|This is American culture. And the world better like it...|
When I look at the sorry history of this planet I can't help but come to the disturbing conclusion that our notions of human "progress" are grossly overstated. I cannot see how things are any different now than they were three thousand years ago. Sure, the outer forms of oppression have changed: we view ourselves as considerably more civilized than the empires of old; we publicly denounce slavery, genocide, and injustice. But we are the same animal. With only the illusion of freedom and a hypocritical facade of politically correct "humanitarianism", our world is still characterized by the same brutality, close-mindedness, and shameless egoism; people are still tortured in the most horrible ways imaginable; entire peoples are still butchered; and the mass of humanity is as blind and complacent as it ever was.
We aspire to no great ideals or visions. Instead we idolize brute domination: sports heroes, professional fighters, "successful" yet heartless businessmen, military superiority. The highest good has nothing to do with the love, understanding, and support for our fellow humanity, but instead with whatever satisfies our basic "needs": a comfortable home, a steady supply of food, a steady income, a regular sex life, and progeny to continue the cycle of meaningless conformity. Porn, the cult of sports, Ultimate Fighting, Donald Trump, Survivor, celebrity news and the commensurate idol worship of unremarkable individuals like Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, and David Beckham. No meaning, no wonder, no aspiration. Just aimless wandering from one selfish pursuit to the next, like lab animals self-administering doses of morphine, oblivious to anything higher than their own comfort.
And yet, in the midst of all this, there are those who see the disparity between that which IS and that which COULD be. Against all arguments for "cultural relativism", they have existed for as long as this aborted experiment called humanity, for they are a part of it. Even among cultures and time periods characterized by their brutality, you will always find individuals and groups who embody the virtues of reason, tolerance, and equality. They are the eternal voice of conscience that refuses to die, and their countenance stands out like a serene face in a violent mob. Brothers and sisters of sorrow. Those who can see the seemingly meaningless and perennial suffering of human existence, its terror, futility, pain, and heartbreak. They see the dead ends of materialism, tyranny, conformity, violence, and offer humanity an alternative: truth, love, freedom. And yet, tragically, their lives are often cut short.
So, how is it that our experience of life can be so alien to our understanding of it? I know that I want to be 'happy' and I would like others to be happy. I don't enjoy the sight of a child ripped apart by a cluster bomb. I don't think many people do, even those primarily concerned with their own bubble of so-called reality. Our myopic self-concern can't be the only cause of this looking glass world where up is down and good people butcher each other for no good reason. Conformity is passive, a result of inaction. Oppression is active and deliberate. So where does this vile distortion of what people seem to want come from? How do we always manage to screw up so completely? What is the active agent in this putrefaction of all that is truly human?
I have only found one answer that comes close to accounting for all the contradictions inherent in this mess we call the human condition. It is not some simplistic, unilevel idea (even if they do play some role in the process); not Freemasons, Jews, the Illuminati, communists; not the sole influence of "society"; not original sin; not genetic determination; not the corrupting influence of "power". Just as Jung hypothesized that because the symbols that we ascribe to various aspects of mystical experience are universal across time and geography, that these must be ascribed to some common instinctual substratum, the answer must lie in the psychological nature of humanity, a nature that is varied, yet historically consistent (i.e. in recorded history) in its variety.
A modern perspective, with all the benefits of scientific advances in biology and psychology (if anything, our "progress" has been strictly information-based, our essence remains undeveloped and sickly), provides an interesting lens through which to see some ancient dualistic concepts, traceable through Zoroastrianism, Gnosticism, Catharism, Alchemy, and also found in numerous other traditions. Such groups saw the world as an eternal conflict of opposites. From the largest scope possible (i.e. the active, masculine face of God, eternally breathing the fire of life into the passive, feminine ocean of infinite potential -- the image of God reflected in primal matter); to the social conflict between those whose nature is either "righteous, good, and noble" or "wicked, base, evil"; to the battle within oneself between that which is unconscious, selfish, automatic and that which is conscious, altruistic, and autonomous.
