MLK knew he took his life in his hands

…when he expanded his message to oppose US militarism.

The King of the March on Washington is encased in amber, his still-deferred dream reduced to a harmless platitude, its endless repetition a proof of virtue.

But the King who declared from the pulpit of Riverside Church on April 4th, 1967, that his beloved country had become “the greatest purveyor of violence on earth” cannot be resurrected for the cameras or deployed as a spokesman for American redemption.  For that King might wander off the stage into the street, might occupy Wall Street and the Pentagon, or insist on reminding us that “a nation that continues, year after year, to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

When he publicly declared his opposition to the Vietnam War in April 1967, King earned few friends in the administration, the press, or even among the civil rights establishment. FBI surveillance and harassment was ordered intensified.   He was relentlessly attacked from all sides for straying out of his “area” in criticizing the foreign policies of a President who had been so strong a Negro ally.  But if King hadn’t made pellucid the undeniable connection between the “giant triplets” of “racism, extreme materialism, and militarism” in his speech at Riverside, he doubled down a few days later at a massive peace rally at United Nations Plaza.  “The promises of the Great Society have been shot down on the battlefields of Vietnam, making the poor—white and Negro–bear the heaviest burden.”

Read the rest from John Kirby

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When Voting Fails, Take to the Streets

Our Sovereign Lord the King chargeth and commandeth all persons, being assembled, immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the act made in the first year of King George the First, for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies. God save the King.

We’ve been taught that there is a “mob psychology” that makes people do crazy things when they’re surrounded by others doing crazy things. This theory was debunked by psychologists long ago, but it is kept alive by journalist who are in thrall to the ruling class.

The word ‘riot’ evokes a visceral reaction, calling up visions of chaos, disorder and offence to civil society. Once an event has been dubbed a riot, the media narrative is easy to frame: ‘these people’ are acting unlawfully, are out of control, irrational; if only they would sit down and talk.

The truth is that “crowds aren’t really crazed – they are made of highly co-operative individuals driven to shared interests and goals.”

People take to the streets when democracy isn’t working. There is a long history of rioting for legitimate goals that are ultimately recognized and achieved. A few examples:

Abraham Lincoln called the right to peaceably assemble the ‘Constitutional substitute for revolution’, the next step in forcing government to acknowledge the people’s demands when it has otherwise ceased to be responsive to voting, speech or even the rule of law. However it is defined, and whatever its parameters and perception, sometimes riot might be necessary to reclaim and defend democracy.

— Excerpted and paraphrased from an Aeon article by Antonia Malchik

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Congress shall make no law … abridging the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
— First Amendment, the Bill of Rights


The Gift Economy

It might begin with a renewed Occupy movement, or with Parisian Gilets Jaunes going viral. But I don’t think so. My guess is that it will start with a Universal Basic Income — UBI.

Remarkably, Bernie Sanders and Mark Zuckerberg agree on the importance of a UBI. A growing list of American billionaires now support UBI . It’s in their self-interest.

Capitalists need customers. Long after people’s basic need have been met, their appetites must be goosed so that they keep their shopping carts full at For thirty years, American consumers have been acquiring more stuff by going deeper into debt, but at any interest rate north of Zero this can’t go on forever. Capitalism demands consumers with money in their pockets. But companies are beholden to their stockholders , maximizing short-term profits, and they can’t raise wages if they want to. So they want the government to do it!

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A Transformative Time Bomb

These same nearsighted billionaires don’t realize that UBI pulls foundation from the whole oppressive system. Work has long ago ceased to be rewarding. People show up and do what they’re told because they have no choice. If they can lower their standard of living a notch, live by their wits, they’ll drop out of the rat race in droves!

Maybe they’ll stay home and play video games for the first month, but in every place where UBI has been tried , people become more productive, more creative, kinder, more community-minded. They will plant gardens and learn to play the guitar, volunteer at children’s hospitals and design murals. Citizen scientists and citizen journalists are born. Violent behaviors decline. Rates of accidents and disease drop through the floor.

