Posts Tagged With: activism

Into The Maelstrom

“Aye, aye! and I’ll chase him round Good Hope, and round the Horn, and round the Norway Maelstrom, and round perdition’s flames before I give him up.”

– Captain Ahab in Moby Dick, Herman Melville

Apologies Shifters for not writing very much. It just seems that almost everyday now, another level of outrageousness is being unleashed on all of us that it makes me wonder if I can even keep up and write about it any meaningful way of what’s happening in the world and by correspondence, on the subtler plains.

I’m going to just be honest but it would seem that everything is a mess. I knew things were going to get ugly and degenerate with Agent Orange Baby Fists as president but I wasn’t expecting it to happen so quickly and barely 2 weeks into his presidency. It’s almost impossible to focus on anything else, even up here in Canada because of the influence and centrality the US has on the international order.

Agent Orange baby Fists now has his name on this rink. Central Park, looking south.

Agent Orange Baby Fists now has his name on this rink. Central Park, looking south.

I spent a week in New York City by myself and came back a few days ago. Rates are cheap right now given it’s the low season, they were practically giving rooms away at 5 star hotels so I decided to take advantage of it. This wasn’t really a Trump trip or anything of the sort, but like I wrote earlier, there’s no escaping him. New Yorkers and Manhattanites are a very tough breed but practically every soul I encountered there was beyond disgusted at what’s happened and the direction that country is going in.  I mean they know Agent Orange Baby Fists the best, he comes from the same town and they’ve lived with his obnoxiousness for years. I had one conversation with an amazing  Wicca/Pagan witch where she pointed out to me that Agent Orange Baby Fists’ team seem to be all reincarnated Nazis. They couldn’t pull through with their plans the last time and now they’re going to make sure they do everything they can and of course instead of Jews, the Muslims will be the new canary in the coalmine. You have to remember that in Nazi Germany, Hitler didn’t only go after the Jews, but also homosexuals, gypsies (the Roma), people of color, intellectuals and professors who disagreed with Nazi ideology. I can totally see that happening with this current crew.

Joseph Goebbels, Reich Minister of Propaganda. Has this dude reincarnated as....

Joseph Goebbels, Reich Minister of Propaganda.
Has this dude reincarnated as….

....this dude? Steve Bannon

….this dude? Steve Bannon

One night I happened to be in Greenwich Village and the sound of thousands cheering brought me to Washington Square Park with a full pro-immigrant, pro-Muslim, anti-Trump  demonstration in full swing with everyone under the Sun in attendance, black, white, brown, yellow, straight, LGBTQ.

I was literally right up against the right pillar of the arch.

I was literally right up against the right pillar of the arch.

The night after the Executive Order banning Muslims from specific countries was issued,  I happened to go for some curry take-out at a place frequented by Pakistani and Bangladeshi cab drivers, all of whom , who normally are a cheerful bunch, were in a sombre mood and quite worried what the future would hold for them.

Yup, it's like this all the time now outside of Trump Tower

Yup, it’s like this all the time now outside of Trump Tower

Another afternoon, I happened to be strolling down 5th Avenue and needed to use the ladies room. Trump Tower was in front of me and from the street I could see a Starbucks inside so I figured there had to be a restroom inside. After walking by SWAT-team members with machine guns and uzis, having to put my purse through a detection machine, I  walked around a bit to take in Trump Tower and it is by far, the ugliest, tackiest, energetically most terrible place in NYC.

When I popped in, it was as dead as it is in this photo.

When I popped in, it was as dead as it is in this photo.

The over-the-top pink marble everywhere, rose-tinted gold mirrors everywhere, brass finishings. Even the people at the Starbucks  cafe  on the second floor looked depressed. The cafe downstairs was cheap-looking and empty. You had a lot of waiters and hostesses standing around trying to look busy or lure in tourists. I don’t know why but there were quite a number of Chinese and Japanese female tourists with head curlers still in their hair.  I went to powder my nose and left. I have no idea what kind of an insecure loser you’d have to be to want to live in such a garish architectural abortion.

There wasn’t even any escape in Central Park. One rare, sunny and unusually warm afternoon, I was munching on a sandwich while sitting on the warm rocks in Central Park South, and admiring the skyline when I suddenly see an ice rink and a zamboni clearing up the ice both with ‘TRUMP” displayed prominently. It completely ruined the moment.

The rink is behind these rocks.

The rink is behind these rocks.

An then the worst part was coming back home and hearing about the Quebec City mosque shootings. Agent Orange’s presidency might have something to do with it but racism and intolerance have been a long-time feature in Quebec politics and Quebec society. I know because I’ve experienced it firsthand while growing up. There is a certain strain of Quebecois (certainly NOT all) who really, are nothing more than the French-speaking equivalent of Southern redneck Klansmen in the US. Same xenophobia, same level of cultural ignorance, same level of white supremacy and entitlement, same level of fear that the planet will no longer be the Anglo, American, Western European man’s domain but that it’s going to get very, very colorful very soon with Slavs, Asians, Chinese, Indians and women, all of whom are on the ascendancy.

