We Have Met the Enemy

SUBHEAD: The extinguishers of life have names and addresses, but the enemy is really us.

By Jan Lundberg on 7 July 2010 in Culture Change -

Image above: Illustration of Pogo quote by Walt Kelly, 1970. Kelly began his career animating forest creatures in Disney's "Snow White", 1939, the first full length feature animation. He went on to do three decades of the "Pogo" comic strip, about a possum in the Okefenokee Swamp. From (http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1245)

Our lives are precious, and all life is sacred. But pathological individuals, including many sitting atop modern society’s pyramid, seem to disagree. As modern society did not fundamentally address or solve the 20th century’s crises and atrocities, the 21st century may have as its hallmark the accelerated or even final extinguishing of life.

Yet, extinguishing life as a personal and elitist tactic goes back millennia to the dawn of civilization.

Who are the extinguishers of life today? Is it eco-terrorist BP, murderers with handguns, Islamic suicide bombers, Israeli forces, insensitive invaders of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the corrupt officials in Africa seizing food aid for themselves?

Perhaps “of course,” but those who are extinguishing life are actually ubiquitous and quite numerous. Not only are major players often the most hidden ones, but there are millions participating on many levels -- for the practice extends to nearly all of us:
“We have met the enemy and he is us” (Walt Kelly's cartoon character Pogo). A more blaming approach says: “The planet is not dying. It is being killed. And those killing it have names and addresses.” (Utah Phillips, folk musician)
To most modern people, "lives" are limited to humans and perhaps their own pets. Such is our anthropocentric culture. But species extinction is raging out of control, greater than any time during humans’ presence on Earth. 

So the “extinguishing of life” applies to both human and other species. It matters that non-human lives count just as much, not just because of their intrinsic value and rights, but because humans are part of the web of life being torn to shreds. Plus, humans have generated causes for their own particular extinction.

Such as our common situation is, anyone habitually supporting the status quo, even if based on fear of a worse unknown alternative, is supporting the extinguishers of life. To be fair, those not going out of their way to prop up the status quo, because they live simply by necessity or voluntarily, are more the victims rather than the perpetrators. Survival these days almost always requires at least some indirectly harmful behavior.

Regardless of our level of awareness and participation in the extinguishing of life, not taking action to oppose the extinguishing of life is what the major extinguishers count on: conformity, obedience and comfort with the status quo, despite today's mounting threats to one’s own and our collective survival. Joining in society’s main goals – individually making money and consuming – is what the extinguishers count on, so that everyone (or enough of us) is in the game. Then we can all be guilty and depend on the continuation of life-extinguishing practices and related false values.

The corporate “infotainment” media carefully present a façade of respectability for corruption and failing institutions of society. Common beliefs have been molded, although they are subject to being burst. Happiness is promoted as something obtainable through shopping, working for corporations, paying taxes, and enjoying technological diversions.

More and more people sense that this cannot last. Being passive about state violence and general inequity has been a problem for centuries, but this trend has extended to passivity over our rapid ecological degradation and extinction of species. Threats to us all of all kinds have intensified and proliferated, such that many young people have no hope at all for long lives or attaining a peaceful, healthy existence.

If young consumers’ technotoys were taken away they might initially be at a loss to communicate, but they could unexpectedly take matters into their hands. Many would have to lose weight in the process.

Increasingly common is the expectation of both collapse and the possible extinction of humanity. Such feelings are not paid heed by the extinguishers or the corporate news media, or even much of the “progressive press,” so there are little data to rely upon. This must be a disappointment for those who tend to “study the problem” (e.g., via research grants to quantify destruction of habitats) when it could be well-paying work.

But by just examining the topic, action could well be encouraged by studies and dissemination of findings. However, instead, perhaps the Last Poets’ dictum will apply: "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised."

How the extinguishers of life work
The extinguishers feel they always must have things their way. One doesn’t want to meet such people, even if one is an extinguisher him/herself. It is sometimes hard to tell who they are, when they can choose to remain in the background, pulling strings that cause or extend wars, for example.

The major extinguishers of life carefully appoint front men and women who use a whole mythology and propaganda-structure, such as the corporate news media and top levels of government (which includes the military).

When one doesn’t want to see this picture, it is easier to tolerate the super rich and the well-connected aggressors. For we hope they will leave us alone by just enjoying their money. But great wealth was originally created primarily by organized, brutal theft and exploitation of both people and nature. Even today, the trail of a dollar’s circulation from its original creation or earning can reveal unsavory prior action(s) that would repell anyone but an extinguisher of life.

Extreme wealth has always been generated through vast numbers of people made poor. In so doing, the land, air and water are also exploited, as if they were infinitely pristine. Extinguishing life is practiced to a tremendous extent by unwilling workers serving their masters and the system.

This extends even to children who are given goods and services that are ultimately anti-life. Thorough conditioning and regimentation in school, church, mass media, the military, etc. reinforce this system. Control is buttressed by the profusion of laws that benefit mostly the elite who have in various ways always had the power of life and death over others.

Such a “negative view” flies in the face of the image of the happy-go-lucky rich person who, once you get to know them, is so nice. Indeed, top extinguishers of lives are often relatively passive, even unwitting, going with the flow of their billions of dollars, often promoting more economic growth.

It is primarily population growth and excessive per capita consumption that spell economic growth. The top economic classes are the ones who really benefit (materially only) from economic growth. With today’s huge population, it is natural that the top of the pyramid frequently turns and shifts somewhat, reacting to this and that, with severe consequences for the rest of us.

For example, investing heavily in Walmart’s expansion in Mexico served to drive millions of Mexicans out of their small businesses and added massively to immigration to the U.S. A lame defense of such an outcome could be to point to the fact that Walmart is where most people, in the U.S. at least, purchase their music recordings. Happy consumers all?

Just as being a happy, kind consumer does not spare one from the blame or the consequences of extinguishing life, waving the flag (i.e., being a loyal citizen) does not absolve one from contributing to the extinguishing of life. Nor does it protect anyone from powerful extinguishers of life. The U.S. flag cannot justify the killing in Afghanistan, Iraq or Pakistan.

The U.S. punitive or self-defense rationale after 9-11 is getting old. About one million people have died in Iraq since the 2003 U.S. invasion. This is not to say that Saddam Hussein was not one of the extinguishers of life on the world stage. In any case, one day there may be massive retaliation against U.S. citizens who have been overpaying for extinguishing life on a massive scale abroad, putting terrorism to date on a minor scale.

Most of the extinguishing of life is not overtly political. Rather, our lifestyle and purchasing do direct harm and prop up the major extinguishers of life. The idea that BP is a legitimate institution is to accept extinguishers of life operating in one’s back yard, such as the Gulf of Mexico. The world has seen how corporations, protected by government, proceed to wreak havoc in pursuit of profit.

But we are conditioned to believe, and forced to accept, that profit is a rightful pursuit with almost no restrictions or limits. And the poor of the world have been given a sop, that a corporado or politician cannot act high and mighty in public; smiling faces and nice clothes is what people see on television and in the print media.

So BP continues to exist and exercise authority in the Gulf and everywhere else it illegitimately owns property.

BP (Bow to Petroleum)
Dissolving BP or seeing it self-destruct would only be a first step or window-dressing, were it to happen. As the number-one contractor for the U.S. military, BP's demise would be inconvenient at first but other players can rush in to help extinguish life on the other side of the world in the name of democracy and security.

The consequences of accepting long wars of choice and entities such as the BPs of the world are deadly and spiraling out of control. When it comes to climate change, this is hardly ever even story number 3 or even number 10 in the corporate news media, when there are other events to grab attention (World Cup, General McChrystal, etc.). One day if there are any people to look way back upon today’s society, they will marvel at how we could ignore what was going on all around us, that which we had caused, while we paid undue attention to façades such as President Obama.
There have been no arrests in BP’s Gulf crime, and no one can be heard calling it eco-terrorism. As technologies involving chemicals and radiation are unleashed and habitats are razed with a compliant government apparatus, a technofucker or a wetlands-paving developer is usually a preferred citizen, because financial clout talks louder than reverence for life on Earth. “Defend the Earth, Go to Prison” -- that is the true policy in the U.S. and in the entire industrialized (civilized?) world. The top domestic anti-terrorist thrust in U.S. law enforcement is to target environmental activists who were accused of using direct-action and non-violent (against living things) tactics. In support of this crackdown, many Wonder Bread consumers are afraid of a non-existent socialist threat, namely “tree worshippers” who are to be attacked as pagans and un-American. Non-extinguishers of life, go home! Stop threatening my freedom to consume and enrich the despoilers!
On the very personal level there are extinguishers of life against one’s own family members (a subject very close to home for this writer). This is generally rare in a peaceful society, but in the U.S. predatory behavior in and against one’s family for financial gain is common. To dispossess someone can shorten his or her life. The U.S. is at peace at home, supposedly, while fighting wars overseas. However, a country that is killing people overseas (civilians included, directly and by devastating the infrastructure) is going to have a parallel set of behaviors domestically. So life is extinguished on both fronts.
So much violence of various kinds goes on in so many parts of the world that it is considered acceptable for “security” to rely on more violence and murder. There is little questioning of this, nor objection, as apathy and helplessness predominate.