…and that’s just the beginning

Once people have leisure and security in their own lives, they enjoy helping others. An alternative economy self-organizes, arising from the bottom up . This is the opposite of a capitalist economy. It is an economy based on gift. People offer their gifts because it feels good. It is what we want to do, once our basic needs are met. It is the source of all our wellbeing, it is how we know who we are and that our lives are worthwhile. We earn a reputation for giving that makes others eager to give to us.

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The Gift Economy – This isn’t a new-age-y theory. It is the way humans have lived with one another for most of the last 200,000 years. It is how hunter-gatherers live even now. It is a tried and true way to provide a community’s economic needs, and it is how we are meant to live.

And then…

When people have leisure, they tend to think. They talk to one another. They understand what is working and what is not working. They understand that their neighbors feel the same way they do and — here’s the real danger — they organize.

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This is our future, and it can’t come too soon.

Better angels

The phrase was first used by Abraham Lincoln in his inaugural address, Jan 1861.

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

Illustration by YES! Magazine

Image courtesy of YES magazine


Jean Liedloff on Socialization

These children I met in the Amazon jungle played wild, they played rough, but they were never antagonistic and they rarely hurt one another. It’s not that they were obeying strict rules. Just the opposite. They had no rules. That got me thinking about the way they raise children and the way we raise children.Paperback The Continuum Concept: In Search Of Happiness Lost (Classics in Human Development) Book

We have created an anti-social population. No child is born bad, but you can make them bad, make them anti-social. We expect our children to be greedy and selfish and destructive, and because our children are born so social, they meet our expectations by becoming that way. 

Why do we have to lock our doors? Why do we have police forces? Why do we need armies? We have conditioned our whole population with rules and policing that assumes we are all bad people, just waiting for the opportunity to misbehave.

Every so often, an inspirational speaker is truly inspiring

Forty years ago, I missed Jean Houston the first time around; but at 82, she’s still at the top of her game.

Space is collapsing, time is warping. The breadth and complexity of our experience as individuals is ten or even a hundred times greater than our ancestors of just a century ago. Today, we are being invited to become worthy of the challenges and opportunities that present themselves. We are asked to recreate ourselves, so that we can respond with creativity, courage, heartfulness, and deep insight and intelligence, to a world that accelerates beyond anything humanity has known before…A thousand years from now, in the fourth milennium, people will look back at us with words to the effect, “Well done, you ancient ones! You gave us our hope, our lives, out history—well done!”


Ongoing creation—a Kabbalistic Fable

It seems that the world stands on its own. We assume that that which existed a moment ago will continue existing a moment later. Newton’s First Law is about inertia, after all.

But who proclaimed that just because Newton’s First Law was true yesterday it will still be true tomorrow?  Who, I ask? It was that guy who spells his name with a dash in the middle, as though His very N_me were unspeakable.

In fact it is the Creat_r who is perpetually maintaining the cosmos. In the absence of the steady flow of Divine energy, all would cease to exist, much as the water in the tap would stop flowing if the water pumps lost power. G_d just keeps pumping away, and he does it just for us.  Us meaning you and me and that toadstool that’ appeared on your front lawn after last night’s rain.

Every once in a while, or once a year to be more precise, G_d loses interest in His creation pastime. We were created because G_d desired to be a beneficent king, and consequently we, His subjects, came into being: creatures upon whom G_d could heap His otherwise unused infinite capacity for kindness.

We were supposed to live in wonder and gratitude for this grace, but it turns out that we’re more likely to feel undeserving, reminded of all the stuff we were supposed to do last week but instead we were just lazing about in the Garden. To allay our feelings of unworthiness, G_d invented Capitalism. It’s not a gift but an exchange, an even proposition, G_d assures us. You render your service, He provides the Universe.

So at the onset of every year’s Rosh Hashanah, The Creat_r pretends to lose interest in his Creat_on. He withdraws, becomes sullen and demanding, and if we want the world to go on for another year, we must appease Him. (He isn’t really losing interest, LOL. It’s just a game he’s playing, part of the Master Plan.

If we want the Woild to go on for one more year, we have to get off our ass_s and Git To Woik. Now you know why Hasidim work on the second day of Rosh Hashanah, while the Reform Jews have all gone to take a four-day weekend in the Borscht Belt.

Rosh Hashannah, a Kabbalistic Spin

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