This ought to be just a comment but it so much easier to write a new blogpost – so much more control of the presentation.
The issue of racism came up in a recent Brad post – discussed here. Following from this I looked into transcendence as being both a spiritual and political process. And then I spent a long time considering privilege which led to this blogpost. All of these came together when reading this later Bradpost.
In this paragraph Brad thinks things are not so bad:-
“A lot of Americans have the impression that we have a broken system that needs fixing. But I wonder if that’s really true. Now before you get your pantaloons in a bunch, please understand that I’m am not saying that things are perfectly fine as they are. They aren’t.”
To me this is myopic white America. Ask the people of Syria, Libya and Iraq whether this is true, and ask them whether the system needs fixing.
“Yet to me it seems less like we have a broken system that needs fixing and more like we are trying to build a system that is absolutely without historical precedent, a system that would be amazing if we could ever get it set up.” Are we actually trying to build a fair and just democratic system, or is that just a delusion of neoliberal exploitation by the few?
But this is the nail in the coffin:-
“When I’m in the USA I am part of the privileged class, a white male heterosexual. But I’ve lived much of my life in places where being white meant not being in the privileged class — 4 years in Kenya and 11 years in Japan. So while I can’t claim to know what it’s like to be Black or Latino or any other brand of non-white in the USA, I do know what it’s like to be an immigrant and a racial minority in other societies. As such, my sympathies generally lie with those who don’t get the privileges I am accorded when I’m on American soil.”
I cannot talk about Japan although privileges not afforded white people here in Thailand are not that much of an imposition – despite any racism. In Africa I was amazed that after centuries of colonial imposition how well I was treated as a white man. There were disadvantages, sure, animosities from those whose families had suffered greatly under colonialism, but little more than minor suffering. I lived and worked in Southern Africa for 6 years, social factors are similar to Kenya.
For Brad to equate the loss of his privileges in Japan and Kenya with the systemic disentitlement for Blacks and Latinos in the US (explained here) or UK shows a deep misunderstanding and a lack of transcendence. I could tirade but there is no point – it would only be my emotion as this is not being read by the person concerned.
This last Bradblog has put the nail in the interaction. It is interesting that he is so close to my family home and yet the result of this blog process is that I have unfollowed him. At least he brought me to Zen.
I saw these recent articles on “white privilege” – here and here, and it has been nagging me especially in view of my recent concerns about Brad. I have been trying to put this privilege in context to see how I respond to the articles.
What is privilege in general? It is a form of entitlement that the system offers:-
“a special right or advantage that a particular person or group of people has” [Oxford dictionary].
Somehow different people have privileges – special rights or advantages, but what is somehow? It is custom and practice, in other words it just happens.
But the dictionary gave another usage:-
“the rights and advantages that rich and powerful people in a society have
If we begin the analysis of custom and practise here we begin to see the importance of the word “privilege”. The entitlement for the rich and powerful (1%) – privilege – includes a legal system that works better for the rich, protection for business against the interests of the people/ Amongst many failings – why are taxpayers paying all the money for protection against copyright theft? How much money do individuals have to pay for security systems to protect their own small businesses – to protect their homes? And what is the police hierarchical priority – protect big business or burglary from our homes? This is all part of the custom and practice that comes under the umbrella “privilege”. Basically the custom and practise of privilege is “defined” by our political system – the 1%-system.
This places consideration of privilege in a proper context, when we consider privilege we are seeing entitlement based on what the 1% wants.
Historically the 1% were known as the bourgeoisie, and it was generally accepted that we lived in a class system. A fundamental Marxist analysis discussed an intentionally divided proletariat, this division is more commonly recognised in the context of “divide-and-rule” colonialism – not dissociated with the Marxist analysis! It is also known within such analyses that racial divisions are fostered by such a system. White privilege does not just “happen” it is a consequence of the political system we live in.
For many such an analytical approach (Marxist) is an emotive stumbling block, it was certainly not the direction of the article. Basically the article asked us as “white people” to accept that we are privileged, and then we could understand the anger of campaigns such as “Black Lives Matter”. If we are aware of the overarching 1%-system then as privileged groups we should start to consider our own behaviour. As a white male I have been privileged in two ways – being white, being male. Luckily enough my youthful immaturity allowed me to gain the qualifications of a miseducation, and I also became privileged because of this. Where was my country of origin? England, part of NATO. NATO is the world’s dominant military organisation, effectively the military of the West. So I have a privilege by being British.
Because life can contain suffering individually we have bad experiences, we become biased seeing the suffering and not the privilege. If you don’t question privileges it is hard to see the benefits of these systemic entitlements because we also suffer because that is part of life. Seeing the distinction is important.
The real sense of this blogpost is unwrapping privilege because privilege is entitlement that comes from the conditioning of the 1%-system. To be free is to be aware, and if we do not know whether what happens to us is systemic privilege or merited rewards then we cannot understand our conditioning. Removing conditioning has been discussed here and here.
