If I told you the name the author applies to this political philosophy, you wouldn’t read it.

There was a time, not so many years ago, when we could look at a system of captured democratic institutions that no longer represent us, a system of imperialist wars to protect mega-corporations, we could look at this and say, “It would be nice to change this. We can do better.”

large conference table at which world leaders are seated, surrounded by press and their minions, a summitt meeting with greek columns of marble and a traditional fresco in the dome above

Now the systems that have asked for our consent to their authority are demanding greater deference, and what they are doing with their authority seems to be less supportable.  Now change seems not to be an option but an urgency. Despite the increasing secrecy that shrouds the corporate state, we can see wars against nature, wars for global dominance, cold wars threatening to become hot. We will have to do better, or face tyranny and global ecosystem collapse.

My relationship with my family is built on trust. My relationship with my government is built on authority. One is rich with meaning and possibility built on cooperation; the other offers a mirage of security in return for obedience.

History has progressed from tribes to villages to city-states to nations to global governance. At each step, we have more relationships of authority, less of trust.

Freedom is not a tiny bubble of personal rights. We cannot be distinguished from each other so easily. Yawning and laughter are contagious; so are enthusiasm and despair. …When I drive a car, it releases pollution into the atmosphere you breathe; when you use pharmaceuticals, they filter into the water everyone drinks. The system everyone else accepts is the one you have to live under—but when other people challenge it, you get a chance to renegotiate your reality as well. Freedom is relationship, and we create it together, mine and yours.

Language serves to communicate only because we hold it in common. The same goes for ideas and desires: we can communicate them because they are greater than us. Each of us is composed of a chaos of contrary forces, all of which extend beyond us through time and space. In choosing which of these to cultivate, we determine what we will foster in everyone we encounter.

Growing up in this society, not even our passions are our own; they are cultivated by advertising and other forms of propaganda to keep us running on the treadmills of the marketplace. Thanks to indoctrination, people can be quite pleased with themselves for doing things that are bound to make them miserable in the long run. We are locked into our suffering and our pleasures are the seal.

Don’t cling to the old world

When we see what all the different institutions and mechanisms of domination have in common, it becomes clear that our individual struggles are also part of something greater than us, something that could connect us. When we come together on the basis of this connection, everything changes: not only our struggles, but also our sense of agency, our capacity for joy, the sense that our lives have meaning. All it takes to find each other is to begin acting according to a different logic.

kid hugging tree in forest, looking up into the canopy

The web site is ToChangeEverything.com.  The name is “anarchism”.

Meet the new normal. Same as the ancient normal.

This is our mythic prehistory. Some medicine man told us peons what the Spirits demand from us in exchange for breaking the dry spell or leading the caribou back into the hunting grounds, and it seemed to work often enough to keep us believing and obeying.  We paid no attention to the fact that the thing the Spirits needed so often coincided with the glorification of the medicine man himself.

Then, in historic times, kings ruled by divine right. Egypt had its Pharaohs. In Japan, the emperor was a Shinto Tenno. Southeast Asia was ruled by Khmers, and the Subcontinent had Rajas. Christian and Muslim armies both fought holy wars, and, through the Middle Ages, the King’s closest advisors moonlighted as Cardinals or Caliphs.

Separation of church and state was supposed to put an end to all that. Gone for good was the divine authority of kings, replaced by rule of the democratic majority. The Enlightenment was about human rights, freedom and emerging democracy. But above all, the Enlightenment was a triumph of clear-eyed scientific thinking over superstition. Most enlightened of all were the people who realized that religion is no different from superstition.

But a funny thing has happened on our way to the end times of history. Science has developed an annointed priesthood, a fixed dogma, daily rituals—all the trappings of a religion. Today, we cover our faces in public and cross the street when someone approaches on the sidewalk, signaling to one another, “My religion is science.”

This is not the science that Doctor Mirabilis bequeathed us in the 13th Century. Bacon’s science is a process, not an outcome. The discipline is adherence to logical thought based on clear-eyed perceptions.

True science is not obedience to a man in a labcoat. True science is a cacophony of voices vying to offer competitive narratives about the available observations. It is a common agreement about criteria of evidence and logic that enable some tentative truths to emerge from this jumble of independent thinkers.