Groups like the Essenes divided people into two groups: righteous and wicked. Righteousness was a prerequisite for inclusion in such a group, not a title gained by virtue of being in the group. Is there any objective basis for this distinction ? I think there is. We can all agree that "evil" people exist. Certain men have even become icons of evil: Hitler, Stalin, Genghis Khan, Torquemada, Bundy, Mao. These men are certainly of a different nature than Gandhi, Arafat, Schweitzer, Saint-Exupery, Hammarskjold. We know that the worst of conditions is not enough to turn some people into monsters, and conversely, we know that the best of conditions cannot turn some people into real humans. The latter are now commonly referred to as psychopaths. It seems there IS a dualistic division in humanity and it has its root in an individual's essence or nature. There are those whose essence is overwhelmingly good, those for whom it is innately evil, and those in the middle from whom the environment plays a much greater role.
With what we know about psychopathy today, and the influence of psychopaths in social groups, it is no wonder that the Essenes and Gnostics, perhaps, excluded the "wicked" from inclusion in their social group. For we know that psychopaths act as an infectious agent in a social body. Their wholly self-serving nature and the ruthless manner in which they pursue their goals are inimical to normal human cooperation (cf. Snakes in Suits by Robert Hare and Paul Babiak). They bring businesses to ruin, families to turmoil, and empires to collapse. Tragically, their mark is evident even in the corruption of the distinction once useful in their detection: that between good and evil.
Psychopaths are masters of psychological manipulation. They are also wholly uncreative; they can only imitate the creations of others, adapting them for use in the pursuit of their own aims. As such, a distinction between good and evil (a creation of humans creative and perceptive enough to know the difference) becomes extremely useful for any psychopath with aspirations of supreme power. Due to their statistically small numbers (experts estimate about 1% of the general population), psychopaths require a support base. But would a group of normal people would support a man who sincerely states his intentions to ruthlessly pursue his own self-interest, bringing destruction to everything and anyone in his path? No. However, psychopaths learn very early to imitate "normal" human behavior, which they view as ridiculous and foreign, so that their true intentions are hidden behind a mask of sanity, as Hervey Cleckley called it.
So, what better way to acquire a base of support than to "infiltrate" an already existing group, falsely profess its values, all the while actively working to steer it in a more 'lucrative' direction? It's an easy process. Just stroke the believers' self-importance, tell them how "good" and "holy" they are, just like a pick-up artist telling a woman how "unique" and "special" she is. There will always be someone to take the bait.
This is how psychopaths work, and it's how such distinctions as good and evil get muddied to the point of meaninglessness. "Good" ceases to be a functional distinction with its root in the intrinsic nature and behavior of individuals, and becomes an arbitrary name applying to all members of an in-group. It ceases to be a criterion for inclusion in a group, and becomes a title justified post hoc solely by membership in the group. When "good" comes to be applied solely to "Christians" or "Jews", psychopathic behavior goes unexcused and undetected. After all, a psychopathic member of one's in-group is simply another member of the in-group -- a fellow Christian! This phenomenon is strikingly obvious in the cult status among fanatic Jews of the Jewish terrorist Baruch Goldstein, who massacred 29 Muslims, and injured many times that number, praying at the Ibrahimi Mosque in 1994.
For some psychopaths it may be enough to rise to the top of a group; say a corporation or church, perpetually feeding off the goodwill of others. For others, there is no limit to their aspirations. Having successfully gained membership in a group striving for some form of justice, they will completely pervert the insider/outsider dynamic. I've already mentioned the religious example, where the in-group is identified as all-good in order to provide a strategic enclosure of operation. The other side of this dynamic is the complete demonization of outsiders, even to the point of including members who perhaps see the group's new direction. As the original cause for distinction is no longer adequate for the group's new purposes, the distinction becomes entirely arbitrary. "You are either with us or against us." No longer is the real enemy the "capitalists" who fed on injustice and the system which supported such injustice. This merely becomes the slogan behind which a psychopath maneuvers to take the place of that capitalist.
A psychopathic distinction of this sort can last for centuries, with the wholly manufactured "enemy" pursued with animal-like ferocity. Witness the legacy of the psychopathic Christian regime in medieval Europe, the devastation wrought by the Communist regime this last century, and the reign of terror currently being waged on the world courtesy of the psychopathic Neoconservative/Zionist cadre controlling North America. Heretics, capitalists, traitors, terrorists... As Howard Becker said in "Outsiders", "Social groups create deviants by making the rules whose infraction constitutes deviance, and by applying those rules to particular people and labeling them as outsiders."
