The penny just dropped for me on how the ruling class get away with maintaining the illusion of democracy. If you’re not familiar with the Princeton Study (Gilens & Page, 2014) , this short video explains how the wishes of billionaires are reflected in public policy, while the wishes of the average voter have “NEAR ZERO” influence on the actions of our elected representatives. The probability of any particular bill becoming a law is 30%, whether the average voter is opposed to it or supports it. You would think that being ignored 70% of the time would piss people off enough that they would take action, but you’d be wrong. Professor Jordan Peterson explains why in this lecture about how rats play (skip to 3:30). Adolescent rats like to wrestle, and Panksepp discovered that a rat that although a rat that is 10% bigger will trounce a smaller rat every time, if the big rat doesn’t let the little rat win 30% of the time, the little rat won’t play. If the little rat doesn’t play, the big rat can’t have fun. When I heard that “30%” the light went on over my head because I realized that the ruling class are big fucking rats, and the rest of us have been played. This is called consilience, and we need more of it and not just in universities.
Last night I was celebrating a friend’s birthday downtown when Kiefer Sutherland and other cast and crew of Designated Survivor (ABC, CTV) came into the bar to blow off steam after a long shoot in the Royal York Hotel. Maybe my assumptions reflect my own introversion, but I would not feel comfortable approaching a celebrity in a public space because, in keeping with the golden rule, I wouldn’t want to be pounced on every time I went out. However, the birthday girl is considerably more outgoing than me (OK, to be fair, probably 99% of planet is more outgoing than me) so pics were taken.
Kiefer Sutherland was a great sport who not only posed with us for a group pic and wished my friend a Happy Birthday, he also, admirably, tolerated some behaviour that’s described in Cards Against Humanity and probably should have stayed in the deck. My friend dragged me over to get a pic with Kal Penn too, but I’m not sharing the whole thing here because we were in front of a planter and it looks like I was wearing orchids in my hair. I told Penn I admired his work on House, but it wasn’t until I Googled him later that I remembered why I liked him enough to tell him so and it has more to do with his activism than his acting. Penn, who also worked in the White House Office of Public Engagement under Obama, supported Sanders in the primary and this is also the guy who made a racist’s tweet backfire by using it to raise over $850,000 in a crowd-funded project called “Donating to Syrian refugees in the name of the dude who said I don’t belong in America.”
When Penn won “MasterChef Celebrity Showdown” recently, he donated the $25,000 prize money to Palestinian Refugees. Having your face on TV speaking words written by others isn’t something admirable in itself. Reputation is what other people think about you, whether they know you or not. Character is who you really are and actions speak more clearly than the cleverest words onstage. I admire Kal Penn not for his reputation, but for his character, because he’s trying to make the world a better place. This is what fame is good for. Thank you, Kal, for being a such a good sport last night. But for being a compassionate citizen of the world, thank you very, very much.
You may have been under the mistaken impression that the wolf in sheep’s clothing known as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) was dead. Unfortunately, the TPP isn’t all dead, its only mostly dead, and mostly dead is slightly alive. The TPP is not a lone wolf, there are others in the pack. The TTIP and TISA are still lurking in the dark, waiting to pounce on what little is left of democracy and tear out its throat.
This video, made by Wikileaks in 2015, is only 8 minutes long, but what it says is terrifying and so difficult to digest that I had watch it more than once in order to comprehend the massive scope of the danger we face. The information it contains is so important it should have 7 billion views, and yet it hasn’t cracked a million yet.
World War Three is underway right now and we can’t even see the weapons used against us in boardrooms we have no access to. Einstein had no idea how hard he nailed it when he said:
“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
No matter where you grew up, no matter what you think about me or the world we share, I want you to understand that I love you. You are human and you deserve to be loved, no matter what. We have all absorbed ideas from the world around us and many of these ideas were designed to prevent us from appreciating one another and to promote a false narrative of scarcity that is used deliberately against us all. It doesn’t matter who is ultimately responsible for this, because we don’t need that information to solve this problem. Lets begin with the understanding that I love you as we approach any disagreement we may have.
When I stumble onto a comment thread full of insults and anger, I don’t engage in order to feel superior or prove others wrong. I’m not trying to make them think the same way I do. I’m hoping to convince them to think more deeply about the source of our conflict. Even if we are ideological enemies, I acknowledge they have enough intelligence to engage in the issues and real compassion or they wouldn’t be there in a struggle to make the world a better place. We both want to fix what it broken and that suggests we can find common cause.
