The End Of The World As We Know It — Keep Swimming

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First a quick nod of thanks to R.E.M. for the song that’s been playing in my head for nearly a month.  Where would we be without our daily life soundtrack….

A few days ago, I posted a short piece to FaceBook that I later added here as a blog entry, talking about how I’ve finally managed to get past the election of Donald Trump, and get on with my life.  In that post, I said I’d had 2 “ah-ha” moments and I explained what I’d learned, then ended by saying there really was a 3rd big AH-HA — but it would take too long to explain in a FB status update.  After all the comments, Likes, private messages, phone calls etc from my friends & FBcontacts, I now realize that just about everybody I know — including even those who don’t live in the US or have US citizenship —  has been experiencing the same kind of PTSD reaction to this year’s election, and that maybe I should have taken the time and explained all three Ah-Ha’s.  Here we are, nearly five weeks after the fact, and people are still either in denial — still expecting some deus ex machina intervention or catastrophe to prevent the coming inauguration — or so deep into depression that they are considering a visit to their doctor to talk about SSRIs.  Or Valium.  or Xanax.  or medical marijuana.  or how to self-administer a lethal injection.

Not those who voted for the Don, I suppose.  But I don’t actually know anybody who voted for him.  Or who will admit to it, anyway.

The worst reactions are coming from those who have either been in abusive relationships and escaped — or those who have lived and/or worked closely with a narcissist.  (Not a slightly self-absorbed average person — a real, live, clinically pathological narcissist.)  For those people, the post-election season is a little like waking up in one of their own nightmare memories.  The evening news is like watching old home movies — playing out on a global scale.  People who have survived a marriage to a narcissist or a business relationship with a narcissist  know what’s coming.  It’s the Big Reveal.  Or the Big Run-And-Hide.  Enemies lists, revenge, retribution, long-game-I’ll-show-you, spiteful jabs, reputation destroying, enemies-closer, cyber-stalking, power-plays, victory laps, pep rallies, loyalty rewards cards, military parades, membership in Biggest Winner Fan Club, mass hysteria, dogs and cats living together….

And they’re right, of course.  All of that is more than possible.  It’s probable.  Likely.  Coming to a theater near you.  And a market near you.  And a street near you.  Everybody needs to have their exit strategy laid out.  Keep the tank full at all times.   Have at least 3-4 weeks of food and water on hand.  Keep blankets and water and an emergency care kit by the door.

This is not a test.

But here’s the other thing that’s just as true:

The model still holds.

I am not going to explain the model in this post.  That would be like explaining particle physics in 20 words or less.  (lol)  It would be a 50 page (conservatively) snooze-a-thon for most folks.  There is a full explanation of the Graves Model here in my blog (start here, if you want the full monty) – but the essentials are these:

  • There is a developmental pattern shared by all of us.
  • The same pattern of human development is shared by groups — families, societies, species.  From individuals to villages, companies to governments, to the global village — each of us, and each of the cultural groups we belong to, all follow the same pattern of evolution.
  • The level of the model an individual operates at is demonstrated by their motivations, beliefs, and behaviors.
  • When the “tipping point” of any level is reached, the person or society that has reached that tipping point moves on to the next level. (much like a simple game, where the tiny explorer fights all the creatures and solves all the puzzles on one level, then discovers the doorway into the next level and so moves on.)
  • The levels alternate between inward focus and outward focus.  That is, Level 1 is all about my own personal survival.  Once that survival is secured, we look around and say “Is that it?  Is that all there is to life?”  And of course, the answer is always, NO.  There is more to life that just my own survival — but I can’t see that until I’m good enough at surviving to look around my own little 2-square-feet of real estate.  And Level 2 is born — the family group or tribe is born.  Level 1 is inward — just me.  Level 2 is outward and inclusive — US.  WE.  We survive and we do it better together.  We take care of our own.  We share the load.  We help each other.
  • Each progressive step upward reaches its threshold asking a question.  Odd numbered levels ask, “Is that all there is?” before moving up to an even-numbered level.  Even numbers ask, “but what’s in this for me?” and then move up to the next odd-numbered level to do inward/individual focus again.
  • Each progressive level is broader and/or more complex than the previous level.
  • The group — the US — of each progressive even number is bigger than the last.  Level 2 is about protecting and building family and tribe.  Level 4 is about protecting and building social order — church, state, laws, written morals etc.  Level 6 is about protecting and building for all humans and other diverse groups, acting together and for one-another.
  • The individual — the ME — of each progressive odd number exhibits a wider range of power, control, and participation in self advancement than simple survival.  Level 3 is about competition, conquest, and winning on the battlefields of sport, war, and pre-capitalist economics.  Level 5 is about competition, conquest and winning on the bigger playing fields of capitalist economics, science, and technology.  Level 7 does not exist yet on a global scale —  we have not reached this level in the broader evolution of our species, but in individual terms, it is about the competition and conquest of ideas.  We are playing on the bigger field of human ideas and understanding.  It is a world of figuring out bigger questions.  Bigger patterns.  Patterns over time and distance.   L3 is pre-capitalist.  L5 is capitalist.  L7 is — you guessed it — post-capitalist.
  • The Graves Model itself, exists at Level 7.  And yes, there is an 8, but neither L1 nor L8 is really relevant or helpful for this discussion, so we’re just going to drop those for now and move on.
  • In general, the harshest critics of any level are those who have just moved to the next level.  Like someone who has just managed to kick an addiction to cigarettes is the first to insist that smokers are enemies of the state.
  • In general, odd numbers see both the previous even number and the next even number as enemies of all they stand for.  L5 tends to see L4’s laws, regulations, and morals as strangling and ridiculously rule-bound; and L6’s concern with “all-those-not-like-me” as wasting their time, money and energy on things that don’t matter to the bottom line.  L3 felt the same way about L2 and L4.  L7 will, if we last long enough as a species, feel the same way about L6 and L8.
  • In general, regardless of what level we exist at, we are able to operate at other levels when called for.  For example, anyone who has survived (L1) is able to shift into L1 when their survival is at stake.  Anyone who has lived at L2 will return to L2 for family gatherings.  Anyone can play tennis at L3.  Everyone probably attends church or balances their checkbook in L4-mode.  There are certain activities that pull us from our general operating level into a level that works best for that particular activity.
  • We all tend to believe that everyone is just like us — but that some are doing it very badly.  L2s think the entire world exists for them to use for their group’s benefit — but some individuals or countries  just don’t understand.  L3 thinks the whole world is there for them to fight, defeat, and conquer — the one with the biggest stick or gun wins.  L4 thinks the world just needs to follow their rules.  L5 thinks money will fix everything.  L6 thinks we are our brother’s keepers, and everyone is our brother — but (L5 especially) just doesn’t get it.  L7 believes they can fix it if they can just figure it out — and any other pursuit is a waste of time.
  • And — this is the important take-away — Every individual, regardless of level, and every social or cultural entity, regardless of level — has one belief in common:

