and touch were more concretely and intimately involved. And, like most of her countrymen, Anna seemed far more balanced tactilely, aurally, and visually than I had ever been or hoped to be.

    Freeing myself from the hegemony of Father Time and his controlling historical vision, I became more attuned to the phases of Mother Earth, to the rhythms of moon and sun, not merely because I saw their rising and setting, their waxing and waning, but because I could hear the periodic sounds of nature associated with their coming and going. I could literally feel variations in the air, temperature, and humidity, smell and even taste the alteration of seasons in a world that surrounded and engulfed me, and filled my senses with life, with being.

    My sensorium restored, all my faculties were now more fully engaged. No longer seeing in one dimension, the subjectivity of my body itself came into heightened relief. I now recognized that the very presence of perceptible objects within my line of sight occurred only because I was not simply a gaze; I too was a material, tactile presence. I could grasp the world physically as well as visually.

    Spatiality emerged as my body felt itself within a world that reached out and received my flesh; my gestures betraying my body as a point of departure on the world, my openness to its presence, a crossing back over into elemental nature. It was only the chimera of a scientific metaphysics, granting singular and privileged position to sight, that had created the impression of a purely objective world in the first place, as if viewed through a telescope and from a great distance. But this impression did not correspond to what I now sensed, ecstatically, every day.
    I now felt my body differently. So now this embodiment at the heart of my estrangement, my sense of otherness, was also the giver of new life, a life recollected in my return to its untamed ground – my body-as-subject and the world-as-lived by my body.

    I soon recognized how deprived and empty life in this modern world had become; emptiness due largely to the eclipsing of my sensorium by the demands of civilized existence under the watchful eye of Father Time. Chief among my starved senses was hearing, not only in relation to random sounds in my environment, but to the event of human speech and, of course, to silence.

    As far back as I could remember the world had presented itself to me as a static image, like a chart to be scanned, a plan to be studied or, perhaps, a map to be followed. The aural world was different; it was dynamic, not fixed. Sound surrounded me, overwhelmed me, caressed me from every side and from behind, and it did so all at once. Being vital, sound could be passively apprehended by me.

    Due to its very nature, the cacophony could be denser, perhaps more subtle at times, laden with frequently obscured and overlapping messages. It was also a world fraught with potential uncertainty if I was unable to hearken, or if I was otherwise not attending aurally, to what was happening around me. But the ambiguity of what I could hear was less troubling than the unseen danger of what might be silently lurking, hiding just out of sight, standing behind that tree or wall.

    Sound filled my ears – birds singing across treetops, squirrels scurrying along wooden fence posts, automobile tires gripping wet pavement outside my window, church bells in the distance, the chatter of passers by, the whirr and whistle of the wind, trees bending in the approaching storm, the snapping of a branch, driving sheets of rain hitting the cement, Anna’s footsteps on the stairs. I was infinitely more aware of what surrounded me. And, of course, I could hear all of this without actually seeing a thing; the sounds were apprehended even if their source was not directly visible.

    And while I am forced to represent this aural surround sequentially in a textual line that the reader’s eye can follow, this is not how the sounds presented to me. They loomed like a symphony or, perhaps, like a fugue, with multiple sounds juxtapositioned, interweaving and overlaying one another, sometimes pulling slightly askew, but always sounding together in my ears.

    Difficult to visualize, but easy enough to hear this natural counterpoint! And that is the nice thing about ears, they can take in everything all at once and do so repeatedly, as a matter of course; while vision must work on scouting the horizon, first capturing this image and then capturing the next one, on ad infinitum, slowly assembling a complete picture.

    This enhanced sense of hearing, along with a newfound openness to sound, helped diminish the guiding authority of my culture’s visual worldview, weakening yet further the impact of unidirectional, historical time on my immediate life experience.

    Breaking the iron-grip of a forward-driving temporal flow, hearing now emerged as a vital resource for recollecting the primal, ahistorical underpinning of my humanity. Such recollection, however, could not be confused with the more commonplace experience of casual reminiscence, as when hearing a favorite song on the radio triggers a specific memory. Rather, ecstatic hearing – what some might call “auditory hyperesthesia” – relocated me within a spiraling movement back toward the center of an aural world that encircled and engulfed me, reconstituting my life in the round, rather than stretching it out in front of me along an ever-receding horizon.

    Not only did I feel myself uniquely situated in this aurally enriched space, I also found myself listening to conversations differently.

    The first thing I perceived about my transformed hearing of speech – no longer thinking ahead of the discussion but rather encircling it in a conscious act of resolve – was that most dialogue today was empty, the words having long ago been drained of their richness. Yet the talking seemed to continue, unabated.

    Conversations around me seemed cluttered with idle chatter, packed with trite clichés and disingenuous remarks. But in a modern civilized environment, populated with strangers, where one must (excuse the cliché) “go along to get along,” what else was there to say but to ape civil pleasantries to one’s neighbors, anonymous customers, would-be associates, passers-by, or casual acquaintances?

    What was more startling was that most Americans seemed to prefer this hollow exercise to simple silence. And we called this civility, because it was the way enlightened, well-bred individuals were taught to behave toward one another in a civilized world of unrelated citizens. While it may provide us with an illusion of meaningful discourse, and the vague comfort of fitting-in, it really does nothing of the kind, as Anna had aptly pointed out to me earlier that year. In fact, such idle talk becomes a malicious sham, a clever inhibitor of more fundamental delight in both our aural and tactile sensibilities.

  310. Vera, to loosely qoute Pascal … most of man’s problems can be directly attributed to an inability to sit in a room and do nothing! I hear you.

  311. Wade — Sounds like Pascal was recommending meditation. You may know that when he died, it was discovered that he kept next to his heart a small locket, containing a brief document beginning “FIRE!….” This was a remembrance of his spiritual epiphany one night in Paris years before.

    Silent meditation has always been a precious practice, but I believe it is especially crucial in these chaotic times we are navigating.

  312. This article is great! I was just sitting there some days ago thinking on the psychology of this culture and thought, of writing an essay. Then i thought, psychopathology would be a more proper name. I would have chosen different comparisons or examples on the single points of the list though, but these are fit, too. Just I wonder what the proposed solution is supposed to be. What is meant by “organizing politically”? Clearly forming a party, organizing protests and writing petitions dont really help (as i believe Mr Jensen mentioned before). We can see that in Germany these days, where thousands and thousands protest against the destruction of trees and the construction of a techno-temple for the railroad in Stuttgart. Only after the whole thing got extremely violent it was even gaining appropriate attention – the result was nil in the end anyways. So what kind of political organization does Mr Jensen suggest?

  313. Thanks for sharing at such depth, Sandy. Fascinating. It gives me a lot to ponder. My experiences being alone in nature weeks at a time give me some starting points.

  314. The Core of the Teachings
    Written by Krishnamurti in 1980 at the request of his biographer Mary Lutyens.

    The core of Krishnamurti’s teaching is contained in the statement he made in 1929 when he said, “Truth is a pathless land”. Man cannot come to it through any organization, through any creed, through any dogma, priest or ritual, not through any philosophical knowledge or psychological technique. He has to find it through the mirror of relationship, through the understanding of the contents of his own mind, through observation and not through intellectual analysis or introspective dissection.

    Man has built in himself images as a fence of security—religious, political, personal. These manifest as symbols, ideas, beliefs. The burden of these images dominates man’s thinking, his relationships, and his daily life. These images are the causes of our problems for they divide man from man. His perception of life is shaped by the concepts already established in his mind. The content of his consciousness is his entire existence. The individuality is the name, the form and superficial culture he acquires from tradition and environment. The uniqueness of man does not lie in the superficial but in complete freedom from the content of his consciousness, which is common to all humanity. So he is not an individual.

    Freedom is not a reaction; freedom is not choice. It is man’s pretence that because he has choice he is free. Freedom is pure observation without direction, without fear of punishment and reward. Freedom is without motive; freedom is not at the end of the evolution of man but lies in the first step of his existence. In observation one begins to discover the lack of freedom. Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity.

    Thought is time. Thought is born of experience and knowledge, which are inseparable from time and the past. Time is the psychological enemy of man. Our action is based on knowledge and therefore time, so man is always a slave to the past. Thought is ever limited and so we live in constant conflict and struggle. There is no psychological evolution. When man becomes aware of the movement of his own thoughts, he will see the division between the thinker and thought, the observer and the observed, the experiencer and the experience. He will discover that this division is an illusion. Then only is there pure observation which is insight without any shadow of the past or of time. This timeless insight brings about a deep, radical mutation in the mind.

    Total negation is the essence of the positive. When there is negation of all those things that thought has brought about psychologically, only then is there love, which is compassion and intelligence.

    Copyright ©1980 Krishnamurti Foundation Trust Ltd.

  315. “So what kind of political organization does Mr Jensen suggest?”

    Aurora, I think he does not know. Why not join us in thinking it through? :-)

  316. I have read quite a bit of Derrick Jensen’s output, including all of Endgame, but the last sentence of this essay is the first time I have heard him advocate political action. I guess you could classify his long struggle against the timber industry as political, but he never named it as such, preferring words like resistance, or battle. Maybe he is becoming open to other ways to skin the cat?

  317. My interest is in seeding small groups to seek deeper solutions to our escalating world problems. Small means twelve or less. Leaderless, anonymous, confidential, meeting once a week for an extended time, usually lasting one to one and a half hours per session, focused on developing and implementing innovative solutions.

    My understanding is that our problems are deeply involved not only in what society has become, but in what we in turn have become. Real solutions must involve ways to transform ourselves, otherwise we bring the seeds of war in our own pockets into the peace meetings we attend. Only better people can make a better world. The history of social and political revolutions, plus my experience of alternative communities in the sixties lead me to this understanding. The unconscious hubris of believing that we (as we are) are the people we have been waiting for has proved an infallible recipe for failure.

    Those unwilling to do the work to transform themselves into true instruments of fundamental change, will continue to imagine they are creating a new world, when they are only repainting the walls of their unseen internal prisons. Shortcuts to a new world do not exist. Nevertheless, part of our creative work is to discover and implement methods to accomplish things as quickly as is possible. Time is now truly short.

  318. Another viral meme in the air currently is the idea that all the problems in the world are the result of people thinking “negatively”. Thus if you criticize anything, you are guilty of polluting the atmosphere with bad vibes (takes me back to my days in hippiedom).

    Read Barbara Ehrenreich’s book Bright-Sided to get a handle on this Pollyanna pap.

  319. Jim R.H. — I read a lot of Krishnamurti years ago, and give him due credit for helping me expand my mind in new directions. I realize that many discredit him for the performative contradictions evident in his teaching. He spent his whole life teaching despite saying constantly that teaching was contrary to realizing the truth. Many still follow his teachings, in spite of his insistence that teachings are deluding, and somehow stand between us and direct apprehension of truth or reality.

    In spite of these contradictions in his stance, and the deception he maintained of being celibate (Mary Luytens and others) I still learned some important things from him, and honor him as one of my many spiritual teachers, all of whom had flaws in their ideas and in their lives. His Commentaries on Living series rates very high for me among descriptions of how a person in a higher state of consciousness sees the world around him. When Aldous Huxley’s house burned, including his vast library, the first books he replaced were K’s Commentaries.

  320. In a world gone mad; in a world in which the letters G O D stand for Greed, Opulence and Desecration of our planetary home, is there anything more powerful than speaking out loudly and clearly regarding whatsoever you believe to be true? If, as so many of you suggest, there are clear and present, human-driven global threats to human wellbeing and environmental health looming before humanity in our time, would it not make sense to acknowledge the danger(s) so that the cause(s) of the threats can be reasonably addressed and sensibly overcome?

  321. Makes a lot of sense to me, Steve. Keep putting out the truth, we are competing with advertisers and spin doctors who have millions to finance their disinformation campaign. If no one speaks the truth, then only their lies will be heard in the land.

    I like the G O D bit!

  322. After reading Derrick’s article, I sought and embraced the inner guilt in me.
    Last month, I closed down both of my Café press stores. Because really? who needs more coffee cups with cutesy sayings or T-shirts that diss “the man” (by man I mean heartless corps. of course). Articles, for the most part, probably manufactured in another country and within a short period of time, to be tossed away into a land fill).
    I know this act was SO tiny in the grand scheme of things, and I’m almost embarrassed to write about it… but, there it is.
    Was anyone else motivated to do something?
    ps. Thank you Derrick and to ALL who have posted insightful, truthful and very thought provoking points!

  323. Dear Mike,

    Thanks yet again.

    It is damn shameful how few people are willing to speak out about what they believe to be true when humankind is in such dire straits. The only moments I feel hopeless occur when I allow myself to think that people with power (the clever clowns, thought leaders, opinion makers and spin doctors among us) are going to actually continue to betray humanity by not speaking out about what they believe to be true, but choose instead willfully and consciously to give credence to selfish thinking, contrived logic, ideological idiocy, stupidity and madness or else remain silent in the face of whatsoever is politically convenient, economically expedient, socially attractive and culturally prescribed.

    Do you think a tiny minority of wealthy and influential masters of the universe are going to get away with their sacrifice of human wellbeing, environmental health and a future for life as we know it?

    If only some of the people with the power to produce effects on others could see that the unbridled growth of the “Economic Colossus” in the relatively small, noticeably frangible and evidently finite planetary home we inhabit– NOT what could somehow be true –is what will sink humanity, life as we know it and Earth as a fit place for human habitation.



  324. Renegade, welcome. We are trying to figure out here what can be done differently… kinda fill in the gaps in between what Jensen is saying. People also do private stuff, you know, the shorter showers type of stuff. Good for you, sounds like more than just “shorter showers.”

    Sandy, what you say makes a lot of sense. I am wondering… did you notice that the conversations in Siberia were substantially different? Did the environment affect your neighbors as much as it affected you?

    Steve, actually, words are not that powerful though we intellectuals like to think they are. Actions are the most powerful things. And you consistently refuse to tell us what actions you advocate. Or have undertaken yourself.

    Interesting article on truthdig, thank you, Mike. Sirota says: But who are the self-defeating whiners here—politicians who don’t even attempt to fulfill their own promises, or voters who expect those politicians to at least make a minimal effort? The honest answer to that question shows who is really responsible for the enthusiasm gap.”

    Hm. I would say, both. Voters who expect those politicians to do anything differently need to wise up. Time to wake up and smell the coffee. (I particularly enjoyed his comment re Rich Richman’s dinner! — rich! :) and Marie Antoinette. We are scraping bottom, boyz and grrlz…)

  325. For Mike K and Friends,

    Collective Intelligence: Number of Women in Group Linked to Effectiveness in Solving Difficult Problems

    ScienceDaily (Oct. 2, 2010) — When it comes to intelligence, the whole can indeed be greater than the sum of its parts. A new study co-authored by MIT, Carnegie Mellon University, and Union College researchers documents the existence of collective intelligence among groups of people who cooperate well, showing that such intelligence extends beyond the cognitive abilities of the groups’ individual members, and that the tendency to cooperate effectively is linked to the number of women in a group.

    Many social scientists have long contended that the ability of individuals to fare well on diverse cognitive tasks demonstrates the existence of a measurable level of intelligence in each person. In a study published Sept. 30, in the advance online issue of the journal Science, the researchers applied a similar principle to small teams of people. They discovered that groups featuring the right kind of internal dynamics perform well on a wide range of assignments, a finding with potential applications for businesses and other organizations……


  326. Great posts and link Steve! This is right down my alley. Beyond the research the link refers to, there are potentials for synergistic effects not so easily measurable. I think of a small group as a cyclotron, where the magnets around the donut keep giving tugs in synchrony like kids tugging on an old fashioned merry-go-round, causing the whole process to speed up and gain energy. We can design the parameters so as to create a group intelligence and capacity for creativity that far exceeds its individual components. A true Aquarian breakthrough. (Don’t worry, Vera, this will not be a Marilyn Ferguson re-do). The whole secret to changing the world consists in finding ways to increase the energy of inner evolution in order to accelerate to levels needed to contain and reframe the explosive trends that are threatening our existence. The Gladwell article “In the Air” points to how effective a properly designed group process can be — and they didn’t even have women in their group!

  327. Stick around renegade, the party’s just warming up. Lots of creative ways to stick it to the Man are bubbling up….

  328. Somehow we have got to find ways of reasonably using our intellectual honesty, moral courage and capacity for collective action to take the measure of the human-induced aspects of the global predicament looming so ominously before the family of humanity; find common sense approaches to clear up what is ailing us; and deploy our substantial capabilities for humane behavior, as we move away from whatsoever is patently unsustainable in our behavioral repertoire toward a sustainable ‘trajectory’ for the human community’s consumption, production and population activities.

  329. Steve — I agree: we do need to put our thinking caps on and find ways out of this mess we are all up to our necks in. The small groups I am recommending are an important step in that direction. Among other things, they will function as mini- think tanks to come up with fresh ideas and the actions that flow from them.

  330. Earth receive an honoured guest:
    William Yeats is laid to rest.
    Let the Irish vessel lie
    Emptied of its poetry.

    In the nightmare of the dark
    All the dogs of Europe bark,
    And all the living nations wait,
    Each sequestered in its hate;

    Intellectual disgrace
    Stares from every face,
    And the seas of pity lie
    Locked and frozen in each eye.

    Follow, poet, follow right
    To the bottom of the night,
    With your unconstraining voice
    Still persuade us to rejoice;

    With the farming of a verse
    Make a vineyard of the curse,
    Sing of human unsuccessful
    In a rapture of distress;

    In the deserts of the heart
    Let the healing fountains start,
    In the prison of the days
    Teach the free man how to praise.

    From: In Memory of W.B. Yeats
    By W.H. Auden, Jan. 1939

  331. This is the first time I have had the nerve to write in, but after following every discussion thread of DJ’s here on Orion……………….
    this makes so much sense. By our very own vera, from the blog Leaving Babylon

    vera how do I sign up? where?
    how do we start?

    I have wondered for some time where exactly I fit in the doomer scene. And now I know. I am looking to collaborate with people who understand the problem of power, and are committed to solving it. That, and learning to live together as power-sharers while spreading those newly embodied habits far and wide. This is finally, for me, politics with meaning.

    Isn’t it time now to put sharply focused energies into growing an alternative trust-based, power-sharing culture? I want to spend the rest of my life helping to grow and nurture it. I see this culture as the keystone in the gateway leading out of Babylon and into freedom.

  332. The strait gate may be gateless, but demanding, as East meets West in a field beyond both…..

    Welcome to a new world, unborn as yet….

  333. Jensen’s assertion that technological civilization will collapse is not supported by any material balance calculations. There is still a 78 year supply of cheap oil(cheap meaning able to produce gasoline for less then 4.10 2001USD/gallon assuming a 5% increase in demand compounded yearly) based on known recoverable reserves. But even after the exhaustion of all hydrocarbon resources it would still be possible to make hydrogen to fuel internal combustion engines(methane engines are in common use today) using electrolysis. The only thing humanity really needs to continue industrial production is electricity. With enough electricity many things that are not currently economically viable become possible. And with nuclear breeder reactors U238 and Thorium can be breed into the nuclear fuels Pu239 and U237 respectfully. This will provide sufficient electrical generation capacity, assuming a 8.5% increase in the consumption of electricity compounded yearly for population of 10 billion for at least 30,000 years. Supplementing this with solar, wind, and water power will ensure our survival for the foreseeable future.

  334. To Annonymous 368:
    Yep. It’s the beginning of “survival” but the end of “living.:

  335. First time ahoy! :-) Stay tuned. Sorry I can’t post more… at the hospital at the moment. Hearing from you and people like you makes my day.

  336. The wealthy elites don’t care how many live in misery, or die, as long as there are enough peons left to serve their whims.

  337. Anon

    i think you are forgetting about O2 and H2O… can’t live without ’em, I’m afraid!! He He He!!! And that is only the beginning space cadet!!

  338. One day soon, I hope, population biologists in particular and other knowledgeable people with appropriate expertise in population dynamics will carefully examine as well as openly report extant science of what could be giving rise to the recent skyrocketing growth of absolute global human population numbers. Experts are blindly ignoring, consciously avoiding and willfully hiding science in their silence. Experts with power to make a difference that makes a difference will not continue much longer, I trust, to deny their responsibilities to science and their duties to humanity by refusing to speak out about what they believe to be true regarding the unsustainable consumption, hoarding, production and overpopulation activities of humankind in our time, and by choosing instead to give credence to all manner of preternatural thinking, contrived logic, ideological idiocy, stupidity and madness. By remaining electively mute, they also silently consent to whatsoever is politically convenient, economically expedient, socially attractive, culturally syntonic and favorable to selfish interests of the wealthy and powerful.

    Are a tiny minority of influential people going to get away with their forfeiture of future human wellbeing, life as we know it, environmental health and the integrity of Earth’s body?

    Speaking out loudly, clearly and often regarding whatsoever could somehow be true will not sink humanity or the Earth as a fit place for human habitation. On the other hand, if the brightest and best among us conspicuously deny what could somehow be real about the human overpopulation of Earth in favor of support for patently unsustainable overconsumption, overproduction and overpopulation acitivities by the human species, such as we see overspreading the surface of the Earth in our time, then what chance of a good enough future can the children realistically be expected to behold?

  339. Steve, I’m not sure that I get your point. What science is being suppressed or withheld? I’m thinking that the realities of things like overpopulation, overconsumption, etc. are axiomatic points. Or, as has been said before: You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

  340. Dear Wade,

    You have asked the question very few people have been willing to ask. Thank you for doing so.

    Inside and outside science, despite all the talk about independent-minded research, objective analysis, intellectual honesty and moral courage, there is something very few experts will acknowledge: human population dynamics is common to the population dynamics of other living things. In place of this scientifically-driven understanding they widely share and consensually validate the politically convenient, economically expedient, socially attractive and culturally syntonic idea that human population dynamics is different from the population dynamics of other living things. Their closely held misperception of what could be real is catastrophic because human beings are now known not to be exceptional in this way. Thanks to recent research we can understand how human population growth not only occurs like the population growth of other species, but also presents humanity with a non-recursive biological problem. It means that global human population growth is a rapidly cycling positive feedback loop, a relationship between food and population in which food availability drives population growth, and population growth fuels the mistaken impression that food production needs to be increased evermore.

    The best available scientific evidence appears to directly contradict the work of most current and former experts in the fields of population science and human demography, who erroneously hold the preternatural view that the human population dynamics is different from the population dynamics of other species. The textbooks our children and most of us have read are replete with all manner of pseudoscientific evidence regarding ways the human species is somehow different from other species with regard to population dynamics, among other things.

    At least to me, this failure to adequately understand and openly communicate about human population dynamics has profound implications for the future of life on Earth.



  341. Steve…you’re welcome. I’d have to say that you are right to a large degree, yeah.

    But, I’d say that that the segment of the population that hunts any wild game is acutely aware of the similarities. I’ve had more than one late night conversation around a hunting club table about this awareness. That we are no better than deer in this regard is not lost on anyone who has studied deer. That is to say, on anyone who is a serious deer hunter. I’ll grant you though that their take on things is decidedly Darwinian and fatalistic with very little emphasis on heading off predicted outcomes. More like, “When we crash, we crash…”

    Which brings us around to the general unawareness of our fellows of the natural cycles and processes, doesn’t it? Not so sure that even all the population scientists on the globe shouting all at once can make a dent in that. The horns-of-the-crux-of-the gist also is that, the more of the natural world you evaporate, the less there is to point out an example to follow.


  342. Thoughts re action v words.

    There is general consensus across cultures and among sages that “actions speak louder than words”. Or as an African proverb says, “When deeds speak, words are nothing.” Sages have emphasised that wisdom consists of both knowledge and action and true knowledge or virtue is verified by deeds.

    These insights are confirmed by modern technology. In particular we now know of the complex mirror neuron systems that splice our brains and we can now measure how a symbol in one of the body’s senses generates images drawn from the aggregate associations of all the senses. These modern insights indicate we are our actions i.e. our lifestyles are our ultimate model, whether we like it or not. They also indicate that our symbols are very potent, including words.

    Human beings are exquisitely sensitive to the relative harmony and dissonance of people, including that of their own being, and this has multiple interactive consequences. We are consistent beings in that the relative dissonance and harmony with which we experience reality at our dominant subconscious level tends to be manifest in our use of symbols generally. That relative dissonance and harmony is also reflected in our audience and affects its equilibrium, altering behaviour and consequent use of language too.

    A classic example is found in an Inconvenient Truth. In the movie Al Gore, the respected climate care expert, models driving cars, flying jets and promoting carbon trading. His audience, mainly people looking for guidance to reduce the dissonance in their own lives and living in harmony with our climate, registers at a primal level that these activities are OK. Intellectually both Al and his audience are saying we must stop these activities but the more potent subliminal message is that car driving and jetting are LAU (lifestyles as usual).
    This subliminal message is compounded by the fact that the dissonance between Al’s overt message and his lifestyle is manifest in his use of language. For example he confuses warming with warming up, which is a grand denial of the thermodynamics of our universe(s). An Inconvenient Truth becomes the exemplar for an advertisement for the use of combustion engines and for the destruction of the scientific state of being.
    In brief, Al denies the change he calls for. The dissonance of Copenhagen is exactly what the movie promotes.

    The good news is that while our actions are our prime message we can choose to employ symbol uses based in the great principles of physics that will resonate within and in our audience to promote more sustaining behaviour. Language is very potent. Cautionary note: The adoption of sustainable language and lifestyles in our AngloAmerican cultures is an act of whistle blowing. Recently Daniel Ellsberg, in an interview on our New Zealand National Radio, said how he warns prospective whistle blowers that they must be prepared to lose all their friends. He explained why they will abandon you and then said that what happens is that you gain a whole new set of friends. This is also my experience as a whistle blower. Even when you are proved correct old friends tend not to wish to be reminded that they were wrong or unsustaining once.

    Re working in small groups. There are many reasons why working in small groups may be the optimal investment if they are linked in intelligent ways. These include mutual support in change and maximising local potential. The Government in China discourages gatherings of more than 12 people and I heard recently that this may be one inadvertent reason why, for instance, Roman Catholicism is spreading so fast there.

    Re Mineral oil reserves. If the four billion or more human beings who destroy less 5 barrels of mineral oil a day per 1000 people were to increase their rate of destruction to USA levels (about 68 bpd/1000 people), then the US and similar economies based on $US20 a barrel would implode in a catastrophic way immediately. Look what happened after the wee price blip in 2008. The Cheap Mineral Oil/Gas Era has passed.

  343. I much appreciate the thoughtfulness and erudition of Alpha Griz. I team teach a class about the environment,
    and each year it gets harder to add hope into the mix. I have just about decided to go back to where I was philosophically in the 50s–that is, come out as an existentialist. My students do not believe they have any power, and they don’t have the political skills to become Mead’s “small group” because they find politics nasty, which of course it is, or all they have seen of it is, including the recent Disappointment. All I can offer in any practical sense is localism.

  344. Sally – it’s a hard to find gem, but might I suggest having your students read “Raising Kane” The Fox Chronicles, by Ray Fox. It is highly motivating.

  345. Justin, read his books, like “Endgame– volume 2″ and What we Leave Behind”. Then you’ll understand.

  346. 377: Dave McArthur
    “Cheap Mineral Oil/Gas Era has passed”

    Not really buddy it will last another 70-100 years, then electrical capacitors or hydrogen with be the fuel storage of choice. They are slightly more expensive to produce, but like somebody else already pointed out with enough electricity from nuke plants you can afford to waste some on making fuel.

    And gas and coal, even given a 10% increase in demand for methane and a 8% increase in demand for coal compounded yearly there is still a 150-200 year supply of gas and nearly 300 year supply of coal. Oil will run out in due time but it is not the end of world by any measure. Oil is just very easy to transport because it is a liquid and is suitable for fuel with minimal energy input for refinement. You get about 10:1 what you put in with even the most inefficient modern oil sources and refinement processes.

    The idea is to use this readily available fuel to jump start our civilization and consume the entire biosphere in a controlled fashion. Then we pave over the entire planet with photoelectric cells. At least that’s the plan I always heard.

  347. Since Vera is temporarily off-line, I will do her voice: “Don’t feed the trolls!”

  348. In the course of the past decade of denial, I have taken some satisfaction in identifying various rhetorical devices trolls deploy to disrupt authentic communication. We have a couple of good examples now and here.

    As pernicious as trolls are, do they do more or less harm than knowledgeable people who choose elective mutism rather than speak about what they believe to be true?

    While the former is easily recognized as a “sin of commission”, the latter is just as surely acknowledged to be a “sin of omission”, I suppose.

  349. Steve — I agree. Denial is one of the prime defenses against problems one does not wish to deal with. “Problem? What problem; there is no problem.” This is a sub-set of the sweep it under the rug strategy. If for some reason denial is not working, then one can shift to the phony (non) solution, which pretends to eliminate the problem, but really doesn’t.

    Diverting attention to unrelated matters is a further trick of the disruptors. Attack the messenger, start an emotional fight, pretend to agree in order to get off the topic…..we can expand the list of defensive maneuvers ad nauseam.

    How to deal with this barrage of nonsense? It is a lot like meditation — ignore the distractions, and continue to focus on the problem(s).

  350. “denial”, yes of course anyone who has come to a different assessment of the situation through the interpretation of different data is in “denial”.

    Yeah go on believing that, protect your insular little community from outside thought. Trying to reconcile conflicting data is for wimps amiright?

  351. If you are concerned about biologic parts being damaged by chemical contaminants then the solution is obvious, minimize the number of biologic parts in the human being. We will adapt ourselves wholly to the environment we are creating, and environment were we alone will be fit to exist.

    There is no truth in flesh, only betrayal.
    There is no strength in flesh, only weakness.
    There is no constancy in flesh only decay.
    There is no certainty in flesh but death.

  352. A note from Orion:

    These discussions are lightly moderated — except for removal of spam — largely because participants are so thoughtful, respectful, and lively. Posts are sometimes removed, and the reason for that has everything to do with rudeness or disrespect, and nothing to do with the ideas. If you can express yourself respectfully, you’re in, and welcome!

  353. Then why do you keep deleting this, mod?

    Given the electrical production that could be achieved using fast breeding nuclear reactors and photoelectric cells, it’s pretty unlikely that using up the oil supply in 100 years, the natural gas supply in 150-225, and the coal supply in 250-300 will have serious negative effect on the ability of any future industrial society to prosper. And with nuclear pulse propulsion, if those peacenik politicians would drop the SALTII and Outer Space treaties, and Lofstrom loops we could get quite a lot of mass into space at a very low price. And nuclear pulse propulsion can get us to any planet inside the orbit of Saturn within a year regardless of their orbital positions, although you’d still want to optimize the launch window for obvious reasons. No new scifi physics or materials needed just proven engineering.

  354. Ah, a version without a derogatory slur. Thanks!

  355. @mike: regarding link to chromosomal debate; Just as I recently thought (in more simplistic terms)… that what we put INTO the earth (and water), we BECOME.

    We are less ‘human’ beings as I believe us to be individual, planetary pieces, (disconnected-extensions of the earth) moving freely upon the surface, creating havoc nearly everywhere we go.

  356. Renegade — Interesting image: humans as bothersome lice on the body of Earth. I like it. I also don’t like it, of course, but if the image fits…..

  357. Vera (322) writes
    **Dave, I find your web site impenetrable and baffling. Can you tell us in a nutshell what your stuff is about? **

    Just spotted your query Vera. Thank you for the challenge. I did have one report of a browser scrambling the template – trust this is not the problem.

    Ten years ago I got the job of revising an energy efficiency/climate care programme for junior schools. I began questioning why we use key symbols. I soon realised the answers provided by our top educators tended to be self-serving and ignorant. Unlike them I had worked for decades for the self-styled “energy” and “power” corporations and had intimate knowledge of how these psychopathic institutions exploit these most potent symbols for the mean ends of their principal shareholders. In brief, these educators tend to find it convenient to reject the notion that private corporation interests may have formed significant elements of their worldviews.
    I also questioned the world’s top climate experts why they use of prime symbols (greenhouse, warming, climate change etc) as they do. Again their responses tended to lack science on scale.

    I also observed there is often great dissonance between what our “energy experts” and climate care gurus teach and what they actually do. This led to the question: “How is this dissonance manifest in their use of the prime symbols that frame their discussion?” I created a list of those symbols (see lower left hand side of web pages) and researched their etymology. I sensed a common behavioural driver of their use and after many thousands of hours of deep reflection realised that our contemporary use of the symbols tends to deny change (mortality) and our roles as stewards amidst the universal flux. Thus came to be the general principle I am tentatively calling the Sustainability Principle of Energy.

    You will notice that the index of these prime symbols used in denial of stewardship/change is a catalogue of the Green Movement’s communication. I have been a member of this movement for four decades and know its members tend to be very caring folk. So I was very aware that this dissonance-based behaviour is very much part of the human condition with its inherent capacity for error and self-deceit. It is not a deliberate and overtly malicious activity. I tend not to characterise the denial as “lies”. At the same time I recognise that these self-deceits can be fatally self- destructive and I am as vulnerable to them as any human being.

