Fascism & Utopia

a poem for extremists everywhere

Blacktop Mountaintop

 

Fascism is a hair’s breadth from Utopia.

Those who try to force funnel the hard grit gravity ground of everyday into Utopia,
to compel it across the great divide,
turn into extremists, slavemasters, witchhunters.
Naiively they set out to purify the strain, exorcise the demons, exterminate the wrong thinking, abolish the Mixolydians.
They wind up razing the terrain,
sterilising the DNA,
creating mutants and monsters,
which they,
and subsequent generations,
spend their lives chasing,
or running away from.

Pure seeds are so fragile.
Little trees planted in the scarification after the burn.
Acres upon acres,
hectares upon hectares,
kilometres upon kilometres of burn…
God the heat,
the scorching heat on the mountains of burn,
blacktop mountaintops as far as the eye can see.

Here we plant the little tree, the pure seed, the clean gene, the clear clean code,
and wait,
utterly simple single-minded, mono,
for the perfect shoot to grow.

 

 

 

* In my youth I spent summers planting trees.  One season I was in the mountains around Prince George, BC. The mountains had been completely clearcut and then razed by fire, an endeavor so grand in scale that it was, at the time, the only human project significantly visible from space. We planted only one species – one believed to be most profitable 60 years hence when it would be harvested –  to replace the grand diversity that had previously dwelt there for millenium, and returned home each day, head to toe, black in ashes.

 

Homeostasis, Change, Addiction & Love

This IGNITE Talk (5 mins, 15 secs per slide – GO!) was presented at the Web of Change Conference Sept. 2013, at Balcones Springs just outside of Austin, TX. Huge thanks to the WOCMob for welcoming this errant pitch!

In response to my opening statement “I’m curious why orgs and people fiercely protect outrageous poisonous bullshit that will kill them, while resisting change that is blatantly obviously healthy and liberating.”, I trace an origin of ‘Things’ – conceptual, biological, then psychological – asserting that ego is a ‘homeostatic’ entity. I propose that ego is built up by ‘habits’ cycling around core desires, and that addiction reifies into a ‘cyclostatic’ resistance to change. Addiction is self-generating and delusional, both of which are relatively good descriptions of many orgs resistant to, for example, climate change science. Addictive structures, functioning in denial, are also exceedingly resistant to love, whose nature is revelatory. Situations where love directly encounters addiction are typically ‘apocalyptic’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Climate change science, Joe Oliver and the pathologies of petro states

Climate change science, Joe Oliver and the pathologies of petro states

“‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'” -Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

All major scientific bodies whose expertise bears directly on the issue of catastrophic climate change concur with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that “the current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is very likely human-induced and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented in the past 1,300 years.” This quote is from the website of that notorious left-wing think-tank, NASA.

The Economist ran an editorial which opens with, “A hundred years from now, looking back, the only question that will appear important about the historical moment in which we now live is the question of whether or not we did anything to arrest climate change.” Meanwhile Joe Oliver, Canada’s Natural Resource Minister, has decided that this is an opportune moment to launch a broadside against one of the world’s foremost climate scientists, James Hansen.

CO2 levels and NASA

There are obviously those who simply don’t buy the science. Many of these will now, after a couple of decades of denying that the climate is warming, agree that climate change is actually happening. They do not, however, accept evidence that it’s humans that are making the planet into a greenhouse for rising sea levels and growing droughts, or that we really need to act on it. The evidence isn’t ‘incontrovertible.’

But as George Craven so elegantly points out in What’s the Worst That Could Happen, given the possible catastrophic consequences — devastation to life on earth for generations to come — the onus is not on the climate scientists, but on the deniers to provide incontrovertible evidence that humans are not having a catastrophic effect on the climate.

If they are wrong, if there is any uncertainty, the price to be paid by future generations is far, far too high. To quote The Economist again, “Everything else — the financial crisis, the life or death of the euro, authoritarianism or democracy in China and Russia, the Great Stagnation or the innovation renaissance, democratisation and/or political Islam in the Arab world, Newt or Mitt or another four years of Barack — all this will fade into insignificance beside the question of whether we managed to do anything about human industrial civilisation changing the climate of Planet Earth.”