I first questioned privilege when I hit bottom. I had been given privilege by being relatively successful academically. This miseducation had given me qualifications that have been beneficial, but it never taught me about genuine intelligence. I was arrogant with the entitlement, and hitting bottom helped remove some of that arrogance. Following hitting bottom there was emergence of genuine intelligence (limited), and when I participated in the Arts Centre I met people with the intelligence of creativity, people in many cases who put creativity first. This taught me about the privilege of academia, and the need to focus on creativity and intelligence.
My understanding of the entitlement that came from privilege was still very limited despite this. Soon after I began to question over race – white privilege, as I began teaching in a mixed race school. I was taught a great deal by that situation especially with the help of black friends who taught me to overcome my conditioning.
Much later on at 42 I began to travel for work, and living in different countries showed me some disadvantages as being an expat – I term this the suffering of life. Whilst there are also privileges for being an expat, experiencing disadvantages helps with an understanding of privilege. In Thailand, where I now live, there are many expats and there is a great deal of racism amongst the white people towards the Thais. In my view this is based on privilege. As English white people these expats have always been privileged in their own system, coming to Thailand some of those privileges have been removed and I feel this is the source of their reaction; it does not help that racism amongst many Thais also exists.
Male privilege is something I have recognised but has been the hardest for me to deal with. The big dilemma of course is in personal relationships because turning principle into practise every minute of the day is difficult; it is hard to remain detached. At the same time male privilege has another issue attached to it on a personal level, the male sexual drive is extremely dominating especially when younger. However much one wants to see a woman as an individual, those sexual needs can change your perception of a woman into a sexual object at times especially during the sexual act. With a man’s personal needs being so different to those of a woman this personal interaction creates much conflict which is hard to rationalise. I was never able to work these out to mutual satisfaction and I live alone. Such conflict can lead to violence, and whilst I can understand where the violence can come from it is never acceptable to use violence. This is also an issue of privilege. Men are conditioned to expect control, and in the home situation they can lose that control – “An Englishman’s home is his castle”. Because their privilege has been removed they respond with violence – not an acceptable response. These issues of privilege are nurtured by upbringing in which young men are taught to behave in a certain way as are young women, but when that cultural upbringing breaks down conflict within marriage becomes more prevalent.
I see this as a particular problem in the West where the culture (upbringing and miseducation) has broken down many of the traditions that produce stability in marriage. However in the West many of those traditions were also oppressive to women, and were quite rightly broken down. Unfortunately in this time of cultural change what has replaced these traditions is not working, thus explaining why so many marriages are breaking down in the West. There is further damage caused by increasing pressure on the home by the requirement for both to work, and consequently children are suffering – becoming more ill-disciplined.
I don’t have any disagreement with social issues of feminism although I do understand why many men do. There is an unwritten trade-off. Many men go out to work to provide for their families. In many of the home situations much of the responsibility is in the control of the women, and whilst for much of the time men are satisfied with this there is resentment towards the loss of control. Men cannot control their bosses in the hierarchy of work but this loss of control at home often leads to resentment in work towards women bosses producing stereotype comments such as “she slept her way to the top” (same applies to stereotyped views of black people higher on the ladder – affirmative action). Again this is an issue of privilege as previously men have had privilege in work, and since the rise of feminism in the 60s this has slowly begun to change – and will rightly change more because as yet there is not equality in the workplace. And why is there not this equality – the patriarchy aspect of the 1%-system, how many of the 1% are women? And will the Bilderbergers ever allow such equality?
Privilege and entitlement become egotistical issues for those on the Path. On a personal level many people on the Path are respected for their wisdom and Nature provides many merited rewards, but the system offers no such respect or reward. Do people on the Path seek social position or financial reward? Beyond sufficiency to survive this is rarely a motivation, and such motivations are frequently disrespected seen as “straying from the Path” by those who recognise the Path. There is a great deal of difficulty surrounding privilege and the Path. Those accepting the Path see the Path as part of Nature, and the greater the adherence to the Path is seen as concomitant with what Nature wants. In other words, such people are leaders in Nature or Natural leaders. But the customs and practices of society often marginalise such people who survive based on the respect of those who seek understanding of the Path from these people. Far from the majority respecting them oft-times these people are derided – by those who do not recognise the Path – for their lack of acceptance of materialist customs and practices; people on the Path usually lose this acceptance because they have moved beyond the conditioning that lauds these practices. Occasionally the Path crosses privilege, for example Eckhart Tolle gains that privilege through the efforts of the system represented by Oprah – without having to compromise his spiritual duty. But such examples are few and far between.
When a white person questions themselves concerning privilege this is a step in the right direction, but such questioning is not systemically encouraged. Privilege is an integral part of the rewards of the 1%-system and as such questioning privilege would lead to questioning of the system itself. And for those who do question a search for social justice is a usual response. And where does that conflict lead?
Unwrapping entitlement from privilege is part of the process of removal of conditioning. Unless the rewards we receive in life are merited we cannot know that we are doing what Nature intended, we cannot know that we are following the Path. Buddhist understanding that life can contain suffering – the 4 Noble Truths – is important to give context to our understanding of entitlement. We all suffer to some extent, and how we handle that suffering is the Path to Understanding that is the wisdom of the 4NT. Not to recognise the entitlement that comes from privilege also leads to suffering because there are rewards for not following the Path – the carrot leading us in the wrong direction. This is all part of conditioning, and awareness comes from removing conditioning and in doing so we are free to be who we are – to live compassionately.
