Posts Tagged ‘narrative’

[Warning – the theme of this blog u-turns.]

We are a long way from most people following the path. As a political strategy I have proposed “following the path”. All those that follow the path will not be subject to conditioning, and such freedom will be increasingly recognised as the natural human freedom.

But that will take time, and meanwhile the need for a narrative is glaring. The dilemma of automation is upon us. How can we live in a consumer society in which the 1% accumulate based on consumerism when people don’t have money. Robots have no desires, they have no self, no conditioning, they do not consume, and therefore the powerful cannot continue to accumulate.

Therefore we cannot continue with profit alone. But we cannot just make demands when we have no power. The power we have is in consuming, and that is because the powerful allow us to work, earn money and become consumers. We agree to that conditioning, and that is the normal narrative:-

If we are not working because the robot is doing our job, there is no consumerism.

1%, people know this, they are not stupid. They might knee-jerk, make stupid decisions like Trump and blaming immigrants because it is easier, but they know if the 1% don’t change and the 1% continue with the profit motive there will be no jobs no consumerism and society will implode.

If there is no consumerism then there is no wealth, where will your power be? You will continue using your wealth as society slowly withers. You will continue to pay your security, the robots will make your products, the military will fight off the 99%, and then your wealth ends you cannot pay for military, you cannot pay for robots, you wither and die.

1%, if you don’t join in the new narrative you will wither and die. Davos there is no future for you in isolation. Davos, you have to know you need consumerism. Davos you have to know you must involve people not sycophants. You want consumerism, you want profit and you want automation. It just doesn’t work.

End your addiction before it is too late for us all.

Serious disappointment. In meditation there came a neo-narrative that works.

For a narrative to work there needs to be consuming, expansion and accumulation. In the current narrative expansion and accumulation are enabled through fiat mechanisms – unsustainable currency, it is the imaginary economy that is creating new accumulation. It has been a long time since money was connected to available resources even the gold standard was not sustainable, and even that minimal protection has long since gone. Money as exchange has long been surpassed, and now money is printed that just disappears into the accumulation – as apparent wealth. We now have crypto-currencies which are completely unsustainable, and even have no pretence at sustainability; they exist purely on the basis of confidence. But then much of our economic system is an act of faith – ask Yanis.

There is a traditional illusion in our current narrative that money is connected to productivity but there is no reason for faith in that illusion to continue. With robot automation there is no need for productivity only the skills for maintenance and creativity for development. Most people would be allocated “entitlement” probably chip-based (RFID). This entitlement would have two properties – survival and choice. The survival entitlement would provide a certain amount of stability, money flowing into government paying rent etc. Then there would be choice to enable crime (enterprise?).

Entitled people would live in ghettoes (projects council estates) that would be intentionally divided to create tension and division – probably based around race but these ghettoes would include white people; deplorables LINK know they are heading there. Crime would be a way out of these ghettoes for a few. Miseducation (conditioning) would ensure the continuation of these ghettoes (in much the same way that wage-slavery is continued now), but there would be a way out for the creative; that would be the secondary purpose of this miseducation – to find the creative and enable their escape.

They would escape to the middle-classes – Liberals. These would be the people who would enable production through the maintenance of automation. They would be rewarded with greater entitlement and greater choice over their money – probably still RFID-based. These middle-classes would provide the enterprise and expansion and therefore increased consuming that would enable the continued accumulation.

There will of course be wars. These wars would be resource-based such as with the Congo and Middle East now. And with the increased ghettoisation will be targeted on “other” ghettoes. Whilst there would be continuous Liberal outcry at these wars, this will just be rhetoric as the Liberals will continue in their separate middle-class enterprise habitats.

The accumulators will have their enclaves protected by private security.

This neo-narrative can be conditioned and is not significantly different from our current narrative.

There will always be the path, and there will be far-off places – communes where people on the path can take refuge. Many on the path would of course work to improve humanity (as they do now) but to what avail? As now.

