Pay them off—it’s cheaper than war

In the 1840’s, Henry Clay of Kentucky was the most prominent and influential Senator.  Though he owned dozens of slaves himself, he was ideologically opposed to slavery, and proposed a compromise solution:  Let the U.S. government buy every slave at fair market value, and give them their freedom.  (The importation of slaves had long ago been outlawed, so this would have put an end to legal slavery in the U.S.)Image result for henry clayThe estimated cost of buying all the slaves was $1 billion dollars, an enormous sum compared to the Federal budget of that time.  On the other hand, the cost of the Civil War was $5 billion, and that doesn’t count the lives lost or the damage to the fabric of society which continued for decades, or the resentment and division that continues to rent our country 150 years later.

On the one hand, it seems utterly immoral to reward people who have purchased another human being as if he were a horse or a tractor.  On the other hand, it might have saved 600,000 human lives and avoided the trauma and embitterment that war engenders, passed from generation to generation to this day.

Upton Sinclair was a social reformer and prolific author in the early decades of the 20th Century.  This was a time before the ruling class had so firmly established “socialism” as a dirty word, among intellectuals and workers alike there was a sense that a socialist uprising in the U.S. (peaceable or violent) was a real possibility.  There were socialists and communists and anarchists and syndicalists, all promoting their various radical agendas, but what they had in common was democratic control of the corporations by working people.Image result for workers of the world uniteEight years before the beginning of the Great Depression, he wrote his most personal book, with views on everything from nutrition to parapsychology.   The last part of the book is reserved for a roadmap of the journey from capitalism to democratic socialism.  He proposed that the government should buy out the stock holdings of the powerful capitalists who controlled the economy, and reconstitute corporate boards with directors chosen to represent the employees and the public.  (Today, this model of corporate control is already a reality in Germany, and still German companies manage to remain internationally competitive.)

Sinclair regarded this transition as inevitable in the long run, because he saw the contradictions inherent in capitalism.  The simple fact is that because the aggregated workers’ salaries are only a fraction of the retail price of the goods they produce, the nation’s total output can never be sold without foreign markets and imperialist wars.  (Sinclair never considered that America’s imperialist wars might be continuing 90 years into the future, nor did he count on the effectiveness of the long-term propaganda campaign that would keep workers convinced that organizing as workers was not in their interest.)


Open Letter to my Brothers and Sisters in the Holy Land


Dear Fellow Jews –

I invite you to open your hearts to all your neighbors, to take the courageous and magnanimous first step toward peace.  You can have all the richness of the nation you have built—your science and industry, your innovation, your culture and the arts—you can have all this and more in the context of a multi-cultural Israel.  2014-07-12-IsraelPalestinePeace

If you allow our Muslim cousins full citizenship, full freedom, full participation in this desert wonder which you have created, there can be yet greater wonders for all, richer because they are shared, richer because you are not living with fear and oppression, richer because the enormous economic and psychic costs of militarism are lifted, plowed back into loving and creative endeavor.




Manchmal, wenn ein Vogel ruft
Oder ein Wind geht in den Zweigen
Oder ein Hund bellt im fernsten Gehöft,
Dann muß ich lange lauschen und schweigen.

Meine Seele flieht zuruck,
Bis wo vor tausend vergessenen Jahren
Der Vogel und der wehende Wind
Mir ähnlich und meine Bruder waren.

Meine Seele wird ein Baum
Und ein Tier und ein Wolkenweben.
Verwandelt und fremd kehrt sie zuruck
Und fragt mich. Wie soll ich Antwort geben?

–Hermann Hesse

From Primeval (4) | Old-growth forest, Columbia County, within th | Flickr1024 Ã-- 683 - 446k -


Sometimes the call of a bird
Or the rustle of wind-blown leaf,
Or the yelp of a dog, barely heard…
I am taken by laughter, then grief.

My soul flies back, aeons past
This life and so many others,
To a time when we all clove fast;
This bird and the wind were my brothers.

My soul becomes the tree,
A wisp of cloud, then a pond…
When, transformed, it comes back to me
Ripe with questions, how should I respond?

— translation by JJM

Blackberry Authorities


When I first came out to the country
…… I knew nothing. I watched
as people planted, harvested, picked
…… the berries, explained
the weather, tended the ducks and horses.

When I first came out to the country
…… my mind emptied and I
liked it that way. My mind was like a sky
…… without clouds, a summer sky
with several birds flapping across a field
…… on the eastern horizon.

I liked the slowness of things. The empty
…… town, the lake stillness,
the man I met who seemed contented, who
…… sat and talked in the dusk
about why he had chosen this long ago.

