Posts Tagged ‘Russell Brand’

Here you can listen to Sharon Salzberg’s insight in her discussion with Russell Brand. I hadn’t realised that the Buddha’s times were considered disputatious, for me that just means verbalising mental proliferations (verbal sankhara) – 5 khandas.

This podcast is well worth listening to for insight.

Beyond conditionality there is insight, and this is where Sharon Salzberg is at – or tries to be at (for her to decide). When you are beyond conditionality there is no gender; listening to Sharon has decided that for me. Whilst there might be aspects of reformist feminism I might argue with for its liberalism, revolutionary feminism is beyond conditioning in the realm of insight (compassion and creativity). It was no great surprise when I searched I found Sharon linked with bell hooks.

Because of my life I sadly have only met the reformism but at least I can listen to feminism that is beyond conditioning when I listen to Sharon and bell.

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12 Steps

Posted: 28/02/2018 by zandtao in Freedom, Insight, Meditation
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This blogpost is primarily for reference in case I want to refer to the 12 steps programmes used in Russell Brand’s book Recovery.

Taken from Ch 1 p25 of 444, firstly there is the usual Christian 12 Steps:-

And the slightly more profane Russell version:-

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Russell meets Matthew Todd, a gay rights activist, erstwhile editor of “Attitude” magazine.

To decide on whether you listen to this depends on how much you are aware of the gay issue. My general attitude towards gender and sexuality issues is that of tolerance, it is not my business what sexual activity people participate in or how they socialise if it is considerate to others. That was until I became active in the NUT in the 80s, and a gay colleague told me that the level of trauma was leading to suicide, and how section 28 was enshrining that in law. What Matthew said was interesting but did not add.

Under liberalism systemic violence has regulatorily disappeared but that does not mean the trauma has gone as there are always “such” people – especially now there will be a rise because human decency is not a public and political value under Trump and Brexit. By this I mean that there were always awful people in the UK but they tended to keep to themselves, but with the move to the right such ignorant violence has become publicly acceptable. Of course, gays would suffer from this.

But in general Matthew feels things are improving.

I further note that he briefly discussed intersectionality in order to include all gender groups as well as Black and Asian interests, with his omission of class my blog agreeing with Black Agenda Report has particular reference.

It was interesting to hear Matthew discuss the addiction that was prevalent in his “gay” lifestyle, and how he had difficulty with the addiction. He noted that addiction was a mental state rather than simply an attraction and attachment to the substance. That just reminds me of the 4 Noble Truths.

Russell and Matthew discussed the relationship between youthful trauma and addiction. I began considering my own addiction, an addiction that I associate with following the path. My addiction started at uni where I was unnaturally immature – an immaturity that I have always felt was a path defence mechanism. I tended to do what everyone else did without any conviction, there was nothing they were doing that I wanted to do – I just did it. There was no trauma, very little bullying – I dished out more bullying than I received in my school years (mostly to my younger brother). Yet there was suffering, the suffering of repression that I dealt with by walking endlessly.

When I think of those early years immaturity I think of incredible shyness, a sound defence mechanism for my vulnerable ignorance, and totally uncontrolled classroom buffoonery. I recall something like a joke occurring out loud and I just kept pushing it, uncontrollably pushing it, until I was chastised. At uni the immaturity hid behind the booze where I had a public mask for meeting people – a pathetic mask.

I see this immaturity as a struggle around the path trying to express itself but unable to do so because of repression, the repression that was an education system of a society that is distanced from the path, and a home where repression was the byword. The immaturity held desire, desire that was not bounded personally but was controlled by repression at home, fear of others at school and in society, and yet a desire that demanded fulfilment where I felt I could. But this was trivial desire, just desire for anything, if I wanted something I got it or was stopped, I didn’t stop myself

And I was not bounded by morality, something I only learned towards the end of my second childhood. For me the maturing process is concerned with internal expression and control, as a child I did not express, I desired without control, and desires were acted out depending on repression or the resulting fear.

Are these the mechanisms of every teenager? Or is there more internal sense or motivation to most teenagers? When I consider teenagers I have taught I see that behaviour is worse, but I also see more self-control. In the 10 years between the end of my schooling and the beginning of my teaching, the education system had thrown out repressive discipline, mainly they had got rid of the cane without replacing it with anything. By the time I was teaching, school discipline was awful; I should note I was a student at a grammar school and my first job was in a Brixton comprehensive. With the controls of institutional discipline being minimal students were left to their own motivations, and for most there was little. But some. To discipline the students, I would appeal to their desire for education. I have no idea how much that was a trained response on their part, but I equally know if I had been asked at the time why I was at school the answer would not be education.

Where I am going with this is self-expression, following the path. I suffered but not traumatically, but for both Russell and Matthew their restricted self-expression was trauma. Matthew described the way he acted out as a teenager for social acceptability because his expression as a gay adolescent was being repressed. I am less sure with Russell but I suspect that his search for the path got hidden behind celebrity, rejection of society and “sex, drugs and rock’n’roll”; his book “Revolution” fits in with this, perhaps if I read “Recovery” it will be the same. This failure at self-expression was a failure to follow the path albeit the limited path of a teenager.