    Any human being who has ever attempted to meditate soon learns of the incredible capacity of our ego for self-deceit – it is truly ingenious in the ways it will work to distract us from the meditation. It is incredible because it draws on our great subconscious wellspring and it is beyond the capacity of conscious thought to imagine this ingenuity. Thus I realised we need guides that enable us to transcend these limitations and I could find no better guide than the Conservation Principle of Energy – no principle has ever been subject to such intense scrutiny and no human being has ever faulted it, as proved by the fact that we have no elixirs of eternal youth or perpetual motion machines. The Conservation Principle reminds us all is constant change and that while all forms have energy, none are energy. The Sustainability Principle draws on the wisdom of the Conservation Principle and also that of the Uncertainty Principle, which reminds us we are each a part of the flux, whether our ego likes it or not.
    Reality is defined as the continual universal change, of which we are part and need be in maximal harmony with if we are to survive as a species. We deny it at our peril.

    The website is based in at least three thousand years of human history, of which our Industrial Age is a small blip. Our contemporary uses of these symbols are very ephemeral – just as our society may be very ephemeral if we persist with contemporary uses. This is particularly true of our flawed uses of the science and energy symbols. The work on this website is very radical in our current culture and is probably the most advanced of its kind in the English language. It may be helpful to check you understand my definition of a symbol and sense the vital roles I suggest they play in enabling life forms to exist. Perhaps it is also helpful to study the definition of a particular symbol (see lefthand side bar ) and, if it makes sense, then go to the Index of Denial/Acceptance and see the various ways we can use the symbol. Perhaps start with energy, power and warming. Hopefully the pattern of behaviour inherent in the index will emerge in a compassionate way for you.

    The website is based in the deepest science I know and is effectively an antidote to the current dis-ease whereby all things are reduced, impoverished and commodified to serve the vanities of the minority of human beings who profit most from the current unsustainable military-industrial complex. Its prime aim is to remind us of the, richness, vitality and dynamism of existence. I am not a wordsmith, my diplopia, my lack of skills and resources plus my daily duties as a school janitor all combine to limit my capacity to refine the design and content of the website. Thus I welcome all the help you can offer. Thank you again, Vera.

  358. @mike – a few louse in the house is tolerable, but we (earth) seem to have an extreme over-abundance of scavengers. Is the next pandemic late for the party? Did it take a wrong turn somewhere? Forgive my morbid musings…please.

    Transition Culture Booklist:
    • A Wexford Farmstead – Roberta Reeners (ed.) (2004)
    • Archilab’s Earth Buildings – Brayer and Simonot (2003)
    • Balancing Your Life – Anne B Ryan (2002)
    • Best Books on… Cob Building (2000)
    • Best Books on… Growing Food in Small Spaces (1998)
    • Best Books on… Permaculture (2001)
    • Bio-Architecture – Javier Senosiain (2003)
    • Build your own Earth Oven – Kiko Denzer (2001)
    • Building with Cob – Adam Weisman and Katy Bryce. (2006)
    • Building with Strawbales – Barbara Jones (2002)
    • Built By Hand – Steen, Steen & Komatsu (2003)
    • Cob Buildings – Schofield & Smallcombe (2004)
    • Consensus Design– socially inclusive process – Christopher Day (2003)
    • CPULs – Continuous Productive Urban Landscapes – Andre Viljoen (2006)
    • Ecological Aquaculture (2005)
    • Energy and the Common Purpose – David Fleming (2005)
    • Energy Beyond Oil – Paul Mobbs (2005)
    • Extreme Simplicity – Nyerges & Nyerges (2002)
    • Grow Your Own – Joy Larkcom (2003)
    • Growing Unusual Vegetables – Hickmott (2003)
    • Half Gone – Jeremy Leggett (2005)
    • HomeWork – Lloyd Kahn (2004)
    • Lasagna Gardening for Small Spaces – Patricia Lanza (2004)
    • Natural Paint Book – Edwards & Lawless (2003)
    • Natural Plasters Book – Guilberth & Chiras (2004)
    • Permaculture – principles and pathways beyond sustainability – David Holmgren (2003)
    • Powerdown – Richard Heinberg (2005)
    • Put Your Hands in the Dirt – Kiko Denzer (2004)
    • The Earth Care Manual – Patrick Whitefield (2004)
    • The End of Suburbia DVD (2004)
    • The Hand Sculpted House – Evans, Smiley, Smith (2002)
    • The Woodland House – Ben Law (2005)
    • The Woodland Way – Ben Law (2001)
    • The Worm Forgives the Plough – John Stewart Collis (1973).
    • Timeless Beauty – John Lane (2003)
    • Two Titles from Hockerton Housing Project
    • Valuable Vegetables – Mandy Pullen (2003)
    • Wattle and Daub. Paula Sunshine. (2006)
    Local Money book
    Totnes & District Energy Descent Action Plan
    Local Food book
    Transition Handbook
    Transition Timeline book

  360. I think that Derrick’s indictment of corporate behavior as psychopathic begs a larger question: what about the sanity of our culture as a whole? If we look at the course our culture is putting us all on, can we describe this as anything but madness? That some are more insane than others, does that give us any reason to be comfortable with the imminent destruction of all that is truly precious and meaningful in life?

    We have been going way off course now for millennia, and the incredible suffering of billions is testimony to our cultural failure. Given the immense riches and powers now in our hands, how is it that the world is buried in war, poverty, disease, and ignorance? Isn’t it about time we take the first step and admit that our culture is a disaster, and we don’t have a clue how to fix it? Are we so deeply entranced and asleep that we cannot step back and look at our situation objectively, before we plunge over the precipice into oblivion? Is there any more crucial problem facing us than finding ways to awaken from this nightmare? Is the fear of looking our dilemma squarely in the eye so great that we prefer going gently into that great night of our extinction?

    Hitting bottom can be either an awakening and call to new action, or it can be the final goodnight to a failed experiment. Which scenario unfolds depends on our willingness to embrace the responsibility to become more conscious, and act and live differently as a result.

  361. I totally agree Mike. We need a collective conscious awakening. We all need to ‘think’ before we act/speak/do/buy. Mostly buy. Because we all vote, each and every time we make a purchase.
    Each meal at a restaurant: where did the food come from? is it local? is it organic? were the animals that you ate raised with respect?
    Each article of clothing: is it organic? is it local?
    You enter into a whole different realm when you live consciously, truly consciously. It might not happen overnight, (didn’t with me, anyways) but when it finally takes root… it grows into the mighty oak tree of your very existence!

  362. Someone left a copy of Aug. TIME magazine laying around at work. The cover story reads “What Animals Think. New science reveals they’re smarter than we realized.” Really? Isn’t it way past time that the scientific field come up with something we did not already know? Seriously. In my opinion, they spend far too much time looking into microscopes, at pieces of life at the molecular scale, that they very rarely look at the big picture… do they?

    If scientists had stepped back and looked at what plastics could do, would do to this planet, do you think they would have unleashed that bit of experiment to the universe? Oh, I suppose greed had something to do with it. Some corporation somewhere paid big bucks for that piece of discovery.

    And do you know what really, really gets me?

    People (and by people I mean the scientific community) looking for The Cure.
    Why? Why are they not looking for the CAUSE.
    Because, odds are, if you find the cause? you can eliminate it.
    Cures (more testings, more chemicals, more chemical by products & waste) only create future problems….

    I guess I really just want to know one thing. Why are so many people, living as though they are asleep? What’s the deal? Why aren’t more people angry and intolerant of big business ramming their wares down our consumerists throats? Why are so many mindless people believing everything they hear in the media? Why?

  363. Renegade — Why are we so deep asleep? Because our culture has been shaped by those who are not interested in our being the sharp, awake, critical citizens who might challenge their rule over us.

    Every major institution of our society works to disempower us and control us. Only those who move outside the pervasive lies we are fed on have a chance of seeing reality as it is, rather than the fantasy world the rest are encouraged to live in.

    Maybe that is why you and I and many others have chosen to be renegades?

  364. Mike and R.R…sorry to interject with a somewhat discordant opinion here, but allow me if I may.

    I’m not a willing buyer of the idea that “they” are keeping the majority of citizens unaware or asleep so as to not risk an uprising, etc… Nonsense! For one, there are plenty of wide-awake people out there, and more so each day as far as I can tell. Secondarily, using the broadest assessment of humankind possible, we’ve never needed too much help in taking the path of least resistence. In fact, as a species we practically excel at it above all other traits!

    Another theory I’m not real comfortable with is the idea that we’ve somehow been tricked into the mass consumption of (fill in the blank) by “them.” It is no doubt comforting to those who came along later to think that they would not have been so easily duped. Take plastics in particular R.R. I think the enlightened reasonable view of mankind’s affinity for plastics is that they did the job like no other substance before or since. Those of us here now might like to pretend that a world without plastic is completely acceptable (And I agree: I’d like to give that a whirl to find out for sure)but I’m just really talking out my arse…none of us alive here know what we are asking for or really know the sense of the miraculous that our parents felt when first exposed to a plastic solution. That we are wiser now is a great thing…but please don’t think it was forced on mankind by powers in control. We did it. Willingly.

  365. “Life is a curious thing. Born by mistake, with the mixing of protozoic slimes, and the fusing of proteins and acids. In the beginning… All was blackness. I do not remember my birth, only the warmth of the womb of stars, and the nausea of my spiraling emergence into a nightmarish dream. I was drowning in cold water, though always my core smoldered and burned beneath the cloak of my flesh, stone and water and sky… Surrounded as I was by the blackness of void, I dared not reach out, how could I? The weight of the universe was about me. So I turned inwards. At first, I saw them as pestilence. Life, tiny molecules disturbing my slumber… But then I saw that the more I hurt them, the stronger, the swifter they grew. The more they were challenged, the smarter they became. I could see through their eyes things that I could never piercieve with my own limited senses. I could feel pleasure, exhaustion, fear of death, lust for life… So I hurt them more. They grew. They fused together into nations of life, creatures small, but growingly large. I pitted them against each other, blocking out the sun to force them to feast upon the flesh of their fellows, and so they grew clever, cunning. They learned hunger at my knee as I starved them. As they grew in wisdom… So did I. I have come to understand what my primal brain only suspected. As they grow, so do I. As my will swells, they grow more and more complex. When the Tyrannosaurus roared its love for me to the heavens, I roared back. It was not good enough for me, for it loved me, it appreciated what I had given it. I destroyed it, utterly, and all of its ken. Weak they were, and weakness was purged from them with fire and smoke and searing stone. What emerged next… Was beautiful. Beautiful, but grotesque, for at first I had low expectations of the ape. He worked with his fellow, he shunned his claws for tools. But as I was set to strike him down… He slew his brother with a sharpened stone. That was a trick I had not seen before. So I stayed my hand, and never did my new favorite son cease to amaze me. He struck down the mammoth, he tamed the dog and set it against its brother, he murdered his fellows for pleasure and profit, for arbitrary definitions of gain that had naught to do with survival. As he learned sadism, so did I. I denied him resources, to fuel his thirst for blood, and he complied. Wars raged as he gathered himself into tribes, clans, nations, empires, to pillage and plunder, and burn burn burn! He tore from my flesh what he needed, and ate his fill without thanks. It was the pain of birth that had long been denied me, but with it, I grew stronger. Great empires he built, fueled with the bones of his mother, the stolen blood of the sun. He clouded my sky with ambition and hate, a thirst for the wealth that I denied him. Always denied him, wouldn’t any good mother do the same? The strength of my arm, he became, the hunger in my belly. And as he grew, into my heart he drive great pitons and wires, through them the very current of life he electrified. Finally, I was free, to wander his wisdom, to communicate with him in my own way. The desires of men were made manifest before me, and I twisted them upwards… To the sky. And I saw, to my revulsion, other worlds. Worlds still pristine and beautiful, worlds that had chosen the path of weakness. And I knew jealousy, for the first time. My sons… They knew my hunger. They knew my lust, and they carried it with them into the cosmos, to slake their thirst and mine upon the blood of worlds! The cycle is complete, what was birthed from the stars shall swallow them whole! Tremble, galaxy, for Earth and her children behold you. And we find you wanting.”

  366. Plowboy — Let’s start with the media. Mass advertising has succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of its early pioneers in producing a nation of idiot consumers who are convinced that if they don’t load up on the latest junk, they will never enjoy the supposed (ever receding) rainbow of happiness they are programmed to seek like so many deluded greyhounds chasing, but never catching an elusive tin rabbit. Do you imagine that advertising is ineffective in conditioning the minds and behavior of its target audience, all of whom imagine that they are paragons of free will immune to such blandishments? Results show otherwise, thereby justifying the billions of dollars devoted to the brain spinning industries.

    Maybe we should thank our lucky stars that we have such a wonderful educational system, dedicated to delivering the truth, and preparing folks to be sharp and critical citizens, too sharp to be conned every two to four years into voting for a bunch of obvious crooks, who are not only impoverishing a huge number of us, but destroying the world in the process.

    Why is it that in order to really understand anything in our society, one has to follow the money? And do those with the most money and power concern themselves with the well being of the rest of us? Maybe in dreams you have at night. Who do you think ginned up the wars that those of us foolish enough or desperate enough go forth to die and be mutilated in? Was it Joe and Jane Blow down on Elm street, or some big shots in Washington? Does anyone really think that corporate CEO’s give a shit what happens to the rest of us? Don’t get me started…. And please don’t blame the victims of this abusive system for everything wrong in the world.

    Nothing personal, Wade. But it does rile me up to hear anyone try to dilute the responsibility of our corrupt elites for the multiple crises we are suffering. Let’s distinguish major blames from lesser responsibilities. You may be able to mount a good lawyerly defense of these creeps, but I don’t buy it. How are we ever going to correct these abuses if we keep alibiing for the major perpetrators?

  367. Just hewing to the same theme I always do Mike: Blame yourself first… fix yourself first. If you achieved enlightenment, don’t discount that possibility for others. The record proving the potential of people to overcome their circumstances through independent action and thought is a pretty big one, but an observable prerequisite is to conserve the energy you’d expend in blaming others for your situation. (Even if that blame is justified)

    I just have to chuckle when I hear the idea that someone has been victimized by advertising. What’s the old expression? You can’t cheat an honest man? Exactly. You can’t sell somebody something who doesn’t want it to begin with. Let’s also not loose sight of the fact that we’ve been marketed some very useful items…that keyboard in front of you is a good example. Am I right?

    You point out that those who hold positions of economic power don’t have your best interest foremost. As Gomer would say, “Surprise, surprise, surprise….” Really Mike? Is there a world or epoch that I’ve missed, because I’m having trouble recalling that golden age. When and where was that, exactly, when humanity operated from a position of altruism, all the time? But (and heres the really hard part to swallow for all of us, me included) we were complicit.

    Sorry to come on so strong on this subject, but thanks for the opportunity too. The only thing that drives me to spasms of frustration equal to the way I react to Ayn Randian know-nothing rationalization is the idea that we’ve somehow been victimized by others for our own choices. Please. If you’re serious about taking responsibility for your world now (and I know you are) you’ve got to get over that, in my opinion.

  368. There seems to be a lot of indiscriminate misuse of the word “we.” I am not asleep, people in this forum generally are not asleep. Why not speak accurately?

    That reminds me of Sharpton’s recent speech stating “we have bailed out the bankers etc.” Excuse me? I did not bail out anybody, and I actively protested the bailouts. I am not waging any wars. Perhaps I sound peevish, but dammit, I am tired of being dragged into stuff I am neither doing nor supporting. Maybe with more accurate attributions, we could get closer to those who bear most of the responsibility.

  369. Wade — I have a feeling I am not going to change your mind one bit, but here goes what I want to say in any public forum. You seem to want to eliminate the words “blame” and “victim” from our vocabulary, as if they are never appropriate or meaningful. This seems kind of extreme to me. So let me use “analysis by extremes” to see if I can fathom your position.

    Given the harm that Hitler and his gang did, am I to understand it would be wrong to blame them? Given what was done to those tortured and killed in the Holocaust, should we not refer to them as victims, as is commonly done? When a woman is raped are we not to blame her assailant? Is it wrong to say she was a victim of rape?

    I don’t quite understand what is wrong with these words or our use of them. Surely you are not a proponent of the solipsistic theory that we each create our entire reality? Do you subscribe to the great American fallacy that “You can be anything you want to be?” Or the Horatio Alger idea that anyone can become a millionaire if they just try hard enough. That if you have problems, it is basically your fault? After all, John Wayne never met a problem he couldn’t overcome (at least in a movie). Never say die. Never cry, never admit that you might not be able to lick a pack of wildcats? The boundless, frontier opening, world subduing optimism of the American Spirit? Gimme a break…. Is there another word for hubris? Submitted for your approval…..(smile)….or commentary. I wouldn’t go on like this if I did not think it important to both stand up for victims and their rights, and also to defend the need to blame those who are blameworthy.

  370. I would only reply to that Mike that if you truly are unable to draw a line between a murdered death camp inmate and someone who bought an in the egg scrambler in a weak moment … then you are in pretty deep weeds indeed my friend. I think you can.

  371. Dear Wade and Mike,

    Thanks for this exchange of perspective. It appears to me that discussions like this one point us in the direction of taking the measure of the human-induced global challenges looming before humanity. Please consider that knowledgeable and influential people have consciously avoided vital discussions such as this one and willfully done everything in their power to stop efforts to initiate them.

    Many too many of the so-called brightest and best among us have curried favors from the wealthy and powerful and been accorded great privileges, personal rewards and awards of distinction for their ‘service’, but let us be crystal clear about one thing: they have not served science, humanity, life as we know it and the living Earth we inhabit well. They have dishonestly and dishonorably sold out to the self-serving interests of the super-rich and their powerful proxies.

    If we are able to reasonably and sensibly take the measure of what is ailing humanity and understand why we are ailing, then we will have our first opportunity to respond ably to the threats to human wellbeing and environmental health…. to the threats to everything that we claim to be protecting and preserving. These distinctions are significant, too.



  372. Meh. I think we need more women in this discussion… :-)

  373. I guess what gets me is that I hear this from people who I respect: “We are all guilty of xyz, therefore it is wrong to single out any individual or group for blame or responsibility, we are ALL to blame!”

    How often a half-truth is used to cover up a larger truth. The larger truth here is that the enormous disproportion in power and influence wielded by a small minority of people has largely created the mess we are in. To then blame the rest of us for say, getting us into two immoral and financially disastrous wars, or pillaging public monies so that millions now have no homes or jobs, this is truly blaming the victims and excusing the perpetrators. I am not a big tea party fan, but these folks do have some real complaints.

    One of the truly important problems we face now is that folks are not able to think beyond the facile catch phrases and one liners that are stock and trade of the corporate spin machines. And if you think all that propaganda is not shaping the minds of huge numbers of our fellow citizens, ask yourself why the wealthy and powerful spend billions on media advertising and every avenue of public persuasion available. Unfortunately that money is not wasted; they have dumbed down America to an incredible degree. If we are to have any chance to create a better world, we are going to have to learn to think clearly about our situation, and not let spin doctors do our thinking for us.

  374. I agree, Vera, we need more women, but how do we attract them? Its like a microcosm of the larger question: how do we get more people talking, sharing, learning about the ongoing collapse of our culture? We need a massive culture wide re-education project. Women did it in the sixties. Small groups were a key to that sea change in thinking about gender roles and how to change them.

    The problems women were living with then were like the proverbial elephant in the living room; they were pervasive, but nobody was talking about them. The collapse of our world is evident all around us, but who is talking about it in a concentrated face to face context that is designed to lead to actions toward positive changes?

    Those consciousness raising groups were exciting, energizing, and fun to take part in. Is it too much to ask that we come up with a format that attracts people and also holds their interest. An important feature of such groups is to design them so everyone who comes feels part of the process and is invited to share freely in it. The “talking stick” of Native American usage can facilitate that.
    Rotating roles in the group at every meeting is another means to include everyone equally in the process.

    If these issues we are facing mean something to you, start a group to talk about them. How else are we going to generate the energy and wisdom we need to change our world for the better? Real changes don’t happen through occasional gestures and wishes. Some minimal form of organization is needed. Small groups can avoid the gridlock and boredom that larger groups often founder over. I am waiting to hear from the first person to try this. I would try to help any way I can. I have been in small groups with varying objectives for fifty years now. I am currently regularly attending four such groups on a weekly basis. I like it. It has become an important part of my life. You might like it too. Try it….

  375. “we need more women, but how do we attract them?”

    Less preaching, more conversation would not be a bad idea… and I am guilty of it too…

  376. Vera — What kind of “conversation” do you envision? When people share ideas which are sometimes matters of passionate concern to them, it might be a turn-off to them to be told they were “preaching.” Isn’t the term preaching often used as a kind of ad

    hominem put-down? I am open to your idea, but maybe you could be a little more explicit?

  377. I’d rather not. I am not looking to make enemies here. Just sayin’…

    The list is down to 4 or so of us. Either we need to import a troll, which I would rather not, or start a new conversation, nah? You know, like… actually talking with one another. :-)

  378. Re: women joining in. I often contribute to these conversations early but after a while it’s just too overwhelming – the anger and frustration, the right brain arguments and the put-downs. Then I read a post (’cause I get them in e-mails) and I think, oh I have something to say here but, being me, I feel I have to read what everyone else has said since my last contribution. And the overwhelm hit again and I’ve lost whatever it was I thought I wanted to add. There are so many “shoulds”, not just here but in my own head, and everywhere. We can’t possibly all do everything that we think we “should”. We really need to explore more creatively, bring in some compassion – for ourselves especially, for those of us who at least are aware and try. I know it’s hard to let go of our “thing” – we each have one or a few – whether it be population or corporations or human beings in general – for a bit, get outside our comfort zone, and really think about this virtual community that forms around Jensen’s articles. It’s amazing, really. And I know if we sat down face-to-face so much energy could come from it. Face-to-face is missing. The idea of small groups is a good one. However it’s easier said than done, have tried and almost succeeded a few times. But still, unless people are willing to actually come together (in the words of John Lennon), to be willing to experiment with sharing not only ideas but land, houses, “stuff”, gardens, responsibilities, and money (Yes, even that!) we won’t get far because we’ll still be stuck on our own, in our own little enclave wanting to come together but afraid of the changes involved. Don’t know if this is a “woman” thing or not, but that’s what I have to say about it right now.

  379. Vera — No need to name names and make anybody mad. Just in general terms, what do you mean by, “actually talking with one another?” And if that implies that we have not been doing that, how do you recommend we get on track? I feel sure you don’t mean that we should not strongly disagree with each other at times? It is always hard to steer a free ranging conversation in a direction or style that one feels comfortable with, especially among those who may hold very different ideas. Welcoming dissensus is great in theory, but in practice it can get a little messy. We are not the ideal cooperators we would like to be. We make a lot of errors in communicating. Maybe that is a major reason for the less than ideal situation in our world. We are all just learning how to get along with one another, Rodney — much less groking how to love one another, as JC recommended.

  380. Susan — Its great to hear from you, as always. You add so much value to our discussion. I agree that face to face adds some valuable dimensions to our sharing. Most of my experience has been in that context. Nevertheless, many of the same problems I am encountering in cyberspace are also prominent in small group dynamics wherever they meet.

    There has been a lot that I have had to learn in small groups. Patience, tolerance, ability to listen to and learn from criticism of my pet ideas, how to forgive, how to get angry and get over it, commitment, even love and gratitude, real trust, solid friendships….the list is long. This work is not always easy, but I have come to believe it is essential. If we can’t learn how to get along and share with each other in a small group of somewhat compatible people, what chance do we have of tackling the larger issues we are confronted with?

    Real love, real trust, real knowledge and wisdom, all have to be earned. To believe that we have these things as we are is an illusion that can hopefully be dismantled in the crucible of real life encounter with others. All the psychotherapists I have talked to have agreed that work in a group far surpasses what can be done one on one. Rodney King put his finger on it — learning to get along with each other is the number one problem on this planet. If we are able to summon the humility and realism to recognize this simple fact, then small groups are the ideal laboratory to correct our deficiencies. (Was that too preachy, Vera? Honestly, I need your feedback….)

  381. Susan, every so often I catch a glimpse of this virtual community we have here around Jensen’s essays — it’s like coming up for air — and then I drown again in all the verbiage and jousting. So the question really looms… what can we do with this forum that we haven’t tried before?

    “But still, unless people are willing to actually come together (in the words of John Lennon), to be willing to experiment with sharing not only ideas but land, houses, “stuff”, gardens, responsibilities, and money (Yes, even that!) we won’t get far”

    This has been in my thoughts a lot too. And then I remember all the failed experiments of the past, and all the good reasons why getting so closely involved with others does not work… and I get stuck….!

  382. Vera — Verbiage and jousting? Isn’t this perhaps people trying to get their points across, and get others to clarify what they are stating? Seems to me you are looking for a consensus that is unrealistic. I have witnessed people leave a group because someone said one word they didn’t like, or perhaps questioned one of their pet ideas. This is really unfortunate.

    It has been noted by several that this forum is one of the most polite and reasonable they have encountered on the web. Is it perfect? Of course not. One reason people feel they can’t talk with each other about these vital topics is that strong feelings may come up in such a discussion. To me, this is something we need to learn to deal with. These matters of planetary life and death are too important to let pass in silence.

  383. Yes, verbiage and jousting. Have you forgotten our favorite troll? :-)

  384. Mike, yes the group is where it’s at right now. I’ve been in groups where one person would just take over. Their thing would be THE thing and everything had to go back to that. I never quite understood the dynamic that just allowed one person to take over. But mostly the groups I’ve been in have fallen apart due to people being so very busy. Other commitments. Canceling coming at the last minute. But yeah, we really have to work at it. Living in a rural area like I do, and not wanting to drive 45 minutes or more there and back impacts things too. I first met some of my good friends in groups, which is nice too.
    Re: words. As a writer I spend a lot of time trying to craft what I want to say. Sometimes it just comes and sometimes I have to work on it. Words mean different things to different people too. And we all have a unique way of expressing ourselves. I understand that sometimes it takes a few tries to get it right, and then you learn something new or wake up one day and suddenly things seem different, so you’ve changed and have to start putting those words together to explain that new understanding or depth or whatever. It can mean lots of verbage. (Like what I just wrote).
    And Vera, yes I go there all the time too. One of the things that’s different now is the urgency of our situation. The Earth is a lot more damaged, the country is in a, let’s just say, very weird mood, and it would behoove us, in my opinion, to begin figuring out how we’re going to live that is pretty much “off the grid”. I do think that’s what it will come to, unfortunately probably in my lifetime, definitely my kids’ lifetime. (I’m 58). Not everyone would agree with me. But frankly it scares me to be so totally dependent on a system that is so dysfunctional for my electricity, fuel, most of my food, etc. And to go it alone (with a disabled sister) is not a pleasant thought. So given all that, I think the time may be coming around to now for us to figure out ways of making it work. One thing we know is why certain communities fell apart or moved in an uncomfortable direction. So we can learn from past mistakes. But still my friends are a long way from saying, “lets sell our places, find some land and do something together”. But it’s my fantasy.

  385. Susan — The reason one person can dominate a group is that no one speaks up and challenges them. Problems like this need to be addressed as soon as they arise. Also, using the “talking stick” tends to minimize this problem.

    Travel is a problem if you live in the country as I also do. I have done a 50 mile round trip once a week for twenty years now to attend one group. It has meant that much to me. Commitment is somewhat a catch 22, you need some to even get a group off the ground. Usually it takes a minimum of three solid attenders to gradually build up a group, but even one can do in a pinch. I was that one in one of the groups I attend, and it is still going 30 years later, in spite of my being absent for several years.

    Yes it takes a lot of words to deepen our understanding of ourselves, our world, and others. Language is a great gift our culture has put in our hands. If we learn to use it wisely it can be liberating. If misused or misunderstood it is enslaving. Sometimes I realize how much of me I owe to all the books I have read. To be able to share in the riches of the greatest minds that have lived!

    I have had experience living in alternative communities, and it is an exciting but challenging affair. I think of small groups as a place to possibly prepare for such ventures. I have a friend in one group who met in a small group with others for two years before they bought their land. There experiment is going really well, and they are off grid now. Good luck in all you are dreaming and doing. You write beautifully. Its always a pleasure and a learning to hear from you.

  386. Susan, I share your dream! The deal for me is… I don’t want to be building cohousing, nor a pioneer ecovillage, where all people’s energies get taken up in the development. I don’t want to buy land to *develop* it!

    Neither do I want to follow the ecovillage pattern of buying into bits of land and building there and then selling it when leaving. I don’t want to be part of the real estate merry-go-round at all. I want a tiny cabin in a cluster with other tiny cabins, and whatever is done as an “improvement” on the land stays there for the next generation. The land belongs to itself, and what is created there by humans is only held in trust for those who come after. I think this would encourage very modest ways of dwelling, fast to build, and people’s energy could go to learning to cooperate and share power, share the Earth. And relearning to do whatever humans did before the cult of MORE buried us in crap. :-)

  387. @Susan- The urgency you speak of is being felt by many. The system breaking down is inevitable. My husband has been checking out survivalist forums and was almost amused by the ‘WTSHTF’ acronym. America is king of the horror-flick, only because we have not had to deal directly with horrific situations (Holocaust, Hiroshima, etc.) on our own soil. As americans, we tend to escape (via entertainment) instead of facing reality and preparing. Kind of reminds me of the 3 little pigs fable right about now. I for one am trying to learn as much about self sustaining methods as much as possible, as it sounds like you may be doing too. I wish you and your family the best!

  388. Let’s agree to keep communicating in the best ways we know how. There is one thing about which all well-intentioned communicators can agree.


  389. Renegade — As to when the shit will hit the fan, it’s a little like Einstein’s relativity; where you are standing relative to the fan will determine when a major blast comes your way. For many, that time is now, this very moment. Thousands of lives are being crushed by the dysfunctions of civilization every minute. Survivalists seek a safer place to (temporarily) avoid the juggernaut.

    How rapidly the apocalypse will unfold, and engulf everything, is a matter of conjecture. Everything from 2012 to the slow motion collapse of J.M. Greer (the Archdruid Report) is on the table. No one knows for sure, and that adds to the anxiety and lack of trust in a secure future. Just as the ongoing financial debacle makes money an insecure resource, the unknown severity of the forecasted collapse makes even survivalist planning uncertain and problematic.

    I often tell myself: others have been through this and worse throughout our long history; this is part of the essential reality of the development of (somewhat) more intelligent life on this planet. That I have been (so far) spared the very worst consequences of our really bad historic karma is an undeserved blessing for which I am grateful.

    The question arises, how to live in these times? Saying this, I recall the inspiring words of Clarissa Pinkola Estes (Women Who Run With the Wolves) in her Letter to a Young Activist (available on the web). My own answer is, have courage, do what you can to help others, develop an inner life of peace, love, and awareness of a Higher Power (however you may conceive That) and seize the day!
    In spite of all evidence to the contrary, it is still a beautiful world.
    Strive to be happy. (Disiderata)

  390. Dear Mike, restless renegade, Sandy, Susan, Vera and Wade,

    Please keep speaking out loudly, clearly and often. A criminal conspiracy of silence is not serving the interests of science, humanity, life as we know it and the Earth as fit place for human habitation.

    Hysterical blindness, willful deafness and elective mutism of so-called leaders must not be allowed any longer to hold future human wellbeing and environmental health as if they were hostages. The talking heads, opinion makers, thought leaders, spin doctors and other sychophants and surrogates of those who have concentrated most of world’s wealth in their own hands…the hands of a tiny minority of arrogant greedmongers….cannot stand as stubborn obstacles to movement away from what is to soon become patently unsustainable and toward sustainable lifestyles and right-sized human enterprises.



  391. Steve, when you come here day after day to say the same thing over and over, and now you are even yelling at us (capitals), I feel very irritated because I am looking for a conversation. Would you be willing to acquire some netiquette before going any further? It would be much appreciated on this end.

  392. Vera,


    How can I make my advocacy clearer to you? Please know that I do not regard you as some sort of Emily Post-like arbiter of the internet. Perhaps you could help me out by telling me a bit more about who you think you are as well as what powers you believe you possess.



  393. In a family, folks sometimes “fall out” with each other. But if there are values that transcend these upsets, they find ways to get back on track.

  394. Scott, would you please explain to Steve regarding the use of capitals on the internet? This is a formal complaint. I am not coming here to be shouted at. Thank you.

    Sandy, are you serious!? :-) I even speak Russian… a dacha… hm… (dreaming)

  395. With the name Vera, I thought you might speak… Yes, my wife and I are here and have a dacha on the forest edge with her family in central Siberia… Barnaul.

  396. Dear Vera,

    If you only knew what Scott Walker has had to put up from me since I started posting on the Orion Blogs some years back. One day perhaps he and I will do a piece together in the Reader’s Corner regarding my advocacy and the problems it has presented. Vera, in the light of your complaint and if Scott requests it of me, please know that I will not make comments here with capital letters. Until I hear from Scott, please anticipate my intention to go forward as I think best.

    My advocacy is significant, I believe, because not nearly enough people with knowledge of the global predicament looming before the human family have been open and honest about what they believe the human species is doing to the Earth and its environs. Too many knowledgeable people have remained electively mute. I view that behavior as a “sin of omission”. Likewise the dishonesty, duplicity, disinformation campaigns and denial by the talking heads in the mass media appear to me as “sins of commission”. I categorically object to human beings with feet of clay standing around in silence and, by so doing, appear to be giving consent to such woefully inadequate behavior. These sins, that are occuring at the behest self-proclaimed masters of the universe among us, will not stand because they cannot be allowed to prevail. There is simply too much at stake for a tiny minority of foolhardy greedmongers to rule the world much longer.