But there were other moments of grace. Mostly spontaneous encounters with people on the street, bus or subway, random deep conversations about what’s happening. To me this is the most beautiful thing of what has happened: People finally GET IT that they have no choice now but to work together and fight together to look out for one another, because if they don’t, they could be next. Jews are lending their synagogues to Muslims to pray in. I saw a huge contingent of the LGBTQ community come out in force about the Muslim ban. People who normally never speak to each other are now coming out of the woodwork to defend each other and are talking to each other. Everyone knows who the common enemy is. And this is just after week 2.

I don’t have the gift of prophecy but if this is what’s happened in just 2-3 weeks and the population’s energy is frothing and churning like a maelstrom like this, there is no way in God’s Good Earth that Agent Orange Baby Fists will complete his term as president. *Something* will go down, either impeachment or an assassination attempt, I think. People generally can’t live under than level of constant stress for very long before someone or something eventually breaks down and there are always weirdos and unstable types around.

The question to be asked at that point is what will replace it? I don’t think we can go back to how things were. The age of neoliberalism and capitalism is drawing to a close and the people who are forcing this change are the young because they’ve been left out in the cold and they’re not drinking the capitalism Kool-Aid anymore.

This is where we’re going to need the dreams and ideas of fools, poets, writers, thinkers, artists, anarchists and the marginalized. If you look at the history of human progression, good ideas almost always start off in the margins, in the fringes of society and once they move to the center and capture the public imagination, they suddenly become policy or reality. For instance, basic guaranteed income started as an idea in anarchist circles because, to paraphrase Professor Chomsky, people should not need to rent themselves out in order to live, and now several countries are seriously thinking of implementing it.

To that I say, dream big, people, dream.

Categories: Politico, Think like the Illuminati, This is why the planet is screwed up, Travels, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Schoolyard Bully gets bitten by the Dog he kicked

The US government and Edward Snowden

The US government and Edward Snowden, guess who is who?

 

I’ve been quite engrossed in watching this Eddy Snowden/NSA drama unfold. You have to admit it’s not everyday that you see the proverbial elephant in the room get scared because of the little mouse. The US government’s reaction to Snowden’s actions has been nothing short of extraordinary. Extraordinary in it’s nationalist hubris, extraordinary in it’s hypocrisy, extraordinary in it’s fear.

Edward Snowden Supporters Gather In Hong Kong

Eddy told the Chinese everything about the extent of American spying and hacking in Hong Kong and mainland China, particularly of their private citizens. According to Glenn Greenwald it was precisely because of the outrage the extent of these revelations generated, that Hong Kong officials gave Eddy a free pass to leave for Moscow. I find it funny that on one hand Americans are spying on the Chinese and then from the other side of their mouth “politely” asked that they return Snowden to them. That’s like the schoolyard bully kicking the little kid in the corner and then having the nerve to ask the same kid to invite the bully to his birthday party. It’s just not going to happen.

schoolyard_bully

Eddy is now apparently holed up in some half-way zone at the Moscow airport and I’m willing to bet money he’s exposing stuff to Russian officials and intelligence agents while he’s there and he’ll probably leave after they’re through with him. I should add those Russian hackers are probably the most talented in the world.  They are gonna have a field day after this, I’m sure.

Putin is also a Judo champion.

Putin is also a Judo champion.

I normally don’t really admire leaders and presidents and such but I have to say I’m going to give full marks to former KGM agent, multilingual Vladimir Putin for having the balls to stand his ground and indirectly tell former Bonesman, husband to the ketchup queen and bad plastic surgery patient, John Kerry to screw off. (While I profoundly disagreed with how Putin handled the Chechnya situation, he is by far the smartest, shrewdest world leader right now. He knows exactly how things work behind closed doors and more importantly, he’s not afraid.)
I really hope Eddy makes it to South America or Iceland safely.

This story has exposed the worst, most sinister aspects of state behavior and the nation-state model. Maintaining order always involves violence. People need to ask questions like “Who’s version of order?” “Who benefits or profits from this order?” “Who defines this order?” but outside of activist circles, these kinds of questions are unfortunately never discussed.

This story has also exposed that empires have a shorter and shorter shelf-life. The Western and Eastern Roman Empire lasted nearly 2000 years. The Ottoman Empire lasted 700 years. The British Empire lasted just shy of 500 years. The American Empire barely lasted 60 years.

Timeline of Empires

Timeline of Empires

Some people speculate that China will be the next superpower, I don’t know. My own opinion is that the age of Empire and superpowers is on its way to being over. No more scenarios where you have one giant shark and lots of tiny goldfish in the pond. Rather, you’ll have a number of big fish and lots of medium and smaller sized fish, but no one fish will rule over all.

24w3

That’s a good thing, it keeps things in check and it prevents the development of the bully mentality and the myth of exceptionalism whether it’s American, Anglo-Saxon, Slavic or whatever.

Just remember this one thing, suspicious minds are generally guilty ones.