But when the extinguishers of life are tolerated, they may come for you next. At that point your options and defenses will probably be few, with little help from others. For “divide and conquer” makes resistance unlikely and difficult. Stepping forward to speak out can result in being crushed. Is there any hope, then?

Thinkers on collapse are divided:

The self-induced implosion of the growth-economy will have immense social impacts and implications. Much of the killing and destruction happening today is only possible through oil and petroleum-dependent technology.

Large populations have been achieved through petroleum’s cheap abundance applied to agriculture and the entire food system. But as critical oil supply is inevitably pinched and alternatives are not in place, there will be a die-off of unprecedented proportions for the most dependent consumers.

The loss of life may involve much carnage as modern society collapses. In its place might come a less-able killing apparatus and a return to more peaceful pursuits for subsistence. Collapse, then, may have a bright side, although the unknown side effects can contribute greatly to extinction of humans and other species.
Surprises have always been in store, and will surface more rapidly. The failure of complex systems is inherent in their design or at least in their interdependence with other complex systems. The BP rig and well blowout are an example; nuclear bomb blast or nuclear plant meltdown are inevitable occurrences ahead; climate disaster has been ensured.

The list goes on, and the only remarkable thing about these “surprises” is that they are surprising to the many who led their precarious lives so obliviously.

General socioeconomic collapse should not be a surprise, but it might be so to many who are just trying to keep their heads down and not take any responsibility for, say, the plastic plague or the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Yes, the extinguishers of life have names and addresses, but the enemy is really us – as petroleum industry investment banker Matt Simmons suggested to a Pentagon audience in 2006 (see Culture Change Letter #134 ). We need a paradigm shift along the lines of culture change.

The need has been building. With century upon century of oppression on a widening scale, as land rights, water rights and local self-sufficiency have shrunk along with the forests and top soil, the extinguishers of life are running out of maneuvering room in an ever more overcrowded world. They can pull off a last hurrah of astounding atrocity, but their hold is unsustainable for several reasons.

Meanwhile, intensifying madness and sadness for the majority will result in massive chaos, and the rich might not be spared without an awakening toward wealth-redistribution and valuing the real wealth: healthy, bountiful nature for all to share.

Strike one … You’re out?

SUBHEAD: The industrialized world was supposed to have time to prepare alternatives to oil. It has not bothered to do so. Image above: Still from Disney's 1946 "Casy at the Bat". Casey gets ready to swing for Mudville. From (http://www.disneyshorts.org/years/1946/caseyatthebat.html). By Guy McPherson on 5 July 2010 in Nature Bats Last - (http://guymcpherson.com/2010/07/strike-one-youre-out)

Bad Company’s Shooting Star blares over the PA system.

Don’t you know, yeah, yeah

The hour is late as the game enters the top of the ninth inning. The home team has held the Industrialists scoreless, and leads by a single run. If the Industrialists score, the home team will bring out the bats.

Don’t you know that you are a shooting star

The lead-off batter for the Industrialists reaches base on a bunt down the third-base line. A sacrifice fly to deep right follows a sacrifice bunt, advancing the runner to third with two outs.

And all the world will love you just as long As long as you are

Nature’s pitcher checks the runner at third before smoking a fastball low and away. The Industrialist’s best hitter swings and misses.

“Strike one,” cries the umpire behind home plate. “You’re out.”

Johnny’s life passed him by like a warm summer day

Incredulous, the batter turns and stares at the umpire. The Industrialist’s manager storms from the dugout to argue the call. But it’s game over for the Industrialists. Nature wins again. All the appeals will be for naught.

If you listen to the wind, you can still hear him play

Stunned by the outcome, the few fans of the visiting Industrialists file out the exits as the fans of Nature collectively exhale a sigh of relief. A few angry Industrialists lash out, injuring Nature’s players for a final time. But everybody knows it’s over. Nature didn’t even need to use its last turn at bat to win this one.

Image above: Still from Disney's 1946 "Casy at the Bat". Casey has struck out. The game is lost. From (http://www.disneyshorts.org/years/1946/caseyatthebat.html).

Perhaps Osama bin Laden was correct when he said, twelve years ago, oil should be priced at $144 per barrel. Perhaps this price will suffice to bring down the empire. Perhaps the first post-peak spike in the price of oil will yet do the trick.

President Obama and his lead lackey Ben Bernanke have managed to paper over the gaping holes in the industrial economy for 18 months, largely because the clueless fans of empire have been watching reality television instead of paying attention to reality. As managers of the industrial age, Obama and crew have effectively argued against economic collapse. Among the many costs to industrial humans, which admittedly pale relative to the costs to non-industrial humans and non-human species: criminal banks and ongoing erosion of the freedoms we once took for granted.

All that arguing could have been spent preparing an unprepared citizenry instead of creating a diversion from the central issue of our time. But that’s water under the proverbial bridge.

Instead of a recovery, we’re witnessing an economic death spiral. Although it seemed absurdly unlikely as little as a few months ago, it is becoming evident that the economic impacts of passing the world oil peak are still running full-out. We might not need a second spike to bring the shooting star of industry down to Earth.

Johnny died one night, died in his bed Bottle of whiskey, sleepin’ tablets by his head

Woah … Don’t you know that you are a shooting star

It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way. The industrialized world was supposed to have time to prepare alternatives to oil. Or so goes the mainstream story.

The ongoing story runs contrary to conventional wisdom. This version of the traditional narrative includes a twist, completely unexpected by most readers (and especially by economists). Just when it appears Nature is down for the count, even as Nature is gasping for life through the many assaults of industry, even as the living planet is turning belly-up and taking our species with her, a light flickers.

At first distant and dim, the light grows until it obscures the darkness of industry. Plants grow through the asphalt and then cloak the highways and bridges. Cities give way to small towns. Machines give way to nature’s bounty. The global horde of humankind gives way to a compassionate host of humanity.

This version of the story includes a Hollywood ending and a feel-good, bumper-sticker mantra: Nature Bats Last.

Peak Oil, Time & Population

SUBHEAD: Famine will not be chosen by humans. It will be chosen by Nature herself. Image above: Weather ravaged Chinese poster advocating its one-child policy in 1980's. From (http://istgeography.wikispaces.com/china_one_child_mechanisms). By Peter Goodchild on 7 July 2010 in CounterCurrents - (http://www.countercurrents.org/goodchild070710.htm)

There is a close relationship between Peak Oil and population. Since the 1950s there have been many estimates of the rise and fall of global oil production, but it was perhaps inevitable that the shift has been from optimistic to realistic. After all, it is better for one’s reputation to make errors on the side of caution than to look like foolish by announcing a catastrophe that does not occur. With increasing studies, however, and with increasing proximity to the critical events, realism at last takes over.

We begin with two basic facts. The first is that the world’s present annual consumption of oil is nearly 30 billion barrels. The second is that the world’s present population is nearly 7 billion. From there we can add some reasonable estimates of both oil decline and population decline.

The peak of world oil production is about 2010, and the most likely rate of decline after the peak is 6 percent. [5, 7, 11] That means production will fall to half of the peak level in 11 years, i.e. in 2021.

Population size is directly correlated with oil supply. Oil has been the main source of energy within industrial society. It is only with abundant oil that a large global population has been possible, and it was oil that allowed population to grow so quickly. [1]

If oil production drops to half of its peak amount in 11 years, therefore, world population must also drop by half, i.e. to 3.5 billion. A drop from 7 billion to 3.5 means that, as with oil production, the annual population decline rate will be 6%.

But how will it be possible to reduce the population from 7 billion to 3.5 billion in 11 years? Would such a reduction be possible with a program of voluntary cessation of all childbirth, but with no other drastic global change in human behavior? Would a no-child policy be workable?

Unfortunately, such a program would be quite unlikely to succeed. In the first place, in order to have any significant effect the program would have to be both global and immediate. In addition, most of the world is hardly amenable to the suggestion of a one-child policy, such as that of China, so it is not likely that it would tolerate a no-child policy.

In any case, cutting the birth rate without increasing the death rate would not have a great enough effect on the final numbers. Since most of the people now living would still be alive in 2021, the population would not be reduced sufficiently. There is, in fact, no feasible political means of reducing population by 6 percent annually.