The call is still:-

Accumulators, end your addiction before it is too late for us all. But sadly that call has no immediacy as I had hoped for when I first started this examination of a new narrative based on the robot imperative.

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I have previously described the path as going beyond conditioning, I have also described it as the path of compassion, insight and creativity. It is not narratives we need to understand, follow the path.

So far I have looked at narratives and have seen that the manipulators of the 1% can condition based on any narrative. A narrative is a set of ideas describing a situation. Finding a new narrative is not a revolutionary act because it is simply a set of ideas – khandhas. What matters is the power. For conditioning of the narrative to happen there needs to be power, and that power provides an object of desire. People desire that object, maybe money from a job, they become addicted to that desire – because of what the money can buy, and we have the conditioning that can be recognised in any description of paticcasamuppada or the 4 Noble Truths. Addiction – desire and craving – is at the basis of this Buddhist dogma, I am simply describing how this conditioning is developed in daily life. But it is the same dogma, the same description, the same process; addiction .

In this addiction blog, I have gone into detail with addiction and how it can be understood in terms of the two Buddhist dogmas paticcasamuppada and 4 Noble Truths. Overcoming addiction is not easy but it can be done, but the first step is to recognise there is a problem. In this same blog I discussed addiction to self, few would see this as a problem, but that is the nature of addiction and the first step is recognising we are addicted to self.

To reiterate here is a short description of the process of being addicted to self. I start with what I call the Buddhadasa meme:-

Now body and psyche refer to the khandas. Body – rupa, and psyche – feelings (vedana), perceptions (sanna) and mental constructs (sankhara); with consciousness (vinnana – also a khandha) these are the basis of human ontology. Events can fit into these categories. Conditioning is a natural process. An event happens and consciousness attaches to it. Babies like (desire) suckling and enjoying mother’s milk. Adults like (desire) having money to buy a house. Conditioning is not a process that is inherently evil, it is natural.

But when we are considering narratives, there is a process that is human – how the powerful give their power to the narrative. This is a function of the desire of the powerful. This power is nature’s power but it has accumulated through wealth to a few, and they decide when to give power to the narrative.

It is relatively easy to understand addiction because we know of and have seen many examples of addiction to substances. But we do not understand addiction to self. In part this is because we do not understand the formation of self. And this comes back to the khandhas again. As we like different events, that like becomes part of who we are. As a baby we like suckling, we desire suckling, we cling to the mother’s breast. At that time suckling mother’s milk has become who we are – as a baby we selfishly want mother’s milk. Then the power, mother, says enough is enough, and no more self. We don’t question this analysis of self, but we don’t recognise that this process of desire-clinging-becoming self is the natural process that applies to all events. And more importantly we don’t realise that we can be weaned off this addiction to self. Babies don’t choose to dump the breast, power decides for her/him.

When we consider the human self of the adult, where is the power that decides? Consciousness. Consciousness can decide to form self or break away from self. But that consciousness is not “on its own”. Always sunnata is with us, always the path is with us, but if our consciousness is always stuck in the body and psyche then we just continue to create self – we are addicted to self. The word for consciousness not being stuck in body and psyche is awareness. Somehow consciousness recognises that it does not have to stay attached to the body and psyche, attached to self, and it starts to follow the path. We could visualise that awareness is when consciousness becomes attached to sunnata but that visualisation is confusing if we take it literally as that sort of attachment can never exist.

It is much better to talk of this as following the path, the path of compassion, insight and creativity, and as it is a path that is not addicted to self it is a path that is beyond conditioning.

Let us consider the new narrative again. Naomi describes the situation at the moment as having a potent vacuum, as an indigenous activist I accept her judgement – with my age and where I live I cannot judge. The essential word here is potent meaning power, and power governs ideas.

I surmise that the need for a new narrative is being driven by the realisation that automation will drastically reduce employment thus ending the essential of consumerism – the consumer. The zombie idealism of the current consumerism will continue to lurch for as long as it can because the accumulators will not relinquish power. What will replace it will be some compromise that will enable their continued accumulation – they have more invested in there not being an apocalypse than most people.