Categories: Conspirio, Politico, Pop culture, Raise your EQ, Think like the Illuminati, This is why the planet is screwed up | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The poet, the visionary and the conspiracy theorist

The Sleeping Giant, Thunderbay, Ontario

The Sleeping Giant, Thunder Bay, Ontario

This is such awesome news that it’s yet another small but definitive sign that the sleeping giant is starting to wake up…

Alice Walker

Alice Walker

Pulitzer-Prize winning author, poet and activist Alice Walker has come out in support of the works of David Icke.
It happened while she was on the air on BBC radio where she was asked which book she would take with her if stranded on an island. She cited Icke’s “Human Race, Get Off your Knees” …and of course the mainstream media have started going apeshit over this. Big surprise. You can listen to the interview here, she mentions Icke at 42:40
Ickey - One of the few real badasses in the world who truly doesn't give a flying fuck about what anyone thinks of him.

Ickey – One of the few real badasses in the world who truly doesn’t give a flying fuck about what anyone thinks of him.

This is a bit of a big deal and let me explain why.
Walker’s book “The Color Purple” which was directed by no less than the king of Hollywood, Steven Spielberg and won Whoopi Goldberg an Oscar, put Walker on the mainstream radar screen. However, for decades prior to the film and book, Walker had been (and continues to be) a vocal civil rights activist.
the-color-purple1_6763
One of her professors back at Spellman College, was anarchist historian Howard Zinn and it was precisely because of Zinn’s advice Walker returned to the South to become more involved in the civil rights movement in the 1960s. She met Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. She met Malcolm X (in fact in a post on her website she compared Icke to Malcolm X and mused what a fascinating meeting it would be if the two had ever met. That would have been indeed awesome.)
quote-i-ve-had-enough-of-someone-else-s-propaganda-i-m-for-truth-no-matter-who-tells-it-i-m-for-malcolm-x-249354
For someone *that* prominent and with that kind of a public profile to come out in support of a researcher who is as maligned and marginalised as Icke, is indeed noteworthy and a sign of the changing times. I mean let’s face it, David has turned out to be correct on the whole English-establishment paedophile scandal which he had been talking about for over 20 years and now because of the Jimmy Savile situation, has rocked the British Establishment to its core and continues to do so. He was dismissed a loon but the whole Savile-gate thing has forced people to examine his work with  a new perspective.
Jimmy Savile = Freakin' pervert extraordinaire

Jimmy Savile = Freakin’ pervert extraordinaire

 People love to diss Icke all the time. They jump on him about “that reptilian thing” or the fact that they think he’s anti-semitic, without ever taking the time out to either read his books of watch his videos in full.
The “anti-Semitism” is actually about a very particular group of Zionists, which Icke calls the Rothschilds Zionists and has nothing to do with normal Jews at all. In fact, Icke posits that most Jews are getting shafted as well by these power-hungry ruthless types. “That reptilian thing” pre-dates Icke by thousands of years, he’s just the first one to bring it into mainstream attention. I’ve posted that the essence of demons in Christian cosmology is indeed reptilian but now I’ve discovered another interesting tidbit.
In the case of an asshole like dick Cheney, I can believe it...

In the case of an asshole like Dick Cheney, I can believe it…

The mystical English poet and engraver William Blake was an influential visionary. Considered one of the best poets in the English language (a 2002 BBC poll placed him at number 38 for the Top 100 Britons of All Time), Blake was an early champion of feminism (being friends with the likes of Mary Wollstonecraft) an anti-monarchist (he fully supported the French and American revolutions), to just call Blake a poet does no justice to the body of his work. He had inspired generations after him  including the likes of Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan and Jim Morrison.
William Blake

William Blake

What caught my attention was the fact that he had the “second sight” and saw the unseen from a very early age.
From Wikipedia:

From a young age, William Blake claimed to have seen visions. The first may have occurred as early as the age of four when, according to one anecdote, the young artist “saw God” when God “put his head to the window”, causing Blake to break into screaming. At the age of eight or ten in Peckham Rye, London, Blake claimed to have seen “a tree filled with angels, bright angelic wings bespangling every bough like stars.” According to Blake’s Victorian biographer Gilchrist, he returned home and reported the vision and only escaped being thrashed by his father for telling a lie through the intervention of his mother. Though all evidence suggests that his parents were largely supportive, his mother seems to have been especially so, and several of Blake’s early drawings and poems decorated the walls of her chamber. On another occasion, Blake watched haymakers at work, and thought he saw angelic figures walking among them.

Blake claimed to experience visions throughout his life. They were often associated with beautiful religious themes and imagery, and may have inspired him further with spiritual works and pursuits. Certainly, religious concepts and imagery figure centrally in Blake’s works. God and Christianity constituted the intellectual centre of his writings, from which he drew inspiration. Blake believed he was personally instructed and encouraged by Archangels to create his artistic works, which he claimed were actively read and enjoyed by the same Archangels

Anyone with even a basic understanding of symbolism can take one look at his work and see that Blake was, in all likelihood, inspired from something beyond this earth…

"The Ancient of Days"

“The Ancient of Days”

"The Whirlwind of Lovers"

“The Whirlwind of Lovers”

william blake illustrations

Illustration to Dante’s Divine Comedy

william blake

“Sata Amor Adao Eva”

This is the painting which, I think, gives Icke’s ideas some further credence…

Does THIS look like a ghost to you????

Does THIS look like a ghost to you????

It’s Blake’s “Ghost of a Flea”.