The only solution will be famine, and that solution will not be one that is chosen by humans. It will be chosen by Nature, as she does for so many other species. The process will be set in place by the ubiquitous and systemic decline in resources, and the consequent decline in industrial production. Without fossil fuels, agricultural yields will decline to about 30 percent. [7, 8, 9]

The famine has already started, to judge from the decline in world food supplies. [3, 4] Roughly similar declines will occur in everything from mining, electricity, and manufacturing, to transportation and communication. [2, 6]

Planning for such a scenario should have been started long ago. Even at this late date, however, what is needed is to accept the facts and to ease the way for those relatively few who will constitute the future of humanity. At least on a small scale, such a program will succeed.


1. Catton, William R., Jr. Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change. Champaign, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1982.

2. Duncan, Richard C. The Olduvai Theory: Energy, Population, and Industrial Civilization. The Social Contract, Winter 2005-2006. http://www.thesocialcontract.com/pdf/sixteen-two/xvi-2-93.pdf

3. Earth Policy Institute. Earth Policy Indicators. 15 June 2006. Grain Harvest: http://www.earth-policy.org/index.php?/indicators/C54/

4. -----. Earth Policy Indicators. 22 June 2005. Fish Harvest. http://www.earth-policy.org/index.php?/indicators/C55/

5. Foucher, Sam. Analysis of Decline Rates. The Oil Drum. 25 February 2009. http://iseof.org/pdf/theoildrum_4820.pdf

6. Gever, John, et al. Beyond Oil: The Threat to Food and Fuel in the Coming Decades. 3rd ed. Boulder, Colorado: University Press of Colorado, 1991.

7. Höök, Mikael, Robert Hirsch, and Kjell Aleklett. Giant Oil Field Decline Rates and Their Influence on World Oil Production. Energy Policy. June 2009. http://www.tsl.uu.se/uhdsg/Publications/GOF_decline_Article.pdf

8. Pimentel, David. Energy Flows in Agricultural and Natural Ecosystems. CIHEAM (International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies). 1984. ressources.ciheam.org/om/pdf/s07/c10841.pdf

9. -----, and Carl W. Hall, eds. Food and Energy Resources. Orlando, Florida: Academic Press, 1984.

10. -----, and Marcia H. Pimentel. Food, Energy, and Society. 3rd ed. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2007.

11. Poston, Steven W. Decline Curves. Hamilton Group. http://www.hamiltongroup.org/documents/Decline%20Curves%20-%20Dr%20Stephen%20Poston.pdf

• Peter Goodchild is the author of Survival Skills of the North American Indians, published by Chicago Review Press. His email address is odonatus@live.com.


Lingle Vetoes Gay Marriage

SUBHEAD: Hawaii's Governor Linda Lingle waits until deadline to strike down pro single-sex marriage legislation. Image above: Photo of a gay marriage ceremony in Hawaii. From (http://hawaiigayunions.com/category/hawaii-civil-union-bill). By Leo Azambuja on 6 July 2010 in the Garden Island News - (http://thegardenisland.com/news/local/article_4d0c05c6-89a2-11df-bfaa-001cc4c002e0.html) Gov. Linda Lingle on Tuesday vetoed House Bill 444, which took two years to be approved by the state Legislature and would have given same-sex and heterosexual couples the same rights and benefits as couples united by traditional marriage.

“We are discriminating against people. I truly feel this is a civil rights issue. We are not treating people equally,” said Rep. Mina Morita, D-14th District.

Rep. Roland Sagum, D-16th District, said he is not against people wanting those types of union.

“It happens in every family,” he said. “But the law had the word marriage in it, therefore many people in my district wanted me to vote against it.”

Sagum noted that the core issue right now is to find jobs and getting people back to work.

Rep. Jimmy Tokioka, D-15th District, said he was concerned with the use of the word “solemnization” in the bill. “It’s in there 25 times, and it’s a short bill.”

Solemnization means to “to perform with pomp or ceremony, or especially to celebrate a marriage with religious rights,” according to Merriam-Webster.

Tokioka said that, as a representative, looking at the definition of solemnization as marriage, he also looks at the definition of marriage in Hawai‘i Revised Statues, which means a union between a man and a woman.

He said if people read the bill they would understand some of the concerns from people who are concerned about the sanctity of marriage.

Tokioka said Lingle’s desire was that the issue should be voted on by all the people of Hawai‘i. But the next opportunity to have a question on a ballot will be in two years, he said.

Some lawmakers were ready to override Lingle’s veto. The Senate was ready to convene, but House Speaker Calvin Say had already made a decision last week not to bring in the House, Morita said.

If the Legislature had gone back into session, the focus would’ve been on HB 444. The House, however, would not have a super-majority of votes necessary to override Lingle’s veto, according to Tokioka.

The bill’s effective date was Jan. 1, 2010, which Tokioka said was one of the reasons Lingle thought the bill was flawed.

“That would mean if she signed a bill today, tomorrow people could walk into the Health Department and try to get a civil union, which the Health Department is not set up for,” Tokioka said.

The Senate had just enough secured votes to override the veto, but the House’s override was still necessary for an override.

Sen. Gary Hooser voted in favor of the bill. He could not be reached for comments by press time.

Video above: National NBC news coverage of Lingle Veto. From (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/38124509#38124509) .

Plane Hits World Trade Center

SUBHEAD: High quality physically accurate visualization of September 11 attack on Tower One WTC in NYC.

 By Lee Ward on 21 June 2007 in WhizbangBlue.com - 

Image above: Still frame from structural simulation of 911 impact on Tower One WTC. from (http://news.uns.purdue.edu/images/+2007/popescu-animation2.jpg).

Researchers at Purdue University have created a state-of-the-art animation depicting the structural damage which occurred as a result of the Boeing 767 airliner crashing into the North Tower on 9/11. This animation clip is narrated with a description of what is taking place as the crash unfolds.
The simulation found that the airplane's metal skin peeled away shortly after impact and shows how the titanium jet engine shafts flew through the building like bullets.

As with an earlier simulation developed by this team that examined the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, the World Trade Center simulation showed that it was the weight of the 10,000 gallons of fuel more than anything else that caused the damage.

"It is the weight, the kinetic energy of the fuel that causes much of the damage in these events," Hoffmann says. "If it weren't for the subsequent fire, the structural damage might be almost the same if the planes had been filled with water instead of fuel."

Mete Sozen, Purdue's Kettlehut Distinguished Professor of Structural Engineering and a principal investigator on the simulation project, says the researchers worked for years and used the best computing resources available to recreate the event.

"To estimate the serious damage to the World Trade Center core columns, we assembled a detailed numerical model of the impacting aircraft as well as a detailed numerical model of the top 20 stories of the building," Sozen says. "We then used weeks of supercomputer time over a number of years to simulate the event in many credible angles of impact of the aircraft."

Sozen says the actual damage to the building's facade that was observed was identical to the damage shown by the numerical simulation.

"We calibrated our calculations using data from experiments we had conducted to evaluate the energy imparted from fluid moving at high speed to solid targets," he says. "We concluded that the damage map we calculated for our numerical model of the building would correspond closely to the actual extent of the damage."

The simulation represented the plane and its mass as a mesh of hundreds of thousands of "finite elements," or small squares containing specific physical characteristics. In the visualization, these scientific data points are used to show how airplane components swept through the building and out through the other side as the fuel ignited.

"The aircraft moved through the building as if it were a hot and fast lava flow," Sozen says. "Consequently, much of the fireproofing insulation was ripped off the structure. Even if all of the columns and girders had survived the impact - an unlikely event - the structure would fail as the result of a buckling of the columns. The heat from an ordinary office fire would suffice to soften and weaken the unprotected steel.

Evaluation of the effects of the fire on the core column structure, with the insulation removed by the impact, showed that collapse would follow whatever the number of columns cut at the time of the impact."

Video above: Scientists simulate jet hitting world trade center. From (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gH02Eh44yUg). 