In disagreeing with every major serious scientific institution of our era by attributing global warming to sun flares or the agit-prop of environmental radicals, eco-terrorists and socialists, and by building an ‘energy powerhouse’ based on fossil-fuels, the Canadian government is behaving like the first of the three little pigs. We’re going to build our house of fossil fuels, we’re going to toot our flute and not give a hoot, and just hope upon dope that the wolf of global warming doesn’t huff and puff and blow our house of oil up in smouldering droughts.

‘Ethical oil’

 The Canadian government’s current rationale for foisting millions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere via the tar sands is that Canada’s oil is ‘ethical’; more ‘ethical’ than other sellers of oil like Pakistan, or Iraq or Libya.

This premise of ‘ethical oil’ wove its way into the Canadian government’s energy and foreign policy a whole lot faster than tar sands bitumen (the vast majority of which is mined by foreign states or multinationals whose human rights’ records are not always pretty) makes its way along a pipeline without being diluted by light oil (which is frequently purchased from places like … Pakistan). Once the Canadian government decided that tar sands oil was ‘ethical,’ it wasted no time in paving the way to roll out the barrels.

It bailed on the Kyoto Protocol. It barred the passing of Bill C-300 which would have codified rules ensuring Canadian mining companies live up to international human rights and environmental standards. It tarred opponents of global warming as ‘radical ideologues‘ and, ominously, poured billions into the prison system. Dissenting orgs had their funding cutscientists were muzzled, and CIDA funds were funneled from grassroots NGOs to, you guessed it, mining companies.

The Canadian Revenue Agency was given a steroid boost to watch over charitable orgs to ensure that they did not engage in ‘political activity’ (read, environmental advocacy) for which they would lose their charitable status. And now, in a flourish which has given rise to the Idle No More movement, it’s passed Bill C-45 drawing back protection from 90 per cent of lakes and rivers previously protected demonstrating, categorically, that it sees oil as more important than water or the rights of Canadian Indigenous peoples.

Now here’s an irony: while Team Canada busily brands itself as the ‘ethical’ alternative to a dozen other corrupt, violent or regressive petrostates around the world, it is simultaneously beginning to engage in the very practises it claims to so deplore in them.

This is one bad little pig.

The petro state vs renewables

While Canada, in increasing isolation, abandons its global and domestic ecological responsibilities in compliance with the fossil fuel industry, other countries around the world are transforming their energy systems away from the very product that Canada has banked the next couple of generations on selling.

The EU, against an extremely vigorous (and expensive) lobbying campaign from the Canadian government, has upheld the classification of bitumen as ‘dirty oil.’ Germany is reconstructing its energy sector on a scale equal to reconstruction after World War II, and China and India have leaped ahead with massive investments in renewable energy. Norway, in a climate similar to Canada’s, already acquires 61.1 per cent of its energy from renewables while Sweden is at 47.9 per cent.

While other nations move beyond the fossil fuel bubble, diversifying their energy sources, and the technological and employment strategies that follow on that diversification, Canada slogs away in the fossil fuel sludge in an increasingly unlikely gamble — a gamble that is genuinely hostile to its own Indigenous peoples who have opposed pipelines across their territories, to many of its own citizens who believe in future generations and renewable energy, and to the atmosphere of the sole known planet capable of supporting life.

One might fairly ask, as this little pig stands increasingly alone against the world community (willingly collecting its yearly slop of ‘fossil of the year’ awards), the global tide of energy consumption and innovation and, according to all serious climate scientists, life on this planet… has this little pig lost its marbles?

Addiction to oil

Maybe the reason that the little pig appears to have lost his marbles is that little pig is a junky. The actions of addicts, aligned as they are with acquiring their fix by any means necessary, can appear extremely self-destructive, irrational and paranoid.  But their actions, once the addiction is discovered, can be seen to have an irrefutable, albeit self-destructive, logic.

Addiction is, in the words of addiction psychologist and theologian Gerald May, “a state of compulsion, obsession or preoccupation that enslaves a person’s will and desire.” North America is, as former U.S. President George ‘Dubya’ Bush so magnificently declared in his 2006 State of the Union Address, “addicted to oil,” and the tar sands are Canada’s opium fields. Canada is a tar pushing wannabe petro state and its banking its wad that there are still going to be enough junkies out there willing to pay a little extra for its ethical fix.