Again from Wikipedia:

in 1790, “Blake, for the only time in his life, saw a ghost… Standing one evening at his garden-door in Lambeth, and chancing to look up, he saw a horrible grim figure, ‘scaly, speckled, very awful,’ stalking downstairs towards him. More frightened than ever before or after, he took to his heels, and ran out of the house.”…Blake often said that he was joined by invisible sitters as he drew them, including, he claimed, a number of angels, VoltaireMoses and the Flea, who told him that “fleas were inhabited by the souls of such men as were by nature blood thirsty to excess.”…Fleas are often associated with uncleanliness and degradation; in this work, the artist sought to magnify a flea into “a monstrous creature whose bloodthirsty instinct was imprinted on every detail of its appearance, with ‘burning eyes which long for moisture’, and a ‘face worthy of a murderer’.”…The muscular and nude Flea is depicted using its jutting tongue to gorge on a bowl of blood. Part human, part vampire and part reptile, the beast strides from right to left between heavy and richly patterned curtains. In his left hand he holds an acorn and in his right a thorn, both items drawn from the tradition of fairy iconography.His massive neck is similar to that of a bull, and holds a disproportionately small head, .marked by glaring eyes and open jaws, and a venomous slithering tongue

I’ll leave it to you guys to do the math…

Categories: Ascension, Ch-ch-ch-changes, Conspirio, Prophecy, Raise your EQ, Shift of the Ages effects, Those unseen things | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Towards a New Economics …in Yoga?

This is something which has been brewing in my mind for quite a while now. I frequent quite a number of yoga-related sites and blogs and over and over again, I regularly read blog posts about yoga instructors, aspiring yoga instructors and the like bemoan the fact that as much as they adore the work that they do and the kinds of positive changes they witness in people’s lives due to the yoga, there just simply isn’t much money in it (unless you decide to go the route of a yoga celebutard) and keeping body, mind and soul intact is quite often a struggle.

Many aspiring yoga instuctors dream of a lifestyle which looks like this....

Many aspiring yoga instructors dream of a lifestyle which looks like this….

...but often have to pay their dues in settings like this.

…but often have to pay their dues in settings like this.

The options are usually limited and not very encouraging. Either become an aforementioned rock-star yoga asshole and climb that corporate-based model, or join the thousands of yoga instructors who have flooded the market in recent years and barely get by as a freelance worker, operating out of a variety of studios along with hitting the pavement to look for private clients or volunteer at community centers.

Corporate yoga!

Corporate yoga!

Either way, the fluctuations of your income will largely be dictated by the demands of the market place. If for instance yoga’s popularity declines because something else takes over, we can expect to see many unemployed yoga instructors hitting the internet to look around for something else, en masse.

I work in the managerial and financial side of health services. It is “health” on the curative side of things, unlike yoga which would (normally) fall under the preventative side of the definition of “health”. Increasingly, health services of BOTH varieties has become privatized and is largely following the private model of administration, financial compensation and management.

Like ABBA once sang, Money, Money ,Money"

Like ABBA once sang, Money, Money ,Money”

Of course within yoga, just because of how wide and diverse the community itself is, there are many co-op, pay-as-you-go, sliding scale and other initiatives following alternative economic models. None of it is very wide-scale unfortunately, a shame in my opinion, given the brain-power, creativity and general forwardness of the of the people normally involved in the community.

Setting aside exceptions to the rule and speaking in generalities, my biggest economic critique of most yoga studios, instructors, schools and the industry as a whole is that they just simply follow the business-as-usual model—-> i.e capitalism which usually works along the lines of “You control the economic resources, but I have the man power, so I work for you, you pay me, I go home”. It’s a reactive stance, not a pro-active one.  My own anarchist and leftist bias and sympathies should be pretty clear to anyone who reads my blog regularly so it should come as no surprise when I say, I think that model sucks royally.

Keep on droning, you evil workers you!

Keep on droning, you evil workers you!

I will not go into the evils and ills of capitalism. Any simple Google search can yield you numerous articles on that point. Instead I’d like to focus on a little-known economic model which I think the yoga industry, as a whole, is strategically placed to benefit from. It’s called Participatory Economics or Parecon for short. Before I go into Parecon, let me explain why I think the yoga industry is in a unique place at this time.

Progressive family doing yga together.

Progressive family doing yoga together.

Yoga is booming and is part of an annual $7 billion+ plus global wellness industry. Aside from it’s health and relaxation benefits, its therapeutic qualities are also becoming clearer over time. Demand for yoga is skyrocketing the world over. Setting aside any spiritual argument for the moment, as any basic micro economic class might have taught you back in college, economics is all about demand and supply. Where those two lines intersect on the graph is usually where price per quantity will be determined. If something is in short-supply but demand is high, then chances are prices will be very high. If supply has flooded the market and demand is low, no one wants it, then prices will be very low. The demand for yoga is there and growing. Progressive yoga schools, instructors and studios are therefore in a unique and powerful position to determine supply. Furthermore yoga is diverse enough to experiment with Parecon. The community is still large enough for experiments to go ahead and yet still small and alternative enough vis a vis the general population that it can do so and not ruffle the feathers of the  corporate-state system which, alternative economics if practiced widely and globally, ultimately would undermine (I can dream, can’t I?).