ANYONE (or any society) NOT OPERATING ON THE SAME LEVEL AS ME IS
CRIMINAL, INSANE, SINFUL, STUPID, USELESS, and/or WEAK.

And that, boys and girls, is where war and aggression come from.


And that’s the shortest explanation of the Graves Theory of Human Evolution I can give you.  It’s not complete.  I’ve made some outrageous simplifications.  But that’s the crux of it.  It’s a really REALLY complicated big picture cut down to a page or two of generalizations.

I thought I’d live to see the shift from Graves Level 5 to 6 as the dominant world system.  After all, we’ve been here at L5 since the Renaissance.  Sure, there have been many individuals who have existed happily and well at L6 and L7 for years — but not enough of those individuals for any but a few tiny countries or organizations to move up into L6 en mas.  Large collections of L7s work in close proximity in  few really forward thinking companies, research institutions or colonies, but in general they are Lone Wolf thinkers who specialize in pattern recognition, theoretical scientific work, and systems analysis and theory.

But since the Renaissance, L5 has been the dominant and overwhelmingly persuasive bully on the pitch.  In many cases, it has persuaded us that it is the only game in town — that if it isn’t working, it’s because it is being played badly — and with enough effort and elbow grease, we can get it working the way we want it to work.

But here’s the truth — the pattern holds.

The next step will be the de-throning of L5 as the dominant social system.

We were closer than we’ve ever been to that flip into L6 in 2016 with the candidacy of Bernie Sander for President of the United States.  With Hillary Clinton, we had a candidate who had split her time going back and forth between L5 and L6.  After all, her social ambitions were based firmly in L6 ambitions, but she spent her entire career fighting from within the L5 establishment.  With Donald Trump, we had a candidate playing solidly in L5 (albeit in a significantly unhealthy way.)  HERE is a write-up on Health at any Level.

But Bernie Sanders was a horse of a different color in this race.  He makes no bones about being post-capitalist in a capitalist dominated world.  And he made no bones about pointing out the flaws in that system — for his entire career in politics.  This made him the ideal candidate for all those who have individually moved to the Graves Level where protecting and building a world where everyone is on equal footing — has equal advantages and opportunities — equal rights and protections under the law.  And for the first time in human history, one of the most powerful nations on the planet came very close to shifting from Level 5 to Level 6.  In fact, if the L5 US had been a healthy version of L5, rather than a panic-driven L5 running without the constraints of L4 morality, he might have succeeded.  But neither the Democratic nor Republican parties felt bound by right over wrong, legal or illegal, truth over lie, or fair and just over self-interest.

In short, Bernie Sanders felt bound by the rule of law and the fairness he was running to create.  Neither of the other two major candidates or their parties felt the same way.  Hillary and Trump were running in and for an L5 world.  Bernie was running in hope of an L6 emergence.

So again, THE PATTERN HOLDS.  L6 is where we are all heading, both as individuals and as a species.