When as an adult after my upheaval the relationship between my addiction and following the path was much clearer. Once I made the decision to teach, writing was the only possible alternative but was never viable – I have never felt that my writing could be commercial and I never had the commitment to writing I have now, the path as educator and the job of teaching became increasingly in conflict to the extent that I “retired” early at 34 and wasn’t drinking – although I hadn’t taken the pledge. Personal financial circumstances drew me back into teaching, and three years later I was fortunate enough to stop drinking – ending my alcoholism. By now my teaching path was cemented, and conflict without addiction is how I lived for nearly 20 years ameliorated by travel for the last 14 years. As a teacher I was not expressing the writer, and it took me 10 years of addiction to accept that. And that was when I thought I was an educator. So I question whether addiction arises out of trauma or does it arise out of conflicts concerning the path?

If I am correct, for Russell the problems will continue as he himself says he has not found the path – part of the purpose of Under the Skin. With Matthew I know little of him as well. His life is bound up with his sexuality, and his expression through being a gay activist appears to have given him purpose. How much is this the path? As a human being I cannot answer that. If a gender is repressed and unable to express, then nature will demand that expression thus providing activists. But determining one’s gender is not the purpose of the path, helping your gender express their spirituality of course is – gay activism is not the path but can help towards it.

Matthew was single and sexually active (based on what was said he was born around 1974), but there was a discussion on monogamy as the issue of gay loneliness came up. Russell described Matthew’s approach as spiritual, I am not sure I agree. The younger you are the spiritual issue that is hardest to deal with is attachment to desire as lust – sexual desire; this disappears naturally with age and maturity except for those with serious attachment issues. Following the 4NT, lust is something to let go on the spiritual path; neither Russell nor Matthew were discussing this – at their age neither was I. Maybe discussing “letting go of lust” ought to be on the agenda for spiritual 40-somethings???

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Continuing the Russell Brand binge here is Noel Fitzpatrick, I believe he is known on British TV as the “Supervet”. There were a few things he said that were interesting but he was fundamentally a system apologist, and as such I am not recommending listening to him. I wish him good luck with the work he does for animals – friends, and the joy he brings their owners.

There was a discussion about regulatory bodies that are failing to work effectively. Russell, quite rightly in my view, ascribed economic vested interest, but Noel wanted to work with the people at the FDA, Fred and Mary. Maybe Fred and Mary are good people, but does that mean that the string-pullers are good? Whatever Noel believes deep down, he considered his most effective way of working was a way that disagreed with Russell.

But there is an arrogance to Noel’s position, does he think that he is the first person who has tried to work with these people? His Fred and Mary are not the first who have tried to make a go of the FDA, neither is he the first Noel Fitzpatrick. Throughout my lifetime and before, good people have compromised to try to be effective turning a blind eye to vested interest, and the result? In education I worked hard for 35 years because of the kids. I fought for and with education compromising along the way, and 35 years later education is worse throughout. And I look around to see no difference elsewhere. Were all the hippies calling for change just junkies? The arrogant position of people like Noel is just blinkers – I presume he is not an actor who deep down believes the truth. It is also not insignificant that he is famous on TV, he says what they want to hear – whether he is being duplicitous only he knows [duplicity as in acting the part or just using rhetoric for self-interest, I don’t know him but I have no indication of the second].

The real problem with this level of compromise is that the 1% are comfortable with the compromised efficacy. They can say, here is Noel he compromises and is successful; we are not the block – you are for not compromising. He is a better teacher because he doesn’t fight the headteacher, he gets the promotion, and gets to pontificate about education. Everything appears to work, but the true educationalist is marginalised because they will not buy into the compromise, and the system worsens.

People like Noel survive only because they are arrogant, think most others do it wrong (in this case Russell) and ignore history – no matter how mild-mannered they are. In the end this compromise is destructive because the 1% only choose to work with the compromisers, do not work with the truth, and the system worsens. There is a reason why collaborators are frowned on in war.

During the talk he was also trying to promote unconditional love, and by implication was critical of Russell’s 1%-position. This is typical of the myopic nature of system success. Yes, Noel has obtained some success for his unconditional love because they are willing to give a “dog a bone”. There are small victories along the way of class war. Liberals do gain some things whilst they are losing the war. The power and influence of the 1% is such that Noel can talk of unconditional love, and he will gain some victories, but because Noel will put out that he gained that victory by compromise that suits the 1% for whom compromise is a by-word. Remember their profits are based on consumerism and wage-slavery, they need compromise. Their profits are not based on love, they will not reward love without compromise.

But what all such compromisers have to know, they will be dumped. When they have outlived their usefulness they will be dispensed with, no matter whether their compromise is based on unconditional love or just the usual self-interest. It is not a condition of unconditional love that the 1% should accumulate; this is not a law of nature.

During the talk Russell dichotomised art and science by describing art as “negotiation with essence” and science is empirical and practical ideas. Whilst I understand art as negotiation with the muse of Wai Zandtao, Science-Fiction writer, science is more than the scientific method of the rational. What are wisdom and insight? Neither of these are considered arts-based yet they are clearly connected to essence, if they are not you end up with Yuval. As Noel says it is important to understand that the dichotomy is man-made. Why are arts people often wise? Why does picking up a paintbrush make you wise? The muse as an aspect of essence has wisdom and insight.

I am grateful for the help Noah provides.