If you want to solve the problem of human suffering, it helps to ask the question “who benefits?” from conflict that has been manufactured by the power structure. There is a game the “ruling class” has been winning for centuries and it is called Polarization; a.k.a. “divide & conquer the peasants, keep them busy fighting for the scraps that fall from your table while you grab all the wealth their labour has created and abscond to your bunker on a private island before they figure out how you’ve deceived them and come after you with torches, pitchforks and a noose or a guillotine.” Read history and you will see this play out over and over again when corruption gains a toehold and infects a government.
Greed leads to corruption, inequality and injustice, which causes increasing suffering which can then erupt in revolution which may lead to positive change or create a police state. Fear is the ultimate weapon that is used to keep people under control. The one force that is powerful enough to overcome this vicious cycle is human compassion, as we’ve seen in every successful revolutionary movement in the past century. Solving human suffering requires compassion, which is why polarization and maintaining conflict is so important to the powerful forces of greed, corruption and tyranny. I am learning everyday how to reject ideas that are designed to weaponize fear and preserve the dysfunctional status quo. Whenever I catch myself feeling smugly superior to another person, I stop and think: “How am I allowing polarization tactics prevent me from appreciating this person’s unique gifts and finding common cause with them?”
You may find this hard to believe, but when I engage a person who appears to be ‘troll,’ I can de-escalate from an argument to a conversation just by refraining from insulting them. When I stick to ideas and ignore the results of social conditioning, I can even find common ground – yes, actual agreement on many important issues. My experience tells me we can defeat the powers of corruption, fear, greed and tyranny by weaponizing love and human compassion. If you want to see evidence of how this works, just observe those who care for others.
Think about how conflict is encouraged within and between all kinds of groups:
- Liberals vs. conservatives vs. environmentalists
- Natives vs. colonists vs. immigrants vs. refugees.
- Men vs. women vs. MRAs vs. feminists
- Middle class vs. low wage workers vs. unemployed vs. homeless
- International banks vs. developing nations vs. transnational corporations vs. planet Earth
It is amazing to watch what happens when we start paying attention to what we all have in common. We’re all human and we want life, health and happiness for ourselves and our families and friends. We all want to get along with our neighbours. We want to offer help to those who need it, just as we hope help will be available to us when we need it. We didn’t get to the top of the food chain by defeating larger predators in single combat, but by working together for mutual benefit. If you have more than you need, consider building a longer table instead of a higher fence because human progress is based on cooperation, not competition.
Imagine a world where people are worth more than profits and justice is more important than ‘shareholder value.’ Imagine a world where every institution respected human dignity and the fundamental rights of all people to life and health. Imagine dismantling institutions that poison, maim and kill. Imagine people everywhere sharing their gifts and strengths to end corruption and build a better system based on cooperation instead of competition. Imagine how we can use the power of social media to organize people instead of anesthetizing them.
Do your own research. Learn about anti-corruption legislation. Learn about alternatives to consumerism, like libraries that lend toys, tools and kitchen appliances. Learn about seed banks and urban agriculture. Consider joining a credit union. Every problem has a solution, most have several and you don’t have to pick just one. When you find a idea that you think will make your world a better place, share it with others, because we’re all like neurons in a global brain, transmitting important knowledge far and wide. We can solve all our problems by working together, so lets end polarization. The drums of war are beating, but I have no fear because I have the one defensive weapon that can never be overcome, not even by my death. I have love.
World War 3 has already begun, but you won’t hear about it on the evening news because it is not conventional on most fronts. The combatants on either side of the line are not nation-states. On one side you have a population realizing their votes don’t count and that they’ve been lied to for decades by their government and the corporate media. On the other side, a handful of greedy billionaires, extracting wealth from the rest of us by raping the planet to death.
The primary battlefront is at Standing Rock, but skirmishes are taking place along the entire route of the Dakota Access pipeline. Additional skirmishes are happening in front of U.S. embassies and the offices of investors who have the opportunity pull their money out on January 1st, 2017, provided no oil has been pumped through the pipe by then. At this point, only one side is armed and the other is using peaceful methods to fight for all of us. The truth is that we don’t need another pipeline anywhere and building them only ensures a further delay in the necessary transition to clean energy.