One of the biggest bluffs L5 has run on humanity is the hyper-quotable: “Nobody ever said life was going to be fair.”

Really?

The idea that life isn’t fair  makes it easy for L5 to take what it wants, regardless of who it hurts.  So long as life isn’t fair — bullies reign.  If we start with the presupposition that there are winners and losers — then it’s okay within that presupposition for most of the population to be losers.  And it’s okay for winners to gloat.  And kick the losers in the butt to make sure they remember their place.

But the presupposition is a lie.  If life is sometimes unfair, it’s because its really really hard, not because it’s impossible.  And creating something that is really really hard and complicated and complex and far-reaching requires a higher Graves Level of complexity than L5 could manage.  It will take L6 — fully formed and reveling in the complications and tangles — to created fairness.

Expect justice to be the motive from healthy L4.

But expect fairness to be the motivation from healthy L6.

So if you are waiting for the  deus ex machina to drop down and save you from Donald Drumph, you can stop waiting.  This is all real and it is all going to happen.  His narcissism is going to be dangerous.  His ignorance is going to be a challenge.  But his presence is going to be.  Period.  The trick is going to be to survive it — both individually, and collectively as a country.  If there is homework, it will be waiting to see how far we can get the pendulum to swing.  Never mind “don’t let that pendulum hit you in the butt as you leave the White House, Donald!”  We want it to hit him so hard that L5 leaves with him as the dominant system in the US, and L6 is the only logical and reasonable step forward anybody can see.

So to all my friends that are still having trouble figuring out how to move on with their lives in a Trumpocracy — just know we are all still here, and the pattern holds.  We may not live to see it, but our children and grandchildren may yet discover that the world really can be a fair place.  A just place.  An honorable place.  A complex puzzle of life rather than a jack-bo0ted torture of a life.

The task ahead — the one that really gets us ahead, rather than earning us a spot in the loony-bin — is to do our best to live lives of fairness and hope, rather than lives of fear and victim-hood.  Do your L6 best — volunteer.  March.  Protest.  Give things away to people who need them.  Donate to organizations with a clear L6 focus and structure.  Support random acts of kindness and fairness.  Participate in your community and group and religion and school.  Feed somebody who’s hungry.  Learn constantly.  Reinvent yourself daily.  Save the planet.  Save the animals.  Save yourself.

In evolutionary terms, the only resolution to advancing complexity is to move to a higher level of existence.   Problems cannot be addressed from the level that created them.  It took L2 to create a place for L1 to live out their survival.  And it took L3 to progress beyond the boundary of the village.  It took L4 to stop L3’s conquests.  It took L5 to reign in L4’s structure.  Similarly, L5 can’t fix L5’s hoarding and bullying.  Only L6 can fix L5 problems.  And only L7 can harness the energy of all those minds and ideas held dear by so many people thinking and creating together.

If we can keep the planet alive long enough, we might be able to all live here together.  The pattern holds, and the pattern is bigger than this election.  It’s also bigger than the US.  Certainly bigger than any one mewling politician or disrupted event.  If you’re still stuck in the politics, pull up higher so you can see the bigger picture.  — and hold on to that bigger picture.  It’s the one that matters.

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showusthereport.com — Harry Potter Conscience

showusthereport.com.

This is a link you should look at.

Dobby, the House Elf

Dobby, the House Elf

Not necessarily because it is a great cause.  Who knows, at this point, what’s really going on with mega-corporation, TIME-Warner, that has them in hot water with their  young fans.

What makes it worth looking at is its use of social media — Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest etc —   In the hands of young (and older) Harry Potter fans and readers.   That’s a very specific group — disparate people brought together by a work of fiction that we all know has already impacted the world in some grand and unexpected ways (especially the publishing industry, and the mass of young readers across the planet who sucked up multiple 850 page books with a 10th grade+ reading vocabulary like they were made of sugar-coated breakfast cereal and soda-pop.)

And those readers didn’t just read Harry Potter — they READ Harry Potter.  And they got it.  They understood it.  They were doing graduate-level literary analysis of 3000 pages of text….  They disected it, researched the language and allusions, and deconstructed 7 books  — to the point of being able to cross-reference 480 character names, a dozen family trees that spanned centiries of fictional begetting, and the geography of fictional landscapes that overlay the “real” world like swiss cheese on toast.

And this very specific group whose unifying demographic is a fictional hero seem to have taken up author J. K. Rowling’s implanted human rights message and made it their own.  Dobby and the slave-class house elves of Rowling’s world are nothing next to the human rights violations carried on in the name of greed and corporate profit — and the one thing we know for sure about profiteers, is that they can end human exploitation overnight if their profits are threatened.   There’s nothing that cleans up the dark corners of greed faster than having the spotlight of day shown on them.

Scholastic books published what may turn out to be a manifesto on slavery inside those Harry Potter books.  At least in the hands of young readers — it could be taken that way.

And Warner Brothers might want to reconsider their product placement and merchandising policies, under the circumstances.  They, after all, have exploited Rowling, her characters, and her fans and made the greatest profit from them of all the participating corporate hawkers.  These now seem to be characters — and readers — who have something concrete to say about exploitation.