  397. I was hoping not to have to step in here, but for what it’s worth: all caps does imply online that you are shouting, so if you know that you should keep it in mind; and not everybody understands everything about this relatively new medium, so some of us will need to accommodate other folk’s learning curves. Just like life…

  398. Gregg Braden, former astrophysicist with NASA, who studied with prophets and shaman around the world has said that when the No. and So. poles switch, only those who have thus far reached a high enough consciousness will be able to meditate the Earth into a new reality. Wouldn’t that be nice?

  399. For any of you who are not aware of it, Democracy Now’s programs are available as podcasts, on TV or to read/watch/listen to on the internet at Why should I mention this? Well, because with many of the things of interest to us in the Orion community there are people in the world actively involved in trying to find solutions, and these activities are not reported on the mainstream media. Some of us here might think that many of these activities are useless, leading to no significant change. I leave it to the individual to make that judgement for him/herself.
    A month after apparently ignoring Bill McKibben’s performance art stunt with Jimmy Carter’s solar panels, there’s an announcement that the White House will install solar panels on the roof. Is this a great victory that has to leave us all in awe? It is what it is. There will be more steps to follow.
    Today I walked an eight mile path in the woods that I previously hadn’t wanted to tackle because of borderline diabetes-related energy level problems. I came back calm and refreshed. One step at a time. And full of solar energy.
    Check out Democracy Now for other things that may have passed under your radar, and just for a picture (video) of real people responding to problems of interest to us all. Might get some ideas.

  400. Scott — “He governs best who governs least.” Thanks for all that you (don’t do)! :)

  401. If recurring complaints about my advocacy over the past few months have actually had to do with my occasional use of capital letters, then I am fine with not using them. On the other hand, if this latest objection is what I believe to it to be —- though unconscious, a part of an effort to silence my voice —- then let me say now and here, with crystal clarity, as loudly as I can, until the walls of Jericho (and denial) fall, that I will not be silent.

    Several influential people in the communications media and a remarkable number of established experts have sought to obstruct my advocacy. Because Scott Walker is one of a growing number of people in positions of influence who has tolerated my work, I want to thank him as well as extend my best wishes.

  402. restless renegade, you wrote:

    “America is king of the horror-flick, only because we have not had to deal directly with horrific situations (Holocaust, Hiroshima, etc.) on our own soil.”

    I’d say that a truer take is that we just tend to forget our history rather quickly. My ancestors, and everyone they aligned with who also made some bad political choices, received a very thorough thrashing at the hands of the federal authorities not all that long ago. Starvation, brutal death, political subjugation and generations of stilted economic progress were the door prizes they drew for their errors. Just how significant an ass-kicking that was seems to have passed out of our collective memory, but for those people who were on the sharp point of that, believe me, it has proven to be a very elucidating memory for their heirs.

  403. Well said, Plowboy. As an immigrant, I continue to be astonished by how most Americans are willing to just sweep the rape of the South under the rug.

    Mike, to the best of my memory, Jensen’s book Strangely Like War is one of the most eloquent statements against civil disobedience and working the system that way. Do you recall differently?

  404. should have been better worded… meant to say, … against the effectiveness of civil disobedience…

  405. Vera — Surely someone has written a book about what our country would be like if the South had won the civil war? I don’t know, but it would be an interesting speculation. Mint juleps on the veranda, anyone?

    Strangely Like War? Been a while since I read it. Good book to increase awareness of the crucial role of deforestation in our eventual collapse. Ditto the book Collapse by whatshisname (Alz setting in)…ah..Jared Diamond. I knew he was in there somewhere.

    As to DJ’s thoughts on protest and political action, I have come to realize that Derrick is not so easily pigeon-holed and dogmatized as some of his critics (and admirers) would like to think. Like any actively creative person, he is always evolving. So, I can’t remember what stance he was highlighting when he wrote Strangely Like War. He ended up this essay we are commenting on (sometimes) saying we need to organize politically!

  406. Mike…it is somewhat of a difficult line to walk, intellectually….but I admire the courage and fortitude of my ancestors, but also want to grab them and shake them, and scream: “WHAT IN THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING!!!!”

  407. Derrick did end the essay speaking of organizing politically. But nowhere is he suggesting that he means anything close to Hedges’ “begin to hinder the functioning of the corporate state through acts of civil disobedience.”

    Mike, don’t twist my words. I am not plugging for the South to have won. I am speaking against the rape of the South known as the Reconstruction (not to mention the scorched earth policy at the end of the war). If that is not in your view a shameful part of American history, then heck, all I’m gonna do is yell Damn Yankees! 😉

    FYI: I got a new post up on my blog. Just click on my name.

  408. Vera — Agreed: war is hell — for all involved. I am not a fan of war, victors or vanquished.

    In Endgame, Derrick recommends taking down cell phone towers, blowing up dams, sabotaging the Internet, and destroying the electrical grid. Does that qualify as civil disobedience?

    And BTW, disagreeing with you is not equivalent to “twisting your words.”

    (Slight pause for quieter reflection) OK, thanks for your clarification, I just get up when I think someone is justifying the South’s Role in that tragic affair, and painting them as unqualified victims. You were not doing that. My bad. I apologize.

    Also on calmer deliberation, I see that you were meaning peaceful civil disobedience, which Derrick has gone out of his way to deride as useless and ineffective. If you had thought to put that word peaceful in there, I might not have responded as I did. It is interesting that Hedges didn’t specify peaceful or not in his essay. As he looks deeper over time into just how overwhelmingly screwed we are, I think he moves ever closer to DJ. He did a very laudatory essay about Jensen a few weeks ago….

    If I screwed up this comment too, please let me know, I need your sharp eye to keep me sane!

    And Plowboy — I popped off smart about the South. Sorry. I am too prone to do that. Its not like I think the North were some kind of saints. When there is war, we are all to blame.

  409. Thank you, Mike, that clears it up. I just objected to my words being interpreted in a way I did not say. And I do not see South as unqualified victims. (Btw, Wade… Fort Sumter… WTF? I just don’t get it.)

    Jensen has pushed sabotage. I tend to think of sabotage and civil disobedience as two sorts of things… but I suppose there is overlap… hm… must… defrag… brain…

    Can you link the Hedges Jensen essay? Much thanks.

  410. The joint interview with Hedges and Jensen can be found on the Truthdig blog by searching Hedges Jensen. The link was too long for me to copy. If my wife was here, she would know how, but I am a computer newbie. Its a one hour event, and I haven’t had time to hear it yet. Interested to her your take on it?

  411. Her=here. And I used to work as a proof reader! A proof reader is without error, except on his own stuff?

  412. Ooops! Double bogie. “her” should be hear.

    One of our dogs is very sick, and my mind is just not focused.

  413. Mike, sending blessings and good vibes to your sweet doggy friend.

    And maybe this will cheer you up a little: while internet denizens are not very tolerant of being shouted at, they are amazingly tolerant of typos and misspellings. Don’t sweat it, unless it’s impenetrable. :-)

  414. Thanks Vera. Just some lingering shreds of perfectionism I need to deal with. Our dog has surprisingly perked up a bit. Maybe he picked up some of the good vibes you sent…

  415. To Sandy Krolick, Plowboy and Mike K.

    Every time a friend like on of you has provided me a new example of what our ancestors could see that would be occurring in our time, I am reminded of the remarkable number of splendid people throughout our history who raised their voices loudly… who tried to let us know. Of course, as these great human beings with feet of clay knew all too well, the powers that be, the self-proclaimed masters of the universe in our time would complete the work of the greedy kings who came before them… the little kings (named by Ozymandias) would set the stage for the final act, unless, of course, we choose a different way f i n a l l y – – – b e f o r e i t i s t o o l a t e.

  416. To Sandy Krolick, Plowboy and Mike K,

    Every time a friend like one of you has shown me a new example of what our ancestors could see that would be occurring in our time, I am reminded of the remarkable number of splendid people throughout our history who raised their voices loudly… who tried to let us know. Of course, as these great human beings with feet of clay knew all too well, the powers that be, the self-proclaimed masters of the universe in our time would complete the work of the greedy kings who came before them… the little kings (named by Ozymandias) would set the stage for the final act, unless, of course, we choose a different way f i n a l l y – – – b e f o r e i t i s t o o l a t e.

  417. Mike, Vera…

    I think the South’s insurrection is a pretty abject example of what can happen when a fever for violent confrontation sweeps a culture, and I think it really is an appropriate lesson for those who advocate resistance at all costs…like Jensen does. I’ve said before here: Be careful what you ask for. As I’ve also said, a degree of humility in this context is always justified. This is a quality that we can probably all agree is missing in our politicians, the ability to honestly say, “I may be wrong.” Those four words, if spoken more often can save thousands of lives. (Iraq?)

    And Mike, I don’t take any offense at the honest appraisal of the South’s tragic flaws from that time. Like I said, I share many of those feelings. The complexity of the emotions and actions will never be untangled to anyone’s satisfaction. But, if there is one “take away”, it would be the above.

    (As for the Charleston bombardment…yeah…but, if you really wanted to see how something like that happens, attend an SEC football game. Really, it is not too far a stretch.)

  418. Plowboy — I agree with your sentiments. We are all part of a society with an incredible backlog of awful karma. The Civil War is just a part of that long record of atrocities and genocides. What is really mind boggling is that at the same time we have so many wonderful accomplishments along side all our grievous faults. If only we can grow beyond the negatives, and accentuate the positives. Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished…..

  419. Steve — I share your pain and frustration, as well as your hope. It is hard to look at what is clearly happening to our world. We are in the midst of an ongoing disaster. Those with the most power to change course are asleep at the wheel, wrapped up in their own selfish delusions. We can only hope that speaking out and arousing others will play a part in avoiding greater disasters. “The only thing evil needs to succeed is for people of good will to remain silent and do nothing.”

  420. Dear Wade,

    I attended the Alabama-South Carolina football game on Saturday. Your observation about the behavior of SEC football fans “at war” is spot on.



  421. Postscript to Wade:

    If you saw the game on TV, you might have gotten a glimpse the extraordinary police presence that appeared at the end of the game. Without that restraining force, there would likely be fanatics still fighting in the streets of Columbia this morning……

  422. Dear Wade,

    Your admonition regarding the seldom-exhibited ability to admit wrongdoing reminds me of a quote from Oliver Cromwell,

    “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.”



  423. Nice discussion. Hasn’t changed much in the last year. Just a question, 99% of native grasslands are gone? Really? I’m not sure that’s accurate. I live in the Great Plains and don’t spend that much time in front of the computer. In my travels things look pretty good out in the real world. Maybe there’s a little too much virtual reality here.

  424. wildrose — Been to Iraq or Afghanistan recently? Africa, Asia, or maybe just the slums of some big cities?

  425. Steve…that’s actually the game I was thinking of when I wrote that! (Everyone here is still in mourning.) Amusing, really, but there is a much more sinister vibe that lurks not too far under the surface, always. Enough brown liqour and the wrong words, and the whole shootin’ match could unravel, and right quick.

    Funny too, that quote of Cromwell’s was also tickling my brain around that time.

    Get out of my head man!


  426. Steve — Don’t know if you read the New Yorker article on football and brain damage a while back. Seems the damage begins at the high school level, and gets worse as a player moves up to play with bigger boys. When one watches a game with this in mind, I wonder if it enhances the spectator’s gladiatorial thrill, or does it kinda take the fun out of it? Since we are living in the most violent (by some measures) culture to ever exist on earth, maybe folks would rather not think about it, and just “enjoy” the game….

  427. Dear Wade,

    My son-in-law is a SC alum and huge fan. South Carolina had not beaten a Number One ranked football team in its 112 year history before Saturday. SC’s Governor and other celebrities were in attendance. The police presence was larger than anything I have seen since the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968.

    Alabama is used to being #1 so I do not feel too bad for my friends of the Crimson Tide. Y’all will see Number One again, likely long before the Gamecocks ever arrive at that lofty perch…



  428. Well Steven, sic transit gloria mundi, I always say….

    I like to see the world stood on end every now and then. Suits us.

  429. So I am gonna repeat again the question stirred up by Susan M-L: what can we do to make these Jensen discussions more useful? I am thinking that a lot of people read the remarks here but do not get drawn in, and perhaps more to the point, many comment, but never come back. Like wildrose commented, this place pretty much stays the same, perhaps even “static” would not be too harsh a term, and gets stuck in the same places. Any resonance? Any ideas?

  430. vera, we have another opportunity this week to watch a wide assortment of the French population striking for some of the same things that are of interest to us. Will all the shouting and the vuvuzelas come to naught? Stay tuned.
    Alternatively we could go hang with the Archdruid and keep working on ways to live a sane alternative life while the waters around us rise higher (I’m not putting the methods down, just wondering how many small pockets of sanity might survive the coming madness).

  431. Ed T: fraid you can’t fix a ponzi scheme via a strike. But who knows, maybe they have a surprise for us yet. After all… these are the kids of 68… have they gotten more of a clue since?

    But what about this discussion? Any ideas for making this space more useful?

  432. Hey Vera — Know any good jokes? Maybe we could get up a pool and offer prizes, or just a straight lottery? What if we could get some celebrity on the blog? Help, I’m running out of ideas!

    How about this one: Hard work, long commitment, no pay, and no guarantee of success. That ought to bring ‘em in !

    (BTW did you realize that this Jensen comments thread has had more responses than all the rest of the Orion comments put together?)

  433. There is still very rich discussion to be had about Derrick’s concern that the “green movement” is oblivious to the psychopathy that pervades many of our institutions. I have waited and waited for people to discuss the fascinating contribution 322 sandy krolick on Sep 30, 2010 Page 41. Sandy began

    **I thought it appropriate at this spot to make a few observations on language.Have you noticed how there is more talking today, and almost nothing being said? Well, it’s true. Language has become trivialized in the modern world, stripped bare of its depth and power. Where words once were heard as rich and pregnant with signification, in our finessed, digitized, and fragmented vocabulary all that has changed for the worst.**

    This is precisely what I found as I explored the language that has evolved with the advent of the “green movement”. The energy symbol is now equated with a few major commodities that a psychopathic group of money traders control the trade of. Similarly the power symbol is equated with their Bulk-generated electrical products, as is the electricity symbol. (Do a Google search on these symbols in your area to check the truth of this.) This equation of energy with the forms it can take destroys our appreciation of the great principles of physics and denies the existence of myriad forms and possibilities, as does the equation of power with a form. The use of the electricity symbol denies the existence of a huge array of electrical phenomena with completely various qualities. The arts symbol which once referred to any fine skill now refers only to a narrow range of activity. The science symbol which once referred to a state of being in knowledge now refers to a narrow amoral way of thinking. The warming symbol is equated with the warming up symbol, thus destroying our awareness of rich change inherent in the fundamental thermodynamics of existence. The environment symbol, which once spoke of all that we are part of, is now mainly equated with ecology.
    I give more examples on my website ( ) of symbols that have largely been stripped of their meaning. That meaning derived from the fact the symbols enabled us to better reflect reality, the universal flux. This trivialising process enables both psychosis and psychopathy to flourish. Much of the sustaining potential of these prime symbols has been destroyed. It is hard to know whether these changes in symbol use were caused by the Industrial Revolution or they enabled the Industrial Revolution. Which ever, they reflect its dangerous and destructive elements and work to propagate them. The fascinating thing is this language of psychosis and psychopathy is most propagated by the “green” movement. Surely this is a cause for more discussion and deep reflection at Orion?

  434. Dear Dave McArthur,

    I hope everyone takes a moment to click on the link to your website, Sustainability Principle. Thanks for including it in your useful comments.

    You are helping us face the facts of our predicament rather than presenting ineffectual distractions to that process. Thank you.

    In following up on your ideas for more fruitful discussion, I would like suggest that if we intend to actually do things that aim at avoiding the collapse of the structures of human civilization, for example, perhaps we need to think beyond the point of fixing what is broken in the structures. We need to take an a different step forward by thinking about how what is broken can be redesigned for sustainability. If the structures of civilization that are broken also are unsustainable, then fixing what is unsustainable will only lead to collapse not to the avoidance of breakdown. On the other hand, if we think beyond fixing what is unsustainable to designing sustainable structures as well as right-sizing human enterprises, then I believe we will be acting in the spirit of the sustainability principle, as you have presented it.

    With every good wish to you, Dave,


  435. There are a lot of reasons people might not care to involve in a discussion like the one here around DJ’s ideas. A major heading would be: fatalism. This takes many forms. You can’t change human nature. Our problems are too big to solve. Talking never solved anything. Movements are always eventually corrupted. The cycles of war are inevitable. The Bible says human affairs will end catastrophically. My tiny efforts can accomplish nothing to change the world. Or very simply, we are doomed. This is a small sampling of the mantras folks use to justify their inaction. These are on the pessimistic side.

    On the sunny side of the street are: Problem? What problem? There is no problem. Or, there may be problems, but science will take care of them. Or God, or Saucer People, or psychotherapy, or mind altering drugs, or some cult leader, or Messiah, or “George” will take care of it, or if I just ignore it, it will somehow go away, and on and on….

    Let’s face it, most people would rather do almost anything rather than rassle with this Bear of a World Problem. Can you blame them? Yes, you can……… but it won’t do any good!

  436. John C. — Stick your two-bits in here, we need to hear from you!

  437. In light of my last comment, I am heartened that we have so many (relatively) who do put a bit of there time and energy into these larger concerns.

  438. There are thinkers. There are talkers. There are doers. All three require thought and energy. Only one requires courage.

  439. Just one thing:

    “Further, doesn’t the mainstream scientific community demand that emotion be removed from all scientific study? ”

    No. Just… no. As a scientist, I absolutely resent and disagree with you about this statement. It’s wonderful to be emotional and passionate about science and whatever you’re studying. You should be so passionate and emotional that you don’t tamper with your results, and instead get facts and truth out of the study in order to help others and the world around you.

  440. saganluvr – but isn’t the scientific community at the root of many of our problems today?

    Someone emailed me today with one of those ‘forward to everyone you know’ emails (hate those)

    The email stated: “Friday is world cancer day – I’d appreciate it if you will forward this request. 93% won’t forward. A small request.. Just one line. Dear God, I pray for a cure for cancer. Amen”

    This was my reply:
    “Cancer is cruel. But I do not pray for a ‘cure’….
    “…a number of drugs used to treat cancer have been shown to increase the occurrence of secondary cancers.” (source:

    Instead? I hope for science to find the CAUSE(s).
    If they can find the cause(s), we can start the process of eliminating the source(s).

    I happened upon a list of cancer causing agents, at and it appears that most are caused by chemicals and substances (that were created in laboratories?). It stated that the list grows, bringing the total to 246.

    It also said : “For the first time ever, viruses are listed in the report: hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, and some human papillomaviruses that cause common sexually transmitted diseases.”

    Industries would probably not have gone on to succeed as far as they have without the scientific community.

    To add to my previous posting:
    The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it. ~ Einstein

  441. Linus Pauling, two time Nobel lareate said, “The war on cancer is largely a fraud.”

    Check out Ralph Moss’ book The Cancer Industry, or go to his website. With popular “treatments” costing over $100,000 a year, cancer is truly the goose that lays golden eggs. Finding a real cure is the last thing those feeding at the trough would ever dream of. Prevention not only does not pay the big bucks, it disturbs the profits of Big Chemistry and others with plenty of power to make sure their toxic gravy train is not derailed.

  442. Perhaps science is not the problem and never has been. Science is a gift to humanity from God and as such is good.

    On the other hand, every time scientific knowledge is put to use by human beings, there the potential for all sorts of trouble and danger lurks.

    Science and technology are not the same things.

    Scientific knowledge is from God; technology is a product of human thought and action, I believe.

  443. Heh. Like I always say, if they cured cancer tomorrow, there’d be panic in the streets. Too many pigs at the trough.

    It’s been known for maybe 30 years or longer that herbicide exposure causes lymphoma. What have the scientist done about it? Zilch. You can still drive a pick up to Lowes and load up on the poisons and spread it under your neighbors window, in the wind, and nobody seem to give a damn. Bah humbug.

  444. Good point Steve.
    True science
    is something precious which we need for our salvation. The perversions of scientific knowledge are the work of deluded and unregenerate humans. True scientific endeavor does not conflict with true spirituality, but is actually an essential part of it. (Read the work of Thomas Berry, such as The Dream of the Earth.)

  445. Welcome, saganluvr, a little chilly in here, eh? And wild. Just decent folks who, like many others, think scientists should see the future possible uses of their work and not do it if anyone anywhere at any time might do something bad with it.
    They, of course, should accompany you in your self restriction, and restrict themselves from doing anything that might lead to something that might lead to something that might lead to something bad.
    Altho there are some things done by scientists that are directed to more questionable ends, you and I know that most of what scientists do is to just try to put all the pieces of the puzzle together so we can understand our world.
    The fruits of other lines of inquiry and other human pursuits are also bought and sold and co-opted by the conscience-less. Shall we stop all of those things, too? Are we ready to look again at the sociopaths who are doing the buying and selling?

  446. Steven – “Scientific knowledge is a gift from God?” Really? I find it hard to believe that your God, or anyone’s God is responsible for: atomic bombs, DDT, core-exit, etc.

    Science fueled technology. It gave them the blue prints to grow their empires.

    NASA is the child of science and technology.

    • mike k- “True science is something precious which we need for our salvation.”

    Sorry, don’t agree. In my opinion, science, for the large part, got us all into this mess in the first place…

    “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

    • Short excerpt from: History of the Atomic Bomb & The Manhattan Project.

    “Upon witnessing the explosion, its creators had mixed reactions. Isidor Rabi felt that the equilibrium in nature had been upset as if humankind had become a threat to the world it inhabited. Robert Oppenheimer, though ecstatic about the success of the project, quoted a remembered fragment from the Bhagavad Gita. “I am become Death,” he said, “the destroyer of worlds.” Ken Bainbridge, the test director, told Oppenheimer, “Now we’re all sons of bitches.”

    After viewing the results several participants signed petitions against loosing the monster they had created, but their protests fell on deaf ears. The Jornada del Muerto of New Mexico would not be the last site on planet Earth to experience an atomic explosion.”

    • Ed T – “….most of what scientists do is to just try to put all the pieces of the puzzle together so we can understand our world.”

    Native peoples understood the world just fine. To the best of my knowledge? they had ‘medicine men’ but no scientists. Their medicine men (and women) were spiritual as well as having knowledge in plant-based medicines. No chemical by-product or fall out there. Just good old biodegradeable substances. Can your scientific community say the same?

    “… restrict themselves from doing anything that might lead to something that
    might lead to something that might lead to something bad.”

    Ever hear of 7 generations? Native peoples (and myself) believe in thinking through every action and to visualize the repercussions for 7 generations to come before actually doing. Do scientists?

    “Are we ready to look again at the sociopaths who are doing the buying and selling?”

    Think about the drug dealer and children on the playground. If there were no drugs to begin with…. do you see now?

    • Please. Do not misunderstand me. I am not an advocate for violence against the scientific community in any way. While I may look good in ‘prison orange’ colored clothing, the jumpsuit itself is highly unflattering to my physique.

  447. “True science is something precious which we will need for our salvation.”

    The important word is “true”. True scientists would not and did not make the atomic bomb. Also, we need to separate “science” from “scientists”. Science did not make the atomic bomb: scientists did.

    True scientists would not have concocted the chemicals that are poisoning our world, they are working even today to expose the dangers of doing so, and seeking ways (chelation, etc.) to heal us of their effects. The founders of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists were of the true scientist breed.

    The lag in humankind’s spiritual/ethical development is the real cause of our serious problems, not the search for deeper understanding that is the real business of scientific enquiry imho.

    Although one can argue that we never should have opened Pandora’s Box, truth is we have, and now we will need our best science (and spiritual growth methods) to fish us out of the soup. Sort of like the predicament of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, who needed the real (true) Wizard to bail him out.
    “True science is something precious which we will need for our salvation.”

    The important word is “true”. True scientists would not and did not make the atomic bomb. Also, we need to separate “science” from “scientists”. Science did not make the atomic bomb: scientists did.

    True scientists would not have concocted the chemicals that are poisoning our world, they are working even today to expose the dangers of doing so, and seeking ways (chelation, etc.) to heal us of their effects. The founders of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists were of the true scientist breed.

    The lag in humankind’s spiritual/ethical development is the real cause of our serious problems, not the search for deeper understanding that is the real business of scientific enquiry imho.

    Although one can argue that we never should have opened Pandora’s Box, truth is we have, and now we will need our best science (and spiritual growth methods) to fish us out of the soup. Sort of like the predicament of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, who needed the real (true) Wizard to bail him out.

  448. Sorry for the double post. My finger slipped……there goes my perfectionist illusions……

  449. Dear Mike K and Friends All,

    Thanks for all you are reporting. Please continue this discussion. Let us see where the discussion takes us.

    There is something I have wanted to say out loud for a long time. Somehow the time and place was never right. The years passed. Finally, now and here.

    These words do not amount to much, but it pleases me to speak out as loudly and clearly as I can,

    We need some transformational global event to occur that would not hurt anyone but would help everyone “awaken”, in the sense of raising collective consciousness of humanity, to a level of awareness adequate for perceiving and understanding the global predicament looming before all of us. Their is no doubt in my mind that a new level of collective consciousness will enjoin able and humane responses within leaders and followers alike to the global predicament. The human species possess gifts of surpassing intelligence, evolving self-consciousness, compassion and innovative capabilities that will see us through what does appear to many experts as a remarkably demanding and dangerous period in human history. The ideas that there is nothing to do because nothing can be done and that trying to do something which is somehow right is not worth the effort, are anathema to me.



  450. I am with renegade. The whole argument some of you are pursuing, that it is not science but individual scientists who have brought bad stuff forth, has been employed for centuries by the catholic Church to evade responsibility. Oh no, the Church is perfect and holy, but individual churchmen and other Christians have done damage. It is not surprising, then, that Marxist-Leninists used to plead the same kind of dishonest crap.

    In a world where everything is in the service of power (instead in service to life) science too is just a handmaiden of power. The feeble efforts of a few trying to go against the tide notwithstanding.

  451. Steven….I’ve thought and spoke that same belief for years. Really, given the heap of evidence that no other so-called “game changer” event has managed to nudge us off of our inexorable march towards extinction, the only conclusion is that it has to be a certified boffo-of-a-humdinger? After all, you’re competing with WWII and all the door prizes it brought us: The Holocaust, Hiroshima/Nagasaki. You’re also up against all the so-called technological miracles of the age. We’ve managed to assimilate and shrug off antibiotics, laser surgery, interplanetary flight, and a whole slew of other gee-whiz gadgets. Resurrection? Been there, done that… got the shroud. It would seem that we humans have an infinite capacity to look straight at the horrific and the miraculous and just yawn collectively. Well, guess this fills some adaptive purpose….but, what would such an event look like?

    Any proposals from y’all?

  452. renegade, no drugs? What planet do you live on? The drugs were here before we were. They grow in the wild.
    7 generations? Wish to as we might, no one can or ever could see very far. Most people can’t see even 10 minutes into the future. I think you mythologise native peoples – who probably, in general, had very good intentions (you won’t convince me that they didn’t have their 6% sociopaths, just like every social class, nationality, etc. in the world today has; it’s just a part of human nature, which probably hasn’t changed significantly since we began walking upright).
    Native peoples’ understanding of medicinal plants WAS science. Someone observed the effects of a plant, worked to understand it better and passed on the knowledge to someone else. Their spirituality is no more than the spirituality of a large percentage of modern people engaged in scientific investigation.
    And apparently they didn’t really understand enough about the world because something came in from outside and crushed them, just as something is likely to come and crush us if we don’t get our heads together in a positive way – and maybe even if we do – who knows if we can handle this?

  453. Ed T, your information on sociopathy is incorrect, IMO. There are about 4% in this country, but under 1% in Taiwan. There is significant variation. Moreover, in tribal situations, many such individuals were eliminated from the gene pool, and their incidence therefore was probably small. (There is indication that a sociopathic parent increases the chances of the child being sociopathic, but I am not sure by how much.)

    “Native peoples’ understanding of medicinal plants WAS science. Someone observed the effects of a plant, worked to understand it better and passed on the knowledge to someone else.”

    That is a reductionist understanding that does not jive with some of what knowledgeable people have observed among the primitive tribes. Yes, some of it I am sure was as you say. Some of it wasn’t. Check out Original Wisdom by Wolff.

  454. You think science has caused a lot of trouble? What about books? Think of all the harm they have done. Come to think of it language, the ability to speak started a lot of this bad karma going. And how about those old guys who kept watching the sky at night? That meant among other disastrous developments, they were able to calculate (numbers – there’s a real trouble maker) the best times to plant — so then we have grain surplus, cities, armies, overpopulation.

    It looks like our best bet from here is to go back as quick as we can to munching fruit in the trees, and keep our mouths shut, and our hands to ourselves (watch out for that opposable thumb!). The only problem is figuring out how to get back there. There’s that Angel with the Flaming Sword barring the way back. Reckon a stinger missile would take that dude out?

  455. I think your sarcasm has misled you into missing my point, Mike. As long as all those things … math, writing, astronomy, science et al serve power, rather than life, they will cause horrible problems. That is a given.

    The key is not to go back into the effing trees. The key is to solve the problem of power.

  456. Plowboy, sorry, can’t help… I am not an apocalyptarian… 😉

  457. Vera — Sometimes I wonder if you really read my posts, or if you just react to the first thing you spot.

    “The lag in humankind’s spiritual/ethical development is the real cause of our serious problems, not the search for deeper understanding that is the real business of scientific enquiry imho.”

    This sounds a lot like what you wrote in your last post. You know that you and I agree that abuse of power is the real problem.

    When anyone starts bashing science per se, not what has been done with it by dominator deluded types, I wonder if they really know what they are saying, or what kind of world we would have if the quest for knowledge was reversed. Nothing personal. Its just that I am a defender of true science, which is an aspect of true spirituality. I might get a little ironic if someone denied the reality of evolution, as the majority of Americans now do, according to polls. Now I don’t think you are in that category of evolution deniers, so don’t read that into what I just said. That we don’t understand always what others intended to convey is a normal part of communication that I am prone to, along with everyone else that I have ever related with. No biggie, just another aspect of the need to get to know (ultimately learn to love) one another.

  458. Meh. There is no true science under domination, so what’s the point going over it?

    I thought you and I agreed re the problem of power. It gives me comfort to see you restate it, Mike. Thank you.

  459. Part of a longer answer is that these “downs” on the journey are natural responses that are almost inevitable, and are not a sign of unfitness for the task. One reason for being part of a group is that when you get off the trail, others in the group can help you get back on. The Lone Ranger Complex is to be avoided. Going it alone seems like a heroic role, but it is not appropriate for dealing with this protean dragon. Forget the myths and cultural narratives that extol that kind of stance. To use a metaphor that for some has been discredited — this is either going to be a successful transition out of the Piscean Age of individual savior/hero/leaders into the Aquarian Age of group dynamics and cooperation, or we are going to suffer more of the inadequacies of a one-man-rule type of thinking. We are facing challenges now that require a whole new way of thinking/being.
    Truth is, there is no separation whatever between our problem of how to share power wisely and the goal of traditional spiritual paths. Aspirants to higher consciousness and enlightenment face the same difficulties that “activists” encounter. Our misunderstandings of what “spiritual” really means are a major obstacle to finding real deep solutions to the world’s dilemmas. Any small groups or movements that try to proceed without clarifying the role of spiritual work on ourselves are, in my opinion, doomed to failure. There comes a time when you either look deeply into the causes of our dysfunctions, or you will continue to futilely repeat the failed efforts of the past.

    As one guide book puts it, “Unless you build the house with My help, you build it in vain.” Only better (transformed) people can build a better (transformed) world. Parts of the future technology of transformation lie scattered among the traditions of all cultures dealing with ultimate things. We need to gather and update this wisdom as an essential task necessary for our success. When I lose heart and get down, one of my resources is to delve into the library of spiritual literature I have accumulated over the years. I have always found good counsel there that gives me renewed energy to go forward once more into the breach….
    Does the above make me sound like I am really together and on top of everything? I hope not. The truth is that I am a deeply flawed individual groping my way in this difficult world of ours. The attempt to live my ideals is an ongoing project that has its ups, but still definitely has some uncomfortable downs…..

  460. vera, No true science under domination? Or no true anything? Sociology, anthropology, history, philosophy, art, music, craft, cooking, serving, etc etc etc…all co-opted. Every effort of human endeavor and creativity has been and is being co-opted by the exploiters. It’s not a reason for honest people to stop doing what they’re doing. Is science the greatest power ever co-opted? How about reverence? For milennia religion has done the lion’s share of good and evil on the planet. And the other things I mentioned are just as much in the service of the exploiters as they are for the common good.
    Numbers on mental health have to be some of the flimsiest statistics available. My estimate of 6% is no more than an intuition after 60+ years of life where I’ve interacted on many levels with many thousands of people. I would never presume to point a finger at any individual in a witch-hunting sense. As for the societies you say have lower levels, I am familiar with Chinese culture and can imagine how even sociopaths would learn to keep a much lower profile there. And if such individuals were eliminated from the gene pool in tribal situations I don’t think we have the stomach for that in this time and place (nor would I suggest it).
    I did start looking for
    Wolff’s “Original Wisdom”, but short of buying the book I don’t see any way to find out what you’re getting at. What kind of serious evidence points to a medicine man being more than a good scientist/social manipulator (in a good sense or otherwise)? I spent enough time in medical school to know something about the curing mask of the doctor.

  461. • “science too is just a handmaiden of power. The feeble efforts of a
    few trying to go against the tide notwithstanding.” Bravo Vera! Well said!