Hopeful people, Naomi, want a new narrative but with narratives having no power in themselves such narratives will simply be the “same old same old” conditioning as they have been since tribal times. The powerful want a narrative that allows them to continue accumulation. They will then give power to this narrative, conditioning will follow, and “same old same old”. If a new narrative can give them the same accumulation their desire would be happy, and they would give power to the narrative. Is there such a narrative?

But remember narrative is a khandha – sankhara. We attach to a set of ideals, it becomes part of self and we become addicted to it. As an activist, of course you must engage with the process of changing the narrative in the hopes of participation enabling a better narrative. But narrative is part of the addiction, narratives create the conditions, the process is conditioned, and the conclusion will be conditioned. Because of addiction that is how we all, including the powerful fit, into the narrative.

For people the real hope lies in going beyond conditioning, following the path. Following the path does not mean the end of making better changes of the narrative, but it gives greater power, it gives resolve, it gives strength and conviction, and it avoids the attachment and disappointment of windmills.

It is pleasing to see Naomi as an indigenous activist talking of oneness, similarly with Russell, but the best thing for progression in all human movement is the path that includes recognition of oneness. Naomi you have grasped this because you describe indigenous movements as being driven by love – indigenous love of the land. This love of oneness is being sunnata, it is Gaia, and indigenous culture is much closer than the miseducated “European” culture. But love is not restricted to indigenous movements, love is the path.

Despite the potential “hippy” labelling the best way forward in terms of the narrative is not to promote a new narrative but to promote following the path. This is not some loose airy-fairy impractical naval introspection because it is the path that goes beyond conditioning. However the narrative is resolved, following the path will enable people to deal with the conditioning that results from any new narrative.

There is talk of revolution. In Marxist terms revolution means change of ruling class from bourgeoisie to proletariat, in non-Marxist terms revolution can just mean a change of government created by violence. Violence is not the answer. We live in a world that is controlled by violence. The powerful have not only accumulated money, their power also means control of violence through the military, even more so with the privatisation of security. To seek revolution through violence is now self-defeating and akin to suicide of ordinary people by the oppressive violence (cf suicide by cop). Do not seek suicide by the powerful, there is no future for anyone there. The revolutionary path is to go beyond conditioning. If you don’t accept the conditions they offer, what can they do. If they take away your house you go somewhere else you still have your path. When your path gives you strength in adversity people will see, and then they will see that the path s what they must follow. The path itself is revolution, and is not violent.

A political maxim:- detach from desire and follow the path.

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Conditioning the narrative

Posted: 20/03/2018 by zandtao in Freedom, Insight, Struggle

Look at this video.

I am not interested in shaming anyone. The people on this video appear perfectly happy with what they have done. I would love to hear that they have become ashamed of this, and will be happy to take it down.

The point of this blog is conditioning. 4 years ago these people would not have made this video. The video and actions have been enabled by a change of conditions – simplistically a move to the right. People who understand conditioning, the manipulating branch of the 1%, would know that such actions would happen with the changing conditions that are happening now in the US; they might not be able to predict who but such events are so eminently predictable. That is conditioning.

Are these people any less conditioned?

When manipulators want a narrative the conditioning happens. And the point about conditioning is that most people are unaware of it. Political activists call it indoctrination but they are unaware of the extent of conditioning especially of themselves. I have a friend who recognises there is brainwashing. He is satisfied with this recognition and is unaware of his own conditioning in accepting this; apathy is an integral part of political conditioning.

Political conditioning always produces people who reject conditioning, but that rejection is part of the conditioning – a more aware part but still a part. To reject the narrative is part of the narrative. This is best understood through Marxism. Marx for his time produced an excellent analysis of the economic system but it was primarily concerned with what was economically wrong. It was a rejection within the narrative. This was pointed out by Russell Means (his talk and a blog), an indigenous activist. For all of his sound analysis Marx was part of the conditioning. Within the narrative it is always important to recognise that the way forward is through class unity, but it is also important to recognise that this is part of the conditioning.