End of Kauai's Economy

SUBHEAD: There is are good reasons why our agland is disappearing to GMO corn, vacation rentals, and billionaires MacMansions. Image above: Detail of painting by Diego Rivera of work on a sugarcane plantation, 1931. From (http://www.abcgallery.com/R/rivera/rivera139.html). By Juan Wilson on 7 July 2010 - Roll back the clock forty or fifty years, and the economy of Kauai was built on a foundation of sugarcane and vacation resorts. There was nascent private and public service industry and a smattering of military related jobs, but the bulk of the money coming to the island was from tourism and agriculture. GMO Corn replaces sugarcane Then bad things happened. Sugar production was already on the wane, but operations like Gay & Robinson plugged away as if that would get turned around. It didn't. The introduction in 1985 of New Coke using corn syrup to replace cane sugar signaled the end for sugarcane on Kauai. It also was the starting gun on the economic bonanza of GMO production. GMO corn companies are not in the food production business. They are chemical companies. They are experimenting with the genes of mass produced crops to control them, control who buys them and attach a dependence on their chemicals to these industrial crops. They make crops which are dependent on their pesticides to germinate, and which are tolerant to their pesticides. Their seeds have a terminator gene, so do not reproduce. Therefore you have to buy seeds again each season. They hold patents on their genetically modified crops, and they prosecute any farmer whose crops contain their genes, even if the farmer is not responsible for the infestation of his crop with these genes. The primary ingredient to the chemistry, energy sources, and soil needed for what they do is petroleum. Companies like Syngenta, Dow, Dupont, etc. They now control the agland once used by the cane plantations of the westside and are continuing to grow. They are the new plantation barons. They are building a partnership with the US military and its subcontractors (ITT, Raytheon, general Dynamics, etc.) to limit access and control circumstances on the westside of Kauai. Tourism for the Wealthy Tourism continued to be a mainstay of our economy. There were a few blips along the way: West coast dock strike, OPEC oil crisis, Reagan Recession, etc. Tourism was not just for the rich anymore. By the 1970s it was something the middle class could do en masse. Jumbo 747s began overseas flights - and quickly became cattlecars in the sky. Destination resorts were available to service suburban families needing a week in paradise. Twenty-five years later, in 1997, when I returned to Kauai for a visit (and to introduce the island to my family) we did not even inquire about hotel accommodations. We looked for a house rental in Poipu. At that time it was $2,000/month for a two bedroom near the beach. That was significantly better than renting two resort hotel rooms for a month. In 2001, when we moved here permanently, that same house was renting for north of $4,000/month... still a bargain. There is a compelling reason house rentals are preferred to hotels for many visitors that come to our island. That will not be changing soon. However, since September 11, 2001, commercial aviation, and middleclass tourism has been on a death watch. It has gotten to be a nightmare to pass through the gauntlet of "Homeland Security" checks needed to get on a plane going anywhere. In addition, the airlines cannot make money with the present cost of fuel. The only way they can eke out supplementary income is to eliminate meals, charge you for a pillow or carry-on bag. They want you to stay in your seat and not complain. That is a far cry from my first trip, in 1972, on a 747 from Honolulu to San Francisco where we were pampered by appealing stewardessses and the front of the plane had an open bar with a lounge singer at a small electric piano. I think flying is going to get so much worse that commercial aviation as we know it will end. Those flying from here to the mainland will be the rich going by charter or private jets. The rest of us will be lucky to ride a ship in steerage. All this, in effect, will suck the joy out of a trip to paradise for a week for middle income families. Tourism will become a high-end pleasure reserved for the rich. Most of these tourists will be looking at longer stays away from the rabble. Isolated homes on beachfront and rural meadows (agland) with great views and amenities will be preferred. Have you noticed how the farm workers housing legislation has been shoved aside and linked to re-examining vacation rental legislation for agland? Guys like councilman Jay Furfaro, who managed resorts for a career, know that the Kauai hotel business is going away. He thinks we need a transformation of the business to accommodate visitors Billionaire Bunker Down Lastly, we are in the middle of an invasion of billionaires who have plundered the world and, now that things are in an advanced stage of eco-collapse, are seeking a place to alight to escape the coming hard times. They want large plots of semi-tropical land that can sustain them with lots of same minded people nearby, and with a service class to provide them comforts. We wrote back in 2005 in "Bunker Mentality of the Rich":

"Feel the anxiety of even the most privileged Sunbelters as they see increasing chaotic natural forces pummeling even the richest enclaves as the effects of global warming begin to kick-in.

Sense the thirst for unrenewable resources (i.e. water) in places like Imperial Valley, Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas and most of the mountainous yuppie-extreme-sport west.

Share the worry about crime, depression, child-safety, terrorism, sex-offenders, ethnic minorities, school violence, ID theft and cosmetic surgery that seems to fill the minds of America's well-heeled suburbanites. When you do you'll know why so many (that have made a financial killing on the mainland) now want to hunker down in paradise. Back on the mainland they are beginning to smell the smoke of an oncoming economic melt-down, and they want a safe place to run and hide.The rich are bunkering down here!"

After renting a few houses on Kauai over the years, some of the fabulously wealthy are reconsidering their escape move to Costa Rica or Paraguay and looking a a little chunk of the US that's isolated, where English is spoken, and the US military as a strategic interest in defending: Kauai. These people know better than we that the crash is coming. They are the ones who have had their hands on the industrial steering wheel. I suspect if this trend continues there will be a new order of business on our island. A kind of feudal/plantation organization backed up by the military and a few global corporations. If they want the agland here they will simply take it. Our humble county government, without a clue of any alternative, will gladly play lapdog. Only a serious de-industrialization process may stand in their way. Then we can build an economy founded on organic, sustainable agriculture that could export the 3 C's: coffee, cacao and cannabis. See also: Ea O Ka Aina: Message from DOW GMO 6/29/10 Ea O Ka Aina: Potash King's Palace 6/24/10 Ea O Ka Aina: Bunker Mentality of Rich 6/25/05 .

Interview with Charles Eisenstein

SUBHEAD: The Tower is no longer rising toward heaven, and eventually at some point people get sick of it and they abandon the project. The Sky Starts an Inch off the Ground. Image above: Painting of "The Tower of Babel" by Pieter The Elder Bruegel, 1563. From (http://offpicnic.net/charles-eisenstein). By Kurt Hardesty & Benton Rooks on 16 June 2010 in Reality Sandwich - (http://www.realitysandwich.com/spill_not_accident)

You can watch a video of the interview at (http://www.vimeo.com/11871794).

Who are you for the people who don't know, and what is it that you do, and your broad goal? I found you from the book "The Ascent of Humanity" and it's so much material it's really hard to summarize. What is it that you are working on and doing as far as culture?

Yeah well, its hard to answer that question in less then 600 pages. I think like most people in our generation -- we grew up with this feeling that there is something wrong with the world, or to phrase it more positively, that a beautiful world is possible or that things should be more beautiful.

You guys are probably younger than I am so maybe this process was abbreviated for you, but at least in my generation many of us went through this stage of conflict between our inner knowing that it's not supposed to be this way, and the messages that came from all around us saying,

"Oh yes it is, this is the project of ascent, humanity is ascending and improving and progressing, and sure we have some problems, but we will take care of those. Human thought is advancing, science is advancing and things are fundamentally OK. So participate, devote your talents toward the furtherance of this project."

So there is a conflict between everything that we are told and everything that we knew inside. So a lot of us became slackers, we participated half-heartedly, we sabotaged ourselves, we became addicted to things. Everyone had a different way of refusing to go along, or of going along half-heartedly. And, that was kind of my story for a while too. Until eventually it just became intolerable to participate even half-heartedly. And so I began to think, I just began to investigate, what is this ambient wrongness?

Why are we destroying the planet and destroying all that's beautiful? So I began to dig and dig and dig, uncovering one level of explanation after another, and then becoming dissatisfied with it, and going deeper and deeper, until I found something that satisfied me. And it really turned everything on its head for me because if a mistake -- well now I am summarizing the whole book -- for a while I thought we must have made some big mistake.

Like Derrick Jensen type stuff?

Yeah, right, like agriculture is a big mistake, symbolic culture is a big mistake, naming and distancing ourselves, but you know you can take it back even farther then that, to fire which created the distinction between the domestic and the wild, and that was the beginning of taming nature. And so now your going back 300,000 years. Or even to stone tools, 3 million years ago.

But then you have to say, what is the difference between a stone tool and a bird's nest? I mean all animals modify their environment. So what started out in being this terrible mistake, this Fall, became something that just built on previous degrees of separation going back you know, to the first cell. And you know, you take it that far back you start to think maybe this isn't a mistake, maybe it's part of a process, and this tide of separation, this extreme of separation is happening for a reason.

Yeah I think that perspective is what makes your work so much different from just about anything else I have run into is that, it's a continuous grey scale, in your book there is a continuous grey blurring from the first phospholipic membrane where there was an inside and an outside and its like well, there was no singular mistake so we can't go backwards so what are we going to do?


Well people can you read your book so I would love to get your ideas on : What can people do? It seems like there is a boiling point or there is obviously a lot of energy of change going on and you might be unsure on what will happen but what are people supposed to do when there seems to be this momentum? Is it just a personal change or do you believe in any political groups or organizations? Are you involved in any movements that you would put your weight behind as far as correcting this wrongness?

There are thousands of movements that I would endorse. It's both a personal change in consciousness and an effort, action to change the outside world. This whole thing about "Well, you have to transform your own consciousness before you can really make a positive difference in the world" -- that I think is another variation of this theme of separation. Yeah, you have to change your own consciousness but how do you do that? You do that through relating to the world, through your relationships and stuff.

So the world is actually -- if you want to talk about it from a spiritual perspective you could say the world is here as an agent for the transformation of our consciousness. So this whole thing about, you know, let's go to a cave, and in the dark we are going to figure out just the right solution to everything and then when we finally figure out everything we are gonna trot it out from the cave and unveil it then the next step is to persuade everyone that this is the right solution. That's what Descarte basically said. He said the way to find truth is you go to a really dark room and you think. And that's a kind of separation. And I don't have a whole lot of patience with that.