I have been looking into Nagarjuna to connect Theravada to Zen. On p7 of the-wisdom-of-nagarjuna there is this quote about Transcendence:-
I wanted to include this as a comment to the post on Transcendence but web tecnologies thwarted me. Basically if this quote caanot connect the spiritual and political transcendence I don’t know what can.
Forces within the Labour party are gathering in the next step of maintaining the Veil – the delusion of bipartisan politics exemplified by Tory and Labour in the UK. These forces have already damaged the Labour party because they manipulated the Labour party into a leadership struggle rather than take advantage of Tory weakness post-Brexit vote.
This leadership vote has been divisive even though most recognise that Corbyn was going to win from the word go. They introduced very divisive tactics such as the NEC refusal to accept voters many consider legitimate. It is now seen as a foregone conclusion that Corbyn will win the vote but the Veil-maintaining manipulation continues. Rather than seeking unity behind the democratically-elected leader, Corbyn, these forces are now militating behind a claim of “unelectability” – Saving Labour and Labour Tomorrow. Labour used to be a broad church as opposed to the balanced polarities (of left and right) conveyed by mainstream media of the Veil, and this breadth democratically needs to allow diverse groups – so long as they are “united” behind Labour interests. Because of the breadth of Labour this unity is difficult to maintain – consider the split of the right wing of the party when the Gang of Four created the SDP, a party that has effectively disappeared from the political stage even when merged with the Liberals. Having another right wing faction such as Labour Tomorrow or Saving Labour is a legitimate part of democratic inclusivity but it does make life difficult.
When considering the nature of such groups it is always useful to analyse the funding. In this Guardian article, New anti-Corbyn group is funded by former Tony Blair spin doctor,
Momentum is a key link to what I assess as the mass movement – I cannot be sure of that democratic assessment without being on the ground. To read about Momentum is very encouraging but unfortunately all the Trot organisations I came into contact with in the 80s had good rhetoric. The problem was that their tactics were divisive. The Labour party has now become so controlled by the establishment that it is necessary to take a more radical stance and hope that the movement comes with you. This is why I support Momentum. The communist strategy (discussed within here ) of placing party unity first and policy second is not appropriate when the opportunists are so dominant; supporting unity per se was effectively using comrades’ energy to support right-wing opportunism – Bilderberg. Momentum leadership is aware of the forces militating against Corbyn (see article).
Contained within this same article is the real battle. The in-situ opportunists are trying to retain control, and are unwilling to subject themselves to democratic mass movement selection. Despite the mandate that Labour party members want Corbyn, these Wainwrights are still fighting Corbyn. Corbyn is angling for shadow cabinet positions to be voted for (by the mass movement) but the NEC is blocking this. My assessment based on their recent practice is that the NEC is definitely controlled by the Wainwrights, and the voting for new NEC members was decided by the NEC and not the mass movement (as discussed in the article). The struggle will have to go back to the wards and the slow change that mass movement representation will have to effect; it will be a while before these parliamentary opportunists will be supplanted – if ever given the prevailing mainstream environment.
Whilst these forces do their neo-liberal work the Labour party will suffer in the eyes of the general population especially when fed by the mainstream media. These Wainwrights want their Labour party, their opportunist way, or they are prepared to see it die – an irony when considering “Saving Labour” is the exact opposite of what they are doing.
On 14th September there was an interesting move; the Guardian reported this move as “Jeremy Corbyn’s team issues list of MPs who it claims undermined leader”. I have previously described the Guardian’s position with regards to Corbyn, in the way that it supports the opportunists over mass movement representation. I am biased but it seems to me that the Guardian’s position is untenable. Examine the recent history of Corbyn:-
1) Corbyn was elected with a good majority.
But the real issue of division that needs to be understood is the division that Blair created. This is the division that separated the Blair opportunists from the mass movement. Corbyn represents the interest to unite the mass movement with ts parliamentary representatives again.
It is interesting that one of the claims amongst those critical of the “Corbyn list” is the fear of deselection. Why are they afraid of deselection? Is Corbyn afraid of the leadership vote? No, because the vote is mass movement. Why are these opportunists afraid? Perhaps because they manoeuvred themselves into power in the Blair era. I use the word “might” because my knowledge is limited but be clear a democratically-elected representative need not fear a democratic vote.
Here is an interesting Guardian article on Corbyn as leader, it cites his voting patterns as having been ratified by history. Does his voting make him a leader? In my view, no, it describes his position. In a democracy what makes a leader – the votes that make him an elected representative. In the situation of Corbyn his votes came from the mass movement, the parliamentary Labour party never voted for him. When there was a vote of “No Confidence”, it demonstrated the distance between the parliamentary MP’s and those that voted for Corbyn. When the vote is finally counted on the 24th the leadership victory will be clear. Amongst the opportunists there needs to be a climb-down acceptance of Corbyn as leader, Corbyn has opened the door for such already. If they do not choose to work with Corbyn it shows the true nature of their opportunism.