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A very interesting talk with Yuval Noah Harari, well worth listening to. But then disaster struck, I listened to Homo Deus, and realised how dangerous Yuval’s ideas are, how much BigTech want him. So before anything there is a:-

First of all Yuval talks of “stories”. These stories are the same as the stories which are the agreements described in Toltec knowledge by Don Miguel Ruiz in “The Four Agreements”. The 4 agreements of the title of the book are as follows:-

But the process of agreeing is at the basis of this Toltec description of society. Through our upbringing and education society imparts a number of stories, these stories are accepted by all and become part of everyone’s life – some enforced by law, most just enforced by agreement.

Yuval talks a great deal about what is real, and what is a story, and telling the difference; he importantly notes that society depends on our accepting these stories. He mentions money as a story that is accepted the world over. The concept of money is at the basis of our economic system, whilst the root meaning of economics might well be “laws of life” in truth it is “laws of money”; even in root meaning there is obfuscation. Because of the stories that have been told, whether agreed or not, how we see money is leading to great instability in our societies – war.

A society is based on trading, always has been – probably always will be. What do we trade? Products and skills. Conducting trade with these “raw” items is impracticable, so an intermediary measure (conduit) was introduced – money. Somehow society reaches an agreed valuation, termed market forces – although that is a loaded term, and products and skills are traded. This is reasonable, and might well be considered the real part of trading and money, using money to facilitate trade.

However money has taken on a life of its own, and the dangers of this life lead to day-to-day suffering. Instead of money simply being a mechanism of value for products and skills, most of trading is now imaginary, where the money does not represent products or skills but invented financial mechanisms. This story sounds ludicrous, and there has to be questions as to how agreement has been reached. The answer is simple, there has been no agreement, however there is a loose tacit agreement with the 1%-system that is termed economics. The world is held together with this story, suffering is caused, and this is tacitly accepted. This “story” is just an extension of the Marxist lack of confidence in the capitalism. It is very evident that if people were given the choice to agree with this economic system they would not, so we are not given the choice.

Yuval attributes his understanding of what is real and what is a story to Vipassana. What this meant to Yuval gave me a number of questions. Vipassana is generally accepted as the method of meditation – following the breath – as described by the Buddha, and it is also described as “Insight Meditation”. I did not hear Yuval use the word “insight”, and there was an appropriate time.

Jumping out of podcast order he spoke of the “robot takeover”. His fear of the “takeover” was at the basis of his second book “Homo Deus”. He discussed the useless class, again an intellectual misnomer of the use of the word class. Consider a dystopian class structure of the 1%, useful and useless. The separation of class into useful wage-slaves and useless would enable the continuation of post-robotic exploitation. There needs to be unity to fight this. Yuval discussed the US underclass, 20% in prison, perhaps suggesting a fear that this is the future of the useless.

However if this is the future of the post-robotic useless, it also spells the death of capitalism and the 1%-system. The 1%-system thrives on consumerism. If our 99% future is to become useless we will also not be consumers, and that will end the 1%-system that depends on consumerism. It is the circulation of money that creates the consumerism, and this requires the 99% to be consumers – to be wage-slaves. If we are not wage-slaves we cannot be consumers, and the 1%-system dies.

The 1%-system has a huge dilemma to face. Firstly it is undoubtedly the case that much labour can be more productively performed by robots – 24/7 with supervision. Robots will increase profits in the interim. But this will reduce the amount of money in circulation, and this will reduce 1%-profits.

Wage-slavery has to change from mindless labour, wage-slaves will have to be “creatively-ignorant”. This is the line that people like Ken Robinson were trying to walk – educating for creativity; I believe I recall Microsoft were also pushing this. For the 1% the creativity dilemma is “how do we promote creativity whilst keeping people as wage-slaves?”; this is what I mean by creatively-ignorant. If that dilemma is solved those people will become members of the dystopian “useful wage-slaves”.

But the dilemma is that creativity is primarily revolutionary. Creativity is the path, and the path ultimately is pro-nature – and therefore against the 1%-system. But it might work. Our educators in general at present accept the delusion that they are educating whilst they are primarily actually creating wage-slaves. Maybe education can change, produce the useful “creatively-ignorant”, and the 1%-system could survive.

But our wage-slaves are at present filled with factual content, and our education system has a tacit movement away from creativity. But if wage-slaves are expected to be filled with “creativity”, that makes everything so much more volatile. Such a dilemma.

There is another way that consumerism could continue but it requires a huge shift that would also threaten the 1%-system. Wage-slaves could work on socially useful jobs that would not produce profits for the 1%. There is so much work that could be done to improve life, but this work would fall under the category of caring as opposed to profit-making. We could care for the environment and infrastructure, we could care far better for people. But all of this would require money being taken from the 1% who only make profits based on finance and production. This they would resist.

Either way robots threaten the 1%-system, however the second way is a better way for humanity as a whole.

Yuval said the way forward for education is unknown. This is not the case. Promoting insight and creativity is a positive way forward for education in the time of AI, but this is not a way forward for the 1%-system.

But for me what is most interesting in the talk is the discussion of true essence. Yuval talks of discerning “what is” from stories, seeing through conditioning, seeing through delusion. “What is” is emptiness but there is emptiness that is the intellectual emptiness that is nothing or there is the Tao “the emptiness that is full” Tao te Ching (Ch11 and throughout). For me the understanding comes from Buddhadasa’s use of the word “voidness” and explanation.

This voidness is beyond understanding, it can be seen for what is, but it is not for understanding. But it is so important for people to see its function. For this I see voidness as sunnata, and created this meme based on my interpretation of Buddhadasa’s teaching:-

Using Yuval’s approach this meme can be understood as removing the stories around the attachment to the 5 khandas, removing the stories that “create” I and mine, and what is left is sunnata – true essence, the Tao, voidness, the emptiness that is full. Intellectually this emptiness gets reduced to nothing, but it is not nothing, it is voidness.