And so, like the alchemical Ourobouros devouring its own tail, we are led to our own destruction, killing each other at the behest of psychopaths, with some of us shaking our heads in disbelief at the insanity. In our ignorance we passively allow psychopaths to destroy everything we have created, and lead us to our own destruction. And therein lies the other factor, previously mentioned, which contributes to the misery and chaos typical of this backwater planet of ours: our own thick-skulled refusal to first of all see reality as it is, and then to see that there IS an alternative. Whence does this refusal stem?
Psychopaths have very clear aims, like utter domination. Good people (some exemplars of which were previously noted, like Gandhi) also have aims. But they have something that psychopaths lack: values. A psychopath only has one pseudo-value: his own satisfaction. But true humanitarians value some things to the extent that they will put aside their own selfish wants and "needs" in the service of something higher. Petty things like hunger, sex drive, physical comfort, and one's reputation lose their importance and take their place low on a hierarchy of values. Personal satisfaction is sacrificed in the name of a higher goal, a higher ideal. Money, unless it can be used in pursuit of this higher goal, loses its importance.
But what about the rest of humanity? The majority have no clear aim and no clear values. Their vaguely defined 'aims' and 'values' are wholly determined by the mutually dependent interplay of their own basic selfish drives and the influence of their social environment. People require a social system in which to fulfill their needs; they need a job to earn money for food and shelter, social conventions in order to win a partner for sexual release and other social interactions. As such, the fulfillment of these biologically-determined aims is entirely dependent on the environment. "Good" is that which gives comfort; that which takes away comfort is "bad".
And because we are dependent on our social system to fulfill our needs, and for our very survival (another strong instinct), we become emotionally invested in the success of this system. We are thus on guard against anything that will collapse the system. For example, in Israel there is a way of life, a system which provides Israelis with the necessities of life. Therefore people without values will simply view the methods and means which bring that comfort as excusable, if not perfectly acceptable. "Palestinians are dogs", they may even say. It doesn't really matter that the Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their own land. In fact, their survival threatens the continued existence, the status quo, of Israel as a "Jewish-only" state. Those who benefit from the system unconsciously become apologists for the system.
Those with some rudimentary values, though still enmeshed in a system that gives them a degree of comfort, will simply deny the harsh realities. To accept them would mean that they are benefiting from something that goes against their vaguely understood values. Imagine living your whole life not knowing that the house in which you live was stolen by your parents and that the original inhabitants were killed. The one survivor is now homeless. Could you continue to live in that house? Or would you feel justified that, on account of their weakness, the previous inhabitants did not deserve their house?
Psychopaths are aware of these peculiarities of human nature, and they ruthlessly exploit them, often to an absurd degree. A false system of values (i.e. a para-moralistic system) is given near-divine proportions. In such a way, David Frum can criticize Barack Obama for not giving his full support to Israel when he said, "That does not mean that I would agree with every action of the state of Israel, because it's a government and it has politicians, and as a politician myself I am deeply mindful that we are imperfect creatures and don't always act with justice uppermost on our minds." Shame on you, Obama, for even having a shred of objectivity when it comes to these matters! (Never mind that Obama has repeatedly and shamelessly stressed his support for the criminal state...)
Nothing short of absolute and unconditional support will suffice for this system of pseudo-values. In this way, psychopaths make their agenda obvious for those weak-minded members of the general population who need an clearly-defined extrinsic source of values. A rigid and unimpeachable set of values is thus provided, and psychopaths thus establish their secure support base: the in-group, the "good", the "righteous", the "noble", those with God, or fate, or Marx, on their side. As long as this group benefits, as long as they are fed, entertained, keep their possessions, and have the knowledge of being on the winning side, they will fight with their lives (and often the lives of others) to keep it, even if that means giving their full support to a gang of criminals.
Psychopaths know that people are more likely to stick to their in-group to the bitter end rather than risk becoming an outcast. To them, it is a sure thing. (Just look at how some "faiths" treat members who marry outsiders: they are disowned, sometimes losing their entire system of support.) This applies at every level of society: from family to business to scientific institutions. "Big Pharma", the arms industry, Walmart, corporations, government positions... Scientists know the "right answer" needed to get funding, and many will fudge their numbers to do so. Employees know when to keep their mouths shut. A drop in the river will avoid the surface for fear of being splashed ashore.