And that opportunism comes from a wider source. In this blogpost I have been discussing the voting within Labour as if it was part of an open electoral process. The reality in this Labour party election is the battle to maintain the Veil – “Lifting the Veil” movie, the delusion that the election process matters in terms of real power. Corbyn is threatening this Veil by changing the delusion to something meaningful if he were to get into power, this is the same fear that Wall Street has of Sanders, and it is also the theme of the book “A Very British Coup” in which Harry Perkins threatened the establishment. Within the power machinations around this Veil will exist genuine Labour MP’s who disagree with Corbyn – if their views are genuine democracy then entitles them their opinion. Those genuines then have a decision to make:-
If they choose to remain in the parliamentary Labour party and fight Corbyn it shows their true colours. Those opportunists would not then be genuine Labour activists but pawns for the superrich who want to maintain the Veil, what might be termed the Bilderberg sanction. With the Corbyn vote almost a foregone conclusion now, it will be interesting to see who has the Bilderburg credentials.
In Evaluating Communards I was a bit dismissive about the P2P process, but on reflection it has great potential for the mindful consumer. I am going to describe how it might work in Thailand, particularly as there are a group of digital nomads in Chiang Mai.
One focus of mindful consuming is organic food. There is good potential for an organic food network in Thailand because there is a plant-based diet called cheewajit, and people following this diet would love access to an organised network of organic food.
At the same time in my town there has recently appeared a farmers’ market, and I have a feeling it is being promoted by the military government.
Thailand is a large country and has distinctive growing regions, rice in Issan, root veg in the North and fruit and leafy veg in the South. As far as I can gather there are two main distribution centres, Chiang Mai in the North and Bangkok in the South. This is probably a gross simplification but it will suffice for an initial proposal. Root veg from the North appear in markets down South, and fruit from the South appears in the North; existing distribution deals with this – somehow. I live in Eastern Thailand (in one sense the South), and local farmers take their produce to distributors who weigh and then pay them; somehow it is then distributed elsewhere.
In Bangkok they have an organic distribution network of sorts. People pay and a box of organic veg is delivered to them. Because the people have paid already, farmers are prepared to grow proper vegetables for that distribution. Together with farmers’ markets in the more affluent areas like mine there is tremendous potential for the mindful consuming of organic veg to be organised.
It is my understanding that many Thai farmers have a patch of organic veg for family, the farmers understand how much pesticide they are forced to use for distribution so they have an organic patch for family use. At the same time the Bangkok network managed to tap into farmers willing to grow more organic if there was a demand. P2P could tap into that demand.
Suppose there was some kind of noticeboard which advertised organic veg. People could order from this noticeboard, and goods could be despatched from distribution centres in Chiang Mai and Bangkok. Through Line people could advise the notice board of what they have available to sell and could deliver to the central distribution centres. It is done now so it could be investigated as to what changes were needed for the organic produce to fit into the noticeboard. If the noticeboard could liaise with existing limited infrastructure there is potential for an organic food mindful consuming network in Thailand.
In addition I’m a big fan of community currencies. It seems to me that such a P2P community could use a community currency. Depending on trust such a scheme could just be held online, and money would return to being the facilitator of trade or barter. I am not a user of Bitcoin, not do I understadn whether those that have a go at Bitcoing have a vested interest. But a P2P currency monitored successfuly would be a great benefit from P2P
I have been a member of the Labour party – not now as I don’t live in the UK, but I suspect I would now be excluded.
Firstly I support Unveiling the Veil (see movie “”Lifting the Veil”), recognising the fact that electoral democracy is a con and the delusion of that game damages the working-class. But if I was voting or were to join a political party it would be Labour. I would have joined under Blair even though I think he was a warmonger, damaging to the working-class, and a Bilderberg lackey. Blair was a traitor to the mass movement.
How did Blair get into power? He stopped Labour shooting itself in the foot by preventing people from making statements that the mainstream media could use to damage Labour. In some ways I understand that, I will never forget how angry I felt about Dianne Abbott making a statement that the Labour party was racist. Whilst I agree with what she said, I thought it was tactically so destructive in a run-up to a tight election. But Blair went way too far. Not only did he stop the extreme from making comments he enforced cloning within the party. This is now clearly demonstrated by the vote of no confidence in the parliament, the support of the Guardian for these parliamentary representatives against the Corbyn mass movement upswell. It demonstrates to me that the NEC is in the pockets of Blairite opportunism. For saying this I suspect I would be prevented from voting yet I support the leader of the Labour party.
What are the NEC doing? Do they not have the interests of the Labour party at heart? Is it a mass movement party or is it a Blair clone party? With all the damage they are doing are they destroying any chance of electoral victory? Where will that victory come from? Labour party uniting all the disaffected voters. These voters are angry people, these are people who have been dumped on by Blair suits and jumped at voting for Corbyn in the leadership election because he was the only one standing against clones.
There needs to be control of the Trots but that control mostly comes from democracy, the more voters there are the less chance a few extremists have. There needs to be policies that help ordinary people to prevent the lurch to the right represented by UKIP and in part the Brexit vote.