Through vipassana, insight meditation, we remove attachment to stories and then there can be insight. I could interpret Nibbana as the permanent removal of all stories, but I haven’t “attained Nibbana” to be certain of what I am saying. But I do feel that we can be fortunate to experience “Nibbana-glimpses” (nibbana-dhatu) along the way, Buddhadasa has said similar here. I consider this nibbana-dhatu can come to us through insight – to use Yuval vernacular – if we have removed all stories.

Whilst there is no doubt in my mind that Russell is not talking about this sunnata when he describes true essence, to me sunnata, voidness, is true essence. But this true essence has no characteristics of me (or the 5 khandas). From what I have heard Russell is searching for some Hindu Self, a kind of Wisdom-based essence or soul, that would transmigrate. To me there is no Russellness, no Self (anatta), only voidness. To begin with I searched for Self, a vague Russell-type notion. Once I came to Buddhism and then to Buddhadasa, that search for Self ended, and it became detachment – removal of attachment to I and mine, removal of attachment to the 5 khandas.

I dismissed Anne Phillips for her failure to consider true essence. Yuval dismisses true essence but it could just be he was rejecting Russell’s version. If not the Buddhist thought police need to work on him , after all he is practicing vipassana. [Later:- I initially wrote this with humour before I issued the Yuval warning.]

Russell discusses love, this is wonderful. Love is something to be discussed and revered. For me love is metta, one of the 4 Brahma-Viharas, highest vehicles, one of the purest forms humans can aspire to. To me these 4 Brahma-Vaharas are states to aspire to, being “near voidness”. When all the stories of love have been removed, often originating in Hollywood, then there is metta. This is worth seeking. When Russell discussed love, Yuval dismissed it because he looked historically at what had been done erroneously in the name of love. But Yuval was attaching to the stories and not helping Russell search for love. It sounds as if Russell at present is in a very good position with regards to love because of his partner and daughter. Whilst that love is still a story, even though it probably doesn’t feel so, that love is never forgotten, and will be with him all his life – with or without partner and daughter.

I am only discussing Yuval in terms of what I took from this Russell talk. I haven’t read either of his books, perhaps I should. This is how I originally ended this blog – before I issued the Yuval warning, but I downloaded “Homo Deus”. The title should have given it away “Man is God”. As can be seen above I gave Yuval the benefit of the doubt because he practised Vipassana – as I try to do, but that benefit was a mistake. Russell questioned about love, and was dismissed for historical reasons. That however need not have been a dismissal of essence, but listening to Homo Deus it was clear to me that Yuval was dismissing essence.

His “Homo Deus” talk began with examination of humanism in practice, and whilst each aspect of humanism he described had some truth his descriptions were incomplete – all seemed lacking. And then it completely knocked me aside when he put up a slide “Organisms are algorithms”, I switched off I couldn’t listen. It was all so clear then. For Yuval there is no essence, no sunnata. Without that we might as well be algorithms.

Another word for algorithms could be conditioning, cause and effect, this is fundamental Buddhism; conditionality – paticcasammupada. EXCEPT we can move beyond conditioning, and that is the essence of what the Buddha taught, of what Buddhadasa taught. We can move beyond conditioning, 4 Noble Truths – we can move beyond desire [desire – the cornerstone of conditioning – the driving force of conditionality, of cause and effect]. As far as Russell went Yuval had stuff to offer but Russell pointed to Yuval’s lack of understanding of essence. Yuval claims Vipassana but there is no genuine Vipassana without Right View and Yuval’s intellectual attachment to sankhara shows he has no right view.

Yuval has no insight. NO, there is no insight and he is dangerous. Hence the warning.

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On my Russell Brand binge I am listening to Anne Phillips – Under the Skin, but I’m afraid it didn’t get me. Because she is an academic her observations were interesting, but it just came across as that. I was left asking “how will it change?”

Where was the challenge? She was safe, safe again – that’s how I described “sausages” – Adam Harris.

There was a section in which she described different classes of women as suffering more under capitalism – low paid workers suffering; she did not say black women suffering. What different classes? The different classes the 1% want academics to describe so that the better-paid wage-slaves don’t identify with the low-paid wage-slaves – dividing the class. I think she even used the word elite to describe some of these better-paid women – again a nice obfuscation so that elite and 1% are not perceived as the same. It reminded me of the sentence in Glen Ford’s article “Similarly afro-pessimism only surfaced after enough black faces got comfy spots in the academy” – discussed here.

Anne makes some nice academic points through her powers of observation, and from her being well read. It is worth listening for that alone, but she has not picked up me as a follower – not that that matters. When I look at wiki she has done much in promoting gender studies, undoubtedly this is beneficial. Bell, is what she is doing revolutionary? I don’t know but it didn’t feel like it.

The talk just screamed liberalism, pleasant, considered, sympathetic liberalism. Or as bell would say, it screamed reformist feminism to me; I don’t know what bell thinks about her. And here is a common liberal position that completely negates any possible real understanding, she said there was no true essence. This is the sort of academic position that in my mind is ludicrous but in academic terms is not consistent. How can she ignore all the empirical testimony that there is a true essence? How can she say so many people are basically lying? For me she joins this crowd – science-based medicine; PAI – the paradigm of academic ignorance.