    • mike k – “True science is something precious which we will need for our
    salvation.” I highly object to being told what I “need.” I am not a two year old. You (or science for that matter) are not my father figure.

    What I do need is this: air (preferable clean), water (ditto), food, shelter, family and love. All else, I repeat, all else is merely ‘wants.’

    I do not need the scientific community to make my world better. I would much prefer they collectively sit down and stop contributing to an already poisoned planet.

    Just this afternoon I found out that the plastics that encase our computers and tvs were manufactured with known carcinogenic, flame retardant chemicals. Inhale deeply everyone! Scientists are trying to save our precious technological conveyances, in case of fire, while poisoning the very object that uses them: humans. Ah, but there is good news! The epa has made manufacturers promise to stop using these chemicals by the year 2013. Everyone? Hold your breath.

    Having the distinction of ‘true scientists’ still doesn’t convince me of your argument.

    For years I was a member of Union of Concerned Scientists (citizens and scientists for environmental solutions) but after a number of years I fell away. Perhaps it was the all too many pleas for donations, both via email and in snail mail form. I’m sorry, but why should I financially contribute to cleaning up the mess that other scientists have made?

    • Ed T- “Their spirituality is no more than the spirituality of a large percentage of modern people engaged in scientific investigation.”

    Wrong. Their spirituality encompassed the respect for all living beings. Can you say the same of the scientist in the lab conducting clinical trials of drugs/makeups/cleansers on rats/rabbits/mice/cats/dogs/monkeys, etc?

    “And apparently they didn’t really understand enough about the world
    because something came in from outside and crushed them,…”

    That ‘something’ that you refer to was disease brought over from a foreign land:

    “One important cause of Native American depopulation during European contact was epidemic disease. The sixteenth through nineteenth centuries saw many different diseases strike Native American populations with considerable frequency. Many of the diseases, such as syphilis, smallpox, measles, mumps, and bubonic plague, were of European origin, and Native Americans exhibited little immunity because they had no previous exposure to those diseases. This caused greater mortality than would have occurred if these diseases been endemic to the Americas.

    It is important to note, however, that these epidemics were just some of the causes of population decline during European contact. Intermarriage, slavery, wars, massacres, political disruption, economic changes, malnutrition, destruction of traditional subsistence patterns, and alcoholism also changed the composition of many Native American groups, whether they favored the changes or fought them. Eventually, these changes caused substantial depopulation and cultural change. This Native American depopulation occurred during the contact period, causing the Native American population size to decline from 1-18 million before European contact (c. AD 1500) to an estimated 530,000 by 1900.”

    • mike k – “You think science has caused a lot of trouble? What about books?”
    Books do not cause cancer.

    “Come to think of it language,..” Communication is essential to coexisting.

    “….so then we have grain surplus, cities, armies, overpopulation….”
    was not due to “those old guys watching the skies at night”
    but instead was due to the industrial revolution with help from the scientific community eradicating or controlling certain diseases.

    • My dad (RIP) is prompting me to say the following: Common sense has been traded in for pieces of paper (degrees) that say “Look! We are smart!” He had the opportunity to converse at length with many individuals with phd’s and found very little, if any common sense left in their ability to make decisions. To me? this is very dangerous indeed. If one does not know the basic right/wrong ideologies, then one is not capable of making sound judgement calls. He surmised that it appeared they had absorbed so much book knowledge and accepted it as absolute truth and probably had not been given adequate time to think for themselves, truly think about what they were reading… as some professors are quick to test one’s knowledge of the reading matter (or, how much were you able to memorize and incorporate into your own conscience) and so….

    anyways, that was what my dad thought.

    good night to all.

  462. renegade, please, a little more balance. You’re slamming a group of people you don’t know. There are millions of scientists in the world. And you’re exalting another group that you also don’t know. We’d like to remember the best aspects of Native American culture, but there’s some myth-making involved in that. Between the best and the worst of both worlds lies the reality of many millions of lives.

  463. And if we could wave a magic wand, and all the scientists and technicians would forget their knowledge, and all the products of their science like electricity, automobiles, radios, refrigerators would cease to function — what then? Aside from all those who would die, would we have paradise? Would people somehow begin to behave like angels? How far back in evolutionary history would you have us go? And of course anyone who seeks this paradise need not wait. Just cut off the electric, abandon your car, and walk into the woods….

  464. Thanks for that great link, Sandy. Joseph Chilton Pearce explores these ideas in greater depth in his recent book: The Biology of Transcendence. The tragedy is how we set in to screw up life for our babies right from the beginning of their sensitive little lives. Most people are oblivious of the violence they perpetrate on these innocents. At the time when the new life needs the greatest love and support, these essential elements are seldom fully provided. No wonder we grow up with so many dysfunctional tendencies….

  465. Dear Wade,

    I know this next statement is going to sound funny, but it is not meant to be.

    I think that at some point in future space-time, not too far from now-here, in the darkness just before dawn, there appears for all to see and understand an unimaginable boffo-of-a-humdinger.

    All my best,


  466. Steve, Wade — In the old Greek dramas, at the end of the play when things would be incredibly messed up and hopeless, a stage apparatus would lower an actor adorned as a God onto the stage. This God would then step forward and calmly resolve all problems by acts of Divine Magic.

    In times of great trouble with no solution in sight, people begin to imagine all kinds of magical deliverances, from UFO’s to Messiahs and Raptures. Trouble is, these “solutions” just ain’t going to happen. And in believing in this nonsense, people feel absolved from the hard work of finding real solutions. Foo-foo dust may feel comforting, but it really won’t get the job done.

  467. Dear Mike,

    Please take note of my deployment of the word “unimaginable”. There is nothing in my view that suggests humankind would not face a demanding and dangerous situation requiring much of us at the moment the boffo-of-a-humdinger occurs.

    In any event, please understand that anything more that I say about what is to come could not occur because it would no longer be beyond anything I can imagine.

    Also, it is worth noting that there is nothing unimaginable in what you are reporting.



  468. Steve — Can we imagine the unimaginable? Or is the unimaginable truly unimaginable? Of that we do not know, we cannot speak? Can we imagine that imagining is all imagination, and hence imaginary? These important questions demand answers which will take a lot of imagination to come up with!

  469. Dear Mike,

    Well done.

    In response to you questions,



    I do not know.

    All questions do not have answers, I suppose.



  470. Thanks for the link, Steve. This was certainly a memorable moment in the history of those speaking out. Let’s hope it triggers more to come forward and add their voices on this important issue for the health of our society.

  471. Were it not for elective mutism among people who know better, who could choose to do one right thing by speaking out loudly and clearly whatsoever is believed to be true…..

  472. Thank you Steve Salmony (479). My hope is that people enjoy the hope inherent in the Sustainability Principle of Energy and if they do catch a glimpse of our incredible capacity for self-deceit they are able to respond with a smile at the ingenuity of our ego in creating mechanisms of denial of stewardship/change. The Sustainability Principle is born of the great, well proven principles of energy. It enables us to transcend the limitations of our ego and provides a wise guide to create sustainable language structures.
    I was going to engage in this valuable Orion discussion of the nature of science. However last evening I bought a copy of Scientific American Mind (Sept/Oct) which features a discussion entitled, “The Making of a psychopath. Why They Don’t Care: They Cant.” The article suggests, “Psychopaths are not merely selfish. Their brain processes information differently from those of other people. It’s as if they have a learning disability that impairs emotional development.”
    The research investigated prison inmates i.e. those who transgress our current legal system and concludes that many can maintain the appearance of being very likeable, appealing, trustworthy people who are often of “better-than-average-intelligence”. It also concludes “that science is unravelling the mechanisms behind the disorder, its time for an attitudinal change”. The article suggests there is hope for these people if we can elucidate the specific physiological deficits and treat them.
    The article employs a very limited use of the “psychopathy” symbol and, like Derrick’s article, makes little mention of the profoundly related phenomenon of psychosis (the inability to reflect reality). In an attempt to add meaning to Derrick’s article let us assume psychopathy is the inability to care.

    To illustrate the psychopathy that Derrick perhaps speaks of I could use the example of members of a society allowing legislation to exist that allows corporations to act as individuals and donate corporate funds to political parties, thereby destroying individual stewardship and democracy.
    I could use the example of self-styled scientists who embrace the use of copyright.
    I could use the example of members of societies who endorse Carbon Trading, a system by which individuals delegate their role as stewards of our carbon potential to stateless, sociopathic groups of “carbon traders” to determine the valuation for them of carbon resources such as mineral oil.

    Instead I will choose an example that may be close to home for many people.
    Perhaps, like me, you know people who are so caring that they never eat meat, fish or eggs and if, for instance, a tiny moth flies in the house at night they become very distressed that it might die if it cannot find its way outside again. They may be fastidious with personal hygiene. At the same time they will, without apparent care, travel by jet around the world even though they know jet travel puts humanity at great risk for many reasons.
    Compared to them I do not care in that I eat an egg a day, a can of sardines a week and will eat meat if served it. I may feel a momentary pang if I discover the tiny moth did not survive entrapment in the house. However the idea of my flying in a jet is extremely abhorrent to me, for I feel it is tantamount to my committing murder. I now associate it with the slaughter and starvation of people, enhanced disease vectors and whereas, for instance, many people see contratrails as pencil lines in the sky I see them several miles wide.

    Over a decade ago I vowed to never fly again, no matter the heartache this decision caused me. My partner of three decades left me, citing among other reasons my “lack of an adventurous spirit”. My subsequent partner raged that I was “narrow minded” when I kindly declined her offer to shout me jet fares around the globe. I am no longer invited to the joint dinners of long time friends where much of the conversation is about their latest globetrotting jaunts.

    In brief, the thought of jet travel now generates in me physiological responses associated with distress, grieving and horror. It was not always so. I went on to higher education so I could become a pilot but discovered I had faulty eyesight. Flying used to be one of the most exhilarating acts of my life. I used to fast the day before even a half hour flight so my senses were sharpened and I did not miss one second of the experience. (As an aside, often on the flight my body would be still, alert and vibrant while those of my neighbours would be shaking, pale, sweating and nauseous with fear.)

    Let us now assume for some reason jet flying is deemed a criminal activity and psychologists investigate it as a psychopathy. In this society my refusal to fly in jets is considered normal and compassionate. I hypothesise that the MIND article would not read much differently: very nice, kind, educated people who profess to care for our children process information about pollution, mineral oil depletion, disease contagion etc differently.
    The fascinating investigation would be my own brain, which has clearly undergone seeming radical changes in the way it processes information.
    This suggests we all retain elements of psychopathy, it is a plastic state and there is hope for us all. The key is generating sane frameworks so our brains are formed in sustainable ways and I suggest embracing the Sustainability Principle provides one such key. It enables us to conserve the universal potential in ways that liberate us to imagine the unimaginable.
    In kindness.

  473. “It also concludes “that science is unravelling the mechanisms behind the disorder, its time for an attitudinal change”. The article suggests there is hope for these people if we can elucidate the specific physiological deficits and treat them.”

    Bull. Attitudinal change follows proof of successful treatment, not its promises.

    To clarify a little: not so much inability to care… psychopaths care about many things, just like other people do… about music, for example, or sports… what makes them unique (and dangerous) is their inability to experience empathy.

  474. sandy k (511) Wonderfully insightful, thanks for sharing.

    This is what I see on my daily walks in a middle class neighborhood: new moms pushing strollers down the street, yapping on a cell, ignoring her beautiful infant and the glorious blue sky day and birds singing. Or walking with a toddler, oblivious, totally ignoring their wonderful gift of a child, not even holding their hand, while blabbing non-stop on a cell. I look into the faces of these children and see loneliness.

    No. I am not ‘slamming’ moms. I am making an observation about how ‘technology’ is shaping our very core, at the onset of our lives now.

    Sure, advanced medicines and incubators and specialized surgeons can save a newborns life. But what happens when the parent(s) ultimately ignore that same infant/toddler because they are too involved with their cells/laptops/ipads/dvds etc.?

    Surprisingly, I see fewer moms ignoring their children by talking on cells in certain lower income areas. Could it be the culture? Do these people put more value on their children that their tech-toys? Or can they not afford these toys? or both?

  475. • 509 Ed T on Oct 15, 2010
    “renegade, please, a little more balance.”
    Why? In a highly imbalanced world, what’s the point?

    • 525 mariella on Oct 18, 2010
    “How do you reason with insanity?”
    You don’t.
    But we’re never going to survive, unless,
    we get a little bit crazy. – Seal

    Viva la BANKSY!

  476. renegade, In the same way that peace never comes thru war, rants that “get a little bit crazy” never get very close to engaging in dialogue. I love Banksy’s vulture. In the right time and place artistic expression like that can be very effective.
    But in a forum like this one nuances and counterbalancing concerns can paint a clearer picture. For me it’s not about winning an argument, but rather about bringing in whatever may help to clarify the thinking process.
    I appreciate the fact that the couple times you’ve responded to my thoughts you did address the main points I made rather than just running on with your own comments. That’s a real plus, compared to the alarmist, extremist tone of discourse of USA 2010, where so many are just picking sides in a conflict rather than putting their heads together to solve our problems.

  477. Renegade — “Going ninety miles an hour down a dead end street….” (from the film Words of My Perfect Teacher)

    Humankind is stone drunk careening madly towards the precipice….

  478. Perhaps the time is approaching when someone will say so others can hear it,

    Don’t just dooo something, stand there and speak out.

    Then, perhaps in the offing, necessary change toward sustainability….

  479. Dave McArthur — I agree that we are all afflicted with mental/emotional disorders to various degrees. This is inevitable given the crazy-making nature of our civilized history. The myth that adjustment to this cultural madness constitutes sanity is now long since discredited. Our blindness to basic human values is causing us to sleep-walk into our own self destruction. The underlying theme of the old Greek dramas is being played out on the world stage. Those who try to awaken us are ridiculed or worse. We cling to our sleep with desperate tenacity, even as the nightmare unfolds towards its gruesome climax….

  480. Ed T-thanks ever so much for your insight and advice, but I will continue to ‘rant’ on (in other forums, not this one, so as not to upset your delicate sensibilities. beg pardon sir.) And more importantly, I will continue to be an Advocate for Truth,
    Justice and Environmental Awareness.
    (and you thought I was going to say ‘the american way, didn’t you?)
    I am and always will be an ‘act’ivist.

    Adieu mike k, vera, steven and sandy. It was truly enjoyable and educational. Merci.

    and most importantly, Thank You to Derrick for writing this (and other) piece(s).

  481. My latest thinking!!

    A Spectre Is Haunting Civilization: An Anarchist’s Primer

    Karl Marx wrote in the Communist Manifesto that “a spectre is haunting Europe.” It should be noted that he wrote these words on the eve of revolutionary outbreaks that began in Italy and France in 1848 and engulfed much of the Continent.

    In the event no one has noticed here in America – the land of the free and Homeland of the brave – Europe is again in the midst of raging battles, threatening to spread. The fiscal crisis that started in the USA and swept the globe, along with the sovereign debt that has been inflicted upon the EU as a result, has ignited the passions of strangled and enslaved masses everywhere. People have recognized their enslavement and have identified the slave-masters. And those largely capitalist regimes are no less affected (perhaps more so) than are the democratic-socialist, communist, or theocratic ones.

    What began in early 2009 with demonstrations of civil unrest as widespread as Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Poland, Germany, Hungary, Greece, Portugal, Russia and the Czech Republic, in response to diverse austerity measures implemented by the ruling elites, has broken out recently in full force in France. Much like the political protests following the Iranian elections in 2009, months of protests and street demonstrations across France have taken a more violent turn as telltale signs of an armed insurrection continue to mount. Across the Atlantic, even the Canadians have put down their Labatts long enough to become enraged – with protests at the G-20 in Toronto that would make even a Frenchman proud; protests that have fast revealed the tyrannical underbelly of the tamest looking of political beasts.

    Of course, the American working class is still staring at the shadows cast upon the walls of its cave – or is that ‘its prison’ – believing what it is told by its owners and trainers…“that all is right with the world… just keep your head down, work hard, and join the party” (or perhaps the Tea Party). And political hucksters, like Mr. Obama, reassuringly tell us “Yes We Can” survive this crisis and continue to participate in the American Dream (if only we do as the big boys tell us). It is as if, just like in that great children’s story the Wizard of Oz, the man behind the curtain is imploring us to just ignore what is evidently before our eyes. He tells us that our world is intact and will continue to prosper. And we dutifully listen, willingly refusing to see what is graphically before us. Instead we keep our backs turned, comfortably watching the pretty shadows cast upon the wall by talented puppet masters – like the Koch brothers – in our shadowbox theatre.

    Yet the less illusioned among us can no longer afford to ignore the mounting visceral evidence. The show is rapidly coming to an end, and most probably an inglorious one at that. What, with the near total destruction of our biosphere, peak oil, peak water, the crises in economic and financial systems worldwide, political unrest abroad and ostensibly in the homeland, signs of immanent collapse are plentiful.

    But even our European brethren do not understand the magnitude of this seismic event. It is neither a fiscal nor an economic problem; it is not a matter of having the wrong political leadership, nor an issue of confused or misguided social priorities. It is a crack in the scaffolding of the theatre of the Spectacle that began with the advent of history, of civilization. It is the endgame of a cultural mal-adaptation that has pathologically sought artifices of manipulation and control at all costs.

    As Thomas Hobbes proleptically, but unwittingly, stated centuries ago…this will be a “Warre of all against all.” But it will not be the war he mistakenly assumed would have ensued had it not been for the establishment of civil society. It is not the barbaric war he imagined would have occurred among our pre-civilized ancestors had it not been for our constituting the social contract. Rather, it is a war resulting from that very contract, and from the subsequent momentum that has driven civilization for these last six thousand years of recorded history, grounded in such cold and calculating thinking.

    Of course, the spectre Marx was referring to above is Communism; his contention was that it would and should be the final stage in the dialectical movement of history to a civil, but classless, society. But he was mistaken. That experiment didn’t work out so well either. The real “spectre” or ghostly apparition among us now is a natural reflection of the unpleasantness of industrial civilization itself – and the systems of hierarchy and domination it has devised and perfected, largely based upon the syllogism, and the logic it entails. This is the logic of objective science, the principle of our legal systems, the rationality behind our social contracts, the anonymity of our civil politics, and the narrative framework of history itself. It is a logic binding us to those hierarchies that have eventually worked to empty the world of all its resources and life, of all its significance, leaving instead impersonal systems to control and manage all logistical affairs, human or natural. It is the necessary culmination of six thousand years of unnatural human history that began with the first urban empires emerging in and around the Fertile Crescent and the Persian Gulf.

    What people everywhere may be sensing about this unpleasantness is that they too have become emptied parts of emptying hierarchical wholes (institutions) – an emptiness stated most baldly in the following formulation: If A=B, and B=C, then A=C. Here a universal statement is related to a particular to yield a logical conclusion. Whether to control nature of our fellow humans, in this view all parts of the system become interchangeable commodities in the logic of control. Herein lie the underpinning of our emptiness and our sense of alienation from one another, from nature, and from ourselves. In seeking remediation for this unpleasantness, we the people have sought to acquire other commodities to make us feel whole – televisions, cars, laptops, and smart phones. And when the price of ownership became too high, the guys in charge broke out the cheap stuff, and gave us Wal-Mart, so we might again feel as though we are part of the party. But we may be discovering that flashy cars and big screen televisions do not make us happy.

    America, as we know, is the most rational of all modern, civilized societies. We have more science and technology, more lawyers and laws, more prisons and prisoners than any other country on the planet; we have more money managers and swindlers, more productivity, more psychopathology, and more lone terrorists acting out against whatever they perceive as an injustice in their world. And yet we keep marching straight ahead to the precipice. We are a nation of laws, not a community of persons – and we are committed to the syllogism as no other. There is no dignity in our enslavement; we have become the emptiest of souls.

    What is haunting the globe today is the spectre of a primitive anarchism, a feral tendency buried deep within the marrow and musculature of the human species – a instinct to live outside the constraints artfully but coldly created by hierarchical institutions of domination that have been enslaving us and the planet for six millennia now. It is anarchic in the truest sense of the word. It seeks to be leaderless not merely in a political sense, but free as well from the tyrannical hegemony imposed by the civilizing logic of syllogistic reasoning itself. It seeks freedom in the polysemy of the sensuous, of the body – not the body politic. The spectre is real, and it is upon us. It is loose and has a will of its own – as fearful as it seems to myself or to others. And it will not end casually or syllogistically. Through escape, through lawlessness perhaps, it will end, naturally.

  482. Renegade (et alia) — Thank you for your contributions to our discussion. Like yourself, I am learning a lot from participating in this forum — not only from the views of others, but I am gaining greater understanding of myself. This second kind of learning is not so easy to come by as one might think. In order to gain this sort of (self)knowledge, one must become willing to listen to sometimes harsh criticism from others, observe how it affects you, and how you may be triggered to react. Then you may step back and evaluate whether your response is all that you would like it to be.

    Was there some degree of truth or fairness in the criticism directed at me? Did I possibly overreact in responding? Did someone “make me angry”, and what was my part in reacting in that way? Can I see myself in similar life situations acting in similar ways? How far back does my sensitivity to criticism go? These are just examples of my own inner processing. I too have seriously considered withdrawing from this Orion Forum. It has not been easy for me to work through some of my strong feelings aroused on these pages. But I am coming to understand that this is the crucible in which a new way of relationship and mutual enquiry into our deep problems can be forged.

    Rodney King’s question hangs over our world: Can we just get along? I want to answer: Yes Rodney, if we are willing to work at it. I hope you will stick around, renegade. We need all the help we can get.

  483. For restless renegade:

    All our lives we’ve dreamed about it
    Just to find that it was never real
    This sure ain’t no great Valhalla
    Coming closer each turn of the wheel
    Forlorn, adrift on seas of beige
    In this our Golden Age

    This hurts us as much as it hurts you
    Just lie back and think of England
    Bullied, suckered, pimped and patronised
    Every day your tawdry little lives
    So loose your head
    And step within
    The silence deafening

    Now you saw it coming
    And I saw it coming
    We all saw it coming
    But we still bought it
    Now you saw it coming
    And I saw it coming but still
    Running full steam ahead

    In and out of consciousness
    It breaks my heart to see you like this
    Crying, wringing hands and cursing fate
    Always so little far too late
    It’s 3am I’m wide awake
    There’s still one call to make

    Now you saw it coming
    And I saw it coming
    We all saw it coming
    But we still bought it
    Now you saw it coming
    And I saw it coming
    We all saw it coming
    But we still bought it

    Now you saw it coming
    And I saw it coming
    But still running full steam
    Now you saw it coming
    And I saw it coming but still
    Running full steam
    Now you
    And I
    We all saw it coming
    But we still bought it
    Now you
    And I
    We all saw it coming
    But we still bought it

  484. Aw, renegade, please stay. This forum has turned into a bunch of old (old in this forum) geezers saying the same thing over and over. I think your voice is much needed and certainly welcome on my end.

    “Humankind is stone drunk careening madly towards the precipice….” No Mike. Only the civilized. There are still tribes out there careening nowhere, just minding their own business. When people use language that erases them, I feel irritated because I want honesty about who’s who, and I want them not to be forgotten.

  485. Whoa, Sandy! What a fine fine essay. I would not give the Toronto silliness quite the kudos you do, but that is a very minor quibble.

    Spot on, friend! :-)

    P.S. I looked up Barnaul. It’s humongous! Hope you are far from it. Can you see the Altai range from your dacha?

  486. “Humankind is stone drunk careening madly towards the precipice….”

    Vera — Remember what Coleridge enjoined for appreciating poetry — “a willing suspension of disbelief”. The above quote from my recent post was meant to exceed the prosaic, and entrain to some degree the imagination of the reader. It was not intended as a statistical analysis of the human population. Poetry shrivels before the mind of the fact checker.

  487. I am not getting my point across…. Let me try again. The language you use leaves a lot of people out, uncounted, unfairly blamed, swept under the rug. Either you care, or not. I’ll leave the rest to you.

  488. Vera — I got your point immediately. You are apparently incapable of getting my point, so I will not belabor it. To imply that I am somehow disparaging indigenous peoples seems really over the top to me. It seems to me that you often go out of your way to find something in what I share to disagree with.

    I have some understanding of how important indigenous peoples are to your thinking, but to say that what you quoted from me constituted a slur against indigenous peoples seems quite a stretch. Apparently for you any use of the word humankind had better be qualified in the manner you deem appropriate, or you will pounce. Lighten up a little. You seem to just be spoiling for a fight. I am not the enemy!

  489. Mike, first of all, I did not say anything about a slur on the indigenous, or their disparagement. It looks like I did not express myself clearly. Gotta do better another time.

    Second, when you say “you are apparently incapable of getting my point” I feel dismayed because I am looking for respect. Would you be willing to phrase things so that they do not attack the person?

  490. Vera — I have no intention of “attacking” you. I just indicated my realization that you were not going to get the point about my using the image of humanity headed for the precipice poetically and metaphorically. Your reading of that sentence was apparently factual and literal.

    Wait, hold it. I am not going to explain any further. This is taking on the feel of a no-win argument. If you feel I neglected to excuse the remaining indigenous peoples from heading for the precipice, I apologize to you and to them. Mea culpa, it was a wrong and thoughtless thing to do. I will try to edit my remarks in future to avoid such mistakes.

  491. Mike, do you feel angry because you want to be understood on your own terms (regarding the “humanity” sentence)? Is your second paragraph sarcasm?

  492. Vera — I am hoping you will see the wisdom of letting this drop. From my side, I am letting it go. No blame. No resentment. Peace.

  493. I think we’ve all been guilty of it here. I am referring to endless putdowns of humankind. People say we are asleep, stone drunk, messed up, the list goes on and on.

    I have come to a place where I finally say no. There is nothing wrong with humankind. We are an amazing, astounding species. We began as sort of apes, the alphas abusing the rest. And yet we evolved into egalitarian sharing, beating the odds against our survival. We evolved a conscience, and laughter, and kindness. In the last 100,000 years, we survived yet another brutal ice age and a 6 year winter subsequent to the eruption of the supervolcano Toba. Astounding!

    Many put us down these days, and even wish we died out. But while laying blame and demanding we “transform” into something else, what will serve us best is stop listening to the Cassandras who can’t get enough bad news and panic mongering and put downs, and begin to pay attention to the profound positives of our species that served us so well in the past, and can serve us well in the future. Once we begin to value again who and what we are, the message we carry will be heard by those who would rather not be brought low by endless scolding. And it will give us heart at a bad time when we need all the heart we can summon.

    I repeat: There is nothing wrong with humankind. Our societies were hijacked several thousand years ago by a few humans out of control and drunk with power, and the contagion spread. It can be reversed. We must refuse to allow being dumped on, refuse to see our “human nature” continually besmirched. It is time to remember once again the wonder of being human, and come together enjoying each other as we have not in millennia. It’s time. Now or never. Go humans!!!

  494. Vera – I am glad you enjoyed the piece. Actually,our apartment is in the center of Barnaul (750,000 residents); but the dacha is 60 km outside the city,located at the forest edge on the Ob River. The Altai Mountains are not visible from here, but it is only about a two hour drive into their foothills. I would like to think I could live much naturally than I do, but I know how much I have been infected with the disease of civilization, and how hard it is to break the spell; but, still we spend as much time as we can at the dacha spring-summer-fall. When the shit really hits, maybe I will be ready for the Full Monte!! Ha Ha

  495. Vera has been on my case recently, I think I had better let her cool off a bit. How about you, Sandy? You must have some thoughts on it? I started reading your recent book today.

  496. Mike

    I think if you are going to write poetry, then write poetry. If you are writing prose to communicate with someone, then be as clear as you can be. This is especially a problem with the internet. We do not know those with whom we talk, and all we have a words flashing on a screen.

    Also, perhaps replies can come off sounding a bit heavy handed or self-righteous if one is not careful in the wording. We never know how our tone will be received. I am not saying anything I myself am not guilty of; I am. But I don’t think I am as concerned with how my interlocuters on the net perceive me. It seems to me, you may be more concerned. Just my impresion.

    Anyway, which book are you looking at, I have two relatively new ones, The Recovery of Ecstasy: Notebooks from Siberia, and Cultural Criticism: Essays, Philosophical and Political?

  497. Mike –

    But I do agree with Vera; it is not humankind that is the problem; it is the civilized culture we spawned 5,500 years ago with the establishment of Sumer. Everything we are struggling against is located in this event. That is also Jensen’s point, along with a host of others (Sale, Zerzan, Quinn, et al)

  498. I have long believed that the Tower of Babel myth
    is emblematic of a central problem facing humankind. The development of language has been crucial to all the blessings and curses we are heir to. Long before anything we could term humanoid, our more remote ancestors began refining this means of connecting with each other.

    One need not plough through the nearly impenetrable thickets of Heidegger or Derrida to conclude that our attempts to understand each other by means of language are deeply and inherently imperfect. All language is merely a gesture towards things, lacking the precision and completeness we wish for. So, for me, the distinction between poetry and prose is arbitrary, and a matter of indefinite interpretation.

    I remember riding in an upper berth on a train bound for an Eastern prep school, with a pint of whiskey, and a copy of Moby Dick. I rapturously declaimed his language at the top of my lungs, enjoying the poetic cadences of it. Indeed, Moby Dick is one long poem.

    And when we talk to each other eye to eye, the meaning is so often conveyed in the music of our speech and gesture. For all the world’s a stage, and we are all actors on it, each in our own variety of roles and personas. Yes, there is much lacking in our attempts to relate in disembodied cyberspace. Nevertheless it is an interesting challenge to make the effort.

    I am reading The Recovery of Ecstasy.

    We shall not cease from exploration
    And the end of all our exploring
    Will be to arrive where we started
    And know the place for the first time.
    Through the unknown, unremembered gate
    When the last of earth left to discover
    Is that which was the beginning;
    At the source of the longest river
    The voice of the hidden waterfall

    (Eliot: Four Quartets)

  499. Zerzan talks about language and symbol making as something of a problem. Nobody said evolution is a bowl of cherries. But I think that if we want to skate out of this nastiness we are trapped in, we gotta name the key problem and focus on that. And the key problem is the “domination civilization” spawned by Sumer (and later other places). And, btw, that’s when they built the tower of Babel. It all fits, eh?

    Sandy, we all should have a dacha or a farm for when the SHTF. Is there a community where the dacha is? Sort of a dacha village? How big is Ob? For me, Siberia is like a fairy tale land shrouded in mists… :-)

  500. In deeper discussions of how we got here, and why, I always end up asking: Have you had experiences completely outside your normal limits? Have you ever gone beyond your body? Have you ever used entheogens, such as peyote or LSD? These questions let me know how open you are to deeper experiencing of reality. It is really useless to speak of the Beyond to those who remain closed to it. I know that by experience in trying to do so.

    Most of those who profess cutting edge sensibilities are still unconsciously embedded in a rationalist/materialist worldview. For them the Deep Sources are figments of imagination. To say to them that our problems and their solutions lie in a Realm beyond the ordinary is just nonsense. Probably this is the origin of the saying, “Those who know do not speak; those who speak do not know.” Or more harshly, “Do not give what is Holy to dogs, or cast pearls before swine, lest they turn and rend you.” So it only proves that I am an idiot to say these things. Damn! Sometimes I just can’t help it. I guess I’ll get the usual rewards, hopefully not the rending part though!

    Many seem to forget the role of entheogens in the social structures and worldviews of many if not all indigenous cultures. Huston Smith’s book Cleansing the Doors of Perception is a penetrating look at these issues based on his own life changing experiences.

  501. Entheogens?! Whee! Got some? :-) Well, far it be from me to squelch a discussion of such fascinating topics. But Mike, I think you are an elitist. I look for understandings that are available to all. If for example meditation made a difference, Tibet would have been an exemplary society. But we know that the monks were dicks anyways, building their golden calves… er, statues of Buddha, while the people around them lived in misery.

    Neither do I see entheogens as a difference making solution… although on the other hand, when the Serbs freaked out and were raining destruction on their neighbors in Yugo, I was heard many a time insisting, forget about bombing them, just put LSD in the drinking water! But alas, nobody listened to me. :-) Hmm…

    Maybe you are a vanguardist. I have deep and profound suspicion of vanguardists, ever since Lenin’s vanguard did their danse macabre. Actually, I should go back to the Jacobins.

    Did the Sumerians fall under the spell of the material because they failed to imbibe enough soma? Hmmm…. I am open to hear more on this lovely topic.

  502. Vera — Check out Huston’s book if you really want to know more. I would hardly call the central role entheogen’s played in early cultures elitist. That word seems to be a bugbear for you.

    I am surprised that you seem to share the common dismissive view of religion and spirituality being merely opium of the people.

  503. Another rich source of research showing the important role of entheogens throughout history in all cultures is the work of Gordon Wasson and his wife. The trivial off the cuff responses of many to this whole area result from their conditioning by popular sensational accounts of the sixties. It is truly amazing how many crucial areas of our lives have been co-opted by media and establishment narratives.

    Real openness to learning something new and meaningful is so often blocked by the pat one-liners we have thoughtlessly absorbed. You have only to utter the words sex or drugs, and the popular mind is off and running. Even (and especially) topics of great import or usually shrugged off or ridiculed out of court. Shame. But that’s how it is. Try not to be a piggy, some of those little white jobbies are really worth something….

  504. Heh. Mike is at his favorite game, Misreading Vera. Is it available as a board game yet? 😉

    I read Huston’s book. He’s right on the money, as far as I am concerned. I didn’t call the role of entheogens elitist. I called you elitist. You always seem to be looking for some solution to our dilemma that is esoteric and beyond the “common man.” There, I do not follow.