Look at the following, how can this help the Labour party?
I have to take this blogpost at face value, in other words that there have been no other actions to be taken into account prior to the NEC decision. In truth it could be a genuine plea or it could be a trick from someone with a long history of inappropriate action. Also the article does not contain the contents of the retweet. But let’s be clear, many of the policies of the Labour party and the Green party overlap. Corbyn has promised to make the UK the leader in climate change, would that not be a Green party hope if in government?
It is 25 years since I was active in British politics and in the Labour party. I had the feeling at that time that the NEC had the trust of the rank-and-file, the mass movement of the Labour party. Maybe that recollection is wrong. I was not a member over the Blair years so I do not know how much his Machiavellian control extended to. But I have no doubts that if the NEC was powerful enough to affect his interests he would have changed it.
My real question is why aren’t these opportunists seeing the writing on the wall? Don’t they want to distance themselves from Blair? Don’t they want to distance themselves from warmongering? Whilst Owen Smith is making Hillary-Clintonesque moves to mass movement policies, his own personal political history is littered with Blairite opportunist decision-making including I believe support for the Iraq war. His job in BigPharma was shady to say the least. Do these opportunists not see that there is a large proportion of the electorate who are completely alienated from their version of politics – the Blairsuit version. The move to UKIP is not just a barometer of working-class reaction to an increase in racism but also represents a complete alienation from the party whose history belongs to them – or is at least associated with them and their Labour.
Here is an Op-Ed piece which describes an alienation that exists within the Left across Europe and the US. Radical people like myself accepted that voting for Social Democrat parties (the opportunists of Labour and so-called socialist parties) was tactical, working as a Labour party activist was tactical – better the policies of a Right-wing Labour party than a Conservative party. But under Blair and his clones this rationale was put under the microscope, because the policies were no different.
Obama demonstrates the alienation towards the Left – as well as Blair. Hopey-changey brought great clamour from the mass movement especially black people. What is a significant state of affairs at the end of his 8 years – “Black Lives Matter”. How can any black person feel at all comfortable when on his watch black people are suffering such racist attacks? For those 8 years there has been an increase in war atrocities due to US foreign policy, drone use has sky-rocketed, an increasing rich-poor divide and Wall Street control has tightened – and a lurch to the ignorant right of Trump. Is there any wonder that leftward-leaning people are alienated? Across the board.
What these opportunists also need to know is that the grass roots activists are the engine of the party. The Labour party as a whole needs to harness the energy of Momentum, and not try to alienate them marginalising them through labelling as Trots. Without this energy the opportunists will not get into power. One of the opportunist tactics is to present Corbyn as unelectable and to present Smith as an electable alternative. Disillusionment during Blair and post-Blair makes Labour unelectable because they offer nothing other than right-wing policies, who can distinguish between what Blair stood for and what Cameron or May stand for?
In the end the opportunists are destroying Labour’s electability by clinging to power. Rather than trying to secede the movement that supports Corbyn, these opportunists need to rejoin this more genuine grass roots movement and then ply their opportunist trade under the guise of a New Labour that is radical and democratic. Whilst the socialist in me does not like this recommendation tactically it is sound. Whilst I do not see the Veil being removed using elections I hope it might; in the end evolution is better than alternatives that would probably contain violence.
In the transcendence blog I discussed the process of transcending being similar for the spiritual and political – ultimately because it is from the separate to Unity. Within the blog I described how the Trots were divisive, together with a description of some of my own personal involvement with the Communists. There is a huge irony in the division between the Communists and the Trots because bottom-line they both put their sets of ideas first and because of that they are both divisive – despite the claims to the contrary by Communists.
This identity is easy to see when you take a cursory look at the Soviet revolution. For many this revolution is a significant focal point of communism, was often analysed by them, and led to many dubious decisions with regards to their support for dictatorship in USSR. What happened in this revolution? Firstly it was a revolution of class change, a keypoint in discussion of revolution. Was it a mass movement revolution? And that firmly is no. How was it started? A small group, known as the Bolsheviks– the minority – forced a class war. This war was not a groundswell feeling of the mass movement, it was led by this small group. If the resulting government was not communist, I feel communists would not support this process. At the beginning Lenin and Trotsky were together, neither had an issue with the Bolsheviks.
I have a serious issue with the Bolsheviks. For much of the twentieth century the Soviet Union was under a dictatorship. Marx’s theory is that there needs to be a proletarian dictatorship to fight off the backlash of the deposed capitalist. Whilst there needs to be a strategy to deal with the financed backlash, a dictatorship ought not to be necessary. It will be required if the revolution is started by a minority but if the revolution is mass movement such a dictatorship to fight the backlash would not be necessary.
In the USSR dictatorship became a way of life, an unacceptable way of life that was ended when Gorbachev said it was time for Perestroika and Glasnost; put simplistically these processes started enabling the people to begin to take charge of themselves. The process led to the end of communism, and now in Russia we have an oligarchy, something so far from communism. So with 70 years of Marxist education when the people chose they enabled oligarchy.