And here is the point about conditioning, we somehow have to learn to go beyond it. Follow the path. And this is where the political response within the narrative is limiting. The narrative is primarily economic and many responses are equally economic. Economics is a religion (Yanis) whose human value is greed, somewhere within any economic adherence whether 1% or socialist (communist) the narrative is concerned with people getting more money. As 1% or socialist we are accepting a “greed” narrative, and we are conditioned to do this. Following the path goes beyond this.

The conditioning process happens with narratives. At the moment many people are looking for a new narrative. Naomi talks of a potent vacuum that now sadly is starting to be filled by the right. In my description of the old narrative it is not only progressives who are concerned with narrative, the 1% are concerned. With increasing automation there is less “reason” to pay someone and that is the end of consumerism, and that is the end of the existing 1%-system. Their accumulation demands automation yet automation means the end of consumerism – the basis of the normal narrative:-

Who is driving the narrative process? Progressives see an opportunity to respond to the normal narrative with a progressive narrative. But whatever narrative replaces the normal the 1% will not relinquish their power. Any new narrative that will be formed has to be for the benefit of the powerful, and once they can see a way of resolving their consumer dilemma they will start a new conditioning process that they can so easily manipulate. A narrative is a description, a set of ideas, it has no power – only intellectual appeal; a narrative becomes the narrative only when power is attached to it. Once that power has been attached then conditioning is applied because the power has attached the carrot giving the people something they desire.

Detach from that desire and follow the path.

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A view of narratives

Posted: 20/03/2018 by zandtao in BigTech, Finance, Struggle, War
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I hear Russell calling for a new narrative, and such a call might well be what is popular now – I don’t know, Naomi thinks so and that means something. I have in a sense rejected this approach because it could be standard intellectual obfuscation that moves away from a clear class analysis. But perhaps it is a real movement, let me treat it as such.

What is the old narrative, if we want new we have to know what is old and what we want to change?

If we want to understand an old narrative we have to see historical trends. This is so important because if we do not examine trends we can end up with idealisms based on rhetoric imposed on a time-frame. To explain this let’s consider democracy.

In the UK where did democracy come from? There was tribalism, feudalism, monarchy, Cromwell and parliament. There was staggered suffrage. It is worth considering these on a timeline to understand our democracy. Under the monarchy and feudalism people were fundamentally serfs or soldiers with an existence predicated on the landowner. This started to change with money when different people became wealthy and used money to buy power. At this point parliament developed where wealth and land were supposedly two opposing interests. Cromwell was a figurehead in this as he represented wealth as parliamentarians. To develop support parliamentarians encouraged the notion that parliament was for the people, and so began the delusion of democracy. Initially suffrage was very limited but once it was seen that voting confirmed the status quo suffrage was expanded. Democracy as part of the establishment has never been in the interests of the people but has been used as a carrot to delude people into working for the establishment. This is democracy today. Similarly we could examine US history but it is not necessary to reinvent the wheel, look through the eyes of Howard Zinn.

For most people these are not accepted narratives.

Here is a forum for discussions on a new narrative (not necessarily recommended), and here is their presentation of the old narrative:-

“Within this narrative the basic trajectory of life was seen as go to college, get a job, get married, buy a house, have kids, go to church, work every day until you have saved up enough money, then retire.”

[This I will term the normal narrative].

But what can be clearly seen by those with an enquiring mind is that this version of the old narrative could fit into a view of consumer conditioning. Examine the components of this view of narrative. We get educated to get a job. Nature dictates we have kids but the narrative turns that into house, maybe church, kids getting educated. When we get too old for a job we retire, and this is enabled by the narrative through savings and pension schemes.

This “normal” narrative simply accepts the prevailing system that is based around getting money to bring up a family. That narrative simply accepts that people will consume. This narrative also assumes that society’s method for enabling this narrative is acceptable.