When you hear someone say the words, “settled science,” question first whether he has a pecuniary interest in your accepting his version of the truth. Then begin the hard work of gathering your own evidence and forming your own conclusions.

atheists | Religious Forums

Theory of everything? Nah–I don’t think so

Sabine Hossenfelder argues that fundamental physics has lost its way, and that the deepest and most intricate theories of our time are not guided by experiment but rather by subjective notions of symmetry and mathematical beauty. String theory is the worst offender, and it is eating up computational cycles of some of the smartest brains on the planet, as well as research dollars that could be channeled to more promising pursuits. Hossenfelder asks, who are we to think that our aesthetic tastes should have anything to do with the way Nature runs her show? She has written that physicists have become Lost in Math.

Josh Responds to his Internal Critic

I’m often hard on those I love, I know.
It is not kind to them, and (what is more)
This attitude degrades my sacred core
And hinders my ability to grow.

It seems to you that I’m fore’er at war,
My invitation, beating down your door.
Please recognize from whence my passions flow
Conformity is all that I abhor.
When friends repeat what they have heard before
They spurn the loving ear that I bestow.

My quest is for your individual light
And I lament when those I love take flight.
I wish not to disrupt or gather storms,
But liberate from strict, confining norms.

— JJM

Radical Faeries

Allowing ourselves to feel tragedy

The Soviet Arts Council leaned heavily on Prokofiev to create music that was accessible to the proletariat. Fortunately, the Russian people have a sophisticated appreciation of music. And, as far as I can tell, this dicta hardly cramped Prokofiev’s style.

Сергей Прокофьев was born this day in 1891.

The Myth of Mental Illness

Thomas Szasz came to America from Hungary for medical training and residency as a psychiatrist, only to decide as a young doctor that he did not believe the medical model, or that “psychiatric illness” is a helpful concept. He set to work on a book, which evolved over the ensuing decade, and set in motion his mission as a reformer of psychiatric practice.

At root, he argued for respect of the patient. He argued against coercive treatment, against confinement, against drugs and electric shocks. He saw the psychiatrist as a listener, a friend, a helper, a guide. Empathy, not objective analysis, is at the heart of every relationship that relieves suffering and helps a huan individual to grow.

In the end, his legacy was to forge thousands of unique, individual relationships with thousands of unique, individual clients—and to light the way for others to do the same

Thomas Szasz, who died in 2012, would have been 100 years old today.

The self is not something that one finds, it is something that one creates. — TS

Choice point

When the confining routines of normality waver or dissolve, when there’s an earthquake or a flood or some natural disaster that sweeps away the structures of society, it’s not what one might expect: dog eat dog, looting and chaos and the strong preying on the weak. Uh uh—It’s people getting together to take care of each other. It’s altruism rising to the fore. This natural community and solidarity emerges, and you realize that it’s been there all along, repressed by our systems and ideologies of separation, but it’s been waiting for an opportunity to come back. It’s showing us a future that’s available to us individually and collectively. It’s showing that health and happiness and even real wealth cannot exist in isolation but only in community. So we are at a choice point. We can double down on the science of control, stamping out the virus, surviving to meet the next crisis. Or we can say, ENOUGH! Enough of this separation. Now is the time to rejoin the community of life. That’s the crossroads where we find ourselves right now.

Charles Eisenstein talks to Rich Roll,
citing Rebecca Solnit, A Paradise Built in Hell

image-alternative

Science is a rich and fruitful source of helpful insights. It has its proper domain. But there are other domains, values and choices that science can’t properly evaluate. How do we make decisions that don’t ignore science, but give it just one seat in a larger circle? That’s a question I don’t have a ready answer for, but I do know that it is the right question to ask in these times. — CE

Conflict

We innocently choose the side of “good”
Against outrageous evil we protest
It seems so clear, we side with what is best
And take the stand we manifestly should.

All morals are charade, a cosmic jest
That turns our pliant twigs to hardened wood.
Conflict and strife invade the neighborhood
As conscience turns each tribe against the rest.

And so when on life’s stage it comes to pass,
Sucked into strife by mutual disdain,
Good souls create a passionate morass
That culminates in grief, despair and pain.