I am not saying Anne should follow me in the class struggle, but I am asking her to consider where she stands in bell hooks’ analysis – I am absolutely certain she knows the name and that she knows revolutionary feminism. I have looked a little at bell hooks here.

At the same time as I was listening to Anne Phillips, this appeared from Films for Action. Throughout this blogpost, and my blog in general, I use 1%-system, I could use bell’s terminology “imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy”.

Love is the most important thing, as a human being I have the right to argue in favour of love even if it has gender implications. Love is more important than money, it is more important than social status, the lack of priority for love in a capitalist society, in which economics is the direction, the accumulation by the 1% the priority, and the enslavement of all others to these objectives the methodology, needs to be changed. Liberalism demands a fairer share of the cake for all without asking for a bigger cake; this has inherent conflict and complies with capitalist ethos. Sadly Marxism is an economic analysis, it is an academic analysis that prioritises class but does not discuss love. Love is a priority over class yet at the same time there ought to be no conflict because love and class working together just means compassion.

Love is lacking in our relationships because the social direction is profit. In terms of relationships love is seen by the economics of society more as the consumer unit that follows from love becoming institutionalised as the “family”. But love needs to be the first priority. This becomes important when we consider children and career. Love and home is not prioritised in capitalism. When listening to Anne Phillips this priority became a concern when it came to discussions of family and career. She was concerned with career inequalities – totally valid, but appeared to tailor-make the family to facilitate this career. Love at home needs to be the priority for society, men and women, rather than an examination of the burden of child-rearing and division of labour. Historically the division of labour is important because women have been exploited; if women did work, historically they were expected to be mothers and run the home as well. But to view the running of the home as a potential obstacle to career is a different exploitation, it is exploitation by the 1%-system (capitalism). Change the emphasis in society. Work is there for the benefit of the species as exemplified by prioritising the home for love within the family, the love between the woman and man, and between children and parents.

I make a specific point concerning the maternal bond, a bond that many women speak of but not something I can understand more than by observation. Sadly in discussing this I am making similar arguments to the right wing, and whilst where they take it is not where I go it concerns me that I am saying similar. Anne describes a specific woman-time, pregnancy, childbirth and breast-feeding. But following this there seemed to be a cut-off point in which parenting became child-rearing and therefore equal division of labour. It seems to me that the maternal love that is built up during pregnancy, child-birth and breast-feeding needs to be considered for the sake of the children. That love will not go away if the mother starts work but somehow that love is a priority for the children.

53% of white women voted for Trump, a sexist exploiter of women. Why? Is it because they are sheep who follow their men? NO. Is it because they want their pussies tickled by famous exploiting men? NO.

Is it because they see their homes threatened with the changing of society? Is it that they see the traditional role of women as mothers as the home-creator threatened by reformist liberals who demand intellectual ideals before what these traditional women see as human compassion? More so, I think, but of course I don’t know. I am prejudiced against people who put ideals first, they are a human disaster, but that makes me a radical compassionate socialist and not a chauvinist. The intellect is a major threat to compassion, and love must be first; sadly at the moment it is a distant second.

As a human being I have a right to call for love and compassion to be first before profits and 1%-accumulation. If such a priority were accepted by society, I would have no right in discussing how women deal with the priority as it affects them. Unfortunately because of the 1%-system there is a limbo in which I am asking society including women to prioritise love and compassion. For me that is putting class first. I have not read where bell puts love and compassion, but her revolutionary feminism removes the 1%-system that perpetuates 1%-accumulation. With patriarchy there cannot be love.

Russell has clearly stated that he was caught out-of-his-depth on occasions in discussions in the past, and that he went back to academia so that he would not get caught out. In academia you get the opportunity to read quality writers and you can read academics, I draw a distinction in principle but not who in practice. The quality writers, often referred to because they are originators, educate because their creativity has connected with consciousness, presence, the muse or whatever. But in academic circles there are well-read people who throw references at you to obfuscate intentionally – it is a tactic of arrogance; throwing references is academic method. Ignore this tactic, ask them to explain in lay language; if they can’t it shows the flaw in their position – they don’t understand. If they can, maybe the reference is worthwhile, but don’t be defeated by academic BULLSHIT. I started this binge with people who were beyond academia – even though Rupert Sheldrake is in academia; maybe Russell had moved on by then.

He fawns at the word professor, I just hear system-player – although I am sure not in all cases. And to be fair everyone has to earn.

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Way forward

Posted: 06/02/2018 by mandtao in Democracy, Struggle, War
Tags: ,


In listening to Russell’s attempts (Under the Skin) to find a way forward, I have been critical – mainly because they are academics. But if I am being critical then I should have an answer. I clung to an old position of class analysis, blamed the 1%, but was never fully clear. I should be.

Systemically there is no way forward. If we look at history there has always been the 1% as monarchy etc and the 99% in servitude. In truth servitude has improved with the advances in civilisation, as in technological advances, but the basic system and oppression is still the same. The 1% are not people who know where to go so they just accumulate, the rest of us in general don’t know where to go and continue in our servitude doing what we can.