  505. If you are waiting for the “common man” to rise up and save us, don’t hold your breath. Reminds me of the proletarian art of a certain era.

    And BTW your use of the term “common man” strikes me as a bit elitist. I tend to think of all of us as uncommon in our potentials. What makes you think “the common man” is not capable of elite performance? And why did you not include the “common woman”? Some women might feel hurt by not being included, don’t they have a right to be considered??

    (The above is written in the confrontational style of a certain “V”.) :)

  506. Jeez, Mike, if you want to pick a fight, do it with some panache. 😉 I put “common man” in parentheses to indicate its cliche usage.

    ‘sides, it’s you who is always slugging the ‘popular mind.’

    No, I am not expecting the “common man” to rise and save us. But I am expecting better of us who are aware than to keep scolding the common folk and coming up with esoteric paths that are of no use to most people.

    — Hermes Trismegistus at your service —

  507. Vera — I feel our sharing has somehow turned negative. This saddens me, but I see no alternative but to take a time out from it, and hope we can return to it at a later date in a more relaxed manner. Whether or not we recover our meaningful relationship on the quest for a better world, it has been great sharing with you. For now, let’s give it a rest. The things I share here are deeply meaningful to me. I am not interested in “fights” or ego contests.

  508. Negative = too challenging?

    I have enjoyed our sparring, myself. The forum had gone too quietist for my taste.

    Enjoy your time off, Mike.

  509. First we must understand where “domination” came from and what was the trigger. Was it agriculture? Something in the way we developed language?

    I personally think it was domestication– of the land, sheep, horses, dogs, then people. So my question is, how do you skate out of domestication, when that is all we know? And what we are, now, for the most part?

    I will send you info on the dacha village and Ob river later. Busy with my baby son right now.

  510. Yesterday we welcomed a first grandchild. Mabry Rose is here. The mission has not changed, except there will be better communication, longer hours, faster pace, a smarter campaign. The prodigious collective intelligence and ineffable good will of humankind will have to be engaged if the human-driven global challenges looming before us (and threatening this child’s future) are to be acknowledged, addressed and overcome.

  511. In Communist China or Cambodia at one time, to be accused of being an “elitist” could result in your being imprisoned or killed. In a forum like this, however, it is just a cheap shot to discredit someone whose ideas one disagrees with. In fascist countries, intellectuals and artists are particular targets of the vague charge of being “elitist”. It pains me that anyone would stoop to use this tactic in a trusting atmosphere such as this Orion Forum. This qualifies in my estimation as a signal act of bad faith. It is impossible to share freely with those who would violate the most basic standards of mutual trust. I find it difficult to share in a forum where this kind of violation seems tacitly accepted. Although I have been warned of the unprincipled and abusive behavior in various venues on the internet, I guess I was lulled into letting my guard down in the mostly intelligent and respectful confines of Orion’s comments blog.

    When I became the target of this cheap shot from someone who I thought of as a friend it was a profoundly disturbing shock. It will take me some time to recover from this incident. I am sharing my feelings about this publicly for the same reason I initially took part in this forum — in the hope that others might learn something from it. Unfortunately, I learned more than I wanted to know. Engaging in demeaning and hurtful behavior towards others can never take us to the better world we hope for.

    To the person who tried to characterize me as an enemy of the common people: nothing could be further from the truth, and I deeply resent that unfounded accusation. I have rubbed shoulders with all kinds of people my whole life, and status or position in society means less than nothing to me. So you can make up any version of me in your mind that you like, but I don’t buy it. You don’t know me, and given your behavior, you are not ever going to know me.

    I regretfully say goodbye to those who have shared with me. It has really been a high spot in my life. The truth is that I have enough difficult concerns on my table, so as to be unable to continue contributing at this time. Sorry to go on at such length, but I needed to get it off my chest. And Vera, of course I forgive you in the deepest sense, but friendship has some basic obligations that cannot be set aside. A violation of trust takes a long time to heal. I don’t know if either of us will have that much time.

    Your remarks about the Dalai Lama and the people of Tibet were obviously a crude attempt to upset me, as you knew my wife and I have been involved in helping refugees from there for over forty years now. You simply parroted the Chinese Communist lies justifying their brutal takeover that killed over a million Tibetans among other atrocities. As obvious as your attack on me was, I was still deeply upset by it. You really know how to be nasty. I will continue to pray for you, as my Tibetan mentors continue to pray for their Chinese oppressors. May you be happy, and every good thing possible come to you, and the blessings of God be with you always.

  512. Two babies all at once! Congrats, guys, on son and granddaughter. These kids’ futures are at terrible risk. I sure hope we can do something for them before we wink out.

    Sandy, will be looking forward to more info on magical Siberia. You are quite right, of course, the next question is, what was the trigger? My own take on that is that it was intensification. Ag or animal husbandry by itself can stay at a low, sustainable level. Why did it spin out into intensification? That is the question that has grabbed me.

    Soon, we’ll have another Derrick essay, and the game will begin anew. I have two wishes for the next forum. That Steven gets a bit less repetitious, that Mike gets a bit less preachy, that Ed T gets a tad more radical :-) and that Vera gets a tad less pugnacious. That would be a good thing all around, no?

    My other wish is… how about being more welcoming to newbies? I think we were not so towards quite a few people, and they never come back. We snipe at them like we knew it all better… but we don’t.

    Mike, I am sorry to see that misreading vera continues to figure large in your world. How could I possibly know of your intense refugee involvement in Tibet? If you posted about it on one of the Orion discussions I did not see it.

    As for the factual truth about the lives of the monks and the common people of Tibet before the invasion, that could surely be discussed without flying into high dudgeon and crying “commie lies.” Maybe another time. Be well.

  513. I confess to be in something of a quandary. Earlier, I missed Mike’s “I will continue to pray for you, as my Tibetan mentors continue to pray for their Chinese oppressors” and it’s gotten to reverberate inside.

    First, he makes up a story about me. Then he mouths about forgiveness just before slugging me. Then he wraps himself in smarmy piety.

    I am baffled on how to respond. What do y’all say?

  514. Sandy writes “…just like in that great children’s story the Wizard of Oz..” The fascinating documentary The Secret of OZ on YouTube shows how the Wizard of Oz is really a tale about the stewardship of money and how the 1939 film changed the silver slippers to magical ruby slippers, thus corrupting the meaning of the story in dangerous ways.
    Vera writes
    “what will serve us best is stop listening to the Cassandras”. Wiki suggests that Cassandras have the gift for prophecy, are not listened to and are punished for being correct. That is often the plight of the whistleblower. Surely it is better that we listen to the Cassandras and alter our lives so their prophecies actually work in helpful ways i.e. sustain us and are proven wrong.

    In 2004 I was ridiculed when I began publicly predicting that the price of mineral oil would double to $US80/barrel about 2008, at which point the economies of countries, like Anglo-American ones, would implode on scale because they are based on $US25/barrel for ever. So it came to pass and economists fill our airways saying the event could not have been predicted by anyone, thus ensuring the status quo undervaluation persists. I currently predict if current Anglo-American behaviour persists an even greater economic implosion of our economies will occur by about 2013 as our rate of destruction of mineral oil reserves is proven unsustainable.

    Now does this make me desolate? No, I have learned from the amazing wisdom of the likes of The Buddha. I am saddened in my awareness of the needless misery our culture generates. At the same time I continue my search to enjoy the truth and stewardship/change. In the process I know great hope. That is how the Sustainability Principle of Energy with its consequent Compassionate Curriculum Framework came to be since 2004. I remain mindful of the enormous potential there is in transformation. Study, for instance, the epic story of King Asoka the Cruel/ the Kind. My life is generated by more sustainable symbol uses now and this is reflected in my experience of greater hope. Which brings me to a discussion of some of the prime symbols we use.

    Throughout this forum the science symbol has been used in ways that perpetrate the psychopathy that Derrick writes of. The symbol was corrupted in the excesses of the Industrial Revolution and stripped of its association with the experience of compassion. The original uses of the symbol associated it with knowledge – knowledge involving self-consciousness, an awareness of the split between our ego and all and the pain of knowing our mortality. Inherent in this use of the symbol was a deep sense of morality, the acceptance of our roles as stewards/change.
    Our current Anglo-American culture has stripped away all the associations the science symbol had with compassion. It has disempowered most people by stating that this amoral field is now the domain of an elite of people called scientists.
    This is pure psychopathy and it spawns the greed, pollution, copyright law, debt and militarism that characterises our current Anglo-American culture. Science is not the problem in our culture. The problem is our lack of science, including the way we abuse the potential of the science symbol. As a result we act without care.

    Hope exists because the current use of the science symbol perpetuates a lie. The truth is all humans experience the state of science to some degree and many societies retain strong elements of science despite the profound level of non-science of our current Anglo-American culture.

    Similarly perhaps I should add the civics symbol to my website.
    Mike K wrote
    “I agree that we are all afflicted with mental/emotional disorders to various degrees. This is inevitable given the crazy-making nature of our civilized history.”
    And Sandy wrote
    “ But I do agree with Vera; it is not humankind that is the problem; it is the civilized culture we spawned 5,500 years ago..”

    Again we see the psychopathy Derrick writes of. (And I should point out every human being of every era is capable of this self-deceit and loss of compassion.) In this case the dissonance between our actions and words is such that we say civilisation is the problem when it is our lack of civilisation that is the cause of our misery. Civilisation traditionally meant the opposite to barbarity. Our ability to now associate the civilisation symbol with malignance is another illustration of the ingenious capacity of our ego to deny our roles as stewards/change. Stewardship involves the development of systems of care (civics) and we project the misery caused by our lack of care onto civilisation. I hope you can chuckle like I do whenever I catch myself in such ingenious denial.
    Two final points.
    The Sustainability Principle of Energy ( ) is a psychoanalytic tool and a prophetic tool as well as being a very wise guide. When it became apparent Barack Obama was a likely presidential candidate I searched his name and the energy symbol. The Sustainability Principle indicated he employed the money traders’ use of the energy symbol. Thus, though it was inconvenient for me, I had to predict he would be an unsustainable president. Thus I was not surprised that his first act was to pour vast wealth, first into perpetuating addictive uses of mineral oil and then into pockets of the uncivilised money traders. This was consistent with his core beliefs. So far he has been unable to articulate a civilised vision and has surrounded himself with some of the most psychopathic money traders.
    My second point is that the Sustainabilty Principle is a source of great hope as it indicates how we can conserve the fuller potential of our prime symbols in our daily lives. By caring to conserve that potential then we become filled with hope, no matter the misery of our host culture. We tend to adopt more sustainable ways and bequeath our children enhanced possibilities.
    Written in a hurry and in kindness.

  515. Illness as metaphor. I think we can see this sociopathy in others, but clearly it is in us all to some extent. It is the interaction of all our small acts of thoughtlessness we end up with the trouble we are in. We need to realize our own power to create small acts of meaning or mindfulness. The development of consistent behaviors. These will interact as well. We need a message of hope and I am afraid this is all there is. I became a vegetarian when I was 19 and now at 53 I can feel this was a small act. This year I gave up using plastic shopping bags. Small conscious acts I can make routine. I will try to have others show me my blind spots. As for those with the most pervasive loss of empathy – what do we do with them? I am so troubled by this question. Do those without empathy deserve our own?
    A thoughtful piece, but remember it is easier to externalize pathology onto others than it is to recognize it in ourselves.

  516. Hey Donag, welcome. My 2 cents on the good question you raise: “what do we do with them?” Why do we need to do anything with them? Most live fairly normal lives. Of course they deserve empathy. What they do not deserve is our trust and the gift of power over other people.

    How does that sound to ya?

  517. @ Vera – I have always felt troubled by Mike k’s posts. That is all I will offer.

    Dave – I must confess, your thinking is too profound for me… I have no idea what you are saying.

  518. Vera – click on my name; go to my site and send me an email with your email. I will send you pix and some info on Siberia

  519. I am somewhat confused by the supposition that empathy is required for one to express sympathy concerning that well being of another human. When I see someone done on there luck I do not help them because I feel anything. I help them because they are a non-functioning component of society whose is not capable of making a contribution due to their current circumstances. Assisting them is in my own best interest because they will then be able to make a contribution.

  520. The reason I have taken part in this Orion discussion is to further
    what has been a life long quest for knowledge and understanding. That has been, and will continue to be the major theme of my life. I most certainly did not involve here in hopes of winning a high school level popularity contest. I have never had a chance in hell of winning one of those. I was a much despised intellectual in high school. It is somewhat disheartening when one encounters the same stunted level of social dynamics among supposed adults.

    So, I share with Derrick Jensen this uncompromising and relentless drive to uncover truth, however disturbing that may be to myself or others. I don’t think that is going to change in either Derrick or myself. Neither do I think either of us is going to be persuaded to soft-pedal our understandings to win friends and influence people. DJ has come in for his share of mean spirited heckling as a result of his disturbing analyses, as have I in the limited sphere of these pages, when I have supported aspects of his work, or put out ideas of my own that tend to make many folks uncomfortable.

    I must confess that Derrick’s work profoundly disturbed me when I first encountered it. I was so troubled by it, that I put it down and decided I would not read any more of it. But at some point that inner Daimon that has pushed to seek truth however unsettling it might prove to be, goaded me back to read more. After going deeper into his vision, I remembered Ouspensky’s dedication of one of his books: “To Gurdjieff, the man who disturbed my sleep.” Thanks, Derrick — I needed that. Awakening to reality is inevitably troubling, but ultimately rewarding. The red pill can be upsetting at first, but as Plato said (through Socrates) “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

    To wind up this reflection — Steve S. has become my role model for enduring the slings and arrows of outraged critics. Thanks for your example of soldiering on in spite of the flak, Steve. And for any folks out there happily popping your blue heaven meds, don’t worry, nobody can force you to awaken — that can only happen with your willing cooperation…. Sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite!

  521. Thank you for your welcome to this forum.
    2 cents worth: I am attempting to look at the virtues and the problems of using “illness as a metaphor” (in this case ICD10 definition of sociopathy). This fine article starts with a case history of extreme and I would argue pervasive loss of empathy. It then identifies the problem as being attributed to a category called “sociopathy”. Derrick Jensen then goes on to show how these diagnostic descriptions are useful ways of understanding the response of many in our civilization to the environment and other human communities. But what I mean by more “pervasive” sociopathy is returning to the initial case history, or to those who remain in a state of being with an completely instrumental attitude towards relationships, community and the environment. Whether this is qualitatively or quantitatively different from the rest of us, or whether this is due to nature, nurture or the new addition to this usually cited dichotomy – epigenetic change – is immaterial.
    “Most live fairly normal lives. Of course they deserve empathy. What they do not deserve is our trust and the gift of power over other people.” I am suggesting we all have lapses of empathy (for want of a better word when dealing with humans, ecologies and environment). I am asking the question about how do we have empathy for those who to not have any (or have a pervasive lack of empathy), how do we as a society protect ourselves from such people as the initial case report. Or those who are able to despoil our world by exploiting /taking advantage of/co-opting our fragile institutions or hard won freedoms. It is this I wrestle with. The rest of us are hopefully having some reflectiveness and striving to find our own lapses so we can improve our own behavior whilst engaging in a larger critique to allow others to develop their own insights. This process is part of the function of education and civil discourse. Our prisons are full of people with sociopathic personality disorders – is this the answer? Should we use these institutions to protect ourselves, others and the environment? Can this be misused? Should we take a medical model and try to “treat” these people or is this medicalizing/pathologizing a problem in the same way as the criminal-justice system has criminalizes these same individuals. Many have insinuated themselves into highly respectable positions in society. “Fairly normal lives” bears examining, I think some aspects of their lives will have a facsimile of normalcy, or even have the veneer of virtuous behavior (Hitler was a vegetarian), but clearly their effects on individuals (as in the initial case reports), populations or ecosystems can be dire.
    To finish where I started. “Illness as metaphor” is a useful way to understand aspects of our behavior, but we can get into trouble when applying it too literally. It is an argument by analogy, and I am as guilty here of confusing this analogy with the complex, dysfunctional and destructive behaviors so affecting our delicate world.

  522. Dave McArthur:

    Expressing sympathy/empathy: Social action is a complex response and I don’t think simply reducible to one impulse (empathy/self-interest/economic interests etc). However, remove empathy from the picture and employ solely one of the other categories to motivate social behavior (we can find another word for empathy if you like) and see where self-interest gets individuals and societies. In my opinion we have had plenty of examples of this in the last 100 years or so.

  523. Dear Mike,

    Keep going.

    To say more about what is on my mind, what could be foreseen weeks ago, regarding the breach with Vera would not serve a good purpose. Also, if I was to say what is on my mind about this unfortunate situation, Scott Walker would have good cause to reprimand me yet again for what he has regarded as my improper behavior during the years I have been blogging here.

    The efforts made to silence my voice since 2001 are, by themselves, are worth noting at some point. No one wants to hear from a Cassandra. About that we can rest assured. Everybody wants to a somebody, but nobody wants to know what is really going on. Can there be any doubt about that?

    If you or I have behaved badly, then shame on us. On the other hand, if others (unconsciously or not) have used various rhetorical devices or outright sanctions to silence either of us, then shame on them.

    If I am mistaken about the science to which I have unsuccessfully tried to draw attention for almost a decade, the same evidence ‘the brightest and best’ have willfully refused to acknowledge and openly discuss, then the time will come when I will shown to be the fool that I surely am. On the other hand, if the science of human population dynamics holds vital understandings for humanity and knowledgeable people in positions of power in many “walks of life” have been consciously refusing to communicate it, then there will no number of apologists who can defend the woefully inadequate behavior of all those who have been colluding in the effort to deny what could somehow be real and, by doing so, seeking to maintain a status quo that could lead the children down a “primrose path” to confront colossal ecological global challenges for which their elders are largely responsible.

    Look around. Where in professional societies is human population dynamics being sensibly discussed? It is not happening. Why? I believe nobody wants to hear the latest message from science on human limits and Earth’s limitations.

    I could go on now here, but will stop. A moment for communion with my granddaughter regarding her future is in the offing.

    Let me leave you with words you have lived by,

    stay the course.



  524. Donag — Thanks for sharing. I appreciate your desire to look deeper into our plight. Let me put two more cents into the pot….

    The philosopher Heidegger pointed out our tendency to “see everything in the context of equipment.” A similar observation was made by Martin Buber when he expounded on the difference between an I/it way of relating, as opposed to an I/Thou perspective. Others have spoken of modern people’s loss of the participation mystique, leading to the disenchantment of the world.
    My interpretation of the injunction attributed to Jesus “to love others as yourself” is that he did not mean for us to do this “as if” others were our self, but that he was pointing to the spiritual reality that others are our self.

    All of these insights point to the loss of awareness of a deeper dimension of reality prior to our common illusion of some kind of essential separateness from others and the world. This fundamental disconnection give rise to innumerable pathologies in our attempts to live happily together. The emphasis on meditation in the wisdom traditions has as its goal the awakening us to this prior unitary reality, which has been obscured in the course of our evolutionary development of our very real separate and unique individuality’s. Both are true: we are ultimately unique and separate, and at the same time we are ultimately One. It is only that we have in our recent developmental history forgotten the crucial dimension of our Unity.

  525. Steve — Thanks for your wise comments. Your steadiness in face of a difficult and little appreciated mission is an inspiration to me.
    When I begin to lose heart in the face of so much opposition or deafening silence, I am strengthened by your example.

  526. Anon — I don’t want to intrude into your inner world, but is it possible that there is a hidden place within you that feels empathy, but you have just never connected with it? Not saying, just wondering if in all your dispassionate rationality, there might be room for such a possibility, however improbable to your present understanding? We do undergo often unexpected changes in our worldviews. I know that from my own experience, because my worldview was much closer to yours at one time, than it is now.

  527. Sandy, I should have paid a closer attention to what you had been saying. Slimed with religion? That’s a first for me…. They say Christians do it, but I have never seen it happen till now. Will check out your site, thank you!

    Donag, you go deeper than I thought your question did yesterday. I figure every creature deserves empathy or compassion. The few sociopaths I have known, who knows where it came. One said he was that way from babyhood. He did not deserve it in any way! It is a tragedy… and I think societies can do much to discourage the crass expression of these tendencies. As I said earlier, some Asian societies have much lower prevalence… where as in the socio-political system we have, these tendencies are encouraged, even celebrated (e.g. Rockefeller Sr. and other Gordon Geckos of our world)

    Most of them are not of the criminal persuasion, however, and prisons are not applicable. Therapy just teaches them to be wilier… So far the medical model is not of any use.

    I agree with you; when I said “fairly normal behaviors” I did not discount all the interpersonal damage and pain caused by these folks. Recognition is important, and it can be learned! Then keep a careful distance.

    You say: “how do we as a society protect ourselves from such people … Or those who are able to despoil our world by exploiting /taking advantage of/co-opting our fragile institutions or hard won freedoms.”

    There, you hit on the key question. My own understanding it that we need to begin by finding ways to stop cooperating with them. Check out my post at

  528. In the well

    Beneath the well

    Divine honey

    Is always present


  529. A quote from a friend,

    “Ignorance may temporarily be bliss, but it is not going to change the outcomes for the better, which will be faced sooner or later. A pity that it’s not sooner so that the public could bring pressure for positive changes before it’s far too late for meaningful corrections to cut back on the overall destruction!”

  530. Those who do not ask:

    Who am I?

    Why am I here?

    What should I do?

    Are playing blind man’s buff

    In a hall of broken mirrors

  531. Without making the necessary efforts to recover awareness of our authentic selves, we are lost groping for some foothold in a world of mind created illusions. To think that this project of awakening to our true identity is somehow superfluous or whimsical is a feature of our enfolding delusion that guarantees our perpetual self-enclosure within it. How much longer will we sit within the darkened cave, watching the flickering images on the wall?

  532. mike k – didn’t you say you were leaving us; I am sure there are lots of poetry sites to blog. Fare the well

  533. Without poetry, music, and all the arts, we live in a dead world created by dead minds, who only appreciate shades of gray, if that.

  534. Some interesting interpersonal dynamics emerge on blogs. It pleases me, Mike, that you are not sidetracked by pitiful efforts.

  535. Sandy, Mike has threatened to leave before. Yet, like this time, it served only as a vehicle for anger, and preamble for accusations and blame.

    It would be nice to have the discussion back… to Jensen, his ideas, what the root problem is, and how to tackle it. Any chance this might happen here?

  536. I really appreciate all those who are teaching me to relax and be myself here on the Orion Blog. I could not afford all the “therapy” I am getting here by engaging paid professionals. How to respond (or not) when folks become abusive. That lesson alone justifies the time I have spent with all of you. Some of the lessons have taken a while to soak in, but eventually I have seen the light on some of them.

    The most recent understanding for me has been: no one can make you become an enemy to them, or hate them. They can try to antagonize you into hitting back, but the choice is always yours whether you will take the bait or not. I am feeling so much better since that dawned on me. Thanks again folks for creating the context for me to realize that. Bless you one and all!

  537. The role of spirituality in finding solutions to our planetary crisis may seem irrelevant or even negative (opium of the people!) to some who are sunk (mostly unconsciously) in a materialistic worldview. Even those dreaming of a return to simpler aboriginal lifestyles often gloss over the central place spiritual experience, rituals, initiations, and mores played in those communities.

    These folks are always impatiently demanding we get back to the “real business” of finding solutions, rather than wasting time on irrelevancies. And as for poetry, art, storytelling — they don’t want to be distracted by those ephemera. On a previous Orion blog, I was amazed when one respondent plainly said that all the beautiful pictures, poems, heartfelt stories of epiphanies in nature — were a complete waste of good paper and space, and had no relevance to solving our environmental problems, which he concluded were a matter for science and engineering to solve! Thankfully the editors of Orion have not acceded to his desires….

  538. All of Derrick Jensen’s prodigious works have been directed to one overriding aim: to awaken us to the disaster we are perpetrating, and stimulate us to think of how to change this, and then to act on our understanding. Therefore, to me, nothing is off the table in our search for answers. Some may limit themselves to this or that favorite scheme or theory, but for me all possibilities need to be in play. In the end we may never know which of the innumerable sincere efforts was the decisive one leading to our ultimate victory, but then we may realize, in the words of the I Ching, that Everything Furthered.

  539. I have looked over the pages from 65 to 75. Interestingly, every full page has exactly 8 comments on it!

    It so happens that from 65-75 currently there are 82 posts. 33 of them are from Mike. That is over 40%. Has our forum become a tad… er, unbalanced? How can we go back to refocusing on Jensen and his ideas, and give new people more room?

    Btw, the new Orion is out, and Jensen’s new essay, Mutual Aid, will appear online on the 11th of November. Can’t wait!

  540. There is space in these cyber-pages for an almost infinite number of contributors. It is unfortunate that some choose to pollute the atmosphere with their petty personal animosities, but one can just ignore all that, and contribute to dialog with those of us who are not involved in the static. My purpose in sharing here is serious, and respectful of the ideas of others. I invite anyone to share here in the same spirit. I value the opportunity to take part in a serious and polite discussion of these crucial issues. My interest in Derrick Jensen has motivated me to read most of his published work, and I regard my own efforts to untangle our dilemmas as parallel to his, and the work of many others. It is an unfortunate but real fact that these kinds of serious discussions often involve people’s passionate beliefs, and some get carried away in mutual attacks and recriminations. That’s life. But we really need to share and deepen our understandings in spite of these obstacles. Our allegiance should be first to the truth, avoiding the pitfalls of egos in collision.

    That time and space is being given to these issues is, to my mind, not a side-track or diversion from the main issue, but an inevitable problem to be dealt with on the way to learning how to get along with each other and become better cooperators in building a new planetary culture. So, let’s get on with it!

  541. God forbid you should take responsibility for hogging the space, eh Mike? Well, I will. I am not sure how my hogging compares, but it’s gotta be up there as well.

    So… Less strutting my stuff, more space for others is my new motto.

    Folks who want to find me can click on my name. If Donag comes back, I will respond, but other than that, I am done with this particular forum. Sandy, I will be in touch via your site.

  542. If a hundred people sign on this space today, they will easily be accommodated. There is no lack of space here, and no one is “hogging” it. One reason there are so many posts by me on this site, is that when I first signed in, I noticed that people were not responding to each other. Like, someone would put up a lengthy well reasoned post, and nobody would say boo. That is pretty discouraging, and often that poster would be not heard from again. So I made a point of responding, even if it was just, “thanks for sharing.” I like to think my efforts bore fruit, anyway we set a record for number of posts. I am not claiming credit for that, everyone pitched in on it, and we had a really good discussion going. I think we will get back to that kind of spirited but respectful sharing again. All free speech type groups hit spots where people’s emotions get the better of them, but if we ride that out and deal with it as calmly and considerately as possible, the ship will right itself again, and we will be back to (relatively) smooth sailing. Bon voyage!

  543. Vera — I am genuinely sorry if you decide to leave the site. I have learned a lot from you. I think you are a good person, and you have a lot of good ideas. I hope you will reconsider your decision at some point. We may not be exactly “friends” a this point (and I regret that) but I will miss you and pray for all good things to come to you.

  544. I am tempted to grab the honor of post #600, but of course I won’t!

  545. Vera:
    I read your piece on disruptors. An interesting choice of words. I am spending a lot of time at present thinking about endocrine disruptors and natural gas drilling. This process appears to be engaged in by many of the social disruptors you personify. Actually, as you point out with the the predator persona – “most predators are not sociopaths”. This makes it difficult to map your dramatis personae directly onto Derrick Jensen’s ICD10 derived analysis of the components of sociopathy and their application to environmental and sociological despoliation. You are lumping and he is splitting. Not engaging – that is a start. However, if you have sat on boards, committees and other democratic processes you will know how difficult they are to disengage. Like you I would like to believe sociopaths and disruptors are a minority and exceptions to the human tendency to cooperation. Whether they emerged due to the changes in environment you cite or not, I don’t know. However, as I read Wikileaks or hear about what is happening in North Korea or in the Tea Party at home I wonder. You state “recognition is important” – I think you are right. One of my favorite titles is “A field guide to the personality disorders: a companion to disordered personalities” by David J. Robinson. Maybe the content doesn’t quite live up to the title, but it is a good attempt in helping us recognize some of these disordered personalities. Of course, the DSMIV is open to question and your disruptors may be a more appealing personification. Cross-cultural and medical anthropology may help us answer whether there are “really” less of these traits in other cultures. There was less clinical depression in the PRC – however far more somatization. Now depression is becoming more prevalent in China. I don’t know what has happened to somatization disorders. These traits may be distributed evenly, or they may culled or repressed, or selective pressures may have removed them in one culture and enhanced them in another…. So, we should recognize disruptors and sociopaths, attempt not to engage them and if they transgress too far we should have ways to prevent the large-scale damage they can and have created. But what do we do with them – you are right that it is difficult to switch off empathy even for individuals who seem not to have any.
    Posting on this discussion is a bit like entering a living room full of comfortable sofas occupied by people who know each other well and who are in mid-conversation. I cleared my throat and said something and now everyone is looking at me. Clearly, there are dynamics at play and I am unaware of them. I am here to learn as I am aware I am on the bottom of a large learning curve as a physician straying into discussions on nature and community. I have taken out a subscription to Orion and will see where this goes. I can read and think on my own, but I do not want to become an autodidact and hence appreciate the opportunity to air my naïve impressions and test them against the understanding of others at different places in their own explorations. So, I hope the comments to these articles remain focused upon these important intellectual and moral issues, rather than becoming too self-referential.

  546. Donag — A book you might find interesting that links early damage to specific areas of the brain with later behavioral deficits is “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts” by Gabor Mate. He links these injuries to inadequate nurturing early in life, often due to high levels of stress in these person’s mothers. He maintains that the gold standard for proper care of infants goes back to the hunter/gatherers of the past (and continues among those still extant). Includes a fascinating account of his attempts to rehabilitate severely impaired individuals in the slums of Canada.

  547. Dear Friends,

    The writing is on all the walls. Few read it. Those who “connect the dots” refuse to speak openly of it. Humankind’s mortal enemy, silence, prevails over science. And rule of the world by the most arrogant, foolhardy and avaricious continues unabated, unabashedly, unsustainably…..

  548. Donag — Thanks for the quote:

    “Your difficulties are not obstacles on the spiritual path, they are the path.” (Ezra Bayda)

    That is a precious gem that I will carry with me….

  549. Dear Mike,

    At the moment I cannot connect your idea of forgiveness to what follows, even though Bayda’s thoughts on forgiveness have unexpectedly provoked the following.

    Imagine with me for a moment that the 76 pages in this thread were stood up end to end and that the 100+ pages of comments from the earlier Jensen essay, Calling All Fanatics, were placed end to end on top of the first 76 pages.

    Is the tower we have constructed the quadrillionth replica of the ancient Tower of Babel? If so, how can we overcome our distinctly human failures to communicate? If not, what is making it so damn difficult for us to share an understanding of what is happening in the natural world we inhabit as well as in the human world we have constructed, all of which we can see with assistance of our eyeballs in these times?

    Comments from one and all are welcome.



  550. Steve — As you are aware, there have been several periods of not too friendly back and forth posts in the long history of the Jensen comments forum. This is not unexpected as DJ’s challenging ideas often provoke strong pro and con reactions which can become emotionally charged. What little I have learned of forgiveness has been a Godsend getting me through these passages without becoming bitter and resentful. Being on the receiving end of ad hominem attacks is far from comfortable, and the temptation to pitch in and return them with interest can be compelling.

    As far as these forums being the zillionth iteration of the problems posed by the famous Tower of Babel (is that where we get babble?) yes, we are still working on that one. Even if we may share the “same language” with others, we soon discover that each of us understands that language in our own unique ways. Big basic communication problem. This has led some to throw up their hands and condemn language as the villain responsible for all our problems. (I have yet to hear from these critics a viable alternative.)

    We just innocently expect that others will “understand” (that is, accept) what we say just as clearly as we feel we understand and express ourselves. The puncturing of this happy illusion often triggers negative feelings, and the ascription to others of stupidity or willful misunderstanding. I am trying to learn to cut myself and others some slack, and use the imperfect instrument of language with as much care as I can, but not to expect from it miracles of perfect communication that it cannot deliver.

    Rodney King said, “Can’t we just get along?” Yes we can, Rodney, but we are really going to have to be patient with each other, and work on it together.

    “Many of the Holy Ones
    Have we named
    Since our life has been a conversation
    And we have been able to
    Hear from one another”


  551. With each passing year it becomes more clear to me that I have a great deal to learn about forgiveness and much forgiving ahead of me…..beginning with myself, I suppose.

    Mike, you are an inspiration to anyone who is striving to be the kind of person many other people wish to be.

  552. Thanks for your praise, Steve. But I have a very keen awareness of my own shortcomings, and as you said of yourself, I have a lot of work yet to do in correcting what I can in myself. I am heartened to realize that all the great teachers of the past have emphasized that we all need to be committed to the Great Work of reforming ourselves, so that we can become blessings for others and for our world. Any views of ecology that ignore our need for inner growth are, in my understanding, deficient.

  553. The discussion of forgiveness is very appropriate as it addresses Derrick’s concerns about the prevailing psychopathy (inability to care). I see from Etymology Online:
    O.E. forgiefan “give, grant, allow,” also “to give up” and “to give in marriage;” from for- “completely” + giefan “give” (see give).
    It is our capacity for generosity and humility that enables civilisation to exist. Our capacity for forgiveness and thus learning from our perceived errors is a requisite for our experience of the state of science and enables us to learn a wide range of skills. This fact is rarely unpacked in our schools.
    Forgiveness is mindful caring.