Addiction is a form of enslavement within a dictatorial system, with the object of the addiction (in this case oil) as dictator. Its relentless modus operandi and inevitable logic is to clear the ways and means of acquiring the object of its addiction. Everything and everyone is simply reduced to an object which either enables, or is an obstacle to, acquisition. It has a highly developed and motile propoganda department which can flood cracks in resistance with a tidal wave of messaging, actively undermining the will towards choices enabling greater freedom. As with any tyranny it becomes increasingly isolated and paranoid, distrustful even of those with the very best intentions.

Within an addictive society values become reversed, doublespeak burgeons, and democracy becomes a tool to be exploited rather than a means of discovering the will of the people. Folks proposing a vision and plan for a sustainable future and who are dedicated to ensuring the well-being of future generations are, to the degree that they threatens the object of the addiction, seen as ‘hijackers’ and ‘radical ideologues.’  The tar sands, globally viewed as a carbon pariah and singled out by ‘Eradicating Ecocide’ as a model to stage a mock ‘ecocide’ trial in the Supreme Court of England (the Tar Sands were found guilty), is seen as the flagship of ‘Ethical Oil.’

When pushing an oil addiction to a planet in the midst of catastrophic climate change is called ‘ethical,’ we have indeed entered a very Orwellian world, where words come to mean their opposites. Calling Canada’s oil more ‘ethical’ is precisely as logical as saying my crack dealer is more ‘ethical’ than yours.  If I was buying crack I might buy Canada’s ethical crack but crack addiction is, not uncommonly, a terminal affair.

Canada needs to kick being the most savvy fossil fuel pusher in the world. It needs to start pulling its weight on limiting its carbon output. If it wants to live up to its claim of being ‘ethical’ in its resource extraction industry it needs binding legislation to ensure that Canadian mining companies live up to international human rights and environmental standards. It needs to accept opponents of global warming as concerned and decent citizens of our democracy. It needs to offer renewables the same kind of subsidies that the fossil fuel industry receives so that they can compete in a fair market.

Canada needs to affirm that dissent is healthy in a democracy, that federal scientists require free speech, and that mining companies don’t need to supplement their profits with federal funding previously targeted to development aid. The steroid boost given to the Canadian Revenue Agency needs to be directed to offshore tax evasion and a financial transaction tax, not towards promoting the controversial ideological agenda of a single political party.  It needs to respect the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, which it signed in 2010, affirming the need for the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of Indigenous peoples with regard to the use of their land and resources.

Most of all our first little pig needs to get it’s rump into rehab. But our first little pig is a fossil fuel junky; as myopic, paranoid and self-destructive as any other addict. I think we know what it will say to that suggestion: “No, No , No.” I think we know how that sad that story goes.

So, a final question: what does a Canadian fossil fuel intervention look like?

God & Science

GodEvolutionConsciousnessIf God is defined as the most fruitful relationship possible between consciousness and evolution:
Science is God’s sandbox.
Science is God’s workshop.
Science is God’s kitchen.

Science Circle

Science could be compared to a great circle. The points in its interior denote all scientific achievements. What is outside the circle represents not-yet discovered regions. Consequently, the circumference of the circle should be interpreted as a place in which what we know today meets with what is still unknown, that is, as a set of scientific questions and unsolved problems. As science progresses, the set of achievements increases and the circle expands; but, together with the area inside the circle, the number of unanswered questions and unsolved problems becomes bigger and bigger.”

Michael Heller: from ‘Creative Tension’

A Theo-Poetic Essay on Consciousness and Addiction

The essay below was the sub-text (literally, the essay ran beneath the lyrics as a kind of philosophical discourse on their origins) to the liner notes to an ‘indie-rock’ album called ‘NOD’ that I wrote and produced (but never released) in 1996.

 

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Before the beginning
there is
no womb nor tomb
nor life nor way
no thing nor nothing
neither dual nor One
nor heaven nor earth
nor moon nor sun
Before the beginning.