If the Demand curve shifts to the right or left and Supply stays the same, the (P)rice  at that (Q)uantity will change. Same thing happens if the Supply  curve shifts and Demand stays the same. If both Demand and Supply , change, new prices and quantities are determined.

If the Demand curve shifts to the right or left and Supply stays the same, the (P)rice at that (Q)uantity will change. Same thing happens if the Supply curve shifts
and Demand stays the same. If both Demand and Supply , change, new prices and quantities are determined.

Developed by M.I.T alumni Michael Albert, Parecon is an alternative economic system which ideally should be used in conjunction with parallel systems in politics, culture and kinship. “It is marked by equity, solidarity, diversity, workers’ self-management and efficiency. (Efficiency here means accomplishing goals without wasting valued assets.)”

Michael Albert  at right with Professor Noam Chomsky to his left

Michael Albert at right with Professor Noam Chomsky to his left

According to Wiki:
It proposes to attain these ends mainly through the following principles and institutions:
1) Workers’ and consumers’ councils utilizing self-managerial methods for making decisions
2) Balanced job complexes
3) Remuneration according to effort and sacrifice
4) Participatory planning

If you mosey on over to Micheal’s Parecon page over at Znet, there are many examples and discussions of HOW this is done. (If you are more theoretically or academically inclined, there are criticisms posted there as well.)
===========================================================
Let’s illustrate Parecon in action in a yoga-based context with a practical example. I’m going to use Micheal Albert’s own summary of Parecon but slightly modify it by overlaying it with yoga-based examples. (I apologize in advance, but the following language isn’t particularly sexy or exciting and you’re going to be asked to think through things just a little since it is a long read. No worries in skipping this article)

30 different yoga instructors, all all ages, ethnicities, orientations, styles and backgrounds have decide to get together and form a yoga co-op collective studio and have agreed to use a Parecon model to organize themselves. They have found an old firehouse and pooled their resources and have worked together to renovate it and create it into a space for sharing, instructing and learning.They vote together when someone would like to join the collective and individual members are free to leave at anytime.

The Yoga Collective's logo, from Stratford, Ontario

The Yoga Collective’s logo, from Stratford, Ontario

Like Michael Albert, all 30 instructors believe that “parecon, describes core institutions for an economy to generate solidarity, equity, self management, and an ecologically sound and classless economy. It recognizes that what seek needs to be worthy and viable.”

1) The group have decision making influence in proportion as they are affected by the decision in question. It’s not just one person one vote, majority rules, three quarters rule, consensus, or one person dictates. Each of these approaches makes sense in some situations, but not in others. Self management by each individual instructor is the ultimate aim, including having different approaches for different situations. There is no one-size-fits-all-model to decision-making processes.

fitall1

A self-managing council makes decisions and rules for tallying preferences that reflect with some accuracy their wishes. Issues affecting only one instructor, that instructor decides, albeit in context of broader guidelines, things like the length of their workday, how many classes they will offer, vacation time or definition of job responsibilities (will they only work with kids, paraplegics or seniors?) are decided more widely. Issues affecting overwhelmingly the whole team, the team decides, again, typically following broader guidelines, for example, opening hours of the studio, prices to charge, maintenance, cleaning and upkeep duties, which styles to offer, maximum number of students during peak hours, covering each other’s classes during time off etc.

Sometimes the best way to get self-management for all involved is to seek consensus. Other times one instructor-one vote majority rule is best, and still other times, other methods make sense. For real self-management, those involved must not only have easy input but also fostering a culture and atmosphere which allows engaging in relevant discussions, and setting agendas. If participation is formally inclusive, but people lack means to do what formal rules permit – that is not self management.

The second feature Parecon offers is the idea that financial compensation should not be for power, that you get what you can take. Nor should remuneration be for property, that you get in proportion to what the property that you are welcomed to own adds to output. Nor should it be for your personal output, that you get in proportion to what you yourself produce, with various tools, by your own labors.

Instead, Parecon urges that your share of financial compensation should in part reflect your special needs so that those who cannot work get average income, by right and all who have medical needs have those addressed, again by right. And beyond that, remuneration should reflect how long you work, how hard you work, and the onerousness of the conditions under which you work, at socially useful labor.

Pareconish equity therefore means you get more income, entitling you to a larger share of social product, for working harder, longer, or under worse conditions, as long as you are producing socially valued output.

If we look at any economic actor, the benefits and costs they face should be like those that others face, because we are all people and all entitled to comparable conditions of life. This doesn’t mean, we should all get the same income even if we do different work. Rather, think of the implications of our labor and of our share of social product for our “conditions of life” and seek that the sum of benefits minus associated debits equalize from person to person. That is pareconish equity.

Imagine two instructors, Sabrina and Joey, who both teach Ashtanga classes, for 30 hours a week, at advanced levels, under the same conditions, and so have the same income. Now, suppose Sabrina wants more income to go on a retreat in Nicaragua. Parecon says, that shouldn’t be forbidden. It is perfectly predictable and reasonable that people should have differences in their tastes for consumption goods and services. But, says Parecon, it wouldn’t be fair if it was done by fiat. What would make it fair is if Sabrina wanting more compensation to afford the trip arranges to work longer (maybe 40 hours a week), or harder (with under-aged behaviorally-challenged criminal offenders), or happens to work under worse conditions (not at the comfortable studio but at a local detention center with limited facilities).