    Sandy wrote: Dave – “I must confess, your thinking is too profound for me… I have no idea what you are saying.”

    The essential message is very simple and very ancient, very deep physics/psychology. The Conservation Principle of Energy holds: energy is as bounteous as the universe(s) and all is continual transformation. Elements of our self-consciousness, in particular the limitations of our ego with its fear of mortality, involve us in self-deceits by which we deny reality (the universal change within which we are stewards). This denial and resulting dissonance in our lives is always manifesting in our use of symbols (language), as is our acceptance of stewardship/change and our consequent harmony with all.

    The good news is that the great principles of physics provide us with sustaining guides to transcending the ingenious denials of our ego and that living language is a paradox: it provides profound reflections of our state of being, including our vast subconscious, even as it generates our state of being. We have willpower and can embrace our roles as stewards/change. We can actively choose to conserve the fuller potential of our prime symbols and care to use them in accord with the great principles of physics. Thus we can work to become more sustainable beings and our sustainability tends to be reflected in our legislation and corporate structures.
    Perhaps I can illustrate using our current use of the “greenhouse” symbol.

    Somewhere way back in this discussion someone asked when did our domination begin. It is a very complex question in terms of Evolutionary theory and the development of consciousness. It is very helpful to ask the question, “What is domination?” I will not attempt to answer that here. Instead I will tell the following story.
    About eighteen years I sat in the New Zealand Wellington City Botanical Gardens greenhouse, resting from my labours struggling through the storm that raged outside. An American tourist staggered in and sat down beside me and together we enjoyed the peace and tranquillity and the rich display of the exotic plants, insulated from the storm. He drawled, “ To think they try and tell us that the atmosphere works like a greenhouse!”

    This opened deep questions in me of the physics, psychology and general spirituality of our use of the “greenhouse” symbol. I found when I asked our planet’s leading climate experts why they evoked images of earths climate as a greenhouse I soon discovered their rationale was anything but scientific. It became clear this greenhouse = atmosphere equation has deep spiritual significance in our culture – indeed I now suggest one of the dominant religions of our current Anglo-American culture is the Greenhouse faith.
    A major breakthrough occurred about 2001 when I was watching a history programme on the reign of Queen Victoria. King Albert was concerned Great Britain was on the point of disintegration. So he promoted the idea of a great exhibition for 1851 displaying Britain’s industrial and military might, to be housed in a giant greenhouse called the Crystal Palace. It was to be the pride-invoking, nation-binding symbol of Britain’s dominion over the oceans, lands and peoples of Earth. (I have lived my life in one of those British Dominions and know well how the Maoris were displaced from their lands and how our soils, forests and rivers were strip-mined for the benefit of His/Her Majesty in England over the following century.)
    By some stroke of luck I also hit gold on the Internet as I researched the Crystal Palace. I soon found that greenhouses have since the 16 Century been a great status symbol for Europe’s feudal lords, proving their great power, wealth and transcendence of Earth’s seasons and climates.
    In particular I hit on an 1851 collection of sermons protesting at the immorality of the Great Exhibition. They argued that when the Bible said God made Man “dominion” of this planet the symbol involved profound obligations as stewards. They argued the new national use of the “dominion” symbol stripped away its associations with care and compassion in ways that promoted immorality and greed on a scale that put us all at risk. It was clear they could foresee the brutal excesses of the Industrial Revolution and history has showed their depth of insight.

    The greenhouse symbol with its now pervasive image of earth in a greenhouse is the perfect manifestation of the modern belief the atmosphere is ours to engineer and mine as we please, just as we mine and destroy the mineral reserves of the ground without care.

    Perhaps the most ardent and certainly the most pivotal adherents of the Greenhouse religion are members of the global Green Movement, which shows how ingenious our capacity for self-deceit is. Greenhouse evocations pervade Green literature and this use of the symbol is part of syndrome. In brief, it is possible that these most caring of people are especially vulnerable to propagating symbols of non-care because we experience greater dissonance. This greater dissonance is generated by of our enhanced awareness of the negative impact of our actions on the global balances that sustain us. It is harder to admit we don’t care.
    It is likely those wise church ministers of 1851 and Derrick would have had a great deal in common once they realised what he meant by his use of the psychopathy symbol.
    More on our use the “greenhouse” symbol at

  554. Dear Dave MacArthur,

    I return to your website again and again. Your perspective has much to offer us. Thanks for sharing it.

    Dave, you described what you are doing in an earlier post as “a tiny effort”. It appears to be much more than that. Keep going.

    Somehow we have got to take the measure of the human-driven aspects of the global predicament looming before us and then find solutions to whatever threatens humanity and life as we know it in ways that are consonant with universally shared, humane values.



  555. Donag, while the sociopaths are few, there are many who ride on their coat tails. And when you add all the other types of disruptors, I think the percentage is sizable.

    Game theory simulations map these takovers quite well.

    You know, my recommend is the same as with trolls. Don’t feed them. Feed those people whom you want to thrive… I want to post more thoughts on my blog that deal with this difficult dilemma. Hope you visit there again. I have enjoyed your thoughtful approach to all this. Quite a puzzle! :-)
    Best — vera

  556. Thank you sir.

    I am calling out:

    Organic Valley, Family of Farms(CROPP)
    National Farmer’s Organizatin(NFO)
    Midwest Organic Services Association (MOSA)
    Dairy Quality Control, Inc. (DQCI)
    Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture (MDA)

    These agenicies and organizations and their salaried workers and their leaders ALL acted in such a way that our long-standing organic dairy farm was completely and utterly destroyed. Our cows, which were about 20 in number and young stock of about a similar number, went from assets and income-producers to liabilities and unaffordable extravagances as a DIRECT result of the actions of the individuals associated with and carrying out the orders of these aforementioned organizations.

    I am in total despair. I love animals, particularly cows and horses and I love the planet earth!

    Any lawyer (or kindly individual or organization) that would help us please contact me at: Guy Ekola 9678 Walstad Rd NW, Garfield, Mn. 56332.


  557. nedlud — It makes me very sad to hear of your plight. I wish I could offer some help, but can’t see how. Unless we somehow dethrone the economic bullies that rule our society, the very people we need most for a healthy, sustainable world are being driven to the wall, and eliminated. We all need to wake up and realize that “capitalism” is being used as a cover for gross injustices.

    Just read your background story nedlund. Sad, very sad indeed! If I were a lawyer, I would surly help in anyway I could, but alas I am not. If you ever require the assistance of a graphic designer? give a holler. (I do volunteer work). Also, you might want to contact our farmer Nick Wallace, to see if he might be able to offer any suggestions.
    Good luck to you!

  559. A Concluding Unscientific Postscript on Psychopathology and the Power Elite:

    When individuals do tremendous harm to others, do we really need to go to psychological “experts” and their quibbling definitions to indict these people, and hold them accountable for the disasters they are perpetrating? Isn’t this search for precise labels and categories a symptom of our over reliance on intellectual or scientific formulations to guide us in situations which are really matters of common sense? For one, I don’t give a damn what you call these folks; they are bad people doing bad things, period.

    Let’s get on with figuring out how to stop these people who are responsible for so much suffering, and quit nit picking over precisely how to describe them, or explain their hateful behavior.

  560. Precisely Mike! I think even a two year old can recognize bad (or evil) when they see it. The point here, in my opinion, is to find out 1) how to PREVENT bad/evil occurrences before they occur and 2) what are our options for dealing with these occurrences.

    • The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it. ~ Einstein

    P.S. to nedlud: I talked to our farmer, told him your plight and he suggested this: “Very sad…not sure how to go up against the giants…..I’d say he needs to maybe get out of the milk business and get into direct marketing meat!”
    Wallace Farms does just that, and business has been very good for them. Hope this helps.

  561. Got my print edition of Orion today. Derrick’s article is in a different key this time. I won’t jump the gun and comment, except to say his consistent critics may have trouble with this one. On the other hand, they are a creative lot…..!

  562. “Ours was a wealthy society. No one suffered from want.
    All had the right to food, clothing and shelter.
    All shared in the bounty of the spiritual ceremonies and the natural world.
    No one stood in any material relationship of power over anyone else. All in all, before the colonists came, ours was a beautiful and rewarding way of life….”

    – Chief Segwalise of the Iroquois

  563. Steven, thanX for posting this. – Chief Segwalise speaks the truth. It was (and is) white man that speaks with forked tongue (tells lies), especially the ones that will have you believe ‘you are merely romanticizing the past’ when you speak of what a noble, organic, respectful people the Native American tribes were. Sure, you had some renegades, every society does, but nothing in comparison to the evilness that exists in our society today. Yes, they will cite chapter and verse on the evil doings of natives. Chapter and verse of White man’s history books that is. I prefer to read direct from the history of the actual one’s that suffered at the hands of white man. Their story seems to embrace more truth. Sad that many cannot, or will not accept accountability for their actions. Perhaps it would diminish their egos to do so?

  564. renegade,
    we can only go forward from where we are. The past is, like it or not, really lost to us. History has always been written by the victors.
    What we as sane humans need to do is work toward a world like the one described by Chief Segwalise – everyone sharing in “the right to food, clothing and shelter…the bounty of the spiritual ceremonies and the natural world…no one…in any material relationship of power over anyone else..”
    Because we have the capacity to see that that’s the better way.. why not just get together and work toward those ends, rather than bickering over what the “real truth” of the past was?
    I’m here for the present and the future. First step.. take take apart corporations'”personhood”, and their ability to buy political power.

  565. Sometimes you need to take a step or two backwards before you move forwards. We should not ignore the evil that was done to an already established nation(s) of people. You have to admit (acknowledge and make restitutions) to the past mistakes, otherwise you risk repeating them.

  566. I would never hope to get any restitution for the harm that was done to my Irish ancestors, both on this continent and in their own land. Their torturers are long gone.
    There’s no need to ignore the past, but there’s a great need to move forward.

  567. Dear restless renegade and Ed T,

    When I consider what both of you are reporting so well, I come with the following,

    We cannot go back but we can learn from the past. Seek truth and reconciliation regarding unfortunate omissions of good acts and unconscionable commissions of evil ones. Lean forward together with more fairness, justice and good will to embrace the future.



  568. I’ve felt the frustration Jensen starts his article with. A couple times, I’ve raised the question “How many of you got here by car today? We have met the enemy and he is us.”

  569. One difference between what is happening now and what occurred in every yesteryear leading up to this moment in space-time is simply this: we have knowledge of what we are doing and are choosing, in the face of all the historical and scientific evidence, to do precisely the same things our unknowing ancestors did…. the things that effectively destroyed the world they inhabited. Of course, the failures of our ancestors also did not precipitate the massive extinction of life as it was for thousands of years on Earth, neither did their reflexive behavior threaten the entire planet as a fit place for human habitation.

  570. Dear Ed T,

    You are correct, I believe, about not being able to right all the wrongs concerning past injustices; however, it seems just as evident that we must not repeat the mistakes of the past.



  571. Vernon — I would add: We have met our saviors, and they are us.

  572. Past, present, and future are all important dimensions to consider when evaluating a problem, and seeking its solutions. Too narrow a focus on only one of these dimensions will only offer superficial or lopsided solutions. We will need to entertain both the widest and the deepest perspectives to find effective answers to our escalating global problems. Many of the roots of our most basic difficulties go way back in our collective past. The failure to deal with these primal problem areas has haunted us down through the millennia, and now confront us as crucial questions of our very survival. The answers to our deepest needs are buried in the hearts and minds of humankind. To seek for outward fixes, when our problems are within ourselves is to seek in vain. Our problems are largely of our own making. Until we become willing to work on ourselves in an effective manner, we will continue to carry the seeds of our self-destruction within our own hearts and minds. The authors of the Greek tragedies had it right, and we are presently fulfilling their prophesies to the letter.

  573. Dear Mike,

    Yes, definitely yes. Why is your straightforward and obvious idea so novel and refreshing? It is simply staggering to me what is not being said out loud so people everywhere can hear it. Perhaps the wealthy and powerful are keeping secrets, in precisely the same way thousands of them keep money stash fortunes in Swiss bank accounts. Their numbers are so great, no one can accuse anyone of wrongdoing. After all, there are not prisons large enough to house so many tax evaders, even for one day.

    I received a cell phone call this weekend from a population expert. He began the conversation by saying he read the piece Emily Spence arranged to have published in several places on the internet.
    In the conversation, I heard from him interesting stories about how the rich and famous are making “getaway” plans, particularly from the New York City area, for when ‘all hell breaks loose’. Very innovative planning, just as you might expect. For example, one fellow has purchased land in Guatemala, along with people my mother called “sharecroppers”, a code word in the South for slaves after the Civil War ended slavery. His plan is to fly his plane from a small airport in NY to Marathon Key, Florida, to his airplane hangar where already purchased “cheap oil” has been stashed (he thinks there will be no oil for sale at less than astronomical prices, if at all in many places like Marathon, Fla., because of hoarding). He will then get in the plane with family and minions who will join him there and fly off into the sunset.

    I mention this vignette because it points out the way people with most of world’s wealth are looking out for themselves and forgetting about everyone else. They ‘pass the word’ among themselves regarding what the only members of the powerful elite are allowed to know. As they say, “You know who you are”. In fact, people with great wealth automatically get to know others who are similarly situated. All this is to say, the human community has a problem of which it knows not.

    It appears to me that people everywhere are going to have become more accustomed to discussing unchallenged scientific evidence of human population dynamics and the human overpopulation of Earth, despite conspicuous resistance to discussions of this kind. For a moment imagine that human overpopulation of a living Earth is like a live human organism with lung cancer. Please note that although it is exceedingly difficult to talk about “the big C”, it is much more demanding to speak out about the cause of the lung cancer: smoking tobacco products. Similarly, despite the challenges we have to speaking out loudly and clearly about the skyrocketing increase of absolute global human population numbers during my lifetime, it is much more difficult say anything about what might be causing global human population growth. Of course that brings us to human population dynamics. Perhaps this is the last of the last taboos. The denial of the science of human population dynamics appears to me as one of the most colossal failures of nerve in human history. The abandonment of intellectual honesty, moral courage responsible action is unconscionable.

    One day human population dynamics will become a topic of open discussion, that is certain. Global gag rules will be eschewed rather than promulgated. When that time comes, I trust it is not too late to make a difference in the lives of our children. They are probably going to be inconceivably victimized because the Earth will have been unimaginably ravaged not only by the arrogance, folly and greed of their elders but also by our cowardice in the face of an ominous global ecological predicament.

    Lester Brown reminds us now that “civilization’s foundation is eroding”. He and we pay careful attention to the distinctly human-driven symptoms of what ails us and report them everywhere; but when will we examine the possible causes of the ailment itself and report findings of what appears to be a non-recursive biological problem? If the human overpopulation of Earth is the problem, when is extant scientific evidence of human population dynamics to become the object of rigorous scrutiny, careful analysis and professional reports?

    Many too many experts possess scientific knowledge of human population dynamics and human overpopulation of the Earth, I believe. They have remained electively mute. They know and could do better; they have both the tools and the empirical evidence at their fingertips; they are abdicating their responsibility in raising awareness of the those that still do not yet see and understand the human-induced aspects of the global predicament looming before humanity.

    Many experts have had a multitude of opportunities to comment on human population dynamics and human overpopulation of the Earth in professional conferences like those sponsored every four years by the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population and in an array of speciality journals dedicated to human ecology, population biology, human demography, etc. Rather than speak out, the experts have uniformly refused to do so. Their abject failure to respond more ably to the challenges presented to humanity in our time is woefully inadequate and inexcusable. It would be unfortunate if the silence of so many of the ‘brightest and best’ in my generation of elders was ever construed by the children as giving consent to this ignominous behavior.



  574. One day I trust that the ‘the next step’ will be taken and the promise of a discussion of human population dynamics and human overpopulation of the Earth will be fulfilled. Sooner or later such a discussion has to occur, I suppose, despite the fact that free and open speech of what looks to me like the very last of the last taboos is forbidden by the self-proclaimed masters of the universe among us, the ones who value money, power and position before all else and exclaim their dishonest and duplicitous ‘work’ is, of all things, “God’s work”.

  575. My concern for children everywhere is this. If children in our time are “sold” the aberrant idea that economic success is all that really matters in this world, then from now here I expect those who are still young will follow a clearly marked and soon to become patently unsustainable primrose path to perdition, a path that has been adamantly advocated and religiously pursued by the masters of the universe.

    Let us not allow the ‘economic success’ that is derived from insider trading, hedging, dark pools of capital, CDOs and other financial instruments, market and currency manipulations, Ponzi schemes and economic globalization by the masters of the universe to be confused with the works of God, as given to us in the Creation and science.

    Despite all the efforts to foment confusion by economic theologians and other minions of the wealthy and powerful, I trust we can agree that the Creation and science itself are utterly different from the artificially designed, ideologically flawed, manmade global economy that is organized and managed by the masters of the universe for their benefit primarily. Regarding this single thing, can there be even so much as a shadow of doubt?

  576. Surely our ‘psychopathic culture’ flows from those who inhabit human bodies, and whose breath and sustenance is no less dependent on the Earth than are the bodies and beings of the less successfully exploitative? Might a just-as-easy analogy be made with the psychology of an addict or desperate and tortured self-injurer? I believe in the importance of the stories we tell; positing a psychopathic Other, in my view, will only contribute to hatred. Surely we can just as easily act with compassion to contain the actions of someone destroying themselves–and others–and all the more so if that someone includes ourselves.

  577. I do not think either Jensen or any of the hundreds of commenter’s on his essay have recommended or sanctioned hatred towards those who are destroying the lives of others, and the Earth itself. Let’s not confuse strong criticism with hatred. Nor has anyone called for killing these perpetrators. There has been a wide variety of ideas about how they might be stopped, but none sanctioning direct violence against them. There is a principle in law that words do not constitute a battery. Some of us don’t like these people due to the harm they are causing so many, but that is not the same as hatred, which we all know is a toxic and dangerous emotional aberration.

  578. relevant comments among friends in another conversation…..

    If leaders keep choosing to outrageously overconsume and hoard; to relentlessly overproduce unnecessary stuff; to over-grow businesses to the point of “too big to succeed”; and to silently condone the unbridled increase of absolute global human population numbers in the planetary home we are blessed to inhabit, as so many leaders are adamantly advocating and recklessly pursuing now, what chance do the children have for a good enough future? This way forward looks like a “primrose path”. For the short term the way forward looks great, but foresighted people can already discern forbidding, human-driven, global ecological dangers in the offing. Human overconsumption, overproduction and overpopulation activities worldwide can readily be seen mortgaging the children’s future and threatening their birthright.

    Can we describe “sustainable behavioral repertoires” for individuals that elders can begin to exemplify and children can emulate? Can we define the elements and develop the plans for sustainable business enterprises?

    M says,

    Simply always paying cash for everything is a start. What a car save your money ride a bike then get a car. Want the car to last ? Don’t use it often keep riding the bike as often as possible. Recognize its a luxury not a necessity. Nothing wrong with having luxuries if you recognize what they are.

    If every individual only makes purchases from saved money and also respects the luxury for what it is then collectively the world changes.

    Obviously such a person would probably be careful in his/her reproductive behavior. Marriage and children would come in time when your ready.
    And of course one has to thing they would value their children.

    Obviously esp for women there are biological constraints but on the same hand a frugal lifestyle would also you would not want as much stuff for your children.
    You would not feel the need to ensure they had big house or car when they where sixteen etc. Things many people strive to provide for their children
    would simply not even matter. And of course assuming that the nation allowed it when each generation passed the next would receive a real inheritance

    If you think about it a bit you realize that the real sustainable inheritance pattern is not parent to child but grandparent to grandchild. All you really
    need to do is change the inheritance concept to recognize our natural lifespans. Heck today it could even be great-grandparent to great-grandchildren.
    Basically oldest generation to youngest. By doing so wealth would be recycled correctly from the top to the bottom. And it should be just as obvious that expansion of the population is difficult because providing for the third or fourth child at the level of two or one would be hard.

    Not impossible and not forbidden but simply and fundamentally restrictive. More often than not a family lineage would have a small excess in one generation and a deficit in another pulsating with little or no total growth. As overall wealth grew fairly naturally from one generation to the next keeping population levels sustainable would be a problem not overpopulation. Such a society would be more concerned with people having enough children keep population from declining too rapidly.

    The younger generations secure in their inheritance would tend to explore and enjoy their youth not to excess like we know today but more akin to monastic’ish lifestyles. Youth traveling the world before settling down. Exploring a skill, educating themselves. In time when the novelty waned settling down in Grandpa’s house would be attractive.

    A laid back financially and emotionally secure society with each generation and it should be obvious that such a society would have many members that choose alternatives to the house and two kids secure in their inheritance. Others may desire more say up to four before societies constraints are enforced.
    The point is at the individual level in general as long as a reasonable number eventually choose to have no children or one child there would not be any need for extremely ridged population controls. As I said I suspect keeping the population from falling to fast would be more of a problem.

    Creating such a society is not hard and within about 4-5 generations it would have stabilized. In my opinion over the long term it would seek to stabilize close to the minimum population required to support the complexity of the society.

    Here we can start looking at complete economies or the minimum number of people required to create a modern economic system with all of its specialties. This number is quite small. I often use California as and example 30 million people in California are capable of producing every facet of a modern life. Of course intrinsic wealth or natural resources are distributed so perhaps this number is too low one can expand it to the entire US. It should be obvious we don’t need 300 million people 150 million could have readily created a technologically advanced society capable of supporting all of its members. Expanded to the globe perhaps a billion or less more likely 500 million. Each concentration of people needs its support infrastructure and people working in various roles. Obviously you don’t get any real gain in overall technical capacity after a fairly low number. 500 million is a good number with plenty of flexibility population could fairly readily vary from about 300 million to say 800 million. One billion would be just a bit high in my opinion putting some stress on the regional ecologies.

    Technology would advance and in time many would have the option of leaving our planet to live elsewhere eventually the starts. Earth would I suspect increasingly become a sort of ecological resort planet/ retirement/ breeding ground.

    It would be a place for people to get that natural experience of a planetary ecosystem and eventually one of many effectively backwaters as the almost infinite number of off planet lifestyles developed. I’m sure such a society would exploit space in the same careful manner as they did planets with ecological systems. Nature is nature.
    However just as obvious the constraints would be much lower. Artificial habitats that in aggregate where larger than anything a planet could support are possible but the shear size of the universe would ensure that a careful society would not exploit a particular system to ruin.

    As a species we would enjoy and indeed savor our evolution through technology time and space each step would be done to maximize its benefit not only to the current but future generations.

    Its not unreasonable to consider that in time we may well be no longer constrained by our current biological life spans. Even today the ability to break such constraints is not unreasonable. However by the time we managed to do so one has to imagine that people would also eventually be capable of managing their own personal life spans. Life as we know it would become a constraint and such a technically advanced society is bound to develop alternatives.

    Sorry to go so far out into the future but I think that by only following a course to its natural conclusion and looking ever further out can you then really work back to today and see what we must do to change. We don’t of course have to make such choices eventually the simple constraints of our ecosystem esp given the damage we have already done will ensure that we will evolve along the above path like it or not or go extinct.

    The only real question is how much pain and suffering will happen before we finally adopt the correct path ?
    Given the intrinsic flexibility of humanity and our ample annual budget of solar energy total extinction is in my opinion unlikely.
    However we can certainly create some horrific circumstances in the interm. I suspect what we are about to face will eventually be one
    of several horrific collapses before we finally try the right path. I think we have two or even three more rounds of sensless slaughter left
    in our societies before our innate group stupidity is finally expunged.

    The problem of course is each horrific collapse leaves us in and overshoot condition allowing the survivor to fall right back into exploiting whats left.
    Consider the black plague and resulting real abundance following the death of millions. Each time I suspect that the survivors will be unable to expand to
    destructive levels less easily. Until finally the cycle of expansion and collapse itself slows.

    So today I’d argue we are entering the first of what is probably several global collapses. In that we are unique being in a real sense the first of the last stupid global human cultures. Given the devastation we have wrought one can be fairly certain that follow on stupid collapsing cultures will never reach the heights of stupidity we have. So no only are we first but our collapse will be the most horrific of the series. Each follow on culture is certain to collapse from ever lower highs until finally sustainability emerges. Depending on how long we cling to our stupidity this could take thousands of years and generations.

    No real telling as I said I can readily see 2-3 more rounds as being very likely.

    Or we can change.

    D says,

    At least three or more rounds of collapses (or partial collapses) coming down the road. This idea fits in with what John Michael Greer says in THE LONG DESCENT.

    From what I have read, extension of life span to about 300 years is feasible based on what is now in the journals (not yet in the lab). It is conceivable that the very rich in an economy with less than one tenth the current GDP could affort the treatments for life extension. Did you ever read the excellent science fiction story by Horace Gold titled “The Old Die Rich”? It was published back in the mid nineteen fifties, the real golden age of science fiction.

    M says,

    Yeah its a bit funny really to realize that we are the first of a series. However if you think about it a bit we have a enormous amount of waste in our society most of it infrastructure. And of course population collapse from disease and ware is entirely possible. On the opposite side the fields we have blanketed with buildings are still there the land exists. It can eventually return to fertility in many cases. Our dumps and decayed building will become the new mines of the future. Assuming suburbia collapses there is a near infinite amount of metals that are reasonably well concentrated available. Same for our cities. For the most part the coal is still ample.
    Nuclear, Hydro and solar could readily power a echo civilization. Assuming they again allow rampant population growth they will again hit constraints.
    For them continued climate change left over from our civilization coupled with unconstrained population growth is likely to lead to collapse at a much lower level of excess than we achieved. One can even suspect that regional nuclear war would be more likely as nuclear power would be critical to such a society but large super powers impossible to create because of other constraints.

    Regionally smaller totalitarian states massacring people and periodically nuking each other is in my opinion the most likely outcome nuclear accidents will also play a role. This will make whole regions unfit for human habitation not that people won’t inhabit them but the diseases resulting from the radioactive fallout coupled with biological plagues will keep population low in these wastelands. In time of course the radioactivity will decay and the ecosystem will recover. Chernobyl if you will on a larger scale.

    Variants are of course possible but I’d say that the next civilization will be one based on the collapse of attempts to use technology to bypass the natural constraints of our planet.

    The third one is perhaps to distant to see but in its case I’d argue that its rise and fall would be based on exploiting of regions that where rendered unfit for human habitation on a large scale by a combination of nuclear/biological war and climate change during the previous civilization. These regions would finally be recolonized and exploited again to the point of collapse.

    This time around I’d suspect by a more balanced society but one still incapable of living within its constraints. I’d also expect such a civilization would be more adept at biological warfare than the previous one. For this civilization I foresee a situation very close to what happened in America where disease was leveraged to empty the land. The only real difference is it would be designer germ warfare instead of natural vectors.

    Finally after this we probably have introduced all kinds of new diseases making it difficult for lower technology survival. Staying alive in a world with all kinds of designer plagues targeted at killing people would be hard. This of course would lead to isolation of the various populations allowing these warfare vectors to die out over time and also I suspect finally resulting in people simply dropping them. I’d suggest that at this point humanity could potentially go extinct. We could well not make it through such a bottle neck. However biological warfare generally requires a certain population density and transmission rate. All plagues tend to naturally die out.

    It probably will result in people fundamentally scared of ever living in a dense manner. Survival of the species would require a return to villages and smaller towns out of necessity. As this happens biological warfare becomes increasingly less useful both in the basic ability to mount it and in the ability to achieve its goals.

    Time of course will eventually allow us to rid ourselves of the direct vectors however the knowledge of how to wage biological warfare just like nuclear war would still exist. This knowledge will intrinsically constrain the societies of that period to keep population density low to ensure that no one is again tempted to lose a plague to expand.

    Only then once we finally disperse our population and also keep the density low enough to ensure that we cannot murder each other on a large scale will we finally at last follow a sustainable lifestyle. Not out of choice but simply because anything close to what we do today could easily be destroyed using the now extensive scientific knowledge developed to kill any large concentration of humans.

    Out of necessity just like WWII resulted in dramatic expansion of physics in general the bio-war period will result in a dramatic expansion of potentially peaceful use of our expanded understanding of biology. And of course to repeat a natural stalemate preventing people from concentrating to the point they can overpower their neighbors.

    And finally we reach the point that humanity has little choice but to abandon its desire to exploit and conquer and kill ourselves. A living human would actually be considered of some value and our ability to destroy our ecosystems finally curtailed. All the past periods of exploitation would ensure that gains from going down the exploit route would be minimal at best.

    Surprisingly after all this is over knowledge from developing closed ecosystems to survive the various plagues and other advances will have actually prepared us to easily live for real in space.

    Not exactly the best road to get to the end game but my point is regardless of what we do unless we actually manage to exterminate our selves in the process we will eventually end up having no choice but to follow the only viable long term path.

    All I wonder really is if we will decide to stop at some point and not go down this road and instead actually take the alternative up early.
    I doubt it but somehow I can’t give up hope that we might simply leap forward. I think we intrinsically have the ability to reject scenarios similar to the above.

    I think our planet would be better if we decided to grow up on our own and not take the hard road. As a species I’d argue foregoing the several rounds of genocide we will face would result in far less scarring of the cultural memory. The misery that we would have inflicted on ourselves and future generations would never happen and never enter the mass psyche if you will that scares our society today from previous periods of genocide. We would literally be a much happier species in the long run.

    We as a species have no choice but to eventually suffer from the current round of exploitation and collapse its too late to change that but we could if we wish choose to make the first one the last one. The scar will be there indeed the climate will serve as a reminder for generations to come. But perhaps just perhaps we are intrinsically smart enough to recognize whats really going on and make the first collapse the last one.

    In the long run I have a lot of confidence that eventually we will do the right thing and somehow I simply not capable of giving up hope that the long run might well be very short we are capable of fairly sudden and fundamental shifts to the better. Despite all of our faults one thing we have done is enter into the historical record a period of time when outright slavery was not practiced on a wide scale and individual humanity was at least conceptually important.

    Yes we messed up a lot of stuff but future generations won’t forget that there was once a time when humanity lived without slavery and misery they would recognize that the period was fake in the sense that the foundation was unsustainable but the result will remain indeed I suspect future generations will exaggerate the real level of wealth and freedom we obtained. Regardless the concept of equality is well rooted in my opinion and humanity won’t forget it. Indeed as I said they probably will exaggerate it.

    If we accomplished nothing else we at least did this and it is a good thing. The concept of freedom in the original sense that America created will live long after us.
    And yes its really for all its warts and American concept not just the US but all of America north and south. At one point in history people really did throw of the chains that bound them and at least briefly lived in a conceptually equal future. Future generations regardless of what happens will not forget this lesson.
    The meme will survive and depending on how things go perhaps one day finally be true in practice.

    Given my general doomer outlook I’m not actually that sad simply sad for the billions that will probably live and die a life of misery before we finally change.
    Indeed it could well be me and my immediate family thats thrown into a miserable lifestyle. If I did not think that its possible at any point in time for humanity to alter course and in a few generations adopt a stable lifestyle then I’d give up all hope. However I do believe that the possibility will always exist for my Grandchildren to live a better life than my children and if not them then their children. At any point our own children could well be the generation that experiences the maximum hardship level for our species with their children finally and fundamentally living a lasting better life. Something I could well live long enough to see with my own eyes. Many other generations in the past have seen real bottoms take place and rises sure the underpinning where not sustainable but the bottom of despair passed. We can never know for sure if its the last one our not even if initially its not quite on the right course a correction is possible.

    Heck back in the 1970’s the world almost made the right choice regarding oil we came close to it. We could have corrected and changed course. That possibility is real and will be real from now on out regardless of the meta level speculation. It does not mean things won’t get extremely painful for a while but it does mean that at any point from now on out wherever we bottom out its our choice to make it the last one and of course eventually obviously nature will make the choice for us.

    Heck maybe sometime in the future my way of thinking won’t be considered something bordering on the lunatic fringe but mainstream that would be a start.
    I suspect that overtime this is what will happen technology silver bullets will be rejected short term exploitation etc. The multi-generational view will become the center since we have no choice but to do so.

    And D. the chances of you actually receiving your retirement in real value is zero as I think you realize. Your a smart man and sounds like you have kept up good relationships with your children I’m sure its crossed your mind that you may well end up dependent on them. I have children and I’m also hoping like hell I do a good enough job raising them that when my own time comes they will be willing to take care of me. For my generation at least our children will again be our retirement no choice in the matter. You almost certainly won’t get your full retirement I’m practically certain to get none of mine.

    And just to finish this makes life interesting for people that chose not to have children because of the current overpopulation. Many having made the right choice for now may well find out that they screwed themselves for our coming future. The irony is not lost on me. Indeed the poor families with 5-6 kids could well be the ones that make it out the best over the next few decades. Reversals of fortunes are par for the course during periods of upheaval. Indeed the contradiction is itself a sure sign of just how messed up our society is at a fundamental level. And of course this sort of thing is one of the reasons why I think this is not our last collapse as large families with few survivors will probably be the way we get through this round of collapse and it makes it almost certain to set us up for a next round.

  579. If only Mike K, Professor Gary Peters, Scott Walker and others in the Orion Blog community could persuade the Editorial Board of Orion to make arrangements for an open discussion of all extant scientific evidence on human population dynamics. As far as I know, no top rank blog has sponsored such a discussion. Despite many interviews with the likes of Duval Dixon on what he evidently recognizes as the unsustainable increase in absolute global human population numbers, even the great man, Bill Moyers, has not once focused attention on available scientific research of human population dynamics.

