Tag Archives: freedom

“Us” vs. “Them”

The simple concerns of life are beneath the notice of the detached overlords of “the ruling class,” who look to stock market indicators to determine economic “health.”  In their marketing campaign for the “Rah Rah Money Talks” agenda, they aggressively promote money as the solution for all evils, including (presumably) rooster sinus infections.  There’s probably a patented pill for it.

Pardon my sarcasm, or is it the natural consequence of following this irrational chain of made-for-television reasoning to its obvious (but not logical) conclusions?

It’s popular lately to blame the “them”s like “oligarchs” and “white supremacists” for all society’s ills.  The “us,” meaning everybody except me—who exists in my own “them” dimension—still are willing to play by the oligarchs’ rules of government and the stock market, and look to the government to impose ever more rules to control everybody under the pretext of controlling the other “them”s like the “white supremacists.”

I wonder if the “white supremacists”–who are identified by their fondness for military assault weapons–are derived from the oligarchical, rule-bound, framework.  This human drama must contain counter-forces, to prop up the “us” vs. “them” mass mentality.

The above is a convoluted way of suggesting that the system itself makes the counter-system necessary.  It strikes me that historically, the world’s most despotic rulers had the backing of a loyal military.  The world’s richest people did not fight the wars themselves, but profited mightily from them.   Who benefits from US wars—or any war or military intervention—now?  Certainly the ravages of war are visited on those on whose turf the battles are waged, the civilians, their families and the fighters and families, too.  The spoilers may rest with their ill-gotten gains but live in fear of the “them”s who have not been eliminated or disempowered and are looking for revenge.

That’s why despots are deservedly paranoid and depend on the loyalty of a strong military and purchased friendship.  They need presumed adversaries like mass murderers and drug lords to justify their ever tighter grip on the society that will not be completely controlled by rules.

If I went into psychiatry to set people free, I have been disappointed, in the short term.  I have seen close up how frightened individuals are of the implications of freedom, which begins with freedom of thought.  To define “freedom” of thought possibly begins with saying what it is not.  It is not merely rebellion, reaction to the status quo, to conventional beliefs or rules.  It does start with conscious examination of those conventions and determining whether they serve the greater whole.

What’s the “greater whole”?  For me that includes the “us” and the “them,” as well as the hitherto unacknowledged non-human life forms on the planet.  To recognize we are all counterparts enmeshed in this drama we call life means having the mental flexibility to imagine oneself in the place of the “them”s and trying to understand what motivates their activity.  There’s obviously a place for the oligarchs and the mass shooters, or they wouldn’t exist.  If we don’t like it, we need to free our thought from conventional beliefs and search for new ways to reform.  Delegated power is fickle and must be recognized as such.  When you delegate power, you will always be disappointed.

Freedom of thought means claiming responsibility for it but also having tolerance for others’ thought, even encouraging it, because it provides a larger area of understanding and perspective.  The push for homogeneity, unity, conformity—what is considered “normal” and socially acceptable—is ultimately deadening, like the mechanization of robots, which act according to pre-set agendas.

Nature does not follow man’s dictates, as we are learning.  Rather than “conquer” nature, as Francis Bacon and subsequent mechanists desired, we have the ability—but so far not the inspiration—to submit to nature’s desire to teach us freedom within the context of our environment.

 

 

Freedom, Democracy, and Capitalism

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017—I’m a proponent of free market capitalism, in that I believe in free things, especially if they can be exchanged for money that helps pay the bills.  Chicken feathers are free, sort of, if you don’t count the cost of feeding and housing the chickens.  Chickens molt on a regular basis, and if their feathers are clean, they can be used in a variety of ways.

I wore this hat, with a Speckles feather, on a “bad hair day” last week, getting smiles and compliments everywhere I went.  At first, I didn’t understand why these strangers were smiling.  Once I caught on, I bragged about how Speckles is alive and well, clean and healthy, and produced this feather of his own free will.