So I guess one of the questions that we wanted to ask you as well is what is your own personal practice? Is there something that you do or engage in a form of Yoga maybe? And then how to take that contemplative discipline, and make it more active and involved or engaged in these kind of crises that were facing it.

I don't really have a contemplative practice that I would separate from the rest of my life, you know? There are times when I will be out in nature and I will just stand there for a while. I do some yoga maybe 15 or 20 minutes a day.

Have you noticed that it seems like more people now are just being and doing these spiritual things without having to say "I'm doing chi gong, yoga, I'm doing shamanism, I'm doing zen" I've just noticed a lot of people seem to be integrating all of it, and not to a fault. Is that something that you have seen in your experience?

Yeah. I think so cuz, at least 20 years ago people would say Yoga or Chi Gong or meditation or whatever, that's my spiritual practice. But they wouldn't say reading classic novels, or playing the guitar is their spiritual practice. But now as Yoga and Chi Gong and shamanic journeying become more normalized, they stop being this special category "this is spirituality and that isn't". So yeah I think so.

So do you remain optimistic generally speaking? It seems that one of your themes in your work is that this process of separation that we have had to undergo with the evolution of civilization and everything -- the external processes of evolution of cultures and things like this -- that those are necessary to push us towards an even greater activism or spirituality that doesn't just separate itself or confine itself like you were saying.

I think that all transformational processes have some things in common and what humanity collectively is going through is no different, you know? And as these collective crises converge upon us they make "normal" unlivable. So whether we intend to or not we're pushed to a different way of being. So yeah I think it's inevitable and it's normal -- it's supposed to be like this. Transformation is messy: your old world doesn't work anymore, it falls apart, and then perhaps you wander for a while and explore this new larger space that your born into and then you begin to build something in that larger space too. In a way I could say I am really pessimistic in the sense that the world as we've known it is falling apart and it's unstoppable. But that would be like saying a fetus is pessimistic because the womb is just not gonna last.

Right. I was meaning to ask you because I'm also generally optimistic as a whole but I go back and forth between moments of despair as far as ego or working on an individual level. Do you think that we are in the darkest hour now possibly, or do you think that is that yet to come? Do you get any inkling or is this just up in the air as far as like will there be a smooth transition period or a horribly painful birth or do you have a sort of a feel as to us surviving at this point?

It's still up to us. We could still have a soft but bumpy landing, or we could have a pretty bad crash landing. It's really kind of up in the air right now. The longer we hold on, the worse it will be.

We should probably get into the financial thing then. I know you're working on a book that deals with possible solutions to the financial problems we are facing on the economic scale. I really want you to speak about how the gift economy that you're pushing could be an alternative to the federal system that we have today, and not only the philosophy behind it but the practical ways in which that might manifest, if you could speak on that.

Yeah I mean that's big topic, and probably various people who will see this will know this and that about the Federal Reserve, but I will say a couple things. As I've done research for this book I've become aware that every institution of our culture today has the germ of something beautiful and necessary in it.

The transition that we are going through right now, it's not like one of these revolutions where we sweep away the old and create something new out of whole cloth. I think that pretty much every institution that we have today is going to still exist, in this more beautiful world, like the same note at the higher octave, including the Federal Reserve, and including banks.

Because at the most basic level, or maybe like the Platonic Ideal of banking -- it's a really beautiful thing. It says: I have more money than I know what to do with, and I'd like to lend it to someone who really needs it but I don't know anyone who really needs it and I don't want to spend the time to do that, my talent is in making widgets, you know, so I am going to give it to you Mr. Banker, and you will help me find somebody who can put this money to beautiful use. That's a worthy role.

Do you see that kind of attitude coming from some sort of weird consciousness shift from a multitude of factors or do you think something like redefining how money works will naturally bring about that attitude?

I think its actually going in that direction already. There are a few barriers in the way of that happening, and those barriers will crumble when the system as it is stops working. One of the proposals that I play with a lot is to have negative interest on currency, depreciating currency, also known as demurge.

And part of that would be to have a carry tax or negative interest on bank reserves and on currency. And it's interesting that in the recent crisis, we got close to it, the risk free interest rate on short term securities which are pretty much equivalent to bank reserves, you know short term government securities t-bills and stuff, they went almost to zero.

Yeah but then they went around and then loaned that money at interest so it was kind of...

The problem was that they didn't loan it out and interest, they didn't, they just kept it. All this equity that got pumped into the system just stayed as bank reserves, and wasn't being lent. Well I am oversimplifying the story a little but, you know, there wasn't a lot of lending going on. So then some actual mainstream economists proposed this, resurrecting these ideas of Silvio Gesell -- what if we reduced the interest rate on reserves into negative territory? Then even if you made a loan at zero interest, it would still be worth your while.

Now I don't want to go too much into the mechanics of that, but I just keep discovering these ways in which these proposals are all happening already. Another one is this idea of a leisure economy and economic degrowth, but instead of everyone working a little less, well instead of that, we have unemployment where 20% of the people work not at all, and 80% of the people more than they want to, all to produce more stuff then we need. It's crazy. And they keep developing more and more labor saving devices, which exacerbates the problem of overcapacity and make it necessary to work even less. And that is a problem when the way that money gets distributed through the economy depends on having a job.

So that could all change if there was some kind of social wage, or some way to get money to people who are not doing the things that will create even more money, but maybe who are doing things that restore the ecosystem and stuff like that. I don't want to get to much into it though because I want to also get a little bit more practical about gift economy and what we can do right now as individuals.

Yeah if you could go into -- what are the best ways for people to act now to bring about the nature of the gift while were still working in a non gift culture?

On a psychological level we can orient ourselves toward the gift. Were trained to think of work in terms of how can I make a living. And that training runs pretty deep. But if we reorient all of our thinking toward how can I best contribute to the world that I want to create, then that's a gift mentality.

I've found that when I do work that is in the spirit of the gift, I don't want to charge money for it, it feels almost like sacrilegious. And a lot of healers and musicians and artists have the same feeling. It's like, what I am offering is sacred to me, so it feels wrong to charge for it. "I am only giving the world this sacred gift if I get money first". That feels wrong.

On the other hand though, to charge money, any amount of money, feels like I am charging too little, I am reducing something infinite and sacred into something that is finite and profane, to change it into money. So, I should charge more! So any amount I charge is at once too little and too much. The model that I've been working with, and finding a lot of other people who are doing the same thing now, is to say I am not going to charge at all, I am going to offer it as a gift and if that gift inspires gratitude, then you can gift me in return. But I won't specify the gift and the return. I will let that be up to you and trust gratitude to guide you.

And really, think about it, someone might read something of mine or listen to one of my recordings or whatever, and one person might not be a bit grateful: "can't believe I am wasting my time on this crap", and the other person might say "wow this changed my life" and why should each person pay $15? That's ridiculous. One of them should pay nothing and the other should pay $1000. Or perhaps that gratitude will prompt that person to give in some other way. Maybe the gratitude isn't toward me but maybe it is toward the universe, for making this available.

It sort of reminds me of what Radiohead did with their last album and maybe we could get into what your thoughts on that were and what the role of file sharing is and how you see that whole play, that maybe file sharing is a kind of jump start to that gift consciousness or what your take on that is?

Radiohead is a perfect example. That's one of the examples that inspired me. And there are a lot of people doing that now. Gift economics is especially natural with digital content, such as music, video, text. Anything that you can download, because the marginal cost of production is zero, or very close to zero. Like, you're going to put this interview online and whether one person views it or a million people view it, the costs aren't going to be that much higher. If the cost to you for an additional copy is essentially zero, then according to economic theory, which in this case is true, the natural price point is zero also. And it just doesn't make sense, intuitively you know, "I could give you this at no cost to myself but I'm going to charge you anyway" -- that kinda rubs me the wrong way. So with music and with anything that you can put online, I think that the gift model is natural. The gift model for other things is a little bit more tricky but it works also.

So the counter argument to that though is that Radiohead is a well established band, they've already made a living selling records and they are financially stable enough to be able to do that. So its going to be hard to maintain that kind of gift consciousness if the whole entire system isn't already there with it. Because otherwise you have struggling musicians who need to work really crappy jobs, and if they're putting out their music and hard work and artwork out there for free, they won't be able to continue doing what they like and to only do that as a living.

Well Radiohead, it's not like they didn't make any money off that album. People voluntarily gave them money. They didn't have to give them anything but they gave them huge amounts of money. And so like on a practical level the counter argument to what you just said is that "Sure they make less from sales of music but you know if it goes viral then they eventually do benefit -- people sometimes will buy the album you know, or they will go to the concerts more."