The source of this problem was Bolshevism, minority leadership, a group of academic intellectuals demanding of the people a particular mindset.
To me communism says the people will rise up when they are ready, when the conditions are right. A minority of intellectuals leading a mass movement is not a revolution, a change of class does not occur through intellectualism. Trots don’t have an issue with Bolsheviks, neither do communists because they are fundamentally of the same mindset. The intellectuals have to wait, educate and wait; if they don’t wait and impose the mindset through Trot intellectualism or a vanguard such a revolution cannot work. There will be disastrous consequences such as the USSR where dictatorship became the response to western imperialism. Every Trot sees their organisation as a vanguard – including the communists. At the point when Communists create a vanguard they become Trots.
So it is quite amazing that there is such deep-seated conflict between communists and Trots when they are both Marxists pushing their own agendas. You either work within the mass movement accepting that the mass movement will eventually be able to rise up – or you don’t. Typical of intellectuals that they fight each other so deeply when they are almost identical.
If you were to say to me that the mass movement will never rise up, I would have to agree. The capitalist accumulation is so much that people to function as the bourgeois military can easily be bought off – especially with the increased technology requiring fewer operational staff to defend the 1%. With increasing globalisation and capital flight it becomes even less likely that a mass movement could rise up.
It is important to understand this position is flawed – “that the mass movement will rise up against their oppression” is flawed. This does not mean that all of Marxism is flawed – far from it. Whilst there is money and accumulation, whilst there is an economy based on trade and mass production, the economics of marxism has relevance. But there are factors in our economy, levels of greed that the bourgeoisie have reached that Marx did not imagine. Who could have predicted the heinous nature of the wars for profit, the degree of debt indenture and an economy created on fiat money? Clinging to Marxism is a mistake, dismissing it completely is likewise an error.
What has to be understood is that the system is 1% – Occupy. What do people work for as a solution? Alternatives. Occupy raised peoples’ awareness as to what was happening to them. This is a good start. What do Occupiers then do? Find alternatives. One such alternative is communes, if this is what the Communard Manifesto is saying then great. Are there other alternatives? I suspect many would say working within their communities to alleviate suffering. This is to be commended but not recommended. In the end it will yield minimal alleviation, and more lead to frustration stress and ill-health; these are the prices to be paid for trying to hold back the tide. Or it will lead to being bought off!!!
Communes, mindful consumer networks within communes. Is there frustration stress and ill health in a commune? Not inherently. Will you be bought off? No, because the 1% would not be interested in the limited money of your alternative lifestyle. Keep it small and beautiful.
I was put onto the “Communards Manifesto” or here, and I am having difficulty understanding it. But it is helping me to re-evaluate so that’s good.
Initially it talks of social decomposition and changing economic relations – I don’t get the emphasis on renting, the majority of people in the world have never owned. So what is changing? At the basis of economy is trade – buying and selling; that is still happening. Over the centuries the rich realised they could make more profits by mass production so they developed the factories of mass exploitation that Marxism responded to. At the same time the fatcats began to recognise their financial accumulation, and the finance industry started to develop mechanisms to use that accumulation to increase profits. Banks split into banking customer services and banking exploitation through mechanisms such as derivatives. Credit used to be a regulated method of profit-making, but to increase debt-indenture the regulations were stopped and credit became readily available.
With the beginning of mass production products matched supply with demand, and the demand increased because of mass production. This soon reached a ceiling, and the owners developed consumer-creation mechanisms such as advertising to increase demand. To match this demand finance then offered credit, with the debt-indenture soon following. But this was not enough because of the continual need to increase profits, and this started to drive a new strategy, a strategy that was also driven from the finance side.
Money initially was used to facilitate trade but as people got wealthier they realised that money itself, and not what it could be traded for, meant wealth. To begin with money was based on what it could purchase, and at some stage it reached what was known as the gold standard. Then there was a backlog because the consumer side of finance was pushing for more credit but there was not sufficient money. The gold standard was a restriction so it was decided that companies such as the Federal Reserve or the Bank of England could decide how much cash money was in circulation. This amount of money in circulation continues to increase as consumer demands increase, and the demands of the 1% for profits continue to increase. The economy has reached a stage where countries’ books are not even recognised yet alone balanced, where if money is needed it is printed – fiat money. We live in what could be described as a giant Ponzi scheme where our economies exist through a mutual confidence that is very fragile. Furthermore a person’s wealth is not even measured by cash money, and the sum total of wealth measured in bank accounts is far larger than the money in circulation including the fiat money; such a totally fragile situation.
Typical was the crash in 2008. The system desired further profits by creating credit. In the US, banks lent money on dubious house purchases. But this was not sufficient. Hedge funds wished to profit on these loans, and packaged them for resale. Once resold under the new package they were traded until their value was questioned. The confidence bubble broke, and there was a crash; the bankers who had made the dubious loans in the first place were then bailed out by governments and bankers whose initial loans could be considered criminal were then awarded bonuses. Check this for a humorous description.