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Pictured here is the same hat with a Squire feather, while the producer stands on his soapbox.  The mason jar contains yellow roses brought by dinner guests and wisteria blooms from the vine I’m training to block summer sun through the window (also free).  The other jar holds saved feathers from previous molts.

My little enterprise, which will never go public, has already produced two sales, the first to my banker, who bought feathers scattered in a plastic sleeve protector.  The second was a trade of a small bag of Squire feathers for a large carafe of saki.  A few more feathers are on sale at a local consignment shop.

Squire tolerates, if he doesn’t necessarily like, going visiting in the cat carrier.  My banker and bank staff fell in love with him.  Speckles might like visiting, too, but so far hasn’t had the opportunity.

My version of capitalism makes use of the wealth between my ears to create value from things other people take for granted.  Those who buy their chickens plucked and cut into pieces can’t be expected to appreciate the beauty of the feathers—individually and collectively—until they see them in different contexts.

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Those who disparage capitalism seem to refer to “corporate capitalism,” which exploits human capital to form a “corporate body” amalgam in economic slavery to the bottom line.  Here we have such monsters as “corporate welfare,” “supercapitalism,” the “global economy,” and eco-rape.  Corporate capitalism has a long history of emphasizing short-term profits over long-term costs.  Local, and now world-wide, environmental pollution, general vitality-depletion on the planet, and a world at war (or perpetually on the verge of it) are only a few of the long term costs generated by an industrial age gone bananas

And, by the way, the bananas, especially the popular Cavendish banana, are at risk, too.  I grow another variety of banana and had a bumper crop last year, despite two major hurricanes.  Another free market capitalist product, courtesy of freedom, democracy, and capitalism.

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The following comments come from my journal, ten years ago this month:

POWER ABUSE
Friday, March 2, 2007 – People who are raised or trained by power abusers don’t learn how to use power wisely.  Entrenched power abuse, as in the military or medicine, is considered normal for those in the systems.  The greatest ambition of the low man on the totem pole is to go from masochist to sadist, where he imagines he will respect himself more than he respects his bosses.

FREEDOM  AND RESPONSIBILITY
Saturday, March 3, 2007 – Right makes might.  It isn’t the other way around.    Self-sufficiency breeds freedom.  Taking responsibility for one’s own choices requires the willingness to accept and deal with consequences.  Criminals are soon entrapped in their own crimes, even if others never see.  A guilty man lives with his guilt and must face it, eventually.  His guilt lurks in the shadows, waiting for opportunities to right the wrong.  He can choose to restore balance consciously before he re-establishes it unconsciously through fear.
Thus did Adam learn the hard way that he couldn’t hide from God or his own guilty conscience.

HUMAN CAPITAL
Saturday, March 3, 2007 – Human capital is the most undervalued capital of all.  The social engineering messages—through laws, conventions, politics, media, entertainment and advertising–exploit this presumed advantage to everyone’s detriment.  Productivity increases when people enjoy their work enough to create a pleasant work environment.  This should be leadership’s top priority.  Pressure to perform, to grind an endless supply of boring and more boring, saps creativity, initiative, and ultimately, the economy.
When people wake up and realize we all bleed the same red blood, and the best way to live is to let live, we will begin to recognize the value of using our minds to work for instead of against us.  There is no mystique to psychiatry except self-knowledge.  My  life is my creation and no one can live it but me.  The best way to live it is to love it, in its many-faceted faces.
There is plenty of work to be done.  We have too many unproductive people, who want nothing more than to be fitted to the right job for them, and to earn enough money to support basic necessities and a few amenities.  More important, people need to be appreciated as human beings with human dignity and allowed the time and space to enjoy the fruits of their labors.
Everyone has a role to play.  A society that appreciates its human capital appreciates in value.  By fitting the job to the individual, rather than the other way around, everyone wins at relatively little cost to others.
Human capital is the only viable capital.  All other capital is derived from human desire and effort.  Once we place our values where they truly belong, with each individual, we can have a truly free, capitalistic, democracy.