So even from that practical point there's a counter argument to that. But to me the really telling thing is that OK, how did the old model work for the vast vast majority of bands? It was almost impossible, almost impossible to make it as a band in the era of content that was controlled through intellectual property. I remember reading some essay by some band how this much of the money goes to the promoter, this goes to the record company, then there's the t-shirt sales of which they get 50 cents per t-shirts and they end up touring and having this exhausting schedule and making almost nothing even if they are pretty popular. The old model wasn't working, so I think that there is really nothing to lose.

So the gift thing seems to work very well for generating what I have started to call spacious things or empty things, like art. Stuff that is generated from form but its form. They are using music to create something intangible that doesn't really have a set value. One of the other groups out there that is becoming slightly more popular is that Venus project thing have you heard of that? Where they promote: lets just make things as abundant as possible. So maybe if we combined the two ideals where, how does a struggling artist start with just gift, they still have to eat. Do you see a culture where we've got some areas that are just provided for as much as possible like food, housing, nobody is on the street, you know the very dredges of society will be living at 25,000 a year, they are taken care of, and the wealthy people would be the ones that are truly participating in this gift thing? Is there room for slackers in the new world?

Another idea that I like is the idea of a social dividend. The idea is that the bounty of nature, and the accumulated wealth of thousands of years of technological advance and innovation, that should be the property of everybody. Everybody should benefit, just by being born as a human being everyone should have an equal right to benefit from this enormous accumulation of technology which allows us to meet our wants very easily with very little labor.

And so reflecting this, everybody should get an annual income that represents their share of this bounty. Kind of like in Alaska where every citizen gets like $3,000 a year as a share of their oil revenues. Because Alaska keeps control of the oil, I don't fully understand it but it doesn't give concessions to oil companies. It says, "You can pump the oil and we will let you have a nice profit but no windfall profits, and the essential profit from owning this resource will go to the public."

And this idea goes way back, you can read it in science fiction stories in the 1930s. It was promoted by a monetary visionary, also known as a monetary crank, in the 20's by the name of Major Douglas. But it keeps coming up. And when there's a stimulus check, and everyone gets some money just for no reason - that's kind of an example of that to. I think just to meet our basic human needs we shouldn't have to work that hard for that. Hunter gatherers didn't have to work that hard for that and their most advanced technology was a digging stick and they only had to work like 20 hours a week to meet their needs. Why should we have to work any more than that?

So you're picturing a sort of thing where we use our technology maybe not as an infinitely driving thing but use it to make a very nice foundation for everyone as their inheritance for being a human and then stacking a gift economy on top of that? And some peoples gift would be maintaining this bottom system for everyone no matter what?

Some people would love to grow food.

Right. Or design hyper fast electric trains or something like that where everyone has some form of housing, some food of food, some form of transportation, and then stack some kind of -- that would obviously be a gift but...

I don't think they necessarily have to be distinguished like that, its just natural for those needs to be very easily met. And today what we have is a condition of artificial scarcity that forces people to work more then is necessary to maintain human needs and human happiness. Most of the stuff we're producing doesn't contribute to human happiness.

When you look at the biggest growth industries in the last 20 years you know -- housing, you know building houses that are bigger then anyone needs. you know the average size of the house as doubled or more since the 1950s, and people live in these huge houses that they can barely even inhabit.

The piles of plastic junk, the armaments industry and all that supports it. The incredible redundancy. Everyone in my neighborhood has a lawn mower which they use 20 hours a year. Would we be any poorer with 1/10th the lawn mowers? Every other house has their own complete set of power tools which they use 1 hour a year. Would we be any poorer if the whole neighborhood had just two sets?

It would be much nicer actually because we'd be sharing, we'd be interacting. Basically because we're cut off from sharing and we're cut off from gift culture, we're artificially poor. That's good for the economy because everyone has to buy their own set of power tools and everyone has to buy everything. And that's essentially why -- even though our needs can theoretically be met way more easily then they could 10,000 years ago -- that we still work harder today.

So we really are pretty much already there on every front its just a matter of redefining the magic of money.

We're there and we've always been there and at every juncture, with every labor saving device, we've faced a choice: Should we work less or consume more? And every single time we have chosen to consume more. The Venus Project has a really beautiful spirit to it, but to me there is still a little bit of a flavor of technological utopianism. It says that the next wave of technology, nanotechnology or whatever, all these other technologies we're talking about -- that's going to finally usher the age of abundance. But like you said, we're already there. We've always already been there, and without making a different choice between work less or consume more, it's always going to be just at the horizon. We're never going to get there.

Do you think that on some fronts, like energy production for instance -- I feel like we do need to throw a couple of hail Mary's technologically to support 7 billion people while we maybe let the population die off or decide that we're good at this level -- energy wise as far as food and transportation and all that or is that really already just good?

Our food system right now is highly dependent on oil, but that's because it seeks to maximize yield per human labor input. A truly sustainable agricultural system would be much more labor intensive. Pretty much everyone would have a garden, and instead of 1% of the population being farmers, maybe 5 or 10% would be farmers. We would have 5 or 10 times more farmers then we have today. It would be much more local, much less energy intensive. You wouldn't have transcontinental trucking and all that.

We could easily use half -- I will be conservative and say half -- but I really think we could use a tenth of the energy that we have today and be richer in almost every way that's important. I mean France uses half the energy the United States does per capita and the last time I noticed their quality of life is pretty high.

The one thing I feel like were not there is -- I mean I wanted to ask you this Charles -- Do you think that there is a sort of Elite at the top of the pyramid that dictates and control things, "the financial elite" and if there is, how do we approach that problem of a very small amount of people controlling and making ideological or philosophical decisions on how things are run. How do we actually approach that sphere that 1% that owns 80% of the world's goods and everything else? I mean how do we talk to them or address that issue?

I mean I might be naive but I tend to think that the global conspiracy of the power elite is unconscious. Its a conspiracy without actual conscious conspirators. These elites are themselves pawns of an ideology that transcends every human being, and that no human being is fully conscious of. So in a way they act as if they were conspirators, and the effects are similar.

So the conspiracy stuff is -- I guess our culture causes these things that seem so organized and so screwed up that for the average mind who starts to look into this they can't fathom it not having a head to it -- that its just an emergent property of us, sort of?

Yes. And also the conspiracy theories tempt us into the mindset of "the problem of the world is evil, and if we could only conquer evil then everything would be fine." This is the mindset of ascent, you know the ascent of humanity that I talk about. It's this endless campaign to defeat evil, to overcome nature. That's where evil got its start, evil didn't get its start until we began to distinguish between weeds and useful plants. Sheep are good and wolves are bad. And so then the wild is evil, that's the big bad wolf, and the inner reflection of it is the inner wild that we also try to overcome.

So that the ascended person or the superior person is someone who can control the desires, who doesn't succumb to pleasure, and who has conquered this inner wild. And so, its really a very similar mentality to "lets pull out all the weeds, lets destroy the weeds once and for all" just like the scientists in the 50's who said "with DDT, we will someday eliminate all pests, and we will have an agriculture that's completely scientific, without any random variables."

And this is the same mentality as the Bolsheviks, and every revolutionary to this day that has said the solution is to sweep out all the old, to sweep out all the evil and have perfect control. And so I think that in a subtle way, the revolutionary mindset that says, "Let's topple these evil elites, and end their abominations" is insufficiently deep. It is an insufficiently deep revolution. It's an attempt to use the master's tools to dismantle the master's house. And even if it's successful it's only going to create a different variation of what we have already. It's not really a revolution ya know? It's just a different variation of separation.

Right and what revolution hasn't resulted in another thing that just needs to be overthrown.

So maybe we can make a small transition and talk about what the role of education is in all of this? I was really inspired by your speaking on one of your youtube videos the origins of education being basically industry metaphors. So you have classes and grades, which are basically methods for categorizing objects in industry and industrial times. And maybe speak about how we might be able to form an alternative education system?

One of things we're doing with this project is we're putting online classes basically for free and we have older people like John Ebert who has been studying mythology and for years and just putting out free lectures and seeing who comes to them, and who wants to kind of join in on the virtual classroom. So I think one of the ways that we could bring about this conscious shift to a new thing like a gift economy is still to utilize the tools that we have and create that virtual space -- that virtual classroom maybe.

I am thinking of a school as another example of something in which there is the germ of something beautiful, and what school is going to look like. And this is something I have explored a lot because I have kids you know, and school hasn't worked very well for them. And we have tried different things and some have been better then others.

Have you looked into Waldorf stuff? I am just starting that teacher training and I was wondering. It seems like its very in line with all of this stuff.

I think Waldorf's got a piece of it. The democratic free schools have a piece of it. The original philosophy of Montessori has a piece of it. There is a lot, it's coming together.

Do you see a national adoption of some sort or do you think we'll just start these localize things that have their own individual flavor?

I think obviously the standard education system is in a deeper and deeper state of crisis, and I think what will happen is eventually that when it really falls apart all of these other models of school that are being developed and tried out by activists and parents everywhere will serve as pilots, as templates for a new system.