Sabrina wants to go here!

Sabrina wants to go here!

Vice versa, suppose, instead, Joey doesn’t care too much about consumption goods and services, but wants more free time to meditate on his chakras. Parecon says, again, that that shouldn’t be forbidden, but neither is it fair if it is done by fiat. What would make it fair is if Joey can arrange to work less hours (maybe 25 hours a week) or easier (with 5 year old kids) or happens to work in easier conditions (at a 5-star local spa-like daycare with trophy wives), and then, in accord, takes a smaller share.

Joey wants to teach here.

Joey wants to teach here.

In each case, the overall impact of work and consumption taken together on “conditions of life” for Sabrina and Joey remains equal. This is Pareconish ethics. One may or may not like it. Similarly, one may or may not like Parecon erasing the idea of people getting income for property, for power, for having better tools, for happening to produce something of higher value, for having been lucky enough to be genetically endowed with particularly productive attributes like their flexibility or strength.

2) The second underpinning of Pareconish equitable remuneration has to do with the idea that a vision has to be able to work with real people in real settings. Most people think the issue now at stake will be incentives, but Parecon’s view of incentives is nearly upside down from most people’s intuitions. And there is another issue, having to do with information and people’s judgments.

The usual carrot and stick model doesn't work in Parecon.

The usual carrot and stick model doesn’t work in Parecon, even if it is vegan.

Regarding incentives, the usual formulation goes something like this: Consider the physiotherapist who has to go to college, medical school, become a resident, and only then be a practicing physiotherapist earning full therapist pay. The pay needs to be very high or he or she won’t follow the path. Take away high incentives for being a therapist, people won’t do it. And now you can fill in for therapist: doctor, lawyer, accountant, professor, high level designer, scientist, and so on. Thus, lacking high incentives for these jobs, we will die for want of essential social services.

Of course, presented that way, this is not true. To test the claim, think of telling a student leaving high school and hoping to be a therapist that a big change in society has made it the case that therapists’ salaries, instead of being, $150,000 a year, are now going to be $70,000 a year. Will the student then forget the idea of going to college, medical school, being a resident, and then being a physiotherapist – because she would rather go directly into waitressing at a diner tomorrow, for the next forty five years, even if we suppose waitressing pays $90,000 a year? Try asking some students. Not one will switch. Incentives are needed when one is being asked to do something more onerous, or time consuming, or intense – but you don’t need more incentives to get less duration, less intensity and less onerousness.

People do many things, very often for the sense of accomplishment it gives them or for the help it provides other people, including volunteering, playing, studying things of personal interest, helping folks, etc. These activities compete for people’s personal time, and also do not exhaust all the things that need doing. Some time, even in a worthy economy, has to go to work that isn’t as intrinsically rewarding as playing, or studying, or just resting, or being with family, and that is time that is unavailable for more pleasant and fulfilling pursuits. Some time also has to go to onerous work that is unpleasant and unfulfilled (like housework and cleaning), itself, even when we understand and are motivated by the benefits it bestows (keeping germs and illnesses like bubonic plague away). So, in the choice we make between how to spend our time, incentives make a difference.

From uglyhousephotos.com Seriously keep your kitchen clean. Rot attracts roaches, vermin and other unpleasantries.

From uglyhousephotos.com
Seriously, housework has it’s benefits. Rot attracts roaches, vermin and other unpleasantries.

Someone might reply to the above, “no, we don’t need to correlate income and work. We just need people to understand the importance of each and what is the responsible and moral choice to make, and they will act on that understanding.” Suppose, the same person says, “Parecon has great incentives which will yield a great allotment of people’s energies and of the social output that is just, fair, and rewarding for all. Even if that’s true, I believe we can get that same allotment without bribing folks with payment for labor. So why shouldn’t we?”

A first answer is that thinking of income rights as bribery for our time and effort is a bit odd – unless we are talking about income as it is in capitalist economies – but set that aside. In fact, if we break the link between work and income and have people work as they choose, however much, and at whatever they want – and have people consume as they choose – however much and whatever they want – and we don’t require a connection between the two decisions, we won’t get as good an allotment as with Parecon’s approach. People will typically choose to work too little for the social good to be optimally met, and people will choose to take too much for the system to even work because the available output will fall well short of available demands for income.

This first answer is accurate, not because people are either greedy, lazy, or irresponsible, but because people have no way to know what is responsible and moral and should not and will not ignorantly police themselves into working too much or having too little income.

Good people in a good economy should in fact prefer to work less hours, less intensely, and less onerously for a given income. And the same people should want to receive more income, for a given number of work hours, intensity, and onerousness. And indicating that they want less work and more income is critically important, actually, to the economy innovating to make it happen, to the extent it is possible and desirable taking into account social and ecological implications.

Pugs certainly understand the use of their time.

Pugs certainly understand the use of their time.