There has further developed disaster capitalism or brinkmanship. Crises develop, or are allowed to develop, and previously unacceptable measures are introduced by governments to work through the crises. In the US 9/11 was typical. Soon after 9/11 the Homeland Securities Act was introduced infringing on human liberty because of the 9/11 attack, the speed with which it was introduced added fuel to the many conspiracy theories that exist concerning 9/11. A big consequence of 9/11 has been the “war on terror” where there has been a huge loss of life, a new “red under the bed” has been created in terrorism and Islamophobia, and huge profits have been made for the Military Industrial Complex. But 9/11 was not an isolated crisis through which new legislation and policy has been introduced. Naomi Klein repeatedly discusses crisis capitalism. As a consequence of the 2008 crash increasing power has moved to the finance sector, and the wealth gap has widened – not a coincidence.
The communard manifesto describes an abundance but is there? When demand is driven by credit, is it wise to describe this as abundance? Whilst there is money to buy – the demand, manufacturing will supply but this is far from sustainable. If time was frozen and people attempted to realise assets, there would be a queue behind the 1% backed by security companies demanding their fiat money be realised. Pensioners would not see their pensions in this queue!
Has capitalism broken down or has it simply evolved – morally devolved? The basic of the rich investing in plant to mass produce goods for sale does still exist, and this basic trade is the basis of accumulation that has gone wild with the gambling mechanisms. The means of production has changed becoming far less labour-intensive. The cost of plant has increased and the skillset of the labour force has decreased. A more educated workforce has been replaced by less educated and automation. Owners choose where to put the plant and if labour objects it can be moved. It was hard enough to organise a response in a plant let alone organise international response to such capitalist strategies (of moving the plant). The Marxist response has virtually disappeared. The margins were what was argued about, did the margins go to the owner or the workers? With the changes the owner pays as low wages as possible to maintain a workforce, and they have a ready supply of workers as with automation unemployment has increased.
If capitalism is seen as a system for the people then it has failed. But in my view it was never so designed, it has always been a system to benefit the bourgeoisie or 1%. It continues to do so increasingly placing wealth in the hands of the few. A clear analysis shows increasing world problems but also shows greater accumulation in the hands of the few. For my understanding this is the purpose of capitalism and it is working.
What does the internet do for all of this? Very little. It changes communication but does not change the dominant ethos of capitalism – the greater accumulation in the hands of the few. The internet introduces increased freedom for a few such as digital nomads. It allows for alternative business networking such as P2P, but it does not transition to a peer-to-peer society as it claims. Such P2P networking can allow some people to network and not be immersed in the rat race but they still remain controlled through the use of money. They still buy products, food, houses, computers etc, and these products are controlled within the 1%-system of capital. What P2P networking can do is minimise contact with the system, and that is beneficial for those concerned.
A while back I looked at Mindful Consuming and Mindful Consuming Networks (scroll down), this was my strategy for the future. [Relevant discussion – check tags Occupy Horizontalidad]. As a teacher I am skill-less outside of the education system that the 1% controls, what use is maths except within the system that is controlled? This is a vulnerable position to be in. I could have done with a skill whereby I could have something to trade with if the moneyed system causes a problem. This trade could produce a product I could barter with. Ideally my consumption should change to support those who are trying to create P2P barter networks with the ideal of existing “off the money grid”.
In conclusion my evaluation is that capitalism as neo-liberalism is far from dead but continues with increasing accumulation of wealth to the few. The strategy I looked at of Mindful Consumer Networks outside the money system was my hope for those who could be true to themselves and detached from the 1%-system. If these are similar to the communes of the communard manifesto, then that would be great.
In “returning to love” Marianne Williamson talked of her “ego-death” in this you-tube clip (3.30 mins). In the recent blog on Miracles,I saw this ego death as temporary, and that ego has rebirth throughout life. Despite there being transcendence, which can be so powerful, it does not mean that conditions for the ego don’t arise again. We require constant awareness to see that after transcendence we do not attach to ego, through fear, new mindsets etc. Fortunately we have the tool of meditation to help keep our minds clear.
In my life there has been an ongoing oscillation between inner and outer emphasis. Do I focus on the spiritual, how much am I involved with the political? 100% awareness on both is ideal, both of which I am far away from – such might well be Nirvana. The transcendence might well occur dramatically as it did with me but developing awareness is ongoing and requires work; the battle to control ego, desire and attachment is equally ongoing however powerful a transcendence has occurred. It is a sense of recognition of this battle that made me quit study of ACIM, it is not fear of the power but control of the ego.
Making judgements about others is dangerous as one can never know what is in their heads; it is hard enough to try to know oneself with all the information that you have available to understand. So when it comes to considering someone else, making judgements really ought to be a no-no. I make an exception to this, an important exception, and that comes to my studies. Whilst I always try to learn from within, there has to be a tendency to adopt the mindset of the teacher in order to help understand. This is especially so when you are starting on something new. Understanding Soto Zen and Shobogenzo is such a new venture for me, and previously I was using Brad as a teacher but this is “written Brad”, the Brad that I read in his blogs and books. There is no personal contact, no feedback, only the written word. This is not a good situation, this is a statement of what is and not a criticism of Brad. When I see the lack of political transcendence and a degree of racism in the “written Brad”, the weak situation gets worse. Politically I cannot accept his mindset, and therefore spiritually I have doubts; perhaps that is better. To understand Shobogenzo I was intending to read Brad and maybe then look at Shobogenzo, now the emphasis has to be on Shobogenzo.