Politically this narrative has been supported by the capitalist system, money is accumulated to create means of production and the profits from sales of consumer items go to the owners of those means of production. Various mechanisms such as the stock market are used to create the accumulation. Intrinsic within the old narrative is the notion that this is just business, and whilst there are some minor problems business works, capitalism works.

So tied in with the old narrative is a capitalist system, and this system has been questioned. Initially this system was questioned by Karl Marx pointing out problems, along with Lenin, Trotsky, Castro, Guevara and others proposing communism as an alternative. Whilst communist alternatives have not been successful criticisms of the way capitalism has developed have increased.

These criticisms perhaps reached a crescendo globally with movements such as Horizontalidad, the Arab Spring, Indignados and Podemos in Spain, and then the Occupy movement. Perhaps most significant in these movements became the recognition of the 1%, new terminology describing Marx’s bourgeoisie and proletariat.

During and since these times has been the rise of the right wing as a response to the globalisation by the 1%. These right-wingers seek a return to the perceived wealth that nationalism had supposedly brought. This emerging right-wing is common throughout the white world (Russell Means’ European) where benefits of the capitalist system had been more pronounced. These right-wingers target liberal movements as the source of the problems. Identity politics seeks to promote non-white races, women and LBGQT communities, and for these people on the right this liberalism has become an enemy.

Automation has completely changed the workplace in the last 50 years. It is now more profitable to increase the use of machines in manufacture being both more reliable mechanically and also able to work 24/7. In the capitalist system that is only interested in profit, much work that needs to be done is not profitable such as caring and the environment. Attempts are made to commodify all these non-manufacture items, and make people pay for them through taxation. So there is some profit-making but high taxation is de-motivating. At the same time a large proportion of taxation is required for defence procurement without which many western economies would fail.

With increased roboticisation there will be less and les jobs under the capitalist model, with profit as the driving force robots will be much cheaper. With less jobs there will be less money in circulation, and without that money there can be no consumerism that maintains the capitalist system.

With all of these considerations the “normal” narrative described above is not feasible.

Before considering a new narrative it is important to consider criticisms of the old narrative. With the emphasis on profit as the means of maintaining the capitalist system and therefore the normal narrative, critics point out the consequences of this normality. Increased accumulation has led to all sorts of crimes against humanity, beginning with battles for expansion, then colonisation and neo-colonialism. We have now reached a stage in which wars-for-profits are justified as an unspoken aspect of this narrative, and our education system within its hidden curriculum is required to provide the wage-slaves that keep the capitalist system functioning. At the same time we have to recognise that the system could be considered unsustainable. We are using resources without replacing them. Spending functions only in terms of debt both on an individual and governmental level, economies function as fiat economies without public reference to this invention of money. Within the white countries governments have recently promoted austerity agendas yet whilst doing so gaps between rich and poor have widened. And the taxation system is breaking down because transnationals are dodging taxation leaving money for government services short.

With all of its gross consequences capitalism does provide for some a pleasant lifestyle as described in the normal narrative. There are “natural” components within this normal narrative, and these capitalism provides for. Having children is a human necessity – as with all life. Capitalism does ensure that people work for the community in some ways albeit those ways only exist if there is profit for the accumulators, however it has to be noted that community services do not function efficiently because they lack money and resources. This of course has to be the case because such services are not creating profits.

The emphasis on profit is exclusive. In the normal narrative the church is included yet in western countries church involvement is variable. Other than mentioning the church what might be termed values are not included in this normalcy. But of course humans do have values. In general I think it is objective to say that under this normal narrative human development is not a focus, but there is of course development. However this development is driven by profit, research and development is primarily financed by corporations with the ultimate objective of profit and accumulation.

What is not mentioned above that is part of the normal narrative is the rule of law. As with all these questions books can be written on every issue but fundamentally this law protects the normal narrative of which capitalism is integral. The forces of law, police, courts and military protect the normal narrative and at the same time the capitalist system, and there are many cases in which the individual loses out to the interests of the corporation.