And good for them.

Just got this in email from the NRDC….

…and of the 14 or so things that have driven me away from active support of President Obama — this almost makes one of them go away….  Except how many times have we seen politicians kick something like this to the curb — only to find it somehow tacked onto another bill very quietly and and approved anyway….? ? ?

So, yes.  Thank the pig. (a BABE, PIG IN THE CITY reference) Then watch your back.

———–

Natural Resources Defense Council
Dear James,

Big Oil Bets It All…And Loses! White House

Today, President Obama changed the rules of the game: he stood up to Big Oil’s bullying and rejected the massively destructive Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

button_orange_thankobama.jpg

Let’s face it: Big Oil is used to getting its way. But not any more.

President Obama has just rejected a permit for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline — a project that promised riches for the oil giants and an environmental disaster for the rest of us.

His decision represents a victory of historic proportions for NRDC and hundreds of thousands of committed activists like you who have waged an uphill, years-long fight against one of the most nightmarish fossil fuel projects of our time.

Please thank the President right away for his game-changing decision.

But get ready to keep the pressure on the Obama Administration — because Big Oil is going to fight back hard and fast.

Why? Because this was a prime-time fight. The oil giants made sure of that.

First, they had their Congressional boosters put the President to an election-year test by forcing him to decide the pipeline’s fate within 60 days. Then, the oil lobby itself rolled out its biggest PR guns to get the job done.

The head of the American Petroleum Institute sent the White House a very public and blatant warning: Approve the Keystone XL or face “huge political consequences.”

Big Oil put all its political capital on the line — and a ton of money, too — AND LOST!

They lost because millions of Americans — including you — stood up and said, We’re done with fossil fuel schemes that destroy our land, poison our water and wreak havoc with our climate so that oil companies can make out like bandits.

And because Big Oil lost, this is not the end of the fight. This is the beginning of the real battle for America’s energy future.

That battle will be fought in Congress, where Representatives who’ve collected $12 million from the oil & gas industry over the past two years are sure to try to raise Keystone from the dead . . . it will be fought in British Columbia, where the oil giants want to ram a tar sands pipeline and supertanker traffic through the heart of the Spirit Bear’s coastal rainforest home . . . it will be fought in the Polar Bear Seas, where the Interior Department has given tentative approval for Shell to begin drilling this summer . . . and it will be fought state by state where NRDC is championing clean energy alternatives to a grim, pollution-filled future of coal-fired power plants, environmentally destructive fracking and offshore oil spills.

I know you’ll stand with us shoulder to shoulder in the critical weeks, months and years ahead. We need your kind of never-say-die commitment — the kind that killed the Keystone XL and just made our collective future a little bit brighter. Thank you!

Sincerely,
Frances
Frances Beinecke
President

P.S. Please be sure to thank President Obama. It’s so important that the White House feel overwhelming support for taking this stand against Big Oil, because we’ll soon be asking them to face down the oil giants again.

My City of Ruins — The City on the Hill

The American Civil War almost ripped this country in two — for what?  Slavery.  The right to own other people as property and buy and sell them on the open market.  The right to force black people to do back breaking work for 20 or more hours a day, so a white family could do — what?  Run for congress?

Things were horrible during Herbert Hoover‘s administration.  He screwed up royally.  People camped in parks — but not by choice, and not to make a political protest.

And the Joseph McCarthy era was as close to hell as I think our democracy has ever come.  People of every walk of life were blacklisted and cheated out of the prime of their lives by McCarthy and his self-righteous ego-narcissism.  “Are you now or have you ever been…” is a question so evil that we all feel it to the bone, nearly 60 years later.

Maybe we need a jolt that comes from despots and devils like the Koch Brothers every now and then to make us appreciate what we’ve got.  Or what we had.  Though I hope and pray constantly that we haven’t woken up on our way to the stocks and gallows.

Maybe it takes something as radically wicked as the corrupt Chief Justice John Roberts (but politically unimpeachable — because the Constitution says so) and his corrupt Supreme Court’s rulings that money is speech, and corporations are people to make us recognize the fragility of real rights — and real wrongs.  Citizens United was no fluke.  It was the canary in the coalmine.

We’ve never yet been subject to “disappearing people” — being secreted away in the night with black bags over their heads.

Unless you count some of the Occupation raids where the press is cordoned off and kept from photographing/reporting police actions.  And raids where police hide or tape over their badge numbers and names.  And unarmed civilians are beaten, fired upon with rubber bullets and other “non lethal rounds” (ask Scott Johnson about those!) pepper sprayed, and hand-cuffed with those zip-ties that do permanent nerve damage to the hands if tightened too much.