Buddhadasa talks about ongoing rebirth, especially with paticcasamuppada; Marianne’s use of the term “ego death” has helped me understand that a little more. Many Buddhists believe in reincarnation, and cite references in the suttas to support this. Buddhadasa did not accept that the Buddha advocated reincarnation. In the Kalama sutta the Buddha asks that we do not accept anything unless we can internalise and understand it as truth. Reincarnation falls into this category, how can it be proved, and it is my understanding it is considered one of the Buddha’s unanswered questions. Buddhadasa suggests that the reincarnation the Buddha is referring to is ego. Through kamma (conditions) ego arises and is attached to, but if we let go then there is ego death. No ego is permanent no matter how strong that ego feels. Perhaps the strongest ego we feel is the one of our upbringing. Society conforms us through education and upbringing, and this conditioning is very hard to break through – breaking through is described as transcendence in this blog. But that is not the end of ego arising, and we have to be continually aware. Whilst it is much easier once we have transcended to recognise and release ego, in some ways it is more difficult because egos that then arise are so much more subtle.
In my own past such egos have been numerous, the most obvious was the addiction to alcohol. In retrospect I do not understand how I could have deluded myself into accepting the drink. At a similar time I did not demand sila of myself. In transcendence I felt I had developed a soul that guided me. In discussion with others I saw their morality as being based on a rational justification ie reasons for conduct, whereas I trusted that my soul guided my conduct 100% truthfully. This was ego. Such a soul had some substance, a substance that I would now ascribe to sunnata and insight, but that substance I considered had some form of permanence. It was akin to notions like Self. Now I know it was an ego, an ego that I have now released. Another ego I repeatedly get trapped in is mindsets, or better described as insights that I later cling to as mindsets. When one experiences an insight it is so powerful, it is almost as if each new insight recreates the world. Once such light bulbs take hold, we experience Eurekas like any good Archimedes. But they are only thoughts that we need to let rise and fall away (unless they qualify as scientific principles!!), but because they are so powerful to us we cling to them. I regularly have had to remove the clinging of such insights, remove their egos. When I look at all the things I know I should do on a daily basis but don’t, I know that there are still many egos in play. Am I doing the best I can? Ego gets in the way, attaching to wrong conduct etc.
What I have said concerning Marianne Williamson is an observation that if it ever comes to her attention is up to her to discard etc., for me the decision has already been made when I was studying ACIM. Maybe if I returned to ACIM I could learn more, but I would rather work with teachings that I can trust – as explained I cannot trust ACIM.
As for Brad (as opposed to Marianne) my evaluation is for a different purpose because I had intended using his books for study as I do his blogs. I read this tweet of his “You’ll never be completely happy with it, or completely comfortable with it or completely satisfied with it. So why waste time complaining?” An ego part of me would like that it referred to what I have written – I would always welcome communication, but I will take it as synchronous. I know I am not complaining because making a complaint implicitly carries with it a hope for change. I am making criticisms because they matter to me and it is some form of evaluation as his being a teacher for me as described above. Such criticisms might form the basis for change if he so wished, that is up to him. But for me they are evaluations, and also learning points – I learn from the interactions. In this last case I have specifically learned about transcendence, and have realised the connection between spiritual and political transcendence. It is not a complaint that I see a shortcoming with regards to this political transcendence, it is a judgement with regards to the teachings. If I am to use “written Brad” to learn from, I must be clear what I can and cannot accept.
In the tweet there is the use of the word “completely”. The way that is written implies an over-reaction to minor differences (taken as on my part). In this blog I suggested that I would be too definitive if I demanded the Occupy view. But the failure to understand the power relations, in my view, contributed to the racism that has caused division.
Whilst I fully support Brad’s efforts to move away from the sutta quoting into day-to-day practical interpretations of the teachings, there is a danger of alienation. Hence consideration of “complete agreement” is a fair warning. But a good person cannot make racist comments, whether institutional or not. Whether Brad likes it or not, his words as a monk are under some form of microscope, and whether he likes it or not he is judged accordingly. There has to be circumspection.
7 years ago there was a disagreement with a monk who having read Tony Blair’s autobiography wrote that he understood Blair’s going into Iraq. At that time, and now, I could not accept Blair as anything other than a warmonger doing the work of the 1%. Despite Chilcott’s weak response, most now accept that Blair should not have taken Britain to war, that monk was out of step with most people. I commend that monk, now, for his attempts to be real, to apply the teachings to daily life, but he was deluded by a spin doctor, a man whose way of life was to lie and deceive. A monk cannot allow such deceptions or the monk will lose respect and people will not follow their interpretation of the teachings. Their lifestyle makes monks self-reliant but when it comes to understanding the ways of the 1%-system they need advice.
I still don’t know where I stand with Brad, but I am not as keen to study his books. Yet Dogen was not easy, and I can relate to Brad more.