As far as the online stuff, I'm thinking what is the purpose of a classroom, what is the purpose of school? Certainly one purpose is an interchange of ideas, real dialogue. Otherwise if it is just an online lecture how is that different from television, how is that even a classroom? Everyone is at home by themselves, why not just read a book? But if there's some kind of personal dynamic going on... I mean a lot of university classes have become like television. Everyone goes and sits in this giant theater, and the star, the professor is up front lecturing, and everyone takes notes and then he goes away and they have exams and stuff. They could have a video monitor up there, for all practical purposes.

It kind of gets into what the Greeks were doing in the Platonic academy. They would basically hold classes, outside and be walking and talking amongst each other from what we know about it. And to be interacting and dialoguing, in that sense. But how do we revitalize the platonic dialogue or reshape it for the 21st century world? And what kind of practical physical manifestations of an alternative school -- what would it be to actually manifest that on a wide scale?

I don't know. I think online stuff can be adjunct to physical meetings but I think physical interactions are indispensable.

I definitely think so too. Do you think interactions like this could serve as an approximate? Or should we try and--

Yeah I don't know, I mean this could be good.

Especially if we got internet 2 up and the bandwith is all of the sudden amazing you've got 12 people in real time -- or would that be a sort of seductive illusion of what we are actually looking for?

I have done tech conferences and things like that that were sometimes good, usually kind of not satisfying. Um, this is pretty good and I'm imagining if there were 10, 15 or 20 of us instead of 3 of us.

We've tried the upper limits of that and it starts to get pretty laggy. But it would seem pretty cool if we got an upgrade on bandwith.

Yeah I mean because everyone can't necessarily be in the same physical space and not everyone has an attraction to this kind of thing, or even wants to put themselves out on the internet, so its a kind of bridge to what might eventually develop in a physical space. But it does work to bring people together who can't necessarily be in physical space with each other.

I think it definitely has a place. I mean I am glad were doing this now.

But I agree I think we can't be complacent with it. We can't just be satisfied with this. We really have to take it as far as we can and keep it evolving you know. How to do that and how to start to disrupt what we would normally think of as education.

I wanted to actually get some of your thoughts on mythology. And how mythology and your idea of separation relates to this concept that a lot of mythologies and a lot of cultures have of the four ages. So you start with the golden age, and you go to the silver age, and bronze, and then you're in the iron age. And according to Hindu mythology, we're now in the Iron Age, Kali Yuga, where spirituality is very difficult to attain -- our hearts are hard and our minds are very narrow, and there's this idea that a golden age maybe existed somehow in the distant past and that towards the end of the iron age, that golden age makes itself known again, that the Iron age cycles back into this circle, back into the edge of the golden age. And its also sort of a spiritual devolution too rather then an evolution, so to maybe get your thoughts on that and how it relates to separation.

There are a lot of traditions that have this idea of a devolution or a fall. It's certainly in the Bible. It's in Taoism too: Taoism is always talking about the sages of old, enlightened kings of old and how people in general were more enlightened in the past. And I wonder if part of it also doesn't come from psychology -- the lost golden age of childhood. And our progression into the development of ego, and eventually though the age of ego reaches its own extreme, and morphs into a new golden age and expanded sense of self that harks to the openness of the child -- but integrates the entire experience of separation.

And I think that there is real wisdom in these traditions. In these myths, in these stories. I think it really is like that, that we are in the extreme of separation. And then there's all the 2012 stuff you know.

Yeah what's your take on that?

It would be cool if it kind of all actually did happen in 2012. But I think that it's tapping into the same intuition that the Armegeddon folks are tapping into. "Our days are numbered, this cannot last." There's all kind of neat stuff. Earlier I was talking about the Age of Stone starting millions of years of ago. Fire started hundred of thousands of years ago. And then you can keep doing that, you know. Symbolic culture started tens of thousands of years ago, agriculture, thousands of years ago, the machine age hundreds of years ago, the information age, decades ago. And so these ages are telescoping, toward a singularity. And the change that comes after that is qualitatively greater then any of these other transitions have been. Which is pretty exciting to me.

Yeah and that's basically what the four ages myth is, its like a winding down of a big clock and so as it gets closer to the winding down there's also a sort of pinching, or a fastness in a sense as well. Everything compresses, everything sort of happens a lot quicker. And I think many of us on a personal and intuitive level can relate to a speeding up of things, in general. Just our relationship to time.

Yeah. An older guy asked me when I thought that things changed, when things speeded up or there was this shift. And I said, 1980. Because that was the year that -- everything just felt kind of different that year. It was when Ronald Regan was elected. And that was the year, even though I was only 13 years old, that was the year I gave up hope. That was the year that I knew that the project of civilization is doomed. The 70's were an extension of the 60's. "Were gonna create this beautiful world of the flower children" and we've been ascending to it for all human history and now were gonna complete it." That became impossible to believe when the 80's hit. And everyone in that spiritual movement kind of turned inward. So my friend Bill said that was interesting because that was the year that the Schumann resonance sped up.

Whats that?

That's the electromagnetic pulse of the earth itself. Some people say the heartbeat of the earth. I haven't actually looked into the science of it so I don't know, but it is said that it has been the same for thousands of years and that all of a sudden it speeded up significantly in 1980.

I have been noticing that even on a personal level it seems like everyone is speeding up. It doesn't matter how old you are it seems like we are all arriving at -- like the younger people -- I have friends that are 16 and they are where I was when I was 25.

Yeah that happens to me all the time.

Yeah and I'm not even like jealous I am just really impressed.

Yeah I totally get that! I constantly meet people in their 20's who are where I am at now, and they've been through like a one or two year process to get there, whereas I went through a 20 year process. They have done in 2 years what took me 20.

Right and I went through like a 7 year one.

And so its like -- you're right, we are all kind of compressing, you know. Kind of like a sonic boom. yeah that's cool.

One of the fans on youtube wanted to ask "What are your thoughts on the nonlinear evolution theory, seeing as how some indigenous cultures have somehow avoided the separation process entirely, or the process that most other humans are in the midst of.

There's this indigenous culture in Mexico where they -- if you base the culture around Zen it would be them. Their main form of exercise is to run for 3 days with a soccer ball so they can't even zone out. They are having to kick this ball through the canyons. And their main activity is sort of meditation, and they just run away from all trouble. They live in the hardest places ever -- no cancer, everyone is happy, they have a gift economy, and they just kind of missed the boat as far as our ascension.

I am going to give you a kind of mythical explanation for this, OK? So basically the human race got together X thousand years ago and said we're going to go on this adventure. And we're going to lose ourselves as completely as possible in this world of separation, because we're going to have all of these experiences, we're going to develop new things, we're going to discover wonders, and then we're going to take all of that and come back to wholeness, and recollect and remember who we are.

And so we're going to go on this journey of separation. And in order that we not get lost we're going to plant some seeds that preserve the knowledge that we need to bring us back. Some of these seeds took the form of wisdom stories, myths that people carried with them, that have the power to bring us back to our origins and our true nature.

Another form that these seeds took was spiritual lineages, where the truth is passed on in secret from master to disciple over many generations until the time comes for it to blossom forth and infect the consciousness of all people. And another form that these seeds, these time capsules took, were certain people around the earth who foreswore, who forewent this journey of separation so that they could preserve the mindsets and ways of being of connection and reunion.

So today all of these things are coming together at once as we near the end of this journey, and we need kinds of help to pull us into the age of reunion. So now all of these obscure scattered tribes who have preserved the old ways, preserved the sacred ways, are being discovered and received. We're receiving their wisdom now, and we're only able to receive it and ready to receive it now because the journey of separation is over, we're done with it. It's over and we're done with it, but we need help to enter the new story. And so they have kept it safe for us. They've preserved it. And the wisdom lineages have preserved it, and our sacred stories have preserved it. So all of these things call into awakening that little spark that never died out in any human being, that's always been there, but it needs a catalyst to make it blossom into flame again.

And so that's essentially why I think that there are some people who never went on the journey of separation.

That's very beautiful and it disrupts that idea that we have of this straight line of human progress of human progress and evolution mostly based on those kind of techno-utopian myths of Francis Bacon, and the New Jerusalem and the New Atlantis which he liked to call it. Which would be this techno utopian that you have exposed. And you've called it tower building as well, and I think that's an important thing to speak on. Because that's the primary myth of our culture is : we are going to better through technology, and this is going to make everything better. And I think that we can use technology in the correct way, and we have sort of touched on this earlier but, maybe we could get into how we started to build the tower of babel, and why that myth is still with us and why its so embedded and in 21st century America why it is just everywhere.

Yeah "just a few more improvements, a few more discoveries, and then we'll be in paradise, we will have reached heaven." A lot of this is in The Ascent of Humanity book, that you know, "We've conquered smallpox and now we're tackling cancer, and next it will be heart disease and finally the common cold, and then finally we'll be in health paradise.