Between the unlawful arrest and “raid” practices of the police (including the destruction of personal property) the abridgement of the freedom of the press, free speech, and now, thanks to our bought-and-paid-for-congress, the corrupt Roberts Supreme Court, and sell-out President Obama — the end of due process –>

The once great United States of America which offered a beacon of hope for democracy, and an open door that said “Give us your tired, your poor… hearts yearning to be free…”  Now says,

CLOSED
BANK HOLIDAY
PULL YOURSELF UP BY YOUR OWN BOOTSTRAPS

Instead of leading other nations to democracy and freedom — we just joined the rank and file.  And though they do it with some recognition that nobody is going to like what comes after America, they all say,

“Now you’re just like us.”

The View of OWS and Freedom in America — From Across the Pond

This article is from The Guardian, a print/internet paper from the UK.  It answers the question about how even our closest allies view what is going on in the US right now.

It also represents an outside view of how Wall St. (the money lenders, banks, speculators, and the mulit-national corporations that fuel them) changes everything around us — without getting called on it.

The Truth About Recent Crackdown on Occupy Wall St. (OWS) Across the United States

Here’s the text/content, in case the link or article fail to work:

————–

The shocking truth about the crackdown on Occupy

The violent police assaults across the US are no coincidence. Occupy has touched the third rail of our political class’s venality

Brandon Watts lies injured as Occupy Wall Street protesters clash with police in Zuccotti Park

Occupy Wall Street protester Brandon Watts lies injured on the ground after clashes with police over the eviction of OWS from Zuccotti Park. Photograph: Allison Joyce/Getty Images

US citizens of all political persuasions are still reeling from images of unparallelled police brutality in a coordinated crackdown against peaceful OWS protesters in cities across the nation this past week. An elderly woman was pepper-sprayed in the face; the scene of unresisting, supine students at UC Davis being pepper-sprayed by phalanxes of riot police went viral online; images proliferated of young women – targeted seemingly for their gender – screaming, dragged by the hair by police in riot gear; and the pictures of a young man, stunned and bleeding profusely from the head, emerged in the record of the middle-of-the-night clearing of Zuccotti Park.

But just when Americans thought we had the picture – was this crazy police and mayoral overkill, on a municipal level, in many different cities? – the picture darkened. The National Union of Journalists and the Committee to Protect Journalists issued a Freedom of Information Act request to investigate possible federal involvement with law enforcement practices that appeared to target journalists. The New York Times reported that “New York cops have arrested, punched, whacked, shoved to the ground and tossed a barrier at reporters and photographers” covering protests. Reporters were asked by NYPD to raise their hands to prove they had credentials: when many dutifully did so, they were taken, upon threat of arrest, away from the story they were covering, and penned far from the site in which the news was unfolding. Other reporters wearing press passes were arrested and roughed up by cops, after being – falsely – informed by police that “It is illegal to take pictures on the sidewalk.”

In New York, a state supreme court justice and a New York City council member were beaten up; in Berkeley, California, one of our greatest national poets, Robert Hass, was beaten with batons. The picture darkened still further when Wonkette and Washingtonsblog.com reported that the Mayor of Oakland acknowledged that the Department of Homeland Security had participated in an 18-city mayor conference call advising mayors on “how to suppress” Occupy protests.

To Europeans, the enormity of this breach may not be obvious at first. Our system of government prohibits the creation of a federalised police force, and forbids federal or militarised involvement in municipal peacekeeping.

I noticed that rightwing pundits and politicians on the TV shows on which I was appearing were all on-message against OWS. Journalist Chris Hayes reported on a leaked memo that revealed lobbyists vying for an $850,000 contract to smear Occupy. Message coordination of this kind is impossible without a full-court press at the top. This was clearly not simply a case of a freaked-out mayors’, city-by-city municipal overreaction against mess in the parks and cranky campers. As the puzzle pieces fit together, they began to show coordination against OWS at the highest national levels.

Why this massive mobilisation against these not-yet-fully-articulated, unarmed, inchoate people? After all, protesters against the war in Iraq, Tea Party rallies and others have all proceeded without this coordinated crackdown. Is it really the camping? As I write, two hundred young people, with sleeping bags, suitcases and even folding chairs, are still camping out all night and day outside of NBC on public sidewalks – under the benevolent eye of an NYPD cop – awaiting Saturday Night Live tickets, so surely the camping is not the issue. I was still deeply puzzled as to why OWS, this hapless, hopeful band, would call out a violent federal response.

That is, until I found out what it was that OWS actually wanted.

The mainstream media was declaring continually “OWS has no message”. Frustrated, I simply asked them. I began soliciting online “What is it you want?” answers from Occupy. In the first 15 minutes, I received 100 answers. These were truly eye-opening.

The No 1 agenda item: get the money out of politics. Most often cited was legislation to blunt the effect of the Citizens United ruling, which lets boundless sums enter the campaign process. No 2: reform the banking system to prevent fraud and manipulation, with the most frequent item being to restore the Glass-Steagall Act – the Depression-era law, done away with by President Clinton, that separates investment banks from commercial banks. This law would correct the conditions for the recent crisis, as investment banks could not take risks for profit that create kale derivatives out of thin air, and wipe out the commercial and savings banks.