When we examine a new narrative we have to understand that such a narrative will meet powerful opposition if it leads to changes in the situation of those who have the accumulation – 1% or bourgeoisie. The rule of law fundamentally protects these people, and a new narrative has no power to overcome such a rule of law. It is in the interest of the powerful to consider a new narrative as they must realise that the way of life of accumulation is under threat as time marches on. There is an immediate conflict that they need to address, that of increasing automation and roboticisation, and the impact of that on consumerism.

For most normal people this immediate conflict is creating fear and violence. With increasing automation the normal narrative doesn’t function, and whilst white people fight to retain this normalcy their fear turns to violence of racism as well as greater acceptance of war – that then enable profits.

So when we ask about a new narrative we are actually questioning our way of life, and this questioning is becoming increasingly imminent. What is needed is for the narrative to evolve, but has the accumulation gone so far that evolution is not possible? Is there any new narrative in which the 1% can actually fit in?

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Indigenous Activist

Posted: 20/03/2018 by zandtao in ONE planet, Struggle
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Interesting conversation between Russell and Naomi Klein.

When I retired it was primarily concerned with the increasing gap between my (spiritual) path and work demands. When I found I could manage financially in Thailand, it was a no-brainer; however I am not so sure my father would be happy to see what half his house is financing. I retired to be Buddhist but after a number of years I knew that for me to be Buddhist I had to be aware of engagement (Engaged Buddhism). This coincided with Occupy, and whilst I have become increasingly conscious of the importance of path I have tried to be consciously politically aware. Of course such activism is limited because of the Thai direction my life has taken. My writing is of course activism of sorts, it is everyone else’s fault they don’t read it!!

Once I became politically aware I discovered that Naomi Klein was ubiquitous always saying the right thing in the right situation. So of course listening to her is worthwhile. I was particularly amused by the length of silence after a Russell rant.

I am going to end this blogpost with Naomi’s narrative because it relates to my consideration of narratives in the next 4 blogs.

I liked her description of zombie capitalism or zombie neoliberalism, it completely describes the way the 1%-system lurches from one crisis to another – however remember these crises are integral to the system and whilst not exactly planned are intended as a means of introducing distasteful policies. I have previously referred to this as an aspect of brinkmanship.

I have also called her an indigenous activist with affection. She is not “indigenous” but recognises that the love of the land that indigenous peoples bring to the struggle is much more positive than the “anti-movement” integral to the western perception of the struggle. To protect the land is an act of love that is integral to the lifestyles of the indigenous. The struggle, the path is also an act of love, but unfortunately most left-wing struggles are based on injustice, greed and intellectual anger based on ideals connected to Marxism etc – especially the more intolerant of the liberals. Of course it is hard to be loving when there is so much legitimate anger about.

Naomi’s narrative is of course connected to the ecology of ONE planet. Hundreds of years ago, enlightenment?, man decided that he could be in charge of the environment as opposed to integrated with the environment – Gaia. Her narrative was based on 3 factors:-


Scientific Revolution

Technology – steam engine

For her the sense of this narrative is that humanity feels it is beyond nature, beyond Gaia. This narrative is integral to her view of climate change which she sees as Gaia fighting back. Perfectly reasonable.

For her this narrative is outdated and is being replaced by an integral ecological outlook ( – ONE planet or Gaia); for her this is a return to an indigenous oneness. I don’t know whether a return to an indigenous love of the land is feasible given the increased accumulation, but loving Gaia does not require an indigenous passport. The path is love, it is compassion, insight and creativity, and whilst it is much easier to attain if one is close to nature I am not so sure it is exclusively so. Being sustainable, being in harmony with nature, are of course essential characteristics of the path, and some describe the path as going back to nature. In Russell Means’ terms you can love and be European, Europeans can follow the path.

The key of course is path, indigenous or otherwise.

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