I did better dreaming then. the colors
…… were clear. I found something
important in myself: capacity for renewal.
…… And at night, the sky so intense.
Clear incredible stars! Almost another earth.

But now I see there are judgments here.
…… This way of planting or that.
The arguments about fertilizers and organics;
…… problems of time, figuring how
to allocate what we have. So many matters
…… to fasten on and dissect.

That’s the way it is with revelations,
…… If you live it out, you start
thinking, examining. The mind cries out
…… for materials to play with.
Right now, in fact, I’m excited about
…… several new vines and waiting
for the blackberry authorities to arrive.

by Lou Lipsitz
from Seeking the Hook
Signal Books 1997


Microdose LSD

The liberal, enlightened culture that claims the high ground in Western society is Science-based.  We learn without ever being told that there is an objective material reality that you can kick, and that’s all there is.  No spirits, no mind-to-mind communication, no afterlife, nothing at all mysterious. Get real! It’s atoms and electromagnetic forces all the way down.

If something happens that gives you a glimpse into another reality, then your brain has a glitch.  That’s OK, buddy. All of our brains have glitches. The key is just to get a grip, remember where reality is, return to the deep grounding of what we can all see and hear.

A big part of the cultural upheaval that we call The Sixties was the psychedelic experience.  Were LSD and psilosybin a fast track into a world that had been denied by our drab, materialist culture?  Or were they a form of temporary insanity, distorting the true picture of reality that was painted pretty consistently by our un-drugged senses?

I came of age in The Sixties, and opted out of the drug culture, bought into the Scientific world view in its narrowest sense.  Only later in life have I come to acknowledge the mystical moments that occasionally flash forth from the humdrum background. I have followed the path of science, and it has led me quite outside the dogma that is the Scientific Worldview.

Michael Pollan, of all people, has a new book in which he describes research programs in which people’s sanity has been enhanced by psychedelic drugs.  Our government’s War on Drugs conflated psychedelics with addiction; but Pollan tells stories of people who have escaped from tortured lives of addiction with the help of a few brief psychedelic experiences.

The nerds who live at ground zero of our materialist culture create the computer code that runs our communications, transportation, distribution, and (increasingly) decision-making.  They work so many hours that they have no time to eat or socialize, and we imagine that they, more than any of us, are fully immersed in the materialist’s reality. How strange to read that they take microdoses of LSD to keep them focused on their work, creative and productive.

From their lab at University of Toronto, Thomas Anderson and Norman Farb are collecting stories of people who take microdoses of psychedelic drugs, compiling statistics and questioning whether the reputation of “dangerous” is warranted.  They are discovering benefits that far outweigh the risks.

The NIH database of clinical trials lists 233 ongoing studies of psychedelics.   There’s this one at John’s Hopkins and this one in Helsinki.

I don’t have any experience with psychedelic drugs, but what I do know is that the narrow, materialistic world-view that has been passed off as “scientific” has imprisoned our minds and driven millions into despair or depression.  Whole universes of human potential have been squeezed out of us. We’ll find our liberation where we can, and for some, psychedelics provide an open door.

Rethinking Psychedelics at

Almost all shortages are artificial

[W]e can produce more than enough food to feed everybody, and there is definitely enough work for everybody in the world, but there is clearly not enough money to pay for it all. The scarcity is in our national currencies. In fact, the job of central banks is to create and maintain that currency scarcity. The direct consequence is that we have to fight with each other in order to survive.

— Bernard Lietaer (former member of the European Central Bank, now professor of Economics and author of Rethinking Money)


Does anyone truly create his own values?

When people say they do not care what others think of them, for the most part they deceive themselves. Generally they mean only that they will do as they choose, in the confidence that no one will know their vagaries; and at the utmost only that they are willing to act contrary to the opinion of the majority because they are supported by the approval of their neighbours. It is not difficult to be unconventional in the eyes of the world when your unconventionality is but the convention of your set. It affords you then an inordinate amount of self-esteem. You have the self-satisfaction of courage without the inconvenience of danger. But the desire for approbation is perhaps the most deeply seated instinct of civilised man. No one runs so hurriedly to the cover of respectability as the unconventional woman who has exposed herself to the slings and arrows of outraged propriety. I do not believe the people who tell me they do not care a row of pins for the opinion of their fellows. It is the bravado of ignorance. They mean only that they do not fear reproaches for peccadillos which they are convinced none will discover.

But here was a man who sincerely did not mind what people thought of him, and so convention had no hold on him.

— W. Somerset Maugham