No 3 was the most clarifying: draft laws against the little-known loophole that currently allows members of Congress to pass legislation affecting Delaware-based corporations in which they themselves are investors.

When I saw this list – and especially the last agenda item – the scales fell from my eyes. Of course, these unarmed people would be having the shit kicked out of them.

For the terrible insight to take away from news that the Department of Homeland Security coordinated a violent crackdown is that the DHS does not freelance. The DHS cannot say, on its own initiative, “we are going after these scruffy hippies”. Rather, DHS is answerable up a chain of command: first, to New York Representative Peter King, head of the House homeland security subcommittee, who naturally is influenced by his fellow congressmen and women’s wishes and interests. And the DHS answers directly, above King, to the president (who was conveniently in Australia at the time).

In other words, for the DHS to be on a call with mayors, the logic of its chain of command and accountability implies that congressional overseers, with the blessing of the White House, told the DHS to authorise mayors to order their police forces – pumped up with millions of dollars of hardware and training from the DHS – to make war on peaceful citizens.

But wait: why on earth would Congress advise violent militarised reactions against its own peaceful constituents? The answer is straightforward: in recent years, members of Congress have started entering the system as members of the middle class (or upper middle class) – but they are leaving DC privy to vast personal wealth, as we see from the “scandal” of presidential contender Newt Gingrich’s having been paid $1.8m for a few hours’ “consulting” to special interests. The inflated fees to lawmakers who turn lobbyists are common knowledge, but the notion that congressmen and women are legislating their own companies’ profitsis less widely known – and if the books were to be opened, they would surely reveal corruption on a Wall Street spectrum. Indeed, we do already know that congresspeople are massively profiting from trading on non-public information they have on companies about which they are legislating – a form of insider trading that sent Martha Stewart to jail.

Since Occupy is heavily surveilled and infiltrated, it is likely that the DHS and police informers are aware, before Occupy itself is, what its emerging agenda is going to look like. If legislating away lobbyists’ privileges to earn boundless fees once they are close to the legislative process, reforming the banks so they can’t suck money out of fake derivatives products, and, most critically, opening the books on a system that allowed members of Congress to profit personally – and immensely – from their own legislation, are two beats away from the grasp of an electorally organised Occupy movement … well, you will call out the troops on stopping that advance.

So, when you connect the dots, properly understood, what happened this week is the first battle in a civil war; a civil war in which, for now, only one side is choosing violence. It is a battle in which members of Congress, with the collusion of the American president, sent violent, organised suppression against the people they are supposed to represent. Occupy has touched the third rail: personal congressional profits streams. Even though they are, as yet, unaware of what the implications of their movement are, those threatened by the stirrings of their dreams of reform are not.

Sadly, Americans this week have come one step closer to being true brothers and sisters of the protesters in Tahrir Square. Like them, our own national leaders, who likely see their own personal wealth under threat from transparency and reform, are now making war upon us.

The High Price of Moral Growth: Prohibition, Civil Rights, and the 99%

The High Price of Moral Growth: Prohibition, Civil Rights, and the 99%

by Lynn Whitlark on Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 2:15am

Before we were the United States, we were a colony of the British Empire.  We drank tea, because the British had fallen in love with the Chinoise of the tea found in some of their other ports — tea was the drink of the day.

 

That ended with the Boston Tea Party, in part because our access to tea was through the Empire, in part because coffee was closer and due south, and in part because we wanted to forever blow a big raspberry at the Empire, and not drinking tea was a good way to do it.

 

Enter the United States of America — a colony no more — with it’s expanding and enveloping philosophies.  Suddenly we had farmland, and thus grapes, corn, barley, rye, hops, and wheat –and all those good things that let the brew-masters and vintners immigrating from all over the world could use to make wine, beer, and all manner of alcoholic beverages.

 

So coffee was moved to the back burner — and beer, rotgut, sour mash, and bathtub gin were in every glass and on every table.

 

Yes, there were “tea-totalers” but for the most part, we were a pretty hefty drinking nation.  The stats from the early 1800s through the early 1900s tell us that the average consumption of hard liquor was upwards of 40 quart bottles per year.  That’s more that 2/3 of a quart (about 20-25oz) per person-per week.

 

Let me put it another way.  That’s an AVERAGE of 3 shots of hard liquor every day of every year for every man, woman, and child.  And we’re pretty sure the kids weren’t drinking their share, so it must have been their parents.  And times being what they were, that would be mostly the men.  So we’re talking about 6-8 shots of liquor a day.

 

And that’s a lot of booze.

 

Then — along comes prohibition.

 

It’s a little hard to imagine what would cause an entire nation to go along with Prohibition, unless you think about what a world would be like with half or a third of all the people consuming 8-12 oz of whiskey a day.  Is it any wonder there was so much wife and child abuse?  Is it any wonder there were so many industrial accidents in the early part of the century?  Is there any question about how so many people “died of drink” in those days?