No one can know, abstractly, what is a “fair” amount to offer to work, or what is a “fair” amount to ask to consume. What is “fair” depends hugely on available tools, resources, knowledge, needs, desires, and so on. It is not an automatic, but has to become clear from a discussion, of what people, as consumers, want as income, and what the same people, as workers, want as their work conditions and duration. By disconnecting these two aspects of economy, we lose the means to know what is responsible and people are then left to curb their own appetites and desires, rather than express them. It probably shouldn’t need saying, but for completeness, people being able to work at anything they want is also hugely problematic. I would like to play professional hockey – but it has no social value – it should not be compensated.

The flip side of the above “incentive issue,” that has already largely changed into an information issue, the second answer to the concern raised earlier that we can get results without connecting work and income, is that without indications not just of people wanting yoga – where yoga is some product, or some leisure, or some types of work, or clean air, and so on – but of how much they want yoga relative to their other preferences, there is no way for producers to know how much yoga is appropriate to produce, or where to invest.

Self managing councils and equitable remuneration are very often pretty closely adopted in real circumstances by at least some real workplaces. Instructors co-ops that have no owner, don’t reward property, power, or output, and do have a council for decisions, are an obvious and frequent example. So are Occupied factories say like in Venezuela. In such examples, the owner either leaves or is ejected or didn’t exist from the get-go. Salaries are equalized but then typically vary for duration. Councils function democratically and often, even with teams deciding their own circumstances and using different tallying methods for different situations.

A problem often arises, however, when workplaces adopt these two Pareconish structures. In co-ops and occupied workplaces, often, over time, initial enthusiasm starts to fade. Most instructors s find themselves eventually skipping council meetings. Few people end up being the decision makers. Income differences widen. Alienation follows. And finally, instructorss often blame themselves. “This is who we are,” or “they think “or “It must be in our genes to have growing disparities of income, power, and circumstance” or “There really is no alternative.”

3) In such depressing situation, the third feature Parecon offers is called balanced job complexes, wherein all jobs are “balanced” so they each have roughly the same overall empowerment effect.

All jobs include various tasks. In corporate divisions of labor, about 80% of the workforce does jobs whose component tasks are usually disempowering. These jobs tend to fragment workers from one another, separate workers from decisions and from information about decisions, involve workers in rote and repetitive activity, and cause workers skills, confidence, knowledge of workplace relations, and familiarity with making choices, to steadily decline. In contrast, about 20% of the workforce does jobs whose tasks typically enhance ties to others, increase social skills, acclimate decision contexts, enlarge confidence and knowledge of workplace relations, and, in general, better empower people to participate in and impact decisions.

Parecon’s claim is that the corporate division of labor creates a class division between those who monopolize empowering work and those who are left with overwhelmingly disempowering work. Their position in the economy conveys advantages, up to and including even ruling class status, to what I like to call the coordinator class, in coordinatorism.

When adopted in occupied factories like those in Venezuela now, or in co-ops all over the world, the corporate division of labor leads to 20% of the workplace not only setting agendas and choosing actions, but eventually reimposing inequitable incomes, finally leading to ruling class status for themselves.

This means that in addition to self-managing councils and equitable remuneration, one needs a new division of labor if one is to have real self-management and real classlessness. This is why Parecon advocates balanced job complexes to be sure all are equipped to participate effectively, making self-management real.

4) The fourth feature Parecon offers has to do with the mechanisms which arrive at workplace and consumer inputs and outputs and their rates of exchange throughout the economy. History offers three main choices for allocation:
a) markets
b) central planning
c) voluntary self-regulation.

Markets impose anti-social motivations and unequal compensation norms as well as huge power differences and ecological irresponsibility. They violate self-management, and even create a “coordinator class” above workers.

Central planning (i.e communism) creates that same class division, and even more obviously violates self-management. It also tends to violate ecological responsibility and accumulates excess wealth for the planners (and whole coordinator class) while forcing obedience and domination, characteristics which often have an insidious way of spreading to other sides of life.

We are NOT talking about communism here...

We are NOT talking about communism here…

Voluntary self-regulation is a great idea – but in most formulations avoids important underlying issues. To have instructors self-regulate in accord with worthy values and real possibilities you need a way for people to determine what is responsible regarding both work and consumption, and a context which allows people’s well-being depend on and enhance the well-being of others, as well as a process that allows and self-managing input to each. Parecon’s allocation system is built on the idea of viable, collective self-regulation.

Good allocation should permit and facilitate wise and informed collective self-regulation to arrive at economic inputs and outputs that meet needs and develop potentials while also fostering solidarity, enhancing equity, and enacting self-management, all this in light of accurate awareness of the true social and ecological costs and benefits of all choices we address.

This is a big list of virtues, but it is what Parecon claims to achieve. The fourth defining feature of Parecon is called participatory planning. Instructors councils present proposals and by continually refining them interactively cooperatively negotiate, self-regulate inputs and outputs which are consistent with the decided upon methods remuneration and balanced job complexes, and in ways implementing collective self management. There is no top and bottom. There is no center. It is not a competitive rat race. There is no yogilebrity culture. Solidarity is literally produced, not anti-socialness which is the worst expression of hyper-individuality. But it doesn’t assume a population of omniscient and morally saintly people. Instead, simple structures enable, facilitate, and make such results serve the aim of everyone.