The psychopathic control of such industries is a topic of its own. Psychopaths know that certain things, if known by the general population, would prompt changes to the worldview that supports psychopathy, and so they are suppressed. In communist-era Poland, research into psychopathy was forbidden and texts on the subject were destroyed. In North America, where psychopathy is fairly well accepted in the scientific community and cannot so easily be relegated to the waste bin of history, the field is muddied with social theories of psychopathy and "dimensional" or "symptomatic" approaches to diagnosis.
So what does a normal person do when they confront a sticking point in a system which supports psychopathy? We have seen what they do. We've been seeing it for thousands of years. They keep their mouth shut and shy away when those courageous few expose the emperor in his shameless state. To do otherwise would only cause them to lose their jobs, and their temporary comfort. It may even cost them their life. It is a sad state when a person will settle for temporary comfort when it means eternal slavery. It is a sadder state when an entire people, in a state of fear, will adopt such cowardly silence, accepting collective slavery rather than forming a uniform voice of conscience which is our only hope.
And so, by way of a commodious vicus of recirculation, as James Joyce would say, we have arrived back where we started, and where we have been, and where we will be if we don't do something about it. What stands before us is a two-headed beast of callous cruelty and complacent cowardice. I will leave you now with an image that will perhaps give some hope, for as long as there is a single questioning mind and a single pang of conscience, there IS hope. The alchemists were adept at expressing ideas in symbolic form, the so-called "language of the birds". So I will once again refer to that ubiquitous symbol, the Ouroboros, the snake which devours its own tail. Much lies hidden within this symbol. It is the divine "light" entrapped in primal matter which aspires to reach its original state; it is the Mercurial dragon who represents both the beginning and the end of the alchemical work; it is the philosophical gold which has its seed even in the most vile matter.
|A symbol for our times.|
Just as the goal of the alchemists, the stone of the philosophers, is present even in the primal matter of the alchemical work, our hope lies within that very 'body' which produces both devouring monstrosities and the food on which they prey. The body of humanity, for all its cowardice, ignorance, and cruelty, holds the seeds of a better future. Those seeds are every person who sees injustice, who feels another's pain as her own, and who acts on their conscience. Brutality and oppression are not a thing of the past, and the social disease which leads to them does not distinguish between poor Africans and affluent Americans. Germany was a democracy before a clownish psychopath exploited its weaknesses.
Chances are that if you are still reading these words you can see what I see, and you may even agree with some of my conclusions. But what are you doing about it?
If you're sitting around expecting someone else to be the first person to say "No"; if you think to yourself "That's totally right!" and then go on living your life as if it will stay as comfortable as it is now; then I hate to say it, but it is just that attitude that lets individuals like Hitler, Goring, Himmler, Stalin, Beria, Zedong, Andropov, Sharon, Begin, Shamir, Cheney, Perle, Wolfowitz (the list is endless) do what they do. Such an attitude is worse than simple ignorance because you DO see it coming and yet you do nothing. A child who cannot see the result of his actions can't be blamed for making an honest mistake. An adult who does the same commits the worst sin.
So what can you do? The empires of old relied on the control of information. Scribes were an elite class who literally created "official" history. With no such thing as global communication, dissenting voices were given no credible forum to voice what really happened. Modern empires have increasingly relied on the mass media to disseminate their version of reality. "Public relations", spin, propaganda. It's been common knowledge that the CIA infiltrated every major newspaper decades ago. The media have become a caricature, little more than sock puppets regurgitating political lies. Luckily, we now have the means of instant worldwide communication. When the mainstream media present an unchallenged lie, we can rely on alternative media to expose them.
So if you want to do something, spend your time trying to figure out what's really going on on this planet. And then tell people what you find. That's what I'm trying to do. Perhaps you think that isn't good enough. Just one voice crying in the wilderness. You may be right. And even though I will be able to say "I tried", I know it will not be enough. In retrospect I will see that I could have been more creative, done more... Perhaps you have a better idea. If so, then let me know about it. Maybe we can work together. After all, it will be OUR children living in an Orwellian nightmare. Perhaps you didn't realize while reading the above: YOU are the hope for the future. Who else is going to do it? We can't be cowards forever. We've seen where it's gotten us in the past. No, if there is a seed of a conscience inside of you, it is up to YOU not to squander it. Give it a run for its money. That's what it's there for.