 

But Prohibition cost the US a lot.  Before it was done, our politicians and police were corrupted by pay-offs.  Organized crime was so organized that it had permeated every major city in the country.  Our economy was based on police who turned a blind eye, and bootleggers who made their fortunes on a tax-free money stream.  If it’s not legal — it can’t be taxed.

 

When the folly of Prohibition finally became too obvious to suppress, the society that emerged was very different that it had been only a few years earlier.  There was, in fact, a single — lonely — but clear change in our attitude toward over-consumption of alcohol.  Before Prohibition — constant drinking from morning until night was the norm.  After Prohibition, it became a sickness.

 

A sickness.  A disease.  Alcoholism.  We didn’t clearly understand the mechanism of addiction — but we’d figured out that constantly altering our physical chemistry was not only altering our morals, our consciences, and our inhibitions — it was also deadly.  Drunks — with their continually altered state — were having unbridled emotional experiences; loss of physical and emotional control; loss of consciousness; and complete alienation from the world around them.  They could not hope to have an honest emotional relationship.  They could not hope to enter the world daily and be safe — or without being a danger to others.  They could not see themselves or their own actions as they were seen by others.

 

Before Prohibition — this state of being was everywhere, common, and part of the “normal” world.  After Prohibition, this state of being was a sickness, and something to be seen as a medical and physical abnormality.  Drink was a sin and a weakness as we entered Prohibition, but afterwards, it was a treatable and cure-able illness.  It was no longer “normal” and accepted to be addicted to drink.

 

———-

 

Back up now to the 1800s.

 

After slavery ended, the US changed.  Well…. In some ways it changed — in many other ways, it never did.  The deep south adopted the KKK as it’s cover story for anger, racism, and hatred.  Segregation was everywhere — and in some ways was as heavy a chain as slavery had ever been.

 

Then we went to war.  We ALL went to war.  In WWII, there were black troops in the same uniform as white troops.  Navajo.  Hispanics.  Immigrants from every corner of the globe fought in US Army and Navy uniforms.  We weren’t exactly sure what Hitler was up to, but it was obvious that he had far-reaching goals — so we entered the war (much later than many countries) and went off to fight in the name of freedom.

 

It was only after the war was over, when Hitler was dead and the war in the South Pacific was drawing to an end, that we marched into the camps across northern Europe and realized that there was more evil to Hitler than anyone had imagined.  Gas ovens.  Mass graves.  Horror stories.  Nightmares.  Tattoos on the arms of thousands of people  we didn’t even know were missing.  Medical experimentation on living subjects. Gulags to rival hell itself.

 

And those who came out of the death camps were jews with yellow stars of David sewn onto their clothes, and homosexuals with pink triangles sewn onto theirs.  Enemies of the State (of Hitler’s regime.)  Dissidents, misfits, and downtrodden souls of every stripe — all but exterminated by a madman and his jack-booted brown shirts.

 

And our troops were there.  ALL our troops were there.  And many of them died in Europe, North Africa, and the South Pacific.  Men of every color — and every stripe.

 

And suddenly it began to be difficult here at home to make those same distinctions that Hitler and the Nazis had made — without feeling a twinge of familiarity.  How could we segregate and label and ostracize and hate people whose only crime was in being NOT LIKE US.  Hitler’s crimes were so abhorrent, that I believe the American (and the global) consciousness shifted — and we changed our moral minds in the 20 years that followed those days at the end of the War in Europe.  I think we, as a nation, could no longer stand the thought that we might be as guilty of something like racism or prejudice — as Hitler had been.

 

Because his name would forever be linked to murderous bigotry — what had been “normal” here in the States before WWII, was beginning to be seen as a kind of illness.  Prejudice, like addiction, could no longer be accepted.

 

Before WWII, antisemitism was so widely embraced that children learned it in school.  Jews were the “other” known to be the bottom rung of acceptability.  (Shylock at least had his “Hath not a Jew eyes…” speech in the Merchant of Venice.)  But WWII made it completely unacceptable.  65 years later when the West hears arab nations and people of the Middle East espouse hatred of the Jews and of Israel as a nation, we still cringe, even though their wars and strife have been going on for centuries, and we know their institutionalized hatred is more than a passing tiff.  Still — Auschwitz is the image we carry in our heads.  Smokestacks churning out the greasy stench of death.  Children hiding in latrines.  Pink triangles, yellow stars.  Blue, green, white…symbols of hate and of Hitler’s own self-loathing.

 

The moral change happened slowly for those living through it because it truly was an internal shift first.   Marches and bus-rides and speeches made on the National Mall came long after the initial change in the morality of our country.  It seemed to take forever, but it was lightning fast in terms of the arc of history.

 

And even though it was much slower, there has been a difficult and welcomed change in attitude toward people of various sexual orientations, I believe it was the same association with the outright evil, hatred, and ambition of the Nazis in WWII that began to soften the American heart and mind — and throw off the prejudice against these people as well.  It happened (is happening) more slowly — but it is happening just as surely.  The man who shouts “God hates fags” might as well just grow the toothbrush mustache and wear a swastika armband, because he has no more chance of being heard than Hitler would if he were out on the streets today.  He is the moral grandson of a monster.  We have seen that injustice before, and we are growing up to be a people who will not stand for it.