If struggle is for you a source of pride,
Give thanks for those who take the other side.

— JJM = #6 in the I Ching Sonnet project

Dungeon Grates

So piteously the lonely soul of man
Shudders before this universal plan,
So grievous is the burden and the pain,
So heavy weighs the long, material chain
From cause to cause, too merciless for hate,
The nightmare march of unrelenting fate,
I think that he must die thereof unless
Ever and again across the dreariness
There came a sudden glimpse of spirit faces,
A fragrant breath to tell of flowery places
And wider oceans, breaking on the shore
From which the hearts of men are always sore.
It lies beyond endeavour; neither prayer
Nor fasting, nor much wisdom winneth there,
Seeing how many prophets and wise men
Have sought for it and still returned again
With hope undone. But only the strange power
Of unsought Beauty in some casual hour
Can build a bridge of light or sound or form
To lead you out of all this strife and storm;
When of some beauty we are grown a part
Till from its very glory’s midmost heart
Out leaps a sudden beam of larger light
Into our souls. All things are seen aright
Amid the blinding pillar of its gold,
Seven times more true than what for truth we hold
In vulgar hours. The miracle is done
And for one little moment we are one
With the eternal stream of loveliness
That flows so calm, aloft from all distress
Yet leaps and lives around us as a fire
Making us faint with overstrong desire
To sport and swim for ever in its deep—
Only a moment.
—————————O! but we shall keep
Our vision still. One moment was enough,
We know we are not made of mortal stuff.
And we can bear all trials that come after,
The hate of men and the fool’s loud bestial laughter
And Nature’s rule and cruelties unclean,
For we have seen the Glory we have seen.

Published under the pseudonym, Clive Hamilton, Spirits in Bondage (1919) was C. S. Lewis’s first book. Lewis was an undergraduate, then a soldier in the trenches. Some of the poems reflect the horrors and senseless suffering of of The Great War, some are lyrical paeans to natural beauty, and some foreshadow the thoughtful spirituality of the mature Lewis.

One of my all-time favorite human beings

It is remarkable that mind enters into our awareness of nature on two separate levels. At the highest level, the level of human consciousness, our minds are somehow directly aware of the complicated flow of electrical and chemical patterns in our brains. At the lowest level, the level of single atoms and electrons, the mind of an observer is again involved in the description of events. Between lies the level of molecular biology, where mechanical models are adequate and mind appears to be irrelevant. But I, as a physicist, cannot help suspecting that there is a logical connection between the two ways in which mind appears in my universe. I cannot help thinking that our awareness of our own brains has something to do with the process which we call “observation” in atomic physics.

— Freeman Dyson, 1923 – 2020

My favorite Dyson story is the one that got him started in his career. Twenty years after quantum mechanics, 40 years after relativity, no one had been able to combine the two in a coherent, unified framework. Then, in 1948, there was an embarrassment of riches. Julian Schwinger, a fireplug who spouted equations as if by direct channel from God, told us it was all about particles and sources.

Image result for schwinger source

Richard Feynman, who played the bongo drums and made wisecracks, told us that while we’re not looking, the electron does every possible and impossible thing, and he gave us a cartoon system for keeping track of what all those things are.

feynman

Dyson was a 24-year-old grad student, and undeterred by their mutually antagonistic personalities, he befriended both of them, channeled both their thought processes, and published a paper in which he demonstrated that the two theories, though they looked so different on paper, always produced the same predictions.

After that, the rigid hierarchical system of academic physics carved a place for him, and allowed him to do whatever he wanted, so that he never again had to take a test or qualify for a degree. He hung out at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study, home to Einstein, Oppenheimer, von Neumann, and Gödel.

He was an original and independent thinker on all subjects. He thought about culture and politics and technology as well as the deep structure of science. He was still writing for the New York Review of Books in his 96th year.

Dyson had a gift for the memorable line and a disarming honesty that admitted the possibility of error. It was, he would say, better to be wrong than to be vague, and much more fun to be contradicted than to be ignored. Dyson was by instinct and reason a pacificist, but he understood the fascination with nuclear weaponry.
Guardian Obit

“The more I examine the universe and the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe must in some sense have known we were coming,”