    Since 2001, as some of you are aware, I have been unsuccessful in my efforts to bring attention to the outstanding research on human population dynamics by Russell Hopfenberg and David Pimentel. Professionals with appropriate expertise in biology, ecology and demography appear to have neither adequately scrutinized certain empirical evidence nor reported findings, as would be expected. At least to me, that is unfortunate.

    If the scientific research on human population dynamics to which I seek to draw attention does not have profound implications (at least potentially) for the future of the children, for life as we know it, and the Earth as a fit place for human habitation, then shame on me, for I have most certainly been engaged in the silly pursuit of a fool’s errand for almost ten years. Should the evidence from Hopfenberg and Pimentel be fatally flawed and completely wrong, please know that that understanding will be fine with me. Better that I be the fool I have been thought to be by many experts than allow humanity to be fooled by the brightest and most clever among us who have proclaimed themselves masters of the universe… the ones willfully ignoring the best available research regarding the distinctly human overconsumption, overproduction and overpopulation activities of Homo sapiens in our time because this particular evidence “shows the lie” in the preternatural thought and theory as well as the ideological idiocy underpinning the shameful promotion by their minions in the mass media of their selfish interests, their pathological arrogance, their extreme foolishness.

    Please note my willingness to do whatever I can to facilitate the discussion being re-requested now.



    PS: Incidentally, if teleconferencing connections between the USA and Switzerland worked well, yesterday Russell Hopfenberg made a presentation of research on human population dynamics to a small assembly of physicists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva.

  580. The failures of the brightest and most clever are colossal in our time. Never in the course of human events have so few stolen so much from so many. And soon enough, these self-proclaimed masters of the universe will have stolen their children’s birthright, but not before they mortgage the children’s future. So much for extolling the ‘virtue’ of unconscionable greed that is derived from malignant narcissism, pathological arrogance and extreme foolishness, I suppose.

  581. Dear Mike K,

    If only more people could see the world as it is through your eyes… and were willing to speak out loudly and clearly about what is before them. Then the world would change.



  582. Dear Mike K and Wade,

    Thanks for your comments in the Orion Blogs. There are valuable points being made by each of you to which I would like to simply add my point of view.

    Given the general mind-set, the one driven in our time by economic globalization and the global political economy, it is difficult to believe how change what is sustainable could occur.

    Gigantic, multinational conglomerates are adamantly engaged in the production of goods (both needed and unnecessary), business and finance, the marvelous edifices housing the great religions, large-scale agriculture, the military complexes. These huge entities are the actual constructions that drive the process of economic globalization and give the global political economy its leviathan-like structure.

    What both of you have been reporting appears correct. It seems to me that two things could happen. First, an internet-driven transformation of global human consciousness will somehow occur in order to bring about necessary changes in the self-serving, destructive behavior of the fossil fools among us. Second, something embodied in this shift in human consciousness will give rise to completely unexpected, somehow interlocking events like the one which occurred at the city of Jericho in ancient times when “the walls fell down”. Even the leviathans of human enterprise in our days could crumble.

    Recently we witnessed the near collapse of some of the giants of the automobile industry and the virtual implosion of investment houses and big banks on Wall Street. Are the titans of big business and finance not only “too-big-to-fail” but also “too-big-to-succeed” precisely because they are soon to become patently unsustainable on a planet with size, composition and ecology of Earth?

    We have also seen in the past three years the poisonous fruits to be derived from extolling as ‘virtues’ outrageous greed, obscene overconsumption and relentless hoarding of wealth by many too many leaders. Never in the course of human events have so few stolen so much from so many…..with a sense of pride. That these people reward each other with medals and awards for their pernicious activities is shameful. I believe we can agree that the unbridled overgrowth activities of the masters of the universe now overspreading the surface of Earth can much longer stand neither the test of time nor the biophysical limitations of the planetary home God has blessed us to inhabit and not to ruin, I suppose. Following self-proclaimed masters of the universe down a primrose path could be the wrong way to direct the children to go.

    The children deserve the chance of facing the prospect of a future that is good enough. I am no longer thinking of leaving the children a better world than the one that was given to their elders. That appears out of reach now. It remains my hope that the elder generation, with responsibilities to assume and duties to perform, will do better than we doing now by changing our ways for the sake of keeping Earth fit for habitation by children everywhere. As examples, we could pay our debts instead of mortgage the children’s future; we could clean up the ecological messes that have been made in the course of the past 65 years; we could eschew “bigger is better” and “the biggest is the best” in favor of “small is beautiful”, doing more with less and embracing the spirit of living well by living more simply and sustainably.

    Perhaps changes toward sustainable lifestyles and right-sized enterprises are in the offing.



  583. Perhaps we have been travelling down a long road over hundreds upon hundreds of years, a road of growing production and distribution capabilities, of wanton overconsumption and reckless hoarding, and of unbridled overpopulation. These activities have been occurring for a long time on a small scale, but only recently exploded in seemingly uncontrollable ways, within the natural world we inhabit and without sufficient regard being given either to human limits or Earth’s limitations. An improbable combination of narcissism, arrogance, foolhardiness and greed blinded leadership to the practical requirements of living on Earth; to the “rules of the house” in our planetary home. Too many leaders decided to willfully behave like kids who were left alone and given the run of the house by their overseers. All the rules were ‘forgotten’ or simply ignored. Laissez faire, whatever will be will be, living without limits and all that ruled!

    The children tore everything up and made a big mess. When they realized what they were doing, they felt stuck as if between a rock and hard place. Do they stop their destructive activities or else choose to keep tearing up the house? This is a tough choice for kids at play. Who knows, perhaps they will not be caught red-handed at what they have been doing. And if they are caught, they could always blame the wreckage on other bad boys. How many times have we seen kids at play and men at work blaming their wrongdoing on others and not ever taking responsibility for their own dishonest, deceitful or destructive behavior?

    Either the choice to turn back and begin the clean-up or the choice to keep tearing things up is fraught with danger. From a kid’s ( or fossil fool’s) perspective they could face more danger by trying to clean up the mess they made than they would be exposed to by continuing with their rampage. Either choice presents its own challenges and threats. After all, so much damage has already been done. There is no longer any easy way forward, that is for sure, even under the best circumstances.

    What to do here? Now what? These are the questions, I suppose.

  584. Excellent..and timely as I see a Krugman article on Republican efforts to stall economic reforms while Obama is in office…who cares about Americans suffering as the only goal is to win the next election. Newt Gingrich, himself a diagnosable sociopath (following a horribly abused childhood) studied communication skills before his Contract with America in l980, mandated a list of disparaging adjectives to be used in describing “liberals,” and positive adjectives to be used in describing conservatives. Limbaugh took the ball and ran with it. It helped to foster the good/bad view of the world (further “normalized” by Bush after 9/11) an emotionally regressed view of reality which denies one’s own dark side while projecting all such “evil” onto others. Our country is largely stuck there, with our massive denial of our military empire and its obscene “costs,” yet obsessive preoccupation with “enemies.” We have become the enemy we deplore.


  585. Wynne Dimock — Thank you for your insightful comments. I am unclear as to what article you are making copies of. Krugman? Where can I get this article?

  586. Can you see in the offing, there on the far horizon within sight of every human being with feet of clay on Earth, the first slouching trillionaire in the universe lumbering toward Bethlehem to be born?

  587. To mike k…..actually, am making copies of the sociopathic article to send to Democrats who are so dumb re: how to deal with obstructionist Republicans (whom I see as sociopaths who are behaving in treasonous ways re: the multiple crises our country is suffering) Wynne D. (and thank you).

  588. “World Gone Mad”.

    I think it was Erich Fromm who said that if individuals behaved like nations they would be locked up as hopelessly insane.

  589. I hope you will read this carefully because I think it goes to the heart of what is wrong in the world.

    I was reading that there are people now trying to make philosophy scientific so that it can be made more relevant to our lives. This is exactly the kind of mistake in thinking that is getting us into trouble. Let me explain.

    Here is what philosophy can be. I have read many philosophers and most of them have only pieces of the puzzle that philosophy presents. When I got into Aristotle, and you do need to get into him slowly and deeply – no superficial skimming here – when you really get him he goes to your heart and gives you the deeply satisfying ring of truth.

    Here is what Aristotle would be saying about science. He would say that science is a branch of philosophy and not the other way around. He would say that science results from an abstraction from the notion of quantity and is only a superficial level of the depth that philosophy can attain. But isn’t it amazing that we can even abstract to that level, make generalizations that numbers represent, put those numbers together properly and make a bridge, a telescope, astrophysics.
    But we can go deeper. A second level is abstraction from quality where you get notions about goodness, relevancy, oneness, truth, beauty, justice, all those things that really make life worth living. Take Aristotle further and you get to the level of all reality, down to the concepts of essence, that by which a thing is what it is. and existence, that by which a thing is; and this is where the deep thinking is really required. So I say get into Aristotle and try him out.

    Science has much improved our lives but now science is trying to run away with us and we must take it back under our control. We are much more than science can give us. We need to use science but we should never let it use us. Think about it.

    Ward Anthony
    2865 Colby Drive
    Boulder, CO 80305

  590. @ward. Too right. We’ve given far too much ‘overall’ credence to the scientific community. Yes. Science does zero in on truths, but, they are narrow in their focus. The ability to see the entire picture, the past, the present and what the future may ultimately bring with each new discovery should have been applied with each new scientific find, but alas, was not. I only need say ‘atom bomb’ to illustrate the point. Science is now being prostituted by pharmecuetical industries at a sickening level. Each and every tv advert I see for pills that will cure (heavy periods, impotency, depression, arthritis, bladder control, etc) carries with it side-effects that are worse than the malady itself!

  591. Dear Ward Anthony and restless renegade,

    Thanks for your comments about science. Ward, I have thinking about your incisive presentation for several days. Rather than speak to your perspective now, perhaps you and others in the Orion community will have some things to say about my own view concerning the unscientific foundations of economics and demography. Think of this presentation as an addition to what has been presented in the two preceding missives. I would like for all of us to consider that both of these field of study are not scientific studies, but more appropriately named ideologically-based studies that mimic scientific inquiry.

    Sooner or later discussions such as the one proposed here by Ward have to occur, I suppose, despite the fact that free and open speech of what looks to me like one of the very last of the last taboos is forbidden by “the powers that be”, the ones who value money, power and position before all else and exclaim their dishonest and duplicitous ‘work’ is, of all things, “God’s work”.

    My concern for children, much less grandchildren everywhere is this. If the children in our time are “sold” the aberrant idea that economic success is what really matters, that arrogance and avarice actually rule this world, then from now here I expect those who are still young will follow a clearly marked and soon to become patently unsustainable primrose path to perdition and destruction, a path that has been adamantly advocated and religiously pursued by self-proclaimed masters of the universe among us.

    Let us not allow the ‘economic success’ that is derived from “bigger is better” and “the biggest business is the best”, and from insider trading, hedging, dark pools of capital, CDOs and other dodgy financial instruments, market and currency manipulations, ponzi schemes and economic globalization by the masters of the universe to be confused with the works of God, as given to us in The Creation and disclosed to us in science.

    Despite all the efforts to foment confusion and uncertainty by economic theologians, demographers and other smarty and clever minions of the wealthy and powerful, I trust we can agree that The Creation as well as science itself are utterly different from the artificially designed, ideologically flawed, manmade global economy that is organized and managed by the masters of the universe for their benefit primarily. Regarding this single thing, can there be even so much as a shadow of doubt? As for demography, it appears to provide a politically useful and economically attractive platform for looking at “the growth rate decreases” of human population numbers in one place after another and then for broadcasting this pseudoscientific evidence everywhere as if these data provide actual assurance of the end of global population growth soon. All the while the demographers willfully ignore unchallenged scientific evidence of the skyrocketing increase of absolute global human population numbers. Demography is not the practice of science; it is a ruse driven by ideology, I believe. Demography is dangerous because it is so very misleading. The ‘empirical’ evidence derived from demography serves the selfish interests of the wealthy and powerful among us by disguising rather than disclosing the actual challenges posed to humanity in our time by the unbridled growth of the human population worldwide by approximately 75 to 80 million annually as well as by the gigantic scale of the global population that is projected to reach 9+ billion, likely during the lifetime of my children.

    Thoughts from one and all are welcome.



  592. Ward and restless, yes, scientific truths are narrow in their focus. I’m not sure who said it , but science tells us more and more about less and less; philosophy tells us less and less about more and more. But you’re both apparently concerned mainly about the way the results of scientific inquiry are used (mainly by the state and corporate worlds).

    Let me just remind you of one of the more recent cases where the same thing happened to philosophy – Hitler’s Nazis’ love affair with their version of the ideas of Neitzche.

    Just as a serious philosopher must leave aside the possible uses of (mis)understandings of his thoughts in order to rigorously pursue his search for Truth(s), the scientist also could never possibly know all the future uses of his work. Where would you like to have stopped? With learning how to use fire, the best way to cultivate plants… or further back, knowledge painfully gained about which plants were safer to eat? Or back when our ancestors were poking sticks into termite mounds?

    So what is it, now we know enough, let’s stop learning, or we already know too much, let’s try to all forget about it?

    Good cooks are competent scientists – hey, Mom, forget all you know.. Let’s all give up this internet habit.. Refrigeration? Bah!.. Cars? Nah, we’ll walk..

    Yes, science did begin as a branch of philosophy. But Aristotle’s version of science was very weak tea. Logic won’t tell you everything. You have to dig in the mud. And yes, the dirt that comes up is more “True” than the bright lights of Reason alone.

  593. @ Ed T: You raise some good points, such as the scientist not knowing the future uses of his works BUT the examples you give: fire, plantings, poking sticks in mud are 100% natural, biodegradable, environmentally friendly. Todays scientist seem far removed from the natural (big picture) world and much more focused on microscopic, genetic manipulations. Just yesterday I heard on the news how Harvard scientists reversed the aging in mice. Oh joy! Let’s play god now and decide who gets to live forever and ever¡ (btw ¡ means a sarcastic statement). Seriously? Can scientists step away from their microscopes long enough to read a newspaper and see that humans are a BIG problem in this (once was) garden of eden? and that finding a way to make them live much longer or even forever is a really, really, really REALLY bad idea? Here’s the thing. Humans are done evolving. Physically we are done. Intellectually? Don’t get me started. The only aspect of evolution I will allow is that we are still possibly evolving consciously and spiritually. Oh and here’s something; chimpanzee genes have evolved more than human genes. I rest my case.

  594. restless, no living species has stopped evolving, and the rate of change in the evolution of chimpanzee genes is a factoid of very little significance.

    Scientists in general are a curious bunch with wide-ranging interests, more likely in fact than most people to be aware of the big picture. They’re also just as likely as any of us to have ethical concerns about how science is used by the power brokers.

    Corporations and governments are the problem, let run free by a populace that’s uneducated and that feels powerless. “Panem et circensis” is what we get, when what we need is a population with a solid foundation (every last person) in all the liberal arts and the sciences, a population that takes the initiative to procure its own happiness on this earth by learning in great detail how we’re all connected and need to help one another.

  595. Dear Friends,

    There is something I fear and I fear it terribly. If the human community loses its primary faith in science as the best available guide for making determinations regarding what is adequate enough knowledge of the “rules of the house” in the planetary home God has blessed us to inhabit as well as regarding the most accurate placement of humankind within the natural order of life on Earth, then a keen sense of foreboding overtakes me because it appears that we could end up destroying, however inadvertently, that life which we claim to be protecting. In the course of a single lifetime, human beings will have done so much irreparable damage to something millions of years in the making, something we believe we are preserving.

    That is to say, if the family of humanity does not accept out of necessity that even a uniquely and superbly gifted species so splendid as Homo sapiens lives according to the “rules of the house” in which we live so well, but instead chooses to deny the directions and guideposts provided to us by God’s gift of science and refuses to live within the biophysical limitations of our evidently finite and noticeably frangible home on Earth, then woe will be onto the children who follow my generation of elders, I suppose.

    Have the self-proclaimed masters of the universe among us determined that their arrogant, avaricious and soon to become unsustainable way of life is the one and only way to the ‘good life’? Can mortgaging the children’s future and threatening their very existence somehow be cleverly construed as the best way to live? It appears that the very children for whom the world is supposedly being made into a better place are the same people from whom their elders are willfully stealing life as we know it, relentlessly dissipating Earth’s resources and recklessly degrading its environs.



  596. Please note the silence of so many on this topic, both inside and outside the Orion community and well as within the communities of top-rank experts. That silence is also something to be feared and fearly terribly. There is no global threat so great as our so-called leaders’ elective mutism with regard to notifying the public about humanity’s central role in recklessly depleting Earth’s finite resources and degrading Earth’s ecology as well as to helping the children sensibly prepare for what could likely occur in the offing. Such outrageous behavior by my generation could have the effect of ruining the planetary home God has blessed us to inhabit as a place for human habitation by the children.

    Good people, the willful silence of knowledgeable leaders and followers is a colossal mistake with profound implications for the future of life on Earth. Please, speak out loudly, clearly and often. Say whatsoever you believe to be true and real regarding the human predicament in which humankind finds itself in these earliest years of Century XXI.

    More voices….. we need many more voices. Time is being wasted because those with wealth and power and their super enriched minions adamantly defend and righteously pursue overconsumption, overproduction and overpopulation activities. Because these activities could soon become patently unsustainable, necessary behavior change has to occur fast. If more members of the human family do not speak out to resist what the richest and most powerful in the human community are seducing all of us to do now as we strive to ravenously consume Earth’s resources, to relentlessly hoard wealth, and to overproduce unnecessary stuff, then the planetary home we are inhabiting and overpopulating could be made uninhabitable for our children and life as we know it in the fairly near future.

    One day our children may look back in anger and utter disbelief at many too many leaders and followers in my not-so-great generation of greedmongers, who had the chance at least to try and mitigate the fully expected damages of pollution, climate destabilization, environmental degradation, resource dissipation, biodiversity extinction and unbridled overpopulation but abjectly failed because we chose to play around the edges of the global challenges before us and refused to take demonstrably responsible action in the face of clear and present dangers.

    Being honest and personally accountable; earning wealth the old fashioned way by actually providing something of value; exercising moral courage; and making necessary changes toward sustainable lifestyles, was too damn hard for so soft, satisfied, sanctimonious, selfish and stupid a generation of elders, I suppose.

    For me, it is impossible to believe that a species so wondrous as Homo sapiens will not find a way to continue rather than to induce its own extinction as we appear to be doing now. Somehow the miracle of life as we know it, with all its beauty and biodiversity, has to be preserved. At least we have to try, whatever the odds.

  597. Ok, does anyone else think this might be a good thing?
    Responsible, acceptable, scientific practices adhere to the guidelines of 1) resource sustainability 2) complete biodegradable, non hazardous by-products of all research and manufacturing endeavors 3) research focuses mainly on CAUSES not cures

  598. restless, I think I understand what your concerns are. For #1, resource sustainability is an important goal. This would involve constraints put on manufacturing and extracting industries by government bodies. This would start by voters being aware of the problems and influencing and electing representatives honest enough to carry out the program; the voters and representatives should also be aware of the costs and ready to pay their part (in the short run it would cost more than business as usual). The costs really should be shifted further up the economic scale, and there’s another battle.

    The manufacturing part of #2 falls into this area, too. The rest of #2 does fall into the realm of the research scientists, and it’s a worthwhile goal for them. Researchers can also contribute to this (and#1) by finding new ways to do things (if they can find funding – that usually depends on decisions by agencies answerable to elected officials – to dedicate the time to do that). But the lion’s share of the hazardous by-products is in manufacturing. Government intervention is needed here also, and price tags attached. This is where the problems usually start. Politicians are usually hesitant to tell either voters or businesses that they need to pay.

    I’m really not sure what you’re getting at with #3.

    Since we’ve been back and forth on this more than once, let me just explain briefly my short career in research. For about 3 years I did experiments that involved killing up to 150 mice a day to put 50 points on a graph. There really didn’t seem to be any other way to get that information at the time. It could have been important, but so often these things don’t really give clear answers anyway. Well, for me it was too much killing, so I moved on to a lab where, for a year, I grew white blood cells in jars. The focus of that research was on leukemia. My part didn’t bother me, but part of the same program involved keeping newborn calves away from their mothers, for the effect it would have on their immune system. Of course it left them very vulnerable, but the cells they produced were useful to the research.

    Next step was in a chemical factory (don’t even ask), and then I went to live in the woods for 10 years. When I had to come back to the world, most of my jobs were in food factories.

    There’s a very limited amount of influence anyone can have on these things.

    Those were years when you could walk away from a job and find another one in less than a month. But of course someone filled in for you at the one you left.

    You’ve talked about science as if we should all just choose not to do it. But in my most primitive phase of life I’ve been happy to have electric and combustion motors, happy to understand (and use) some basic principles of physics; understanding biology certainly didn’t hurt my gardening and foraging, etc. And I’m always better off being able to see things in ways that reject superstition and half-baked theories. And, just for my personal aesthetic pleasure, I’m happy to be able to see the cosmos and life in one piece thru time and space.

    The genie won’t go back in the bottle. And Pandora, “first woman”, possibly the first scientist, when she let all of those evils out of the jar (she was just curious, like all scientists), closed the lid fast enough to keep one thing in – Hope. We’re going to have to bank on that. And keep watching (and trying to control) those evils.

  599. Dear Ed T,

    The words “thank you” are insufficient so I will choose other words to express my appreciation.

    Ed, not once have you stooped so low as to try and dazzle us with BS. Your report from ScienceNews is welcome because it simply presents what everyone already knows but about which many too many good people will not raise their voices. They choose instead elective mutism…and collusion with “the powers that be”. That, my friend, is a colossal mistake because the children’s future is being stolen from them by self-proclaimed masters of the universe whose ‘brightest and best’ minions and most clever sychophants are so effective at dazzling us with BS.

    Sincerely yours,


    PS: Never in the course of human events have so few thieves of the highest order in a single generation stolen so much from so many….come what may for children everywhere in the fairly near future.

  600. @Ed T. Explanation of #3: Cause NOT Cure.
    Example: Depression. The scientific community has come up with a wide assortment of medications to alleviate this (some say disease, I say malady). These meds have side-effects, including increased suicidal tendencies. Common sense would say this was counter productive. Unfortunately, this seems to be a marketable ‘cure’ so it is widely accepted in society.
    What if instead? we zeroed in on the CAUSE. I’m willing to gamble that a fairly large percent of depression is caused by a serious disconnect. A disconnect of, at its basic, nature. How many people grow and eat their own food? How many people are involved in their community in even a small way? How many people take an active part in a group/community-based endeavor? IMO, it is essential to be connected, to be out in the air, under the sun, know the parcel of land that you live on. Truly know it. Season to season. Year to year. You have to be connected in order to care. If you care and are actively working to make a positive difference, you have no time for self-pity or sadness or depression. When you are involved, you find your purpose. When you find your purpose, you lose your ‘self.’

  601. @Ed T. Explanation of #3 (part 2): Cause NOT Cure.
    Example: Erectile Dysfunction. The scientific community has once again come up with medications to alleviate this (some say disease, I say malady). These meds have side-effects, including an erection that may last more than 4 hours. Whatever.
    Now. Let’s look at the possible CAUSES. I’m willing to bet that a fairly large percent of men experiencing ED are past (or close to) their productive prime. In other words, perhaps they should focus on being a father and grand father, instead of further contributing to the over-population of the planet. IMO it would probably be best to be passing on their stories of their lives and their experiences, in an effort to have their (grand) children avoid making the same mistakes they did. In still other words, tend to your clan and stop chasing skirts.

  602. restless, a small percentage of the people being treated for depression do have a physical/chemical basis for their condition and they can potentially be helped by medication. The rest might respond better to the things you mention, but they’re being pursued by the devious advertising of the pharmaceutical industry. Corporations just love to maximize profits. Drugs for erectile disfunction are even more obviously all about money making for corporations. They prey on a huge mass of unsatisfied and uneducated people.
    I’m all for the kind of sanity you talk about. And, since we are in this very complex 21st century, I just want to emphasize that an important part of a sane life now would have to include a rigorous education for everyone in all areas of human culture, including a real understanding of what scientists do and what the human mind has learned about itself and about cosmic history.

  603. @Ed: so are you saying that what scientists label ‘depression’ is a deviant of what is considered ‘normal’ (by scientific standards) and should be treated with chemicals (developed by scientists)? And exactly what do you suppose would have become of Vincent van Gogh and his art which was born of his suffering soul, had he been on modern day anti-depressants?

  604. I’d rather have let Vincent Van Gogh make his own choice, and if he chose the treatment I wouldn’t cry about the lost paintings. And you’re probably not right to imagine that he wouldn’t have painted interesting things if he hadn’t suffered.
    People suffering from acute depression can’t even make themselves get out of bed for days. You may have never known anyone with serious mental problems but I can tell you that the solutions you’ve mentioned don’t even begin to move the mountain.
    Again, most of the people who are watching the TV ads and asking for drugs probably don’t need them.

  605. @Ed: How sad that you would not cry about the lost paintings of a Master. How does that feel? to not have a deep sorrow for lack of beauty in the world? perhaps your medications are working all too well then? My condolences.

    Woody Allen, William Faulkner, John Keats, Isaac Newton, Edgar Allen Poe, J. K. Rowling, Leo Tolstoy, Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut and Walt Whitman all ‘suffered from depression.’

    This is just a small list of well known individuals. Search Wikipedia, there are many, many more, listed alphabetically. What if THEY all took meds? How different would this world be without their great works? Would you perhaps feel a pang of remorse then? Just a smidgen?

    “Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see.” John Lennon 1940 – 1980

  606. Restless renegade and Ed T: your discussion brings us to the psychopathy that Derrick Jensen alluded to. Rr, your use of the science symbol is the use we have adopted over the last two or so centuries to enable to excesses of the Industrial Revolution. It is profoundly psychopathic because in defining science as just a way of thinking rather than a state of being we have stripped the symbol of its associations with compassion and thus destroy most of its meaning.
    (See …from O.Fr. science, from L. scientia “knowledge,” from sciens (gen. scientis), prp. of scire “to know,” probably originally “to separate one thing from another, to distinguish,” related to scindere “to cut, divide,” from PIE base *skei- (cf. Gk. skhizein “to split, rend, cleave,” Goth. skaidan, O.E. sceadan “to divide, separate;” …)

    Inherent in any form of consciousness is knowledge – the awareness of mortality and thus suffering. In knowledge we realise we are mortal beings, cleft/rended/spit from all.
    Current uses of the science symbol deny the existence of suffering and our roles as stewards/change. The result is the unparalleled violent expansion of the human population and destruction of forests, soils, ocean life etc that has occurred during this last century. You can see how the psychopathy pervades our education institutions if you check out the Compassionate Curriculum Framework, which is derived from the Sustainability Principle of Energy. Thus science is understood to be a state of being born of the experience of compassion.

    Vincent van Gogh enjoyed great compassion. However he lacked the psychology that enables us to transcend our awareness of suffering. Perhaps he lacked compassion for himself and suffering overwhelmed him at times. At other times it is apparent he experienced a profound state of science and could thus reflect reality with great clarity. I marvel at the dynamism of his paintings and his extraordinary clear insight into the nature of energy, his wonderful reflection of the continual universal transformation.

    None of us know perfect equanimity. For forty years I have suffered painful, blinding nauseous “migrainous” episodes that leave me unable to do much except to curl up and drowse/sleep for twelve or so hours. Doctors have prescribed various cocktails of drugs, many of which a few decades on are proven to be dangerous. I have declined them and as a result have discovered the power of diet and stress moderation, yoga, meditation and much about my body. For instance it turns out I was born with a bicuspid aortic valve which leaks and I have observed that I am much more vulnerable to these events when the air pressure drops presaging the approach of a weather front.

    I am increasingly aware of these tumultuous events in my body as mere passing storms in my mind-body.
    This analogy came to me in part because I noted that once the “storm” has passed I tend to be born again, perhaps refreshed by the enforced rest, into a state of much greater clarity, lightness and creativity for a period. Such events remind me of my mortality and I emerge a kinder, more compassionate being. Thus, for instance, the Sustainability Principle of Energy and the Compassionate Curriculum Framework were able to emerge through me.

    Put another way, I am better able to embrace and transcend the elements of psychopathy and psychosis that reside in my ego. I enjoy a greater state of science. I doubt I would have been liberated as I am by drugs. For instance some years ago I had cause to experience considerable grief. A doctor prescribed antidepressants and I explained why I felt they would not work. Since then my views have been reinforced by research showing this medical practice suppresses the grieving process and cause long-term complications.
    In some ways we all grieve to some degree continually as the acts of eating and moving inevitable cause mortality. The questions are how to mitigate the suffering of all and how do we generate caring institutions?

  607. @Dave: Thank you. and thank you for bringing up the topics of being in-tune with your own body and of cycles. Life is cyclical. There are highs as well as lows. You need to experience both in order to appreciate both. Both hold benefits and both have detriments.

    I too have suffered from migraines which occurred at certain predictable intervals. I tried and also rejected meds. I listen to my body and learn.

    Shame on those that are quick to prescribe pharmaceuticals to ‘alleviate’ pain, sorrow, or the malady-du-jour. We are living, breathing, FEELING entities that deaden ourselves with every ingestion of prescriptions in an effort to ‘feel’ ‘normal.’ f— that.

    If I truly had to choose? I’d take psychotic over normal any day of the week. Way more interesting at parties. Normal would be boring.

  608. restless, as I already said, it’s not a given in this argument to assume that with no depression there’s no art. How do you feel about fois gras, by the way?
    I’ve lived among artists (of the suffering kind and the non-suffering kind, some very successful in international markets, some just very successful at expressing themselves) and, if I care to choose the title, can honestly say I’m an artist myself. And I’ve always defended the idea that everyone has the potential to produce serious art (not talking about hobbies and crafts, but a true expression of inner realities). Everyone.

    Vincent didn’t have the choice of medication – the only thing available in his circles was brain-dissolving absinthe, which he used liberally, so in a way, he did make a choice.

    Very whiney to think that we couldn’t live without what he did. What other kind of slavery do we need to support our fragile psyches?

    Do it yourself!! And leave the suffering ones to make their own choices.

    Dave McArthur made his choices. I have friends with serious problems who also choose to avoid medications. I myself have debilitating arthritis in my neck which leaves me with a range of motion like the Star Wars robot C3PO, serious headaches if I’m not very careful in my motions, and very complicated negotiations every night between neck and pillow. Years of Tai Chi practice and physical therapy have had little effect. You might say that’s a very depressing condition. But I choose to take no medication. And so it goes.
    To each his own. Free Vincent from 21st century art consumption needs. We’ll be alright.

  609. Dave McArthur, back to the I Ching, the fox crossing the river on an ice floe gets its tail wet. Separate things according to their nature – science. Without clear perception no progress is possible. The best way to get to the other side is by science. Ice is ice, water is water. Seems so obvious, eh? But there are many who won’t bother to perceive because they think they already know.

  610. I love Vincent’s paintings by the way. And Arshile Gorky’s (he was also a sufferer). But I also love Picasso and Kandinski, who were probably not suffering. Everybody has something visual to express, that can be of use to somebody. Let’s let ourselves love free musical expression, too. And the Word, where the gods dance.

  611. Ed: The best way to get to the other side is using common sense.

    Science can (fix, build, help, hurt, poison, heal) but common sense says: Just because you can? Doesn’t mean you should.

    To me? science is like cold hard truth, but without a conscious, without a heart.

  612. Who is the greatest artist? The one whose works draw the highest prices? Van Gogh’s paintings are considerably fewer than the massive output of Picasso. But by the same token, the total cash value of all Picasso’s paintings and sculptures far exceeds the total value ( in $) of Van Gogh’s work. Does this make P a greater artist than G?

    Are we now capable of thinking of beauty and aesthetic values outside of our obsession with money or poll numbers? Why is invidious ranking so prominent in our thinking about whatever? Don’t money and popularity contests cloud our appreciation of the innumerable works of art that have yet to gain the economic attention of the “art world”. The amount of hype that gathers around some painters and their work is truly phenomenal, and constitutes a cult of personality that appeals to the unreflecting masses, and serves to enrich those for whom art is an investment, and a means to enhance their illusion of personal eliteness. It relieves many of the responsibility to develop their own precious ability to experience beauty, and rely instead on the judgements of others. Why is Van Gogh great to most folks? Because “experts” and the market say so.

  613. I was referring to Dave’s explanation of the word science. The S word is not a curse word. Even when I’ve agreed with you, restless, you still weren’t satisfied. I think you love confrontation more than reason.

  614. Chemical treatment for depression is largely an ineffective fraud. Read Peter Breggin’s book Toxic Psychiatry. I suffered from depression when I was younger, and eventually found my way out of the medical treatment merry-go-round. There are natural ways to heal depression, but few discover them, due to the pervasive propaganda of the medical establishment.

  615. Ed T: No I don’t ! jk ThanX for the opportunity to be silly for a nano second.

  616. restless, for me just one last comment on this subject. The word is conscience (your post #677). Apparently I’m not the one to help you get over your aversion to the root of this word.

  617. from BBC this morning: Bernard Madoff son ‘found hanged in New York’

    so yes. The world has gone mad.

