Brexit and Trump have also brought home to me another important issue – what is truth? Speaking the truth is part of the 8-Fold Path, Magga (4 Noble Truths), and never has it been more important to recognise the truth when the representatives of the powerful are lying so much.
The first thing I learned about the truth as an adult was when I started on the Path and began to develop insight. At that time seeing people or knowing stuff was so important. Basically it was a reaction to all the lies that education and upbringing had given me. Developing insight is the most important tool for understanding the truth, and very few people discuss this. Insight is definitely not taught in schools!!! At the same time, in the search for truth recognising insight in others became an important aspect of discerning truth. It is not possible for one person to know the truth in all things. So a pre-requisite for truth is insight and the recognition of insight. One key aspect of recognising insight is that of sila – moral integrity. Recognising moral integrity is almost as difficult as recognising insight but there is an obvious corollary to this:-
If a person does not have moral integrity, then they certainly do not have insight and would not see truth as important.
Having moral integrity and talking about morals is definitely not the same thing. There are many people who use morality within religious institutions as a means of control, and yet they themselves do not have morality. In other words religion and morality are not the same although within the religious institutions there are people with insight and moral integrity.
Compassion is the most important fundamental concerning truth. Compassion means the freedom from suffering for all, and in this I include Gaia. So in seeking the truth the person must show compassion. Therefore a person speaking the truth will be working towards compassion, and therefore someone who is sexist, racist, or does not support LBGT rights is not compassionate, and is therefore not speaking the truth. So there are yardsticks, how compassionate is the person and how much insight do they have?
Of course these yardsticks are absolutes, and applying these absolutes in everyday situations especially in something as criminal as politics is very difficult.
But trying to use these yardsticks let’s examine the political situation but not as yet in terms of party politics. What politically exhibits the least compassion? Quite obviously the first political yardstick is war. Who benefits from war? People don’t but corporations do, the global MIC, Military Industrial Complex does. So we have a political question to ask as a benchmark concerning support for the MIC and the corporations – I will use the vernacular the 1%. The most heinous weapon of war is the drone, these are hugely expensive to make and generate huge profits, a definite plus for the MIC. The immigration crisis is blowback, a huge consequence of interfering wars and the heinous use of drones.
These corporations work hand-in-hand with global finance institutions such as banking and insurance. So for me the 1% of MIC, banking and finance are those that control global politics, and politicians who stand against the 1% are those who I support. I have not mentioned BigFood and BigPharma but these corporations have similar interests as the other corporations of the 1%.
For me Occupy stood against the 1%, so I support the Occupy movement. It is my understanding that the Occupy movement stood behind Bernie in the US and Corbyn in the UK. Whether this is true or not what Bernie and Corbyn say stands against the 1%.
But is what they say what they mean, are they telling the truth? Or is it just rhetoric?
In Corbyn’s case I have sufficient personal knowledge of the man to know that he is genuine although I haven’t always agreed with his tactics. In the UK in London from 1985 through to 1992 I was a political activist, and this brought me into contact with Corbyn’s sphere of influence – he was an MP and community activist in North London then. For me there was no doubt about his moral integrity and compassion, but at the time I was active I felt his tactics were mistaken. Now I support him, times change.
I support Bernie. His rhetoric is good, and I have a general feeling that he is moving in the right direction. But because of the lack of personal connection I cannot be so definitive. My intuition makes me feel he merits support, but I would not go beyond that because of my lack of personal contact.
What is most interesting about these two political candidates is that they are both struggling with their party hierarchies. There is a movie I often recall called Lifting the Veil. Whilst the movie does attack both the Labour party and the Democrats, it is more concerned with attacking the system. It is my understanding that the movie claims that the electoral system has been manipulated by the 1% as a media circus, and that there is never any intention of genuine democracy – government by the people for the people. This is in line with the approach of neoliberalism as most notably discussed by Noam Chomsky (for me).