Ultimately this comes down to the 4 Noble Truths, that the world is suffering and around us there is conditioning. We are conditioned or we are not. And for 100% there is conditioning and conditioned. Except that it is not for all 100%, for some there are paths. These are people who nature has given the ability not to be conditioned – I can only be as vague as that. They use words like awakened and being conscious, and somehow with this awakening they are able to step outside the world of conditioning – systemic or otherwise – and with this level of consciousness they have peace in a life of suffering and exploitation. But these people do not have a system, there is no awakened party; these are simply individuals who have been fortunate.

For those less fortunate there is only servitude, the “awakened” are subject to similar aspects of servitude – they still require money but for them this awakening has taken the sting out of servitude because of the lack of conditioning. Now in truth most “awakened” discover a niche in which the servitude is much more tolerable, but outwardly this niche appears the same as for the usual servitude. An awakened doctor still has to perform the same daily routines as any doctor, but with a different mindset that servitude is dominated more by compassion than by the system of conditionality.

It is only for these “awakened” that there is not servitude, whatever the outward forms.

But the way forward as considered by Russell is not concerned with these “awakened” necessarily, in the case of most (politically) he is looking at a revolution for ordinary people – the 99% against the 1%. And if we look at history this is not going to happen, however much we would like it to. The apparent freedoms that we now have compared to serfs is only that – an illusion. There is greater productivity if the delusion of freedom is maintained, however the 1%-class are still motivated only by accumulation and the power and influence that comes with that. It suits that class that there appears to be civilisation, there appears to be human development, but such civilisation and development only exists within the class structure – whatever form that class has taken.

The interrelationship and interdependence of the two classes is such that their interests are mutual, but understand this – the 99%-class have no control. Can they ever have control? This is really the question that Russell is asking.

Ever, I cannot answer. For the immediate future one can analyse. This is what the academics are doing within the system, within a system that says that formally their analysis must be limited because they cannot target the 1%. There is no change whilst there is a 1%, no matter what analysis these people put their intellects through – new ways of looking etc.

And at the same time there will be no immediate change because there is no conceivable way in the immediate future that the 99% can be united against the 1%. This is the reality of the class struggle within our society at present, there is no possible unity.

The key to this is understanding the control through military and policing. Whilst these are usually understood in terms of the nation-state, governments are controlled by the 1%, they control the military, and the military fight the wars-for-profits that maintain the 1%. With those profits we are maintained as wage-slaves, and the suffering continues.

Crimes against profits and the class-that-profits are treated with more severity than crimes against people. Occupy is a clear example of this, in western countries Occupy was defeated by governments and policing. Yet Occupy had popular support. Where are the Occupiers now? Continuing the struggle within local communities.

Private security is now on the increase for two reasons. Firstly the profits are more easily accumulated if that security is directly controlled by the 1%. Not being military I don’t understand this, but it appears the boundaries between private security and government security are blurred, and the gun-ho nationalistic military can still delude themselves that they are “patriots” whilst working for BigWar. In my day BigWar was looked down on and called mercenaries.

At the same time the development of such private security closely linked to existing corporations means that the 1% have control of a new military to ensure their continued exploitation.

And with increased technology there needs to be fewer and fewer military. The 1% buy the technology, have to indoctrinate fewer people to man that technology, and they are protected.

The near future holds little hope. The interdependent relationship has helped the 99% develop. Without our labour there are no profits, without us the 1% cannot accumulate. That is true for now. But with increased roboticisation production can become independent of humans. But then the conclusion would be that there would be no wage-slaves and no consumerism, and that means no profits. Part of the 1% wants the technology that improves the means of production, yet at the same time with that technology there are fewer consumers and that affects their profits.

This is a dilemma I have no answer to. The 1% know they need wage-slaves to consume but they still push forward with roboticisation. They are winging it – as they always do. When I talk of the 1% I am not talking of a coordinated team of people working for their own interests. There is mutual interest and they are careful of that. But there is no strategy team. They have power and influence, and assume these are sufficient to maintain control. This is the case so far, but there is no plan, no strategy, simply accumulation. Reduce the accumulation, then they do something and the accumulation comes back. That is all. Humanity, human development, is at the mercy of accumulation winging it.

Yet somehow we do develop.

With the increased entrenched power of the 1%-class where does that leave the 99%-class? Where does it leave class struggle?

Nowhere.

People get together and win skirmishes but these victories are token and the war continues to be lost. If more people get together and start to win more skirmishes then the 1% control government, military and media to keep us down. Occupy was such a situation when the 1% were threatened. Occupy was crushed through media and policing, and because they were threatened there has been a right-wing backlash. Look at our unity now. We are more like 99 powerless 1% than a force to be reckoned with.

Ultimately the 99% is feared, only as a collective working together for each other can the 99% end the accumulation. But there are no signs this will happen, people are working together against their class interest now more than ever.

Does the 99% stop organising? Organising is community, it is people working together, it is the right thing to do. Don’t focus on the result because the result is beyond our control because of the power and influence of the 1% through government and media. By organising we help each other through the suffering, and we give purpose – participating in the community.