Life spans have been increasing and soon were going to cancel the genetic causes of aging and control the telomeres so our cells don't stop reproducing and perhaps we'll even preserve our consciousness on computers and meld with indestructible machines! Onward and upward, we're going to have to make a few sacrifices now though.

To reach the age of computerized ease, first you have to input all the data which is tedious work, but it's going to be worth it." To reach the paradise of the machine age, you're going to have to dig a lot of coal but it's going to be worth it. Sacrifices now to reach heaven in the future. It's in religion too. You have to sacrifice now for heaven later. You have to suppress your desires now for rewards in the future.

That's the mentality of agriculture too, you have to sow now, that ye shall reap later. And you know in the story they built the Tower higher and higher and higher. And then you can imagine from the top of the tower they looked up and said "are we any closer to the sky" ? "No but let's keep building. Maybe if we build it twice as high we will be closer to the sky." And then it begins to crumble everywhere and you end up spending as much time fixing it as you do building it higher, and that's where we are today.

We're devoting tremendous energy to even maintaining the edifice of civilization where it is. Life expectancies aren't going up any more. New diseases aren't being conquered anymore. In fact new ones are coming into being. Old ones are coming back. Human life isn't improving. We're not becoming more leisurely. The Tower is no longer rising toward heaven, and eventually at some point people get sick of it and they abandon the project. And when they do that they realize that the sky starts an inch off the ground. Its just a shift of perception away, it's already there potentially.

So do you think that these myths that seem to have so much application to our current state -- Do you think that there were really ever cycles, or were these more prophetic? Like they saw where we were headed and wrote these myths of the past to give us a reference point. Since we use the past as a reference point they inserted sort of false past to help us in the future? Or has this maybe happened and it was lost as some people seem to think?

In a way I think that this is a true story, there really was a tower of Babel, we really did try to build it to heaven but I also think that this really truly existed outside of linear time.

Yeah, John Ebert one of the people who write with us talks about this idea of a "truth effect", that even if mythology does not necessarily recount a historical or factual event that it can still teach us fundamentally about either spiritual things that maybe existed outside of time or outside of mind even, and that they can teach us this archetypal story, or truth, that's always been there in the collective consciousness so to speak if we want to talk about it in Jungian terms. So its that idea that idea that's the reason why mythology is important because it can revitalize that sense of timelessness, timeless truth.

Yeah absolutely. And it can communicate things to us on an unconscious level. We can listen to a story like that and not understand the metaphors, not be able to parse it the way I just did with that story. But it still has an effect on consciousness. And that's why these stories are recognized as sacred. And many of them are passed down -- traditionally some of these teaching stories were passed down verbatim. It would be considered sacrilegious to alter them. Video above: "Money Talk - Part 1" with Charles Eisenstein. From (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bzo_2Qm3TtA).


My Tea Party

SUBHEAD: My tea party would rebuild our passenger railroad system lying out there rusting in the rain. Image above: The Wasau, Wisconsin, train station. Made famous by the insurance company of the same name, in the last forty years it has served as the home of the local Boy Scouts of America and more recently, the Headstart Program. From (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Wasau-station-original.jpg). By James Kunstler on 5 July 2010 in Kunstler.com - (http://kunstler.com/blog/2010/07/my-tea-party.html) Now that congress has passed a fake financial reform bill that will accomplish absolutely nothing to correct a recently ingrained culture of swindling, I want to start my own tea party. I don't want to associate it with the other tea parties that have already formed because I am allergic to much of the idiot ideology they express - especially the bent for merging Christian fundamentalism with governance.
One of the few things I agree on with the existing tea parties is that the Republicans and Democrats have made themselves hopeless hostages of political money and bargained away their legitimacy. In line with my general belief that American life must downscale or die, I'm not wholly persuaded that federalism can survive in any case - but assuming it will lumber on for a while anyway, the two major parties cannot retain their monopoly on power. Indeed, it is in the natural order of things that this country must periodically endure a realignment of political ideas and political power. This tends to occur during moments of cultural convulsion, and that is exactly the moment we are in as the sun sets on the fossil fuel based industrial extravaganza and we enter a crisis of intense resource austerity.
The other tea parties have been silent on the war because of the ties between Christian fundamentalism and military chauvinism. This is due, I suspect, to the tea parties first emanating out of Dixieland, where an old Scots-Irish "cracker" belligerence persists in a romantic view of violence - and where, coincidentally, there happen to be so many US military bases, and families dependent on careers connected with them. The confusions of hellfire Christian theology with governance form an overlayment on this, so you end up with a political culture favoring military adventures abroad and pushing citizens around at home on matters of social behavior (while mouthing a lot of disingenuous nonsense about "liberty").
I don't like that political culture and I'm not in favor of continuing our adventures on the fringes of the Middle East. The half-assed occupation of Afghanistan cannot be resolved in a way consistent with our fantasies and wishes. To put it as simply as possible, we can't control the terrain there and we can't control the behavior of the population. Our campaign to turn that remote and impoverished land into a governable democratic state is an exercise in futility that we can't afford. No doubt there are strategic wishes pinned to it - mainly a wish to influence and moderate neighboring Pakistan - but that appears to be back-firing with the minting of evermore Islamic maniacs seeking to blow up anything that presents a target, including their own women and children.
Iraq is a somewhat different story, but I suspect the bottom line is that we can't afford to run a police station there forever. In the worst-case of our leaving, Iran might attempt to step in and control the place (and its oil), but that would only produce a bloody collision of Arab and Persian culture - and the side effect of that might actually be to our benefit. Anyway, my tea party would shut down that operation ahead of schedule.
My tea party would reduce legal immigration to a tiny trickle and get serious about enforcing sanctions against people who are here without permission. A New York Times editorial last week expressed the Democratic-progressive view in typically tortured style, saying of the recent Arizona law:
..it makes a crime out of being a foreigner in the state without papers -- in most cases a civil violation of federal law. This is an invitation to racial profiling, an impediment to effective policing and a usurpation of federal authority....
The fine distinction they want to apply in this matter between civil and criminal law is the same as NPR's house style of referring to illegal immigrants as "undocumented" - leaving the impression that the only problem for these people is a some bureaucratic glitch rather than a transgression of law. The truth is that neither party really wants to do anything about the extraordinary influx of Mexican nationals because they want to pander to a growing segment of Hispanic voters (or secondarily want to maintain the pool of cheap labor for US businesses). My party does not believe in unbounded multi-culturalism. My party also views the lawlessness of the current situation to be corrosive of the rule-of-law generally. My party views the global population overshoot problem as a condition that requires a more rigorous defense of US territory, sovereign resources, and even whatever remains of American common culture.
My tea party would systematically dismantle Too-Big-To-Fail banks into smaller units subject to real reforms that would prevent any further "socialization" of losses by financial buccaneers. In effect, my party would re-enact the Glass-Steagall laws - and get rid of the 3000-page bundle of prevaricating crap in the current "Fin-Reg" law, which has been constructed with all the guile and mendacity of a collateralized debt obligation. My party would seek the return of banking to its function as a utility, while letting investment freebooters gamble with their own funds without any government back-up. (You'll see the investment houses get small fast that way.)
My tea party would get the government out of the housing business. The main effect of 70 years of federal intervention for the sake of "affordable" housing has been to drive the price of housing up far beyond the ability of normal people to afford a place to live. And the current policies devised during the bubble crackup crisis have only served to prevent the price of houses from returning to a level where people might be willing to buy them. Of course, the whole process has also encouraged local governments to jack up property taxes to a level that can only be described as intolerable (in the 1776 sense of the word).
My party would undertake a rebuilding of the US passenger railroad system - not a flashy new "high speed" system, which we cannot afford, but the system that is lying out there rusting in the rain waiting to be fixed. This is imperative because we are on the verge of very disruptive problems with our oil supply which are going to put our beloved Happy Motoring matrix out-of-business. We also face the end of mass commercial aviation (even if flying remains an option for the wealthy). A restored passenger rail system will not solve all the problems connected with the demise of mass motoring, but it will help a lot, and would be an aid to the necessary re-activation of our small towns and cities as suburbia inevitably loses its value and utility.
The leaders of my tea party from the president on down would make a concerted effort to inform the public in straight talk about the real problems that we face involving peak oil and debt. My tea party would promote reality-based politics rather than techno-grandiose fantasies and wishful thinking. My tea party would encourage the necessary downscaling of all the critical activities of American daily life, including the re-localization of food production, the rebuilding of local commercial networks, the revitalization of the small towns and cities, and the difficult transition out of extreme car dependency. My tea party will do everything possible to construct a coherent consensus about what is happening to us and what we can do about it. My tea party is based on the true spirit of 1776 - the binding together of common interests and common culture - not the destruction of them as in the spirit of 1861. .