If you’ve been waiting for a sign before you get off your sofa and join the Water Protectors, THIS IS IT. The Obama administration has finally taken steps to protect the water, but the incoming Trump administration doesn’t even accept the science of climate change. We are running out of time. There are no comic-book superheroes coming to save the world for us. If we love our children and their children, WE need to take action NOW. Investors can bail if no oil flows by Jan 1, 2017, so lets keep hammering the banks: NO EXTENSION for DAPL!
Throughout December we need to be telling the planet-killers LOUDLY and OFTEN that we are not having it. We need YOUR voice to make our collective shout loud enough to echo throughout the distant halls of power. Its time to take our power back by using our local networks to implement laws protecting the planet and criminalizing corruption in all its myriad forms. Please help in whatever way you can: spreading awareness using social media is one way to help, despite known censorship issues. Participating in demonstrations and/or writing letters to editors and elected representatives are both important tactics. Donating to the Water Protectors is another way to help. One day you will be able to tell your grandchildren about how you helped save the world in December 2016.
(Note: Revised Dec 4, 2017 due to announcement that permits were cancelled.)
Lots of people have great ideas about how to save the biosphere, but how do we figure out which ones are going to work best? After studying the issue intensely for a couple of years, I keep coming back to politics. We cannot hope to change human behaviour on a massive scale without using legislation to break our fossil fuel habit. The problem with making better laws is that Big Oil has bought so much influence over public policy that they currently have power to veto any attempts to transition the economy away from fossil fuels. We need a democracy that will respond to the will of the people to save the biosphere. Trashing Citizens United is not enough because both parties have become so thoroughly corrupt that a revolutionary shift is needed.
The best plan I’ve seen for how to do this is via anti-corruption ballot initiatives that will get the dirty money out of politics. Better still, Represent.Us is already using this approach successfully, but don’t expect to hear about this on the evening news. It is clearer than ever that the corporate media is useless, so spreading this information via social media is crucial. Don’t let anyone tell you ‘slacktivism’ is futile – that’s a lie Big Oil wants you to buy. Every problem has a solution, most have several, and you don’t have to pick just one. Deciding to share good ideas is a great place to start. If I may make a suggestion, this link is full of excellent ideas and is worth sharing widely and often: How to Fix America’s Corrupt Political System
This image pretty much sums up how greedy billionaires are destroying the biosphere. (If Clinton won, George Soros would have been pulling the strings, just like he’s been doing for Obama.) We can’t save the planet until enough people wake up and realize they don’t live in a democracy anymore. Hitler was absolutely evil, but everyone knew it. Charles and David Koch are cut from the same cloth, they have way more power than they should, and worse, they wield it in secret. They aren’t the only evil douchebag puppet-masters controlling government policy, but they are certainly among the most destructive.
If you want to learn more, here’s an article:
… and a documentary:
Plus great site for research:
Evidence is emerging that there has been a quiet coup and counter coup in the United States, quite apart from the corporate coup that has already turned the former democracy into an inverted totalitarian Oligarchy.
Corporate “news” outlets lie like rugs and their election predictions cannot be trusted. This is the year that a third-party vote matters the most and can really make a difference. However, you cannot expect the media to give any indication that there is a groundswell of support for alternatives to the two-party system.
Trump is a climate denier, but Clinton has failed to speak out against fossil fuel extraction and will also allow fossil fuel companies to continue destroying the biosphere. This is why it is so important to vote for somebody, else in this election if you can do that without causing worse damage. However, it is important to understand that if you want your vote to count, you have to consider political demographics. Where you live has an impact on whether your 3rd party vote would be wasted.
Bernie Sanders’ supporters can hope that he is appointed the nominee, in the unlikely event Clinton resigns prior to the election. Depending on where you live, writing in Bernie Sanders might take electoral college votes away from Clinton and Trump, in several states including California. However, if Sanders supporters split the vote in California, they may regret it.
The Green Party is the ONLY one to prioritize saving the biosphere and the ONLY one to stand with Standing Rock and Jill Stein has picked up a large slice of Bernie Sanders’ supporters who are angry that the Clinton camp cheated.
If you not in a swing state, you can help boost a third party over 5% in the popular vote, which gives them ballot access in 2020. If you believe the whole game is rigged, voting for a third party is even more important because a solid showing in the popular vote now can send a message to the “duopoly” that their days are numbered.
The most important thing is to STAY AWAKE after the election, no matter who wins, and demand ANTI-CORRUPTION laws that will give the people enough power to stop corporations from destroying the planet.