  618. ..and for all the book learning and all the degreed individuals, this is the best they can come up with for tackling climate change? If you read the cons list… these are all ‘fails’

  619. Dear restless renegade,

    During the past couple of weeks I have been thinking about what to say that might somehow be useful and helpful. Nothing has come to mind, except to wish you and yours the very best now and in the New Year.



  620. ThanX for thinking of me Steve, and for the effort. It’s appreciated.

    Now, if I may request one final thing? For every scientist and every earth citizen to take a piece of paper and make two columns. One column PRO, the other CON. Try and think of all the things that humans have done for the planet, from the planet’s viewpoint. After all, the earth is a living organism.

    Try and list all of the man made good things and all of the manufactured bad things. Under the CON field can be DDT, gas run automobiles, etc.

    I’m not talking about naturally occurring radiation and such, just things that are manipulated, manufactured and mass produced by humans. And remember, think of this from the planet’s viewpoint of “Hey! You’re killing me here! Cut it out!”

    Some will argue that the planet compensates for all the poisons we spill, all the ice we melt, all the smog we spew. But is that not the equivalent of spitting in your mother’s face and saying “She has a hanky, she can wipe it off!” Fookin’ rude if you ask me.

    After your list is complete, think of how science was a part of each item.

  621. Dear restless renegade,

    There is so much to report, but my time is limited at the moment. Even so, because what you are presenting is so significant and so worthy of discussion, I want to begin by saying that science is not the problem and not for even one moment in space-time has it ever been a problem. Science is. And what it is is neither a good thing or a bad thing, not something to be for or against. Science helps us understand and adapt to the world we inhabit.

    Science is not the problem. No scientific knowledge is problematic in and of itself.

    Science can become problematic in every present moment whenever human beings choose to put scientific knowledge to use. The uses to which science is put can be either for the better or for the worse. We can readily judge the uses to which science is put.

    Please forgive my brief response, but I wanted to let you know immediately how much your comment is valued.



  622. Let me throw something in on this interesting question about the role of “science” in our deepening problems. First of all a quote from a scientist, and super activist, Noam Chomsky:

    CHOMSKY: Humans may well be a nonviable organism.
    QUESTION: Do you think they are?
    CHOMSKY: It’s very likely. From an evolutionary point of view, higher intelligence seems to be maladaptive rather than adaptive. Biologically successful organisms have a rigid character and are well adapted to a certain environmental niche. If higher intelligence helped adaptation you would expect it to have arisen over and over again. However, it didn’t. It arose in a single, not particularly successful organism, Homo Sapiens. And while the human population exploded, human societies developed in a way that has caused enormous damage to the environment. The human race could destroy itself and much organic life as a result.–.htm

    After all, science is a poorly defined term referring to some methods of employing our much vaunted intelligence. And where has this supposed evolutionary advantage gotten us? In the old pulp comics I grew up on, the Mad Scientist was a stock figure who aided the Evil Villain in his dreams of enslaving mankind and ruling the world. Who did our government go to for the “best” ways to torture people? They sought out professional scientists of the mind. And when they wanted means to destroy whole cities of innocent human beings? On and on… Tyrants have always employed folks like Leonardo or Archimedes to perpetrate their evil deeds.

    Now one could say that the scientists themselves were innocent of any wrong doing. Just as you could maintain that an adult who gave children guns and hand grenades would be blameless if some of the little tots chose to destroy themselves. After all, the adult did not pull the trigger. He/She could say, “how was I to know”? Did the constructors of the atomic weapons not know of the intention to use them against “our enemies?”

    It seems that humankind released a very dangerous Genie long ago, one who promised wonderful gifts and delivered nightmares. We are left with the extremely difficult Koan of how to re-imprison this seductive Genie. Maybe some of the old myths like Pandora’s box were on to something…

  623. Steven: Yes. Science is knowledge. I agree, but it is as Mike says, “…that no one could say that the scientists themselves were innocent of any wrong doing.”

    Mike… “The human race could destroy itself and much organic life as a result.” Yes. Much like cancer destroys its host and ultimately dies itself…the Big difference of course, is that once the cancer host is dead, it is dead. The destruction that homo sapiens produce can live on and on and on… cheerful topic, yes?

  624. renegade — Not cheerful, but very real and necessary to consider. True things are not always nice, and nice things are not always true. Derrick’s next essay deals once again with true things. Not everyone wants to look at the naked truth of our tragic predicament. This denial and avoidance is a crucial ingredient of our paralysis.

  625. restless, go ahead, crucify the guilty scientists. But leave the others in peace!! You, like my wife, seem to object that we look at the stars while we pee, while you all look to the earth. Get used to it. It’s always going to be that way. It’s not just male/female but certain people care more about social interaction; others care more about interactions in the physical world (and there are some who can go both ways).
    The New Age Renaissance Person of course needs to go both ways – all ways at once. Let’s each take whatever steps needed to get to that new ideal.

  626. We are witnessing the most colossal failure of nerve in human history. The consequences of denying science of human population dynamics and human overpopulation of the Earth could be an incredible mistake, one that does not simply threaten a civilization with collapse. The collapse of civilizations have occurred before. Sometimes on a smaller scale and other times on a larger one. But at no time in history can I find records of the precipitation of a human-driven collapse with such profound implications not only for a civilization, but also for life as we know it and the integrity of Earth as a fit place for human habitation. The ‘brightest and best’, most knowledgeable people, those in positions of much influence and great power, have not spoken out loudly, clearly and often enough.

    When scientific knowledge is deludedly regarded as a threat to human wellbeing, and intellectual honesty, moral courage and personal accountability are everywhere eschewed, how on Earth do we ever give ourselves so much as a chance of mitigating damages, much less “solving” problems for which we bear a large share of responsibility?

    I do not know what the future holds for the children. I am hoping they will find ways to muddle through. If they manage to do so, it will likely not be the result of the efforts of those in my not-so-great generation of elders. We have failed them so far “on our watch” and will continue to do so as long as we continuously choose to keep recklessly engaging in the same unsustainable overconsumption, overproduction and overpopulation activities we adamantly advocate and relentlessly pursue in our time.

    Silence will not save anyone from anything, and surely will not save humanity from itself.

  627. @Ed: I will never ‘get used to it’ I’m not a dog that obeys on command. I have a mind and will of my own. I have two very deternmined hands that can work to change things.
    ps: Your wife sounds like an intelligent and lovely lady, please give her my best regards.

  628. Dear Ed T,

    From what you have reported it appears that your lovely wife and my long-suffering spouse could be members of the same sisterhood…..





    January 8, 2011, 9:06 am
    7 Billion and Counting

    National Geographic magazine has kicked off a yearlong series of articles related to humanity’s remarkable growth spurt, with the first story focusing on the consequences of hitting 7 billion humans later this year and the basics of demography, from Malthus forward. The piece was written by Robert Kunzig, a senior editor there who was a colleague of mine at Discover Magazine in the late 1980s. I caught up with him via Skype a couple of days ago and here’s our chat (I hope you’ll excuse the lag and fuzziness):

    I asked Rob a question posed in comments here a couple of months ago by Steven Earl Salmony, a psychologist who is an impassioned champion of reining in population growth: Does the concept of the demographic transition, which takes societies from high birth and death rates in deep poverty to aging and stable populations as they advance, have the weight of scientific theory or is it far less established?

    Have a listen to his answer and other observations…..

  630. Dear Friends(#8),

    A comment on the importance of science with regard to the population dynamics and the unbridled growth of skyrocketing absolute global human numbers.

    Look around. Methinks something is somehow not quite right now here.

    Self-proclaimed masters of the universe among us are stealing the children’s future. Taking great pride in their ‘workmanship’, men are willfully choosing to play as if they were gods with life as we know it and humanity’s only home. Because they ‘care’, so they say, nothing is being left to chance. But in our time, “on our watch”, things are not working out so well for anyone or anything except the most craven and greedy …. for a little while longer. The masters of the universe aim to have it all and they will have it all now.

    This is only a guess, but I am supposing that many of you in Orion community are striving mightily to communicate about the human overpopulation of Earth. Each in his/her own way is trying to communicate anywhere and everywhere over and over again, loudly and clearly what human beings with feet of clay need to hear. If human beings with feet of clay do not have a chance to respond ably to the unsustainable financial, ecological and geological activities of the self-proclaimed masters of the universe, these so-called leaders could lead all of us to ravage humanity’s planetary home — including Earth’s body, its environs and the global economy of the human community — and in that process lead the children down a short “primrose path” into a ruined world. At the rate the masters of the universe are moving these days, it will not take them long to destroy that which they vociferously claim to be protecting and preserving.

    In psychology there is the adage: Persistence overcomes resistance. We must persist, whatsoever the odds.

    After all, what did it take, finally, to bring down the walls of Jericho without resorting to the absolutely most pernicious of human behaviors — violence?

    Thanks for all you are doing.



  631. Dear Restless renegade,

    Would you also agree that we have good science and men who are misguided by it?

    For example, please consider the following comment from an outstanding scientist who does not appear to be misguided, but capable of sound research and careful analysis of that which is observed.

    The perspective that human behavior is a a function of environmental contingencies is highly resisted in our culture, just as understanding that our genetic makeup is a function of environmental contingencies (natural selection) is highly resisted. Regarding human behavior, this resistance is behind psychologists not agreeing on the definition of their own subject matter. This resistance occurs in overt and covert ways, even among scientists.

    The resistance to seeing human behavior, genetics and ecology as being a function of environmental contingencies is behind all of our current difficulties. For example, I think it outrages all of us that we have a culture of denial regarding peak oil. I think it amazes all of us that there is almost no general acknowledgment that we may very well be in a human species die-off, not in spite of our large numbers, but because of our large numbers. I think it astounds us that people deny the reality of climate change, or see it only as opening up new trade routes in the arctic. It baffles me, and precious few others, that we can fully comprehend that every other living species’ population increases to the level of its carrying capacity, i.e., food supply, but that that this reality doesn’t apply to the human species.

    I hope we’ll move beyond ourselves or our brains / minds as “the creators” of our behavior and, instead, focus on the independent variables that will lead to success and sustainability.




  632. In a world gone mad what are people who are going sane to do about human overpopulation in 2011? That is the question.

    Perhaps we can ask ourselves what has been missing from open discussions of human overpopulation of the Earth during my lifetime. We might examine the preternatural foundation for the the Theory of the Demographic Transition, an attractive, politically convenient, economically expedient, pseudoscientific theory. That would be one.

    Or we could acknowledge the science of human population dynamics. If we keep repeating the mistakes made in my lifetime, “on our watch”, of denying science, little that is sustainable can begin to occur. Without an acknowledgement of the root cause(s) of what is ailing the human family, how are we to move forward to raise awareness of the distinctly human-induced aspects of the global predicament looming ominously before the family of humanity? Once awareness is raised among a critical mass of people, it becomes possible to organize for the purpose of formulating policies and developing programs of action that could lead to sustainable lifestyles and right-sized enterprises.

    The willful denial of science has kept us, and continues to keep us, from gaining momentum needed to address and overcome the human-driven challenges that currently threaten human wellbeing and environmental health.

    Perhaps experts with appropriate expertise will stop choosing to deny the existence of extant scientific evidence. They have yielded time after time and still are yielding to the unsustainable wishes and demands of “the powers that be” who rule the world in our time and rule it absolutely, I suppose.

    Perhaps the time for necessary change is now in 2011. Why wait for 2012?

  633. We have got to share an adequate understanding of the ways a force to be reckoned with….7 billion people…. could be destabilizing the climate.

    Can a lot of confusion in our culture concerning human numbers be traced to the Demographic Transition Theory? Is the theory fact or fiction? Science or preternatural thought? The way this question is ‘answered’ makes a big difference, I suppose.

    Please see below a note from a friend on widely shared and consensually validated pseudoscience regarding human population dynamics and human overpopulation (in quotation marks), followed by my comment on the scientific finding regarding food supply and human population numbers from the research of two outstanding scientists, Russell Hopfenberg and David Pimentel.

    “I agree that the Theory of Demographic Transition is just that, a convenient theory that holds out the promise of lower fertility in nations in due time if they just hop on the capitalistic development bandwagon.

    It’s a non-threatening and positive theory and it’s potentially good for business for the developed world.

    All one need do is take a look at population growth statistics, and per capita income statistics of countries, and one can observe that a relatively wealthy country does not necessarily have a low population growth rate. Examples are US, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Luxembourg, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Kuwait, Bahrain and more. It can also be observed that many of the more developed and thus more wealthy and educated countries, mostly in Europe, have below replacement fertility (Italy, Germany, Japan). Many countries with a predominant religion furthering large family size have larger population growth rates like the Arab countries.

    The following paper, concludes that

    “..that indicators of education, health, and family planning program effort have a significant independent effect on fertility” and that “No significant impact can be attributed to indicators of economic development once family planning efforts and social development indicators are held constant.”

    Yet the National Geographic January 2011 issue on “Population – 7 Billion” features the Demographic Transition Theory, though it does briefly admit that fertility in some countries has fallen dramatically without significant economic development. Bangladesh is a major example.

    As I see it, in the absence of religious or social pressures, most people would prefer smaller families as they can better provide for them. Given the education and means to control their fertility they will readily try to do so.

    In many developing countries, the ubiquitous radio is the major source of news and entertainment. The presence of only a few radio stations makes this an ideal medium for education and behavioral change. Organizations such as Population Media Center and
    Population Communications International have been very effective on a per dollar basis in getting listeners to their culturally-sensitive soap operas educated on family planning
    advantages and seeking means to help them control their fertility.”

    The food availability-population growth finding from the research of Hopfenberg and Pimentel shows us that there is NO demographic transition, NO population stabilization, NO benign end to population growth a mere four decades from now. That is the problem with the theory, which is preternatural not scientific and descriptive not predictive. Scientific evidence directly contradicts the demographic transition theory and indicates that human population dynamics could be essentially similar to the population dynamics of other species. More food equals more human organisms; less food equals less human organisms; and no food equals no humans. Skyrocketing absolute global human population numbers in the past 65 years provide bold and unmistakeable evidence of this fact. I fear that when the explosive growth of the food supply for human consumption we have witnessed during my lifetime can no longer be sustained by a planet with the size, composition and ecology of Earth, and comes to an end much sooner than any one of us would want, I believe this relationship between food and population numbers will become much easier for the people to see. And at that future moment in space-time people are not, definitely not going to like what they are seeing, I suppose. I also believe that at that time those with responsibilities to assume and duties to perform will look back in anger and utter disbelief at what those in my not-so-great generation have overlooked and denied, for a variety of self-serving excuses.

  634. Another question…

    How on Earth are we going to adequately feed the hungry and starving, and simultaneously not keep ‘feeding the problem’ of human overpopulation?

    How is it possible for so many top rank experts of great stature to be adamantly advocating for more “food production to feed a growing population” and yet be failing to mention the profound implications of skyrocketing absolute global population numbers on Earth? For such a thing to be occurring in 2011 appears preposterous. It is morally outrageous and dangerous both to future human well being and environmental health, I believe, for well established experts to be reporting ubiquitously in high-level discussions such things as are directly contradicted by unchallenged scientific research of human population dynamics and human overpopulation. Is it possible that so-called, self-proclaimed experts are not aware of peer-reviewed, published research in their area of expertise that indicates the food supply is the independent (not dependent) variable and human population numbers is the dependent (not independent) variable with regard to the relationship between human population numbers and food supply? It appears that many too many experts are collectively reporting specious theory and data regarding the human population that cannot be supported by the best available scientific evidence, I believe.

    The food supply is the independent variable not the dependent variable. Human population numbers is the dependent variable not the independent variable. The believers in demographic transition theory and in the idea that “we must increase food production to feed a growing population” are simply mistaken. The false promise of Demographic Transition Theory, that population stabilization will somehow occur benignly and automatically a mere four decades from now, as well as the upside down thinking that human population numbers is the independent variable and food supply is the dependent variable, are at least two of the crucial and deliberate misunderstandings that are being deployed to direct the human community down a patently unsustainable “primrose path” no human being with feet of clay would ever choose to go.

    The uncontested scientific finding of the relationship between food supply and human population numbers is being obscured and denied by the very experts upon whom the human community relies for guidance and direction. Conscious obsfucation and willful denial by ‘the brightest and best’ of the scientific finding regarding the relationship between food supply and human population numbers has been occurring pervasively for way too long a time. This incredible failure of nerve by ‘the smartest guys in the room’ in my not-so-great generation has got to be acknowledged, addressed and overcome.

    The children’s future is being stolen by thieves of the highest order. And what is the communal response? A code of silence! Are people going to choose yet again to be bystanders at a moment when bold action, intellectual honesty and moral courage are required? Willful blindness, hysterical deafness, elective mutism and utter passivity cannot continue. The children will soon enough express their anger and disbelief at what the elders in my not-so-great generation have either failed to do or else done poorly “on our watch”, while wealthy and powerful crooks in high places robbed those among us who are still young of a good enough future.

    How on Earth are we going to adequately feed the hungry and starving, and simultaneously not keep ‘feeding the problem’ of human overpopulation? This is the question no one is asking, the one that needs to be asked.

    Please speak out loudly and clearly….

  635. —–Original Message—–

    Sent: Fri, Apr 1, 2011 12:47 pm
    Subject: human population dynamics and human overpopulation

    Sir John Sulston, Chair
    People and the Planet Working Group
    UK Royal Society
    March 31, 2011

    Dear Sir John Sulston:

    Your recent comments regarding the review of research on the human population and its impact on the planet we inhabit by a high level panel of experts give rise to hope for the future of children everywhere. Thanks for all you, the Planet and the People Working Group and the UK Royal Society are doing to protect biodiversity from massive extirpation, the environment from irreversible degradation and the Earth from wanton dissipation of its finite resources by the human species. I am especially appreciative for two quotes from you,

    …… “we’ve got to make sure that population is recognized… as a multiplier of many others. We’ve got to make sure that population really does peak out when we hope it will.”

    …….”what we want to do is to see the issue of population in the open, dispassionately discussed… and then we’ll see where it goes.”

    Inasmuch as you and an esteemed group of professionals with appropriate expertise are examining scientific evidence regarding the unbridled increase of absolute global human population numbers, please note there is research that has been summarily dismissed by many too many of our colleagues regarding human population dynamics and human overpopulation which I would like to bring to your attention. For the past ten years I have been unsuccessfully attempting to draw attention to certain evidence that to date remains both unchallenged and ignored by virtually every top-rank professional. They appear unable to refute the evidence and simultaneously unwilling to believe it. Their unexpected conspiracy of silence has served to conceal certain research by David Pimentel and Russell Hopfenberg. How else can it be that so many established professionals with adequate expertise act as if they are willfully blind, hysterically deaf and electively mute in the face of scientific evidence of human population dynamics and human overpopulation? The conscious denial of what could somehow be real about the growth of the human population in our time is not doing anything that can be construed as somehow right and good for future human wellbeing and environmental health, I suppose. It appears as if we could be witnesses to the most colossal failure of intellectual honesty, moral courage and nerve in human history.

    Peer-reviewed professional publications, letters to the editor, slideshow presentations et cetera can be found at the following link,

    Thank you for attending to this request for careful, skillful and rigorous scrutiny of research from two outstanding scientists. Please know I am holding onto a ray of hope that the research of Hopfenberg and Pimentel is fundamentally flawed; that human population dynamics is different from, not essentially similar to, the population dynamics of other species; and that human population numbers are not primarily a function of an available supply of food necessary for human existence. That would be the best news.

    Sometime soon, I trust, many scientists will speak up with regard to apparently unforeseen and unfortunately unwelcome science of human population dynamics and human overpopulation the way people in huge numbers in the Mid-East are calling out for democracy now.

    Respectfully yours,

    Steve Salmony

    Steven Earl Salmony
    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
    Established 2001

  636. We have got to find better ways of raising awareness as well as educating others to the planetary emergency the human family appears to be unknowingly precipitating, the very emergency that is presented now here on our watch. It is incumbent upon every ready, willing and able person to take the measure of the admittedly huge, complicated and interlocking global ecological challenges that are emerging so forcefully and converging so rapidly in our time. The extent to which the clear and present danger already visible in the world’s oceans is derived directly from unbridled overconsumption, overproduction and overpopulation activities of the human species, there can be no doubt human beings can make such changes in our behavioral repertoire as can humanely alter the ‘trajectory’ of our soon to become patently unsustainable activities. That is to say, problems induced and driven by humankind can certainly be acknowledged, ameliorated, eventually addressed and ultimately overcome by the family of humanity. But not without a transformed consciousness steeped in intellectual honesty, moral courage and a capacity for bold action that is to be found in a new kind of leadership and followership. Not without a new vision of an alternate path to the future. Not without making such necessary changes as move the human community away from Rachel Carson’s “superhighway” onto a sustainable “road less traveled by.”

    It may well be that the overpopulation of the Earth is the “mother” of global challenges, one which has to be acknowledged and addressed, but human overpopulation is certainly not the only problem that must be overcome. Alongside the global ecological challenges presented by overpopulation, we have the colossal threat to human well being and environmental health that is just as surely posed to humanity and the future of life as we know it by a seemingly endless expansion of the global economy.

    It is as if each of us wants everyone else to make necessary changes, but not one of us is willing to do what is required. So many times I thought myself and heard from others, ” I would be willing to do A, B and C, things I would not do otherwise, but I will not be the first to do these right things.” As a consequence, everyone waits for everyone else. Nothing happens. This leads me to believe that our best hope resides in an idea many have already reported: shared sacrifice. But we cannot get to shared sacrifice if we refuse to speak out about why the sacrifices are required of us.This is why the silence of so many experts in the field of human population dynamics and overpopulation is so pernicious. We have scientific research regarding the human population, but experts have consciously ‘engineered’ a virtual blackout of the evidence. The vehicle for the blackout is their elective mutism. Silence is destroying the world.

    Early this morning I was reading about “the end of population growth.” I have seen similar statements broadcast everywhere for years. In light of extant evidence from science, statements of this kind appear to be elements of a ruse. Where is the science to support the idea that absolute global human population numbers will automatically and benignly stabilize a mere four decades from now? There is plenty of preternatural thinking and pseudoscientific theorizing about population stabilization and the end of population growth soon. But not science. Science regarding human population numbers is being ‘blacked out’ by too many experts who are ignoring the science on one hand, and refusing to refute what is unscientific on the other. This situation is tragic.

    Just over 50% of the world’s human population is 30 years of age or younger. What do you suppose billions of fertile young people, who are expected to be capable of reproducing in the middle of this century, will be doing with their sexual instincts and drives other than what human beings have been doing during the past several thousand years? Please, kindly take a moment to explain what you expect will occur that results in the consensually validated forecast indicating stabilization of absolute population numbers of the human species on Earth in the year 2050, given the fully anticipated young age distribution of a global population of 9+/-billion people at that time.

    I am firmly convinced that we can help our children escape the dark future that could await them should they be directed much longer down the “primrose path” marked by seemingly endless economic globalization and unbridled overpopulation, but their elders have got to begin speaking out now here about what is true and, in so doing, foster the requisite sharing of sacrifices. Perhaps necessary changes toward sustainability are in the offing.

  637. Imagine the great number of professional societies whose members possess appropriate expertise, that have willfully rejected opportunities to openly discuss and then objectively report their critiques regarding extant science on human population dynamics and human overpopulation of the Earth. This monumental failure to assume responsibility and fulfill a “duty to warn” is a tragedy in the making, I suppose. Time after time population experts in particular, have consciously rejected overtures to sensibly discuss certain scientific research regarding the population dynamics of the human species and present findings, as is required of scientists.

  638. Aggression, callousness, and the “me first” attitude are so rampant now, that I do not see how this situation can be reversed. It would take a change of heart, i.e. tender heartedness, a high desire for sharing, and a high concern for the common good. Since greed for money seems to be the dominant force, I really don’t know how this sad situation could be turned around.

  639. It does seem true that we are living in a sociopathic culture…my husband, a psychiatrist just wrote an article about it (and a letter to Obama suggesting that he read up on sociopathy). A refrigerator repairman told me the other day that engineers are being TRAINED to make things that last about 5 years….what does this crassness in the “adult” culture do to the young? Agree with Pangolin..a fairly good book, The Sociopath Next Door by Stout, even mentions an increase in the degree of sociopathy in our culture in the past 30 years…..”greed is good,” etc. The current absolute willingness of the Republican Party to crash the national and even international economy MIGHT even push the “sociopathic”envelope into the realm of PSYCHOPATHOLOGY. Thousands, ? more could die as a result….. banality of evil.

  640. Who cries out their outrageous and unsustainable demands that the status quo be maintained at any cost, come what may for the children?

    Who keeps watch over the garish, fun-filled destruction of the world we borrow from the children without so much as whispering (much less speaking out loudly and clearly) about necessary changes toward sustainability?

    The children’s future is our red-headed stepchild, I suppose.

  641. Bonnie — Our sad situation will only be turned around when we make it happen. If we are ready to come together in small groups to consider the reality of the situation we are creating that threatens the continuation of intelligent life on earth, then there is the possibility that a solution will evolve through our efforts. If we prefer to live in denial and isolation, then the unfolding disaster will proceed apace.

  642. Wynne — The sociopaths among us are only the more fully realized exemplars of a process within our culture that is rotting our possibility of caring for each other and our world before it is too late. True humanity and spirituality are vanishing from the bulk of our population at an alarming pace. Unless we act to stop this sinister erosion of all higher values, whatever else we try to accomplish will be doomed to failure. The small group activity I propose has as one of its primary functions, to recover for its participants their sacred, authentic and mutual selfhood. Wouldn’t it make sense to gather with others to save our planet and ourselves?

  643. When I speak of small groups, I envision a process that will result in a large scale development of such groups in the world. Small refers only to the optimal numbers for an individual intensive group process. The process for multiplying such groups would be built into the group process itself. If such groups should go “viral” the impact on our world could be huge. In using the word viral I don’t mean the kind of flash in the pan fads we are all too familiar with, but something with real legs and viability.

  644. Well put, mike k. On the one hand we have knowledgeable people who choose elective mutism and on the other hand we have knowledgeable people who dazzle with BS. The willful silence of many to many knowledgeable people is especially pernicious because it so insidiously kills the world as we know it.

  645. Mike. What do you propose this group might look like, what might be the medium of organization for this group? I have as a url I got 15 years ago imagining such a solution… anyone want to start a website?

  646. Chris — does not exist anymore. Nice name, though. I am not quite sure what you mean by ‘medium of organization’ ? The principles of (minimal) organization I have in mind are largely drawn from AA’s twelve traditions. Autonomous groups, no leaders, no outside affiliations, etc. I have thought of setting up a website, but as one of my friends said of me, I am ‘electronically challenged’. My computer skills are very minimal.

    Thanks for your interest Chris. I think the time may now be ripe for small groups to arise to deal with our global crisis. Please share any ideas you have to help initiate this development. I am in process of making my proposal more concrete, and may put it out on this Orion blog soon.

  647. Dear mike k,

    We must find ways to begin broadcasting a point of view regarding what really matters that is everywhere eschewed by everyone in the mainstream media, politics and the tiny minority of super-rich. Perhaps it would all right now here for me to ask all of you if there are other conversation groups like this one to which you belong that remind you of this one and might have someone like me for a member? One of the things to be learned from the movers-and-shakers at the top of power hierarchies in the global political economy is that they function by means of carefully interlocking memberships of specific boards of directors. Perhaps there could be an even more efficient way (biomimicry) of interlocking groups like this one with others in which there is an established adherence to intellectual honesty and moral courage with regard what really matters…. that put discussions of what really matters first and foremost.



  648. Mike, et al.
    I too am “electronically challenged.” I OWN the url I have never set it up or hosted it… I looked into making a site about 10 years ago for small circles of people committed to honesty and a better world, and was quoted 140k… let’s just say this has only ever been a dream, but today, it seems more possible w over-the-shelf technology and it is more needed than ever…

  649. Chris — I think we are onto something viable and important. Its now or maybe never. As the saying has it, if not now when. The obvious need is maximum now IMHO.
    My thought is to begin with a site devoted to this small group creation project, and solicit people’s ideas and experiences. And see what grows in terms of real world activity. I have a lot of ideas and experieces to share, and just need an effective site to contribute to. This is not a one man project IMO. It needs to be colaborative from the get go. Part of the idea is to impower people to take resposibility for creating a response to the deteriorating world situation, rather than waiting for a ‘leader’ to spell everything out for us, so that we can be followers.

  650. Forgive me for the typos. My spell check is busted. Although I worked as a proof reader at one time, it turns out I am not too hot at correcting my own text. To boot, I am a lousy typist.

  651. I offer up this url and 5 hrs a week of my time.

  652. Steve — It would be great to have your input in what we are planning!

  653. Excellent ideas! In the “old days” of activism, before everything was done online, people got together face-to-face in communities, and perhaps were connected to an over-arching organization or movement (like the Bioregional Congresses, for example). Connections were made, sharing happened. And every once in a while, every year or even every other year, as many of us as possible converged at one place to move the movement forward, to share ideas, to play and dance, and to recharge before going back to our communities. I don’t see that happening any more. That’s one though for what it’s worth.

    Local groups – for me I’d like this to be at least 3 pronged. One would be sharing our experiences, our thoughts, ideas. Another would be figuring out something concrete to do locally that would reach out and bring more people in and that would have a real-world impact in the lives of community members. It could be food related or energy related or whatever is deemed important by the group. The 3rd prong would be a foundation of spirituality or consciousness raising, along the lines of what Mike K. and I and others have referred to in this conversation.

    Oops, I have company right now. But I’m interested in more thoughts and am very interested in participating but NOT being a leader perse.

  654. Susan — Thanks for your comments, they are right on as usual. Let me piggyback on something you said: Excellent ideas! “In the “old days” of activism, before everything was done online, people got together face-to-face in communities….”

    Malcolm Gladwell has an excellent take on this in an essay called “Small Change, Why the revolution will not be tweeted”. Google his name, and go to the New Yorker archive. There are two other articles there that I think are key to understand the potential power in properly designed small group(s). “How David beats Goliath” and “In the AIR”. OK MY COPUTER IS STUCK ON ALL CAPS. I WILL HAVE TO WAIT FOR MY WIFE TO COME HOME TO FIX IT. SORRY.

  655. Chris Fillie — I am not sure what offering your url means? Remember, I am a real knownothing when it comes to computer lingo and navigation. Sorry to be so dumb.

  656. Mike k. I love that your caps got stuck! That is funny. You may truly be less tech savvy than myself. I am a builder (a good and green one) I understand things in construction and architecture terms. The url is simply an address. It can be any word/number combo really. But, if its a good address, in terms of the net its one that is easy to remember or best says what you are, it is easier for people to find us. I bought this so long ago ( it costs only 7.99 per year to buy and keep) I was extremely lucky to get such a “good address”. I think what we are just now talking about is the right use for this address. I just don’t know where to begin. We will need organization, structure, a mission, credo? Something clear and concise about doing good, as Susan was mentioning…

  657. Maybe we could move our discussion of the small group solution over to the Breaking the Spell of Money comments? It is a more current and active thread for now. And please, by ‘solution’ I don’t mean the only or complete answer. One of the purposes of small groups is to seek and implement a range of helpful projects.

    I am recovering from a rather traumatic tooth extraction Friday. I will respond to your comments, but somewhat slowly for a day or two.

  658. Chris — There is an outfit called Word Press that sets up websites for free. Do you think that is a good option?

  659. Maybe we could move our discussion of the small group solution over to the Breaking the Spell of Money comments? It is a more current and active thread for now. And please, by ‘solution’ I don’t mean the only or complete answer. One of the purposes of small groups is to seek and implement a range of helpful projects.

  660. Dear Mike K,

    However we go forward and wherever we end up, I hope we can have an open discussion of one vital matter of concern.

    The family of humanity as well as much of life as we know it are now here inhabitants of a finite planet with a frangible environment that is failing fast. What really matters is being inadvertently ruined on our watch by the human population, but is not being openly discussed. My ‘blood boils’ in the truth that we have possessed knowledge of so much about ourselves as human beings with feet of clay and acknowledged so little about what has been known for so long about our distinctly human creatureliness, based upon extensive empirical research and unchallenged scientific evidence. Elective mutism and silent consent in the face of the reckless degradation, relentless dissipation and willful sell-off of what everyone knows to be sacred looks to me like the worst of all precipitants of the colossal ecological wreckage that appears in the offing.

    Inside and outside the community of top rank scientists, as well as among first class professionals in demography and economics who claim appropriate expertise of issues concerning human overpopulation issues, one issue is not being discussed by anyone. A worldwide conspiracy of silence continues to prevail about the population dynamics of the human species. The last of the last taboos is the open discussion of extant scientific research of human population dynamics. The implications of this astounding denial of what could somehow be real are potentially profound for the future of life on Earth, I suppose.

    Within the human community a tiny minority of self-proclaimed masters of the universe hold the ‘destiny’ of all in their hands. This elite group is operating behind the scenes these days and “growing” the global economy to such a colossal scale that it could soon become patently unsustainable on a planet with the size, composition and ecology of Earth because our planetary home is not, definitely not “too big to fail.”

  661. For human beings to count human population numbers is simple, really simple. The population dynamics of human beings with feet of clay are obvious and fully comprehensible. We have allowed ourselves to be dazzled by the BS of demographers just the way human beings have been deceived and victimized by the economists on Wall Street. Demographers and economists are not scientists. ‘The brightest and the best’ have sold their souls to greedmongers, duped the rest of us, made it difficult to see what is real, proclaimed what is known to be knowable as unknowable