In the end however there cannot at the moment be revolution, changing the ruling-class, because the power and influence of the 1% is all pervasive. But mobilising around the issue of class awareness, around the issue that it is the 1% whose power and influence causes the problem is a sufficient process at the moment. Why are people out of work? Because the money that could be in circulation creating jobs is in the bank accounts of the 1%. That puts an end to the racist arguments about jobs, demand more jobs from those who have the power to give jobs. The argument has been put clearly for the wrong reasons in the class-oriented tax cuts in the US – trickle-down. Jobs are trickle-down but you don’t need tax cuts for jobs to trickle down, there just has to be the willingness of the 1% to provide the jobs that are necessary in society. Cutting back on jobs that are not there for direct profit is not the answer. What about the jobs for people, jobs that make society a better place to live, caring jobs. How many ordinary people begrudge those jobs – taking our taxes etc, when huge amounts of money are spent on defence procurement because they provide profits for the 1%. Demand jobs for the community, jobs for the environment, jobs for society; NOT jobs for the profits of the 1%. If these jobs were done there would not be demand for jobs, there would not be the tensions around “taking our jobs”. Provide jobs, end racism. Equally if there were not incentives to oppress women in the workplace it would not happen. Control the economy for the people not the 1%. This is awareness that would help society even though it would take much more than this to wrest control from the 1%.

Ultimately class struggle as a community activity is based in compassion, but unfortunately that compassion is often sidelined. For most within the mass movement there is a feeling of belonging and a sense of hope that they might gain something from being involved. But such people are not mass movement leaders. Few of these leaders benefit the movement. Firstly there are the opportunists whose rhetoric reflects the demands of the movement, but the interests of these opportunists are purely personal: Blair is perhaps the most extreme example of this. Within the movement there are leaders guided by ideals, usually but not always Marxist. Because they follow ideals they are divisive in the movement, they are not leaders of the movement but led by ideals. Yet out of this struggle come genuine leaders who lead by example and are led by mass movement consensus. These people have compassion. Unfortunately by the nature of the movement such compassionates move towards political parties and alliances. Once in such it is legitimate for such people to follow discipline, so again their compassion is frustrated. However in the end such leaders become awakened by their compassion – often without recognising it.

So in the end the struggle comes back to the individual. Struggling, organising is the right thing to do; it enables those around you. But it only works if it is part of your developing awareness, with your detachment from conditioning. As you release the suffering that comes from your own conditioning, so through community struggle you help others release their suffering. This release is not as a successful objective, a campaign that has been won, but simply the release of suffering that comes from community participation – compassion.

In addition I remember at the time of political activity, the rationale that I kept coming back to (not publicly) was the struggle to give people the time to be spiritual. But I now see that as a long-term objective, you need time to be freed up for spirituality; it seems to me that we are now more trapped in our work than previously when it was just our labour they used.

In the end I feel the struggle focusses on changing the individual but there are many ways this can happen; a compassionate individual has the class interest at heart whether they verbalise it or not.

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Brad Evans

Posted: 04/02/2018 by zandtao in Democracy, Finance, ONE planet, Struggle, War
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Love (respecting dignity), academy for questioning, and answers through history; what more can you want to understand 1%, politics and the way of the world. Find this in Russell Brand and Brad Evans – Under the Skin. Understanding the violence leads to an understanding of the nature of repression – obvious really but never thought of it.

No provisos, no fundamental flaws – just listen to the talk.

I missed at the end discussion of conspiracy theories. Brad’s answer was consider the empirical, examine what is, don’t deal with theories you have no idea about it. Excellent. What does this mean for my continual analysis of class and the 1%? 1% have power and influence, this is observable even though many will not go as far as I do. Is it a conspiracy to blame the 1%? No. Because they control, they control government, they control the number of jobs, they control all the political aspects of our lives. When we see problems concerning racism, feminism etc., these problems are fundamentally created because the 1% have accumulated much of the world’s resources for personal greed. This is observable fact even though we do not have the actual figures. If we call the 1% conspiracy, then we are avoiding the empirical – the observable. If the 1% become obfuscated with all the conspiracy theories so that we do not see their power and influence then we area voiding the truth.

Is the power and influence of the 1% what Brad describes as “visible traces”? I hope so. Use theory as a tool but based on facts. That is fine as well but there is a doubt raised in me as to how far he takes the power and influence of the 1%. That doubt is not based on anything I know he has said, but is based on the fact that he has a job in a academia, and fundamentally academics are restricted by their establishment to tell the truth. But we all have to work, leave that as a question given how much sense there was in the talk.

It is good to see the flag flying in academia, it explains to some extent why Russell is seeking answers there.

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I listened to this Russell Brand talk (Under the Skin) with Paul Gilroy, and came away dissatisfied. The man is a professional intellectual (professor) so it is not likely we would agree.

The talk made me ask this question “Am I an arcane Marxist monster who puts everything down to the 1%?” Immediately I ask that question I know that they want me to have doubt, but at the same time it is right to question.

There was only one thing I disagreed with, and this is the best point to start. He said nationalists start racism, and I completely disagree with this. Racism is part of the class struggle, and is created by the 1%. To use Paul’s term, the manufactured ignorance of the nationalists, especially the ignorance that goes against class interest, is used by the 1% to create populist racism.

As with Adam Curtis, similar intellectual approaches, he offered observations about racism. These observations were interesting but they did not offer a solution – I offer the impossible target of the 1%. In words it is simple, get rid of the 1%-economy, the conditions that produce racism cease to exist, and then over time people will forget the cultural racism – the manufactured ignorance – they grew up with. It is logical. Our differences are cultural (inc. religion). The 1%-economy favours one culture over another – white privilege, so when there is a different economy that does not seek such favouritism then cultures become economically the same, and then over time cultures see their difference as irrelevant. There are plenty of examples of cultures living in harmony together with mutual ribbing but not rivalry eg English/Welsh, North/South most of the time. Most of the time? Second homes in Wales led to conflict, an economic issue that put people out of their homes. The North/South divide is taken more of a joke because the economic differences are not different in the same workplace – most of the time. It is the economic favouritism that empowers difference in race to become racism. Natural national boundaries don’t necessarily produce conflict except for invasion and appropriation or African countries created as commodity boundaries(the old names Gold Coast, Ivory Coast etc.) I have sufficient faith in human nature to say that over time cultural racism will fade away, but I know many who disagree. The power and influence of the 1% whilst they are controlling the world cannot be fought, after a lifetime of personal struggle I see little achievement for myself but importantly for the movement, and I see a situation that is far worse than when I started working – 1973.