There are many things to address about Parecon’s institutions, even without mistakenly trying to turn them into an unknowable, impossible, and inappropriate blueprint. Arguably the most important matter is why would an anti-capitalist project, movement, or organization be better off if its members were Pareconist, regarding goals, then if they were simply anti-capitalist but didn’t have any shared conception of defining institutions to replace capitalism?

Capitalism in action.Bikram Chowdhury driving his Cadillac. (This is yoga?)

Capitalism in action.
Bikram Choudhury driving his Cadillac. (This is yoga?)

Categories: Politico, This is why the planet is screwed up, Uncategorized, Yoga | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Why New Agers/Spiritualists are probably among the most useless people in the world

From “As the World Burns: 50 things You Can Do to Stay in Denial” By Stephanie McMillan and Derrick Jensen, page 6, Seven Stories Press

What this cartoon depicts is something which has bothered me for ages now. It’s a certain passivity and lackadaisical worldview among the New Age/Spiritual and even at times, the yoga set.

Most of them employ a type of thinking which is called “magical thinking”. That somehow by meditating on a certain idea, or by “dedicating your yoga practice” and doing 108 Sun Salutations, that some magical aura of positivity will emanate from you, like a fuzzy gas cloud your dog just farted out and then goes around to transform the world into your version of the Garden of Eden.

Doing 108 of these in a row, will give you killer arms and abs, but it will not stop Japan from reactivating their nuclear power plants.

It’s nothing new. A few weeks ago I read Barbara Ehrenreich’s most excellent book,“Bright-sided: How The Relentless Promotion Of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America”.

Eye-opening read.

In the book, she outlined the historical basis of how all this magical thinking has seeped into the general culture, from corporate seminars with the likes of Landmark Education, to runaway trash best-sellers like “The Secret” or movies based on pseudo-science like “What the Bleep do we know?!”.

Fit for the bin.

It goes back to the end of the 19th century, oddly enough when industrialization and mass production also started. At that time it was called “New Thought” and it set up the base for the New Age movement decades later.

I’ve also seen it at the yoga studio. Where every autumn and spring equinox, there’s usually a Yoga Mala being held somewhere. Donate your $20 for a local charity, do 108 Sun Salutations and achieve World Peace! Sounds groovy, right?

I don’t think so.

If anything, it is a form of the corporate state to control the masses and it is a form of extremely deceptive thinking and it goes something like this. “If we can deceive you to just sit at home and meditate on world peace or meditate on abundance or Ganesha’s third eye, and take no other real-world action, we can still go ahead and send in drones to bomb Pakistan or instigate Israel to start a war with Iran (so screw your peace). If we can deceive you to read books like “The Secret” or “The Power of Positive Thinking” and fall for them, you’ll be too distracted to see what we are really doing behind your back. Plus you’ll be too afraid, too distracted and in too much debt to ever take real, meaningful action, like fight us in the streets and expose us to the world and what we really do.You feel bad about all this bombing and world hunger? Well, just give your money to some charity to ease your guilty conscience, we’ll be able to buy them out anyway and make sure the status quo is continued. Guaranteed.”

While I agree keeping a positive frame of mind is important for day-to-day life, it cuts down on the irritation and your blood pressure  when a rude driver cuts in or when someone with 15 items is in front of you in the 10 items or less line at the supermarket, it’s just not everything.

Road rage isn’t good for you either.

Achieving things like world peace, equal rights and abundance FOR ALL takes work. Serious grunt-work. It means getting involved in grass-roots movements, going to demonstrations, boycotting companies or entities which are hurting people and the land. It means being an active citizen of the world. It means doing research, reading up on the issue of your choice and then really doing something about it. Just hiding out at your yoga studio, temple, church, mosque etc. does not achieve anything. If you’re really serious about changing the world for the better, your ideals have to be coupled with action. This video below shows how slavery had a lot to do with the sugar trade and and what people had to do to stop it. It’s an example worth thinking about and analyzing seriously.

I’ve also noticed something else in recent years. That radical activism has a sheen of coolness to it which these corporate types and enablers have tried to siphon back on themselves, to make themselves look cool (and somehow that translates into more followers and more money).

I thought it was extremely disingenuous when the likes of Russell Simmons, Deepak Chopra, Sean Corne, and Elena Brower showed their faces at Occupy Wall Street in NYC last fall.

Every last one of them personally benefit from the capitalist system and have yearly annual incomes well over the 6-digit range. That they can somehow show up in Zucotti Park with people who have lost their homes in foreclosures, students with PhD’s and MA’s who can’t find work, people who normally would never be able to afford in 5 back-to-back lifetimes to go on an overseas yoga retreats with someone like Brower, in my mind, stinks of opportunism and phoniness.

If these New Agers and Yoga “Teachers” are serious about alleviating the suffering that many are going through, they also have to help in dismantling that very system which created it in the first place, instead of trying to work around it or within it. Nothing less will do. But as it is, they benefit too much from it, so why ever say or do anything which will have real impact?

So chant all you want, pray all you want, meditate all you want, wait all you want while the world burns. Nothing is going to change out there unless it’s coupled with informed action.

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

Categories: Ascension, Ch-ch-ch-changes, False prophits, Politico, Pop culture, Raise your EQ, Shift of the Ages effects, This is why the planet is screwed up, Yoga | Tags: , , , | 49 Comments

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