 

Like Prohibition, the lessons of WWII came at a very high price.  Outrageously high.  Unthinkably high.  Unforgivably high.  Thousands and thousands of lives.  Millions of lives.  Millions of lives paid.  And the world saw and memorized the sounds and images — the results of anger, hatred, fear, and prejudice.

 

 

And — I am persuaded that we may be looking at that same moral “growing up” about to happen now.  Right now.

 

We have lived with people drunk on their own money for a while.  We see people who don’t look twice at a hungry child, or a homeless veteran.  We’ve seen the addiction called GREED, and the amoral behavior it produces.  We’ve seen the pathology of greed, and the hardness of heart, the selfishness, and the inhumanity it leaves like a footprint.

 

We’ve seen people standing tall and proud in churches and synagogues and mosques — then begrudging children foodstamps and school lunch programs.   We’ve seen the Madoffs and the Enron Corporation stealing the life savings of those about to retire and calling it “high finance” and “natural selection.”

 

We’ve seen people willing to pollute rivers, the Gulf of Mexico, and even oceans without a second thought — in order to up the bottom line on a quarterly report.   And we’ve seen them evict hard working families from their homes through dirty tricks, and then, out of pure meanness, dress up as the homeless for a Halloween costume party.

 

And we’ve reached the point where we can no longer call it normal, or acceptable behavior.  Greed, like addiction and prejudice, is an illness.  A sickness.  An excess of something poisonous in the body.  Something that needs to be addressed by professionals who can help the greedy come to terms with what must be done to live in our society.  More profit at any cost is the creed of madmen.

 

Greed can no longer be seen as a quirk or an overactive and adrenaline-soaked habit.  The Church of MORE has to come down, and the addiction to money has to be seen as a character flaw and a pathology so un-American and so inhuman as to be driven out of society.  This is an obcessive compulsion that cannot be allowed to harm another generation.

 

Greed, corruption, addiction, and prejudice are the maladies of a society committing slow and narcissistic  suicide.  In the same way that addiction to alcohol will kill you by rotting your body–   In the same way that prejudice and anger and hate will kill you by inches as it destroys your heart, and strangles your mind–  Greed, and the selfishness that it demands, will create a wall too high and too thick to ever have contact with civil society again.

 

Greed is the moral addiction and prejudice of the 21st Century.   And we know that simply pointing out to the greedy that they no longer fit into civil society will not make them suddenly generous and kind — any more than pointing out to a drunk that he has alienated everyone who ever loved him will turn him sober.  Addicts fight back.  In fact, they can be vicious and more self-destructive than any wild animal caught in a similar trap.

 

I expect the same will be true with the greedy.

 

And since money is the object of the dependency — that money can be played as power.  The power to fight back harder and longer and stronger.   The power to destroy those who want to lock the liquor cabinet.  The power to strike out at those who hold the mirror (and the camera) up for all to see.  Drunks may be physically strong and able to put up a hell of a fight — but the greedy are armed to the teeth with media, lawyers, lobbyists, ad agencies, private security firms, and accountants.

 

The price of moral growth is always high, and doesn’t always take the path we imagine.

 

But it is inevitable.

 

There are still drunks — but we call them alcoholics and they are seen universally as the “other.”  We all are able to spot the symptoms and tell-tale signs.  We all know that Amy Winehouse really should have gone to rehab.

 

There are still those who live everyday with their prejudices and anger and hate.  But their behaviors and beliefs are not those of mainstream America.  They are isolationists.  They retreat to their own little worlds and block out all those that they hate and fear.  They live in dark and curtained worlds.  They are not really part of America.  They live their lives with their fists clenched and their jaws set and their teeth grinding.  Hate is its own punishment.

 

And in the end so is greed.   I suppose a rich and greedy man could live a long time locked up, far away from the America that grew up and forgot his American Dream.  If you look at the saddle-leather face of Bernie Madoff, he looks for all the world like an alcoholic.  His circulation is slow and his heart barely beats.  His hands are like meat-hammers, and his eyes are only focused inward.  As well manicured and coiffed as Madoff and Ken Ley were — there is no tan, no haircut or dental work, and no plastic surgery that can hide the addiction and the selfishness of greed.

 

Moral growth — especially on a global scale — has a price.  So be ready for it.  I don’t know what the price will be; but I know as sure as I am breathing that there will be one.  Hopefully it will not cost as many lives as it cost to expose the wickedness and evil of prejudice and bigotry.  Hopefully it will not so corrupt the system it hopes to change as Prohibition did.

 

Sobriety and equality are good for the world.  Loving our neighbors and being our brother’s keeper will be good for the world, too.  Having a government  that is free of corruption and greed will be good for the world.  Just know as we go into this that it won’t be free.