———————-

Buried in the earth
the potential packed shell
the seed
awakens.
Enwrapped within,
confined walled in,
its expanding begins to crack and heave.
Kept and restricted,
trapped and constricted,
stretching and pushing,
shoving cleaving
wrenching groaning,
the racked need of the stored seed
at last bursts
blasts forth
potential freed
into kinetic force
into form.

———————

Form being the perpetual kindling of creation,
the language of creation manifested to sensation.
The mortal shell of immortal possibility.
The positions between which arises tension.

The form that is consciousness is the ultimate manipulator of forms.
The pattern that is consciousness is the ultimate manipulator of patterns.
Consciousness is the particularly human strategy of survival, the eco-niche of humanity.
It’s the mediator of the human immune system with its environment.
It’s the locus of personal identity.

 

Crothers Bridge - Lower Don River

 

The etymological roots of consciousness are from the French conscience (con + science) which traces back to the Latin con, meaning ‘with’, and scire, ‘to know’. The roots of scire are related to the idea of ‘cutting through’, of ‘distinguishing and separating’, and of ‘deciding’. Scire may have originated from the Sanskrit chyati, ‘he cuts’, and the Iranian scian, ‘a knife’.
The process of transformation and development described by Creation myths the world over (Brihadarinyaka Upanisad, Enuma Elish, Genesis, etc.), traced by psychoanalysts and child psychologists and termed “individuation” (Freud, Jung, Piaget, Kohlberg, etc.) and followed by the birth and rise of civilizations and technology (Toynbee, Sorokin, McLuhan, etc.) are parallel descriptions of the birth and intensification of consciousness. In every case there is a sense of primordial unity which is subsequently split or separated. Adam and Eve “decide” to eat from the tree of knowledge and are immediately barred, separated from the unity of Paradise (Paradise: Iranian para, around, and daeza, wall [Mary Daly: “Gyn-Ecology”]). Piaget argues that in the infant there is “no definite differentiation between the self and the external world” (Piaget, “Six Psychological Studies”) while Freud, Jung and Kohlberg describe an increasing level of “individuation” (individuation, in the most general way, is understood to be the development of the ego and personality. The delineation of a sense of self and identity, a coherent and integrated pattern and a way of life) and “autonomy” as the sine qua non of healthy ego development. Toynbee and McLuhan refer to the collapse of the unity of tribal societies as they move into the fragmented, specialist, analytical modes of civilized societies.

This journey from “innocence” into “experience” has been crucial for the survival of the human species in that humans, more than other organisms, are dependent on the separation, abstraction, of the psyche from the “here and now” as a means of developing strategies, techniques and tools for survival. However, in a seemingly insurmountable exponentially intensifying feedback loop these strategies, tools and techniques are increasingly developed to adapt to human constructions and extensions – culture and technology – and to the real or imagined threats of other conscious persons, nation-states or organizations. Thus consciousness – individuation, autonomy, fragmentation and analysis – spins, gyrates in an ever increasing build-up, identical to an arms race. Consciousness is, after all, a “winner.” The greater the consciousness, the greater to degree of power to manipulate, the greater the degree of security and control.

This degree of security and control is, naturally, bought at a certain price. This price is an equally exponentially increasing feeling of separation, alienation and isolation from that “primal unity” which can now be called “Being.” In fact, at a certain point, consciousness comes to definitively dread “Being” because it has become so foreign, and because experiencing it requires the relaxation of all the skills that consciousness has so arduously acquired. As the 14th century mystic Meister Eckhart wrote, “For the more helpless and destitute the mind that turns to God for support can be, the deeper the person penetrates God and the more sensitive he is to God’s most valuable gifts.” (Eckhart, Talks of Instruction.)* The last thing that consciousness is or wishes to be is “helpless.”

It can be understood, then, that consciousness is in conflict with Being. The development and evolution of consciousness is precisely “original sin;” “the fall” and the guilt associated with it is precisely the separation from, and dread of, Being. As Chuang Tzu, one of the very earliest Taoists, wrote:

The knowledge of the ancients was perfect. How
perfect? At first they did not know that there were
things. This is the most perfect knowledge, nothing
can be added. Next they knew that there were
things, but they did not yet make distinctions
between them. Next they made distinctions between
them, but they did not yet pass judgments upon them.
When judgments were passed, Tao was destroyed.