Russell’s point on spiritual development is a good one, genuine religious people are not racists. In the current materialist climate spirituality is not an answer. But maybe in future?

But the question “who are the slaves now?” was not answered. There was a reference to all being the working-class – the 99%, and a joke that all behind the glass, being paid to make the programme, would resent being called working-class. Whilst there is no union of wage-slaves against the 1%, there can be no unity and change.

Unity against the 1% as the source of racism was not really addressed, and it was an omission. I have read Russell’s book “Revolution”, and liked it. But he doesn’t seem to be bringing revolution to the table, neither with Paul nor Adam. Surprised!

Given the lack of class analysis it is still a talk worth listening to. BUT I am not an arcane monster, class is still the issue. How we see class needs to be carefully considered – not just cloth caps.

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I just started listening to podcasts in the car – nothing unusual; – end of all the 60s music plus Taste of Honey? Boogie-oogie?

Started with Russell Brand’s Under the Skin – he gets good people. Adam Curtis was introduced as Esther Rantzen’s “sausages” and politically sussed.

I liked some of Adam’s observations, worth noting, but there was a fundamental flaw. To begin with I thought it was because it had no framework – no 1% nor Buddhism. But I didn’t like that because that requires belief in the framework. This morning it was clear, there was no conviction, no insight, just sound observational analysis. Then it was confirmed – “Hypernormalisation” was a BBC documentary, not threatening the establishment.

He began with a critique of government, that it cannot govern that it is corrupt – selling arms to Saudi to kill the Yemeni. Russell reacted to this as yek, and he said that it was normal to accept that these things would happen; this is his “hypernormalisation” (included his movie for completeness, not watched). It is this view of government that is the fundamental flaw of his discussion. The government is failing the people. Why? Is it failing? It was never a government for the people. Look at history. Government was monarchy, then for landowners then for finance (Cromwell supposedly fighting a revolution for the people but anti-monarchy simply meant pro-finance). And government has increasingly been for the finance sector ever since. Is government failing the finance sector? Not at all. Their profits and power are ever increasing. Government is a success. The power and corruption, the arms sales to Saudi, all benefit the finance sector; it is a successful government.

Then the other BBC “like” is that there is no alternative. He promotes the failure on the left, and says there is no alternative. This completely suits the establishment who are afraid of people knowing and acting on the truth. They are afraid of the recognition that the power is the 1%, the government are their puppets, and that real change can come if the power is taken away from 1% and their puppets. Real change can come if government is controlled and run by the people and profits are returned to the community and not accumulated in the coffers of the 1%. This is real change, this could be real change, and is constantly being fought by the BBC and pundits they promote.

Given this very significant and overarching fundamental flaw Adam’s observations are interesting. The left has failed. Well it has failed but that does not mean government by the people as and when necessary, or anarcho-syndicalism, has failed. It just means that under the current power structure it has failed. When Adam describes “normal acceptance” of events such as Saudi arms trade and the ensuing complicity with the event and complicity with the establishment in general, his critique is not of anarcho-syndicalism as a failed system but his critique is of the apathy of the people.

According to Adam, the term hypernormalisation arose in the Soviet Union in the 80’s when the system was collapsing and people were watching the scenery fall all around. One of Gorbachev’s criticism of communism in Glasnost and Perestroika was the endemic apathy that had developed with the removal of power and responsibility from ordinary people. Adam said that what happened in Russia was not applicable to the UK but endemic apathy is a perfect description as Adam attested to. It is normal to be apathetic, Chomsky describes apathy as an integral platform of neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is the 1%-system that creates the hypernormalisation, is descriptive of how I described government above, and can be changed through anarcho-syndicalism or similar (see Under the Skin – Carne Ross) and my blog about it.

Much of his talk focuses on individualism, and how it just happened. Our individualism is a product of a fiercely competitive education system within a fiercely competitive society. Rather than playing down individualism as being the ego-monster it is, it is lauded in our society with the cult of personality etc. This individualism is again a pre-requisite of a 1%-system, fierce individuals refuse to accept ego-submergence in favour of the majority – fierce individuals have no genuine democratic acceptance or concurrence; this could be seen on the Left with the Trots repeatedly promoting their own agenda despite numerous votes to the contrary – no attempt at working for the majority.

Adam mentioned failed movements Occupy, Arab Spring in Tahrir Square, and the march against the Iraq War. In the case of two they were violently suppressed and the third “Not in my Name” was liberal-based embarrassment rather than a genuine attempt to change policy as there was no attempt at follow-up (as described by Adam). These are descriptions of how neoliberalism controls, and not an indicator of there being no alternative.

Listen to Adam’s interview. Don’t be persuaded by the intellectualism that makes him acceptable to the BBC. Note the above, and then listen to valid observations within the flaw.

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