Given that I accept that the political system of neoliberalism is the problem, the question then is how it is to be defeated and what is it to be replaced with? For me compassion means that I am seeking a system that treats people as equals without regards to “race creed or colour”; I would also now add gender preference. This is fundamentally the rights of all people over the few, the 99% compared to the 1%. At present we have governments directed by the 1% against the interests of the 99% who they want to exploit as their workforce. So the question is how do we organise for a government by the 99% (or 100% where the government treats all people as equal)? In determining veracity I would be investigating whether the politician is genuinely interested in a government of and by 100% of the people.
So far I have avoided political terminology in describing truth. And this is because of problems with the media and education. It is my view that western societies (and probably global societies) are inundated with propaganda that is directed by the 1% for their benefit. The terms 1% and 99% are very similar to the Marxist terminology of bourgeois and proletariat, and there has been continued propaganda against Marxists, socialists or any who subscribe to Marx’s theories. There is much to be learnt from Marx’s dialectical approach. But the main point of Marxism is that all the people need to work together against the self-interests of the 1%. In my adult years I have never seen people more divided, and I think propaganda and obfuscation by the 1%-media are the main causes. Typically I have seen mainstream media organisations described as left-wing when I have always described them as right-wing. In terms of compassion this site might well have the same objectives – healthy people, but in terms of the media our descriptions could not be further apart. In this the 1% have been so successful in dividing us.
There is another reason I have not promoted myself as socialist, I believe that sticking to ideas or an ideology is a mistake. While ideas can guide, holding to an ideal restricts the mind. Adhering to dogma stagnates an institution whether it is religious or political, people also become restricting if others are expected to fit in with ideals. So another point of truth is enquiry. Does the truth hold up to inspection of the enquiring mind? For many years dogma has been thrown at me either from the left wing or in religious circles, but none of this dogma alone produces clarification. It is only with insight that dogma moves beyond the idea. Examining a situation in the light of compassion and through enquiry examining the dogma and situation is a process to determine the truth. Does what is said fit a set of rules is not truth-determining?
I often draw parallels between US and UK politics, typically Republicans vs Democrats and Conservatives vs Labour. In the UK historically the conservatives have supported the 1% with token liberal rhetoric for the welfare of the people and nationalist populism in the interests of the white population, and whilst historically Labour grew out of the working-class its representatives are now simply opportunists. In the UK a nationalist populist, Nigel Farage, has arrived on the scene promoting racism, and this populism has recently been accepted by many people – a significant factor in Brexit; his party UKIP primarily attracts disillusioned working-class Labour voters.
The I in UKIP stands for Independence, and I think this term independent is significant. In UKIP’s case it maybe means independent from the EU – Brexit. But in character UKIP supposedly represents an alternative to the conservatives and labour (the neoliberal system). At the same time it discusses the people’s interests over that of an elite – again appealing to an understanding of those against neoliberalism, but its appeal to the British electorate is because it is white nationalist. In my view UKIP is an appeal to white popular racism, and although sadly they are increasing in popularity their only impact so far has been their contribution to Brexit which also included majority conservative influence. In the UK this populism has divided the 99%, and in the UK I believe that is why UKIP has been funded and given more coverage in mainstream media than is warranted for a small party.
In the US the situation is slightly different but the impact of nationalist populism combined with the conservative interests has led to the election of Donald Trump. Because of my compassion I cannot support either UKIP or Trump because of their racism – and in Trump’s case overt sexism. (I suspect also LGBT issues but I am not certain of that). Initially I said that if a person does not have moral integrity I cannot believe that they will tell the truth, that applies particularly for Trump although I also distrust Farage.
In the US many people rue the election because Hillary was not elected. However in the neoliberal system Hillary represented the 1%-system elite of the Democrat party, and so she lost the populist vote. For the same reason support from Occupy was not strong because of the same neoliberalism, and because of the way the Democrat party cut out Bernie.
In terms of truth it is worth examining how events have panned out in terms of the way they have benefitted the 1%. Particularly in the US nationalist populism has benefitted the 1% by splitting the 99%. The populists have however elected a member of the 1% to deliver an anti-1% platform, can that ever happen? We will have to wait and see. Is Trump a political “whistleblower”?