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The fall outs of the fall are manifold, as are the attributes of consciousness – individuation, a nostalgia for order and symmetry, the differentiation between good and evil, increasing strategic competence, abstraction, time consciousness (narratization, teleology), consciousness of choice, ‘duality,’ the power to deceive and the potential for delusion, guilt and dread, alienation and addiction – which emerge simultaneously, which mutually arise. Much of this list of attributes can be underpinned by the desire for security and control which, increasing beyond a certain level, becomes a psychosis. This psychosis is directly associated with that which absolutely limits all security and control, death. Extreme consciousness has a neurotic fear of death. Death is the absolute reminder of mortality and, as Buddhist philosophy has been reminding us for a very long time, it’s the delusory desire of the ego for its own immortality which is the source of ignorance and therefore suffering.

Which brings us to “apocalypse.” Apocalypse comes from the Greek apo, ‘away from’, and kaluptein, ‘to cover’, ‘to reveal’. ‘uncovering’ carries the implication of something hidden, that which is to be ‘uncovered’. It is the nature of people who are conscious to ‘cover’ certain aspects of themselves. This ‘covering’ may be conscious – a secret or conspiracy that one doesn’t wish to be revealed – or unconscious – a complete denial of a certain aspect of the self which is too uncomfortable to admit to. A true conspiracy, like an effective ideology, is unconscious because it has become encoded into a person or culture’s description of itself. It has been sublimated into a person or culture’s identity. As identity, it is assumed, presupposed, pre-reflective. As such, it can’t be “seen” without a transformation of identity, a “metanoia,” a conversion.
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‘Revelation’ comes from the Latin reuelare, and reuelatio, words associated with the pulling back of a curtain or veil, and the disclosure of that which was previously hidden or unknown. Addiction is all about making and living in patterns and circles of evasion and denial and so, the fact is, the last thing the addict wants is revelation. We don’t want our evasive patterns to be shown up. We’ve built our identities, cultural and personal, with them. We cling to them and we don’t want to leave them. Revelation, apocalypse, then, is a challenge to our identity.

Where there is a strong resistance to disclosure, where there is addiction, that is, where there are conspiracies and denials and personal and cultural identities founded on those conspiracies and denials, “revelation” is naturally perceived of as cataclysmic. It’s not that “apocalypse” is in itself cataclysmic. It’s the encounter of a force of energy which is in essence revelatory with that which resists revelation that is cataclysmic. If there is no resistance to revelation – if there is no addiction, conspiracy, ideology, or denial – there is no cataclysm associated with apocalypse.

Love, real love, is essentially apocalyptic in nature. Resistance to revelation, then, can be comprehended as resistance to love. Apocalypse is the character of love when it eventually breaks through the resistance and denial. That is, we experience love as apocalyptic, as violent and cataclysmic, because it is overthrowing an order that we value and cling to. It exposes our weakness and our brokenness, it reveals our vulnerability, it deeply humbles us, and so we associate it with death.

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Denial and love can’t cohabitate. Love incessantly seeks to compassionately reveal truth, denial despises such revelation and hence despises love. If a society is living in a state of denial then it inevitably seeks to ensure that love has no possibility of setting up its tent anywhere in the vicinity. If love endures and demonstrates the tenacity to persevere in being heard and felt it will be dealt with in a variety of more or less subtle ways; from being ignored, to being ridiculed, to banishment, to outright murder.

This situation has been repeated so frequently throughout history that, were it not genuinely tragic, it would be monotonous, This conflict, of love and denial, can in fact be understood to be a central dynamism in the progress of human civilization and consciousness. It can also be understood to be a central dynamism in the development of personal consciousness.

The great paradox of extreme consciousness is that its desire for security and control, and its fear of death, involves it in a kind of panic-stricken blind flight which leads it straight to disaster and death. Its flight from death leads to death. Fortunately love is something more sublime and powerful than death. Perhaps this is why we seem to fear love even more than we fear death.

Love struggles on.

No denying

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Nik Beeson – 1996