In terms of truth this splitting is very important because it explains much that goes on with populism. Within the framework of blaming the elite the primary purpose of the populism is division. When you examine much of the analysis in both camps it places the source of the problem with the 1%. Two important platforms of US populism were “draining the swamp” and “against Wall Street”, both of which any left-winger would be happy to support. But then comes the division because the most important attack politically is to blame the left. And here is the inconsistency, the swamp and Wall Street are not the Left.
When considering the populism we have to examine emphasis. The 1% have no problem with being blamed if their strategy of dividing the 99% works so the rise of this nationalist populism just benefits them. For me the main political truth is that the 1% cause our problems, and that we should all fight against the influence of the 1%. In blaming the 1% I seek unity against the 1%, and seek strategies that negate their financial power and influence. This strategy unites all working people, it unites small business owners who are trying to balance their books, but it works against people who manipulate financial laws for their own profit. Such small business owners do not go bankrupt and start up again. Such people pay taxes however unfair the tax system might be because those taxes provide education and infrastructure for ordinary working people. The 99% have all this in common, and if we all worked together then the 1% cannot exploit us.
However divided we become manipulable so it is in the interest of the 99% to divide the left and right. The internet has succeeded in doing this. By investing in the internet the 1% have developed websites that present their divisive populism.
At the same time populism has inconsistencies because the strategy is division and not the interests of the people themselves. The government is described as left-wing and yet a major popular platform is the swamp – the revolving door of the 1% that controls the government. How can the government be left-wing and 1%-controlled? And Trump himself is a major inconsistency, how can a member of the 1% be interested in fighting 1%-control? However these inconsistencies don’t matter if the purpose is division, that division is a consistent purpose:-
Consistency – division
Such inconsistency is for me a good measure of the truth.
Where next do I go in terms of the truth? Over the years I have developed mechanisms for determining the truth. These are based primarily on the arena of politics that I know – what has been called the “left”. I know these people, and have developed some insight into their degree of truth-telling. Over the years I have seen how important the truth is to the left wing, if there are any doubts in the veracity of a left-wing statement there is a huge mainstream backlash. More responsible left-wing people are very careful with the truth, but that is not all left-wingers for sure with some of the more vociferous getting carried away with rhetoric; so there has to be truth-discernment from within. Based on my experience and insight I would use certain left-wing evidence and avoid the rhetoric. This can only be a personal approach to truth.
Political correctness is also worth discussing when examining the truth. PC developed throughout my lifetime, and in my view it developed because language was a significant part of racism and sexism. Demanding that people were not racist or sexist in the language they used was a good position when trying to remove the embedded racism and sexism in society. As a result racists and sexists were expected to improve their use of language. This gave an illusion that people were less racist or sexist but in the UK Brexit showed that people had not truly changed. At the same time there has been a backlash against the “PC police”, people who have too vehemently reinforced the change of language without helping people change their attitudes. With UKIP and Trump those people who have been straitjacketed by the PC police have been allowed to express their racism and sexism. Because there was a repression there has been a backlash against PC in general, and as a result truth has suffered because much truth came out of the research those people did.
At the same time it is populist to reject what PC people have said because populism attacks the left wing. As I have said, this is a change that I find hard to understand as the government has always been a puppet of the 1% so for populism to claim government is left wing is difficult for me to grasp. Again this is an indication as to the ability of the 1% to influence. Look at what has happened. The 1% continue to dominate and their profits continue to increase despite the crash of 2008. Governments have applied austerity measures as a consequence, awarded bankers bonuses, and yet populism has divided the 99% so that there is an obfuscation concerning the left wing. The power of money is amazing.
So to conclude how I determine truth:-
1) Overlying everything else is compassion
Finally since this has been mainly concerning truth in politics, I ask that we recognise a political delusion that has been perpetrated. Most people vote for economic reasons ie vote in a way that they think will give them most money. Vote for greed. When greed is voted for we get manipulated by the greedy. Why not change the way we vote to that of compassion, vote for people who genuinely talk about caring for others and the environment. This would change the political arena.